MS-068: Henry P. Clare Letters, Co. D., 9th New York State Militia
MS - 068: Henry P. Clare Letters
(1 box, .27 cubic feet)
Inclusive Date: 1863
Processed by Sarah E. Handley
Henry Pentland Clare (2-21-1834/1-21-1892) enlisted in Company D of the 83rd New York, also known as the Ninth New York State Militia, as a first sergeant in 1861 at the age of 27. He fought with the 83rd New York until 1864, during which time he was promoted to First Lieutenant on May 22, 1862, and then Adjutant on November 1, 1862. During his time with them, the 83rd New York fought in the battles of Harper's Ferry, Cedar Mountain, Rappahannock Station, Thoroughfare Gap, Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Mine Run, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna, Topotomy, and Cold Harbor, among other smaller engagements. He was wounded at Antietam on September 17, 1862, and again at Spotsylvania Court House on May 12, 1864. After the war, Henry joined the 10th Cavalry acted as Commissary Sergeant and was stationed at Fort Thomas, Arizona.
Scope and Context Notes
This collection consists of 47 letters written by Henry P. Clare to his brother, William Keating Clare, with the exception of one letter addressed to Lieutenant Colonel M.T. McMahon, Assistant Adjutant General, and one written from a George E. Hyatt to William. The letters in this collection range from January 4, 1863 (although they are mislabeled by Henry to be January 1862) to December 6, 1863. Henry talks mostly of his life in the camp, gives his opinion of the war, and of the Army's and the nation's leadership. Many of the letters are sharply critical of leaders, including Lincoln, Burnside, Hooker, and Meade, and of the way the war is being handled. He admits in one letter that he is a Copperhead, although the term is not looked upon kindly in the army. Letter 18, which is written by another soldier to William, letting him know that Henry is safe after the battle of Chancellorsville, and Letter 26, dated July 5, 1863, details what Henry and his regiment experienced during the Battle of Gettysburg. He occasionally mentions other members of the 83rd, including Colonel Joseph A. Moesch, their regimental commander, with whom he seems well acquainted. Henry is quite a character, and his letters express his unique personality wonderfully, as well as giving insight into some of the politics of soldiering.