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Stephen H., Jr. Bogardus, letter

March 1, 1863

“Last Saturday being a pleasant day I took the notion of riding down to Harper’s Ferry to visit a friend… On mentioning the subject to our surgeon he agreed to accompany me. We mounted our horses and started. The day was beautiful and the roads pretty good, and we promised ourselves a very pleasant ride.
The country through which we passed is a very pretty landscape and well settled. It shows throughout the signs of war, viz. desolation - although in a very small degree. We arrived… at the Ferry. The place seemed more forlorn than usual. I found my friend’s regiment was encamped on Maryland Heights. The Doctor and I here parted, he going over the Ferry to see some friends, while I took my journey Heavenward… The time passed swiftly away till supper time when I sat down to one of the best suppers I ever ate in camp. Our circle was enlivened by the presence of the wife of one of the officers. We chatted merrily till tattoo sounded, after which we adjourned to the tent of the officer of the day where we had some very fine music. The night was pleasant, but imagine my surprise in the morning on awakening and finding a furious snow storm raging while the ground was deeply covered. Matters did not look very promising for a twenty miles ride, but it was Sunday and as usual important work lay at my tent in Frederick which must be attended to… I mounted my horse… and started for home. On my descent from the Heights I beheld a most beautiful landscape before me. The snow was falling and the side of the mountain was covered, while at its foot rolled the broad Potomac swelled the recent rains and the green Shenandoah came rushing down Loudon [sic] Heights to meet it, swelling it to a torrent which raised as it rolled toward the Bay. In the distance was Harper’s Ferry, its ruins looking like spectres [sic] amid the garb of snow which partially covered them, while afar off loomed up Loudon [sic] Heights… such a view must be seen to be appreciated. I found the Doctor waiting at the foot of the hill for me… Onward we went, but at Knoxville the Doctor found his boots nearly full of snow, we dismounted and went into the hotel. He filled the legs of his boots with paper and started again. The storm was terrible and we were facing it. Every flake seemed an arrow destined for our faces. Still forward we went. ‘There’s a covered bridge a few miles ahead,’ says the Doctor where we can dismount and warm ourselves… Soon the welcome bridge hove into sight, and we alighted. For half an hour we went through motions more vigorous than graceful, then mounted and continued our journey. At a little place called Jefferson we stopped for a dinner for ourselves and our horses. After getting thoroughly warmed we continued our ride. We had heretofore been riding in the valley, we now had to surmount the hills that skirt this city. It was terrible - the wind howled and the snow fell more rapidly, while to add to our troubles, the road which had seemed going down was drifted very bad and it was as much as our beast could do to flounder through it. But all troubles must have an end - soon the welcome city of Frederick was reached. People stared at us as we rode through the streets as though we were visitors from the other world.”


Name: Stephen H., Jr. Bogardus

Unit: Purnell's Maryland Legion, Co. H

Document Information

Type: Letter


  • Descriptions of Locale
  • Soldier Life/Camp Life

Event Location: Frederick City, Frederick Co., MD; Harpers Ferry, Jefferson Co., WV

Document Origin: Frederick City, Frederick Co., MD


Stephen H. Bogardus, Jr. volunteered his services to the state of New York after attending a rally that was advertised in the Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle in 1861 - shortly after the beginning of the Civil War.


Stephen H. Bogardus to The Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle. March 1, 1863. Joel Gregory Craig, ed. Dear Eagle: The Civil War Correspondence of Stephen H. Bogardus, Jr.. Wake Forest: Sojourner Publishing, Inc., 2004.