This letter was written by 45 year-old Corp. Cornelius Van Huysen (1816-1888), a member of Co. A, 50th New York Engineers. [Cornelius originally enlisted in Co. E.] They were also known as Stuart’s Engineers — named after their colonel, C. B. Stuart. Company E was recruited principally from Buffalo, Elmira, Maine, Niagara Falls, North Hector, Penn Yan, and Rome, New York. The regiment was mustered into the service on 18 September 1861, for a three years’ term. It left the state 850 strong, 21 September, for Washington; was ordered to Hall’s Hill, Va., and assigned to the 3d brigade of Gen. Porter’s division. On 22 October, the regiment was converted by special orders from the war department into a regiment of engineers and ordered to Washington, where instruction was received by the men in their new duties. In March 1862, with the volunteer engineers’ brigade, Army of the Potomac, the 50th moved to Yorktown and worked faithfully in digging trenches, constructing bridges and earthworks, etc., until the evacuation of that city.
Regimental records indicate that Cornelius was discharged for disability on 30 December 1863 at Washington D.C. A deeper inquiry into his records reveals that he suffered from “kidney complaint” as early as January 1863 at Fredericksburg. He was a carpenter by trade. His parents were Harmanus Van Huysen (1789-1841) and Gezanah Clute (1792-1859) — early residents of Schenectady County, New York.
Cornelius wrote the letter to Henry Barden (1806-1873), a practicing physician and surgeon in Penn Yann, New York. Letters two and three below are responses (probably copies) of letters sent by Dr. Barden to Van Huysen.
Henry Barden graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1833, and began practice in Benton, continuing there for several years, locating finally in Penn Yan about 1840 where he died in 1873. For more information regarding Dr. Barden, see — The Barden Family: Father and Son Homeopaths.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
April 27, 1862
Camp near Yorktown [Virginia]
The army case of your valuable medicine came to hand today marked J[ames] H. Kelly which are very acceptable and you may send the remainder of the order per Adams Express for they have an office on Shipping Point within one & a half miles of our camp and they have commenced to pay in some of the Divisions and I expect they will pay our regiment before you can send it to me. Please send a case with No. 12782014 in the package marked Smith and I will send by return express the cash. I am very thankful to you for sending the case to Kelly for he needed very much. There is considerable diarrhea and bowel complaints in our regiment. Our doc gives camphor & opium or something of that sort of stuff.
I have no news to send you except that we are investing Yorktown as rapidly as we can.
Please direct to me in camp near Yorktown, Va.
Yours respectfully, — C. Van Huysen
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Copy of Letter
Penn Yann [New York]
May 2d 1862
C. Van Huysen, Esq.
Near Yorktown, Va.
Your letter mailed the 28th ult. arrived yesterday and today I send you by Express charges pre-paid as per receipt herewith enclosed the remainder of the order. The invoice of which is also herewith enclosed — showing a balance due on all medicines sent of $37.00. This includes Kelly’s case.
If you can send this amount by Express as you propose and enclose another order, you will much oblige me.
The German Regiments would be glad to get these medicines if they [?]. Hoping to hear of your great victory & from yourself soon. I am truly yours, — H. Barden
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
June 9, 1862
C. Van Huysen,
I have received no reply from you since I wrote you on the 2d of May enclosing the invoice and [ ] received for the medicines sent to you near Yorktown, Va. I wish you would send me on receipt of this in return to the medicines with a remittance by Express. Yours truly, — H. Barden
Mr. C. Van Huysen, Co. A, Stewart’s Engineers Reg. N. Y. V., Washington D.C.