About the Letters

The Lyman Bradley home was at the north end of Main Street (under red dot) in Spencer on this 1855 Map of Tioga County, New York. Lyman Bradley’s store was located a block south on the opposite side of Main.

Charles Ellery Bradley (1842-1915) was born 13 November 1842 in Danby, New York. He was the son of Lyman Bradley (1808-1884) and his wife Mary Ann Hill (1808 -). Lyman Bradley was a native of Tompkins County, New York. He was listed as a laborer in early records, then later as a merchant (1850 and 1855) in Spencer, Tioga county, New York. In 1860 he was listed with a personal estate of $4000 and real estate of $6000. In 1870 he was listed as a dry goods merchant and by 1875 he was listed as retired and living in Spencer, Tioga County, New York, where he had been living for some time. Lyman Bradley died on 26 November 1884.

Lyman Bradley married Mary Ann Hill (1807-1882). Together Lyman and his wife had at least two children, Charles E. Bradley (1842-1915), and his sister Mary Ann Bradley (1846 -). Charles E. Bradley served with Co. I, 32nd New York Volunteers. He enlisted 7 May 1861 at Ithaca serving two years. He mustered in as private on 31 May 1861, was promoted to Corporal 17 March 1862, and then promoted again to Sergeant on 7 October 1862. He mustered out on 9 June 1863 as a Sergeant with his company in New York City. He was commissioned a second lieutenant 9 May 1863, but was not mustered with rank from January 6, 1863.

The 32nd New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, also known as the “1st California Regiment,” was an infantry regiment that served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Col. Roderick Matheson, was accepted by the State 22 May 1861. He organized the regiment at New York City, and it was mustered in the service of the United States for two years on 31 May 1861, at New Dorp, Staten Island. The Empire City Regiment and the Cerro Gordo Legion, incomplete organizations, were merged into it. On 25 May 1863, the three years’ men of the regiment were transferred to the 121st Infantry.

The companies were recruited principally from these cities, as follows: Co.’s A and I— Ithaca Volunteers — at Ithaca; Co.’s B and D at Amsterdam; Co. C at Johnstown; Co. E at New York city and in Tompkins county; Co.’s F and G in New York city; Co. H in Tarrytown, and Co. K — Capt. W. H. Robinson’s Company of the Empire City Regiment or Guard— at New York City.

The 32nd Regiment left New York for Washington, D.C. on June 29 1861; was quartered there for a week and then encamped near Alexandria, where it was assigned to the 2nd brigade, 5th division, Army of Northeastern Virginia. The regiment was engaged at Fairfax Court House, Bull Run, and at Munson’s hill, and spent the winter at Fort Ward, in Newton’s brigade of Franklin’s division. In March, 1862, with the 3d brigade, 1st division, 1st corps, Army of the Potomac, the regiment moved to Manassas; then returned to Alexandria and embarked for the Peninsula where it was engaged at West Point (Battle of Eltham’s Landing), with a loss of 67 killed, wounded or missing, and soon after was assigned to the 3d brigade, 1st division, 6th corps, with which it engaged in the Seven Days’ battles; then went into camp at Harrison’s landing until 16 Aug., when it returned to Alexandria. The regiment participated in the battles of Crampton’s Gap, Antietam and Fredericksburg. It went into winter quarters at Belle Plain; participated in the “Mud March,” and on 28 April 1863, broke camp and joined the light brigade of the 6th corps for the Chancellorsville campaign, in which the 32nd lost 43 members killed, wounded or missing. It returned on May 8 to the camp at Belle Plain and on the 25th the three years’ men were transferred to the 121st N. Y. Infantry. The two years men were mustered out at New York City on 9 June 1863.

After the Civil War, Charles E. Bradley was found enumerated in Spencer, New York. He went into business with his father and took it over after his father retired. He is listed a dry goods merchant in the 1875 New York State Census, and as a merchant in the U.S. 1880 Census, in Spencer. Charles died on 24 December 1915 and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Spencer, Tioga Co., New York.

Bradley was married in 1863 to Margaret E. Bush (1842-1904). She was born 10 June 1842; and died 17 September 1904, and was buried in the same plot with her husband. She was the daughter of Richard Platt Bush (1813-1853) and Jerusha Beers. Together Charles E. Bradley and his wife Margaret (Maggie) had at least three children; Kate M. Bradley (1868-1935); Lyman R. Bradley; born 1871; and Madge Bradley, born 1876.

41 letters, 162 manuscript pages, (18 retained mailing envelopes), written by Sgt. Charles E. Bradley, of Co. I, 32nd NY Volunteers, dated 2 May 1861 to 11 April 1864, and 6 March 1889 to 27 November 1892; 9 letters are not dated. The bulk of Bradley’s letters were written to his father, Lyman Bradley, at Spencer, New York from 1861 to 1863, while Sgt. Bradley was serving in the Civil War. He wrote two letters during this period to his mother and one to his brother; 5 letters were written to “Maggie,” Margaret E. Bush, Sgt. Bradley’s future wife. They married in 1863; the letters to her were written from February to April 1864 after he mustered out of service; a couple of the letters appear to be incomplete.

Bradley, Charles Ellery. Correspondence : of Charles Ellery Bradley, 1861-1864, 1915 (bulk 1861-1864). Year: 1861-1915
Description: 143 items.
Abstract: Bradley, a volunteer in the 32nd Reg., N.Y., corresponds with friends and family, particularly his father Lyman Bradley of Spencer, Tioga Co., N.Y. Letters are about camp life with passing references to a few battles and generals. Includes a photograph of Elliott Coues.
Located at the University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.