November 3, 1861
I received yours of the 31st in due time.
Private. I probably stand as good a chance & better than any other one in the regiment of my age but they are mostly older than I [am] & therefore stand a better chance. I am not 19 yet & to get the place of Lieutenant in an old regiment is something that I don’t look for. Anyone that forms his 30 men is entitled to a Lieutenancy. I am in no hurry about office. What have I done that I deserve the office? Wait, the war but just commenced in earnest & I think we are to have a battle in less than a week.
The best chance that I know of & one that suits me the best is in [Willoughby] Babcock‘s Company. ¹ He has seen service & he could recommend me to the boys of his company as having been in the service 6 months & have been to Bull Run, our regiment covering and saving Green’s Battery & that I am a steady boy & know something about war. And Babcock is the kind of fellow that I would like to be with. He does not drink, which is something that you don’t find everyday & I don’t know as you can find one in the 32nd that does not take his “bits” once and awhile. You can tell Babcock that if he will get me put in 1st or 2nd Lieutenant, that you will furnish him some men & then you can have it all—cut & divide—so that it will be better for me & him both. It will be better to have someone to drill the company that has seen service. It will not take us long. Perhaps Barber will help you. If you don’t succeed, all right. I am in no hurry.
I am doing well. H. & I went over to see the Spencer boys in the 26th [New York]. They keep their tents looking very filthy. I wonder that they are not all sick (but say nothing). [George A.] Sabin did not act at though he cared to see me much but he don’t care much but prefers there. Our Orderly expects to be promoted but he cannot give a command. If I was about 22, I think I might get something else beside a musket, but I am contented for the present. Don’t be in a hurry about me. I did not come a soldiering for nothing.
Write soon. Yours respectfully, — Chas. E. Bradley
¹ Willoughby Babcock was born in Scott, Cortland County, New York on 12 January 1832, the eldest son of Samuel Babcock and Louisa Atwater. “He graduated from the New York Central College in McGrawville, Cortland County, and attended the Albany Law School. In March 1858 he opened a law office over Burnham’s bookstore in Homer, but two months later he accepted the offer to join the established law office of Nathaniel W. Davis in Owego, Tioga County, New York.” Ralph Goodrich, an intern in Davis’ law practice, said of Willoughby in 1859, that he “possesses a large stock of general information & has generally a most correct judgment. He has the heart of fun under a most sober exterior.”
“On 14 October 1858 Willoughby married a fellow New York Central College student, Helen E. ‘Nellie’ Maynard of Williamson, Wayne County, New York.” During the Civil War, Babcock enlisted as First Lieutenant in Company H of the 3d New York Regiment. While serving as Major of the 75th New York Regiment, he was appointed Provost Marshal and Military Governor of Pensacola, Florida when that city surrendered during the summer of 1862. He was wounded in battle during the summer of 1863 at Port Hudson, Louisiana and recovered in New Orleans where he was subsequently named Provost Judge. He was court-martialed in the fall of 1863 for his criticism of General Banks, but reinstated in 1864 and eventually rejoined his command at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. As Lieut. Col., he was mortally wounded in September 1864 at the Battle of Winchester. He is buried in his hometown of Homer, Cortland County, New York. [Source: Where Duty Called Them, The Story of the Samuel Babcock Family of Homer, New York in the Civil War, by Edmund Raus, 2001]