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The Second Mass and Its Fighting Californians

A Reference site of images, articles, artifacts of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry including the Cal 100 and the Cal Battalion.

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Pvt. Philip Baybutt Letter

Company A
An Englishman's letter to his aunt

Our thanks to Mike Reed, who photographed (picture below), transcribed, and submitted this wonderful letter. 

Vienna, Va
March 26th 

Dear Aunt,
We started last Friday morning from Boston and arrived at Washington Sunday afternoon travelling night and day. We had no chance of seeing any of the great places there as they marched us right through to the river where we took steamer for Alexandria, the other side of the river where Ellsworth was shot.
We stayed in Alexandria 2 days at a place called the Soldier’s Rest.
Tuesday about 30 of us who were for the 2nd Cavalry were ordered out to join our regiment. We took the cars and arrived at this place called Vienna where the regiment is encamped. It is about 15 miles from Washington. We do not see much of the rebs here as Lee’s army is 60 to 70 miles from us. We are troubled now and again by Moseby and his guerilla band and also by bushwhackers who creep in the bushes and shoot our pickets in the night time. 13 of them were brought into camp the other morning who had been captured during the night and another yesterday morning. I am in Co. A, the first Co. called the Californian company. I am in a tent with 7 other men all Californians who, as far as I can see so far, are all intelligent and gentlemanlly fellows , superior in every respect to the majority of the fellows who came along with me from Boston. About 300 of us started from Boston and out of that 30 had deserted before reaching Baltimore and they were the biggest scamps I ever came across. Whilst coming to New York 5 or 6 were robbed of their bounty and about a dozen of their watches. One man was robbed and drugged with chloroform so bad that we had to leave him behind. On reaching Washington it was reported that a telegram had arrived saying he was dead. 5 were caught just as they were going to jump from the cars; they were brought along in irons all the way under guard. I sent you my bounty $398 by express. Write and let me know if you received it all safe.I will exlpain the bounty to you.
The state gives $325 and the government $300, total $625. The state gives $325 in hand after being mustered in and government $60 of the bounty and a months pay in advance, $13, that gives $73 from gov’t and $325 from the state total $398 which I have received. Government paying the rest of its bounty in installments every 6 months. I like it pretty well so far but these are the best times we shall have as we are now in winter quarters. The old hands say I shall find out as soon as it comes a little warmer, when we go out raiding for a week or 10 days at a time. Most of us were rather surprised at the coldness of the weather out here because hearing of the “Sunny South” we had expected it being quite warm but soon found out our mistake as it has been cold all the time yet & we have also had a pretty heavy fall of snow. Could you send me 10 or 15 dollars greenback as I want to buy several things without which I can not get along very comfortably.
I was riding a horse down to ----- bareback and only a halter when he took fright and ran away with me, in the run I lost my purse containing all my money and several other things which were jerked out of my pockets , of course I could not jump off to pick them up having enough to do to stick on, that is how I come to be without money.
Give respects to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and family. Kind love to yourself and Uncle and cousins.
I remain 
Your affectionate nephew
P Baybutt

P. Baybutt
Co A
2nd Mass Cavalry
Vienna Va
Washington DC