Quincy D. Plaisted was born May 16, 1845, probably the fifth of seven children of James Harmon and Mary (Smith) Plaisted. His older brother, Edward, is my direct ancestor and I'd never heard anything about Quincy, before discovering his name in the Civil War Pension Index. Edward (based on our family lore) hired a substitute for his military service, and never served in the war. His brother apparently had served. A recent trip to the National Archives to look up Quincy's pension paperwork yielded some interesting information.
|Plaisted Family Bible Register|
Quincy Plaisted enlisted for a term of three years at Bath, NY on August 23, 1862. He served as a private in Company F, 161st NY Volunteer Infantry. He was listed as age 18, but was actually just three months past his 17th birthday. After his death, John Little, a Lieut. and Capt. of his company said that when Quincy "entered the service [he] was in good health apparently and showed no disease, but was of a delicate constitution and organization, and was found to be unable to stand the exposure & hardships of the field."
At enlistment, he was described as 5 feet 10 inches, of light complexion, with blue eyes, and light hair. By occupation, he is listed as a farmer, but it is unlikely that he owned any land of his own. Two neighbors deposed that Quincy was "the main support of his mother by working out and taking his earnings to her. he was a very worthy and industrious boy..."
Elizabeth Gansevoort deposed that "My husband kept a Drug Store in the village of Bath for many years and during the years 1861 & 1862, Quincy D. worked for us a considerable [sic] and I know he took his earnings and I know of his taking [illegible] often home to his mother. his father being quite disabled with Rheumatism. Quincy D. Plaisted was a very steady and industrious boy and kind to his parents." In fact, the 15 year old Quincy is listed as living with the Ganesvoort family in the 1860 US census (occupation is clerk). He is also listed at home with his parents, maybe indicating that he probably spent some time living in both places.
Quincy's regiment did see service and he references battles in at least one letter home. According to the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors database (which also lists most of the regimental service below), Quincy's regiment was organized between August and October 1862, making Quincy's enlistment in late August likely to be one of the earlier ones. The regiment probably would have left in October, but for a typhoid epidemic that hit the regiment in November (view source).
In early December 1862 the regiment left the state for Louisiana. The Union Army at that time was fighting for the Mississippi, an important transportation route and critical to a win in the south and west. General Banks was in charge of the southern portion of this battle, and set up his army to occupy Baton Rouge. Quincy's regiment, as part of the Third Brigade, occupied Baton Rouge from December 17, 1862 until March, 1863.
In March, the regiment was involved in operations against Port Hudson from March 7-27, then returned to Baton Rouge until May. Apparently large numbers of the regiment fell sick in April perhaps explaining the return to Baton Rouge at this time (view source).
In May, the regiment made reconnaissance from Baton Rouge and again advanced on Port Hudson May 14-24. There was skirmishing at Plain's Store on May 21st with a clear Union victory. Only one soldier from Quincy's regiment was injured in this attack (view source). From May through July, the regiment was involved in battles for Port Hudson. One of Quincy's letters discusses this battle in great detail. According to official records, 17 men were killed or wounded in this attack, although 10 of them recovered from their wounds (view source). When Port Hudson was finally surrendered on July 9, 1863, the entire Mississippi River was finally opened to Union use. One final battle at Kock's Plantation near Donaldsonville on July 12-13th left 53 members of Quincy's regiment killed or wounded (though most recovered) (view source). This was the extent of Quincy's Civil War experience. His regiment was stationed at Baton Rouge till September 2. When they moved on, Quincy was too ill to go.
The records for Quincy's illnesses are confusing at best. What is clear is that from about the summer of 1863, just under a year from the time of his enlistment, Quincy was quite ill. He was reported as present in the company rolls through April of 1863. In May and June, he is listed as absent, sick at Baton Rouge. No records indicate what kind of illness this may have been. He was present for duty in July and August, but by September he was again at Baton Rouge Hospital.
|Quincy Plaisted's Discharge Certificate|
According to Mary, Quincy's mother, by July 15, 1863, Quincy was very ill and he was sent to the "Court House" US General Hospital in Baton Rouge, LA. The Regimental Hospital records show him being admitted on August 14, 1863 for diarrhea and being sent to the US General Hospital on September 2nd where he was admitted with chronic dysentery and diarrhea. By October 23rd, it was clear that Quincy would be discharged, but the paperwork took a while to complete. Quincy remained in this hospital until he was discharged by Surgeon's Certificate of Disability on November 4, 1863. S.K. Towle, a surgeon of the 30 Mass Vols, who was in charge of the Hospital noted on the discharge certificate that Quincy was "incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of Chronic Dysentery. Much emaciation and much tenderness of the Bowels. Condition at enlistment not known. Unfit for Invalid Corps."
Quincy apparently immediately started for home, but only made it as far as New Orleans where he was admitted to St. James General Hospital on November 11, 1863 with "Inflammation of the Lungs". He died the following day, November 12, 1863. His death was said to be caused by the inflammation of the lungs.
Quincy's mother Mary applied for and was granted a dependent mother pension in 1884, declaring that she had been dependent on Quincy for support. James was apparently disabled by rheumatism which in the words of one deponent made him a "cripple". Several deponents spoke of James' rheumatism being disabling as early as 1863 when his son enlisted. James himself stated "that at the age of ten years he was exposed to damp and cold whilst fishing, that his hip was affected thereby causing a fit of sickness having him lame in the right hip affecting his movements on foot and attended by pain when fatigued, and growing slightly worse until in 1866 he was exposed to cold and fatigue and his hip was made worse, laying him up under a physician's care three weeks when he noticed that his right limb was materially shortened with increased immobility in the hip joint remaining crippled ever since." After Mary's death in 1892, James applied for a continuance of the pension, which was likewise granted.
In addition to the wealth of genealogical information included in the pension file (information on James and Mary's marriage, original pages from the family Bible, etc.), Quincy's parent's had to prove that they were dependent on their son. To do so, they furnished original letters sent to them by their son making note of the times he sent funds home. These letters and original papers have been retained by the National Archives, and are transcribed here.
I am unsure whether this is the complete correspondence between Quincy and his parents, but it may well be. Reading the letters of this very young boy who was to die of disease contracted during war very far from home is heartbreaking. I've done my best to maintain his style, which contains very little punctuation and many non-standard capitalizations. Nonetheless, his writing is clear, generally well-spelled, and very detailed.
Elmira Oct 28 1862
Since Writing to you I have received My state Bounty Which is fifty Dollars and I Expect to get More pretty soon. I Now Send you 46 Dollars and you can take out one Dollar for the one you lent Me for to get My Pictures taken. I Did Think I should come home again before we left here But I do not think I can get away. I think we will get away this week. Sophronie [Quincy's sister] was down here the other day to buy Goods. But went Home the same day you spoke of sending me a Quilt But I Do not want you to send me any thing unless I send for it as I want nothing that will be of any trouble to Me when you write let me knew about that Brown Debt -- I will send my Pictures Home in a Day or two I want you to Put this 45 Dollars on Interest if you can or you can keep it until I send you the shirt and then Do with it as you see fit
George Haverling is Down here and I will send it by Him as I can Do it without trouble.
Baton Rouge April 29 63
I now Drop you a line to let you know that I have got my Pay. Our Regt was Paid Up to the First of March. We was paid yesterday and I had to go Out on Picket and so I give Lieut. Little orders to draw my Pay which would amount to $79.73 up to the First of March it being 6 months and 3 days. But I signed an allotment to send home ten dollars a month I would get $40.00 in checks and the other $39.73 in money. But Lieut. Little says the Paymaster only paid him $29.73 instead of $39.73 which was the amt due me in money Beside the Checks thus you see I am cheated out of 10 Dollars wether the Paymaster Paid the 10 Dollars to Little or not I cannot tell. But Little says He did not the Paymaster did not have the Checks with Him but will send them up from N. Orleans next week. there will be 40 Dollars in Checks comeing to me and I will send them Home and you can take them to the Bank and draw the money on them
I am going to send you 22 Dollars today by Express and as soon as I get the Checks I will send them to you I would send you more But I only got $29.72 and I [illegible] G.G. Fay the sutler 2 Dollars and the other Five Dollars I want for my own use. Capt Slocum says the next Pay Day he will try to Help me get the other 10 Dollars But I think I will have to loose it. I am well and hope this will find you the same
no more at present
Camp Five Miles below
Port Hudson May 18th 1863
I now drop you a line to let you know that I am well and in the land living yet We left Baton Rouge about one week ago. We started in the morning and went toward Clinton about ten miles and then took a road which let to the Port Hudson road. We traveled until about two o clock in the afternoon having come Eighteen miles we put up for the night the next day we moved toward Port Hudson and stayed until the afternoon when we come back to where we now camp We have no tents with us nothing but our rubber Blankets we captured A lot of battle and are killing them as fast as we want them to Eat we have very Poor water to drink there is no good water to be found there was one regiment of Cavalry reached Baton Rouge about two weeks ago they come from Memphis Tenn they come througe Missippi tearing up Bridges Rail roads and destroying Everything they could find they are the 7th Illinois Cavalry they are here with us now some of them went within 2 miles of the fortifications at Port Hudson and captured Rebel Pickets they brought in some Prisoners the other day and they had nothing in there Haversacks but Shelled Corn I call that Pretty hard feed. Com Farragut has got a large Fleet in the river near Port Hudson he has been shelling the rebels about two weeks making terrible Destruction among the rebels I think we will stay here some time I sent you 22 Dollars when we got our Pay I suppose you have got it By this time we are Expecting them U.S. Checks Every Day. When I get then I will send them to you the Adjutant says he will see that I get that ten Dollars whis I was cheated out of by the Paymaster next Pay Day. Before we started I went down to the general hospital and say alphonzo Gleason he is Doing well he has the best of care you may tell his folks that he has as good Care as any one needs. a good bed and a plenty to Eat. Gen Banks is Down in the southwest part of this state he sunk the Queen of the West and three more Rebel Boats beside capturing a large number of prisoners. I want you to write oftener than you do the mail runs between here and Baton Rouge so we get our mail regularly When you write send all the news Direct your letter to Baton Rouge Co F 161 regt augur Div and it will follow me where Ever I go be sure and answer all of my letters
Baton Rouge June 22 1863
I received two letters from you but as we were Engaged in a fight [the assault on Port Hudson] i thought I would not write until I saw how it was comeing out. When I wrote last we was encamped just below Port Hudson we remained there until Gen Banks had gone up around red River and landed above Port Hudson. then our division moved up farther until we met the Enemy as soon as we got close enough they commenced shelling us but their shots were soon answered by us. after fighting us a while they were obliged to retreat with great loss our Division then remained here in the morning the Rebels sent in a Flag of Truce to bury their dead. Which was given them. When Banks had got down to the river far enough we then moved up from all sides driving the Rebels from their works. We drove them into Port Hudson Our regiment moved up within one hundred rods of their Breastwork. We then had them fast the gunboats would not let them across the river and our land force would not let them escape by land. We planted Batteries all around them and our Batteries would shell them Every day there we remained about three weeks until last Sunday when Gen Banks thought he would storm their works. We did so but were repulsed. they had the advantage of us so much that we were obliged to give it up. P. Hudson is one of the strongest fortified places in the world. the Rebels have got about 4 miles of Breast work and it is very High. Our loss is very heavy so is that of the Rebels. Our Regiment lost 20 in killed and wounded the loss in our Company is 2 wounded (Francis McDonald and Eugene A. Bassett) I think Gen Banks will starve them Out there Provision is about gone and there is no way for them to get any more it had been five weeks since we left here and some of us got completely tired out and the Doctor give us a pass to come back to camp to get rested so yesterday there was a boat comeing down and we come back we had no Blankets but our rubber Blankets and I got tired out but I shall go Back soon Dr. Dawlson and Mr Starks have started for home and I want you to see them. in one of my letters I received one Dollar I sent home 22 Dollars but you did not say anything about it in your last letter. I have not received them Checks yet But I think we will get them as soon as Our Regt comes back again.
Baton Rouge Aug 16th, 1863
I received a letter yesterday from you which was written by Sophronia and was glad to hear that you are all well I am not very well by an on the gain. I learn that they have been drafting up there and I am very glad of it. I also heard that the notorious Copperhead Underhill Editor of the Advocate was drafted. What does he think now of resisting the draft. I did not know but what Edward [Quincy's brother] would be drafted but I was glad to hear that he was not. you said Ellen had gone back I supposed James [possibly Quincy's brother?] was comeing back to stay -
Col Harrower is going to Elmira tomorrow to get some of the drafted men to fill up our regiment as it is pretty well reduced by sickness Our Chaplain has started for home and Hewight [?] Warren Holman Emmerson and Alvah Stocking have gone home.
Capt Slocum and Lieut Faucette are both sick. In my last letter I told you that Dewolf was going as Captain but I guess he has given it up. I suppose before you get this you will get them Checks for twenty dollars which you will get for the two months pay which I got on the 18th of July and if you get it I want you to write about it and let me know if Edward Ever paid that note or not the Miss river is open [as a result of the Port Hudson battles] and boats run from new Orleans to st Louis at boat comes down this morning we have got the rebels all drove our of Louisiana and so we will have no more fighting to do here. this state is trying to come back into the union I received a paper from you last week and I want you to send me another one and tell Edward to write to me I cannot think of anything more to write this time
|Quincy's Last Letter Home|
Baton Rouge Oct 22 1863
I received a letter from you Some time ago but was to Carlisle [?] and did not answer it. you said Emerson had got home. I was very glad to here that the Dam Fool had got there but was Sorry that he told you any such foolish nonsense. I was sick and who would not be sick through such hot weather but as soon as the weather got cool I got better. and am better than I have been before in three months I have been able to run around all the time. I don't know but what I Shall come home pretty soon I can't tell how it will be yet. I want you to write soon and tell me if you got them checks for 20 dollars or not there is no news to write so I will quit --
Quincy D. Plaisted
Q.D. Plaisted Court house Hosp.
|Receipts for Packages|
Camp Near New Iberia
Dec 14, 1863
Dear Sir --
I received yesterday through Adams Express Co a small Box directed to Quincy D. Plaisted. I took the liberty to open it and found that it contained some Cakes, lemons &c. all of which were so musty as to be unfit for [illegible] excepting a Can of Preserves. It also contained a Pocket Handkerchief and pair of Socks. I ordered the Sergt. to take charged of the same and sell them for the most he could get for them & I would send you the amount. He did as directed and has realized from the sale thereof $2.25 which I will herewith remit to you.
I will here say for the benefit of those who may have friends in the Army of the South that it is almost impossible to send anything here in the line of Cake, Cheese, &c. without having it spoil on the way. The only thing that comes in a good state of preservation is Dried or Canned Fruits and I am informed for I have never been an inmate of one, that Hospitals are usually pretty well supplied with delicacies for the sick so that if the Surgeons in Charge do their duty there is little need of friends at home trying [illegible] to their brave but sick friends such luxuries as they seldom reach them in time to do the intended good if ever.
I am very respectfully
John F. Little
Quartermaster 161st NY