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Lieut Matthew Smith Austin
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Birth: unknown
Death: Jan. 13, 1904

Civil War Union Army Officer. 2nd Lieutenant of Company G & I, 5th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry.

Meridian Hill

Nov 6, 1861

Dear Father~

I have to report very unpleasant weather today - wind and rain from the west & s. west. Our tents are barely able to stand the pressure. No news from the expedition so far as we know in camp. So far as the weather is concerned, it must have been disagreeable to the men in the extreme. 40,000 men are said to compose the force. I do not know whether it be true or not. Our Post Master reports that no telegraph dispatches have been received from the north today, neither has there been any arrival of trains from Baltimore. I can not think it true, as I saw a regiment at the depot about 4 pm - evidently just arrived. The letter carrier did not call this morn, so my note of yesterday remains for tomorrow. I would be pleased with a copy of the Press once a week - please send it. If you can find me an Indian rubber blanket, of circular form, I wish you would forward one by Adam's Express and a cap cover. They can be obtained cheaper in Phila. The blanket I lost was unhandy from its shape and not a very substantial on in any way, as I had tested its worth in a storm. Nevertheless, it was better than none at all. So I would accept the same kind again it a better one cannot be had. As soon as the regiment is paid, I will forward all to Trenton for safe keeping - saving only enough for unavoidable expenses.

The camp is very quiet - over dull - can scarcely get up a decent roll of the drum - have only one drummer, perhaps that's the reason.

Continue in good health - there are a number sick with chills & fever. Keep myself dry and warm - which is a preventive of the above complaint.

Love to John, etc.


M.S. Austin

Co Sergt

5th NJV

Camp of the Fifth N.J. vols, New Falmouth, VA

Saturday, December 6, 1862

Dear Father,

The only incident that I can communicate, of which we are cognizant is the review of this division/Sickles, by Gen. Hooker, on Thursday last. We marched from camp to the high ground overlooking Fredericksburg. Where we were formed in line of battle and the cavalry on the right of the first Brigade- the second in rear of the first- then the third and last the artillery- 28 paces. The General applauded- arms presented- officers saluting- drums beating. Gen. Sickles proposed three cheers for Hooker, which were given by the entire division. As the Gen. passed, each regiment gave him their cheers. It is remarked since, that he was displeased with the proposition for cheers from Gen. S. would rather have had the troops show perfect precision – than that they should do an act so unmilitary. Their soldierly bearings, with that exception, he could not complain of- and certain it is that the troops would have made no demonstration of the kind, without suggestion from their superiors. The day was unusually pleasant- only a little muddy on the ground on which we stood. Indications of storm were so plain as to warn us to prepare, as long ago as the 1st. Yesterday, a.m. rain commenced falling, afterwards turning to storm, which continued ‘till 10 o'clock last night. This morning the ground was frozen slightly, so that the snow has remained all day, although the sun has shone much of the time. Storm was from the north- you doubtless had quite as much as we. The men are not well provided for this kind of weather- so many have lost their shelter tents since leaving the peninsula. In battles men will lose everything except gun –sometimes they will throw it away to save themselves from capture –sometimes un-necessarily, sometimes rightly. There is very little complaint, on the fate of the men, because of the non-arrival of tents and clothing, although they much need shoes, shirts, drawers, etc. It will doubtless, be supplied, before we leave this point. The supposition now is, that no engagement will take leave here, unless the rebels should essay to cross to this side- which is not likely to occur, unless they suppose us to be in the minority- as to numbers. The rebels are, doubtless, withdrawing some of their forces towards Richmond- as they apprehend Its menace from the direction of Suffock. The newspapers of the north have been telling the rebels to keep a sharp look out or somebody will be in their capital before they are prepared to defend it. What information the rebels cannot obtain otherwise, the overzealous papers of the north will suggest to them. So the papers now say the movement of the grand army to Fredericksburg has proved a failure, in its main object, and that a change of operations is, in consequence, rendered necessary. To avoid a battle here, and yet compel the rebels to evacuate the opposite side of the river, necessitates the removal of the "Grand Army," by stealth to some point which shall menace their flanks on rear. This movement, our army correspondent and home editions, have told us, (and the rebels) will soon take place. What has been thus intimated, is, doubtless, about to take place, but whether we are to be included in the part of the army that is to effect a " change of base," I am not informed, and shall have to wait for further information through the columns of some Phila or N.Y, paper. Every reader of the "Inquirer" or "Press" or "Herald" or "Times," will note how little reliability there is in their general statements. In the "Inquirer" recently was a statement to the effect that the rebel army opposite us was an 130, 000 strong- the nest day, (from same paper) it was only 90,000. Both statements were said to based upon the most reliable authority. From the same papers, Friday, we are told that the movement of the army to this point was the grandest act of the war, and, tomorrow, that the object sought to be obtained, had proved as complete a failure. I have often heard it remarked, that the papers of the north, in their zeal to impact news, have done us irreparable injury by a premature expose of impertinent movements. It is too cold to write more tonight. There is a talk of movement, so we do not know whether to commence any improvements, for our comfort or not.

Monday, Dec. 8, 1862

Yesterday proved too cold for comfort- could have no fire in the tent- so we enjoyed ourselves by such camp fires as presented the greatest amount of heat. It was as unpleasant as contrary currents of wind could make it. The air was freezing cold all day – and the nights cold indeed. Today has been more pleasant, but has not thawed, in the sun. It appears that we were under orders to cross the Rappahamock some 10 miles below, and march to the ? – which order seems to have been countermanded for the present, so that we may remain here some time yet under this belief, officers and men, today, have been very busy in providing comforts. ? (Lts. More and Austin Co. G.) have had one A tent set upon logs, (4 logs high) and a fire place made in one corner, and I am now writing ( in comfort) by a very nice fire in said place. It is the first quite comfortable night I have spent since leaving Manasas, (Truly Alexandria) If you have money to spare, buy me a pair of gloves, same as you sent me last winter. I am entirely out of money- and there does not appear to be any prospects of payment by Uncle Sam until after the first of January. If I can get along until that time, I should be able to get two months pay as Lt. – but if we are payed during Dec. I shall only receive pay for 2 mos. as Sergeant ($84.) How I am to live up to pay day, troubles me. Cannot get credit at Brigade Commisary- as they (he) does not trust at all – cannot afford to buy of Sutter, as their prices are more than double those of the com. (Sutters of Jersey Regts. nice trust any officers of same.) Do not like to subsist on Capt. Woolsey (with whom I mess). Can you not send me $20.00- or $10.00- or $5.00- say $5.00 by return mail? Will return is as soon as paid, and the $3.00 borrowed while at home. Gloves such as I speak of would cost me $1.30 or $2.00 (credit) or Sutter perhaps more. Should we be paid soon, I could get along at slight cash, (cash) to what it will be if I must go Sutter for credit. ?? leave of absence to go as far as Alexandria (42 hours) in which place I shall ask you to send me clothing, after I get my pay. Send love to all at Trenton. Truly

M.S. Austin,

2nd Lt. Co. "G" 5th N.J.V.

Family links: 
  Sarah Jane Bell Austin (1848 - 1921)*
  Edith B. Austin (1875 - 1948)*
  Harvey Hayden Austin (1876 - 1893)*
  Charles R Austin (1879 - 1950)*
  Susannah B. Austin (1881 - 1905)*
  Harriet May Austin Crook (1886 - 1951)*
*Calculated relationship
Mercer Cemetery
Mercer County
New Jersey, USA
Created by: Gregory Speciale
Record added: Feb 18, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 10493972

Rest in peace, cousin.
- Joseph R. Klett
 Added: Jan. 21, 2014
Glad we found you!~South Jersey Ghost Research
- Bridget @SJGR
 Added: May. 20, 2013
Rest in PEACE
- Navy Doc
 Added: Feb. 18, 2005

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