Reader John Boggs, Jr. was kind enough to share this picture and letter of his ancestor. This is the first censored letter that I have seen from a regular soldier. A biographical sketch follows the letter. Levi Croy is mentioned numerous times in S.M. Davis’ Uncommon Soldier, Common War as well as in our book on the 6th U.S. Cavalry. I have preserved the letter’s original spelling and punctuation.
“Sixth U.S. Cavalry
Col. Emory Commanding
Letter No. 1, Aug. 2, 1862
My dear family; I rec’d yours of 27 of July, today. I had not rec’d any for so long I began to be uneasy. I was glad to learn of your health & sympathise with you very much in regard to your potatoes. I am very glad to hear you have a cow. Please let me know who of your neighbours was so kind. What did cow cost. I saw young Alexander today in the 10th Pa. reserves. He is well. Nite before last we had a nice spree the rebbels came down on the opposite side of the river & planted 6 or 8 guns & blazed away at our camps. I tell you they threw the shells & solid shot in fast. They had a cross fire on our camp & don no damage but kild one horse & riddled two tents not a man hurt the shell flew about 2 miles as far as the Pennsylvania reserves. A good many horses were kild in different camps but very few men. Our seage guns & gun boats got in action in a few minutes & made them skedaddle in short meetee. We have a heavy force (censored) river. Now I think (censored) no danger of another (censored). You asked when the war (censored). That is a question I am (censored) to answer but I am afraid be some time. However I think we will make a move before long I had made up my mind there would be nothing don this month. But it is my belief now we will haf to fight soon or give it up for a bad job but I believe if they let McClelan have his own way he will take Richmond & do it pretty easy. Pope is in the Shenandoey valley & I have more faith in him than all the others except McClelan he is the pet of the Army of the Potomac. Since writing the above our Regt has bin ordered out whare or for what purpos I don’t know. I am so bothered by diareahe that I have remaind in camp it is dark and I will quit for tonite. – Aug. 3rd a beautiful morn. Our Regt returned about 3 o’clock this morning was out mearly on a reconnaissance. All quiet so far as they went or seen. Our camps has not been disturbed since. I think there will be a move soon& I will be able to send the glad news to you that the Army of the Potomac is in Richmond. I am expecting our pay every day & as there is a chance to send the money by express I will wait a while & send you $25 at once it will cost the same. I don’t think you receive all my letters so I have numbered this & will continue to no. them as I write. You do the same & still mention the no. of the ones you receive & I will do the same then we can tell if any is miscarried. I have asked you in several letters if you ever recd the letter containing the $5 in & have got no answer. I sent you a book most a month ago & put 2 post stamps on & was told by the P.M. it would go. I have asked you in 2 letters if it came to hand I have got no answer. I got the book at the Battle of Hanover Courthouse as it was taken by me from the nap sack of a fallen rebel & would be very interesting to the children also beneficial to them. I hope it has reached you safe. I recd the stamps and am much obliged for them. I am out again & would be glad if you could send me som more as they cant be had here only as friends sends them. I am glad to hear of Roberts situation what salery does he get. I think you try to get as small sheets of paper as possible & don’t fill them either. I understand there will be drafts made do you think Mercer Co. will rase its quota without. I hope so I would be very sorry to have my native place compeld to draft soldiers to protect its country. If Thomas wishes I will write him a scetch of the proceedings of the army so far as it has come under my my own observation for Publication. But I suppose he has plenty of others. Give my Respects to all the friends & tell Beccy Peirce I am obliged to her & when I com home I shal surely call for the chicken & I am sure if I had it here I would make quick havoc with a verry large one. I had some butter for supper last nite the first I have tasted for months. Please let me receive no. one letter soon. I remain your affectionate
Levi Bailey Croy was born on May 16, 1826 in Butler County, Pennsylvania. He was the second son and fifth of seven children. His father was a merchant in Shenango, Pennsylvania in 1850, according to census data. Levi lived worked as a trader and lived with his parents. He married Jennie Irwin the same year and the two had four children prior to the outbreak of the Civil War.
Lieutenant Hancock McLean enlisted Levi into Company F, 6th U.S. Cavalry on July 3, 1861 in Pittsburgh. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’ 10” tall, with gray eyes, light hair and a fair complexion.
Levi served ably through the regiment’s initial campaigns, earning promotions to corporal and sergeant. He was captured at the battle of Fairfield and later imprisoned at Belle Isle. He was fortunate enough to be paroled in late September and was not sent to Andersonville like some of his companions. He returned to the regiment and continued to serve until the expiration of his term of service in the field on July 3, 1864.
Levi returned to his family in Pennsylvania. According to census data, by 1870 he worked as an engineer at oil wells in Venango County. The family now included six children, and they added a seventh before the 1880 census. By 1880 the family settled near the city of Beaver in Clarion County, where Levi worked as a farmer.
Levi Bailey Croy died on August 8, 1880 at the age of 54. He is buried in St. Paul’s Union Cemetery, Beaver, Clarion County. Pennsylvania.