Erastus Harrington enlisted in Company I of the Fourth Michigan Infantry on August 22, 1862 at the age of 18. He was taken prisoner on July 2, 1863 at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. There is no further record of him after that.
The following three letters were written by Erastus to his mother, Rachel Buck, and were found in the Pension Application File for Erastus Harrington, in the National Archives in Washington D.C.
Dear Mother, October the 22nd, 1862
I am endeavoring to let you know where I am once more. I am in camp near Sharpsburg [Maryland]. I am well and hope these few lines will find you and all the folks the same. Dear Mother, you need not worry about me if I am in war for I like fun. As long as I keep well I shall get along well enough. I am getting as fat as a hog. I think I am big enough to take care of myself. This regiment crossed over the Potomac the other day. T%hey was gone two days. The rebels escorted them in with a shell every now and then. I did not get to go over with them. I have not got any gun yet so I shant fight [in the] army at present. So you need not be alarmed about me. I am alright. I am not afraid but what I can take care of myself. I sent thirty eight dollars to Jane two months ago. But I don’t know whether she got it or not for my friends won’t write to me. But Mother, you must write to me as soon as you get this letter. Please direct your letter to Erastus Harrington Fourth Michigan Infantry Co. I Washington D.C. and it will come to me wherever I am. So goodbye for this time.
I had a good time coming out here. I have been all over Washington, from one side to the other. We came all the way from Detroit to Washington in two days. It is all mountains all the way. I cannot write much more today, so goodbye.
This is from your son, Erastus Harrington
Write [as] soon as poss.
Dear Mother, In Camp near Falmouth, Virginia February the 5th, 1863
I thought that I would write a few lines once more to you. I am well as common, tough, and hearty. It has been a long time since I heard from you. I have wrote to you since you wrote to me. I should like to hear from you once more. We have had a grand time since I heard from you. We had a small march and got stuck in the mud just as we was going to attack the rebels. It took us about six or seven hours to get to the place where we was to attack the rebels and we was five days getting back again. The rebels stood on the other side of the river and laughed at us and said if we wanted they would come and help us over. We finally gave it up as a bad job. After we got back into the old camp we got all of our pay, except two months. They kept back two months pay. I can’t think of anything more to write today. I am a going to send you a couple of dollars in this letter. So goodbye for this time. Please write as soon as you get this.
This is from your son, Erastus Harrington
Dear Mother, In Camp near Falmouth, Virginia May the 23rd, 1863
I just sit down to write a few lines to you and to let you know that I am well. I received your letter last evening and was glad to hear from you. I think it was as warm here yesterday as I ever saw it. I can’t send you any money now for I have not got it to send and don’t know how long it will be before we get paid again. Some say that we will get paid this week. If we do, I shall draw two months pay. It is getting so warm that I guess we won’t march more this summer and I hope that the war will end by the time that the falls campaign comes in. But the worst thing that I have seen yet was when we charged through the woods at Chancellorsville the day that the rebels tried so hard to break our center and found every time that they tried it that we kept too much grape [shot] and cannister for them. So they thought they would burn the woods over. The dead and wounded lay thick all through them and it burnt them awfully [bad]. Oh it was [an] awful sight to look at but that is nothing. I cannot think of anything more to write today nor I haven’t got time to write any more today for it is getting about meeting time and I must go to it.
So goodbye for this time, yours with respect Rachel Buck, from your son,
Please write soon again. I like to hear from Michigan quite often. I get a letter from Michigan about twice a week and I answer all that I get.