1861-2: Delanson Orlando Kellogg to Mathena (Kellogg) Rice

The 50th Pennsylvania at Beaufort, SC (Feb/1862)

This letter was written by Delanson Orlando Kellogg (1842-1924), the son of Moses Kellogg (1801-1864) and Mehitable C. Mason (1804-1881) of Monroeton, Bradford County, Pennsylvania.

Nineteen year-old Delanson enlisted as a private in Co. K, 50th Pennsylvania Infantry in early September 1861. Some six weeks later the regiment embarked on Sherman’s expedition to Port Royal, South Carolina. Companies A, B, C, D, and E were placed on board the Winfield Scott, and F, G, H, I, and K were placed on board the Ocean Queen with the 100th Pennsylvania. Both vessels ran into high seas while rounding Cape Hatteras. According to the regimental history, the Winfield Scott — “utterly unseaworthy” — sprung a leak and “the masts were cut away, gund, tents, knapsacks, and everything loose was thrown overboard” to try to save the vessel. As described in Delanson’s vessel, the fleet finally landed in the harbor of Port Royal. From Delanson’s letter we learn that Company K set up their encampment on the plantation belonging to Squire William Pope (1788-1862) called “Cotton Hope.”

Kellogg was promoted to corporal for meritorious conduct at Pocotaligo. He was discharged on a surgeon’s certificate in December 10, 1862.

Kellogg wrote these letters to his older sister, Mathena (Kellogg) Rice (1828-1912) — the wife of Joel Rice (1826-1874).


Hilton Head, South Carolina
November ___ [1861]

Dear Sister,

It was with great pleasure that I received your letter and now I take my pen in hand to answer it. It was a good while a coming but I hope the rest will come quicker. The mail will run regular now. I feel very well this morning. I have had a very bad cold but it is a getting better. The boys that was sick are gaining slowly. There are three or four of them very sick but I think they will gain right along now.

It was a very hard on all of us a being on the ship so long a laying around. Did not agree with us. If we had had more exercise, we would been all right but I will tell you we had two hard nights on the old ship. Some of them thought she would go down — the waves rolled over the deck. The Captain of the ship said it was as hard a storm that he ever saw. There was four ships lost. They were small ships. The Rebels got two of our ships that drifted ashore. Our ship stood it very well. The Winfield Scott came very near going down. They threw everything overboard and chopped down on her mast.

We had a very good time a taking this island. We did not have to fight any but we expected to have a hand in, but we got disappointed. I guess there was some four men killed, but their three or four wounded, but they made great havoc among the Rebels. We don’t know how many we killed of the rebels. They carried a great many of their men off with them.

The Niggers are tickled to death to think that their masters had to run. There was a man by the name of Mr. William Pope — he appears to be the head man of the island. The niggers said he pulled off his pants so he could run faster. I suppose there was a great scattering amongst them. They tell about Pope’s running with his britches off. That tickled the niggers. There was a nigger runaway from the southerners and brought his family over the river in a boat to the island. He was a very smart Nigger. He told us all about the rebels and how Wm Pope had whipped him but he thought he had got his pay.

There was a great many rich men on this island. the niggers said they cried because they had to leave the island. Their South Carolina was gone. They made a good strike when they took this land. They got some of the very best kind of cannons and artillery. There is no end to horses and mules. If Joel was here, he could get him a pair of mules. He has been working so long for a pair, I have half a notion to send him a span in this letter but I have not got room enough — I have got so much to write.

I would like to go over on the other side of the river and see how it looks over there. The rebels left there two [cannons?]. They say there are more on the other side than there are here but it will not do for us to get far off from our camp for they might pick us up for contrabands — we are a getting so black. The weather is as warm here now as it is in the summer time. It seems odd to us to have summer in the month of November. I suppose they have had cold weather there by this time.

We have a very good place to pitch our tents here but it is very sandy. When we was a fixing for our tents, we found a bomb shell that did not burst. It was as much as I could lift. The shells made great work amongst the rebels.

It would just suit Joel to farm here. He would not have to pick up any stones. There are nice fields of corn and cotton, sweet potatoes, and peanuts. The cotton grows on bushes that look like blackberry briers. They plant everything in drill. Around some of the houses there are nice oranges and lemons. The most of the oranges are not ripe yet. I will send you a little cotton to let you see what we raise on our plantations. I meant to send some in the letter that I wrote to Oliver but the man came around that takes the letters so I did not have time to send any.

Some of the boys got very nice things that belonged to the rebels. [Brother] Charles ¹ got a silver cup and he got a bottle of cod liver oil. We have been a taking it for our colds. It done us a great deal of good. I got a nice pair of mittens. They were nice white wool. They are knit with one finger. I suppose they were made to shoot with. I wrote home to our folks to send me a pair but I don’t need them now. They did not know what kind of handkerchiefs I wanted. It is pocket handkerchiefs I wanted. If you get this before Joseph Ingham starts back, tell them to send me 2 linen handkerchiefs.

You wrote they were raising lots of soldiers. I tell you Old Pennsylvania is a doing something for her country. I would not mind a being there and taking a peak at the little fellow and then I recon I would have some cider and apples on the strength of it if it is as smart a boy as they say. He could afford one hungry fellow his belly full. But never mind, I will be around yet and make up for lost time. The time has passed off very well with me. I have not been homesick. I won’t allow myself to get homesick. I can content myself better than I thought I could. I think they calculate to keep us here all winter by the calculations. We have got us a good well. It is very good water. They detail men every day to chop timber to make a wharf so I think they calculate to keep us here all winter.

Tell our folks I would like to have them send me a Tribune or an Argus once in awhile. for we don’t know what is a going on and we want something to read. We heard that they had a battle at Bulls Run ² but we don’t know anything about what is going on. Tell Oliver if he wants anymore horses, let me know and I will try and send him a mate to his horse. It would be a good ways to send a horse — about 130 hundred miles — but I think I can get him there.

Well I guess I will have to stop a writing for I can’t keep the run of my story. Charles is middling well. He has a bad cold, and so have I, but we are a getting better. Give my best respects to all of the enquiring. Tell Louisa’s folks they must write. I will write to them when I get a chance. I will write as often as I can and you must do the same. It seems good to get a letter from home and know what is a going on.

Goodbye. From your dear brother, — D. Kellogg

¹ Charles Henry Kellogg was Delanson’s older brother who served with him in Co. K. Charles was killed on 1 September 1862 at Chantilly, Virginia.

¹ The First Battle of Bull Run was fought before Delanson even enlisted so the report of another battle there was clearly only a camp rumor. 


Letter number two describes the brisk fight at Port Royal Ferry — about 25 miles from Hilton Head — on New Year’s Day, 1862. The expedition which achieved this Union victory was a combined land and naval effort. The command was a joint command of Brig. Gen. I. Stevens and Capt. Rogers of the flagship U.S.S. Wabash. The federral forces consisted of the 8th Michigan Regiment, the 50th Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Roundheads, the 79th New York Militia, and the 47th and 48th New York Volunteers. The naval force also had 4 gunboats — the Ellen, Ottawa, Seneca, and the Pembina. 

Steven’s brigade advanced on Port Royal and took possession of the Confederate batteries after a short skirmish with the Confederate defense. The Federals were assisted by the gunboats which shelled the batteries from the shoreline. The Federals pursued the Confederates to within 6 miles of the Charleston Railroad. After the fight, the Confederates issued a flag of truce for the purpose of burying their dead. Stevens agreed to the truce. One hour was granted to the Confederates for the burial detail, after which the confederates fell back upon their fortifications near the railroad, which was very extensive, leaving behind them 1 large gun that they had spiked.

In his letter, Kellogg grossly overestimates the Confederate casualties which were actually only 8 killed and 24 wounded.


Addressed to Mrs. Mathina Rice, Monroeton, Bradford county, Pennsylvania

Beaufort, South Carolina
January the 10, 1862

Dear Sister,

I thought I would write you a few lines and let you know how we are a getting along. There is nothing new a going on here at present. We had quite a time New Year’s Day. As the Negroes say, we went over on the main to see master. I guess they were not very pleased to see us. They tried hard to hit us with their bomb shells but they did not do our regiment any damage. It was a wonder they did not cut us all to pieces with the chance they had. Their battery was in shot of our guns. By raising the sight to our guns, they would a held up to them, so you may judge they were close on us. I never thought the men would stand fire so well. Whenever a shell would burst over their heads, they would laugh and shout at the Rebels. They did not seem to mind the shells at all.

The 8th Michigan Regiment were very bold. They did not mind their fire. They killed two of the Michigan men and wounded 5. They got off very lucky. I expected they would kill half of their company. They only sent out one company of their regiment to see what the Rebels had. Some of them went into the woods and the rest faced the cannons in the open field. They went with 8 or ten rods of the Battery. The Rebels were were in behind the Battery with their muskets and they fired volleys at our men. Our en returned the fire. They shot several rounds and then retreated back. They knew there was no use in their standing their fire. They only went up to see what they had. ¹

The right wing of our company went around to the left of the Battery. They thought they would come in behind of it but they soon found out it would not do for the Rebels had drawn up in line of battle before them. Our men had a signal flag to wave at the gunboat to let them know where to throw the shells when they ran the flag where they throwed a shell and it lit right amongst the Rebels. About the time the shell struck, our men fired on them and charged ___ on them and they retreated back to their Battery.

About this time our men gave a loud cheer and then the Rebels gave one. By the sound of the Rebels, there must have been 8 or 10 thousand. For about 2 miles, there was one roar which made the woods ring. That night our officers expected they would attack us. We slept on our guns that night and we left our blankets and overcoats on the other side of the [Coosaw] river, The men made themselves as comfortable as they could and did not grumble. We slept very well. I have got so use to being around the Rebels that I can sleep most anywhere. When we first went down to the [Port Royal] ferry on picket, we were a little shy at night for the Rebels could a throwed a shell amongst us any time but we are a getting so we are not afraid of nothing. By the accounts we have learned, we killed a great many of the Rebels.

About eight o’clock in the morning, the gunboats commenced shelling the woods. Before they commenced firing, the Rebels got so bold they came out in the fields. We did not know but they were a fixing to attack us. We [were] drawn up in line of battle for them. as near as we could calculate they had about 30 thousand men that morning. They tried hard to get into the woods and then cut us off but they were not sharp enough. By the Negroes tell, they had been a running in troop [?] all the time so they must a had a large force. When the gunboats commenced firing, the rebels had drawn their force in very close to the fields where we was. The gunboats throwed the shells over them at first and then kept drawing in nearer and nearer until they began to smell woolen. They fired over our heads once. We could hear the balls whistle until they would stop. Some of them would go four or five miles. You may judge they made some noise a going through the air to hear them go 4 or 5 miles. The captain of the gunboats climb up the masts with a spy glass and he could see all through the woods and tell the men where to direct their shells. The men upon the masts said the woods was alive with men and every plantation was covered with devils. The men could see back to Gardner Corners. It is about 4 miles from the [Coosaw] river. They throwed shells into Gardner Corners and beyond there. They throwed shells for about 5 hours from their gunboats. There was such a roar from the cannons and the bombs a bursting that we could not hardly tell when they fired them. There was a body of horsemen a coming down the road and they throwed a shell amongst them and they said horses and riders fell in all directions. It must have been a hard time for the Rebels. The men said where the Rebels had taken their dead away that there was hands and legs that had been shot off. Some of our men helped to bury their dead Rebels that the Rebels did not get. These were the men that we killed the first day.

Gen. Thomas W. Sherman

The Rebels came in the night with a flag of truce and carried away two wagon loads of men they recovered. There was 150 men killed the first afternoon. If there was that many killed that afternoon, their must have been a great many more killed the next day for they throwed 8 times as many shells and there was as many again men by the account of the darkies and what the men on board of the ships could see with their spyglass, they estimated the Rebel loss at 7,000 men killed and wounded. It don’t hardly [seem] possible but there must have been a great many killed. You have no idea what destruction the shells will make. The Negroes said out of one company of the Rebels, there was but four left. The Negroes said they carried them off by wagonloads. He said he helped to bury 50 and then ran away and came over where we are. There has several ran away and come to us. They all tell the same story, They said the Rebels had retreated back & 7 miles. The General says it is the best work that has been done but the greatest wonder is that we got off with as few lost as we did. The General made great calculation for a bloody battle. They went prepared for a great [many] wounded but they got disappointed. Our General gave us a very high praise. He thought that there was never a braver lot of men and Brigadier General [Thomas W.] Sherman praises us very highly.

They gave the fiftieth [50th] Regiment rather the most praise for they thought — take it all around — they were in the most danger and they took it so cool. I expect we will have to cross over on the mainland before long by their calculation and take possession of the railways. I would a written to you before but I have been a waiting for a letter. I have not received one in about a week. Tell Ann I answer her letter as soon as I get a chance.

[My brother] Charles and I are well. I am a getting so fat and lazy that it seems like hard work to write a letter. I am a getting so I like soldiering. I have not received those things you sent but I think they will be along after awhile. The boys send their best respects to you and [your husband] Joel. They are all well but Robert Chubbuck. He is not very well. Write soon. Give my love to Geises’ folks and to all.

From your dear brother, — D. Kellogg

¹ For an interesting account of the action by a soldier in the 8th Michigan Infantry, Co. F, see Emmet Cole’s letter of 2 January 1862.


Beaufort, South Carolina
May the 10, 1862

Dear Sister,

I received your letter today dated May 2. I am very glad to hear that the folks are all as well as usual. I am we but [brother] Charles is very sick, He is at Beaufort now. He went into Beaufort Thursday. He has been complaining for several days. I heard from him today. He was not much better. I think I will go into Beaufort tomorrow and see him. I am very sleepy today. I came off from picket this morning. We have to stand on post 24 hours and have to go on every three days.

This is Monday, the 12th. I did not have time to finish my letter Saturday and now I thought I would. There is nothing new going on here today. I heard from Charles today. Is some better. I hope he will soon be so he can be with the company again. It don’t seem right when he is not in the company.

We are having good times on picket now a hunting alligator and wild turkeys. I like to be on picket. I will have to go on again in the morning. We have about 5 miles to go where we stand post. Some of our regiment went over on the mainland. There was seven or eight. There was two boys out of our company went over — Ed Steel ¹ and By. Adams. ² The most of our company got ready to go over and the general gave orders to not but one go out of a company. The boys went back to Gardner’s Corners. They did not see many Rebels. Just before they got to Gardner’s Corners they saw two Negroes mounted on horses. They were standing guard. When they saw the boys, they gave the alarm and 15 or 20 men started after the boys. When they past the boys, they were in three or four rods of them. The boys could hear what they said. Just after they passed the boys, they throwed out skirmishers but the boys were inside of the skirmishers and they did not find them. Ed. Steel and By. Adams started for the mainland last night. They were going on another scout. The Rebels are not very plenty over on the mainland. They drawed all their troops up to Yorktown. There was several Negroes came over from the main[land] the other night. They said their was two regiments on the main[land] now. They came back the other day. Our men did not have a very hard time a taking Yorktown after all. I don’t think the Rebels will hold out much longer. I think we will not have to soldier much longer.

I was very glad you sent me them gloves. The come good once in a while while my old teeth ache once in a while and they will stop them. I can’t think of much news to write now. The boys are most all well. [Sgt.] George [L.] Bowman sends his best respects to you. George has been sick for a week or two. I believe he is getting better. I don’t believe you can read this letter. The boys keep me a teetering so I can’t hardly write. I send my best respects to all and hope we will all be at home before many days. Goodbye.

Write often from your dear brother, — D. Kellogg

¹ Cpl. Edwin H. Steel was killed at Spottsylvania Court House on 12 May 1864.

² Pvt. Lewis B. Adams deserted the company in September 1862.

Addressed to Mrs. Mathena Rice, Monroeton, Bradford co., PA


Beaufort, South Carolina
June 9, 1862

Dear Sister,

I received your letter last night dated May 28 and I thought I would answer it this morning seeing I had time. It is very stormy this morning. It has been raining by spells for 4 or 5 days. I feel first rate this morning. [Brother] Charles is some better. He has not been very well since we were over on the main[land]. He was not fit for duty when he started but he would go and we had such a hard jaunt it was enough to make anyone sick. It used me up for three or four days but I am all right now.

We had quite a time the other night here. About 9 o’clock the news came in that the Rebels were landing on the island. I was out on picket about 2 miles from Beaufort but I heard the cavalryman when he came in and he said the Rebels were landing. In a little while we heard the long roll beat and in a half hour the regiment were out where I was on picket so you may know they were not long a getting ready. The regiment marched out to the Salt Water Bridge and stopped until they found out where the Rebels were. They staid there until about 2 o’clock at night and then started back. We could not hear a thing from the Rebels. The report started from the Rebels. They saw them on Barnwell’s Island. The men went back to camp and had not but just laid down when another messenger came in and said the Rebels were landing at the Ferry so up they got and started again. But when they got most out, we heard the Rebels had gone back. The Rebels came over in a flatboat. Capt. [William H.] Telford’s men [of Co. H]  were on picket at the Ferry when the boat was crossing. Our men halted it and they were Negroes a rowing the boat and they said don’t shoot, master. Ot is a boat load [of] Negroes coming over. When the boat got a little closer, the Rebels raised up in the boat and fired at our pickets. They wounded three of our men. They all got away. They did not get any of our men. I do not know what Captain Telford’s men done. They said they fired into the Rebels but we can’t tell what they did do and I guess they did not know what they done themselves. Some of them came a running in and said their was 4 or 5 thousand Rebels landed already so we made great preparations for a fight. Come to find out one boat load of Rebels came over and destroyed our flatboat at the ferry and went back. If there had been one good spunky company at the ferry, they could [have] drove the Rebels back. By [the] time we got out there, the Rebels had gone back.

There was a great stir in Beaufort. The women all left for Hilton Head and the store keepers were in great trouble. Charles was not well enough to go with us so he went down to town and took charge of things there. I wished there had been about a thousand Rebels came over. We could a whipped them out with the chance we had. It was not long before there was three or four gunboats here ready for them. We have been expecting an attack here. We have not got many men here. The other regiments have gone to Edisto Island near Charleston. They have had some sharp work there already. I should not wonder if we would have to go. The Rock Island Regiment is coming here and I should not wonder if we had to leave and go with our Brigade.

I was sorry when I heard the things were not a coming. I suppose it is rather risky about sending things but the boys in the regiment get things every little while. Lew Gridley in Co. G ¹ got a box the other day from home. Company D gets things every little while. The most risk is the Express men says is the boats that come is loaded with other things so they can’t all their things carried on one boat so they will have to lay in New York until the other boat comes in. The last boat that came in I went down to see if our things had come but I did not find them there. There is not much risk to run in sending things if there is boats a coming from New York that they can get to carry them. When the government is using the boats a carrying soldiers, it is a hard matter to get things here. The Express man said there was a great many things back now a waiting for a boat but he said they would be here before long. We can do without the things very well now. We are going to draw our pay and then we can buy things to eat. Do not blame them for not sending the things if they think there is a good deal of risk to run for such a box of things is worth too much to lose. If there is plenty of boats a coming through, I think there is not much danger but if they have to lay to New York for boats, it is rather risky.

I don’t know but I have received two letters from you since I have written but I have so many letters to answer I forget sometimes whether I answer them or not. But I will try and answer all you write. I have no fault to find about your not writing for I get one most every mail. It does me good to get a letter from you. You and William writes a good many letters. You know how much good it does us to get letters from home for you and William have been away and have had experience. I do not mind answering letters here if I don’t have much news to write. I know it is news to hear from us and hear how we are getting along. I wrote a letter to William and wrote the particulars about our fight over on the main[land] and I thought I would not [say] anything about it in this letter. You can see Willie’s letter. It tyakes a good while to write all the particulars.

Our battle the other night did not amount to much. The worst was I had to stand on picket two nights and days hard running and marched about 12 miles besides. I expected to be very sleepy the second night but i was not very. You never saw it rain as it did Saturday night. If we had to lay out 2 nights and days when we were at home and not sleep a wink either, we would think it was hard. But soldiers can stand anything.

I can’t think of much more to write so goodbye. Charles sends our best respects to all. Write often. From your dear brother, — D. Kellogg

Joel must not think hard because I don’t write to him. When I write yo you, I calculate it is to him as much as you. You are to be supposed both as one. — D. K.

¹ Lewis B. Gridley of Co. G was killed at Spottsylvania Court House on 12 May 1864.


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