Silas J. Mason, Jr.
Papers, 1862-1864

21228

Quantity: 33 items
Access: Open to research; digital copies are available
Acquisition: Purchase: Charles Apfelbaum, Rare Books and Collections, Valley Stream, New York, September 1995
Processed By: Kayleigh Paster, Student Assistant, University at Albany, for Manuscripts and Special Collections, March 2014

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Biographical Note:

Silas J. Mason, Jr. was born about 1841 in Moriah, Essex County, New York. The son of Silas and Eunice Mason, he worked as a boatman before the Civil War. Mason enlisted in Company H of the 5th New York Cavalry Regiment on October 7, 1861, at Crown Point, New York, and re-enlisted on January 1, 1864. During his time in service Mason was involved in a number of battles and skirmishes and participated in raids behind enemy lines. During one such raid in July 1864 Mason’s regiment came within ten miles of Tennessee and succeeded in destroying property and railroad tracks used by the Confederates. Mason was a prisoner of war in Richmond, Virginia at Belle Isle and Libby prisons, but was released and returned to his regiment in 1862. Mason was promoted twice during his time in service. The date of his promotion to corporal is unknown, but his letters indicate that his promotion to sergeant happened prior to May 4, 1863. Records of the 5th Cavalry indicate that Mason and nine other men were responsible for guarding the neutral ground between Union and Confederate forces while Grant and Lee were negotiating the terms of surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 8, 1865. Mason mustered out on July 19, 1865, at Winchester, Virginia.

After the war Mason married Florence Bernette Hewitt and moved to Union Grove, New York. The couple had four children: Silas H., Hosea C., Winfield S., and George W. In the years after the war Mason worked in railroad construction and as a merchant in Union Grove, New York. He died on April 14, 1914, in Union Grove.

Scope and Content Note:

The papers consist chiefly of letters written by Silas J. Mason, Jr. to his parents, Silas and Eunice Mason, and his sister, Diana Mason. The letters cover the years 1862 to 1865, with the bulk of the letters dating from 1863 and 1864. Mason’s letters detail his experiences with the 5th Cavalry. He describes the movements of the regiment as well as the battles and skirmishes involving the 5th Cavalry.  He mentions engagements and skirmishes near Thoroughfare Gap, Virginia, in October 1862, in the vicinity of the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania in late June and early July 1863, at Kelly Ford, Virginia, in September of 1863, and in the vicinity of Petersburg, Virginia, in the spring and summer of 1864. His letters also detail his participation in cavalry raids, foraging for food and supplies as well as guarding prisoners.

Item List:


Folder Item Description
1 1 To absent Diana [Mason], Harper’s Ferry, Va., April 10, 1862
1 2 To [?], Camp Harris, [near Annapolis, Md.], February 21, [1862]
1 3 Newspaper clipping from The Daily Clipper, Baltimore, Md., circa May 9,1862
1 4 To Respected Parents [Silas and Eunice Mason], Camp near Fort Scott, [Va.], Saturday eve, November 8, 1862
1 5 To Respected Sister [Diana Mason], Camp near Fort Scott, [Va.], [November] 12, 1862
1 6 To Father [Silas Mason], [?], December 17, 1862
1 7 To Mother [Eunice Mason], Fairfax Court House, [Va.], 3rd Brigade 2nd A Corps, April 23, 1863
1 8 To Respected Father [Silas Mason], Camp Stoneman, [Washington, D.C.], May 4, 1863
1 9 To Respected Mother [Eunice Mason], Bristoe Station, [Bristoe Station, Va.], May 18, 1863
1 10 To Sister Diana [Mason], Camp Stoneman, Washington, D.C., May 19, 1863; second page of letter is missing
1 11 To Mother [Eunice Mason], Bristoe Station, 3rd Cav. Brigade, [Bristoe Station, Va.], June 8, 1863
1 12 To Sister [Diana Mason], Fairfax CH [Court House], [Va.], June 24, 1863
1 13 To Absent Sister [Diana Mason], Camp near Leesburg [Va.], Genl. [Kilpatrick’s] Div., July 17, 1863
1 14 To Respected Parents [Silas and Eunice Mason], Ellis’ Ford, Raphanack [i.e., Rappahannock] River, Va., August [20, 1863]
1 15 To Father [Silas Mason], Camp Stoneman, Washington, D.C., August 28, 1863
1 16 To Absent Parents [Silas and Eunice Mason], Hartwood Church, Camp in the Woods, [Hartwood, Va.], 1st Brigade 2nd  Div., September 1, 1863
1 17 To Respected Sister [Diana Mason], Camp near Gainesville, [Va.], October 23, 1863
1 18 To Respected Parents [Silas and Eunice Mason], Camp near Catlet [i.e., Catlett] Station, [Va.], 1st Brigade 3rd Div., [circa early November, 1863?]
1 19 To Respected Father [Silas Mason], Camp near Stevensburg, Va., 1st Brigade 3rd Div., November 4, 1863
1 20 To Respected Sister [Diana Mason], Camp near Stevensburg, [Va.], November 11, 1863
1 21 To Respected Sister [Diana Mason], Camp near Stevensburg, Va., 1st Brigade, 3rd Div., February 8, 1864
1 22 To Respected Mother [Eunice Mason], Camp near Stevensburg, Va., 1st Brigade, 3rd Div., February 19, 1864
1 23 To Sister Diana [Mason], Camp near Pamunkie [i.e., Pamunkey] River, Va., 1st Brigade 3rd Div., [circa May 1864]
1 24 To Respected Father [Silas Mason], Bell Plain, Va., [?] Cavalry Detachment, May 19, 1864
1 25 To Respected Diana [Mason], Port Conway, Va.,  1st Brigade, 3rd Div., May 26, 1864
1 26 To Absent but not forgotten sister [Diana Mason], On picket near Petersburg, Va., 1st Brigade 3rd Div., June 20, 1864; contains letter from Silas Mason, Sr. to Silas Mason Jr., Moriah, [N.Y.], June 28, 1864
1 27 To Father [Silas Mason], Camp near City Point, Va., 1st Brigade 3rd Div., July 3, 1864
1 28 To Mother [Eunice Mason], Camp Stoneman, Washington, D.C., 1st Brigade 3rd Div., July 10, 1864
1 29 To Respected Father [Silas Mason], Gleason House, Washington, D.C., September 24, [1864]
1 30 To Respected Father [Silas Mason], Camp Stoneman, Washington, D.C., September 29, 1864
1 31 To Respected Mother [Eunice Mason], Winchester, Va., May 20, 1865
1 32 Note to Mother [Eunice Mason], undated
1 33 To Sister [Diana Mason], Camp Stoneman, Washington, D.C., undated
2   Unpublished transcriptions of many of the original letters
Last Updated: October 28, 2014