Monday, 23 July, 2018 11:08 PM

American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies



John Jamnes Toffey,.after wounding at Missionary Ridge.

John James Toffey,.after wounding at Missionary Ridge.

John Jamnes Toffey,.after wounding at Missionary Ridge, page 2..

John James Toffey,.after wounding at Missionary Ridge, page 2.



Twelve Letter…

"in a Civil War"

My Great Grandfather, John James Toffey

My Great-grandfather, John James Toffey, enlisting in August 21, 1862, at the age of 18, Twenty-first Regiment, New Jersey Volunteers. On November 23, 1863, he fought in the two bullets, wounds, Battle of Missionary Ridge, in Chattanooga, TN.

On April 14, 1865, he learned that President Abraham Lincoln planned to attend the performance at Ford Theatre that night. See, President Lincoln, Washington D.C., April 14, 1865: "Performance about haft-past 10 o'clock."pma.gif.jpg

Two years, 18 to 20 years old, John wrote a twelve letters. John's Brother, Daniel, John's parents, John's Grandma. And John's four children, Danl (Daniel), George, Willie (William Vermilye Toffey I), Mary & Millie.

"Five of twelve letters" in spring, 2013, Lohn'slatters to scan, and into documents!

History December 23rd, 1862...
History John James Toffey: six of twelve letter, 12/27/1862
History Hospital at Chattanooga, 11/25/1863
History JJT Letter, 12/1863
History JJT Letter, 12/29/1863

"Camp near Bell Plains"

December 23rd, 1862

"My dear Brother Dan, [brother Daniel]

I received your letter this morning and I was glad to hear from you all and I thought I would write you a few lines in answer to it. We are now near our old encampment where we Camped before we advance toward Fredericksburg about 5 miles from that Place, and yesterday we were ordered to build our tents in regular order and to day are laying out our Streets between our tents Cutting down trees and digging out the Stumps thae are in the way. And from all appearances I think we will remain her some time perhaps all winter. Jno. Headden Jno Van Gelder & Myself have built ourselves a snug little tent we have logs at the Bottom and our tents pitched on the top of them. Mr Fitch Mr Roulane from Bayonne Mr Fielder & Dr Cornelison have all at last reached us after a good deal of trouble. Dr Cornelison brought those things for the Hudson City Boys among which I received a pair of Mitts from Fanny Van Horn. I wish you would tell Mary thank her for me although from Hudson Cit I did not receive any of the things sent fro the boys of that place. I am in such a place that I do not receive any thing from the Bergen Committee on acct of my being from Hudson City, and nothing from the Hudson City because I am in a Bergen Company not that I need them as I have all I wish for and anything that I need is quickly furnished by Daniel if he has it but I know that you have been called upon to contribute towards the fund in Bergen and I think I should come in for my share. Daniel has been to take Mr Fitch and the rest of the Visitors down to the landing, he is well and waiting for the Regt. to be PAid off before he goes after another load. I told you in my last letter I would give you a description of the Battle but Daniel has given you such a god on in his letter that it is not necessary for me to write it over again. It is very nice to read about a battle but to be as near one as we have been it is not nice.

When the Balls & Shells commenced to buzz over us I began to think of home but after a while it began to be a common thing and the boys began to get up from behind the bank and cook our dinner and when we heard a shell we would drop and then rise as if nothing had happened. A Battle the leas I can say is a dreadful thin.

The Wounded were brought over by hundreds on litters. If our Brigadier General had not been wounded we should likely have been brought in the thickest of the battle as he is a brave man. Please tell Ma when she sends me anything I wish she would send me one of my Vests. We have had some very cold weather but to day is very pleasant. Give my respect to Mr Van Reipen & Family. All the boys send their respects.

Give my love to Pa. & Ma Willie & Millie. Kiss Mary for me.

From Your Affectonate Brother.

Daniel sends his love to all."

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"On Picket near the Reappearance"

December 27th 1862

"My dear Grandma [Mary Cooke Toffey]

You must excuse me for not answering your last letter before this, as I have past through some exciting scenes since I last wrote. And I will try and give you a description of the time we had with the Rebs. On Dec. 10th we received orders to move but where we did not know, and at 12 o'clock at night went off and were told we were to go on Picket on the Banks of the Rappahanock in a very dangerous spot. At last we arrived near the River, were ordered not to speak above a whisper, as the enemy's pickets were on the opposite bank only a 100 yds across we were then posted. We could plainly hear them talk on the opposite side. About 3 o'clock our Pontoon train arrived and commenced building a bridge within 20 yds where I was stationed, and at 5 o clock 150 of our cannon opened fire on the other side to make way that our men could build the bridge, tow of the pieces were over head on a Bank guarding the pontoon bridge, when the first bridge was almost across a ret of rebels suddenly appeared and opened a murderous fire on the men employed in building the bridge. The two pieces of our artillery immediately opened on them and killed quite a number of them. They killed two of our men and wounded 10. At 12 o clock we were relieved and went to the rear, during this time our artillery was shelling the other side to make way for our troops to pass over, which they kept up all day. About 3 o clock in the afternoon our troops commenced crossing.

Early the next morning our Regt crossed, we remained near the river all that day. Early next morning we were ordered in front and we marched up within 150 yds of their skirmishers we had not been their a half an hour before our skirmishers began to fire and advance on theirs and then the battle commenced in its fury. The Artillary of Both Sides commenced firing and the balls and Shells burst and went over our heads. We were then supporting the first Maryland Batter and laid behind a bank, 7 of our regt were wounded, Our Col had his sword struck with a piece of Shell and our Brigadier General was seriously wounded while encouraging the Skirmishers, and we all think if he had not been wounded we would have very likely have been brought in close action, as he is a very brave man. Within a 100 yds of us one of the Penn Regts advanced and the enemy fired on them and they commenced firing back. We could plainly see the Officer riding up and down with hat in hand encouraging his men and see him fall, and his horse run rider less about the field. We could see the Colours fall and then rise again. But we being in an open field and they having a woods and Strong Breastworks to fight from, it was impossible to drive them from their position. It is very nice to read of a battle but to be as near one it is not so nice, and I never want to be as near one again. We were under fire for two days, when we were relieved and went to the rear, where we remained all day.

At night after I had laid down for the night and had first fallen to sleep I was woke up and told to prepare to march and make as little noise as possible, we were in line and ready to march in 5 minutes when we crossed the river and halted on the other side, and I being very tired spread my blanket and laid down and slept till morning and when I awoke was surprised to find all our troops removed to this side. The next day we marched back to where we were encamped before we advanced and were ordered to lay out our tents in regular order, and I think we will remain their some time. I will now tell you how we spent our Christmas. Early Christmas morning our Colonel gave us the Pleasing information that we were to go on Picket for three days and we are still here and will be relieved tomorrow. We are about a mile from the river. Daniel is well and is at our encampment about two miles from here. He would send his love if he knew I was writing. Daniel during our march and while on the other side of the river marched by my side with a musket over his shoulder. And he met with quite a narrow escape while going from the regt. to the hospital. Four shells fell near him and threw dirt all over him but as luck would have it, they did not burst. I am well and hearty.

Give my love to Uncle Jim and Family Uncle John, Aunt E. Cousin Ann. And all friends. Tell Aunt E I have not received an answer to my letter I wrote her. I will now close.

Wishing you all

A Happy New Year

From Your Affectionate Grandson

John J Toffey

Co C, 21st Regt NJV.

3rd Brigade

2nd Division

6th Army Corps

Washington, D.C. or Elsewhere

PS Write Soon and Often"

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"Hospital at Chatanooga"

November 25, 1863

"Dear parents

I am in the Hospital wounded. Day before yesterday the Army of the Cumberland attacked the enemy in front of Chattanooga. In the first attack I got wounded. Capt. Boggs of Co. A was in command of the Skirmish line when news was brought that he was wounded. And the Colonel sent me out to take his place and I had struck orders not to allow the Rebels to come this side of a certain Creek, and while I was urging the men to fire low and hit their man I received a ball in my Thigh. I fell and remained laying on the ground about one hour when I was picked up and brought to this Hospital. That was the hottest Skirmish line I was ever on the balls flew like hail stones. My wound is a flesh wound and I feel very grateful that it was no worse. The ball entered about a half an inch from my hip bone and went through my flesh about 4 inches. The Dr. had to cut out the ball which was quite Painful Our Regt'l Doctor is at this Hospital and takes good care of me. I am very comfortable. So you need not feel anxious about me. I will write you often and let you know how I am getting along. I may have a chance to get home for some time and will write and let you know. We gave the Rebels a good whipping. The fight is not over yet. We have Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. I received Daniel's Letter with $15 but have not received Willie's.

Love to all from your affectionate Son,

JJ Toffey"

Book, "American Brutus"

John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies

Written by Michael W. Kauffman
History - United States; Biography & Autobiography - Presidents | Random House | HarD.C.over | November 2004 | $29.95 | 0-375-50785-X



"By God, then, is John Booth crazy?"

Excerpted from American Brutus by Michael W. Kauffman Copyright © 2004 by Michael W. Kauffman. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

The assassin may have gotten away, but certainly not by intimidation. Many of those present had faced far greater dangers than a man with a knife. Lt. John J. Toffey of the 10th V.R.C., for example, was one of those who froze when Booth ran by. Once, while serving with the 33rd New Jersey Infantry, Toffey had launched a ferocious assault on the enemy that would earn him a gunshot wound in the hip and (eventually) a Medal of Honor. Yet in Ford's Theatre, all he could do was stare vacantly as the killer fled. Self-reproach ate at him. "I had a Revolver with me," he wrote, "and would to God I had presence of mind enough at the time the man jumped down to have shot him. Several other officers had revolvers but the thing was done so quick that there was hardly time to draw them and shoot."

In fact, nobody even drew, and though a few men did make a rush for the back door, for a variety of reasons they went no farther."

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"11th Corps Hospital"

Chattanooga Tenn

Dec  th 1863

"Dear parents

The Father of one of the officers of this room came to see him yesterday and he is going home to night, I thought I would write you a few lines and send it by him and let him mail it on the way as you would get it so much sooner than by mailing from here.

I will now tell you how I am getting along. One end of my Wound seems to be healing up while the other continues running. It can not run much longer as it is almost cleaned out. The Dr is expecting an order every day to send all the wounded to Nashville and when we get there we can get home. I am quite weak. The reason that I am so weak I never told you. About a week before the battle I was off duty on account of sickness. I had the intermittent fever and on the day of the battle when the line was formed I fell in my place. The Dr came around and came up to me and asked me where I was going. I told him with my Company He says you know you are not able so come and go with me to the Hospital, but I persisted, it being the first fight that the Regts was ever in. I want to be with the Co. I could hardly keep up on the march. We soon arrived near the enemy formed line of battle, etc. about my being wounded I wrote you in another letter. From the various rumours afloat I should judge our Corps was at Knoxville. We did give the Rebels a good blow this time. We live here very well. For Breakfast & Supper we have coffee or teas as we like. Soft Bread and Preserves or Stewed Fruit. Last night for the first we got some butter, how long it is going to last I do no know. For Dinner we receive Beef Steak Mashed Potatoes Pickels Soft Bread and Raw Onions. So you see we get along very well. Write Soon & often.

Give my love to Danl. George Willie Mary and Millie and all friends

From your affectionate Son

John J. Toffey

Co. G 33rd Regt, NJ Vol.

1st Brigade 2nd Div

11th Army Corps

Chattanooga or Elsewhere

PS Give my love Mr & Mrs Van REipen not forgetting the Old Gentleman. Tell Mr Van Reipen I rec,d letter and was very glad to get it and shall answer it as soon as I feel able


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"Officers Hospital"

Chattanooga Tenn

December 29, 1863

"Dear parents

I again write you a few lines to let you know how I am getting along. Since I last wrote you I have been moved to the Officers Hospital. There is no one but Officers here. We live very good here. My crutches were given to me the other day. I can now quite go on them alone yet. The nurse will catch hold of my arm and then I can go around the room first rate. I hope it will not be long before I will be able to see you all as there is no difficulty in getting papers as the Dr in charge of this hospital gets them nearly every day for Officers who are able to stand the journey alone. If Daniel has not started yet tell him he need not come without he wishes as I can wait until I am able to go alone which I hope will not be long. Officers at Hospitals have to pay the Board 1.00 a day. You know the pay of a Lieut is only $50 a month and we are allowed 4 Rations a day and when on Duty we do not draw ration but draw money instead which with our pay amts to $100. But while we are in Hospitals they furnish our food and charge us for it. I suppose Willie and Mary was treated well by Santa Claus on Christmas. I thought of them as I lay in bed Christmas Morning. How early Sister Mary must have got up that morning. I would have liked to have been there to have set my plate with you, but never mind you can save my Christmas for me until I get home which I hope will not be long.

Give my love to Danl, George, Willie, Mary & Millie.

Give my Respects to Mr. Van Reipen and Family.

From Your Affectionate Son

PS I must not close the letter without wishing you all a Happy New Year


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