Joseph Payne, circa 1863, from an album kept by his sister Charlotte “Lottie” Payne.
(Collection of Cornwall Historical Society)

Joseph Payne enlisted as a Corporal with Company G of the 19th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry (later the 2nd Heavy Artillery) on August 4, 1862. He was promoted to Sergeant on January 1, 1864 and to Quarter Master Sergeant on February 13, 1864.

Joseph Payne was killed at the Battle of Cold Harbor on May 31 or June 1, 1864 (the official date of death is June 1, but fellow Cornwall soldier Josiah Corban recorded it in his diary on May 31).

Joseph’s brother William returned home a few months later, only to die of a disease he contracted during his service. Their father, Rufus Payne, was in his 70s and was unable to support his family. Over the years, he had been involved in a number of businesses, including operating a hotel in Cornwall. Joseph Payne was working as a day laborer when the war began. His mother, Mary S. Payne, filed for a pension in 1865, stating that her son Joseph had sent most of his pay home to support her and that she had been counting on the future support of both of her sons.

During the war, Joseph Payne wrote frequently to his sister Charlotte “Lottie” Payne back home in Cornwall. In a letter written at Headquarters Camp near Alexandria on October 6, 1862, Payne wrote “The boys from Cornwall are all well.” He also discussed a box of food and other items from home that Charlotte was preparing to send him, requesting pie and encouraging her to send a “good sized box for it don’t cost much more than a small one.”

Fearing the worst for himself, Payne prepared a final letter to be sent to his sister in the event of his death. The letter, now in the collection of the Cornwall Historical Society, consisted primarily of a poem intended to console Lottie as she grieved for the loss of her brother.

…deeds of bravery and scars are an honor to a person, therefore I think I should like to be with Burnside, where things are stirring now. I expect success attend his efforts.

~ Joseph Payne to his cousin Samuel F. Gold,
Camp near Alexandria, Virginia, December 13, 1862

Transcriptions of letters written by Joseph Payne, now in the collection of the Cornwall Historical Society.

Letter from Joseph Payne to Charlotte Payne, 6 October 1862

Headquarters Camp, Near Alexandria Va. Oct 6th
19th Reg’t Conn Volunteers, Camp Ls
Dear Sister Loti,
I take up my pen to write a few lines to you. I am well and hearty as I could wish to be. We have been having an inspection to day it is the fashion in the army to inspect the troops on the Sabbath. Every thing has to be brushed up and polished up very slick. We have been brigaded under Genl Slough with the 33d Mass and a New Jersey Regt. The boys from Cornwall are all well. We went about 10 miles to see Carter Benedict[?] yesterday. We succeeded in finding him after some trouble. He is here to day making us a visit. He send his respects to you. I send by to day’s mail two Books and two pictures, two of which you can keep and the other two you can dispose of as you will see these battles that I send pictures of are the battles in which from[?] was engaged in Maryland. Give my love to all the folks, Pa & Ma and all the family. I want to have you send that box as soon as possible. Send Cake and pie or anything. Oh I don’t have[?] home fare quite,, Salt pork and bread more so. Alfred wants to have you tell his uncles folks that you are going to send a box and he thinks they would like to send something him. You can send a good sized box for it don’t cost much more than a small one. Good bye. My respects to all the folks Cousin Jane & Mr. Andrews and others you see the print [..] view of that box.
From you aff Bro. Joe
P.S. (stands for Poor Soldiers) I wrote to you to send one dollars worth of postage stamps. I hope you will see that they are sent immediately for they are extremely necessary to me.
Yours V. Sc. Joseph
I want to know whether Ma has got that money from Col. Long. I want to have her get that. I wish I was home to dig potatoes.

Letter from Joseph Payne to Charlotte Payne, 6 October 1862.
(Collection of Cornwall Historical Society)

Letter from Joseph Payne to Cousin Sam (Samuel F. Gold), 13 December 1862

Camp near Alexandria, Va
December 13th 1862
Dear Cousin Sam,
I received your welcome letter yesterday the 12th and was happy to learn that you were well and thriving. I hope you will continue so and I hope also that we shall meet again both of us hale & hearty. I am very well now. I have had some cold but it is now disappearing fast. I weighed 160 when I entered the U.S. Service. I now weigh 183 a gain of 28 lbs which isn’t so slow taking into consideration the diet furnished by Uncle “Sam”. But we that is the 19th ought to be thankfull for the good fare we have had compared with other Regiments. Since we have been here we have had good nice bread, good pork, occasionally potatoes and beef but the beef I might say is old enough to speak for itself. In addition to this we have Sibley tents, stoves and plenty of good wood. Oh as long as we live here we certainly cannot complain but somehow this kind of life don’t seem to satisfy, to be sure. It is perfectly safe here, but deeds of bravery and scars are an honor to a person, therefore I think I should like to be with Burnside, where things are stirring now. I expect success attend his efforts. You asked me my opinion of the removal of McClellan. I like the idea very much. He no doubt was or is a good general, but too slow for the present time and emergencies. Burnside I believe is the man for the times, quick to take advantage of any and all successes which he may achieve. We have good telegraphic news from Burnside to night but somehow the operators won’t tell us what it is, only that it is good, with which we have got to be satisfied for the present. The reason why I made that mistake in directing your letter was that I sent the letter to the Capt [Edward F. Gold] to read and he lost it and I had to direct the letter from memory.
The Capt is well and growing fat every day. Our Co., those who you are acquainted, are all well. I believe some of them have been sick but all have now pretty much recovered their health. I shall be very happy to receive your picture. I will send you another one soon after receiving it you much been[?] the first one up. Give all my love to all of your folks. Write soon.
I remain Truly yours,
Cousin Joe
Alex. Va.
Dec. 18th 1862
To Samuel F. Gold,

Letter from Joseph Payne to Charlotte Payne, 30 December 1862

Camp near Alexandria, Virginia
December 30th 1862
Dear Sister Lottie
I have a few spare moments this morning which I think I cannot better employ than in writing to you. I feel somewhat tired and sleepy this morning. I or we have had quite a tough time for a day or two. Sunday morning we had an inspection, or rather a review drill and towards Sunday night we were ordered to get ourselves in readiness to be called out at any time. Well about 10 oclock we were ordered to fall in double quick. In a little less than 2 minutes we were formed in line of battle on the parade ground. We then marched up to the heights in rear of our camp and lay down on the cold ground for about an hour. Then we were ordered back to our quarters with instruction to be ready to fall in again at any moment. But perhaps I had better tell you the cause of all this alarm. Well Stuart’s cavalry made a raid near us and it was supposed that their object was the capture of Alexandria, where there is minimal[?] quantities of Government stores. Well I’ll continue my story about 1 oclock as messenger came rushing into camp saying that the rebs were advancing on the city and not many miles off. We hurried out again, marched 2 or three miles formed in line of battle across the road in a fine position and awaited the coming foes. Well we waited there until about 9 oclock Monday morning, then we returned to camp without having had the satisfaction of seeing a reb much less shooting at one. Monday morning after getting back to camp I had to go over to town on duty and this morning I feel rather dull and fatigued. We are going to leave this place within a few days, I suppose. The Regiment that is to relieve us is here now. Where we are to go no one can tell us, may go up to one of the several Forts on Arlington Heights and we may go to the extreme front. Wherever we go we are sure of as good Lieut. Colonel as ever walked. Talk about a soldier, he’s more than one.[Lt. Col. Elisha S. Kellogg] I hope you are all well. I am getting over my cold some and begin to feel like myself again. I shall begin to find fault with [..] for not answering my letter. Give him my respects, tell him I hope to see him down here again before long. Please direct your letters to Washington in future and then wherever we are they will reach me. You must write often. Give my love to all. Bounce Kit and all the pets. Give my respects to Mr. Andrew and family. Mr. Clark’s people, Uncle Frederick’s and all the friends. Good bye.
I remain truly your affectionate Bro.
J. B. Payne
No. 1 Co. G. 19th Regiment
Connecticut Volunteers
Camp near Alexandria Virginia
December 30th 1862

To Miss Lottie E. Payne
Litchfield Co.
From bro Joe

Letter from Joseph Payne to Charlotte Payne, 26 January [1863?]

Camp near Fort Worth, Va.
January 26th 4 P.M.
Dear Lot.                  This morning finds me seated on my knapsack in the little cozy guard house inside Fort Worth writing to you by candlelight. The 1st Conn Artilery [sic] has been paid 4 months pay to day. There is a sutler near who keeps liquors and they have imbibed rather freely some of them. I have heard some delightful strains of music coming from their quarter. Alfred B. is walking a beat[?] in front of the guard house. There is no better fellow in the world than Alf. He is always kind obliging generous and though not noble in form he is in character. My opinion is very much changed in regard to him from what it used to be. You must not expect much of a letter this time. I have written to you pretty often lately and if I write only a line this time you must not complain. I am as well as I could wish to be, devouring everything of the food kind with a good apetite [sic]. We cook apple dumplings occasionally for dinner. I wish you could taste of them once /I mean if you wished to/ we do really make them very nice. Now I am coming to the point. We boys have been thinking of sending home for some dried apples, and we thought we would have the said apples all carried to Mr. James Bierces and have him box them up and send them to us. If the plan meets with your approbation you may carry or cause to be carried to the Furnace Store [Stand?] 10 lbs of dried apples if they are obtainable easily.
The health of the Regiment has improved very fast since we came up here. Give my love to all the family, remember me also to all inquiring friends.
Good bye.
I remain truly Your Aff.
To Lottie E. Payne
Cornwall Conn
P.S. Please leave those apples with 25 cts to pay express at the Mill Norman Hutchinson
Yours JB Payne

Letter from Joseph Payne to Charlotte Payne, 15 February 1863

Headquarters Camp near Fort Worth, Va.
February 15th 1863
Sunday morning
Dear Lot.
I received your last letter Thursday and was glad to learn that the family were well and everything was progressing favorably and smoothly. It is Sunday to day and it rains terribly. I don’t care much for we shall escape inspection by the means. We have received those apples and are making good use of them. We have apple sauce every day. Good too I tell you. They are of great value to us. Now Charlotte, perhaps you will think that my wants are many, but I want to have you do one more favor for me. Stationary is very high here and what there is here is of poor quality. How I want to have you send me a small box and I want to name the contents. Please send me some foolscap commercial which is large square paper and a little note paper, some good black ink, and a few good pens, envelopes also. Then if you like you can fill up with such things as you think would suit me. I am sorry to trouble you, but perhaps I can repay you some time. We are going to move tomorrow if it is pleasant to new quarters. Coo B. F Vls. of the 19th V.C. are going to relieve Co. F 1st Conn Artilery [sic] at Fort Worth. I like the relea[?] of missing[?] very much. I am very well, gaining fat every day, I guess. I don’t get a chance to weight myself very often though. The health of the Regiment is very good for those[?] and but feel sick. Jerome Chipman is going to get his discharge I believe he hasn’t got spunk enough to get well anyway. If you have any reading matter magazines […] or anything of the kind, you can send them in the box if you please. As soon as I can get a chance I am going to send home my watch chain and masons pin. The watch is a splendid one worth $40 when it is repaired. I broke it the other day on drill by bringing my musket against it hard and I thought[?] I would rather send it home than to get it repaired here. Inclless[?] charge so high for their work. If it should so happen that I never should get back home you may keep the said watch and appurtenances in remembrance of me. Now write often, give my love to all the family, remember me to all enquiring friends and believe me
I remain your affectionate
Bro. J. B. Payne
P.S. Oh I forgot one thing if you can possibly get a Dubiln[?] do send one to me. We have quite a [..] of good singers in our tent and a Dubilen[?] and  [..] be a slow thing. Hoping that this will find all well,
I am truly your Bro. Joe.
Direct the box as usual
JB Payne Co. G 19th Regt
Conn Vols
To Miss Lotte E. Payne
Litchfield Co.

Letter from Joseph Payne to Charlotte Payne, 30 April 1863

Camp at Fort Worth Va
April 30th 1863
Dear Sister,
Thinking that you would like to hear from me this week, I will attempt a line knowing as I do how particular Ma is about hearing from me every week.
My health is first rate if my health can be good. This summer I shall enjoy it quite well here. I haven’t time to write but a line as it is most time for the mail to go. Charlie Swift has got the mumps[?]. I believe I have had them please refer to the records and let me know. When you write next please enclose some stamps. I will write again soon and will try to give some news next time. Give my love to all,
I remain as ever,
Your aff. Bro. Joe

Letter from Joseph Payne to Samuel F. Gold, 24 July 1863

Fort Ellsworth, Ga
July 24th 1863
Dear Sam,
I received your note yesterday and was much pleased to learn your situation of visiting us. We are now at Fort Ellsworth, about ½ mile from Alexandria. There is a boat that runs regularly every two hours,, or so,, from Ga. to A.. We shall be very happy to see you and you must come without fail. My health is good with the exception of a sore throat and mouth which [..] somewhat with the mastication of good rations. This state of things may reduce some to a mere skeleton but it will take some time for I have been training very easy times lately and am getting somewhat portly. I have seen your Father twice within the last few days, but his stay was very short both times. The Capt [Edward F. Gold] and all the other boys with whom you are acquainted are well. Give my respects to your folks. Hoping to see you soon.
I remain your aff. Fd

Excerpt of letter written by Rev. Stephen Fenn, minister at Cornwall’s First Congregational Church, June 20, 1864 (Courtesy of The Connecticut Historical Society):

We suffered here from that charge at Cold Harbor Va. Joseph Payne the favorite & brother, & the child of the old age of his parents was killed there & buried on the ground. I am expected to preach a Sermon & refer to this death next Sab. … It is a sad blow to his sister & parents & all the people here.

Poem sent posthumously to Charlotte Payne from her brother, Joseph B. Payne, 1864[Poem from unknown source; the first stanza was reprinted on page 104 of Carrie; or, The Child of the Parsonage, NY: Stanford and Swords, 1854]

Sister Lottie
Do not be at your wit’s end wondering who this comes from, but receive it as the words of your now Sainted brother,
From one who loves thee with thoughts to dear to tell, let us recognize each other in heaven.

To Lottie
O, think of me not as afar, when you meet
Where the oft bereft circle sits closer around,
Look not with despondence on one vacant seat,
Nor think of me there as beneath the cold ground
From my home in the mansions of Glory above
I may visit you often in those circles of love.

O, think of me not as afar when you bend
And united by offer the incense of prayer,
It ascends to my home and my spirit may lend
The gladning of its love to present it when there,
Or may holier around you unseen & impart
Some promptings of love to each supplicant heart.

O, think of me not as afar when you bow
In the temple to worship [..] father & God
In the place where I praise him no tears ever flow
There is naught to remind of his chastening rod
My spirit may meet the resigned heart & raise
In responses more full, the glad anthems of praise.

O, think of me not as afar, when alone
You muse over the past & recall each glad voice
When the visions of earth, the most brightly have shone
And by sorrow untaught, you have dared to rejoice
O, how near would I then be to whisper of joy
Which the arrow of death can never destroy.

O, think of me not as afar in that house
When in secret you as for the blessing of peace
If in sadness, my savior may send me to pour
The sweet balm he bestows on the spirit forgiven
And as comfort flows in o’er your grief wounded soul
Let no murmur, of sorrow the soft tide control.

O, think of me not as afar off whenever
Sweet cheerfulness, visits the shrine of your heart
The smile of that happiness, never, no, never
Would my spirit ever lessen or bid to depart
I would be still remembered, but not with the tomb
Should the thoughts of the happy be blended with gloom..

O, think of me not, as afar off when meeting
The absent returned, or the friends frequent call
I would add to the hearts cheerful greeting
And on missions of mercy, would fain bless you all
Then check not one joy, that religion approves
But smiles through the tears that remembrances still move.

O, think of me not, as afar off or lonely,
Here are myriads of happy ones chanting their songs
And remember, remember that here & here only
True happiness, pure & immortal belongs
The ransomed[?] from earth are raising their voices
As the music of Angels my spirit rejoices.