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This original document, housed at the Stamford Village Library, is a letter written home from Civil War soldier Joel W. Ayers during his stay at a Confederate prison. Libby Prison was in the Confederate capitol of Richmond, VA and was a three story building that was formerly a tobacco factory. I do not know if he was in prison until the end of the Civil War April 9, 1865 but he survived and was a soldier to the end.

Transcribed letter to the best of my ability. --Karen

(click image for larger view)

Joel W. Ayers Jr.
By Karen Cuccinello

Liby Prison Richmond, Va.

August 22nd, 1864

Dear Father:

I avail myself of the present opportunity of writing you a few lines to let you know that I am well at present- having passed through the late fight at Ream's Station without meeting with any misfortune, excepting being taken prisoner, along with the whole of our Brigade. The enemy outflanked us, and got in our rear, and surrounded our Brigade, before we could change our line of battle. The particulars of the whole affair, you will doubtless read yourself in the daily newspapers. The 104th Regt. belonged to the 1st Brigade 3rd Div. 5th Army Corps. Col. Lyle of the ??? Brigade. Gen. Crawford – Division. Gen. Warren & Corps. So far we have been treated very good and cannot complain on that score. Whether we will be taken from here to Belle Isle or down to Georgia is more than I can tell at present. I cannot write more at present for want of time today? But will close this letter by sending my love to you all. This from your affectionate son Joel W. Ayers Jr.

The first battle at Ream's Station, Dinwiddie County,VA took place June 29, 1864 and a second battle August 25, 1864.

Joel was born February 26, 1842 in NJ to Joel W. Sr. and Mary K. (Holman) Ayers. He was the second child of eight siblings. His father listed his occupation as a tailor in the 1850 and 1855 census for Hancock, NY. In 1854 his father had an interesting scuffle with the law.

1854 (Bloomville (NY) Mirror)- Joel W. Ayres, heretofore indicted for keeping, a lottery and selling lottery tickets, which was put over to this term, was called on. The deft resides at Hancock, and it appears that for a year or two past, he has been engaged in getting up and selling tickets in what they call,

for the sake of evading the law against lotteries, "Gift Enterprise." It was proved that, he had sold several tickets and had confessed to the selling of some hundreds more. The jury found the person guilty, and the Court sentenced him to be imprisoned. in the county jail 30 days and pay a fine of $100.

In 1860 Joel is boarding with and working as a clerk for C.L. Saunders, a merchant, in Franklin, NY.

He enlisted in 1861 and served in two different companies. It appears he may have come home for a while in between.

NY Muster Roll- Joel W. Ayers enlisted October 28, 1861 age 19 in Delhi- mustered in October 30 1861 Pvt., Reg. 8 Battery- discharged August 16, 1862, Pvt, at NY for disability.

Enlisted men from Kortright- Joel W. Ayers Jr, age 23, B: NJ, single, occupation printer, 8th Independent Batty September 27, 1861.

NYS Muster roll abstract- Joel W Ayers Jr- Commissioned 2nd Liet. December 8, 1864 Co. H 104th infantry.

Filed for pension as an invalid- December 17, 1900 and February 25, 1907 - enlisted H 104th NY July 17, 1863, discharged July 17, 1865- additional service 8 Ind. Batty NYLA.

In the 1865 Kortright census Joel is back with his family, occupation printer. In 1880 and 1900 he is in Manhattan lodging at boarding houses, still single and listing as a printer and finally a painter. The 1915 census for Fair Haven, Monmouth Co. NJ places Joel in the household of George W. Smith.

Joel Ayres died May 2, 1917 in Fair Haven, NJ and is buried with his parents and brother Buenos in the Evergreen Cemetery Little Silver, NJ. (posted on

More articles by Karen Cuccinello

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