31 August 1863

Trenton [New Jersey]
August 31, 1863

Dear Son,

I came down to Newark this morning and saw Mr. F[rederick] T[heodore] Frelinghuysen ¹ and also Mr. Woodbury. They said I had better come down to Trenton and see Governor [Joel] Parker so Mr. F. also gave me a note recommending Governor Parker to give you a commission. Governor Parker says he will give you a commission in your Battery if Capt. [A. Judson] Clark will recommend you to one in his Battery as there is a vacancy by the resignation of Lt. [George T.] Woodbury. He says he don’t grant any commissions for new companies unless the Colonel of the regiment recommends a man for his regiment either by personal knowledge of him or by recommendation by his friends. Governor Parker says the best way is when we raise our quota in Morris county to start a company with the understanding that you are to have the office of lieutenant, then it will be all right that you can get in. When we have our meeting, I will see what can be done for you and will let you know.

I talked with Capt. [George T.] Woodbury about joining the regular cavalry. He said he would advise you not to do that by any means. You might be in the army 20 years and not get promoted. Better stay where you are. You will stand a better chance than to be one of the Regulars. 400 dollars is something and so is two years longer service something. I think the war can’t last more than 6 months longer. Then if your life is spared, you can come home and stay home. I know it looks hard to see those cowards get large bounties to induce them to go and fight for our country, but you will see the government will give those 3 years soldiers 160 acres of land when the war is over besides their 100 dollars.

And I will remember you also for it for I consider it is a great sacrifice for a man to leave home and friends and live like a dog and run the risk of his life whilst others stay at home and enjoy themselves out of danger. Try and get the other man that is a going to leave for Battery C to give you a commission. If you think best, I will write to Capt. [A. Judson] Clark about your promotion that you was promised when you entered the company.

[Your brother] Albert has quit [his] partnership with Morehouse. He works for him by the day for the present. He thinks he will do better than to boss it for Morehouse won’t work much. He likes to run around and Albert to the work and he get half the pay. I feel like coming right down to Washington from here and I think I will come this fall to see you.

My crops are very good this summer.

I remain yours, &c. — R[alph] Van Houten

¹ At the time, Frederick T. Frelinghuysen was serving as the 22nd Attorney General of New Jersey. He would later serve as the 29th U.S. Secretary of State.