Thursday, September 30, 2004

J. H. Emory 1877

A letter written by a young man named J. H. Emory who traveled to Britain to apply for a position of Tutor with one of Britain’s Royals, Princess Helena.

The letter is a lengthy 12-pages and is dated June 5, 1877 which constitutes three 9" x 7" sheets folded.

The letter does not identify the Duchess by name. However, although I'm not positive, I believe the letter is referring to Princess Helena (known also as "Lenchen"), daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The letter gives a physical description of the Duchess—and I believe it is, Helena, to which the writer is referring. In any event, the letter is an interesting, and fascinating description of a young man’s first visit with Victorian era Royalty.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's fifth child and third daughter, was born on May 25, 1846 at Buckingham Palace, one day after Queen Victoria’s 27th birthday. She was named Helena, but for all her life she would be called Lenchen. Helena grew up as a shineless, dutiful and reserved girl. She had a tendency towards fat (which was severely criticized by Queen Victoria although she herself was fat) and was a bit of a tomboy, showing abilities for the less feminine activities like swimming or racing. As Helena grew into womanhood, Queen Victoria began to worry about her future.

Helena’s rather full-figure was compensated by wavy brown hair, a little straight nose and lovely amber eyes. She played the piano, had a distinct gift for drawing and painting in watercolors and had a clear, though not strong soprano voice. She was loyal to her friends. In 1866, Duchess Helena paid a visit to Germany with the Queen. There Helena met for the first time the man who would be her husband, Prince Christian of Schleswig Holstein Sonderburg Augustenburg.

Princess Helena married the Prince and together they had two sons, Christian Victor and Albert, and two daughters, Helena Victoria, and Marie Louise.


"Kensington—June 5, 1877

My Dearest Mother—

I am sure you will be anxious to hear about my interview with the Duchess. I was told to be at Mr. Bullock’s at 4:45 yesterday afternoon. And I was very glad to get a cup of tea then, and to cool a little for it was a humid day. I also wanted to learn how to address the Duchess and how to comport myself in her presence. Mr. Bullock told me that I must call her ‘Your Royal Highness’ or ‘Madame’. I was not to sit in her presence without invitation. I was not to offer any remark or start any subject without being addressed.

I found that saved me the difficulty of taking a prominent part in the proceedings. When we got to the ‘Teck’ apartments, we found the Duchess was out, so we were shown into the Council Room. Here was a large print of Queen Victoria holding her first council…and we were in the very room in which it happened. Probably such an important ceremony has not taken place since.

There were large windows opening into the gardens and here we saw some of the children playing. We went out and I was introduced to one of the three governesses and the younger boy who is only 7, though he looks 10, and the little Princess who is the eldest. I think she is 10. In a few minutes the footman came out to say that the Duchess had returned. She is a ponderous woman with light wavy hair and a pleasant, good-humored expression. In spite of her enormous fat, she was full of life and activity. She shook hands with Mr. Bullock and bowed to me and motioned us each to a chair. She began at once by saying she believed Mr. Bullock had explained to me what was required, but that she understood that I could not give quite so much as three afternoons in the week. I then explained that I could be at liberty, thanks to Ackland’s kindness. On Monday’s at 3, on Wednesdays at 4, and on Saturdays at 3. This she seemed to think would do.

She asked me if my father was a clergyman. She asked about the school, and how long I had been there and how many masters and how many boys there were. She told me that she wished her boys to begin Latin and to read aloud, and I was to take them in these and any other subjects, I thought fit. She thought it desirable that they should work from 3 to 3 to 5 with me and then I was to play or walk with them for a couple of hours and have tea, leaving at 7.
Then she told me a good deal about them—that the eldest had been very ill during the Winter and therefore he was not to be pressed, and the younger was rather the sharpest of the two and she gave me a long anecdote about this recollecting the circumstances of the madness of Charles VI.

All this conversation she conducted with a good deal of Royal dignity, but with a great deal of life and a little action. I sat with my hat on my knees trying to make up little speeches with ‘your royal highness’ in them, but I never got the chance. She ended by deciding that I was to come unless I heard to the contrary, on Monday next.

When we got up, I found that I had to get out of the room without turning my back, as I had secreted my umbrella behind the door and wished to regain possession of it, I was much exercised in this operation. We had not mentioned a word about terms, but when I got back to Bullock’s he told me that he thought Ackland’s suggestion of 3 guineas a week would not be thought too much.

Everything else I suppose I may considered settled….closing….
Your very loving son, J. H. Emory.

Monday, September 27, 2004

W. L. Huffman, Indiana to James Dixon, Indiana, 1837

This stampless letter has a circular date stamp for PERU, Ind., a handwritten 5 cent rate, and is addressed to James P. Dixon, Esq., Attica, Ind., and is a one page letter written by W.L. Huffman.

The headline is Peru, Ind. April 25, 1837.

Some abstracts:

"We are all well at this moment, and the object of writing this short letter is to inform ou that I now have an opportunity of selling one lot of your land near Huntington, the man offers three dollars pr. acre, for the fractional eighty, cash all paid down in hand."

"The man that wants this lot will wait until I get an answer from you and then I will get on a horse and go up to Huntington and see the land, and give him a final answer."



Alexander Hamilton, born on November 15, 1815, was the son of Colonel John Church Hamilton, and was the great grandson of the zealous Patriot, Alexander Hamilton, who served as Captain of the New York Artillery Company during the Revolutionary War in 1776. He was also the Colonel and aide de camp to George Washington from 1777-1781, and he commanded the Infantry Brigade at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. Colonel Hamilton died on July 12, 1804, in New York City after being fatally wounded in a duel with Aaron Burr.

Major Hamilton was educated by private tutors and attended lectures at Columbia University. He also attended special studies at the United States Military Academy. He served with General Philip Kearny in the 1840s out West and later returned to New York to serve in the Civil War. He was also Aide de Camp to Major General Sandford. Major Hamilton died in 1907 in Tarrytown, New York.

Apparently Major Hamilton was an accomplished playwright for in this letter, Major Hamilton writes to Fitz-Greene Halleck about a play he has written and plans to produce. Fitz-Green Halleck was hailed in the mid-nineteenth century as the most important American poet of the period. Interestingly, he was also one of America’s earliest homosexual poets. Fitz-Greene Halleck was a close friend of William C. Bryant, an associate of Charles Dickens and Washington Irving, and a celebrity sought out by John Jacob Astor and American presidents. Halleck, was an attractive man of wit and charm, was dubbed "the American Byron" because he both employed similar poetic strategies and challenged the most sacred institutions of his day. A large general readership enjoyed his verse, though it was infused with homosexual themes. Halleck's love for another man would be fictionalized in Bayard Taylor's novel Joseph and His Friend a century before the Stonewall riots.


"New York, May 27, 1864
Fitz-Greene Halleck, Esq.

Dear Sir
When a boy, you did me the favor to peruse a MSS play of mine—to give it your approval—urge me to have it put upon the stage and to go on.

That play, entitled "Urban" – I could not induce the actors to take hold of—but following your advice, wrote others and among them one entitled "Thomas A. Becket." This I have had printed and today have the honor of sending you a copy. It was published anonymously—but is received with so much favor. My father, your old friend, John C. Hamilton (among many other hearty approvals)—saying ‘it does you very great honor’ that I am now emboldened to acknowledge it. Father told me he had the pleasure of seeing you a few days since in good health, which I trust may long be vouchsafed to you.

This play will be produced in the Fall when I hope to have the honor of sending you tickets.

I am very respectfully,
Truly yours,
Alexander Hamilton,
Major & A.D.C. to Major General Sandford, 17 West 28th Street, New York."

Monday, September 20, 2004

Civil War Letter from John Howell re Gettysburg


In addition to his description of the Battle of the Gettysburg and the pivotal battle for the Little Round Top, Howell references the death of his Uncle William Sloan at Spotsylvania Court House.
William Sloan enlisted as Sergeant and mustered into Company "K", 148th PA Infantry on October 2, 1862. The 148th PA was one of the three hundred fighting regiments enumerated in Fox's "Regimental Losses," and participated in the following engagements: Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Po river, Spotsylvania, Totopotomy, Cold Harbor, Prison Guard Salisbury, N. C., first assaults on Petersburg, siege of Petersburg, Jerusalem plank road, Deep Bottom, Reams' station, Hatcher's run, White Oak road and Farmville. For three months after its organization it was engaged in guarding a section of the Northern Central railroad in Maryland, with headquarters at Cockeysville, and joined the Army of the Potomac at Falmouth immediately af-ter the battle of Fredericksburg.

Sgt. Sloan was killed on May 12, 1864 at Spotsylvania Court House. Howell recalls his dear Uncle in his writing.


The letter is quoted in part below. For reading ease, some spelling and grammar has been corrected:

"Mr. John Howell—

Gettysburg, PA is not only the greates battlefield of the Civil War, but is America’s Greatest Battlefield and was the decisive Battle of the war between the North and the South. It fought on the 1 & 2 & 3 days of July 1863, between the Federal Army of the Potomac commanded by General G. Meade and the Confederate Army of the Northern Virginia, commanded by Gen. R.E. Lee….

The key to the battlefield was Little Round Top. There was no road up to the little round top and our men pulled the cannons up by rope tied to the cannon or about 40 men, pulling at the rope and, men at the wheels run one wheel up and hold it there until the other side would push their wheel up and run this cannon up by hand and finally go it up in time to save the Hill. The Rebs were bound to take the Hill and the Hill is nothing but rocks and stones. There was lots of boys lost their lives on that Hill….

May 12, 1864—General Hancock commanding the 2nd Corps. Captured the most of Johnson Division, 20 pieces of artillery and Rebel Johnson and General Stewart and 30 Collars (Colored) and 4000 prisoners and a lot of small armies and ammunition at Spotsylvania…. May 12, 1864…my Uncle, Sergt. W. C. Sloan was killed in this battle…."

General Hunt says he used 81 pieces of artillery at Petersburg and throwed 3833 shells and solid shot and canister in four hours and it was equal 15 tons of metal on the morning of July 30, 1864 at the Battle of the Crater. This fort our men blew up July 20, 1864--had eight tons of powder under this fort and touched off between daylight and sun up and killed 200. Tore a hole 30 feet deep and sixty feet wide and 170 long. I can just see it going up now and that night when our boys were on picket, called over to our boys—‘that was nothing but a damn dirty trick….’"

Here is part of my uncle W. C. Sloan’s letter he wrote home just before he was killed. ‘The mail is just going out. We have had seven days fighting and no telling when it [will] end. We had 5 men killed out of our Co. and 12 wounded yesterday. Our Captain is wounded, Jacob Mast, Ben Thompson and Wansetter and John Balorf and Ben Carl are all killed and the rest are in good hurt and all bound for Richmond, Va.’ Uncle Sloan was killed that day, May 12, 1864 and as nice a boy so ever lived."

Saturday, September 18, 2004




"It is not half so bad being in a battle as one would suppose. The most is going in and seeing the dead lying about and the wounded being brought out...." Arthur Wyman--Wilderness Battle--May 13, 1864

Material relating to the service of POW Corporal Arthur B. Wyman of the 59th Massachusetts Infantry. Official records reflect that Corporal Wyman enlisted on March 1, 1864 and mustered into Company "K", 59th Massachusetts Infantry on April 21, 1864. In June 1865, his regiment was consolidated with Company "K", 57th Massachusetts Infantry.

Corporal Wyman’s Regiment was an active Regiment. It was engaged at the Wilderness battle and Corporal Wyman and his Regiment were also heavily engaged at the Battle of the Crater, near Petersburg. Here, on July 30, 1864, Corporal Wyman, along with 22 others from his Regiment, was Wounded in Action and, along with 43 others from his Regiment, he was taken Prisoner.

The Crater was a bloody battle. The Confederate defenses at Petersburg were shattered by a huge explosion of a mine planted by Union engineers. However, Union assault troops failed to exploit the mine attack and were brutally and mercilessly shot while in the crater left by the explosion. Wyman was captured and taken to Danville, North Carolina, where he spent six months in a deplorable environment and as an unwelcome guest of the Confederates. Corporal Wyman, along with other Union men, were confined in seven Danville Tobacco Warehouses, not far from the National cemetery that currently holds the remains of many Union men that died there. Those who died at the Danville prison were primarily privates, corporals and sergeants. Many suffered from pneumonia, chronic dysentery, and scorbutus (similar to scurvy).

Ultimately, over the course of the war, Danville prison would be host to more than 7,000 Union soldiers. Corporal Wyman was finally exchanged on February 22, 1865.

Corporal Wyman and his Regiment, attached to the Ninth Army Corps., were also a part of the Union Forces engaged in the Appomattox Campaign on April 9, 1865.

Nine Manuscript Letters

The first seven letters are written by Corporal Wyman. The last two are written by Corporal Wyman’s mother and cousin. In all, 42 pages of tightly written, quality content, manuscript. Only one letter has a canceled cover.

April 29, 1864—4 pages—Wilderness Battle
One Week Post Wilderness battle--May 13, 1864—4 pages (Partial Letter)
April 17, 1865—10 pages
May 2, 1865—4 pages
May 10, 1865—4 pages
May 24, 1865-4 pages
May 26, 1865—4 pages
June 1, 1865—4 pages
June 22, 1865—4pages


The companies of the 59th Mass. were mustered on various dates between Dec. 5, 1863, and April. 21,1864. On May 6, only ten days after the regiment left Massachusetts, it was engaged in the battle of the Wilderness, in the vicinity of the Plank road, losing 12 killed, 27 wounded, and five missing. Colonel Gould being seriously ill, Lieut. Colonel Hodges now took command of the regiment. At Cold Harbor, near Bethesda Church, June 3, the 59th lost two killed, 15 wounded, and about the same number captured or missing. Crossing the James River, June 15, and advancing to the front on the 17th, on the afternoon of that day the regiment joined in the assault made by the 1st Division, losing 13 killed, 49 wounded, and eight missing. Among the mortally wounded was Capt. Samuel A. Bean.

Six weeks later, July 30, 1864, the 59th was engaged in the "Crater" fight, near Petersburg, losing eight killed, 25 wounded, and 47 prisoners. Here Lieut. Colonel Hodges and 1st Lieut. Dunlap were killed. After this disastrous experience the regiment remained in the trenches until the movement to the Weldon Railroad in August. Here, on the l9th, an action took place in which only a portion of the regiment was engaged, but a serious loss was incurred in the death of Adjutant Warren who was mortally wounded and died of his injuries the same day. A few days after this engagement, Colonel Gould was mortally wounded while in command of a brigade.
The 59th remained in camp near the Weldon Railroad until the last of September when it joined in the movement to Poplar Grove Church. Here, on Sept. 30, the regiment lost one killed, eight wounded, and two missing. Not far from this field the 59th went into winter quarters, but was soon ordered to the right of the Petersburg lines near Forts Haskell and Stedman. In February, Lieut. Colonel Colburn, who had Commanded the regiment since August, resigned, and after that time Major Ezra P. Gould was senior officer of the command. In the battle at Fort Stedman, March 25, 1865, the 59th was engaged near Battery XI on the left of the fort and narrowly escaped capture. From this time until the evacuation of Petersburg the regiment lay between Battery XI and Fort Stedman. On April 3, it entered the city of Petersburg, then did duty for over a fortnight guarding the Southside Railroad. About May 1, the 59th was ordered to Washington, and was stationed first at Alexandria and later at Tenallytown. Here, June 20, 1865, the remnant of the 59th was transferred to the 57th, the transfer to be effective as of June 1, and the officers and men were mustered out as a part of that regiment, July 30, 1865. At Readville, Mass., August 9, 1865, the men were paid off and discharged.


The following are excerpts from all nine of the letters.

Letter Number #1
The following is an excerpt only. There is considerably more content. There is no month referenced on this letter, but there is no question they are on their way to Petersburg—The Battle of the Crater. The letter mentions Lt. Dunlap, who would be killed at Petersburg which puts this letter right at April 29, 1864—a Friday.

"Soldier’s Relief-Alexandria, Virginia Friday April, 29th 1864

My Dear Mother--

I will describe the whole passage, We have marched a great ways today (or it seems so to me), probably not ore than eight or ten miles and I find that I can stand it much better than I thought at first. Our knapsacks are rather heavy and we all have got a good deal of stuff that we shall throw away. Our Lieut. improves every day. He has just told me that he thought he could find room in the officer’s boxes for some of my things. That will be first rate as I have not many things that I wish to throw away. We have also got a first rate 1st Lieut. (Dunlap is 2ND ) I like him and our Captain almost as well as Dunlap, but I am not so well acquainted with the. . [Wyman refers here to Lt. James Dunlap who would be killed in action at the Battle of the Wilderness.] It’s a rather queer way to do business I think, to send a Regiment ahead and no one knowing where we are going, but we shall find out soon enough, I’ll warrant.

We are rushing the troops ahead double quick, veterans, troops and all, and you may be pretty sure that there is work ahead. If I do not write before, you may expect a letter from me, dated Richmond about the 4th of July. I will just give you an outline of our journey, so if you do not receive another letter for a month or two, you may know the states and cities that I have seen with my own eyes…."

Letter Number #2

I have quoted it below in its entirety. It is written exactly one week post Battle of the Wilderness. I assume it is written to his mother.

On or about May 13, 1864

"How little you or I thought when you fixed my things so nicely that they were destined to cloth and comfort the Rebels instead of myself. Probably by this time, some ‘Johnni’ has my shirt and stockings—another my overcoat. One is making a letter with my pen and ink upon my paper. Another is mending my coat with my pretty little needle—uses that $500 would not have bought.

I will tell you how I lost them. On the morning of the ‘Battle of the Wilderness’, a week ago, last Friday. We were marched for some distance in order to give us the pleasure of assisting in the fight. By the time we reached the [Wilderness] Battle field or rather woods, that’s the Rebel’s style—sneaking behind trees, we were rather tired and my knapsack weighed down. Well they marched us ahead until the bullets began to fly a little, then halted. I know that I could not do anything with my knapsack on, so I dropped it. I took out all the little things I wished to have and put them in my overcoat pocket, intending to take it with me. The order came to forward so I had to leave it. Some ‘Johnni’ is rejoicing and I’m mourning. The way the Rebs got it was driving us back about a mile. Pretty story to tell, isn’t it?

The 59th did not break first, but a Regiment of Regulars. The other Regiments fell in one by one—making a retreat very much like Bull Run of old. It did no harm, however, as we recovered all our lost ground and more, too! Our Company was complimented highly in the last fight (last Thursday). Our Captain told us, he was proud of us. He said that he had been in ‘crack’ Regiments, but never saw one stand up to the mark like the old 59th! He said we beat the Veterans all out! I tell you that there is not much run in the Union Army. They make no more of bullets than as if they were rotten apples.

There is a very good prospect that they may look at it for us to get Richmond in a short time and if we do get it, then the war is played out. There has been a report that it has been taken, but it is not generally credited. However, Old Butler is pretty near it and they say that there is an army man, Hooker between the Rebs in front of us and Richmond. If so, they have to look sharp.

There is another report about camp today viz., that we are to back to Fredricksburg tomorrow to rest and get ready for another start. I don’t believe it honored. I think they will shove us right ahead. I don’t care if we don’t get hit when we go. It is not half so bad being in a battle, as one would suppose. The most is going in and seeing the dead lying about and the wounded being brought out. After we are in, ‘Everything is Lovely’. I actually caught myself laughing once or twice to see our men perform. I suppose we are all old veterans now.

I shall be perfectly satisfied to rest a while now after seeing two good fights, but if I am not mistaken, we shall see two more before long. A little while ago, I should have thought is hard to march 3 ½ miles and back. After being in a fight, through the rain and mud, after dark for my supper… Some twenty of us did not get any [supper], so we went to bed without any. Yesterday, we went about four miles and brought in some hardtack. My knapsack (I have bought another) was stuffed full. We have fresh beef and coffee, so the danger of starving is over.

I hope that you have received my letters. I have written five to Woburn, four home and one not home. I have not received any since we left Readville and do not expect to until this campaign is over as it is difficult—almost impossible to get letters to a Regiment when they are on the move everyday or two. However, by and by, I shall get them all in a heap. I know of no way to send this letter, but I thought I would write it and wait my opportunity of sending it sometime. I rather anxious about you receiving the other letters as one of them contained thirty dollars. Try and read this letter somehow, it is written very badly. Give my love to all and have no fears about me as I shall come out all right.
Yours affectionately…Arthur Wyman"

Letter Number #3
"Parole Camp—Annapolis—April 17, 1865

Dear Mother--

…We arrived in New York about six and crossed over to Jersey City, where we took the half-past seven train for Philadelphia. At New York, we first heard the report of the Assassination of President Lincoln. Terrible, ain’t it? It almost spoils all the good news we’ve had. However, I don’t think that the condition of the Rebels will be improved by the event as they will have a harder man to deal with on Vice President Johnson than ever they had before….

We arrived at Baltimore about six o’clock. Here we heard that the trains between Washington and principle cities had been stopped on account of the assassination—that it would be impossible for us to go further than Annapolis. The ticket master, however, said that we could go right through to Parole Camp—so we started.

There are very few [soldiers] here now and it is very lonesome. I shall be homesick if I remain here long. They are sending them off every week for the front and I shall try to go with the next lot. All the soldiers here are anxious to go to the front now that the fight is over and see that they have started recruiting and hear that they are going to discharge everything excepting what is absolutely necessary so it looks as if the war is nearly over…."

Letter Number #4

"Camp Near Georgetown—May 2nd 1865

My Dear Sister--
…When I wrote you the other day, I was detailed at the brigade commissary. I was to be a permanent officer and was a very easy place. Yesterday, however, Sergt. C. wanted clerk and so with the permission of the Lieutenant in charge of the Co., he detailed another man in my place and at present I am company clerk….Charles Richardson wrote me that I was down on the rolls as a Private and sure enough, when we came to be mustered in on Sunday, it was so. But they changed it, and it is alright now….

I have not seen Battery 11 since I have been here. I guess that it is not in the region…. We have plenty of music here. There is scarcely a moment during the day but what some band is playing. I like to hear it, however…"

Letter Number #5

"Division 9th Army Corps--May 9, 1865

My Dear Mother--
…We are having the same kind of weather that we had a year ago at Spotsylvania, only we are in a little different situation. We had a hard time of it last Summer, but it is pleasant to look back upon now. I would not sell my experience for anything!

I wrote Ceclia to ask Father to send some money. I don’t want much—two or three dollars will do. I want a little occasionally to buy something of the Commissary. We have a Subtler here, but he charges enormous prices for his things and I had rather not buy much of him….

We still keep hearing reports every day as to where we are going. One day we are going home, the next we are to Texas*** and again we are to remain where we are. I place no confidence in any of their reports, but let it go in one ear and out the other. Nothing would please me better than to go home…."

***Note--Between May 12 and 13, 1864, a month after General Lee had surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, the final major conflict of the Civil War took place at Palmetto Ranch, Texas, also known as Palmetto Hill. Fighting along the Rio Grande River between Union and Confederate forces had halted in March 1865 after a cease-fire agreement had been made. On May 11, 1865, Col. Theodore Barrett decided to break this agreement and sent some 250 men from the 62nd US Colored Regiment and 50 from the 2nd Texas Cavalry to attack the various Confederate outposts and camps. Ironically, the final battle of the Civil War was won by the Confederacy.

Letter Number #6

"May 24, 1865—Waltham

My Dear Arthur--
"I suppose you have been today and yesterday in the midst of the bustle and excitement of the Grand Review in Washington. As I see by the paper, the Fifty-Ninth Regiment is among the others in the big procession.

After having spent a week brushing up and mending your regimentals, scouring your guns and shooting apparatus, till they shown like a new coffee pot, polishing your boots so that you may see your face in them, you cannot look otherwise than perfectly irresistible and a model soldier. I rather expect to see you mentioned in the account of the review as ‘particularly noticeable for noble and soldierly bearing strict conformity to military rule…and never be obliged to hop-skip to get into step and keep up with the company! Also for neatness of dress and accoutrements.’ I am glad to see you as having such a fine day and no mud! (I have heard of the Washington mud)….

Letter Number #7

"Tennallytown May 26, 1865

My Dear Sister--
…There is pretty strong talk of going to Texas, but I hope there is nothing to it. Old Kirby Smith hasn’t surrendered and he may yet make some trouble if he chooses. Allen Barrett and Billy Brown of the 39th were here last evening also Lieut. Conn. [Charles K. Conn was wounded and taken Prisoner at Laurel Hill. He was also wounded on February 6, 1865 at Hatcher’s Run.]

Will finish this letter in the morning, that is if we don’t start for Texas during the night. By the way if they start--as for that place—I think that I shall desert!

Letter Number #8

"Tennallytown--June 1, 1864

My Dear Mother--
…We are to be consolidated with the 57th Regiment in a few days. The order was read on dress parade last evening. So, I suppose that I shall lose my place as Co. Clerk. I suppose that we shall lose two or three officers and possibly some drummers and non-commissioned officers, but most of them will remain and it will not make much difference with us….

The consolidation that I spoke of has taken place this afternoon ad we are now Co. "K", 57th. The old 59th is no more. I do not like the change, but suppose that I must put up with it. We have a good Captain. That is that they all say that he is a first rate man and what I have seen of him, I like him first rate…. Perkins of Co H (perhaps you remember him, he enlisted about the time that I did) has returned from the hospital to the Company for duty. [Uriah Perkins was also a Sharpshooter with Company "G", U.S. Army 2nd]…."

Letter Number #9

"Waltham June 22, 1865--

My Dear Boy--
…I am sorry that the brave fifty-ninth will be known no more except in history, but it has made its mark and gained honor and a reputation in this war. I was in the State House a short time ago, and saw the battle flags which are placed there—relics of so many battlefields and mute witnesses of the terrible struggles they have passed through. Besides the 44th and 45th and 16th Regiments, (the only other ones except yours in which I was particularly interested) I looked for the 59th and found a hard looking flag. It had the appearance of having been badly abused. As you was a color corporal or something of the kind, ought you not to have looked after it a little and not allowed it to get so shabby and soiled!…"

Friday, September 10, 2004

Civil War: George R. Adderton, 1865, Virginia


Dated March 2, 1865 at Camp Near Stoney Creek, Virginia.

Adderton was from Guilford County, North Carolina. He enlisted on March 23, 1863 and mustered into Company "A" NC 5th Cavalry. His regiment was involved in the Sappony Church or Stoney Creek Depot Battle in June 1864. It is unknown whether Adderton survived the war. He was listed on the rolls in October of 1864, but after that, who knows?

Though he didn’t know it at the time, George Adderton wrote this letter when the war was soon to draw to a close. On March 25, 1865, the last offensive for Lee's Army of Northern Virginia began with an attack on the center of Grant's forces at Petersburg. Four hours later the attack was broken. On April 2, 1865, a mere 30 days after Adderton’s letter was written, Grant's forces began a general advance and broke through Lee's lines at Petersburg. Confederate Gen. Ambrose P. Hill was killed. Lee evacuated Petersburg. The Confederate Capital, Richmond, was evacuated. Fires and looting break out. The next day, Union troops enter and raise the Stars and Stripes. On April 9, 1865, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate Army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

Adderton writes his family regarding the Yankees and the slaves. The letter states in part (Spelling and Grammer corrected):

"I hear that all you in North Carolina are all scared to death about the Yankees. I don’t think there is much danger. I recon the home guards are scared to death but I think they will hear the eleventh bellow before this war comes to a close.[I believe Adderton is referring to the 11th Battalion North Carolina Home Guard here.] I hear there is a good many ? in Randolph County, but I think they will be caught and punished.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Mary Kempson to Mrs. Seth Alden, Massachusetts, 1848

This stampless letter has a circular date stamp for PHILLIPS, MAINE, a matching boxed 5 cent rate, and is addressed to Mrs. Seth Alden, Fair Haven, Mass., and is a three page letter written by Mary M. Kempson.

The headline is Phillips, Maine, May 1st, 1848.

Some abstracts:

"I was married only two weeks before you. Don't you think it was quite a remarkable coincidence that two of Lucia's Apprentices should enter the state of matrimony so near a time and both go into the country to live, for we are living upon a farm too. George has bought one since we arrived here ..."

"... so you see Keziah I am situated about the same as yurself if we are a good many miles apart." "We left Hudson the 22 of March Tuesday after noon and stayed one night in Boston, an afternoon and night in Portland and one in Augusta and arrived in Phillips the next Saturday at eleven o clock at night."

"I enjoyed myself very much in Hudson, did a lot of sewing and knit me some sidies [?], sister Charlotte was there on a visit but Brother William did not come up from New York after her untill a week after I came away so that I did not see him again after the morning we were married. We left both of our Daguerrotypes there and Brother carried mine back with Him."

"I suppose you did not receive any Valentines for I did not. The beaus soon forget

Saturday, September 04, 2004


THIRTY-EIGHT (38) letters authored by a Zouave—a 44-year old, French Canadian by the name of Francis Aubin.

The letters were written to his daughter, Eliza Aubin. Each letter is authored by Francis Aubin as he struggles to communicate with his family from the front lines. There are a few letters with terrific Patriotic letterheads. One letter is written on official letterhead from "The Headquarters of the 146th Regt. N. York Vols., Col. Garrard," depicting an engraving of the Capitol Building, with the "Dome’s" construction completed.

One of the letters was written on the reverse side of an 1861 Civil War Military broadsidewhich was no doubt given to Francis Aubin just before he enlisted. The broadside’s title reads, "AN ACT, To Provide for the Allotment Certificates Among the Volunteer Forces." Please click on the enlargement below for a more thorough review of the ACT.

Some of the postal marks include cancellations from Reading, PA; Washington; Easton, PA; New York, Lancaster, PA; Fredericksburg, MD; and Rome, NY.


French-Canadians were one of the most fascinating, colorful, and important groups present in the Union forces. The archive offered here is indeed a special one, and it is doubtful that you will run into another like it in a lifetime, especially an archive which includes a Gettysburg/Little Round Top dated letter.

Though thousands of Franco-Americans appear to have served in the conflict, the exact number is largely unclear. There are no truly reliable statistics concerning foreign enlistments in the Union forces. Consequently, only rough estimates can be made. Most scholars tend to claim that anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 Franco-Americans, many of whom would have been born in the United States or had resided there for several years, served in the Union forces.

The uniform of the Garrard’s Tigers is pictured exactly on page 130 of the book, "Echoes of Glory". It consisted of the following:
Headgear - Scarlet fez with yellow tassel, turban worn for dress
Jacket - Sky blue Zouave jacket with yellow trim and tombeaux
Trousers - Sky blue Chasseur trousers
Sash - Scarlet sash with yellow edging
Leggings - Canvas leggings with russet leather jambiƩres

A historian, who has examined all enlistment estimates reported that most of the forty thousand or more ‘Canadians’ who enlisted probably were third and even forth generation French-Canadian Americans. Most nineteenth-century estimates of Franco-American participation in the Civil War tend to be high. In May of 1864, the Catholic Bishop of Montreal, Msgr. Ignace Bourget (1799-1885), warned the priests of his diocese that at least 25,000 French Canadians were taking part in the fighting on the Union side and that unless something was done to stop them from enlisting, more would be headed for the boucherie (slaughterhouse).

It is probably safe to state that anywhere from ten to twenty thousand French Canadians and Franco-Americans served in the Union forces during the Civil War. Twenty thousand represents an ambitious but not impossible maximum. Nonetheless, the true figure would likely be closer to the ten than the twenty thousand enlistments mark. An overwhelming proportion of these men enlisted in the army. Only a very small number of French Canadians seem to have served in the Union navy.

We will never know exactly how many Franco-Americans fought and died in the Civil War. During the first half of the war, no records were kept of the birthplace or parentage of enlisted men. When such information was at last requested, recruiting agents frequently filled in the forms with guesses or falsified information to fill state or town quotas. Moreover, Yankee recruiting officers often saw very little difference between an Acadian, a French Canadian, a Frenchman or a French-speaking Belgian or Swiss recruit. All francophones might thus end up being lumped into a large "French" group.


The 146th was organized at Rome, N.Y., and mustered in on October 10, 1862. The Regiment left the state for Washington, D.C., on October 11, 1862. It was attached to Casey's Division, Defenses of Washington, until November, 1862. From there on until March 1864, it was attached to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 5th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac. The 146th New York Zouaves was the only Zouave Unit in the 5th Army Corps.

Originally called the "Fifth Oneida" Regiment and the "Halleck Infantry", the 146th NY went off to war in 1862 under Colonel Kenner Garrard, a veteran West Pointer. Garrard expected his volunteers to live up to the standards of the "Old Army", and the regiment was assigned to General Sykes' Division of the Army of the Potomac, a division composed mainly of U.S. Regulars.

Francis Aubin was the ripe old age of 44 years when he enlisted as a private on August 21, 1862. An immigrant of Canada, he mustered into Company "D", 146th New York Infantry on October 10, 1862. Private Aubin was one of the founding recruits of the unit, enlisting in September 1862, one month before his unit was officially mustered into service. At the beginning, Aubin and his Regiment were at Duty in the Defenses of Washington, D.C., until November 1862.
Almost immediately after they were mustered in, the 146th NY, were thrust into battle action, suffering brutal and significant losses at Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, and the Little Round Top at Gettysburg, where for its performance on the battlefield, its Commander, Colonel Garrard, was promoted to Brigadier General. The last action that Private Aubin saw with the 146th New York Zouaves was in the Regiment’s pursuit of Lee from July 5 through 24, 1863. On September 3, 1863, Aubin was transferred to the Veterans Corps, formerly known as the Invalid Corps.

Francis Aubin’s native language was French. How difficult it must have been for Aubin to communicate with his fellow soldiers and commanding officers. . His letters reflect his lack of command of the English language. He struggles to communicate his thoughts in phonetic English. Many of the letters from him are written in a different hand as he managed to convince a volunteer to write his letters for him.


Ssome of the letters are difficult to read as they are in broken English. But once you have read a few, it does become easier as you decipher the dialect. A few contain a mixture of French and broken English, which only serves as a reminder about how difficult it must have been for this 44-year old man. How brave a man must have been to enlist in the Civil War. But to volunteer as Francis Aubin did--the sheer determination and courage of a man who willingly enlists into a foreign jurisdiction for a Cause he probably did not understand andwithout the basic benefit of speaking the same language as his comrades, must indeed have been a grueling, discouraging, and frustrating experience.

The quotes from the letters follow

"September 11, 1862—Camp Huntington (Rome)

Dear Eliza--
I write to inform you that I have volunteered in the service, and when you write to me, direct as above so that I may know where to direct letter with money in it for you. I am well and hope you are the same. I shall have not far short of $200. I shall want you to keep the check for me until I come back from the war…."

The following penciled letter is written in Aubin’s hand on the Reverse of the 1861 Broadside which is pictured above--the "Act to Provide for Allotment Certificates". I have transcribed portions of this letter to the best of my ability. For reading ease, I corrected grammar and spelling. With a little time and patience, this letter could be completely transcribed.

"October 13, 1862—Camp Washington

Today is Monday—My Dear Daughter--

It is with these few lines to make you know I am well for the time…. Dear daughter am here with Regiment and I do not like the place at all. I don’t have a gun ready. The Rebel come last night…. 4000 Rebels be only miles from here…. Eliza…now Frank he got killed, last month on the 17th…."

"October 17, 1862—Headquarters of 146th New York

Company D, Capt. GrindleyDear Eliza--

…I am well and do not feel lonesome at all, hoping these few lines will find you well. I wish to send you my money and want you to take good care of it. I want you to take it and put it in a bank until I come home. I will send it by express soon as I can. I signed a Rule to have you sent $8.00 per month. You take the check that is sent you, and sign your name on the back and go to any bank and get cashed…."

"January 10, 1863—Reading, Pa.

Dear Daughter…In this letter, Aubin writes about money and worthless paper money and someone with a million dollars, and I’m sure much more.

"Camp Near Fredericksburg on Potomac Creek in Virginia

March 24, 1863

Dear Daughter & Son-in-law
…I was pleased that you were ever ready to comfort and encourage me in my troubles, and I know that the confidence which I have placed in you is just…where I selected you among my other children, not that I think any less of them, but because you were the oldest and more experienced…you would not see your father in trouble…I hope that…by the faith of the great redeemer, my daughter and myself will forget our past troubles and work future happiness as the only as the only safeguard against all miseries and troubles…. While resting a couple of the boys from the 97th N.Y. came up to visit. Some of their friends in our Regiment. They report that John is well and all the boys there in general.I always like to hear form absent friends and relatives and don’t think it any trouble to inform them of my situation…."

"Camp Near Fredericksburg on Potomac Creek in Virginia
April 16, 1863
Dear Daughter
…We had orders to march last Tuesday, but they were countermanded as we are here yet, not knowing when, nor where, we shall go. We had 8 days rations ready th enight before [a sure sign that a long Campaign was in the works] and have them yet, waiting for further orders…. They won’t give passes, only for one day…we have just received today four months pay…. See that my money is all safe and let no one have any without my orders as long as I am alive and well… I wish this war would be ended some way, I want to see you all very much."


"July 5, 1863—Pa.
Dear Daughter--
I sit down to give you a few lines, for I want you to know that I am here and all well at the present. I hope the few lines will find you the same. I be here on a mountain. We got battle last Thursday and Friday. Sgt. Taylor, for day and today, he get more battle on the 6th. I got shot.

[edited out content on battle and Regiment. The reverse of the letter is dated July 10, 1863 and continues on with more content here about the battle.]


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