Friday, July 12, 2013

Civil War Letter from James Carter of Pembroke Maine 1864

Civil War Letter from James Carter of Pembroke Maine 1864
Civil War Soldier Maine Infantry
Here are excerpts from a letter James Carter sent to "Sister" Annie in 1864:

West Pembroke

Sep. 13/64

Sister Annie

Will’s family are all well. You do not seem to keep posted in family affairs of your relations for Will’s family consists of four children, on boy and three girls so it seems that little Louella, three and a half years old, and Minnie Imogene or something like that, born last April are entire strangers to you.....

You speak of your revolver and swords and the old musket that my Grandfather carried in the old Revolutionary War. It is more than one hundred years old, has been in two wars and is good for another. I think you and E. would fight a great battle, rather think you would take Richmond before soon if you was out there.

Brother Lewis is home on furlough sick from the effects of a sunstroke. He is some better. Allen Brown is also home on furlough sick from the same cause. He is getting quite smart again. There is only thirty of their Reg[iment] left fit for duty and only two of their Company. They belong to Company “B”, 31. Some are buried at Spottsylvania, in the Wilderness before Petersburg, and some are in the hospital.

Read the complete letter at Past Voices website

Credits: Image: Portrait of Pvt. George Henry Graffam, Company B, 30th Maine Infantry. U.S.A., age 18 Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lucius E. Bidwell Co. B, 14th Connecticut Infantry KIA at the Wilderness May 5 1864

Lucius E. Bidwell Co. B, 14th Connecticut Infantry KIA at the Wilderness May 5 1864
Battlefield of The Wilderness
In camp on North side of Rapidan, Feb. 7, 1864

My Dear Mother—

Our Heavenly Father has again saved your son Lucius safely through another battle and one of the worst kinds of a battle too. It was a night fight. Yesterday morning about 5 o’clock we were routed out of our beds with the orders to pack up and fall in. We took up our line of march for the River Rapidan at about nine o’clock in the morning and reached the river about an hour after. We crossed the Rapidan by fording it about noon. We had to ford it, it was up to our breasts and it was a very rapid stream, so much so that if we had accidentally slipped, we would have been carried down stream, and stood a very good chance of finding our graves at the bottom thereof. But as far as I know there was no accident of the kind happened, only now and then one would slip as he was crawling up the opposite bank, which was very steep, but no serious harm was done to my knowledge, but givng them a good dunking, and wetting their cartridges.

The water was very cold--it makes a fellow’s feet and legs ache, I tell you! But go it, we must follow our leader through fire and water. The regiment known as the Garbaldi’s Guards, a New York Regiment composed of Dutch, Irish, and Italians refused to wade because they said it was too deep. But General Hays, knowing of it, jumped from his horse without saying a word, and left his horse this side of the river and waded across to the other side, picking out good footing, and then waded back after his horse. They saw that he got over safe, so they finally plunged in, and arrived safely on the other side. I tell you what he is - a regular tiger! I suppose you have heard of him before. He is in command of our Division, and goes by the name of 'Fighting Ellick'. He rides along the line of skirmishers with his hat in his hand, cheering the men on, crying, 'Give them hell boys give them hell.’ He is an old tiger, he is most always a little tight when there is fighting going on and then he is in his glory.

He thinks the Old 14th is about right he is always pressing us up. He was with us in the thickest of the fight crying out 'give ‘em hell, 14th--Bully for you! Bully for you, go in, boys, go in 14th!’ and so on--the balls flying around his head like hailstones without flinching in the least. He is a regular dare devil!

We marched to a hollow facing the rebels breast works, and remained there until about 5 o’clock within rifle shot of their rifle-pits. They sent a few shells over to us, but most of them passed over harmless. But two or three took effect, killing three or four and wounding several. They had only fired several shots when it was ascertained that the Rebs had ...a solid line of battle advancing on us. We were ordered to advance. The bully 14th taking the load, and charged at the double quick time. They met us half way and poured an everlasting fire into us which caused us to waiver for a moment, and with a deafening yell we made a rush, pouring a volley of blue pills into them which they won't soon forget and put them to flight, and drove them to their rifle pits.

By this time it was dark as pitch, we could not see our foes until we met them face to face, some shot at one another and knocked each others brains out with the butt of the musket. We were fighting in squads most of the night, each man for himself. 

Continue reading the rest of Lucius Bidwell's letter at

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

KIA: 1863 Letter from Alvin Brown of Ohio Infantry

KIA: 1863 Letter from Alvin Brown of Ohio Infantry

Removing wounded across Rappahannock River
after battle of Chancellorsville

Camp Brooks Station March the 15th, 1863

Dear Father--

I am well at present. I hope when these few lines reach you, they will find you the same.

I did not receive a letter from you for about three weeks. I wrote you a letter to you a good while ago. I was waiting for an answer from you, but I did not receive an answer yet today. So I thought I would write another letter to you. I hope there is nothing wrong that you don’t.

I had wrote in my other letter for a fine comb and some black thread. If you get this letter, send me them things, if you can. I have not much to write this time. I must tell you one thing yet and that is, we expect to have a hard battle at Fredericksburg before long. I received a letter from George about three weeks ago. I could [not] answer his because I could not get any postage stamps. Nothing more at present.

Answer soon. Alvin Brown 

Alvin M. Brown of the 107th Ohio Infantry. The letter is undated and is not addressed. Alvin M. Brown was killed in action at Chancellorsville in May, 1863.

Read the Brown brothers letters:
Alvin 1862 | Alvin 15 March 1863 | George 29 March 1863 | George Oct 16 1863 | George 28 Jan. 1864

Lost Faces Ancestor Photos from the 1800s

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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

1863 Letter Sergeant Neil A. Baker Company F, 50th North Carolina

1863 Letter Sergeant Neil A. Baker Company F, 50th North Carolina
Civil War Soldier, N.C. Regiment
Camp Near Goldsboro, North Carolina—February 1863

Dear Jane—

Having a good opportunity of sending you a few lines by N. T. Watson, I embrace it. This leaves me in my usual health, hop[ing] this will reach you and the babies enjoying the same blessing. Mr. Watson goes home on furlough for 14 days also Jack Thomas and Sgt. John Godfrey. Again I am acting Quartermaster Sgt. Vice [for] Wm J. Kelley [who has] gone home upon furlough for 14 days.

Again, I am acting Quartermaster Sergeant,“Vice”. William J. Kelley [has] gone home upon furlough for 14 days. John B. McFarland got an indefinite detail (for not stated time) to work in Goldsboro upon Guns for Government and I am pretty certain that he will get a furlough too, to go after his tools. One man for every twenty-five gets furloughs, but you see, Sgt. Kelly or J. B. McFarland furloughs has nothing to do with the furloughs of those of the Company.

We have a good many visitors, Rob, David Thomas and wives and mother. Absolum Kelly and Getty Cox came today. John Buchanan and daughter and Jasper Thomas’s wife came last evening and some others that came before.

We have good news! In today’s paper, our little Navy pitched into the blockading vessels at Charleston, South Carolina and cleared the Ranch—raised or opened the blockade without any loss on our side. I still have very flattering hopes that we will soon have peace again in our land. I have a very strong opinion that in a few days, the number of furloughs will be increased for because if they are not, you see one for every 25 men, it would take nearly or quite all the year for all to get home at that rate. If there is no threatening movement of the enemy soon, I am confident that the number will be increased. I want to go in this or the first of next month if possible.

Nothing more worth your attention.

…Yours truly, Neill A. Baker 


The letter is addressed to Mrs. Sarah J. Baker of Chatham County, North Carolina. There is an additional notation on the envelope which states, Favor of N. R. Bryan care A.A. Harrington. Neil Baker mustered into Company “F”, 50th North Carolina on May 27, 1862. Sergeant Baker was the only one of his Regiment wounded on December 9, 1864 during the siege of Savannah, Georgia. Poor Baker only lived a few short days. He died of his wounds on December 16, 1864. Baker also had service in “G” Co., 17th Mississippi Infantry. He was promoted to Sgt. On or about January 15, 1863.

Friday, May 31, 2013

1862 Letter From Confederate Soldier Andrew Jackson Bass in Camp Lee Virginia

1862 Letter From Confederate Soldier Andrew Jackson Bass in Camp Lee Virginia

38th Alabama Infantry, C.S.A.

October 31, 1862

Camp Lee, near Richmond.

Dear wife it is with pleasure I seat my self down to inform you that I am not well at this (time? ) [unreadable due to water damage] to be up I hope these few (lines?) may reach you soon and find you and the children all well. ?

I can say to you it would be more satisfaction to me to be at home with you and my dear little children. That is all so (?) and dear to me than it (unreadable) Confederate States is (worth ? unreadable) to me though I am here and (unreadable) for me to get off.

I was supposed to be examined yesterday. Dear wife, don’t grieve for me it will do no good but let me say to you pray for me with all your heart that if we never meet on earth again that we may meet in heaven where parting will be no more.

Go to meeting as often as you can and take the children and tell at this point it ends and takes up on another page, sentence unfinished) Dear Wife let me say to you content yourself as much as you can. I think if peace is not made by Christmas I can get a discharge by then any how:

I will say to you we may be hear 2 or 3 months all that had had the measles was carried on to regiment the rest was left hear to stay til they have them. We are living on half rations. Here corn is 8 dollars a bushel sweet potatoes 6 dollars.

I can say to you I landed here this day was 2 weeks ago .I have been a waiting thinking I would get off and I will keep a trying for it . I don’t think they will keep me very long. I will say to you I want you to rite to me as soon as you can when you get this letter. Direct your letter to camp lee near Richmond in care of Colonel Sheets to the 3 Ala conscripts.

So nothing more at present only remain your loving and affectionate 

Notes: Andrew Jackson Bass was born 1830 in Blue Springs, Barbour Co, Alabama. He married Ellander "Ellen" Davis born July 28, 1839 in Abbieville, Henry Co, Alabama. They married September 17, 1857 in Barbour Co, Alabama. Their children were all born in Barbour Co. Children: Thomas B. Bass abt. 1857 Henry Wilburn Bass 1859 Andrew J. Bass,Jr. June 1861 Ellen had 2 children after her husband's death. Elsey Bass abt. 1865 John Jessie Marion Bass February 02, 1869 Ellen Davis Bass died abt. 1916 in Barbour Co, Alabama.

This letter From Andrew Jackson Bass to his wife, Ellendar Davis Bass Dated October 31, 1862 Written from Camp Lee, Virginia. He was in a hospital at Camp Lee, near Richmond, Virginia. He had contracted measles and died on November 20, 1862, just 20 days after this letter was written.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Letter from Simeon Baldwin, New Haven, Connecticut, 1808

Letter Simeon Baldwin, New Haven, Connecticut, 1808
Sample Letter
Letter: New Haven Jany 4th 1808

Dear Sir

I have this day received yours of the 3d Inst wishing me to enquire more particularly of Mr Wm Baldwin respecting the circumstances of your brothers death. – You have indeed imposed upon me a painful task; but I expected it, & duty requires however painful it may be to us both, that I execute it faithfully.

– A day or two preceeding the Death of your brother he with Mr Michael Baldwin & three or four other Gentlemen arrived in Pittsburg from the westwards in a Stage & took lodgings at the Stage house, the next day he visited with a party of Gentlemen, at Henry Baldwins & by his cheerfulness rendered himself peculiarly acceptable to the family & the party

– some time after he returned to his lodgings, a messenger was sent to M Baldwin’s to inform them that the Gentleman who came in the stage with Michael Baldwin was found in his chamber sleeping & that he could not be roused – The 3 Mr Baldwins immediately ran to the tavern & perceiving his situation, instantly called in the aid of two Physicians – but their skill could not save him

– he never awoke – he expired that night I think about 2 oclock – Decr 8th Michael Baldwin Esqr. is an inhabitant of the State of Ohio, has been Speaker of their house of Representatives, & is a respectable gentleman & was one of your brothers friends – Henry Baldwin Esqr is a Lawyer of eminence residing in Pittsburg – These Gentn & their friends exerted themselves that every possible attention should be paid to your brother while living & to his remains after his decease — he was interred the next day attended to the Grave by the few who knew him there & most of the principal Inhabitants of the place, all lamenting that a man who had so universally acquired the esteem of those who knew him should so soon & without apparent cause become weary of this troublesome world – It appeared on enquiry that he had that day purchased a quantity of Landamum. He was found sitting at a table leaning over an unfinished letter

– In his pockett Book was found a Letter directed to you, & which you have probably received, tho’ as I did not know its contents I thought it prudent to retain it till you should hear of his Death. I sent it by the mail last week – No papers were found intimating the cause of the event. – I understand that Mr Michael Baldwin who returned soon after to the State of Ohio, took charge of his property & papers – & will communicate the intelligence to your friends there. –

Thus Sir I have endeavored to give you a faithful report of the information obtained from Mr William Baldwin who was among the first who saw him in his distress, was with him till he died & attended his funeral.

— I sincerely sympathize with you in this truly affecting dispensation of Providence. I am sensible that such a relation must be peculiarly painful to his friends, but attempts to suppress or disguise the truth often prove more so – The untimely deaths of friends are always awful & serious lessons to those who survive – & they become the more so when they proclaim, how feeble a thing is man when left to himself:

– I am with esteem your friend & Hble Servt

Simeon Baldwin

[Letter to unidentified person from Simeon Baldwin, New Haven, [Connecticut], January 4, 1808 -- From the Phillip F. Schlee Collection, Manhattan, Kansas published with permission on ]

Monday, May 27, 2013

Letter to Alvah Bush, Albany New York, from her sister, M. M. Bush, Cooperstown, New York 1843

Letter to Alvah Bush, Albany New York, from her sister, M. M. Bush, Cooperstown, New York 1843
Sample letter
Cooperstown Oct 11th 1843.

My dear Annah,

Your’s of the 3d inst reached me by due course of mail, and I assure you I read its interesting contents with a great deal of pleasure – I intended to have answered it sooner but I have been prevented by one thing or another until to-day. I am quite alone, Mother having left us this morning for Utica, and Kate gas not yet returned from Butternuts — I have been looking for the latter every day, and shall feel very much disappointed if she does not come to night — She did not intend to be absent more than a week when she left home, and she has already protracted her visit to more than a fortnight –

I am rejoiced to hear that you are passing your time so pleasantly – Your stay at the River must have been very agreable from your account of it – I suppose you will have reached Albany by this time therefore I conclude it will be the safest place to direct my letter there – I feel anxious to know of your plans and arrangements and hope it will be in my power to arrange mine accordingly – I received a very kind letter from Mrs Strong last week urging me to pass the winter with her which I shall be very happy to do – I feel very grateful for her kindness, which was unexpected — I think it will be more pleasant for me there, than if I were to remain here, through the Winter, as the past seasons have been so sickly here that every one has a dread of a Cooperstown Winter, and another thing I would much prefer being one of a small quiet family in my present state of feelings, to staying where there is much noise and confusion – I have not yet replied to Mrs Strong’s letter, and deferred doing so until now, in the hope of fixing upon some definite time when I should be able to be with her – I put off my Utica visit until Winter, with the intention of remaining here, but since I have altered my plans it will be necessary for me to go to U, this Fall. And my greatest fear is that I shall be prevented from seeing you by the means – Mother is coming as far as Herkimer the last of next week and Father says he will take me up there then, and bring her home – In that case I shall remain at Herkimer a day or two, and then take the cars for Utica and how long I shall stay there depends upon the time fixed for your return – Joseph has promised us a visit and I intend to endeavor to prevail upon him to come up for me next month which I hope he will be charitable enough to do –

I feel very grateful to you for your kindness in offering to make any purchases for me in New York – I shall not be obliged to trouble you, as I have purchased a shawl here and have concluded to try to dispense with a cloak this Winter– I may possibly have my old one colored which I shall get along with, as my shawl is very large and warm – I hesitated some time about getting the shawl as it is a higher price than I felt willing to pay, but I was afraid it would cause you a great deal of trouble and anxiety to select one for me, as I could not give you any very special directions, and black shawls are said to be very rare – Under all these circumstances, I thought I might better pay a little more, and get it here, than make you so much unnecessary trouble, – And another thing I needed it so much that I could not wait until your return, as I had nothing fit to wear in the street —

I intended to tax you to get some shoes and mits, which I shall need in Binghamton, but I think I can procure them in Utica – I want you to write me what Alvah and yourself think of my going to Binghamton, and let me know if possible when you will return, and if there is any probability of your coming while I am at Utica, would you not be willing to return that way?

I forgot to tell you that I paid $8 for my shawl which I suppose you will think very extravagant – It is cassimere, two yards square with a handsome heavy fringe and is very warm – I looked at it a long time before I could make up my mind to take it, but I thought it would do to wear very often instead of a cloak and thus save me the necessity of getting a new one – And then I was thinking of getting a muff which I have since concluded is more than I can stand – Wednesday Eveg – Cate returned about 3 o’clock in the stage – She says she had a delightful visit and enjoyed it very much – She desires much love to you, and says she will write you very soon —

I received a long letter from Joseph last week, giving an account of the wedding and the conflagration which are two very important events in Bainbridge – It will be but a little while before I shall see them all again, and I assure you I look forward to it with a great deal of pleasure – I shall spend a week or two there on my way to Binghamton — Mrs Sumer returned from Boston, Saturday, and left with her family for Cleveland this morning – Miss Stowel is very well – They were very much taken with you – Love to Alvah and yourself from your affectionate Sister M. M. B.

(written in left margin and top of first page)

Dear Annah, I shall look anxiously for a letter from you, and hope you will write as soon as you receive this – I am anticipating a great deal of pleasure in going to New York under the protection of your good Husband and with your agreable company & hope I may not be disappointed I shall be ready to go next week & am desirous of being in the city, while there is a prospect of pleasant weather as our autumn rains will soon set in

(written in left margin of second page)

I had a delightful time at Butternuts, and will tell you all about it when we meet – I am, expecting Mr & Mrs Car—k – here to morrow night on their return from Philadelphia –

(written in left margin and top of third page)

I feel sad enough at the idea of Martha’s leaving me this long dull Winter, but I know it will be so much for her happiness that I allow myself to murmer as little as possible – Yours aff Catharine

(written in bottom, top and left margin of cover page)

Thursday evening – I was interrupted last evening while writing you, by a call from Mr Fenno and Mrs Tudor of Boston, and in consequence I was too late for the mail – Kate wishes me to ask you when you intend going to New York – She is anxious to go next week, and if you go so soon she would be glad to accompany you. She would be willing to go on to Albany alone, if she could have your society down the river – I hope you will be able to go as soon as some day in the course of next week, as we would all like to have her go under Alvah’s protection — Write me of your plans immediately if you please — I am expecting Mrs Juliano every day on her return home, and anticipating much pleasure in seeing her again – Kate had a pleasant time at B. Mr Master’s and Fanny’s engagement, is announced – I am housekeeper with a miserable new girl and find my hands full of business – I shall look impatiently for a letter from you — Kate has gone out this evening – If She were here she would probably have same message for you – My best love to A. C. and a large share for your own dear self –

[Letter addressed to A. C. "Alvah" Bush, Esq., “(P. M. Tioga PO)”, Albany, New York, from her sister, M. M. Bush, Cooperstown, New York, October 11, 1843 -- From the Phillip F. Schlee Collection, Manhattan, Kansa published originally on with permission]

Saturday, May 25, 2013

1863 Civil War Letter from George B. Atkins to his father from Camp Douglas, Illinois

1863 Civil War Letter from George B. Atkins to his father from Camp Douglas, Illinois
The Texas Republican
Marshall, Harrison County, Texas

Saturday, April 25, 1863

Camp Douglas
Chicago, Illinois

March 19, 1863

Dear Father

I write a letter to ARIE about a month ago, giving a statement of the condition of our company. Since then there have been so many changes in the prospects of nearly one half of us. When I wrote to Arie, there were two dead, H. T. WALKER and W. C. FORD. Since then ten more have departed this life, and now we have two at the hospital whose return, I fear, will be like the all the rest who have gone there; otherwise we are dong as well as could be expected—improving in health, getting plenty to eat, and receiving very good treatment. Money is scarce and no prospects of getting any, and of course, without it, we can procure none of the many delicacies we need when sick.

WILLIAM A. R. D. WARD is also dead. He belonged to Mill’s Regiment and was dead and buried before I knew of his sickness, I being sick at the time. The last time I saw of him, he was improving rapidly from an attack of cold, and seemed to be getting well. The next thing I knew, I saw his death published in a paper. Give my kindest regards to his parents and family, and tell them he did his duty in battle and died the death of a soldier, lamented by all of his comrades and acquaintances. Below you will find a list of the dead of our company since I wrote last:

  • A.T. WALKER, Feb. 7
  • W. C. FORD, Feb. 19
  • W. S. CROWERS, Feb. 15
  • W. O. TAYLOR, Feb. 17
  • J. H. COIT, Feb. 19
  • C. S. BURRAS, Feb. 24
  • R. C. GRANBERRY, Feb. 24
  • R. C. MELTON, Feb. 28
  • J. L. CRAIG, March 2
  • C. C. HALL, March 1
  • L. G. HAVIS / HOVIS, March 14
  • C. KEY, March 19
  • J. W. GREEN, March 19

H. F. FERRELL is in the hospital with the smallpox. J. W. GREEN is also there with erysipelas. They were improving when last heard from. Beside these, there are no other serious cases among us.

The detachment of RICHARDSON’S company with us have suffered more than we, losing 7 out of 15 men. As some of them are writing home, I will only give the names of the dead. They are: HAWLEY, HENDERSON, GRAVITT, HINDS, HARRIS, HUDSON, and JARRETT. OSCAR JOHNSON has had a severe attack of erysipelas but is recovering and will be up in day or two. No others seriously sick.

Your affectionate son,


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dr. B. B. Allen to Dr. Charles H. Carothers of Missouri February 19, 1869

Dr. B. B. Allen to Dr. Charles H. Carothers of Missouri February 19, 1869
An 1869 letter
Freeport Sacramento County California

February 19, 1869

Dr. C. H. Carothers—

Sir—I presume that you will be surprised by the receipt of this letter, but I hope you will reply and I hope that this will be the commencement of a long and friendly correspondence. I am well ‘posted’ about the troubles in your country and rejoice when I reflect about the honor of ‘war’, and know that I escaped just in time to avoid the strife between the north and the south. I would have been classed with the Southern sympathizers and probably lost all of my property, if not my life, and sir, I was suspicious before leaving Mo that this would be trouble consequently, and my influence to persuade my brothers in law to immigrate with me and I do not regret it.

It is true, I am not as well contented as I have been in other countries, but I am living in the most delightful climate in the world, and have a good home and a good reputation. My practice amounts to about $2000 per year. I am living within 7 miles of Sacramento city. My practice extends about half way. You would be delighted with this country. We have no winter—our farmers plow and plant seed at all times of the year. All of the tropical fruits grow to perfection. If you move to this country, you will not regret it. You could do well in Sacramento City.

You are aware no doubt, that there is a great change in the treatment of nearly all ? Breeding, purging and starving our patients is to a great extent ‘played out,’ the physicians in this Country use but very little Calomel or Bluemass. Our treatment is from principally dimitres (?), drop(?) and tonics, --Quinine is used to excess in nearly all cases of fever. We have a great deal of Fever on Sacramento River or I might say in the Sacramento Valley.

As to mining, it is just in its infancy. New mines are being discovered daily and will be for the nest 500 years. The mineral wealth of this country is not known. George H. Parkson studied medicine with me graduated San Francisco and is now practicing in Dutch Flat.

Jos. Parkson is now reading with me and will attend lectures next summer in San Francisco. Sandy Parkson is going to school in Healsburg California.

California is ‘fast country.’ We have ‘fast’ men, ‘fast’ women and ‘fast’ horses. Our currency is Gold and Silver. Those who are so fortunate as to have any, spend it freely.

If you wish any information about this country, I will be happy to give you the [?] information. If you reply and promise to correspond with me regularly, I will write you long letters and give you some idea about the country, mines & c. & c. Do not come to the [?] that we differ politically and refuse to write. I am a conservative man and do not care but very little about political matter.

Consequently, we will leave politics out of our correspondence. Let me hear from Mr. Himik your father in law. Also Highwood and Simon Himik. Are you practicing medicine now? Do you do any that belongs to the duties of the profession now; ‘ on an empty stomach? Be sure to write me soon and I will write you interesting letter in reply.

Yours, B. B. Allen.

P.S. Let me know your opinion about Dr. Himik’s practice of medicine. Also Wook Lake Practice.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Betty Johnson of London to Hugh Walter Dickson in Rosemont Kansas 1917

Betty Johnson of London to Hugh Walter Dickson in Rosemont Kansas 1917
15 Birley Rd
Whetstone Middlsex, No. 20
Nov. 29, 1917

My Dear Uncle Walter,

I am sorry I have been so long in answering your very welcome and interesting letter First of all Jack returned to Canada on the 25th or August this year to be discharged owing to wounds. He has had four wounds, been passed. The last time wounded was in the capture of Courcelette and advancing when a German jumped out of a shed hole and shot him at close range through the right shoulder and fractured the shoulder blade. He was in the hospital nearly a year and cannot lift the right arm from the shoulder. The wound wouldn't heal. He brought the Hun's helmet home that shot him which I have here with many other trophies.The matron of the hospital where he stayed asked me if I had heard about his triumphal entry into Shrewsbury when wounded and I said, "No, I hadn't." Apparently he was perched on the top of a Red Cross car wearing the helmet and looking very dilapidated when everyone cheered him. Large numbers of people meet the Red Cross trains and welcome the men in many ways. A French custom seen every day at Charing Cross now is to pelt flowers into the cars at the men. It is very impressive and pathetic.

Jack is in Montreal. He spoke of coming down to see you and of taking trip to New York, but he will wire you before he comes. His chum killed the German and his hat was the only thing Jack said was worth saving. This was about the time of the Somme attack and Jack was in the Hospital in France at Rouen. At that time Alice's husband "Jack Thacker" had to take draft of men from England to Rouen, and as he had several hours to spare before returning he sat on a seat outside the General Hospital here little dreaming Jack was inside.

About 14 days before Jack was wounded I had a field card from Bert saying, "I am wounded and in the Hospital." I felt thankful one of them was out of it as I had been worrying very much. The Somme push was just starting. About three hours later I received the following wire: "On His Majesty's Service." "Regret to inform you A. V. Dickson 10222 is seriously wounded at 22 General Hospital Commiers France. He may be visited and should you be unable to bear expenses you will be sent out at public expense. Wire whether you wish to go and whether able to bear expense or not at once." I received my passports and papers within 24 hours and about eight hours afterward was by his bed. I went on a troop ship. We were sending 3,000 men a day at that time and I had a Y.M.C.A. car to meet at Boulogue (an ordinary passport takes 3 days). He had been shot through the head by a sniper and was blind. The bullet passed under the shrapnel proof helmet in behind his ear and out at the temple. He was shot from behind while stooping to pick up his rifle, being very tall his head was above the trench. He was in an American hospital, the whole staff was from New York and they were all extremely nice and kind to me. I stayed in a Y.M.C.A. Hut behind the lines and close to the hospital for 8 days when I returned home. His temperature caused the greatest anxiety. A second operation performed while I was there and at which 14 surgeons were present, removed some pressure from the brain and restored his sight. He has recovered; however, but is deaf in one ear has attacks of giddiness. He is acting instructor at a military school now in the north of England. Since I was in France this hospital has been bombarded by enemy aircraft, and some of the staff killed.

My husband was in the battle of the Somme and did not get wounded. He held a wood with the remnants of 4 regiments for 48 hours and until reinforcements came for which he was afterward mentioned in Dispatches by Sir Douglas Haig in the New Year Honors. He has a much safer post now and it is in the Royal Engineers. He was transferred owing to ill health, but has entirely recovered now. He has met a number of the American staff and likes them immensely. He had a terrible tale to tell of his experiences in the Somme attack. He was a Town Major for a short time at Amines. A sort of Lard mayor but military representative and is responsible for the town. He nearly went quite crazy and said he would rather be a "town crier." Every complaint is made to the Town Major. If the military want 3,000 bullets at five minutes notice, if the dustbins are not emptied, if soldiers have misbehaved in billets or stolen a chicken, they all come to the poor Town Major. Charlie is in Egypt and has had injuries three times, he has just returned to his unit fit again and the last time was only back 8 weeks before being taken ill again. Alice's husband is in the Royal Garrison Artillery and is in France. Being a heavy gun he is about eight miles behind the front lines. He is Captain (acting Major) and said when he was home a few weeks ago that in September alone he sent 600 tons of shells over the Hun lines. I'd like to write 2 pages on how I hate Germans but the paper is too precious.

The food question here is very serious and people are eating anything on bread. Alice has just written she hasn't been able to get any butter for three weeks. I have been for weeks without sugar sometimes. I did get one-fourth pound of butter yesterday but do not know when I shall get any more. Also I believe the country is being skinned of cattle to feed the armies; so I do not know where we should be if it wasn't for America's help. I usually see my husband twice a year and he was home last, two months ago. I hadn't seen him then for seven months. We had an air raid nearly every night whilst he was home and he said it was worse here than behind the lines in France. After about five nights of little sleep the children were all looking worn out. I know when the guns close to me are firing, enemy air craft is pretty near. It isn't until these guns fire that Newton wakes up, generally I sit in the safest corner of the house in a corner where middle walls meet. Open stairways and near glass or doorways are very unsafe. I listen for the nearer guns to fire; and can tell if the firing gets nearer, which course they are taking. I can tell if they are driven off, because the guns gradually die away. When they are close I can hear the engines overhead and the perpetual firing makes a dreadful noise. The shells screech as they pass over the house mingled with a noise like rattling stones on corrugated iron which really is the small pieces of shrapnel rattling down the roof. The warnings have made an immense improvement as every one with common sense takes cover. I was out in the west end once when a warning as given, and I sheltered in a theater I was passing as the first gun fired. Since we have decided taking reprisal it has been much better in fact we have only had the once which were brought down by the French. The bombs have nearly all been dropped in poor quarters where I believe the panic is great partly owing to the large number of aliens. We had a day raid once when the boys at Newton's school were placed in the basement. It was only a tiny preparatory school, but one boy fainted and another was taken ill.

The shoulder strap is of a German of 111 regiment removed after he was killed in the Somme. I have a number of different regiments, --- regimental, l always marked --- the shoulder. I wonder if you will be kind enough to allow cousin Bertha to read my letter I owe her one; and am very sorry I have not answered but hope she will forgive me. It will save me writing two long letters. I work very hard and get little time for letter writing. This is about the 6th letter I have started to you. I spent Christmas with Alice, we shall both be alone. I only wish now that some of our boys had joined the navy instead. I hope Walter meets Jack in America. Newton is simply mad to join the navy. He wants to go to Osborne but my husband thinks it is no career for a man as the pay is so bad. I will send some snapshots a little later. I have some recent ones but none printed.

With much love. Believe me.
Yours very affectionately,
Betty Johnson 

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