Letter – Charles Wilkins, 2 February 1863


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Letter of Lieutenant Charles Wilkins of the 1st U.S. Infantry to his girlfriend Sarah while in a camp near Corinth, Mississippi. Wilkins writes that his battalion has been ordered to Vicksburg. He expresses anxiety at not hearing from Sarah for some time, and the fact that his letters do not seem to be reaching her. He has a handmade gift he plans on giving Sarah. He is disappointed in the new orders to go to Vicksburg, as he was hoping to visit friends and family rather than fight. Wilkins expects to see his two brothers. One of them is with General Nathaniel Banks, while the other is with General Ulysses S. Grant. He closes with the hope of seeing Sarah soon.

-Page 1-

Corinth, Miss.

                                  February 2nd  1862 [1863]

Dear Sarah,

  As I am to once more see active service will write a few lines. Our battalion of the 1st Infantry is ordered to Vicksburg via Memphis. We shall leave our large guns hare and take some more on our arrival at the scene of action. Am pleased that it is so, for we shall have a much easier time than if we were acting as infantry. Cannot imagine why my letters do not reach you. Have written you twice before this, since I received a paper from you. You can hardly tell how anxious I am in not hearing from you. It seems a long time since I received your last.

We are now packing up, shall get our things loaded on the cars tonight. Expect I shall have to leave my trunk at Memphis, but shall take writing materials with me. Shall also keep my letters received

-Page 2-

from you in my pocket. Have burned all others, but could not do so with yours. I have a match safe whittled from clay stone taken from Battery Williams, which I shall pack in my trunk for you, if you would like it. It is a rough affair at best, but it came from the battery that saved the town with the assistance of the 1st Infty. On the 4th Oct. [Battle of Corinth]. We have a very small command, only 112 men for duty all told. Think the 1st is thought something of, as Genl. Dodge, the commandant of the post, told Major Maloney that he would rather have had all the other troops ordered off if he could have remained. I wrote you sometime ago that I thought we should be ordered north to recruit. Was a little mistaken in my calculations. Was quite disappointed when the order came, for I had made up my mind that I should soon see you, but now the scene is changed. Instead of visiting my friends and those I love, I go to fight my enemies, for those that are enemies to the Union are my enemies. If we should be so fortunate as to capture Vicksburg, I expect to meet my two brothers in the service. One is in Gen. Banks’

-Page 3-

expedition, the other is already with Gen. Grant. But I am also looking forward to another meeting. Can you guess with whom? Hope I shall be able to tell you before long without having recourse to pen and paper. I must now close, as I have a good deal to do in getting my company ready to move. Hoping to hear from you soon.                        

I remain truly, your own


Charles Wilkins originally enlisted in Company B of the 2nd NH Infantry on June 1, 1861. He served as a private until wounded at the 1st Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861. He remained on wounded leave at Hennikee, NH until January, 1862, when he was appointed 2nd lieutenant, 1st U.S. Infantry, to date from Feb. 19, 1862. On May 25, 1863 Lt. Wilkins was wounded at Vicksburg, MS and died of his wounds on June 20, 1863. He was brevetted captain for gallant and meritorious service in action at Vicksburg, June 20,1863.

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