Letter – William Morse, 28 July 1861

2015.002.108

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Letter written by Private William H. Morse of Company C, 3rd MI Infantry, to his wife Lucy, from Camp McConnell in Arlington, VA. Morse requests that his wife apply to get money from the county, and asks if she is getting enough to eat. He has seen men offer a dollar for a drink of water on the battlefield, and observes that it has been hard for poor people to make a living during these times. He writes that his friends at home should rethink any decisions to join the army, as “the privations of camp life are far worse than the chance on a battlefield.” Morse mentions being in the battles of Blackburn Ford and Manassas, but writes that he doesn’t think he was any more afraid of dying than if he was at home, and that the 3rd Michigan was highly praised after Bull Run. He concludes by asking his wife to tell their son that his father is “fighting for the Constitution.”


-Page 1-

Headquarters Arlington Regt., third Camp McConnell Co. C

July 28 1861

Dear Wife

I again sit down to write a few lines to you when I wrote the other day I was in such a hurry I could not write much and as I have plenty of time today I thought I would write another I dont know as you will accept of another so soon but I will send it at a venture when you write again I want you to tell me wether you have received any

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money from the County if you have not you had better apply for some for you may as well have it as other families I know of other families drawing money that dont need it any worse than you do and if you have drawn any how much I should like to know how you get along wether you have enough to eat or not tell me wether you have heard from our stears or not. I sent you a little money the other day it was all I had but it may do you a little good money is no object here I have seen men offer a dollar $ on the battle field for a drink of water I shall have some more money before long I hope and I will send you some more poor folks can hardly get a living here it is very hard times for them I tell you

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tell Joseph V fairchild I should like their company very much but they had better stay at home for a soldier here and a soldier in michigan the privations of camp life are far worse than the chance on a battle field they may say I am homesick or afraid but I am neither a soldier has to put up with all kinds of fare durin time of war. I have been in two battles and I dont think I had any more fear of being killed than I would at home I have seen many brave men fall by the cannon and musket and I could pass by them without scarcely looking at them all the boys that came from around where we live are well we are in camp now near the City of Washington and I think

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we will stay here for some time I hardlg hardly think they will take us to battle again for a good many of our officers have resigned our old Captain got scared and left us just as we were going into battle and we fought a battle of four hours length without any captain the Michigan third ranks as high as any other regiment in the united states service We got all the praise of the first battle July 18 I wish you could been here and heard them hurrah for the Michigan third as we returned from bulls run back to Washington, I shall have to close for my paper is used up be a good girl and dont be scared about me kiss bud for me and tell him his pa is a soldier fighting for the Constitution and the laws. good bye Lu write soon

no more from Bill this time


William H. Morse, age 24, enlisted with Company C of the 3rd MI Infantry at Grand Rapids, MI on June 10, 1861. He was wounded by a gunshot to the knee at the Battle of Fair Oaks, VA on May 31, 1862. The regiment lost 30 men killed, 124 wounded, and 1 missing. He was sent to a hospital in Philadelphia, PA, but later died there on August 8, 1862.

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