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.


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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

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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’

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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


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.

Letter – Charles Wilkins, 25 January 1863

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Letter written by Lieutenant Charles Wilkins of the 1st U.S. Infantry, to his girlfriend Sarah from his camp near Corinth, Mississippi. In this short letter, Wilkins expresses his love for Sarah, and asks whether she loves him in return. He admits to the danger he is in while fighting in the war, but hopes that her love will give him something to hope for while he is away.


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Corinth Miss.

January 25th 1863

Dearest Friend Sarah,

     In my last letter I promised to tell you the subject of my thoughts while writing. I hardly dare tell you, and I am also at a loss how to commence. The subject of my thoughts was yourself. Dear Sarah, I love you. Do you love me in return? I know not how to express my feelings in suitable language. May I hope that the day is not far distant when I shall call you my own. I know that in my present position I am exposed to many dangers, and that perhaps I ought not to have asked this question at present. But you know not how

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much I should feel to know that you loved me. I should feel that I then had something to live and fight for through life. I am now twenty-seven years old. And it seems almost as if I had lived without an object. But have tried to do my duty. If I have failed, think it is through no fault of mine. Hoping soon to get a favorable answer.

                                 I remain, Truly yours,

                                     Chas. Wilkins


Charles Wilkins was born in Henniker, New Hampshire to James and Sarah Wilkins. He originally enlisted in Company B of the 2nd NH Infantry on June 1, 1861 at the age of 25. 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.

Letter – Charles Wilkins, 8 August 1862

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Letter written by Lieutenant Charles Wilkins of the 1st U.S. Infantry to his girlfriend Sarah while in camp near Corinth, Mississippi. Wilkins describes how the battalion are acting as heavy artillery, narrowly avoiding being involved in heavy fire from the Rebel troops, and a practical joke pulled by his commanding officer involving General William Rosecrans.


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Camp near Corinth, Miss.

August 8th 1862

Dear Friend [Sarah]: Having a little spare time I take my pen to write you a short letter, hoping that you will not think me presuming in writing you, as it is a pleasure to think that I am classed among your friends. [I’m glad] to know that though far away I am not forgotten. I arrived here on the 20th of May. We have a pretty camp ground. It is in the park in front of a very pretty house once occupied by a member of the Polk family who is serving in the Rebel army. The house is of course occupied by the officer’s battalion. Our camp is about one mile from Corinth in a southwesterly

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direction. We have but six companies here. The battalion are acting as heavy artillery, having the best siege train in the Western army, consisting of six thirty-pounder rifled Parrott Guns, three eight inch howitzers and two twelve- pounder Wiard guns. The battalion keeps their rifles, so we have to drill as infantry and heavy artillery. We have in the estimation of many lost our best general (Halleck), who is now in Washington. The Army of the Miss. is now under command of Genl. U. S. Grant. Our forces here are very much scattered on account of the large tract of country which we have to guard. I came pretty near getting into a fight on the 28th May, before the evacuation of Corinth. Four of our Parrott guns were ordered up about one mile in order to silence a Rebel battery. But the works were not completed for but one [gun], and I was ordered to remain

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behind in charge of the three that were left [behind]. By so doing, I escaped a very hot fire from the enemy. We fired three shells from our Parrotts, with what effect we did not learn till after the evacuation. The three shells killed six men. One hit an engine, killing the engineer. The distance was estimated at two and a half miles. We got the range by seeing rockets sent up the night before by the Rebels.

     The officers are all furnished with saddle horses. We ride nearly every day. Capt. Williams got off a pretty good joke on the officers of the 1st Infantry the other day (by the way, he is in command of the battalion). There has been a board for the examination of officers. He told us that we had got to go before the board, and if found deficient, we should be discharged the service. He gave us one

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week to get ready. I believe some of the officers did not sleep two nights during the time. At the expiration of the week, he told us we studied so well he would not have us examined at all. We afterwards learned they [examinations] were only for volunteers. Genl. Rosecrans heard of it, and says he shall come over and inspect us. We are prepared. We drill every morning one hour and a half. I heard from my brother a few days ago. [I] think you never saw him. He is at Bolivar, Tenn. [I] shall make him a visit in a few days, but I must close, hoping this will find you in as good health as the writer. [I] believe my health was never better than now.   

                            Very respectfully,

                              Your friend,

                              Chas. Wilkins,

                              2nd Lieut. 1st U.S. Infty,

                               Corinth, Miss.


Charles Wilkins was born in Henniker, New Hampshire to James and Sarah Wilkins. He originally enlisted in Company B of the 2nd NH Infantry on June 1, 1861 at the age of 25. 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.

Letter – Charles Wilkins, 25 & 27 December 1862

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Letter written by Lieutenant Charles Wilkins of the 1st U.S. Infantry to his girlfriend Sarah while in camp near Corinth, Mississippi. Wilkins seems to be suffering from depression, claiming to have the “blues.” Wilkins was officer of the day on Christmas, and therefore had to remain in camp. He describes a meager Christmas dinner, as well as a few humorous interactions with fellow officers and guards in the camp. Wilkins laments the soldiers who willingly leave their homes and families only to end up “in a lonely grave.”


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Christmas Eve Dec. 25

    I hardly know how to commence writing tonight. Wish you would give me a remedy for the blues, for believe I have them occasionally. Here I am almost out of the world, and within a few days’ ride, my friends cut of[f] from all communication with them. It has been nearly a fortnight since the enemy destroyed a portion of the railroad at Humboldt, a short distance from Jackson, [Tenn]. When the damage will be repaired I don’t know. The enemy have destroyed all our stores at Holly Springs also. There was a report that the enemy had also captured La Grange, but hope it is not so, for my brother is there. There is so many rumors afloat that [I] have made up my mind to believe nothing until I can see it with my own eyes.

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You can imagine I think how I have passed Christmas when I tell you that being officer of the day [I am] being obliged to remain in camp. We are now on half rations, so you will say we had not much of a dinner. Will give you our bill of fare for dinner – fresh beef, bread and coffee, with a little stale butter. Don’t know when I have been so much amused as I was last night. As I was returning to camp, having called on a brother officer, it was a little late. As I was walking along the sentry challenged me. Says he, say Christmas gift or halt. I could not help but laugh, and pass on. The fellow was intoxicated. But when I got to our own camp, the sentinel says, “Who comes there?” I answered, “a friend with the countersign.” “Advance friend with the countersign.” I gave him it. He says the countersign is right, advance friend. I will tell you what remedy I have when

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a little low spirited. I take out one of your letters and read it. You can hardly imagine (I think) the pleasure I experience in receiving your kind letters, nor can you tell how often I read them, and reread them. When will this rebellion be crushed, and the soldier return to his friends. It makes me feel sad to think of the poor soldier who left home and friends feeling confident the he should return untouched and immortalized by his friends at the close of the war, and who now sleeps in a lonely grave. I think that there is no danger to be apprehended from a fight here, for I think the enemy do not care to trouble us. They were a little too severely punished on the 4th of Oct.

Saturday, Dec. 27th

Hearing that there would be a mail leave in the morning, [I] will send this. We have not had any papers since the 17th

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We had a very severe thunder shower this afternoon. It has passed over, and is quite pleasant but cool. It seems strange to have a thunder shower in the winter, but it does not seem at all like winter. You will see by the first part of my letter that we have strange rumors. There was not a man killed at Jackson, Tenn., and whether the other rumors are true remains to be told, as we have no means of knowing. Think I have written as much as you will care to read, so will close by hoping to hear from you soon.

                        I remain truly yours,

                             Charles


Charles Wilkins was born in Henniker, New Hampshire to James and Sarah Wilkins. He originally enlisted in Company B of the 2nd NH Infantry on June 1, 1861 at the age of 25. 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.

Letter – Charles Wilkins, 16 January 1863

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Letter written by Lieutenant Charles Wilkins of the 1st U.S. Infantry to his girlfriend Sarah while in a camp near Corinth, Mississippi. Wilkins mentions a Union defeat at Fredericksburg, Virginia. He remarks on the cold weather and snow. Wilkins aims to be in New Hampshire within three months. He describes a planned foraging trip for the next morning. The latter part of the letter is dated January 21st, after Wilkins returned from foraging.


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Corinth, Miss.

                                 January 16th 1863

Dear Sarah,

    Being once more in communication with the States, I take this opportunity to write you a few lines. I received three papers from you Jan. 4th. Can assure you they were very gratefully received, as we had not seen a paper since Dec. 16th. I am almost discouraged at times at our want of success of our army in Virginia. Our loss at Fredericksburg must have been very great. I learned through my brother at Winchester that Lt. Jas. Sanborn of the 11th N.H. Vols. left the field with two wounded and was not seen until the next day. Think he had better have been shot, if he had not the courage to stand up to the work should have

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supposed he would have had too much pride to run. What kind of a story will he tell on his return home. Suppose you are having nice sleighing. We have almost snow enough for sleighing but have not the sleigh. The weather is very cold. I had to keep up a fire all night to keep warm. We feel the cold much more when we have it, from the fact that the changes are very sudden.

I think it is a settled thing that we are to go north to recruit, probably to St. Louis Arsenal. Should like to be sent East on the recruiting service. And then; well I will not anticipate, for fear I should be disappointed. But we shall know soon, perhaps in a month. It will take at least three months to fill up our regiment. I have made up my mind that I shall be in New Hampshire

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in less than three months. I am going out with a foraging party in the morning; to be gone two or three days. I shall go from twenty to twenty-five miles. The traveling is very bad on account of recent rains. Our foraging parties are sometimes attacked, but I think there is no danger of being attacked by them, on account of the traveling. Think I will not finish this until I return.

January 21st. I returned with my train of forage night before last. I had 42 wagons and sixty men to guard them. I did not know that I was to have the command of the train until just as I was ready to start, when the post Q.M. said, Lieut. Wilkins, you will take command of the train. I started at ten o’clock on Saturday morning on the Purdy, Tenn.

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road, went about twenty miles. The first day took forage enough from a planter to feed night and morning. Started at light the next morning went to [???] got thirteen loads; then went about six miles east – to Snake Creek – where I filled the balance of my teams with corn & hay. I got 12 geese & six chickens for the officer’s mess at the same place. I then thought I would find a better road to go back, and started on the Monterey road, and camped within half a mile of that place on Sunday night. I was then fifteen miles from camp. I woke up the next morning at five, had the mules fed and harnessed, about this time it began to rain. My waiter brought me a piece of chicken, some bread, and a cup of coffee for my breakfast. It rained all day on Monday, and when I got in was about as wet as a “drowned rat.” got a little cold sleeping on the ground. The major was well pleased with my success, so were all the officers

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Received a paper from you last night. In it you say you have not heard from me for five weeks. I think I have sent you three letters and this is the fourth since Dec. 20th. I met with an accident last night. The mail arrived late, and I went out to see what I was to get, and ran against a tree, cutting my forehead and chin. This morning I found I could see out of one eye; the other is “closed for repairs.” Hope to be all right in a few days. Think in future will let the orderly fetch me my mail matter. I have been setting in my tent all day, and what do you suppose has been the drift of my thoughts[?] Will tell you in my next letter.

                             I remain very truly yours,

                                    Charles

N.B. you will probably get another letter from me soon

Charles


Charles Wilkins was born in Henniker, New Hampshire to James and Sarah Wilkins. He originally enlisted in Company B of the 2nd NH Infantry on June 1, 1861 at the age of 25. 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.