Letter – Emmet Irwin, 30 December 1862

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Letter written by Corporal Emmet Irwin of Company C, 2nd NY State Militia (82nd NY Volunteer Infantry) to his sister, from a camp near Falmouth, VA. In this letter, Irwin condemns General Burnside, and fumes about the events at Fredericksburg. His regiment has just received marching orders. He believes they will be moving towards Washington. Irwin writes of the loss of Island No. 10, New Madrid, and the capture of the Aerial. He writes disparagingly of their commanders, his impressions of them were not helped by the outcome at Fredericksburg. He claims that the newspapers tell only lies about the spirits of the soldiers. He is determined not to see any more “blood and carnage” unless forced.


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Camp near Fal Vir

                        Dec. 30th/62

Dear Sister

I thought I would write you a few lines and tell you not to send the box I sent for if it is not already sent. We have received marching orders to be ready in 4 hours with 3 days rations in haversack, 5 in wagons, and 10 days meat on the hoof. I received a letter from Philip the other day. He is at Acquia Creek, Assistant Superintendent for unloading provisions. I have not see James since Christmas. We received the gloves.

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I think when we move it will be towards Washington. Excuse bad writing as it is written in a hurry.

                                            Emmet

     I received a letter from Nathaniel yesterday. He and his family are well. The namesake of mine, he says, I may be proud of. He begins to walk and talk. As I was to[o] late for the mail this morning, I did not put it in the bag. We have just received the news of the loss of Island No. 10, New Madrid, and the capture of the Aerial. This and the prospects now before us makes most of the men feel very disheartened. I have allowed some ideas to settle in my noodle though the incapacity of our numerous commanders

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that I would have banished at the first thought two months ago. And the Fredericksburg disaster has in no way lessened these ideas. I feel as if I had gone through all these hardships and danger, witnessed scenes to[o] direful for the pen to tell, and all for what – naught! And the papers tell such notorious yarns, such as the army in the best of spirits and anxious to be again led against the enemy’s of their country, and other to[o] numerous to mention. Gen. Sumner is right when he says there is to[o] much croaking and want of confidence. At the present time we have in the field without the least doubt two [soldiers] to their one, and yet they keep us at bay at every point. I have seen all the blood and carnage I

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ever hope to see. In short, I am determined not see much more unless forced to it. If our commanders felt as I feel, I think they would take a hold with more energy. They act to me as if they were satisfied they have a good position; nothing to do, big salary, and live like kings, and the longer it lasts the better for me. The weather at present looks like snow. We have had very warm [weather] for the last two weeks. Three of us have built a log house, and pass our time very comfortably in it. So much so we are loath to leave it. Please send me a package of envelopes and a quire of commercial note, as I am entirely out, and cannot get any here. It can be sent by mail. Enclose also some postage stamps. I will try write

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again the first opportunity. With this I close, remaining with much love,      Your brother, Emmet

    Give my love to all inquiring friends

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Evening still finds us in camp, but every prospect of moving the morrow. It is now raining, and this also bids fair for continuing, which will make very hard traveling. The weather has been extremely favorable for winter campaigning; the roads being as yet quite hard. It was almost impossible for a man to get around last year at this time. Nathaniel’s wife thinks I must be pretty good pluck to get in all the engagements. She says if she was in my place, she would be sick once in a while, at about the time there was to be a fight. I don’t know

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than about it would be a good plan, particular if I thought we were to be led in another Fredericksburg affair. For my part, I don’t see where Gen. Lee’s eyes could have been there, as they had us in a much worse place than we had them at Antietam, as they had their picked position at both places. The best idea that I can give you of their position at Fredericksburg is that of a range of hills, semi-circle in shape, and the city in the hollow and center. Here our troops laid in the streets so thick that it would be more of an accident if there was not some killed or wounded

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at every shot of the enemy’s. Upon the crest of the hills is where their earthworks were thrown. The regt. was never before in such a hot place. For 2 o’clock until 12 P.M. the regt. laid in a ravine, death staring us square in the face. For at the head of the ravine they had a gun, from which every shot would strike in our ranks. That you imagine the pluck that a person must have. I will tell you the effect of a single shot. It struck in the company on our right killed 4, wounded 6, & killed 1 in the 34th N.Y.V., and wounded 3. The gun that these shots came from we could see very plainly, and it is only due to our artillery

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that there were no more of us killed. The shots from our cannon drove the enemy from their gun. I think the correspondent of the N.Y. paper that says the troops have unbounded confidence in Gen.Burnside better not let himself known if he does not want some very unpleasant epithets applied which are now saved for the commanding general. But I have already written more than I intended, and will close hoping that I may meet with the same success as heretofore written, the move be backwards or forwards. 

     Remembrance to all

From Your Affec

Brother,

                                             Emmet


Emmet M. Irwin, aged 19, enlisted in Company C, of the 2nd NY State Militia (82nd NY Volunteer Infantry) on May 21, 1861. He was promoted to corporal in 1862, then assigned to Co. C of the 12th Regiment Veteran Reserve Corps due to disability in 1863. He was discharged from the V.R.C. on May 23, 1864, at the expiration of his three year’s enlistment. He participated in the following battles: 1st Bull Run, Edward’s Ferry, Yorktown, West Point, Fair Oaks, Seven Day’s battles, South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.

Letter – Emmet Irwin, 5 December 1862

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Letter written by Corporal Emmet Irwin of Company C, 2nd NY State Militia (82nd NY Volunteer Infantry), to his sister, dated December 5th, 1862, from Fredericksburg, VA, after a major Union defeat. Irwin describes the fighting at Fredericksburg as the hardest he ever saw, “Antietam being but child’s play in proportion.” He writes disparagingly of General Ambrose Burnside’s tactics that led to the loss of at least 5,000 men.


                   Fredericksburg, Virginia Monday, 15th/62

Dear Sister

I take the present moment to send you a few lines on some paper that is not very clean, which you must excuse as I have no other with me. I have once more passed through battle unscathed. This present one has been the hardest one I ever saw, Antietam being but child’s play in proportion. I think this is the tightest place I was ever in, and one of the most foolhardy movements of the war. Gen. Burnside advance to the edge of the river and squat down for two weeks and let the enemy build strong works within the reach of his guns during the daytime. Is a very singular piece of strategy. But this is not all. He goes and advances troops in what I call a human slaughter house with but little prospect of success, loses not less than 5,000 men, and then fell back across the river, as this morning (16th) finds us again in our old camp. James was over the river, but I believe not engaged. We both wrote to you the 10th. No more at present.

You must excuse dirty paper, as it is all I have. Also bad writing, as it is written on my knee.

     I will write again soon and let you know whether we change our position. I take the New York Times.

Love to all from your brother,                  Emmet

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Mrs. Helen S. Lounsbery

New Milford

Orange Co. N.Y.


Emmet M. Irwin, aged 19, enlisted in Company C, of the 2nd NY State Militia (82nd NY Volunteer Infantry) on May 21, 1861. He was promoted to corporal in 1862, then assigned to Co. C of the 12th Regiment Veteran Reserve Corps due to disability in 1863. He was discharged from the V.R.C. on May 23, 1864, at the expiration of his three year’s enlistment. He participated in the following battles: 1st Bull Run, Edward’s Ferry, Yorktown, West Point, Fair Oaks, Seven Day’s battles, South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.

Acknowledgement of Resignation – Charles H. Eager, 17 December 1863

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Document of Captain Charles H. Eager of Company B, 15th MA Infantry. This document was sent by George F. Balch, Captain of Ordnance and Assistant to the Chief of Ordnance from the War Department in Washington, D.C. Balch is requesting an Ordnance Return from Eager in view of his pending resignation.


Ordnance Office

                                   War Department

                                Washington, Dec. 17, 1863

Capt. C. H. Eager

Co. B, 15th Mass. Infty.

     Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of Dec. 6th, 1863, notifying this office of your intention of resigning your commission as capt.

     Before giving you a certificate of non-indebtedness to the United States on account of Ordnance, it will be necessary for you to make and transmit to this Office the Ordnance Returns now due from you for the pt 1 quarter, 1862. On their receipt at this Office, they will be examined and referred to the Second Auditor; of which action you will be promptly advised. In your letter transmitting them, refer to this by its date.

     By order of the Chief of Ordnance:

                                      Geo. F. Balch

                                      Captain of Ordnance

                              Assistant to Chief of Ordnance


Charles H. Eager, a hardware dealer from Fitchburg, MA was appointed 2nd lieutenant of Co. B, 15th MA Infantry on August 1, 1861, at the age of 31. He was subsequently promoted to 1st lieutenant, May 11, 1862; and captain, October 15, 1862. He was a regimental quartermaster, and commanded the regiment from November 27, 1863 to January 1864. His resignation was announced February 4, 1864. He served at Ball’s Bluff, Antietam, and Gettysburg, among others.

Letter – Cecil Fogg, 21 December 1863

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Letter written by Private Cecil Fogg of Company B, 36th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, to his father from Chattanooga, TN. Fogg mentions the recent battle at Chattanooga. He has been at work clearing the ground for a National Cemetery between Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge, and can hear the Engineer Corps blasting as they work on the road around Lookout Mountain. The troops are on reduced rations until the railroad is completed. General William T. Sherman’s 15th Corps recently passed through as well as General Joseph Hooker’s troops. Fogg describes them as being in “destitute condition.” He mentions a letter printed in the Nashville Union from the 2nd Minnesota Regiment, which describes the battle at Missionary Ridge on November 24th and “straightens up” a misleading account written by a member of the 6th Indiana. He states that the 11th Ohio’s flag was the first one in the Confederate works, though it was his division led by Absalom Baird which engaged the enemy in hand to hand combat.


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Chattanooga, Tenn. Dec. 21st 1863

Father

     I rec’d yours of the 11th yesterday. There is nothing of importance going on here at present. I have written to you twice since the last battle [Chattanooga]. I also sent you a Nashville Union and Louisville Journal, and will send another by this mail. The Union is the anti-slavery paper of this section, and sells the quickest among the soldiers in this army. But the news dealers will persist in bringing on Nashville papers, Dispatches, Louisville Journals, etc., and consequently they have large quantities of them left over which they have to sell at reduced prices for waste papers, etc. The price of newspapers has been reduced from 10 to 5 cents here lately. There are no

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sutlers here, and therefore we have to do without some little necessary articles as well as conveniences. I wish you would send me a skim of thread in a letter the next time you write. The Engineer Corps are at work day and night at the road around Lookout [Mountain]. We could hear them blasting rock all night last night. The river is up higher than it has been before since we came here, and it has been very cold for a few days. About a week ago there was a hard thunder shower, with some of the loudest thunder that I ever heard. It rained 2 or 3 days and then turned in very cold. I was at work one day last week clearing off the ground for a National Cemetery. One-hundred of our regt. done the first day’s work on it. It includes almost 30 acres

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and is on a knoll about halfway between Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge, to the right of “Orchard Knob,” the Knoxville R.R. running just on this side of it. We are still on ¾ rations, without any prospect of any more than that until the R.R. is completed to this place. Sherman’s (15th) Corps passed down the 18th, but I did not get to see the boys in the 53rd [Ohio] as I was out at work that day.

Hooker’s men passed down the day before, and they were in very destitute condition. A great many of them were bare-footed, and many of them had no blankets. They left their knapsacks here when they went up the river. They lived off the country nearly altogether, they said, having drawn only 2 day’s rations from the gov’t since they left here (about the 28th of Nov.). In the Nashville Union

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of the 17th, which I send [to] you, is a letter from a member of the 2nd Minn. Regt., which partly straightens up a very exaggerated and partial account of the battle of the 24th [of November – Missionary Ridge], which was written by a member of the 6th Ind, (Johnson’s Division) who doesn’t do any fighting himself, but stands back at Ft. Wood till the battle is over, and then tells about what “we done” at Mission Ridge and Lookout Mountain. Our brigade was not in the advance when the charge was first attempted on Ms. Ridge, but we were on top of the ridge as soon as any of them on our part of the line. The flag of the 11th Ohio was the 1st one in the Rebel works on our part of the line. Our regimental flag was not there, or it would have been on the ridge as soon as any of them. It was our division (Baird’s) which engaged the enemy in that hand to hand fight on the left just about sundown after we had driven them a half mile out along the ridge. My overcoat has not arrived yet, but I suppose it is safe as it is in the hands of the Express boat.

                                   Cecil Fogg       


Cecil Fogg enlisted in Company B of the 36th OH Volunteer Infantry on August 12, 1861 at Marietta, OH at the age of 20. He served through his three year term of service and re-enlisted for the war, but was mustered out July 27, 1865 based upon a surgeon’s certificate of disability. The 36th served in West Virginia in 1861, and participated in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam as a part of the 9th Corps before being transferred west in January 1863. As a part of the Army of the Cumberland’s 14th Army Corps (George H. Thomas), the regiment fought at Chickamauga and later in the Atlanta and Savannah, GA (March to the Sea) Campaigns.                         

Letter – William Shafter, 19 December 1864

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Letter written by Colonel William R. “Pecos Bill” Shafter of the 17th U.S. Colored Troops to his sister Ann Shafter Aldrich, from Nashville, Tennessee. Shafter is writing to his sister after the death of her husband, Captain Job Aldrich, at the Battle of Nashville. Shafter found his body on the field the next morning and will send Job’s belongings home. He also mentions that Captain Gideon Ayers was killed, along with 110 others.


Nashville Tenn

                               Dec 19th 1864

My Dear Sis,

     For the first time since the fight of the 15th inst. I have had time and opportunity to write you[.] It is useless to attempt by words to soothe your sorrow, and though you are the sorest afflicted, believe me when I say that you have shed no bitterer tears than I when I found poor Job. He was as dear to me as either of my own brothers. It was an awful battle, Sis, and we are of the many who are called to mourn. Job seemed to have a presentment that he should die, and the night before the fight wrote you a letter, the most affecting I ever read. He left it with Hattie [Col. Shafter’s wife, who was visiting Nashville] to send you if anything happened. Hattie will bring it to you in a day or two with the rest of his things. I hope his boys will remember the last words of their father. Job never knew what hurt him. He did not suffer an instant. May my last

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end be like his! He died for his country, than which there can be nothing more glorious. He left all his money and valuables in camp. Hattie has them. The circumstances were these. We were ordered to drive the enemy out of a piece of woods and take the battery on the other side. We drove them from the woods, but there was just in front of the battery a deep cut (r.r.) at least twenty feet deep. We went to that and had to stop. Job was killed there. We had to leave him. I was on the right side of the regt., and did not know he was killed till we had fallen back, or I should have seen him off. We got the ground in the morning and I was the first to find him. He lay on his face. The Rebs had taken all his clothes, everything. I had him taken up and sent to town. I had to go on myself for another fight. We have been in [the field] two days since, and last night the regt. left Franklin for Murfreesboro. We go from there to Tuscumbia, Ala. I came back after ammunition and leave at daylight tomorrow. I hope I shall get through safe. Jim is sick and can’t go. Hattie will be home in a day or two.

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I will get Job’s things all fixed up without a bit of trouble to you. Be of good heart, Sis. I feel for you from the bottom of my heart. I will write soon again.

                        Love to all,

                     Your aff. Brother,

                            Bill

Col. Wm. R. Shafter, 17th U.S.C.T.  letter Dec. 19, 1864 – 2

Capt. Gid[eon] Ayers was killed at the time Job was. He was left on the field, did not die for an hour or two. The Rebs stripped him while yet alive, and begging them not to hurt him so. One of the wounded men lay right beside him. Our wounded that were left were not hurt, but all the dead ones were stripped. 110 of my men & several officers were killed and wounded.

                            Bill

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The good die first, while those whose hearts are dry as summer dust burn to the socket.


Colonel William Rufus Shafter, enrolled as a 1st lieutenant in the 7th Michigan Infantry on Aug. 22, 1861 and mustered out Aug. 22, 1862. He was appointed major of the 19th MI Infantry on Sept. 5, 1862, and promoted to lieutenant colonel on June 5, 1863. He was captured at Thompson’s Station, TN in March of 1863. Shafter became colonel of the 17th USCT on April 19, 1864, and received a brevet to brigadier general, March 13, 1865 for war service. He mustered out November 2, 1866, but was appointed lt. col. of the 41st US Infantry, July 28, 1866, colonel of 1st US Infantry, March 4, 1879, brig. gen. May 3, 1897, and maj. gen. of volunteers, May 4, 1898. He as dubbed “Pecos Bill” while commanding the V Corps during the Spanish American War. He was awarded the MEDAL OF HONOR June 12, 1895 for his actions at Fair Oaks, VA on May 31, 1862. After a long and distinguished service Shafter was retired as a major general of volunteers July 1, 1901.

Job Aldrich, the owner of a hardware store at Galesburg, MI, enrolled as a 1st lieutenant and adjutant in his brother-in-law’s regiment, the 17th USCT, on Dec. 21st 1863 at the age of 35. In October 1864, Job was appointed to a vacancy in Co. G as captain. He was killed instantly by gunfire on Dec. 15, 1865 at the Battle of Nashville. He and his wife, Ann Eliza Shafter Aldrich, (married to Job November 5, 1856, remarried to William Decker, July 1867) had three children: James H. (Dec. 3, 1858); Hugh S. (May 30, 1861); and Willard S. (June 27, 1863).

Letter – Charles Loring, 17 December 1862

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Condolence letter from Charles G. Loring to William Dehon upon the death of his son Arthur Dehon, who was killed at Fredericksburg.


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My Dear Friend,

I cannot forbear [???] of my heartfelt sympathy with you in this time of affliction – Altho we seldom much, – my heart always beats warmly towards you, – & can never be forgetful of your many kind & self sacrificing services in days long gone by.

I had not the pleasure to know Arthur, but I could not doubt what the son of such a mother & such a father must be; & every where hear that he was all you could desire.

You have therefore this font of consolations, in his character & honorable life, – that it will ever be delightful to remember him as your child, – & a cause of gratitude that he was given to you even for the brief period of his life. To this you haved added the hardy [???]

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reflection of his noble & honorable death; – that he fell in defence of the highest and holiest cause in which a young man could die; – and that death at such a cause sacrifices a life however short is of far higher value than a long one, as ordinary [???].

I too, as you know, have a son in the army; & my mind was, as yours, full of anxiety during the battle, with knowing that the telegraph might not, at any moment, announce his fate. But I felt & in the future conflicts in which he may be engaged, shall feel that if he must then lose his, I had rather have my dead son, thus dying nobly in defense of his Country & freedom & law than any living one insensible to his duty.

May God bless & comfot you my Dear Friend until reunited with those you so dearly and most justly loved.

Ever with great affection

your friend Charley Loring


Arthur Dehon was William Dehon’s son and a 2nd Lieutenant in Webster’s 12 MA Infantry. He was killed in action at Fredericksburg.

Letter – James Oakes, 19 December 1862

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Condolence letter from James Oakes to William Dehon upon the death of his son Arthur Dehon, who was killed at Fredericksburg.


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49 Long Wharf

Boston, December 19, 1862

My dear Mr. Dehon:

I beg that you will not think that I could rudely invade the sanctity of your overwhelming private and domestic sorrow, by addressing you in this, the stormy hour of your life. No, a different motive prompts me to offer you my deepest and most sincere sympathy – the sympathy of my whole heart! in the great bereavement that must so heavily weigh your very soul to the dust!

There is no philosophy for the heart: therefor words of consolation to the ear of one whose bereavement is so intensely crushing as yours, would be but mockery, and tend to divest the mind from the mournful enjoyment of its

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own sad bu absolving reflection, which I believe to be the natural and, therefore, the best solace to a wounded heart: consolation, the, I will not attempt to offer, but again assure you of my inmost sympathy with your soul in its desolation! Having had little else to for for some months than to brood over private calamities, I am keenly [aware?] to the sorrow that is now making furrows in your heart.

There is, my dear Mr. Dehon, a melancholy satisfaction in the knowledge, that your son fell nobly in the discharge of a must sacred duty, which consecrates his name forever among the defenders of the Union of his Country. He died a hero in the truest and broadest sense. His name will illumine a

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prominent page in the history of this unnatural and bloody way, which has widowed and unchilded so many, and carried desolation to so many households, and wrecked thousands of hearts!

Let us not however sorrow like men without hope – but implicitly cherish the consolatory and reasonable trust that we shall meet again hereafter, – that this life is but a wretched segment of the Eternal circle of our Being. Yes, my friend, it is in God’s Justice that those who love one another truly and sincerely here, shall see and know Each other in a brighter, happier sphere; yes, our very longings after immortality, are the imperishable seeds planted in us by the hand of God himself, and

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their fruition will be Everlasting Life!

I am confined to my bed, when the remains of Col. Webster were “laid away” in the dark cold chamber of the pulseless dead, or i should then, have called upon you, and offered to you my heart’s sympathies. He, too, was a brave man, and a gallant soldier. Poor Fletcher! Peace to his ashes, and Eternal renown to his name!

How applicable are the words of the immortal bard to nearly every household, at the present hour, “One woe doth tread upon another’s heel, so fast they follow!”

May God bless and strengthen you, my friend, and all those who are dear to you on Earth, in this hour of your soul’s desolation, is the Earnest desire of the heart of your friend and obt. sevt.

James Oakes


Arthur Dehon was William Dehon’s son and a 2nd Lieutenant in Webster’s 12 MA Infantry. He was killed in action at Fredericksburg.

Letter – F.L. Papanti, 26 December 1862

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Condolence letter from F.L. Papanti to William Dehon upon the death of his son Arthur Dehon, who was killed at Fredericksburg.


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Boston, Dec 26th, 1862

My Dear Sir

Allow me to express to you my deepest condolence for the loss of your brave and dear son – None but a Father can feel the sorrow of such a loss – Having known him since his boyhood, and from the attachment conceived for him make me feel more

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keenly the sadness of his too early departure.

Please extend my sympathies to Miss Dehon, and Master Henderson.

Very respectfully

Your devoted Friend

and Servant

L. Papanti


Arthur Dehon was William Dehon’s son and a 2nd Lieutenant in Webster’s 12 MA Infantry. He was killed in action at Fredericksburg.

Letter – Seth Gage, 21 December 1862

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Condolence letter from Seth Gage to William Dehon upon the death of his son Arthur Dehon, who was killed at Fredericksburg. Gage also inquires how Mr. Dehon would like for some items his son ordered to be disposed of.


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Washington Dec 21 1862

Wm Dehon Esq

My Dear Sir Yours I have received and shall attend to the lost packages and shall hold for disposal to your order. The sad news with the remains of your son the brave Lieut Dehon is no doubt with you. My sympathies are with you in this bereavement for I have also lost a good Friend. The Packages marked to Capt Coxe I shall forward to him in a day or two. I have on hand a pair of pants which I was unable to deliver

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to Lieut Dehon. They were made to his order and I will return them to Dolan the maker for sale or make any other disposition you may think proper. Please advise me how [I] can [dispose] of the packet

Respectfully Yours

Seth Gage


Arthur Dehon was William Dehon’s son and a 2nd Lieutenant in Webster’s 12 MA Infantry. He was killed in action at Fredericksburg.

Letter – Francis Boyd, 23 December 1862

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Condolence letter from Francis Boyd to William Dehon upon the death of his son Arthur Dehon, who was killed at Fredericksburg.


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My Dear Sir,

Had I been in the city yesterday, I should have attended to the funeral services of your late son Arthur and silently mingle my sympathy with you in your bereavement. – from old military association, I am confidant you will excuse me in writing, even to simply assure you, of a deep and heartfelt sympathy, in the loss of your son, while in the service of his Country; perhaps, I feel it the more keenly, in the fact that my two eldest born, are now absent in like duty & exposed to peril, & it may become my lot to experience the same pains of affliction, under which I now know, you are suffering.

While we cannot see with our own eyes, why our Country

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is thus called upon to pass thro the fiery ordeal of today, or why we should be called upon thus to give of our sons, whom we so cherish, let us have faith, that its not done by an overruling Providence, without end, or object – to accomplish this, the cultivated, well from blood much mingle with that, not so [???] , that sacrifice you have been called upon to make.

Again I assure you of my own & I know of many others sympathy, among our old associations of the military in this city praying for Divine Aid in this your hour of trial, and with sentiments of utmost respect

Remain your friend

Francis Boyd

Dec. 23 62


Arthur Dehon was William Dehon’s son and a 2nd Lieutenant in Webster’s 12 MA Infantry. He was killed in action at Fredericksburg.