Letter – David Norton, 30 September 1861


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Letter written by Captain David Woodman Norton of Company E, 42nd IL Volunteer Infantry, to his mother, from Benton Barracks in St. Louis, MO. Norton begins by describing the weather conditions on the march from Camp Douglas to St. Louis, MO. They arrived at General John C. Fremont’s house for a review before marching to the barracks. Norton brags about his company and the hard work he has put in to make them great. He describes the Confederate troops in Missouri as being undisciplined, and that they “fight much after the manner of Indians.” Norton mentions his company is lacking in arms, having only a couple hundred Colt’s revolving rifles. Norton laments that the young lady he was hoping to court (Mary T. Dodge of Dodgeville, WI) has married another man. He feels that he will likely not marry for some time, as he still has great feelings for Mary. He has decided to focus his energy on his military achievement instead. Norton notes that there are more enlisted men than can currently be armed, and that they would have an easier time recruiting if the government could provide the weaponry. He asks his mother not to worry about his safety, as others have gone through greater dangers and survived.

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Benton Barracks, St. Louis. Mo.

Sept. 30th 1861

My Dear Mother

You have probably learned from the Chicago papers, sent you by Mr. Haskell, that our Regt. left Chicago on the 20th of this month. We had a wet march for our first. It began to rain just as we started from Camp Douglas, and we had a long 3 miles to march, and got wet to the skin. The men did admirably and the only grumbling I heard was from some of the officers whose new uniforms were somewhat damaged by the rain and mud. -O can assure you that I was proud of my regiment! The remark was universal, that we made the best appearance that that has been made by any army regiment in the streets of Chicago, since the war began.

One gentleman told me that he had seen most of the Regts. in the field, both east and west, and that the only one that equalled us in marching and soldierly bearing was Fletcher Webster’s regt.

We arrived at St. Louis Saturday afternon.

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without accident. We marched to Gen. Fremont’s house and were reviewed just at dark. He has paid us some high compliments. – After the review we marched to these Barracks, which are about 3 miles from the General’s Headquarters but through the blunders of our guide we went between 5 & 6 miles to get here. The camp is a very pleasant one with the best barracks and parade ground in the country. There are, at this time, about 8000 soldiers in this camp. There are four or five other camps in and around the city. – Our Regt. is the best in camp. We are proud of our field officers and intend to make a name for ourselves under them when we get into active service.

My company is about as well drilled as any one in the Regt. and has been complimented by the field officers, for being the cleanest. When I first took command of it, it was in a very disorderly condition. The Col. was affraid I should not be able to bring them ‘under’ at all. He said I would not be tyrant enough, – but he has seen his mistake. I had to be very severe for a week or two, but now I can be as easy with them as any other Captain on the ground. They have

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become well enough acquaintance with me to know that I never allow an order to be neglected. They know what the penalty of disobedience is, and that nothing can save them from the punishment if they are not prompt. They have learned that I make no orders for the fun of it. I don’t believe that I have a man in my company of 95 who will not stand by me under all circumstances. They know that although, at times, severe I am as just as I can be. My officers and privates fare alike, and that prevents complaint. – I am determined to do my duty as well as I know how, – and to have my men do theirs.

We can not tell how long we shall remain at this camp, – but hope it will not be long. We are all anxious to be in the field, where we can have a chance to gain some glory for ourselves, and do some good to our cause.

We have still, some little hope of being sent eastward, where we can have more chances of field fights than in this state. Here the Rebels are, for the most part ununiformed and without much discipline. They fight much after the manner of Indians; – they will not meet us in the field, unless they greatly outnumber

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us. They fight best in small parties, in the woods, where the fatigues are as severe, and the chances of gaining honors much smaller than in a field battle. We shall not be ashamed to put our regt. by the side of any other in the eastern army. We have a dark blue uniform – pants – blouse – & caps without any trimmings of any kind to make it easier to hit. We have out outfits complete, with the exception of our Arms. We have only two hundred colts revolving rifles, for the flank companies as yet. The rest of the companies are to have a rifled musket, which has been promised from day to day since we arrived.

Mother you will remember a lady I have often mentioned in my letters, as one who might at some future day be nearer than a friend? My fortune has been the same in this case as in most things since I came west. My poverty put it out of my power to win and another richer and perhaps more suitable man has carried off the prize. His attentions and the wishes of rich and aristocratic friends were able to carry the day against me. It happened sometime since but I have not before felt like writing on the subject even to you. I can now write, and I

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believe I could talk the matter over with you as cool as any other subject in which I might be interested, but nevertheless I don’t think the edge is blunted but only sunken in out of sight of outsiders. I may appear to talk as is usual in such cases, but I don’t think you will be at all likely to have a daughter-in-law on my a/c [account] in some time to come. My attachment was quiet – holy – and will not soon be weakened, for May has never done anything – not even in her marriage that has, in the least, lessened my respect and admiration. Mother, I believe I have lost the prize, to gain which, a life might well be spent. – I shall now strive to win glory enough to fill the void. I wish for nothing else now than to make a name that my friends and country may be proud to point to. – I have no confidence that I shall succeed in this aim, much better than in my past aims, – but what is life without some higher aim than to live? – I am almost selfish enough to wish that I did not respect and love her so much as I do – but her influence has saved me from committing since that you never thought I could be tempted to. Her influence will still have its affect on me, for I will never do anything

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that would, if she knew of it, tend to lessen the respect which I know she has for me. None of my enemies shall ever through it in her face, that I was unworthy of her respect and friendship, – for I know that she is really my friend. Of course, you will not mention any of the personal part of this letter. The facts of the case can not be changed and the less there is said about the matter here-after the better I shall be pleased. I have told it to you and do not wish it to go any further.

Mr. Haskell’s family was in good health when I left.

Where is Joshua now? Still at New Port News? Has John gone soldiering again? He aught to stay at home now. – he has done his share & there are plenty of men to take his place; there is no such scarcity of men as the papers say. There are more men enlisting than can be armed and equipped as they aught to be. We have been ready for the field for four weeks and have not yet received our arms. If the government could arm regiments faster, men would be more ready to enlist. But men who are fit to be soldiers, do not want to lay round camp without clothes or arms. We could fit our Regt.

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for fighting in one week if we had guns enough to teach the manuel of arms, but we can’t get them. We are about as well drilled in all but the manuel as we can be until we get guns to drill with.

We You must not worry over the supposed dangers by which I shall be surrounded in the field. You must remember that others have pased through greater dangers on the field than I shall probably encounter, and passed them in safety.

You will see me with my ‘laurels‘ – if I can win any.

I left my trunk in Mr. Haskells care and if I don’t want it again he will send it to you.

Give my love to all and write me a good long letter yourself.

I received a letter from Father a few days before we left Chicago. Tell him that I shall try to follow his advice.

Good by, Mother, for the presant.

Your Son

D. Woodman Norton

Capt. Co. ‘E’

1st Regt. Douglas Brigade

Benton Barracks

St. Louis MO.

Major David Woodman Norton was born 31 January 1838 in Chelsea, MA. He had two other brothers (Joshua and John) who also enlisted and served in the Union Army. He enlisted with the 1st Zouave Regiment of Chicago and was then promoted to 2nd Lieutenant of the 42nd IL Infantry then Captain on July 22, 1861. He eventually joins Major General John M. Palmer’s staff as acting Assistant Inspector General. He was killed in action near New Hope Church, GA on June 2, 1864 during the Atlanta Campaign.

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 – Richard Coulter, 28 March 1863


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Letter written by Colonel Richard Coulter of the 11th PA Volunteer Infantry, to William Dehon, from a camp near Fletcher’s Chapel, Virginia. Coulter is writing to Dehon to thank him for the photograph of Dehon’s son, Lieutenant Arthur Dehon, as well as for the photograph of Colonel Webster. Coulter speaks fondly of Arthur, and praises his assistance during the engagement at Antietam, Maryland. He concludes by expressing his sincerest sympathies for Dehon’s loss.

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Hd. Qrs. 11 Regt. P.V.

                           Camp near Fletcher’s Chapel, Va.

                              March 28 1863

Wm. Dehon, Esq.


    Dear Sir

      Your note of Feby 19th was not rec’d until yesterday in my return to the regt., of having been absent since [the] engagement at Fredericksburg, where I had the misfortune to be wounded.

     You will please find enclosed the letter referred to in your note for Lt. Dehon to Mr. Butler.

     You will accept my thanks for the photograph of your son, enclosed with

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your letter and also one of Col. Webster, rec’d from friends of Capt. Williams of the 12th Mass.

     Your son was indeed a warm personable friend, & had attached himself very closely to me and was of great assistance to me during & after the engagement at Antietam, Md.

     This intimacy continued so far as circumstances (his being detached from us) would permit, until the day of his death. I saw him in the fire part of that day & can fully endorse the opinion of all who saw him as

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to his gallant conduct & deportment.

     I tender my sincere sympathies in this, your great bereavement.

     Accept my kindest regards & remember me to your youngest son, whom I met with you at Sharpsburg.

                   I remain,

                        Yours respectfully,

                           R. Coulter

Richard Coulter was born in Greensburg, PA on Oct.1, 1827. At age 33 he enrolled as a captain in Co. A of the 11th PA Infantry on April 24, 1861. He was mustered out as a captain on July 31, 1861, and immediately commissioned lieutenant colonel. His promotion to colonel was effective November 27, 1861, and he became a brigadier general by brevet on August 1, 1864, then brevet major general on April 1, 1865. He was wounded December 13, 1862 at Fredericksburg; July 1, 1863 at Gettysburg; and May 10, 1864 at Spotsylvania. Col. Coulter mustered out of the service July 1, 1865, and died in Greensburg, PA on October 14, 1908.

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 – Edward Clark, 31 January 1862


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Letter written by Chaplain Edward L. Clark of the 12th MA Infantry to William Dehon, from the camp of the 12th Regiment MA Volunteers in Frederick, MD. Clark’s letter focuses on the politics of the Webster Regiment. He begins by stating that the 12th MA and its colonel, Fletcher Webster, are “the envy of all,” though he annoyed that some members of the regiment are speaking ill of himself. He concludes the letter by mentioning that Dehon’s son, Lieutenant Arthur Dehon, has recently arrived, and praises the young Dehon for his diligence and hard work.

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Frederick, Md. Jan. 31, 1862

                       Camp 12th Reg. Mass. Vols.

Mr. Dehon

Dear Sir

     On my last visit “home” I tried frequently to see you, but failed every attempt. Mr. Butler requested me to write to you or himself concerning the regiment. I take therefore, great pleasure in saying that both at division Head Quarters and among the other officers our regiment and Col. [Fletcher Webster] are the envy of all. Col.[George H.] Gordon, [2nd MA Infantry] last of all men to say such a thing, confessed to me that our men were far superior to his own. You could hardly expect him to compare cols., but our own “boys” do with delight, and his boys with longing! In discipline, in materiel, in spirit, there is nothing wanting. Order and propriety are the orders of the camp.

     I need not tell you how much loved our Col. is, or how much we admire his kindness and greatness of heart. As a gentleman he did not surprise, but I have not ceased to wonder at the power of the man. In the one, all are pleased, but

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[in] the other only his friends are delighted, because they only feel it. I was called at home extravagant for the terms I used in his praise, but to you they would seem justice. From my personal observation I assure you that as a military man he stands here, as he does everywhere, for his social qualities.

     But one thing has annoyed me very much. If it could be met, I would bear it alone. As it now comes it is not only without foundation, but the more vexatious, because it misleads by opinion and influence. I feel confident that time would adjust it, but before then it might be unpleasant if not injurious. Could you imagine that within a plan to separate any who might have mutual interests and consequently lend somewhat of strength to each other, such and imputation might be cast and pressed day after day as this, that one has secretly injured the other. It is not uncommon, but unfortunate. Because it is called “secret,” no proof is called for. You are one of the Col’s. best friends. Do you think or know I have by my public or private letters or conversation cast a shade on my own Col. and regiment?

If you have a suspicion, please let me know on what it rests. If not, will you not write to the Col. and say so. Mr. Butler and Mr. Eaton expressed their entire disbelief in any such accusation, and Mr. Eaton mentioned as an example

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a certain report believed to have come from Dr. Clark, which was found out to be untrue. Now a chaplain is a scapegoat for the sins of a thousand. He is not always with Col. Bryan [Lieut. Col. Timothy M. Bryan] and Adj., and does not lean on such men. But they make him bear what they can. I know that I have quietly but resolutely set my face against such reports, not only among the authorities, but at home, and among business men. Therefore, I do not write for the sake of myself, but the Col. Beside this, my remaining with the reg. is a matter of so much uncertainty that I feel the more anxious to dispose all such things while I am still a chaplain.

     Mr. Butler gave me $14 for the express of my library to the regiment. It just paid the freight. At present we have 400 books and 500 magazines in circulation among our boys.

     I saw Mrs. Webster and family yesterday. They leave for home tomorrow or Monday. The col. hopes to get 8 days leave of absence and return with them. Mrs. W[ebster] will explain many things which I have not time to write.

     Hoping to hear at least a line from you,

I remain with deepest respect

Your old servant

E.L. Clark

                                  Chaplain, 12th Mass. Vols.  

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P.S. Your son [Lieut. Arthur Dehon] has so recently arrived that I had forgotten for the moment his joining our regiment. He applies himself with the utmost diligence to his “Hardee’s” and feels much delighted with his progress. He has been put on duty for several days. The men who always express themselves about such things in a democratic way, warmly give their approval! Of course, their opinion is quite independent of means, but one token of it.

     May I take the liberty of calling your attention to a little article “Charity” in the Courier. It may possibly give more fully the condition of the reg. in two respects – comfort and intelligence.

Edward Lord Clark, from Andover, MA, aged 23, enrolled as chaplain in the 12th MA Infantry on June 26, 1861. He resigned on June 16, 1862. Died Feb. 4, 1910.

Arthur Dehon was William Dehon’s son and a 2nd Lieutenant in Webster’s 12 MA Infantry.

Letter – Edward Clark, 5 September 1862


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Letter written by the former Chaplain Edward Lord Clark of the 12th MA Infantry to Mrs. Caroline Webster, from Andover, MD. Clark is writing to express his sympathies at the death of Mrs. Webster’s husband, Colonel Fletcher Webster. Clark speaks very highly of the colonel, and writes of how loved he was by his men. He concludes by mentioning the Websters’ daughter Julia, who also passed away.

Andover Sept. 5th


Mrs. Webster

Dear Madam

     I have thought that the sad news which has cast a cloud over the friends of our brave Col. might not prove to be true. It did not seem possible that he had fallen, but this afternoon the last hope has been disappointed, and I can only express my warm sympathy with you in this terrible affliction.

     While no words can relieve the sad pressure upon your feelings, I am sure that even the humblest praise cannot but be pleasing in the midst of sadness. And I should be ungrateful to him for his many kindnesses if I did not tell you how much we admired his remarkable talents and his splendid accomplishments. His generosity and his sympathy with even the poorest of his soldiers endeared him to the entire regiment. Many times have I spoken of the devotion of his men, and I never knew a Col. so universally

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loved and so cheerfully obeyed as our col. In all my intercourse with the different companies, under all circumstances, and at all times since we left home, I never heard an angry or disrespectful word spoken of him. His power over them was such that I believe they would have followed him everywhere, and yet they never feared him as a commander. With a warmth of heart, which knew no distinction of religion or politics, he drew all men to love him, so that I used to feel proud to observe how much of his father’s genial kindness came to men, and pleased to see how much he had for all beside.

     Never shall I forget the rides we took in the late afternoon at Darnestown. The ease and skill with which he explained to me many things I had not understood in my reading or studies; the warmth and earnestness he threw into his gestures and tones as he expounded the “Lord’s prayer,” and the “Sermon on the mount;” the interest he displayed in

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the details of his regiment- how they thought, and wished and hoped – the enthusiasm and pride he felt as he led his splendid men under some unexpected order, perhaps to a scene of trial; the fondness he expressed for his dear Julia, and all his warm friends at home. These and a hundred things besides are so recent, so fresh in my heart, that I cannot feel the loss enough, or be thankful enough that I have seen and known it all. I wish for nothing so much as to have done something for your husband. I used to think if we went into battle I should never lose sight of him. But this privilege I could not have. Now it is too late.

     When I returned, I was too sick to leave my room, and on my becoming better the Dr. sent me back into the country, so that hoping from day to day to return and see you I did not write.

     You have met two trials, and both together. I cannot tell you how bravely he fell, nor need I remind you that

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this would have been his choice. If I could see you, I should feel that words were a mockery, but I would rejoice to press your hand, and tell you that I should always respect and admire the warm, generous hearted and talented impulses, and zeal, of our own dear Col. While I remember your precious daughter [Julia] as I do the rare days of sunshine in our stormy winter at Frederick. They were not separated.

     With the warmest sympathy ad deepest gratitude for your personal kindness to me, I have the honor to remain,

                         Your obedient servant,

                            Edward L. Clark  

Edward Lord Clark, from Andover, MA, aged 23, enrolled as chaplain in the 12th MA Infantry on June 26, 1861. He resigned on June 16, 1862. Died Feb. 4, 1910.

Fletcher Webster was the only surviving child of the famous Massachusetts Senator and orator, Daniel Webster. He organized the “Webster Regiment,” the 12th MA Infantry in 1861 at the age of 47. He was killed in action on the afternoon of August 30, 1862 at the Battle of 2nd Bull Run.

Letter – Fletcher Webster, 30 August 1862


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The last letter of Col. Fletcher Webster, written just a few hours before his death at the Battle of Second Bull Run to his wife, Caroline. It describes the action at Thoroughfare Gap, VA on August 28th of 1862. Webster ominously speculates that this may be his last letter, as he “will not spare” himself if a large battle is fought. This is a copy of the original letter, made by William Dehon after the original was destroyed in fire at the Webster home in Marshfield, Massachusetts on February 14th, 1878.

Hd. Qrts. 12th Light

                             Bull Run, Aug. 30th, 62

Dear Wife

     Since I wrote you last we marched to Thoroughfare Gap, where the enemy was expected to try and pop through. We got there after a hard march, Wednesday about 3 P.M. Our brigade in advance. On getting near the gap, our brigade was sent forward skirmishing, and as support to Matthew’s battery. The coast was reported clear.

     On each side the gap, which is just wide enough for a carriage road, rise high, steep, thickly wooded hills. Just at the mouth of the gap on the eastern side there is a small space for [a] building, and there are some stone houses and a large stone mill. We approached the gap from the East, so these buildings were on our right. [Col. Richard] Coulter, with the 11th Pa., supported by the N.Y. 9th ,

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had the right. The 12th and 13th [MA Infantries] the left of the advance. No sooner had we got within a short distance than the enemy, concealed in the woods and stone buildings, opened. On the right, Coulter had a sharp fight; the buildings were too strong for him. He fought like a hero, but was obliged to fall back, and with the 9th, retired up the road to the rear. He lost 2 officers and 60 men. We sent our skirmishers into the woods in front of us, and for a short time cleared them. But shortly they were reinforced.

     I drew up “ours” well under cover and listened to the balls as they whizzed over our heads. We saw the other regts. retiring. The battery on our side retired, and I felt uncomfortable. At last an order came for us to retire, which we did across a plain, and when the enemy saw us crossing, they opened pretty well. It was nasty business, but the 12th marched as if on parade. Capt. [Richard H.] Kimball [acted] as if all the girls in Boston were looking

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at him. [1st Lt. Thomas P.] Haviland, the brave, rode smoking a cigarette; the major was glorious; Arthur [Dehon] a young hero. I thought he was hit; a ball passed between us, and I saw him throw up his hand, but it was nothing. Officers and men were all good. [Lt. Col. Timothy M.] Bryan was sick and not in the action at all.

   We got here last night. Today a great and decisive battle is expected. Forrester Devereux [Arthur F., col. 19th Mass. Inf.] has just called and here sits by me on the grass under a tree, while I write. He was again in action the day before yesterday, and has lost nearly all his company. He is unhurt

     If a fight comes off, it will be today or tomorrow, and will be a most dreadful and decisive one. Both sides are  preparing; some three hundred thousand men are on the eve of a conflict, and Washington depends on the issue. This may be my last letter, dear love; for I shall not spare myself. God bless and protect you and the dear darling children.

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We are all under his protection.

     Love to Don and Charlie. I have not means to write more. You must show this letter to the girls, with my love. Good bye dear wife, darling Carrie.

     Love to Bertie and dear Rose. I hope to have many a good gallop with them on nice horses.    

Bye, bye, dearest.        

Yrs. Fletcher           

Fletcher Webster was the only surviving child of the famous Massachusetts Senator and orator, Daniel Webster. He organized the “Webster Regiment,” the 12th MA Infantry in 1861 at the age of 47. He was killed in action on the afternoon of August 30, 1862 at the Battle of 2nd Bull Run. Lt. Arthur Dehon, obtained a special pass from the C.S. authorities to recover the body of his dead colonel.

Webster’s knapsack, containing his last letter, was captured by members of the 11th VA Infantry, but was subsequently recaptured at Leesburg, VA about September 2nd. A quote from the letter was read at Webster’s state funeral in Boston on September 9th.

This letter is a copy, made by William Dehon ca. 1862, from the original in the possession of Caroline White Webster, Fletcher’s widow. Because the Marshfield home  of Mrs. Webster was destroyed by fire on Feb. 14, 1878 with the loss of her valuable papers, Dehon’s copy is believed to be the only surviving document.

For more information, see Blue & Gray Magazine, Vol. XIII No. 1, Fall 1995, pp. 20-27, for “Col. Fletcher’s Last Letter,” by Wiley Sword.

Letter – Fletcher Webster, 18 July 1862


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Letter written by Colonel Fletcher Webster of the 12th MA Infantry to his friend William Dehon, from Warrenton, VA. Webster is heartbroken from the loss of his 11 year old daughter Julia, and writes of plans for her burial. He mentions that he ate dinner with Dehon’s son Arthur the previous night. Arthur wants to join a general’s staff, and Webster has written to George Ruggles on the matter.

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Warrenton, Va.

                                July 18, 62

My dear William:

     I received your kind letter last evening. You have nearly exhausted my capacity of gratitude, I believe.

     It was a cutting stroke, indeed; right to my heart.

     But after the first rebellious feelings & agony were got over, I tried to resign myself. I had looked forward to it, but apprehension was not preparation.

     Of course

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I shall be myself. You know how heavy the affliction; you know how I loved; you shall see how I can bear it, dear William.

     I had thought that it would have been already done at Marshfield [i.e. burial at Webster’s home]. I had written to say that I supposed so. I wish it, and shall so write to Caroline [wife]. They all lie there. How dear the place is becoming to me.

     If you and Butler Eaton will be kind enough to do it, I wish you would. It would be most grateful to

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me. Most kind and honorable to her,  & ever memorable by us all. A very remarkable tribute to regard to her.

     I am glad that you met Fanny. She is as Webster as Webster can be; very clever, good & amiable. She has had a hard lot, and bears it like a princess. Her presence was a godsend to poor Caroline.

     Joy has been the kindest of brothers. When you can, dear William, go to Lynn, and see them. There never yet was a dark day to me or mine that

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you did not come to my relief, dating from a period before Fanny’s birth!

     Arthur supped with us last night. We sent out and caught a few little fish in a small stream & I asked him in. He would like to be on some gen’s staff. I have written to Ruggles on the subject. If Haviland were not here, I would put him on mine, but I should like to have him do better. I have not heard from Ruggles.

     Think much of Arthur. He is a fine young man, and will do credit to his name. I love him like a son.

     Give my dearest love to Butler & Eaton. Dear Friends!

     I shall write to Caroline about Marshfield.

           Good bye, dear William,  

Yrs  Fletcher

Fletcher Webster was the only surviving child of the famous Massachusetts Senator and orator, Daniel Webster. He organized the “Webster Regiment,” the 12th MA Infantry in 1861 at the age of 47. He was killed in action on the afternoon of August 30, 1862 at the Battle of 2nd Bull Run. Lt. Arthur Dehon, obtained a special pass from the C.S. authorities to recover the body of his dead colonel.

Arthur Dehon was William Dehon’s son and a 2nd Lieutenant in Webster’s 12 MA Infantry.