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.
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.
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
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
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,
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.