Letter – John Daniels, 13 August 1863


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Letter written by Private John S. Daniels of Company B, 2nd NH Volunteer Infantry, to his siblings, from the camp at Point Lookout, MD. Daniels tells his siblings that he has time to write due to the current foul weather. A terrible thunderstorm came up the night before and blew over several tents. Daniels asks how the draft is faring in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and wonders if any of his family members have joined. He says that he has plenty of rations, and describes the food he has been eating recently. He also describes shooting “Grays” at Gettysburg, comparing it to shooting ducks. Daniels mentions that he will receive his monthly wages soon.

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Camp of 2nd N.H. St. Mary’s Co.

Point Lookout Md. Aug 13th 63

Dear Brother and Sister

As it is rainy, and I havent much to do I thought I would write you a few lines and let you know I am alive and about as cross as they make them.

Here I am in the land of milk and Honey, without a cent of money, every think a plenty, and pockets all empty only one old handkerchief an old jack knife and an old wallet with Mt in all the partings. but never mind. if I dont have it I wont spend it. for they wont trust the and with a Pint of Whiskey out of their sight. but I can fool them once in

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a while. make them believe I am a big mans son, or some big Generals waiter and then they will trust me, and I guess they will mistrust me one of these days if I milk their cows as much as I have since I came here but they are most all Secesh here and I dont know as there is any hurt getting their milk is there?

We had one of the awfulest thunder showers I ever dreamed of last night it Hailed and the wind blew and such thunder and lightning I never saw or heard. down came tents and away went things that were in them. the old Drs. tent blew over and he got as wet as a drowned rat. wernt I glad? some lay and hung onto their tents to hold them up, and some let them go and lay and took it. but mine is lik the wise mans house the wind and storm dont affect it.

Well Frank how is the draft going on in Mass and N.H. have they drafted in N.H. yet and who are the lucky ones I know that are coming? dont I hope it will be some of my

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Cousins! I wish I could pick the men from Hopkinton wouldnt I make some of the secesh start?

Well! I dont know as I have much news to write now. for it is only a few days since I wrote to you. My health is better than it was a week ago. I have got so I can eat a good share of my rations. if I can have plenty of [???] and milk to go with them. I went the other day and got about 4 Qts of damsons, and I go round and beg sugar to sweeten them, and it make very good eating. or would if I had some of Marms Butter, and some Pumpkin Pie to top off with—————— I heard from George a few days ago. he wrote me Father had a sore hand and couldnt work. have you heard any thing of it? I hope it wont be sore for long for it is a bad time to have sore hands now.

How is Tyler getting along now? did he go Trouting while he was in N.H. and did he shoot any Stripers while he was there. he aught to have been out at Gettysburg, and he could have had some Grays to shoot at. I had a

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good chance to try my skill there. got so I could fetch one nearly every time. I dont think I wasted as many shots as I have before now on a gray [duck] at Home.

I want you or Tyler to send me a box of Maple Sugar any where from 25 to 50 lbs I would send home but you can get it cheaper and better in Boston Market than they can there, and they have it all packed ready to send you might mail it over a little and mark on it Keep dry. and send it by express send a bill of it and what you pay per pound Express &c and I will send you the pay for it as soon as we are paid off. they say we are going to be paid next week. if we aint we will the first of Sept and then we will get four months pay.

Direct to John S. Daniels

Co. B 2nd N.H. Vols

Martins Brigade Washington D.C.

Point Lookout, MD

Love to all, write soon and remember your Brother, (write when you send the Box


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I will send you a shell or two that I picked up when I were out on picket would send you more if they were [dentures?]

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When you write home tell them I am well and shall write before long if I can get any paper and stamps. I sent the last stamp I had today but guess I can get one to send this, and I dont want to write any more till I get some answers.

John S. Daniels, age 21, from Hopkinton, NH, enlisted on August 9, 1862 at Hopkinton as a private in Company B of the 2nd NH Infantry. He was wounded on June 3, 1864 at Cold Harbor, VA, and discharged at Concord, NH on May 17, 1865. Later Daniels became a member of G.A.R. Post 120, Lowell, MA. He died March 12, 1910.

Letter – John Harris, 17 January 1862


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Letter written by 1st Sergeant John S. Harris of Company F, 11th MA Infantry, to his brother, from a camp near Budd’s Ferry, MS. Harris describes marching several miles from Leonardtown to their present camp. He is currently under arrest in his quarters, and expects to be court martialed and demoted. Harris claims that if he could be promoted by a vote from the company, he would already be lieutenant, but he has to be appointed by Colonel William Blaisdell. Harris refers to some of the officers as selfish, and writes that he hopes to live long enough to “smile over their dead bodies.”

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Camp near Budds Fery Jan 17

Dear Brother

I recieved your kind letter & paper in due time was very glad to hear that you and all the folks are well although I have been somewhat used up since we arrived in camp from Leonardtown we started from L on Sunday the 12th and marched to Newport a distance of about 25 miles through the mud the next day we marched to port Tobacco 14 miles on Tuesday we marched to camp 16 miles.

I am under arrest in the quarters and I expect to be court martialed

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but the most they can do with me is to reduce me to the ranks and I dont care much about that we have got a new Capt his name is Debereaux from Salem but we have not found out much about him yet, but I will try live long enough to get square with them all, if I could be promoted by vote of the Co I should have been Lieut long ago but I have to be appointed by the Col and there is 2 or 3 working against me all the time but it is a long road that dont turn and I will let you know as soon as thare is any change in the programe over

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the opinion here it that thare will be a general forward movement soon but it is hard telling any thing about it here, but God knows I dont care how soon for I am tired of being in hell I if I have come out here to die I dont care how soon but I will them that I wont show the white feather [cowardice] and I think my life will be spared to see some of these selfish Officers die so that I can smile over their dead bodies

I dont think you would know me I have got as cross as hell, ———–

I should like to see Augusta Comstock for old aquainntance sake and if you see her give her my respects

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to her and tell her I should like to hear from her I shall write to Jennie today or tomorrow

please write soon to your Brother

J.S. Harris

John S. Harris was a 25 year old “driver” from Boston, MA. He enlisted on June 13, 1861 as a 1st Sergeant with Company F of the 11th MA Infantry. The reason for his arrest in the above mentioned letter is unknown, but Harris was in fact promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, August 11, 1862, and 1st Lieutenant, March 13, 1863. He did see his prophecy of living to “smile over the dead bodies” of certain selfish officers fulfilled at the Battle of 2nd Bull Run, where the 11th MA Infantry suffered 113 casualties, including that of Lt. Colonel George P. Tileston. Unfortunately, Harris was also destined to “come out to die,” and was killed at the Battle of Chancellorsville, VA.

Letter – Charles Hunter, 25 December 1862


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Letter written by Charles Hunter to his mother while staying at Patterson Park Hospital in Baltimore, MD as a patient. Since he has been at the hospital, he has been passing nothing from his bowels but blood. He has recently been moved from a tent into one of the hospital wards. The food is much better now that he’s been moved. He has been eating corn starch and mush. Today he got chicken and soup and rice pudding. He wishes all of his family a Merry Christmas.

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Patterson Park Hospital

                                Christmas day. 1862

Dear Mother

                I received your letter the other day and was glad to hear that you sent the money so soon but then a person don’t know everything I wrote a letter to Washington to the nurse the same day that I wrote the first letter to you from here and I have not received the money yet from there But I received a letter to day from the nurse which I enclose in this and in it he says as much there had not been any letter received there yet for me. But maybe it had not got there yet when he wrote to me let me know what day you sent the letter. I have been pretty bad since I have been here I have been passing nothing from my bowels but blood. The doctor has put me in one of the wards

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And I am now getting better than I was. The food I got was not fit for a well man while I was in the tents here but since I have moved in the ward it is a great deal better. They have been giveing me corn starch and mush and to day for dinner I had some chicken and soup and rice pudding so I feel a great deal better. They feed the men in the wards very good. Tell Jeffries that I wish him a merry Christmas and also Mrs Hayes and family. With a merry Christmas to you and all the family I will close from

                                Your Affectionate Son

                                                Charles Hunter

Tell Sallie that I think she ought to be able to write me a letter now and tell me how she spent her Christmas

Charles Hunter was born c. 1840, the son of Irish immigrants living in Philadelphia, PA. He mustered into the Union Army on August 31, 1861 with the 88th PA Volunteers. He was promoted to corporal January 1, 1862 and re-enlisted in February, 1864 when his initial service term went up. At some point he was promoted to sergeant, and then to 1st Lieutenant on January 16, 1865. He was wounded at Spotsylvania Court House, and resigned June 12, 1865.

Letter – Alfred Sofield, 29 May 1863


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Letter written by Captain Alfred J. Sofield of Company A, 149th PA Volunteer Infantry “Bucktails,” to his wife Helen, from a camp near Falmouth, VA. Sofield writes that the Confederates may be planning an offensive into Maryland and Pennsylvania. There was recently a news report that Vicksburg had been taken, though that proved to be false. His regiment had previously set up camp on the Fitzhugh Lee Farm, but were forced to move . He mentions the Battle of Chancellorsville, and how his company took several Confederate soldiers prisoner.

Camp near Falmouth, Va

May 29th 1863

My Dear Wife 

     I wrote you yesterday saying that we were under marching orders, and we are still, but our marching depends upon the movement of the enemy. It is supposed that the Rebels contemplate assuming the offensive, and their late operations indicate a movement by them into Maryland and Pennsylvania. Should they do so, we will probably go to meet them. We had the report that Vicksburg was taken, but later news proves it to have been a false report. The news today is quite cheering, although not as conclusive as I wish it was. I believe I did not tell you that we had moved our camp. We had just got nicely fixed up in a beautiful oak grove on the Fitzhugh Lee farm when the medical director ordered us to move out of the woods into an open field about a mile off. Well, we did so about a week ago, and found it one of the worst places for a camp that could be found in Virginia. But we went to work and after 6 days’ hard work of the whole regiment, have got it into pretty good shape.

     I rec’d yours of the 24th by today’s mail. You say the fruit trees are in bloom. Well, down

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in “Old Virginia” peaches are about the size of a hickory nut, and the fruit accordingly. Strawberries are ripe. The weather is very warm during the day & quite cool through the night. Have you rec’d a letter from me giving an account of our march etc. to Chancellorsville? You ask how many prisoners my company took. They took seven that they brought in beside three that they took and delivered to an officer of the 150th [Pennsylvania] Regt., and for which our regt. was not credited. I have not been troubled with diarhea much of late, enjoy very good health, much better than I expected to. The officers of the regt. are generally healthy. Lt. Fish has not been well for the past few days and applied today for leave of absence on acc of sickness. He asks for 30 days, and I think he will get it. I will try to get the photographs and send or bring them to you, will also send something from the Fitzhugh farm. I am getting quite and I may say very anxious to get home once more for a short time. think I could enjoy a clean pair of sheets by the side of my dear wife (have not had my pants off since I left Washington). Oh, I do want to see you all so much. I can’t tell you how much. I have no news to write. Write often and I will do the same. Kiss the boys & have them kiss you for me. Good night. 

                                    Yours in love,                                  


Alfred J. Sofield was a clerk/justice of the peace in Wellsboro, PA when he enrolled as a Union Army Officer. He served in the Civil War as Captain and commander of Company A of the 149th PA Volunteer Infantry. During the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, he was stationed along Chambersburg Pike north of the McPherson Farm. His unit under artillery fire from the Confederate batteries on Herr Ridge, and was struck by a round, which killed him as well as Private Edwin D. Dimmick and Corporal Nathan H. Wilcox.

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 – William Wilson, 18 April 1863


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Letter written by Lieutenant William L. Wilson, Acting Assistant Adjutant General, 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Army Corps, to William Dehon. Wilson writes to express his condolences on the death of Dehon’s son, Lieutenant Arthur Dehon at the Battle of Fredericksburg, VA. Wilson writes that he knew Arthur when they were at Sharpsburg, MD which was under command of General George Meade. Wilson concludes by asking for a photograph of Arthur, to remember the friend he so respected.

Head Quarters 1st Brigade 3rd Div.

                 1st A.C.    April 18, 1863

Wm. Dehon, Esq.


       Dear Sir

            I was shown several weeks ago by Capt. Baird of Genl. Doubleday’s staff a photograph of your late son, Lt. Dehon, who fell while discharging his duty at Fredericksburg in Dec. last. I would like very much to have one of him if you have one you can spare.

     My acquaintance with him was formed at Sharpsburg, while Gen. Meade command was lying at that place, and continued up to the time of his death. Being in the same division with him, my position brought me in his company quite often, and the attachment I formed for him made me lament bitterly the loss of a noble soul when he fell.

Disease prevented my participation in the conflict where he behaved so gallantly, and when I saw his death announced in the papers, short as was my acquaintance with him, I felt the loss of a valued friend.

I would be exceedingly obliged sir if you could grant my request, as I have a deep desire to possess an image of one whom I so respected.

                             Very respectfully,

                              Your Obt. Servt.

W.L. Wilson

Lt & A.A.A.G.

                             1st Brigade, 3rd Div, 1st A.C.

William L. Wilson, was on the staff of Brigadier General Thomas A. Rowley at Gettysburg, and was slightly wounded in that battle (cited by Rowley for good service). He originally served with the 142nd PA Infantry, enrolling Sept. 1, 1862 as adjutant. He was discharged for disability on December 12, 1863.

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

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.