Letter – John Beach, 14 October 1863

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Letter written by Corporal John D. Beach of Company G, 55th IL Volunteer Infantry, to his mother, from Lagrange, Tennessee. Beach writes that his health is improving, but several of his comrades are ill. He describes how the Confederates nearly took General William T. Sherman and his men prisoner at Collierville. The “Rebs” fired at Sherman’s rail cars. The 13th Regulars, vacated the train to fight, and suffered a few casualties. Sherman is now in Corinth, and his regiment has just received orders to march there. Beach mentions that he sent his violin home when he was in Memphis.


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Lagrange Tenn Oct 14th 1863

Dear Mother

    I now seat myself on the ground to write a few lines to you to let you know that I am getting better I have not had the ague for about two weaks. Frank Bennett is verry sick He has some kind of fever Charles West is also sick but not as sick as Frank B. Calvin Songster is sick with the ague These three are sick in the hospital. I have not heard of Charles Patterson since we left him at Vicksburg on one of the hospital boats I expect he is at Memphis or St. Louis but I do not know whare he is. Fred Smith is

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not well The regt. left Lagrange last Sunday Fred went along. They went down towards Holly Springs That is 25 miles due south of here We went from here to Holly Springs last year When we came through here the Rebs came near takeing Genl Sherman and some more generals prisoners at Collierville That is between here and Memphis The Rebs fired at them and filled the cars full of holes One car had a six pound ball put through it Genl Shermans old regt was along with him that is the 13 Regulars They got off and gave them a fight We lost 11 killed and 40 wounded and one of General Shermans staff officers General Sherman is now

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in Corinth George Hawk passed through here day before yesterday and he has my thing in Corinth with him The regt has not come in yet We have just received orders to get ready to go to Corinth We will go to day I guess The chaplain is here and he brought one car load of things with him, but not a thing from Deer Park. The things are all at Cairo They was not put on the boat and so they were left But if we stay in Corinth aney length of time we will get them because they will come to Memphis the next time thare is a Sanitary boat comes down I have written three letters since I arrived in Memphis. I sent my violin

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home while I was in Memphis I directed it to Mary S. Williams, Ottawa La Salle Co Ill. I paid for it; one dollar and a quarter I hope our things will come through You tell Franks mother that he is verry sick I suppose if he knew it he would not like to have me let her know it They are in the hospital at Lagrange. I guess I am the onley one that has written home I expect the ague a gain in a few days But I may not have it I have not done any duty in the regt for over one year I do not do any duty now I guess our regt has been in a skirmish while they are gone I must close on account of room Charles West has just come in the tent He has written home that he is well, but he will have the same [sickness] more.

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Direct to J. D. Beach Co G. 55 Regt Ill Vol Corinth Miss


John D. Beach, from Lasalle, IL, enrolled August 23, 1861 in Co. G of the 55th IL Volunteer Infantry. He was promoted to corporal, and re-enrolled April 12, 1864, soon thereafter being assigned to Battery A, 1st IL Light Artillery of the 2nd Division, 15th Army Corps. Later transferred back to the 55th Illinois. Beach was mustered out at Little Rock, AR on June 14, 1865

Letter – W.R. Lacy, 30 January 1863

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Letter written by Private W. R. Lacy of the 6th TN Infantry, C.S.A., to his cousin Amarila Lemons, from a camp near Shelbyville, TN, describing his participation at the Battle of Stones River. Lacy writes that he and his comrades are in high spirits, consoled through the war that the Confederacy will one day be an independent government. He mentions Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and that the Governor of Kentucky has ordered troops to keep the proclamation from being enforced. Lacy finds it strange that the Union proclaims the battle as a victory due to their great losses. He has heard reports about General Joseph Wheeler taking boats on the Cumberland River. He concludes by sending his regards to friends and family at home.


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Camp near Shelbyville Tenn

                                Jan 30th/63

 Miss Amarila Lemons

Dear Cousin

  As I have an opportunity of sending you a letter, I concluded to write you a few lines. Well cousin, our country is in a bad situation perhapse in such that we can never redeam it but we are in high spirits yet, and still look forward to the day of her redemption, and think it not far off,  there is one good consolation and that is to know that the Confederacy will be an independent government. Some of the Federal Prisioners say that the majority of there troops has lost all hope of subjugateing the south

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Our president says in his message that the war has entered its third and last stage  Gen. Woolford [probably Col. Frank Wolford, 1st Kentucky Cav., U.S.] the Yankee cavalry fighter disbanded his commands for thirty days and if old Abe dont modify his emancipaon proclimation that he will not call for them agen. It is rumored that the Govener of Ky has call for sity thousan troops to keepe the Presidents procklimation from being enforced in Ky. I think that will piece soon. Cousin I supose you have heard of the Battle of Murfreesburrow or Stone River  I suppose the Yanks claim a great victory I think strang of them for clamering a victory over us when there loss was so hevy and our so small compared with theres  Our loss was 5 or 6 thosand killed wounded and missing

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There loss 25 or 30 thosand besides the thirty pieces of artilery that we captured   It was a heard faught battle  Our Brigade did not get in a general engagement, but were in two hevy skirmishes, we were also uder the fire of there artilery all the time, Lieut. Bisy [Lt. A.J. Bucey] and Jef Gillum [Lt. T.J. Gilliam] were killed by a shell, I hope that we have faught our last battle. It was reported that Gen Wheeler and his cavary took five transports boats on the cumberlan river, and distroyed five cars on the Murfreesborrow and Nashville railroad two days since, I must close  we are all well, Capt Lacy is well and I know he would like to hear from you, give my love to relation and inquiring friends, write the first opportunity and tell Emma Sarah, I remain you cousin   excuse misstakes       W R Lacy  


Letter – Frederick Doten, 11 September 1864

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Letter written by Lieutenant Frederick B. Doten of Company F, 14th CT Infantry, to his fiancée Georgie Welles, from the headquarters of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division. Doten writes that Sundays are generally quiet, and General Ulysses S. Grant intends for the day to be observed as much as possible. He mentions a recent horseback ride with his tentmate and a new railroad near the camp, which the Confederates have unsuccessfully attempted to shell. Colonel Thomas A. Smyth is currently in command of the division while General Gibbon is absent. Doten is sending Welles a piece of the 14th Connecticut Infantry’s colors.


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Head Qrs 3d Brigade

                          2d Div. Sept. 11th 1864

                            Sunday morning

My own dearest Georgie

     It is Sunday again, and the day for both of us to write. You remember last Sunday, in my letter, I wondered if you were not writing to me? Well, sure enough, you were, and in your letter you spoke of the same thing. Our Sundays in the army have been generally quiet. I believe Gen. Grant intends to have the day observed as far as practicable. We hardly hear a gun fired the whole day. So you can imagine how we welcome the day. We are having such

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lovely moonlight evenings that last evening I could not resist the temptation to take a ride by moonlight. So Lieut. Parsons (Adj’t Gen’l of the brigade) and myself took a delightful gallop across the country. Lieut. Parsons is my tent mate now, and a very fine fellow he is too. We remarked coming back that we hoped each to find a letter awaiting us. The thought hastened our steps, or rather the horses. And away we started at full speed. Arriving, sure enough, there was a letter for each. And I came to the conclusion that I had not had so pleasant a ride for a long time. My letter was from you, my own darling, dated Sept. 7th. So you are back in Chicopee, and pleased with your visit in

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Bridgeport. How glad I am. I received a letter from Nellie speaking of your departure. You are missed there, darling. Nellie is very much attached to you. She says she won’t know what she will do without you. I know very well before you went there, that my Georgie would be gladly welcomed. Charlie is disconsolate as usual. He has been in mischief. I thought I had stored away those pictures you speak of where no one would ever see them again. Well, I don’t mind about it, as I know of. I wish I could have come in suddenly and caught you and him, and Nellie too, looking up my old things. The old “Libby” [prison] suit, for instance. I would have captured the whole party; not one should escape, at least

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not without a large ransom.

     I am under obligation to that young lady for sending that “rice ball” to me. I will immediately commence to pin myself up, though I believe I have not had occasion to use such a thing for a long time. You need not tell her so, though. I will use them someway.

I am glad Aunt Sarah has discovered why I went to Springfield, and believe she thinks I had a good reason. ‘Why!’ she says. ‘Who do you know in Springfield?’

     I suppose your father was glad enough to see you home again. I don’t wonder at all, darling

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that he is so very choice of you. I should not like to have you leave me as long. But here I am far away from you, with no prospect of getting nearer at present. I am very impatient to see you, my own darling. Will the winter never come? I don’t think I get as low spirits now as I used to. Since I have the assurance that you love me, the only feeling is impatience to be with you. To be sure, it has been very gloomy here, and at the regiment since the loss of my poor friend, Will Hawley, and so many other noble fellows, but when I think of that, the next thought is about Georgie, my dear loved Georgie. I have her still, and

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she loves me. So you see, my darling, how much you have done for me already. You spoke of learning something good about me. No, no, Georgie, dear. I am altogether unworthy of your precious love. But dearest, it shall be an incentive to try and become more worthy.

     We have been in the same place for two days, at which we are all surprised. The new railroad runs quite near our camp, and the enemy frequently waste their ammunition trying to shell the trains. They have not been able to do any damage yet, though their shots come unpleasantly near, sometimes.

     Col. Smyth is in temporary command of our division, during the absence of Gen. Gibbon. I think

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it is wrong on the part of the government to keep Col. Smyth from having a commission as Brigadier Gen’l, at least. They give him a major general’s command with only the rank and pay of a colonel. There is not a more brave or efficient officer in the field than Col. Smyth. I enclose a small piece of the colors of the 14th. The old flag is nearly in pieces. This little piece was nearly off, so I thought I would send it to you.

     Please give my very kind rememberances to your father and mother

With many kisses for your own dear self,

                        Yours lovingly,

                                          Fred


Frederick B. Doten, was born in Sheffield, MA in 1840. He worked as a clerk in New York City then enlisted at age 22 as a corporal in Co. A, 14th CT Infantry, August 1, 1862. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant of Co. F, March 3, 1863, adjutant of the regiment, April 14, 1863, and captain of Co. F, Oct. 20, 1863. He was present at “Pickett’s Charge” at Gettysburg, helping defend the Angle on July 3rd and was cited for receiving many captured swords from surrendering C.S. officers. He was captured at Morton’s Ford, VA on February 6, 1864, but after being imprisoned at Libby Prison, was exchanged and returned to duty as a staff officer for Brigadier General William Hays. He was mustered out May 1, 1865, and became a cashier of the 1st National Bank of Chicopee, MA. He married Georgie L. Welles in 1866, and died Apr. 9, 1903.

Another 3 of Doten’s letters to Georgie, dating from 19 June 1864, 13 October 1864, and 10 April 1865, can be found at Spared Shared. An inquiry into his Prisoner of War status in February, 1864 is available in Ohio State University’s records Be sure to check them out as well!

Letter – Frederick Doten, 9 September 1864

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Letter written by Lieutenant Frederick B. Doten of Company F, 14th CT Infantry, to his fiancée Georgie Welles, from the headquarters of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division. Doten expresses his love for Georgie. He writes that the 2nd Corps is a “living illustration of perpetual motion” as they have constantly changed position. A new railroad has been built starting at City Point and ending within range of the Confederates’ guns. Confederate shelling has not stopped the trains, and the army is easily supplied with provisions.


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 Head Qrs 3d Brigade

                          2d Div. Sept. 9, 1864

My own darling

     I received last night your dear letter of the 4th. It was just such a letter as I love to receive from you, my darling; assuring me that you love me, and think of me. I have often told you how dear you are to me, and it is a pleasure to tell you so, with the assurance that you love me in return. Oh, that we might be together in our own home, yours and mine, Georgie dear.

     You speak again of Mr. Harlon. I will be sure and not give him any more

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of my confidence. I have told him nothing now that will do much harm if he does tell of it, or nothing more than I thought his expressed friendship and intent entitled him to. I am very sorry to believe yet that he has abused my confidence. I am not at [all] troubled about it, unless you are annoyed, except that I am sorry to be disappointed in him.

     It was indeed remarkable that you should be in Bridgeport just at this time. But I am very much pleased that you were there to perform for me the last sad act of kindness to my noble friend. Don not be anxious, darling, about my health.

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I am quite well, and happy in possessing the love of the “best little girl” in the world.

     I think the 2d Corps is a living illustration of perpetual motion. We have changed position no less than five times during the last 23 hours. It is very disagreeable; one can’t sit down to write a letter without expecting an order to “move this command at once,” before the letter is finished. The army has built a railroad running from City Point to the extreme left of the army, and right in range of the enemy’s guns. I expect they think the “Yanks” have got a great deal of impudence. Yet with all their shelling they

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cannot stop the trains running. Consequently the army is quickly and easily supplied with provisions.

     The mail boats come and go every day. We have a mail every evening after supper. Each day we look forward to the arrival of the mail, with hope, and if nothing comes, go to sleep disappointed. Last night I received 5 letters. First and best, one from you, my darling, and 4 from home. Did I ever send you that picture you asked for some time ago? If not, forgive my neglect, and you shall have one as soon as possible. Many kisses and very much love.           Fred


Frederick B. Doten, was born in Sheffield, MA in 1840. He worked as a clerk in New York City then enlisted at age 22 as a corporal in Co. A, 14th CT Infantry, August 1, 1862. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant of Co. F, March 3, 1863, adjutant of the regiment, April 14, 1863, and captain of Co. F, Oct. 20, 1863. He was present at “Pickett’s Charge” at Gettysburg, helping defend the Angle on July 3rd and was cited for receiving many captured swords from surrendering C.S. officers. He was captured at Morton’s Ford, VA on February 6, 1864, but after being imprisoned at Libby Prison, was exchanged and returned to duty as a staff officer for Brigadier General William Hays. He was mustered out May 1, 1865, and became a cashier of the 1st National Bank of Chicopee, MA. He married Georgie L. Welles in 1866, and died Apr. 9, 1903.

Another 3 of Doten’s letters to Georgie, dating from 19 June 1864, 13 October 1864, and 10 April 1865, can be found at Spared Shared. An inquiry into his Prisoner of War status in February, 1864 is available in Ohio State University’s records Be sure to check them out as well!

Letter – John Doty, 18 November 1863

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Letter written by Captain John S. H. Doty of Company E, 104th IL Infantry, to his brother Francis, from Chattanooga, TN. Doty writes about the weather conditions in Tennessee, and how he was recently paid and sent money home to Illinois. Confederate troops are nearby, but have not “attempted anything warlike.” The Confederates are stationed atop Lookout Mountain, which is several hundred feet higher than the Union’s location on Moccasin Point. He expresses the Union’s need to take Lookout Mountain, comparing the situation to the story of David and Goliath. Doty inquires after a friend, Sergeant Homer Wilson, and mentions how two of his own men are to be tried as deserters. He writes about the severity of General George Thomas, and states that Thomas and General Ulysses S. Grant are both good leaders, though General William S. Rosecrans (“Old Rosy”) is loved throughout the army.


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Chattanooga, Ten. No 18/63

Dear Bro. Francis

     As yours came to hand last night and was very glad to hear from you all & that you were well, as I am very well at present, and this was as nice a day as ever you saw. It looks like the springtime in Ills. But yet we have had some very disagreeable weather here already – rain, mud, and cold. We were paid on Sunday last, and have sent part of my wages home to John, and suppose he has received it, or will by the time this reaches you. It will come by express from Springfield, Ill., as we sent by this way of an allotment roll from here to Springfield. From here we have an express office, and that was the only safe way we have of sending money home. The Rebels are here yet, but they don’t attempt anything warlike, except send a shell occasionally, and that is about all the little creatures attempt to do to us. They have wasted a great deal of ammunition, for they have fired from the [Lookout] mountain every day, or all

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most every day since we have been here, & I don’t think they kill a man once a month, or at least I have not seen them. You see Lookout Mountain is very high above us. It is only (2,700) two thousand seven hundred feet above the river, which runs up to the bottom, or foot, of it, and it is very uncertain business shelling from such a height. When we get on our highest hill or mountain [on Moccasin Point], they are still about 700 or 1000 feet above us yet. It stands there like a giant laughing at us. Although it is high as Goliath was above David, still he was reached. And with shell we can reach, and have reached 100 and 200 feet above, as you may call it, giant Lookout Mountain. It seems that their shelling from that mountain does not amount to much, or has not so far. Still, we will have to take that little knoll, as it is an important place for observation, which you know is a good thing where there is an army. And you see the R.R. runs by the foot of their mountain, and we want to use the road to bring our supplies to us, although we are doing very well at present, for we have possession within 3 mile, and can get the rations

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by the way of steamboat & wagons. But we must have that hill. We will say as David the poet said to Goliath of old: With a little stone I will make you fall. So our cannon will say to Lookout Mountain: We can throw shell so fast you cannot count them, and proud Rebels there on that little knoll, I will make you some day hunt your hole, and get down out of that, or some of you might get hurt. Excuse my poetry, for I did forget myself. You see a fellow gets to writing sometimes loses the subject. Frank, do you see Sergt. Homer Wilson in Ottawa, and how is his arm? It seems that it would be about well by this time, or is he in the hospital at Chicago? If he is well, he should be here, for it is not right for him to be back there if he is able for duty. Two of my co. are to be tried as deserters – Debolt & Dunn. It will go rather hard with Dunn, as he was arrested and returned under guard. But Debolt returned voluntarily. Genl. Thomas is rather severe. Give me Old Rosy yet, for I would just as soon trust him as any of them. Although Thomas is good, Grant is good too, but Rosecrans is, or was, loved by his men all through the army.

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John Parrott, a member of my co., is trying, or at least I have been trying, to get him a furlough to go home for a while, as he is not or has not been well for some time. The doctor just handed me an order to make out the discharge papers for one of my company, Thomas Abbott, as he is broke down. Tom was a very good soldier, but he is used up for some time now. Frank, you wrote me that Kate and Rebecca was going to write to me. Good, for I like to get letters from girls & they are just the very two or three I would like to hear from. Well, it is about time to close as news is scarce, and there is no use to write about nothing, is there? As this letter is of little importance on account of things. I will stop by saying give my love to all & tell them to write to me. Oh, I forgot to tell you I bought a new vest today, as I have been without one for about four months – for there was none to be had. But there are some here just came on. That is all, I believe. Write soon to me and I will ever remain your obdt. bro.                            

Capt. John S. H. Doty


John S. H. Doty was born at Carlisle, PA, and worked in Ottawa, IL as a carpenter. He enrolled at age 23 in April of 1861 with a three months’ regiment. He joined Co. E of the 104th IL Volunteer Infantry as a captain on August 27, 1862. In the 104th’s first combat at Hartsville, TN Captain Doty was captured, but soon escaped. Doty served throughout the 1862-63 TN campaigns, and soon after this letter was written led his company in the famous assault on Missionary Ridge. He was killed in action on July 20, 1864 at Peachtree Creek, GA, being shot five times. His last words were; “Tell my father that I die for the flag. Good bye boys.”

Letter – Charles Wilkins, 25 & 27 December 1862

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


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Christmas Eve Dec. 25

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

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

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

Saturday, Dec. 27th

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

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

                        I remain truly yours,

                             Charles


Charles Wilkins was born in Henniker, New Hampshire to James and Sarah Wilkins. He originally enlisted in Company B of the 2nd NH Infantry on June 1, 1861 at the age of 25. He served as a private until wounded at the 1st Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861. He remained on wounded leave at Hennikee, NH until January, 1862, when he was appointed 2nd lieutenant, 1st U.S. Infantry, to date from Feb. 19, 1862. On May 25, 1863 Lt. Wilkins was wounded at Vicksburg, MS and died of his wounds on June 20, 1863. He was brevetted captain for gallant and meritorious service in action at Vicksburg, June 20,1863.