Letter – Frederick Doten, 24 February 1863


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Letter of Frederick B. Doten of Company F, 14th CT Infantry, to his fiancée Georgie Welles, from the headquarters of the 14th CT Volunteers in a camp near Falmouth, VA. Doten mentions a newspaper that publishes letters from an officer in his regiment, Captain Samuel Fiske, under the name of “Dunn Browne.” Doten is currently acting adjutant, but expects to soon be relived of the position so that he may join Company F as 1st lieutenant.

A second part of the letter is dated February 25th. Doten writes that the silence of the camp is oppressive and he reminisces about nights at home. The band is serenading General French. Doten describes how Confederate forces drove in the Union pickets, though neither side suffered any great loss. He asks if Welles intends to visit Brooklyn, as he may be able to go north on furlough. He expects to be confirmed as adjutant rather than sent to the line, as the former adjutant was promoted to major.

 Head Qrs.  14th C.V. 

                          Camp near Falmouth, Feby 24

Dear Miss Georgie

     Your kind letter of Feby. 8th was duly received and it has been my intention every day since to answer it, but I have been so very busy that I could not write to anyone. I am extremely glad that you think it your duty to write me as a soldier. I hope too that it is your pleasure as a friend, for it gives me more pleasure than you can be aware of. I most humbly and earnestly beg that you will continue often to do your duty in that particular.

     I also received a newspaper, for which I am very thankful. By the way, that

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same paper frequently publishes letters from one of the officers of this regiment, Captain Fiske. They are quite interesting. He writes under the name of “Dunn Browne.” Have you ever seen any of them?

     I expect soon to be relieved of my duties as “acting adjt.” as the regular adjutant will be back soon. Then I shall go to the company to which I have been promoted 1st lieut. of Co. F. Please direct to me that way, as I shall then get them without their passing through as many hands.

     I thank you very much for your invitation to visit you next summer. But is not very possible that I can accept. I am in a three year’s regiment, and here I must stay until sent home by

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an unfortunate shot, or the ending of the war, which I sincerely hope will soon come about. For this is not a pleasant life by any means.

     Feby. 25th

     At last I have a quiet hour which I gladly devote to you. Everyone is in bed, or rather “turned in,” as we express it. The camp is very quiet. The silence is almost oppressive, and rather to me, melancholy. I cannot help thinking of home such a night as this. It reminds me of that evening that you and I went looking for lost friends. Our band is serenading Genl. French tonight, and perhaps the distant strains m[a]y help to produce these feelings. I hope you won’t think that I am weak. Should I be ashamed?

     We have been quite excited, to-

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day in camp. The Rebels made a dash and drove in our pickets a short distance from here. No great loss, however, on either side. One prisoner was brought through our camp; quite a fine looking man too.

Do you intend visiting Brooklyn this spring? There is a bare possibility of my going north on a furlough. I shall, if I can arrange this office so that I can leave before our next campaign. If so, with your permission, I will try and see you. Our old adjutant was today promoted to major. So that I shall now probably be confirmed as adj’t. instead of going into the line. “I hope you will see fit to answer this soon,” and please write as long letters as you can. I know I don’t deserve it, but am very selfish.

                  Very sincerely yours, Fred B. Doten

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!