Letter – William Morse, 18 November 1861


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Letter written by Private William H. Morse of Company C, 3rd MI Infantry, to his wife Lucy, from Fort Lyon, VA. Morse is glad to hear from his wife, and claims he will write her as often as she wishes. He says they are about to sign their pay rolls, and should get their monthly wages soon. He writes that camp is quite dull, and he has not seen much fighting in Virginia. He expects most of the winter fighting will take place in South Carolina. He asks about his son, and updates Lucy on family friends. Morse describes his dinner, remarking on the price and quality of food. He concludes by asking for photographs of his parents. A note on the side mentions that Johnson Whitney will likely be his company’s captain.

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For Lyon Virginia Nov 18th/61

Dearest Wife

I just read your kind letter and was very glad to hear from you it gives me great pleasure to have you write so often I should think you would get tired of reading my poor letters but as you dont I will write as often as you wish, your letter found me in good health as ever and I hope this will find you the same we are signing the pay rolls today I think we will get our pay within two or three days at the outside and and then I will send you some money

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I have no news to write this time times are quite dull here this fall I am afraid I shall not see much more fighting in the state of old Virginia the most of the fighting this winter will be done in South Carolina by the appearance of things at present it is quite cold here now there is a cold wind here all the time we wear our overcoats all the time we are quite comfortable you need not worry about me we have got our winter tents and got a stove in it so that things look quite like home tell father not to try to scare me about my dear baby I could

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not live without him take good care of the dear little lamb but I need not caution you for I know you will ben and george [?]arrot are well one of the boys that came from lowell is getting his papers to come home I think I will send all of my old letters home by him to you as I have no good place to keep them and I would not have one of them distroyed for anything if I send them I want you to take good care of them for we will look them over together when I come back wont we I saw Julia the other day she is well

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I will now resume writing I had to stop writing to go and eat my supper we had Bread and molasses and tea for supper I some times buy half a pound of Butter I dont buy much for it is so dear Butter is worth 25 cents a pound here and very poor at that it is firkin Butter and you could smell it forty rods milk is ten cents a quart and half water at that the folks around here try to cheat the soldiers out of all their money all they make out of me they are welcome to a good sised apple is worth five cents and every thing else in protion proportion tell father not to forget to send his and mothers likeness for I make great calculation on it I shall have to stop writing for this is all the paper I have got excuse poor writing and mistakes write soon

good by

To [???] Dear ones Forever Thine


PS Kiss Bub for me

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When you write tell me wether Joseph has left the rapids or not

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We have not got a captain for our company yet we expect Johnson Whitney will be our Captain

William H. Morse, age 24, enlisted with Company C of the 3rd MI Infantry at Grand Rapids, MI on June 10, 1861. He was wounded by a gunshot to the knee at the Battle of Fair Oaks, VA on May 31, 1862. The regiment lost 30 men killed, 124 wounded, and 1 missing. He was sent to a hospital in Philadelphia, PA, but later died there on August 8, 1862.

Letter – Samuel Wolcott, 12 June 1864


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Letter written by Private Samuel Wolcott of Company F, 7th CT Volunteer Infantry, to his mother, from Hilton Head, SC. Wolcott writes of his consuming patriotism, and the fact that thousands of Union soldiers are currently in the field while he is separated from his regiment with little to do. He writes that he would be ashamed to remain where he is until his term is over, and is instead choosing to go to the front and fight. Wolcott writes a small anecdote about a friend of his who carried the Connecticut state flag through the field and kept it safe despite a charge made to capture it. Wolcott believes that “none but cowards will shrink from bearing their part,” and he plans to move on the first of the following month.

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Office Com[missioner] of Musters

Hilton Head, S.C. June 12, 1864

My Dear Mother:

     Your letter of the 5th ult. is before me; it having been received at twenty minutes past ten a.m. yesterday. Am glad to know that you have returned safe and well after your journey.

     The napkin rings that I sent in the box were poor ones and I did not think it worthwhile to send them in particular to anyone. If I have a chance before leaving here, I will get a dozen nice ones and send you. And now I want to write you a short essay on – I don’t know what, unless it is patriotism. I think when I was home you were telling me of a woman who had sent five sons to the war, and felt very sorry that she had but no more

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to send. I guess you have forgotten her.

Now, just imagine me, a soldier here away from my regiment, with hardly anything to do, and in good health, while the thousands of Union soldiers are marching, working, and fighting almost incessantly amid the clayes [clays] of Virginia. Have not they friends at home who sympathize with them and would, if possible, shield them from harm? Is their interest in the country greater than mine? Or, am I better than they? But, you say I may get shot if I go there. Are there not thousands of the best men in the country exposed to the same danger? And will not the same God watch over me there as here?

     I do not believe that I am a coward. If I am, I shall find it out in Virginia. And the sooner I know it the better. I should be ashamed to remain here until the expiration of my term, and then to return to Connecticut with the other boys, many of which

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could name a score of fields where they had met the foe and with honor to themselves and cause. But if I were questioned, what should I say? No, mother, instead of telling me to remain here, tell me to go to the front and there help achieve our liberties. And when the war is over, or my time expires, you will not be ashamed to greet me, knowing that I shrank from no duty. Yesterday I received a letter from one of the boys of my co. (Wallace E. Norton). At the date of his letter, May 29th, he had been in four engagements since he landed in Virginia. In the last one, a corporal, he carried the state flag, the staff of which was shot in two in his hands, and a charge made upon it to effect its capture. But he bore it safely from the field. And think if he lives to see the end of the war he will soon forget that day[?] As a partial reward for his bravery they made him a sergeant

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and doubtless there are hundreds of others as brave as he, who in doing their duty are bringing honor for themselves. Not that the honors won by the few make up for the maughling [mauling] of the ma[n]y. But when the work is to be done, I think that none but cowards will shrink from bearing their part. And believing this, I should go to Va. on the next boat if I could. But I cannot get away, and shall have to remain here until the first of next month, when I will write to you, if well, from the regt. Now don’t borrow unnecessary trouble about me, nor ask me even to avoid the dangers which as a soldier it is my duty to share.

                                Most affectionately,

                                   Saml. W. Wolcott

Samuel W. Wolcott, from Salisbury, CT, enlisted in Co. F, 7th CT Volunteer Infantry on October 17, 1861. In December 1863 he re-enlisted, and served until his death at Deep Bottom, VA on August 16, 1864 (just 60 days after this letter). The 7th CT suffered severely at this engagement, losing 7 killed, 25 wounded, and 4 prisoners.

Wallace E. Norton, from New Haven, CT, enlisted on August 29, 1861, was promoted corporal January 1, 1863; sergeant May 20, 1864; and Quartermaster Sergeant September 13, 1864. He survived the war, and was mustered out July 20, 1863 at Goldsboro, NC.