1865: Jane Lydia (Walker) Underwood to Adin Ballou Underwood

Adin Ballou Underwood

Adin Ballou Underwood

This letter was written by Jane Lydia (Walker) Underwood (1837-19xx), the 5’2″ blue-eyed auburn haired wife of Brig. Gen. Adin Ballou Underwood (1828-1888).

After graduation at Brown in 1849, Adin studied law at Harvard, was admitted to the bar in 1853, and settled in Boston in 1855. At the beginning of the civil war he was active in raising recruits, and he was appointed captain in the 2d Massachusetts infantry in April, 1861. He became major in the 33d regiment in July, 1862, lieutenant-colonel and colonel in the same year, participated in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, and served under General Joseph Hooker at Lookout Mountain, but, being dangerously wounded, was disabled from further field duty. He was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers on 13 January, 1863, received the brevet of major-general of volunteers on 13 August, 1865, and was mustered out on 10 July, 1866. For nearly twenty years he was surveyor of the port of Boston. General Underwood published Three Years’ Service of the Thirty-third Massachusetts Infantry (Boston, 1881).

1865 Letter

1865 Letter

Addressed to Brig. Gen. A. B. Underwood, 164 F St., Corner 19th, Washington D.C.

Newton Corner [Boston, Massachusetts]
June 22nd, 1865

My dear Adin,


John Almy Tompkins after the war

I received a call from a friend of yours in the army last evening — Mr. & Mrs. Sears brought him over — Col. [John Almy] Tompkins of Rhode Island. It seems he is an old friend of Mrs. Sears. He came out to visit them and in mentioning the names of people he knew, spoke of you. So Mrs. Sears told him we were quite near and he was very pleasant. He’s been out of the service six weeks. He informed me he was engaged to an old friend of yours — Miss Shriver of Frederick. ¹ He says she has taken a great deal of pains to find out your condition since you were wounded and told him when he came home to be sure and find you out. He told me to write you to go up to Frederick and spend some Sunday. He says your friends there would be delighted to see you and especially Miss Shriver. He is good looking, isn’t he? Mrs. Sears seemed quite fond of him.

The medicine chest used by Dr. Hastings while with the 33rd Mass. Infantry

The medicine chest used by Dr. John W. Hastings while with the 33rd Mass. Infantry

Dr. [Joseph Wilcox] Hastings ² is too bad. He is about town but does not come out here. I thought he accepted my invitation to come and stay here while the regiment were in Readville and have not been out of the house for fear I should not be here when he arrived and he has cut me entirely. I don’t like it. I am very sure he has not the regard for me that I have for him. I thought he would be glad to come here. I was invited to spend last Monday in Belmont with Mollie and Amy and Anna — and gave up going entirely on Dr. Hasting’s account — and he did not come. I don’t see as it is possible for me to pay any attentions to any of the 33d [Massachusetts Infantry].

Mrs. Harkins came today and brought me $18 for gas fixtures. Mr. Colby paid it. I think she is very much of a lady. She is a lover of music, pictures, and all the fine arts. She is not Irish. I think she is American. She has taken the fixtures and will give me probably ten cents a window for them — and she wants that marble slab. Andrew says it isn’t worth but two or three dollars. Do you remember what you paid for it? We have no place for it here and I had as soon as she would have it.

Aunt Hitty and Anna took tea here last night. They go home Monday. I wrote you a long letter yesterday so I have nothing for news to send today. I shall probably get a letter from you tomorrow morning. I hope you will find time every week to write three letters.

Ever yours, — Jane

¹ This was Colonel John Almy Tompkins (1837-1916) who served with the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery. He and Anna Albertine Shriver (1840-1918) were married in Frederick, Maryland in 1867. Their son, Dr. John Almy Tompkins was a distinguished Baltimore surgeon, and later a member of the Navy Department’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in Washington.

² Dr. Joseph Wilcox Hastings (1834-1895) graduated from Harvard in 1856 and initially served as assistant surgeon in the 21st Massachusetts, seeing action in Pope’s Campaign in Northern Virginia, Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Antietam, and other engagements. From May 1863 to October 1864, he was full surgeon to the 33rd Massachusetts at a time when the regiment was engaged in numerous campaigns, including Gettysburg (Cemetery Hill), Chattanooga, and Atlanta. In November 1864, just before the capture of Savannah, Hastings was appointed Brigade Surgeon. At the Battle of Bentonville, in March 1865, considered to be the last major battle of the Civil War, Surgeon Hastings suffered an inguinal hernia while lifting a wounded soldier into an ambulance. The injury would plague him for the rest of his life, as his pension records amply attest.


2 thoughts on “1865: Jane Lydia (Walker) Underwood to Adin Ballou Underwood

  1. mkh111, I own a book once owned by your great grandfather, General Underwood. It is a book about Civil War battles with his personal comments in the margins (mostly disagreeing with, and correcting, the author).

    Liked by 1 person

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