1864: Alonzo Hartwell Russell to Zebulon (“Zebby”) Baker Russell

Alonzo H. Russell

Alonzo H. Russell

This letter was written by 2d Lieutenant Alonzo Hartwell Russell (1834-1906) of Co. C, 19th Wisconsin Infantry. Alonzo enlisted in January 1862 as a Sergeant but was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in February 1863, and to 1st Lieutenant in January 1865. Alonzo was promoted to captain of the company before he wass mustered out of the regiment in August 1865. When this letter was written in March 1864, the 19th Wisconsin was entrenched in the defenses of New Berne, North Carolina.

Alonzo was a native of Windsor, Vermont who was employed as a carpenter in Sparta, Wisconsin, in 1860. His parents were Franklin John Russell (1805-1884) and Sylvia Parcher (1812-1890). He wrote the letter to his brother, Zebulon (“Zebby”) Baker Russell (b. 1839). Alonzo married Mary Elizabeth Brayton (1847-1883) in 1867. After her death in 1883, he married Anna C. Hening (1864-1917). Alonzo was residing in Fall River, Columbia County, Wisconsin when he died in 1906.


Camp of the 19th Wisconsin Volunteers
New Berne, North Carolina
March 7th [6th?] 1864

Brother Zebby

For the want of something to do this lonely Sabbath morn, I will kill time a few moments by writing you a few lines. I don’t know whether I answered your last letter or not & no matter. We have had a right lively time for a week past. The Rebs have threatened to take this place & we can’t see it so our General Peck has been coming Suffolk on them and we have got more ditches than they will be able to climb in 1864 if they commence today. Every man has worked night and day until we have ditches enough to bury the whole southern confederacy in — and now all we want is to have them make the attack & if they take the place, of course it is theirs. But I think they had rather get us out in the open field where they could fight us about four to one but as they have sworn to take the place, we shan’t leave our works until they drive us out.

I suppose the old 9th [Wisconsin Infantry] had a big time while at home. About 250 of our regiment has reenlisted & will go home as soon as this mess is past. Probably will be but one or two officers go with them as there is not 2/3 of the regiment reenlisted. I have thought some that I would try and go home this spring but it is a hard matter for a well man to get a furlough & I can’t get sick enough to ask for a sick leave so I shall give up the idea & stick it out my time. {I have the fever and ague a great deal but it only makes me sick two days; then I feel better than ever so I am getting fat on it.}

We had 14 recruits come to our company & they are all sick — some with the measles, some with the mumps, and one with the smallpox. We expect our captain [Henry B. Nichols] here soon with a lot more & no knowing what they will bring with them.

Someone says Mort has gone back on Minnie. Is that the fact? And has gone into the Dyne family pretty deep. Bad egg, that Mort; but I suppose he has found by experience that a change of face becomes necessary in military movements sometimes.

Excuse this short letter as it is now inspection time & I must see if the boys have all got their shoes blacked & their gloves washed. My First Lieutenant is sick so I have to run the machine.

My regards to all & write soon. Yours as ever, — Alonzo


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