This letter was written by William Henry Sheldon (b. 1823), the son of Henry (“Harry”) Sheldon (1795-1864) and Belinda Manley (1800-1865) of New Marlboro, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. He wrote the letter to his younger brother Elizur Manley Sheldon (1834-1916), of Aztalan, Jefferson County, Wisconsin.
Addressed to Mr. Elizur M. Sheldon, Aztalan, Jefferson County, Wisconsin
Postmarked Boston, Massachusetts
South Boston, Massachusetts
May 17, 1863
I got a letter from you a short time ago, and was glad to hear from you, although it is not quite often enough. I have not done much writing lately — been quite busy and expect to be for awhile. I have not much to make a letter of that would interest you but to let you and the rest of the folks know I am here yet, and well as usual. It seems as if rainy weather was in common here this spring as it was south during the winter and if you have had as much there it would make farm work go slow.
I was glad to hear that Eliza had bought that land if it is the piece they showed me, and they got it at a fair price. Everything costs dear down this way though wages are a very little higher than last season.
You get the war news nearly the same as we do. It has not been quite as good from Virginia as we expected, but hope it will be enough better in Mississippi to make it up. Do you remember Mr. Griffin’s first name? There is a Col. T. M. Griffin captured lately and brought to Washington belonging to the 18th Mississippi Regiment. I did not know but he might be our Pascagaula [Mississippi] Griffin. He is said to be a large man and attracts considerable notice, and is allowed considerable liberty about the city. ¹
I see by the papers that one of the Warner boys of the 31st Regiment was wounded off west of New Orleans. I think it must be Will for it said Sergeant Warner. ²
I hope Gilbert and the rest of the boys are well by this time. The 49th [Massachusetts] has only about two months longer to stay. I may go out to North Marlboro sometime this summer — perhaps not till those soldier boys get home. I want you to write often — and John also — and if there is a first rate chance for me, I will [come] in a few months and stay west.
I send respects to all, yours — Wm. H. Sheldon
¹ The Washington Star reported, “The rebel Colonel T[homas] M. Griffin [1816-1878] of the 18th Mississippi regiment, was permitted, with another rebel officer captured at Fredericksburg [on 3 May 1863], to visit various places of business on the avenue yesterday, under guard, to make purchases of clothing, exchange money, &c., &c. He is a large-sized, powerful-looking man, and attracted a crowd wherever he moved. Griffin claims that the Confederates had but 8,000 men in the entrenchments at Fredericksburg at the time we took them, and that with another thousand men they could have held them.” [Reprinted in Boston Traveler, 7 May 1863]
² I assume Sheldon is referring to these “Warner boys” who all served in Co. H, 31st Massachusetts Infantry Regiment:
Warner, Alfred — Sergt. — Res. New Marlboro ; 21; farmer; enl. Dec. 9, 1861 ; must. Jany. 27, 1862 ; must. out Feb. 23, 1865, as 1st Sergt.
Warner, George — Corpl. — Res. New Marlboro ; 24 ; farmer ; enl. Dec. 14, 1861 ; must. Jany. 27, 1862; died of disease, July 30, 1863, New Orleans, La.
Warner, William W. — Corpl. — Res. New Marlboro; 21; farmer; enl. Dec. 9, 1861; must. Jany. 27, 1862; wounded on 13 April 1863 in the Battle of Fort Bisland, La.; must. out Feb. 23, 1865.