This letter was written by Augustus Talbot Mills (1842-1891), the son of Charles Lewis Mills (1802-1845) and Maria Ann Kellogg (1811-1872) of Corning, Steuben County, New York. Augustus attended Williston Seminary at Easthampton, Massachusetts in 1861. He graduated in 1864 from the University of New York with a medical degree. In 1868, Mills was in a partnership with Charles M. Graves in Corning where they advertised as physicians and surgeons. In September 1864, Augustus married Sarah (“Sallie”) B. Crocker (1844-19xx), the daughter of Charles and Julia Ann (Nye) Crocker of Fairfield, Connecticut. Sallie had two older brothers that fought and died in the Civil War: Charles Crocker (1834-1864), and James Crocker (1839-1863). Charles was lost at sea.
Mills wrote the letter to his chum, Andrew Lewis Bush (1843-1932), the son of Henry James Bush (1819-1898) and Elizabeth Ann Howe (1819-1909) of Westfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts. Andrew graduated in the class of 1862 from the Williston Seminary at Easthampton, Massachusetts. After graduation, he enlisted on August 27, 1862 and received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in Co. H, 37th Massachusetts Infantry. He was wounded, receiving a severe wound in the thigh from a fragment of a shell. He was promoted to Full 1st Lieutenant on July 4, 1863 and was mustered out on February 5, 1864. After the war he attended Harvard and earned a law degree in 1866. He married Josephine G. Dowling in October 1870.
Addressed to Andrew L. Bush, Esq., Westfield, Mass.
Corning, [New York]
August 6, 1861
I received a letter from Mrs. Pallous and she extended to me a very polite invitation to write you. But after some considerable reflection on the subject am of the opinion you owe me a letter. But to continue our correspondence, I will not play up Phelps. Ere this you are doubtless through the dreadful ordeal of examination and now are joyful in the realities of vacation. The horse will be the victim at least for a time until your passions shall have been appeased.
What to write you from this remote part of our globe is decidedly unknown to me. War, the prevailing topic of conversation, is agitated everywhere and almost every town is the scene of some military demonstration. Troops from the West all pass here. A regiment of 1500 Wisconsin boys passed here recently. The wilds of that state sent out the roughest, tallest, and yea — the most determined body of men you ever saw. Cheer after cheer went up as the 40 car-loads passed along. The boys if the regiment declaring Virginia will be shaken when we get on her polluted soil. They changed cars here from the Buffalo Road to the Erie. The latter company refused to take them as they had broken a contract with them west of here. It was about 8 o’clock. They must be in Elmira to take supper at 11 so to get to Washington in good season. At ten o’clock they lay upon the switch without an engine and orders from the Superintendent of the road not bring them unless each bought his ticket upon the Colonel. 7 feet high tendered $600 in gold if they would take them. They refused. He immediately ordered three companies of his regiment out of the cars and as the Express bound East came along gave them orders to take possession of the train. They did in a hurry. And he took an Engineer from his company and told him to back in the switch and take the train [of] 48 cars. He did and that Colonel with 27 men stood upon that engine and run the route telegraphing ahead for all trains to get out of the way. The crowd at the depot cheered them as they rode along. Bully, bully boys. ¹
Now chum, they are getting up a company of cavalry here and I am inclined to go in. What do you think of New York State Troops? Don’t she do her share? Gov. [Edwin Denison] Morgan has called for $25,000 more and there are more ready to go than we wants ten times over.
How did Adelphi speech go off? Good, I guess. Where did Curtiss get his poem? Now Sallie a little. She is sound. Write me twice a week and good long letters. Sweet as ever. I am going East to see her in October. Going to stand up with her to Gals wedding in Fairfield. She writes about you often. Curtiss sent Clay Sturgis a programme of Adelphi. Why didn’t you send Sallie one? I never got your picture. Bishop has taught his last tern, I suppose. Did Hale risk an examination? How does he stand now?
We have a bully horse now. What fun. How does the rifle do? Can you sell it? Now we regard to coming back to school again. I am positive that this war is not at an end or never will be and it is going to be very hard times. Military education is now the thing. I say this to you. I don’t think I will return again except when [Class of] 62 graduates. Where is Post? He owes me a letter.
Now you will laugh, chum. I am studying medicine and start for New York City University to take lectures in October or the spring. I am going in the army assistant surgeon a good ____. I like it very much. Sallie’s brother was in the 13th Regiment State Militia New York at Bulls Run. I saw a few days since a member of the Bold 69th — Hayne — one of the number made prisoner with Corcoran — he broke his shackles with a spike and escaped. He shot at Beauregard once and missed him. He had two wounds — quite a L___. But I must close. Write me soon.
Your everlasting chum, — Mills
¹ Mills does not identify the Wisconsin regiment but it was the 4th Wisconsin Infantry commanded by Colonel Halbert Eleazer Paine (1826-1905). The 4th Wisconsin left the state July 15 and on the refusal of the railroad company to transfer it from Corning, N. Y., to Elmira, it seized the train and ran it to Elmira. It went into headquarters at the Relay house, Md., and later joined the ”Eastern Shore” expedition, going to Baltimore in December.