1861: Richard Whittock Clink to Susanna

This letter was Richard Whittock Clink (1834-1863) who enlisted in Co. B, 11th Massachusetts Infantry on 13 June 1861. He was promoted to a corporal and then to sergeant. He was wounded on 25 June 1862 at the Battle of Fair Oaks and killed on 2 July 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg. [See 11th Massachusetts Infantry at Gettysburg by Patrick Brown]

Richard was born in Scotland, the son of Charles and Agnes Clink. He emigrated to the United States in 1854, arriving in New York on board the Marmion. He was married to Jannet Hardie (1836-1922) in March 1857 in Lowell, Massachusetts. Prior to his enlistment, Richard was employed as a “Dyer.”

The letter was written on the backside of a song sheet bearing the words to “Red, White, and Blue,” published by Mumford & Co., Cincinnati. The patriotic song became more popular under the name of its first line, “Columbia, the gem of the ocean.”

It is interesting that after only several months in office, Clink observed that “the care of the office” was wearing on Lincoln’s visage. The setback at Bull Run and Lincoln’s diplomatic challenges in keeping Maryland and Kentucky in the Union were clearly taking a toll on the President.

Where the 11th Massachusetts fought at Gettysburg on 2 July 1863. Monument to the 11th Mass. at left. (ca. 1900)

Where the 11th Massachusetts fought at Gettysburg on 2 July 1863. Monument to the 11th Mass. at left. (ca. 1900)

TRANSCRIPTION

Camp Union [near Bladensburg, Prince George’s County, Maryland]
October 7th 1861

Dear Susanna,

Col. George Clark, Jr. of the 11th Massachusetts Infantry

Col. George Clark, Jr. of the 11th Massachusetts Infantry

Yours of the 20th is duly received and finds me in fine health and spirits. We had fine times last Sunday [October 6th] ¹ when the President & Mr. Seward reviewed us. I think that Abe is a good looking old fella for the care of his office are wearing upon him. He seems very shy and reserved. God bless him and the Old Bay State. Colonel [George] Clark and Governor [John Albion] Andrew are in Washington trying to get Gen. [Winfield] Scott to let us go back to guard Fort Warren.

The 1st Massachusetts Regiment just returned from scout having broken up many nests of rebellion along Chesapeake Bay. They captured a rebel flag. It is splendid and has got 3 stripes and 9 stars red and one blue. They proudly display this rebel trophy and you can be sure that we will capture many more traitor flags.

That is all the news. Please write soon as this comes to hand. Give my love to your mother. Goodbye.

— R. Clink


¹ On Sunday, 6 October 1861, President Lincoln, Sec. Seward, and Gen. McClellan consulted with Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks at the camp of the 19th New York Regiment near Rockville, Maryland. [New York Times, 9 October 1861.] 

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