1864: Albert Wilson to Melissa (Palmer) Wilson


How Albert might have looked

This letter was written by 47 year-old Albert Wilson (1816-1897) of Co. A, Third Michigan Cavalry. Albert was the son of Festus Wilson (1780-1844) and Waity Harrington (1786-1846) of Addison County, Vermont.

Albert was a cooper by trade. He married Melissa Palmer (1821-1899) in September 1842 in Allegan County, Michigan. The couple had at least four girls before their son Earnest D. Wilson (1855-1944) was born in 1855.

Albert was one of the recruits who joined the reassembled regiment at Kalamazoo in early 1864 under the command of Colonel Mizner and  returned to St. Louis in April 1864. In May 1864, they were sent to Little Rock, Arkansas, and were soon engaged in scouting and driving General Shelby and the confederates he commanded beyond the Arkansas River. In March 1865, the Third Michigan Cavalry was transferred to the Military District of Mississippi commanded by General Canby to operate against Mobile. After the fall of that city, it marched across Alabama and Mississippi to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When General Sheridan was sent west to command the Military Department of the Southwest, the regiment was ordered to report to him for duty and immediately joined the expedition to San Antonio, Texas, where they arrived 2 August 1865 and where they remained until being discharged in February 1866.


St. Louis, [Missouri]
April the 20th, 1864

Dear wife,

I received your kind letter last night and was glad to hear from you and to hear that you was all well. My cold is getting better. I was weighed the other day and I weighed one hundred and sixty-nine pounds.

Melissa, if you think that I am homesick, you are mistaken. I suppose you think because I write so often that I am homesick. If you don’t want to hear from me so often, I will stop writing so often.

You wanted to know if them men was killed in the city or near the camp. They was killed near the camp and there has been another shot since then. He had seven bullet holes through him but that’s nothing, Melissa.

Nothing new. [Please] write. All I know is what is agoing on in the company. Melissa, you wanted I should write something to Ernest. You tell him to be a good boy, [to] help you, and I will bring him something nice if I live to come home. I would like to see the little fella and all of the rest of you. Melissa, I expect we shall go to the city tomorrow but I don’t like it much, I will assure you. But when a man is fast, he has got to do the best he can.


1842 Marriage record

Melissa, you say that Pach ¹ has wrote to me but I have not got his letter yet.  Melissa, it is now about supper time with us and I must close for the present and finish after super.

Now supper is over and I will finish this letter. Melissa, you wanted to know who [I] tented with. I tent with [John] Garrison, [Alonzo] Chaffee, and Johnson.

Melissa, you think that [John] Garrison is a hard pet but he is as steady a man as there is in the regiment. He swears he won’t drink a drop of whiskey while he is in the service and he hain’t got an enemy in Co. A.

That is all, Melissa. It is getting dark and I must close my letter so good night. This is from your husband, — Albert Wilson

¹ Paschal Arthur Pullman was Albert’s son-in-law. He was a lieutenant in the 19th Michigan Infantry and was killed on 20 July 1864 in the fight at Atlanta. Paschal married Margaret Wilson in January 1861.


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