These eleven letters were written by William Edwards Augur (1836-1903), the son of Horace Augur (1804-1874) and Catharine Hanson (1808-1852) of New Haven county, Connecticut. Before the war, William resided in his parents home and worked as an architect in New Haven. In September 1861, he enlisted for three years in Co. C, 7th Connecticut Infantry. He fought with the regiment in the Carolinas, Florida and Virginia before he was discharged in September 1864 as a corporal. A large collection of his letters were donated in 2012 to the Whitney Library under the title, “Letters to Addie, the Civil War Correspondence of William Edwards Augur (1836-1903).” The donors name was Peter Markle, a descendant.
One month after William was discharged from the service, he married Addie C. Phelps (b. 1836) of Northampton, Massachusetts. It appears that the couple became acquainted prior to the Civil War when Addie’s older sister, Julia Rockwell Phelps (1828-1921) took a position as a school teacher in New Haven and boarded in the Augur household.
In this interesting letter, William writes to his friend Addie giving her the regiment’s movements day by day from June 1st to June 10th in the days leading up to the Battle of Secessionville on James Island near Charleston.
Addressed to Miss Addie C. Phelps, Northampton, Mass.
James Island, South Carolina
[Tuesday,] June 10th 1862
My own Addie Dear,
The past week has been an eventful one to us. We left Pulaski Sunday morn, June 1st and arrived at Edisto about five. Went on shore, landed all our tents &c., and then went on board again in light marching order (leaving our knapsacks behind), bound for the next island (John’s) on which we landed about midnight and lay down in the sand to get what sleep we could. Monday morn [June 2nd] we cooked our own breakfasts, bathed, and lay in the sand until about ten when we started on our march with the sun pouring down on our poor heads. After marching about four miles we halted for the night, built fires, cooked supper, spread our blankets and lay down to rest on mother earth.
Tuesday morn. [June 3rd]—One of our companies were out in picket last night and one of the men bad a little adventure. A secesh tried to stab him but did not succeed, and made his escape in the bushes. It commenced raining this forenoon and we have had to take it the best we could, most of us making little shanties of sods and rails and using our rubber blankets for a roof, making a passable shelter.
Wednesday morn. [June 4th] The rain fell in torrents last night and the wind blew most of our shanties down, leaving the inmates to the mercy of the rain. Mine stood very well so I did not get as wet as some. The rain has held up and we have had our guns inspected and damaged cartridges replaced. Our cavalry (part of a Mass. regiment) have been all over the island and report no secesh of any account. Our brigade formed in line and had a grand review just before dark, and we have gone back to lie down with things on ready to march at a moment’s notice.
Thursday morn. [June 5th]—We commenced our march about two o’clock this morn (the rain commencing the same time) and had a hard march of thirteen miles through the rain pouring down from above, and the water and mud averaging six inches deep in the roads. That march will be long remembered by us all. Reaching our stopping place (Stonhoe) about ten A. M. and are quartered in the houses. Made fires, dried our clothes, cooked dinner, &c. This is a very pleasant place and we are now within about six miles of Charleston.
Friday [June 6th]—The sun has made its appearance once more and we have had inspection, dried our cartridges and received orders to be ready to move at a moment’s notice across the river to James Island. Crossed over about three P. M. and arrived at our resting place about dark, built fires, cooked supper, and lay down on mother earth again to dream of home and the dear ones there. What a time we are having. We are lying within range of a rebel battery.
Saturday [June 7th]—I have got so used to this life that I slept all night in spite of a shower we had and feeling first rate today although it is raining. About four P. M., our regiment with a company of cavalry started off after the enemy and such a road we traveled I never saw before—mud ankle deep or more and very slippery and obliged to walk in single file part of the way. We drove in their pickets and had a little skirmish with a part of their force. About four thousand being just ahead of us. After we found out their position, we fell back (only one of our men wounded) and reached camp about ten in a drenching rain, built fires, dried ourselves what little we could and lay down to sleep. How delightful.
Sunday [June 8th]—Cloudy this morn but no rain yet. The 46th New York and some other regiments have gone out skirmishing. Commenced raining again before noon. Firing on our left where we went yesterday. Gun Boats throwing shells into the woods. Our regiment & others formed in line ready to march. One corporal and three men of the secesh picket brought in prisoners. Six of our companies have gone out on picket. Firing ceased. 46th [New York] returned with two killed and ten wounded. They went where we did yesterday. Our tents have arrived and we have put them up. They seem a luxury after being out in the rain so long. How little things seemed like the Sabbath. I hope we shall not be obliged to spend many more in such a way.
Monday [June 9th] Had a cool rain all night. Very thankful for the shelter of our tents. The whole rebel line was alarmed last night. Cleaned our guns &c. Not quite so much rain today. Firing from our Gun Boats, rebel battery, and pickets. We are lying on our arms ready to start at a moment’s notice. Cleared up and I hope it will not rain again for a few days. Started out about three P. M. to protect our pickets, formed in line under shelter of a ridge, with shell from secesh battery falling close to us. One of our pickets slightly wounded with a buck shot. Returned to camp, cooked supper and turned in for a good nights rest. Hope we will not be alarmed.
Tuesday [June 10th] It is a lovely morn. The sesesh battery fires occasionally but we have got used to that and do not mind it. I am in good health and very thankful to our Heavenly Father for his protecting care. I do not know how soon I may be called to lay down my life. I trust I am prepared at any time and can bow meekly to His will whatever it may be. He doeth all things well.
God bless you my Addie dear. I am in haste as we may be called on to march any moment. Direct your letters to Port Royal and they will be sent wherever the regiment is.
Every your, — William
Love to all.
New Haven, Connecticut
January 22, 1863
At home for the last time for the next eight months, and how lonesome it seems here with my own loved one far away. How I wish you were here to give me a goodbye kiss.
Tuesday I returned to Hartford, and found your letter awaiting me, which gave me very much pleasure. Your picture I am very much pleased with, and shall find it a very pleasant and ever present companion to cheer me in my wanderings, and help me resist temptation, for it will be easier to resist with that loving face so near my heart, knowing how that loving look would change to a sad one should I do anything unworthy of me, or aught to bring a blush to the face of my own precious Addie. Pray for me, Addie dear, that I may have the strength given me to resist all temptation to do evil.
I think I shall like your dress, but I always like to see a dress made and on the wearer before I pass judgement.
I am very, very, much pleased to hear you have given up vest making, even for a month or two, and hope and pray you may be restored to health and strength again soon, and I thank you very much for doing it to please me, as I shall ever be for all similar favors.
Mrs. Augur wants me to invite you here to make a visit. I am in favor of your coming for I think the change will do you good.
Wednesday I came down here as the 7th [Connecticut Vols.] were expected home. They arrived here about three and had a grand reception. About three hundred and fifty have reenlisted and they are all looking finely. Forty-four of my company are here, and I am afraid I shall be quite lonesome down south until they return for they comprise the best part of the company—those left behind being mostly recruits.
If I had been with them and had no loved Addie, I should have reenlisted; as it is, I am afraid I should have been strongly tempted. You need however have no fears now of my reenlisting, for I do not think my health would allow me to if I wished.
The 6th [Connecticut Vols.] arrived about ten last evening, and the 5th [Connecticut Vols.] is on the way. The 10th, 12th, and 13th are expected home soon, and all together will make about three thousand veterans from this state; at least two-thirds that could have so reenlisted as it is necessary to serve two years before they are allowed to.
The quota of this state must be more than filled now, and still recruiting is brisk. Our first colored regiment is full and the second has been commenced.
I went up to Hartford again yesterday and returned last evening. I go to New London this afternoon, as we are to leave there tonight so I have had little time to write a long letter but will promise you long ones hereafter.
We are to sail from New York tomorrow. God bless and keep you my own precious one and permit a safe return to me with many happy years together.
With lots of warm, true love, I remain your own, — William
Headquarters Volunteer Recruiting Services
Fort Trumbull, Connecticut
February 10, 1863
I received your letter this afternoon just as I was wondering if it had not gone off in search of the missing one. I cannot imagine where that letter has strayed to but I do not know as I can find any fault with it for wanting to keep away from this out of the way place, for I would do the same if I could.
I should like to have seen sister Julia’s friend in her wedding attire, but still better would I like to see my own lived Addie dressed in her wedding, and have the great pleasure of placing the ring on her finger that should bind her to me through all this life and—what’s in store for me beyond the grave we know not, but can hope for—and so live here that it will be happiness. I often in my evening walks pass by cheerful looking homes and my imagination pictures the happiness hid from my view, and how I envy the inmates of these pleasant homes. And my heart grows sad with longing and waiting for a home. Shall I ever have one? My selfishness, if it can be called such) and my love of country have many conflicts to see which is the strongest. Sometimes one and then the other seems to be the victor.
Would that this war might end soon and return to their homes the remaining absent loved ones. Many have found a resting place on the battlefield and waiting friends will wait in vain for their return. May their meeting in the other world be a happy one.
I am very much disposed to find fault with my lot when I think if my own case alone, but when I compare it with thousands of others who have given up much more than I have, then I feel ashamed of myself, and try to be very, very patient, and wait God’s good time for I know he is working all things for some good end, and my place is to work and wait, not find fault.
I have not yet heard anything further in regard to returning to the Sunny South and it now looks as though we might stay here two or three months longer, but you must be prepared to hear of my departure anytime. I think of going to New Haven next Saturday and return Monday, if my work will allow me to. If I go, I shall miss seeing you very much. I wish you lived near enough so I could come and spend the Sabbaths with you, and I think I should then be very contented with my position here. Have patience, William. God is good.
I think it will be a good plan for us to have a regular time for sending our letters and propose sending mine (after this week) on Friday, and you will probably not get it until Saturday, and you send yours Tuesday so I can receive it Wednesday. It is such a long distance from here to Northampton that it takes two days for letters to go through.
Wednesday afternoon. Just received a letter from home and they have not seen the missing letter. Miss Carrie Hubbard has finally gone home and I am very glad of it and hope no more strangers will come to take her place. We had fish chowder for dinner today and expect to have a clam chowder soon. Don’t you think we are living high considering that we are Uncle Sam’s children?
There is no prospect of being paid off yet and I guess by the time it does come, I will have so much due me that I will be at a loss to know what to do with it.
Goodbye Addie dear. With lots of love, good wishes &c., I remain yours, — William
Fort Trumbull, Connecticut
March 5, 1863
I am sorry to say it is nine o’clock P. M. and my work has been such that this is the earliest moment that I could commence answering your letters. I finished the muster and pay rolls and sent them off last night so that is one good job done. Muster day does not come only one in two months; that is some consolation. Since then I have been busy preparing for Gen. Wool’s reception and this afternoon we all had to turn out with knapsacks and all the other articles necessary to torment a poor soldier, and go through with a review and drill of about three hours. It is six months within a few days since I have carried a knapsack, gun, &c. and just at present I feel lame, tired, and wish various wishes, among the rest that I was my own master once more. My hand trembles so from the effects of carrying that old, twenty-pound gun (I should judge) that I can hardly write. I hope the General will not make us another call while I am here.
Eighteen months of the term of my enlistment expires tonight, so I have something to rejoice over, having arrived at the half way house, and I feel about the same as I did the first day I marched with a knapsack on. I wonder where another eighteen months will find me. I hope in a pleasant home with you my love. God is good and doth all things well.
I can hardly realize that it is spring, for it does not seem but a very short time since I came home from the South, and I expected to be back there again long before this, and I almost wished I was there this afternoon. I have heard nothing from the regiment yet, and have some doubts whether I ever shall again.
My head is not very clear tonight so I shall be obliged to cut my letter short again, and trust to be excused for so doing. You will excuse men dearest, will you not?
Goodnight my love. Sweet, pleasant dreams. Mine last night were of pay rolls. Yours as ever, with much love, — William E. A.
Fort Trumbull, Connecticut
April 9, 1863
I feel very thankful to our kind Heavenly Father for restoring you to health again. Truly He is very good to us. I had a snow storm for company home last Saturday and a rain storm all day Sunday, so that I could only attend church in the forenoon. Monday it was very pleasant and after doing my duty at the ballot box, I called on Charles. He is quite lame, but goes without either crutch or cane. I am afraid he will never recover entirely. I found sister Mary in New Haven and made her a call, and she wanted my picture. I had half a dozen taken and will send you one when I receive them.
Monday afternoon O took a walk out for my health and enjoyed it nicely. The birds seemed to be unusually happy, and were expressing their happiness in a very musical way. I wished you were with me to enjoy it. The frogs also seemed to be aware the spring had returned for they were making all the noise they could. Their music is not very sweet. Still there is something pleasant about it for it tells us that pleasant weather is near.
In the evening I went to Brewster’s Hall to hear the returns read as they came in and you may be sure I felt like rejoicing at the good news. I was a very little afraid old Connecticut would disgrace herself by electing Seymour and now that she has proved true to the right, I love her more than ever. May she ever be as true. This election will have a good effect on our army and a bad one on the rebels.
I see by the papers that the attack on Charleston has commenced and I hope it will be successful this time. The land forces have taken the same road we did. I received a letter from Sgt. Merriam last night and it says they are enjoying themselves nicely, having good quarters, plenty to eat, &c. They have an opportunity to enjoy a sail occasionally and I guess they enjoy themselves well enough without me. Don’t you think so?
I want to see you very much but shall try to be very patient for perhaps I cannot come up before next month, I have so much to do. I have been very busy since I returned, making out muster rolls for the muster, called for tomorrow by the Adjutant General, and when this job is finished, I have got to commence making out a Descriptive List of all deserters for this post since the recruiting service commenced.
I propose as we have been interrupted inn our reading, that we commence on next Sunday with the 1st Chapter of Saint John, and I trust it will be for our good and bear some good fruit.
I have got lots to do just now and shall probably have to be up most of the night, so please excuse me now. With the same warm love, I remain yours, — William
Fort Trumbull, Connecticut
July 16, 1863
Would that I might leave my work for a few days and spend them with you, my love. But no, I am tied down here now completely and have given up all hopes of seeing you at present.
It has been a very long time with us all here during the last three weeks. Everything has been turned over to a new Superintendent and his office has been removed to Hartford, which now throws more work on me, and has left me here almost alone, as Lt. Hatch, Westervelt, & Fenton have also gone.
A company has been organized here from the Vol. Regiments and recruiting parties and left for New Haven, Tuesday morning (rumor said last night they had gone to New York [draft riots]). I should have gone with them but my work could not be left undone, and no one else here could do it, so I had to stay and work until it seemed last week as though I should go crazy. I hardly had five minutes that I could call my own during the whole week and how I longed to leave it all and go to your dear old home, and find rest, and a dear loved one to make me forget all the rest of the world for a time.
I had all of my Quarterly Returns to make out also and it seemed as though everything had been reserved for this particular time.
Another company has been organized here and we are all ready in case our services should be needed here, but I do not think they will. The draft takes place here today. My work is waiting for me so I must say goodbye.
I thank you very, very much, my own dear one, for your long letter in return for what I have sent. Bear with me very patiently a little longer, dearest, for I am yet too tired and worn out to write more now. Goodbye for now, my precious one. With warm true love, I remain your own, — William
Fort Trumbull, Conn.
August 29th 1863
I have been relieved from duty here and ordered to the Superintendent in Hartford immediately, but I cannot get my work so I can leave it until Monday, when I intend to go to New Haven and stop over night before reporting in Hartford.
The Muster & Pay rolls have not been commenced yet, and I shall have to work all day tomorrow and all night I expect.
You need not write until you hear from me again, so I can tell you how to direct your letter. Received one from you this morning.
I much haste & as ever your own, — William
Headquarters Vol. Recruiting Service
October 1st 1863
We have made a change in our Headquarters having moved from Main to Trumbull Street. We have a very pleasant office now on the first floor but cannot see all this is going on as well as before, but can see enough.
The State militia are in camp two or three miles out of town and I went or rather started out to see them Tuesday afternoon but found the walk too long and so spent the time very pleasantly roaming around the woods. It has been very pleasant for a few days and it seemed good to get outside the city and enjoy it. The evenings have also been delightful and I wish very often I could enjoy them with my own lobed one. I find it very lonesome here but it is always so away from you. The months are passing away very fast however—only eleven more short months to serve, and these will soon pass away leaving me free once more to claim you as my own precious “wife.” Many happy days are in store for us I trust and I do not think they will be less happy for this long waiting.
There is a Negro Regiment now being raised in Rhode Island and one or more companies for it are to be raised in this State if they can be. I can have a commission in one of them if I wish it. I do not, however, think enough of a commission to accept one in any regiment as I am now situated. What do you think about it?
I have not found out where No. 30 Chestnut Street is yet but think I shall be able to some time (if I try).
I think I shall go to New Haven Saturday night, returning Monday morning. With you cold be there to keep me company, &c. If it is pleasant the middle of the month, I think I can come up and see you two or three days, and so take some pleasant walks out to see the beauty of Autumn. I enjoy a walk out into the woods very much after the trees have put on their Autumn dresses, but I always want some dear friend to enjoy it with me.
Goodbye for the present. With much love, your William
Evening. No time to write more. As ever, yours, — William
Headquarters Vol. Recruiting Service
December 10th 1863
My Own Precious One,
I returned from Fort Trumbull yesterday noon and have been so busy since that I have not left the building except to go to my meals, and have got affairs straightened up considerable but not enough to allow me much time to devote to my own enjoyment. We had a very hard time of it at the Fort paying off and send off over one hundred recruits and I was very much rejoiced when it was all over with.
I did not expect a letter from you before tomorrow so yours lay in the office until tonight. Now dearest, what could have put that absurd notion into your precious head that I did not care much for you? I think some evil spirit must have been whispering to my Addie. My letters I know have not always been what they should to gratify a loving heart and I have blamed myself for it very often, for i know how precious warm loving letters are to me, but I get so tired after writing here twelve or more hours, that I find it very hard to control my thoughts enough to write as I would to you my love. Please forgive me for any unintentional pain I may have caused you and believe me when I say I love you very, very much—more than all else in this world—and that I would never intentionally do aught to give you pain, and almost anything to give you pleasure. I would much sooner part with life than with your love, for my life would be worth but little to me without it.
The months seems to move slowly along and I long to have the time come when I can claim you as my own dear wife, but God has seen fit to deal with us in a different way that we might choose. But He is a loving father and why should not we trust Him? This war is calling on us all to make sacrifices for our country, and surely our sacrifices have been trifles when compared to others. I said I loved you more than all else in this world, but I can hardly sat that, for much as I do love you, I believe I can sacrifice that love on my country’s alter.
For my country I am willing to give up all, and I despise anyone who is not willing to do their share of our country’s work. I should have always been ashamed of myself if I had not obeyed my country’s call, and I know you too well to think you do not love me now for it. Nine more months seem long to wait but how short that would seem to those who have parted with loved ones as dear, and are waiting for a reunion that will not come this side of the grave. Forgive me, dearest, if I have said aught to give you pain. I would not chide you (for allowing such thoughts to creep into your head & driving out the sunshine) only in a loving way, and trust before this reaches you all trace of the blues have passed away.
Excuse me now my love if I leave you for I am tired and sleepy and need rest to prepare me for the morrow’s work, and it is ten o’clock P. M. May Christ be ever with my Addie leading her to a higher and purer life is the prayer of your own loving, — William
February 23, 1864
I arrived at the Head [Hilton Head, S. C.] on the 4th and on the 5th we started on an expedition to Florida, landed on the 8th, and since then have been on the move, having marched almost two hundred miles.
We marched about thirty-five miles and fought a four hours long battle [see Battle of Olustee] in twenty hours. I came out all safe, although our regiment lost heavily. We are now just out of Jacksonville, but expect to move soon so I have no time to write at present but will as soon as we get a little settled. Please write soon and direct to Corp. W. E. A., Co. C, 7th C. V., Port Royal, S. C.
With love, your son, — William
Headquarters District of Florida, Dept. of the South
April 3d 1864
Dear Father, Mother, and all the folks,
I received your letters and papers all safe, but have been too busy to answer them before. I like my present place here, with the exception of working too many hours, but as we have another clerk now, I expect that will be remedied soon. I have been here three weeks today and have not had time to visit my regiment during the time. We commence work at eight on the morning and do not usually get through before eight in the evening, and sometimes later. I had much rather work twelve hours per day here however than to do duty in my company.
About two weeks ago our men picked up two torpedoes down the river which the rebels placed there with the best of wishes for their success probably, but were disappointed. Friday morning, however, they had better success and exploded one under one of our transports (about twelve miles above here) which injured her so badly that she sank in about five minutes, and took down four men with her. The next day three companies of the 7th [Connecticut Vols.] were detailed for boat service on the river, and are now patrolling it to see that another such incident does not occur.
Yesterday they sent in several deserters which they picked up and today they sent in ten more. Hardly a day passes with out some coming in, and a sorry-looking set they are as each one dresses as he best can, and their clothes are of a dirty color when now, so you can imagine how they would look when almost worn out. Hardly any two of them have on hats alike, and most of them look as though they required something to lean against to keep them from falling.
The mail leaves in a short time so I shall have no time to write more now. I am in the best of health and expect to be home and make you all a visit next September.
Remember me to all the folks with much love and good wishes, — W. E. Augur
[Enclosed, General Orders No. 13, Headquarters, District of Florida, Department of the South, Jacksonville, Florida, dated March 10, 1864]