This letter was written by 45 year-old Julia A. (Goss) Adams (1817-1900), a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, who married William H. Adams (1811-1874). She wrote the letter to her son, George Robert Adams (1840-1915) who was attending college at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he graduated in 1863. Like most college students of meagre means, George taught a select school in Connecticut while attending college. After his graduation, when he was drafted, George hired a substitute to take his place while he served as the principal of the Schoharie Academy.
In 1866, George was admitted to the bar in New York State and practiced law in Charlotteville and later Kingston, New York.
In her letter, Julia implores her son not to enlist in the army, writing: “The sorrow and anguish that this war is making, no mortal tongue can tell. I am not willing that my friends should be led as sheep to the slaughter. I am willing others should have the glory of the battlefield. It is as necessary that some should remain to other places of importance to the Nation. I hope you will be a blessing to your country in some other way besides going to war.”
Charlotteville, [Schoharie county, New York]
November 2, 1862
We received your letter last night and was glad to hear from you. I am sorry that you could not get the school. Is all the school taken up around Middletown? If so, perhaps Mister Sizer could get you one somewhere else on the island. You must try and so the best you can. I don’t know any chance here. You must not be discouraged. There will be some way provided. You can come home and stay awhile if you can’t do any better.
We are all well at present. I was very sick the first letter Pa wrote you but I have got well. There are but few students here this term. Uncle Rufus Adams came here at the opening of the school and brought Delia Stephens and Ozias Stephen’s son and his mother came along and went to Mr. Ricky. Old grandmother went home with him. He treated her very cooly He did not ask her to go with him. He shook hands with her when he came and that was all he said to her while he was here. I don’t like his disposition.
Your grandma Goss went home from here four weeks ago. She and Lavina talked of going to William’s. I expect they are there. I have not heard from them since she went home.
Your Pa wrote to you in his first letter which you said you didn’t get that Kate [Lamont] ¹ and [Newell McGregor] Steele ² were married the next morning after you left. He came in that night. He said he saw you in the stage. They went to Troy the next day and Friday the regiment left. He was in the Battle of Harper’s Ferry. He was taken prisoner and paroled and the government has sent them West. There were at Chicago. We have heard that their regiment [125th New York Infantry] was ordered back to Washington. Kate is in Albany to [her brother] David’s. ³
There is a good deal of excitement about the election of the governor of this state. I am afraid that [Horatio] Seymour will be elected. The draft is making a good deal of stir around. I am glad that you are exempt. The sorrow and anguish that this war is making, no mortal tongue can tell. I am not willing that my friends should be led as sheep to the slaughter. I am willing others should have the glory of the battlefield. It is as necessary that some should remain to other places of importance to the Nation. I hope you will be a blessing to your country in some other way besides going to war.
I wish you would write and let us know when this term closes. You must not wait for me to write—I have so much to do. [Your little brother] Ephraim says I must tell you to fetch him some nice things and cherries and peanuts and candies and he will thank you and kiss you.
Delia Stephens was here last Thursday night to prayer meeting. She said she had a letter from Mary Sizer and she had some thought of coming here to school. I must close this. If you can find it out, you will do well. I remain your affectionate Ma, — Julia A. Adams
I will remember thee, yes, while the pulse of life beats warm and free by all I love on earth in heaven. I will remember thee, George.
¹ Catharine (“Kate”) Lamont [or LaMonte] (1840-1916), was the daughter of Thomas William Lamont (1803-1853) and Elizabeth Marie Paine (1811-1898) of Charlotteville, Schoharie county, New York. She and Steele were married on 27 August 1862 at Charlotteville.
² Newell McGregor Steele (1836-1882) was born in Castleton, Rutland county, Vermont. He practiced law in Troy for a few years before the Civil War when he enlisted in Co. K, 125th New York Infantry, accepting a commission as 2nd Lt.
³ David Stillwell LaMont (1830-1903) was a dry goods merchant in Albany.