This letter was written by Capt. Andrew Jackson Clough (1831-1888) of Shirley, Massachusetts. He was the son of Winthrop Clough (1793-1877) and Susan Bryant (1789-1835) of New Hampshire. Andrew married Mary J. Blood, the daughter of Lewis and Almira Woods (Hartwell) Blood, in February 1860 at Shirley, Massachusetts. Their eldest daughter, Marion B. Clough (1861-1956) is mentioned in this letter.
Andrew was born at Montpelier, Vermont. His mother died when he was only three years old and at age fourteen he came to live with an older brother in Massachusetts. He studied law with the Hon. John Preston of New Ipswich, New Hampshire, and in September 1856 entered the Harvard Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1858. He opened a law office in Groton Junction (now Ayer), Massachusetts, but made his home in Shirley.
During the Civil War he raised a company of the 53rd Massachusetts and was mustered into the service as Co. D at Camp Stevens in Groton in October 1862. He remained the captain of Co. D until resigning his commission in January 1863 due to physical disabilities.
Addressed to Mrs. Mary J. B. Clough, Groton Junction, Mass.
Headquarters 53rd Regiment
New York, December 27, 1862 6 a.m.
My Dear Wife,
Should you be sick and need me, telegraph to me and not wait for the slow process of communication by mail. I should have said to you in my last when you send money—if you should do so—send it by Adams Express and it will come direct to me. Dr. [John Quincey Adams] Mc’C[ollester] went home yesterday on receiving information by telegraph that his youngest child was but just alive. Poor man. How he is afflicted! A man of a family and still he has none. To my mind he finds no sympathy from whence sympathy ought to come. How much misery there is in consequence of mad selfishness. I am afraid I shall take too much of your time in reading my poor letters, that you will have none to devote to yourself, but ’tis my only pleasure and so I indulge in it while others are yet asleep.
Well the time rolls on—one-third of it is nearly gone—full that will be ere we shall again embark for the Sunny South. I don’t regret its flight for I want to be at home with you and [our daughter] Marion. I see men round me who seem to be glad that they are away from their homes and families but what their homes and families are, I know not. How strangely people are constituted. To me there is no place like home—the dearest place to me on earth is home—sweet, sweet, home.
Well Mary, I think when we do get home, we shall all place a higher estimate on our homes than ever before and that the little inconveniences [are] real pleasures. The captains are taking it quite hard because they can’t go home for a short time to see their families when so near. ‘Tis wrong but ’tis the inexorable fate of a soldier. Our Colonel [John White Kimball] would be glad to have us go for he is a very humane and tender-hearted man, but the upstart of a Gen. at this post seems to be void of human feelings. We have too many such men in the service. A little authority makes them feel wondrous big. Well let ’em swell. It will not give them a better claim to salvation. There are too many men in the army without God, and consequently without fear of anything—only that of serving themselves.
I [_____ed] Clesson about his Christmas present. He laughed and seemed to think it was very valuable. I think more highly of him now than when at home because he shows every day some new trait of manhood. He is to me a most faithful and true friend. He tries to make my labors as light as possible. I wish that I could promote him again for he deserves it.
[Your sister] Eldora has made a wise choice if she has really made it for no better beloved man lives. He would make a better Lt. than any I now have.
And now, my dear wife, how are you and our dear little Marion? I seem to see the little rogue cutting some of her pranks. Where do you suppose she takes her roguery from? From her Mother, I guess, because you know her father is a very quiet, sedate man, whose mind is occupied with grave thoughts. Well, God bless you both and keep you safe from all harm.
Your affectionate husband, — A. J. Clough