1862: Charles Newton to Ellen M. Barnes

Though this is only a partial letter and therefore unsigned, I feel confident that it was written by Charles Newton (1827-1914) who enlisted in Worcester county, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1861 as a private in Co. B, 25th Massachusetts Infantry. This regiment moved to Annapolis by 1 November 1861 and remained there until 7 January 1862 when they sailed to North Carolina as part of Burnside’s Expeditionary Corps. The regiment took control of Roanoke Island on 7 February 1862 and remained there until mid-March when they moved on to New Berne.

He wrote the letter to his future second wife, Miss Ellen M. Barnes (1841-1926)—the daughter of Francis Barnes (1816-18xx) and Betsy M. Nichols (1822-18xx) of Hubbardstown, Worcester county, Massachusetts. Also mentioned in the letter were Francis (“Fanny”) Barnes (b. 1845) and James B. Barnes (b. 1857).  In the 1860 US Census, I believe Ellen was employed as a housekeeper in the Alden Shayer, Jr. family in Worcester. In the 1865 Massachusetts Census, Ellen was still single and residing with her parents. Ellen and Charles were married in April 1869. In the 1880 US Census, Charles and Ellen were enumerated in Gardner, Worcester county, Massachusetts, where Charles was employed as a janitor.


Addressed to Miss Ellen M. Barnes, Hubbardstown, Mass.
Postmarked Philadelphia, Pa.

Roanoke, North Carolina
February 24, 1862

I had just sat down in my old cook tent this evening with the intention of writing a few lines to you and the other children to let you know that I am still alive and doing well and as I am some ways from you all, I can’t have the privilege of seeing you but let me tell you Ellen that I think of you all day and night. And the first thing in the morning, my thoughts are at home with you and wonder whether anything has happened to any of you in the night time [and] what you would do if it was cold and stormy when the orderly [sergeant] brought me in a letter from home dated February the 6th and I stopped where I was to read the letter for you don’t know how pleased I was to hear from you all and hear that you was all well—for I had worried a lot about it—for I don’t hear from you very often. But I can put up with that if you are all well and get along well at home, for it is hard to get letters back and forth now. I know all about that. But I think as we did not have to start from here today that we shall stay on the island for awhile and I shall get letters oftener from you. I want to, at least.

I am very glad to hear that you had a good time down to Boston among the folks and I should like to have been there with you too, and I think that Ellen done first rate if she staid to home and took care of things in good shape alone while you was gone. And I think you had ought to be paid for it and I have got a gold dollar that I would send to you if I thought you would ever get it. But my letters I am afraid don’t go home to you for I have wrote 16 to you before this since I left Annapolis and I have not got but one from home before this since I left Annapolis and one from you when you was at Boston. That is all I have heard from you. I have had some from Mercy and John since I have been here and I had one from Welch when you was at Boston and I answered that.

You spoke about Prentiss not paying you. You just tell him that you want the money when it comes due for that money belongs to you and no one else. And tell [him] you must have it at the time [and] and not let him know that you have any from me. But use what you want of the money that I send home for your good and the children. And I should like to have you write to Bub and then write to me how he is. I want to hear from him and I am so cornered up and have to move so often and don’t have my things with me, I can’t get time to write to him nor to others that I should like to. Have Frank write to me. You can tell him how to direct his letter. Things that I hear from home seems good to me although I am contented with my situation and happy as can be and fare as well as the most of folks do for I have charge…[unfinished letter]

[P. S. in margin] Little James must tell Fanny something when you write to me. — new

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