This letter was written by Alvin B. Williams (1843-1864), the son of John Williams (1809-1882) and Lydia Bugbee (1818-1857) of New London, Merrimack county, New Hampshire.
Alvin and his brother Oscar L. Williams enlisted in Co. F, 11th New Hampshire Infantry in August 1862. When this letter was written in mid-November, the regiment was at White Sulphur Springs on their way toward Warrenton Junction on the Orange Railroad where it arrived on 16 November 1862. The regiment soon after arrived at Falmouth where it would remain until participating in the Battle of Fredericksburg four weeks later.
Alvin was killed at the Battle of Spotsylvania on 12 May 1864. Three weeks earlier on 18 April 1864, his brother Oscar died of pneumonia at the Army General Hospital in Annapolis, Maryland.
White Sulphur Springs, Virginia
November 13, 1862
I received a letter from [brother] Harrison today and was glad to hear that you was all well and I received 6 postage stamps that came in [brother] Oscar’s letter. We are well—or rather the most of us. John Hemphill ¹ has not been very smart but he is better now. John [B.] Roby ² was sick and left back near Harpers Ferry in hospital and I have not heard from him. If you have heard from him, write and let me know how he does. James Davis ³ has been very sick so that we did not think that he could live. He has got the typhoid fever but he is a getting better. I believe it is a hard place for a sick man here because there is no hospital that they can be left in. They have to be lugged about in an ambulance wagon and sometimes sleep on the ground. James Davis has to one night when they thought he could not live through the night.
We have had to march most every day for two weeks. Our knapsacks would seem heavy come hight sometimes but we have stood it well. We have not fell out once yet. We have been driving the gray backs as we call them for they wear grey clothes until day before yesterday. That was at Jefferson[ville]. We was close to their heels and we was in the advance when they drove in our pickets but our brigade and two pieces of artillery went out and drove them back. Our regiment was called out in a line but did not have to fight any. Our company was on picket out back so they did not see any of it.
I am on provost guard and I have been on about a week. We have to pick up stragglers and guard and so on. We have got a grey back that was take[n] in that skirmish. We moved from that place yesterday morning and came back to this place about an hour ago. Our pickets was driven in. Our battery fired at them and they was driven back. Our supply train was cut off three days ago so that we have fared pretty hard for grub. We have had nothing but beef today. We got some hard tack.
Tell them to all write for they can write oftener that we can and I like to hear from you. We have not got any mail for some time. I sent for some money but have not got it. Goodbye. Please write. From Alvin B. Williams
¹ Corp. John Hemphill of Sutton, New Hampshire, Co. F, 11th New Hampshire, was wounded at Spotsylvania on 16 May 1864. He died of his wounds at Fredericksburg on 25 May 1864.
² John B. Roby was discharged for disability on 22 July 1863. He served with the Williams’ brothers in Co. F, 11th New Hampshire.
³ James M. Davis of Co. F, 11th New Hampshire, was discharged for disability on 23 January 1863 but died at his home in Springfield, New Hampshire, not long after.