1863: William Davis Ewing to Margaret Ann (Sellers) Ewing

This letter was written by William Davis Ewing (1828-1902), the son of William Ewing (17xx-1857) and Elizabeth Bryan (17xx-1830). Ewing earned a medical degree from the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1854. Five years later he married Margaret Ann Sellers (1833-1915) and was practicing medicine in Augusta county, Virginia, when the Civil War began.

Ewing was a 30 year-old doctor when he enlisted in August 1861, at Staunton, Va., as a private soldier, mustering into Co. G, 52nd Virginia Infantry—this despite being a doctor, and having attended Washington College, the University of Virginia and Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. According to the records he served as an infantry private until April 1862, when he was detailed as a hospital steward, and then returned to his regiment in August 1862. In the fall of 1862, he was detailed as Assistant Surgeon, and later served as Acting Hospital Steward, from Jan. 1863 to Jan. 1864. He then returned to his regiment again, and was captured on Sept. 19, 1864, at the battle of Winchester, Va. He was sent to the West Building Hospital, at Baltimore, Md., where he served as Assistant Surgeon, until his exchange on Feb. 2, 1865. After the war, he returned to his doctor’s practice in Augusta county and engaged in farming.

See letter by Dr. Ewing written on 15 April 1863 from Lynchburg, Va.


Camp near Brandy Station
November 8th [1863]

My Dear Wife,

Your letter dated 2d was just handed to me when a courier rode up with news that the Yankees were coming & orders to form the regiment. My horse was out grazing & I started after it. When I found her, our brigade had gone & as I had orders to remain in camp until morning & attend the sick call, I am spending the evening answering your letter as I have an opportunity to send it directly up by Mr. Huffman or Mr. [William D.] Shirey who are both in camp today. They got here night before last & will return tomorrow morning. If you send my box without putting it under the care of anyone, you had better direct it Dr. W. D. Ewing, 52d Virginia Regt., Pegram’s Brigade, Early’s Division, Ewell’s Corps.

Brandy Station,

There are men from the Valley & from Staunton coming down every day. It would have been no trouble atall for Mr. Huffman or Mr. Shirey either to have seen the box put on the same car with their boxes & to have told me that it was at the depot with their boxes & I could have gone over & brought it along with theirs. I loaned his son my mare in the summer to go up after their box & I think he might have looked after my box. I would have done that much for them any time.

I will send two little bundles of tobacco home—one for Mother & one for Peggy. I will have no chance to get you my calf skin to make you shoes but I will try to get you some buttons. Mr. Shirey has got a good many. The soldiers cut them off whenever they find them & sell them. I think I can buy you & Mary some. I will write you the news tomorrow if there is any but I don’t think there will be a fight.

We are busily engaged building & the Yankees know all about that. That is the reason they made the advance.

I am glad you got your leather. I wonder if they think Va. money is any better than Confederate money. I think it is 6 of one & half dozen of the other. Dr. [John] Gibson is still absent on a sick furlough. He has been gone more than a month. We are looking for him back. I think it would be better for me to have my vegetables in a barrel. If you have any molasses for the government, you need not send it to the hospital. Send it to me. We need it as much as anybody else.

I would like very much to see you & the children this winter but I don’t expect to get a furlough & Old Early will not let me go to the Examining Board. If I did, I would likely get home. My love to all when you write. Let me know whether you got Mother’s tobacco. I will write when I get the box.

Your affectionate husband, — W. D. Ewing

Since I wrote the above, we have had a good deal of hard fighting & have lost 1300 men killed, wounded, & prisoners & fallen back to where the east side of the Rapidan. The enemy are advancing.

9th — We are well. Send my box by Joby Maupin. He will be down on the 19th.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s