1864: George A. Dawson to Mr. Brown

I believe this letter was written by George A. Dawson (1841-1864) who enlisted in August 1862 at the age of 21 to serve in Co. C,  11th Vermont (a. k. a. 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery). Dawson was born in Shewsbury but his service was credited to Wallingford, VT.  When this letter was written from Fort Massachusetts [a. k. a. Fort Stevens] in February 1864, Co. C was still manning the Washington D. C. defenses. In the spring of 1864, however, they were taken as infantrymen in Grant’s Overland Campaign. Dawson was captured on 23 June 1864 at Weldon Railroad and died in Millen, GA, on 19 October 1864. [See letter dated 26 June 1864 by George Oscar French of Battery C]

George was the son of Jonah Dawson (1814-1882) and Lucy P. Thompson (1822-1891) of Wallingford, Rutland county, Vermont. Census records suggest that George was younger than his enlistment papers indicate. I suspect he was born in 1844 rather than 1841.

[Note: The regimental history claims that Companies C & D were garrisoned in Fort Massachusetts until March 1864. Dawson is the only member of Co. C whose name appears to match that in the letter. There are two members of Co. D with the surname “Damon.”]


Fort Massachusetts
District of Columbia
February 17 [1864]
Three o’clock P. M.

Mr. Brown

I do hereby solemnly swear to bear true allegiance to the U. S. and agree to accept such pay & rations as they see fit to issue. Yours muchly, — Kasiah

I have been down to the coach house & partook of a simple meal of boiled bullock & bread and thought it would be kinda cute to write you a few lines.

The snow is eight inches deep here and is fast a snowing. Recon it snows up in Old Vermont for it comes from that direction.

I worked pretty much all this forenoon putting a pair of toe irons on my boots. I succeeded though with great difficulty for the want of tools. I had a trip-hammer saw mill crank for a screw driver and a pick to punch holes with. I speck when I get home I shall be master of all tools except one (tools) make my thing out of anything.

We live tall & sleep in the attic. Have all the bedding required except a little straw tick to keep the straw in its proper bounds. We have the straw.

If I had Enoch’s old mare & sledge here, I should be after having a sleigh ride down to the Pot-ot-o-m-a-t-oc; perhaps you cannot pronounce this but I will spell it again—Potomac—where hey make such hellish le-lerches on Fredericksburg and Richmond and several other places.

There has been several of the 13th [Vermont] to see us here but we can’t get to them atall.

I see there is some propositions in the papers for peace. ¹ I am for fighting them until hell freezes over & then take them on skates.

— Dawson

¹ There was a peace movement launched by the Democratic leadership in February 1864 as a platform for the 1864 election was being contemplated.

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