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LT: November 7, 1864 Henry F. Young (7th Wisconsin)

SOPO Editor’s Note: Captain Henry F. Young of the 7th Wisconsin wrote twenty letters while at the Siege of Petersburg from June to December 1864. Researcher Roy Gustrowsky transcribed this letter from the original at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, Wisconsin.  He is currently in the process of writing a regimental history of the 7th Wisconsin. “Delia” was Henry F. Young’s wife, and “Father” was his Father-in-Law Jared Warner, a prominent businessman of Grant County, Wisconsin. Gustrowsky has magnanimously made these transcriptions available to the Siege of Petersburg Online for publication, and we thank him for his generosity.

UPDATE: I recently learned that a new book has been published by the University of Wisconsin Press, entitled Dear Delia: The Civil War Letters of Captain Henry F. Young, Seventh Wisconsin Infantry, and edited by Micheal Larson and John David Smith. If you want to read all of Henry’s letters throughout the war, purchase the book!

Camp 7th Wis[consin] Vet[eran] Vol[unteer]s
Weldon R[ail]R[oad] Va
Nov 7th  1864

Dear Father

I received yours of Oct 29th this Morning, glad to hear from you. Your letter has left me being uneasy you Speak all being Well but Laura and State Delia had wrote to Me about her. I have had no letter from Delia for more than a week-and your intimation of all being Well but her leaves Me verry uneasy. It has always been a Source of uneasiness with Me the dread of Accident or Sickness in My family.

Tomorrow is the eventful day of the Election I think it will not only wind up little Mc [George B. McClellan]-but will be a telling blow to the Rebellion. I See from a Richmond paper that there is likely to be a regular Split amongst the Rebs about the Arming of the Negroes Davis and his gang have grown desperate for anything and now go in for freeing and Arming two hundred & fifty thousand negroes. The planters & Slave owners cant See it so they contend that it will ruin the institution of Slavery forever. The other Side contend that in case of the reelection of Lincoln they will have neither Confederacy Slaves or anything else Soon if they dont do it.

Our late movement to the left was a failure it is no use disguising it to you by any other Name although it goes as a reconnaissance. Well that is all we got out of it for we found the Rebs had two lines of Works fifteen Miles long in front on the South Side R Road & had their Cars to run their troops to any given point on the line to Man their Works at Short notice. We made no attack and consequently lost but four Men.1 Deserters Say they intend to attack us tomorrow to prevent our voting if So they will (find) us ready; if they will just buck against our lines enough to prevent our voting we will agree to finish the Rebellion on this line within the next 48 hours.

I wrote you about [Lieutenant Colonel Mark] Finnicum being hurt by a fall from his horse; he is Still unable for duty; we have just received a batch of new commissions. 1st Sergt F A Boynton is commissioned 1st Lieut of My Co and Will be Mustered as Such in a few days-we are not entitled to a 2d Lieut. I am looking for the consolidation of our Regt, as Soon as the Election is over; the have consolidated the Regts Indiana, but between you & I, they would not have been Consolidated till after the Election if they had been allowed to Vote Consolidation is not Satisfactory to officers or Men When their Regt looses its designation and the Smaller Regt being absorbed by the bigger and addopting its Name often puts old and honourable organizations into New Organizations that have no renown attached to their No.-but it is the only policy to adopt to Save the Govt Vast expense as long as the Governours of States are permited to adopt the Suicidle policy of making new organizations, So that they can pay off their poletical friends with the offices.2

I am verry Sorry you did not Say What was the trouble with Laura if She is Sick dangerously leave nothing undone for her that can be done. Your letter has left Me verry uneasy blue & home Sick.

Yours truly
H F Young3


Letters of Henry W. Young:

  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: Grant’s Sixth Offensive did not accomplish much, and was almost immediately referred to as a reconnaissance in force after the fact, perhaps to soften the blow of failure just before the Presidential Election of 1864. Here Henry is describing the Fifth Corps’ rather small role in the Battle of Boydton Plank Road, fought on October 27, 1864.
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: Captain Young is here lamenting the Federal policy of creating brand new regiments, rather than filling up existing, veteran regiments.  The end result was often consolidation of older organizations, with the resulting redundancy of officers, leaving many experience men in embarrassing situations where they were forced to resign their commissions.  In addition, the new regiments were often led by inexperienced men and learned their battlefield lessons the hard way, with no one present capable of lessening the learning curve.
  3. Young, Henry F. “Camp 7th Wis Vet Vols.” Received by Dear Father, Weldon RR Va, 7 November 1864, Petersburg, VA.
{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Lisa Fulton April 27, 2020, 11:30 am

    Hi Brett, I am REALLY enjoying these Capt. Henry Young letters (and appreciate Mr. Gustrowsky’s work). I have ordered the book with the whole set of letters; such books help me in deciding how to proceed with my project. This looks like a good one to compare against the letters of my gr-grand, a captain in the 7th SCC.

    This post touched on something I had seen in my letters – Capt. Henry Jeffers wishing Davis would raise Negro troops for the Confederacy, but realizing deep down that it really was too late. It’s almost unbelievable to me that he thought there was any chance such a move could have ever worked out, on any level or at any time. I have seen letters to southern newspapers written by planters who argued vehemently that the south should never arm their slaves. Though their reasoning was based on economics rather than the fact that it was a laughable idea, they seem more realistic to me.

    Here are lines I found in Henry Jeffers’ letters:

    1865-02-19 Henry writing to his father:
    “The Army is still in very good spirits, though many are disposed to think it’s no good to fight anymore. I am strongly in favor of negro soldiers and I believe the Army generally will agree to it in whatever shape they can be made most effective.”

    1865-02-25 Henry writing to his father:
    “I am afraid Gen Lee will not have the nerve to act as I think it may be necessary for him to do, that is take things entirely in his own hands and let Congress go to grass….If it is not too late, we will soon have an army of 50,000 negroes in the field, though Congress has failed to pass the Bill. When I say if not too late I mean if the war lasts longer than this spring.”

    Regards, Lisa Fulton

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