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1863 January 16: “Providence never intended you for a soldier”

May 24, 2013

A letter from Benjamin Wilcox in River Falls to Phineas Flint, who at this time was in Madison in training with Company A of the 30th Wisconsin Infantry.

Phineas had asked Wilcox what he thought of the idea of going to a Commercial College.  Flint’s brother Jerry also gave the idea two thumbs up in his letter to Phineas of January 26, 1863.

The original letter is in the Phineas C. Flint Papers (River Falls SC 42) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University Archives and Area Research Center.

River Falls, Pierce Co  Wis.  Jan 16/63

My Dear Friend Flint,

                                              Yours of the 3d duly came to hand last eve, & I take my earliest leisure to reply.  I heartily congratulate you on your discharge from the army; I was always sorry you enlisted & so I was that F. Lord¹ did, for I felt that neither of you would find anything congenial to your taste there, & that there were others who could go with less sacrifice, & more success. — I am not disappointed in your estimate of John Dale. — His colleagues in this county are of the same stripe, & yet they control our politics & get all our lucrative offices.  Your journey was tedious, but I am glad you are now so comfortably moored & that your health is so promising.

You inquire my opinion as to availing yourself of a course at the Commercial College in Chicago.  Were I in your place I would not fail of it for anything.  It will fit you for lucrative business & I have no doubt will, give you success will proper exertion on your part.  It is a rare chance.  I hope you will spend there a pleasant & profitable winter. — Certainly, it will differ materially from the influences & experience of camp life. — Providence never intended you for a soldier. — How  I tremble for the terrible influence of camp life over some of our River Falls boys. — Without God’s interference they are surly lost!

All has been quiet Since you left here. — No Snow — no sledding, & but little business of any kind.  Weather very mild till within the last 48 hours, now cold enough. — Mr Gill our new minister is quite unwell, not able to preach just now. —Mr Whitney the Methodist minister is very busy in trying to arouse the people, & so far as the excitement is healthy.  I hope he may be blessed.  They are quite sanguine of a revival. — I hope we may all have one. — Mr S. Wale’s family are still afflicted with sickness. — Sherlock is very slow in recovering; & Mr. Wales is now unable to leave his bed, & Mrs. W. is ailing also. — It is generally healthy however.  There is no news of importance. — Edward is getting along well, & Mr. Sanford assures me that he is very much devoted to his school, & is liked both in school & out. — The Sabbath school Festival on New Years was a decided success. — I am told that Sam’l Cox has started a dancing school to polish the manners of our young men, & give grace to our young ladies!!  How much we need a genuine revival here, to stay the downward course of our young people. — I saw a letter in the [Prescott] Journal to night from Mr. Winchester, who speaks of the boys down there having a jolly time — & as being all well. — How our war drags on every day it seems more disheartening & it is fast showing us that in God alone is our help.

I should be glad to hear from you occasionally, in your leisure moments, for I feel a friendly interest in your welfare.  My letters will by dry for I cannot interest you by any local news. — I might occasionally send you one a number of our new Village paper just started here called the “Citizens Reporter.”  Two Nos. have been issued, & it is quite interesting. — But I have written long enough for once & will stop by assuring you of my friendly regards —

As Ever, Truly Yrs.

Benj’. Wilcox

1.  Freeman H. Lord, also from River Falls, enlisted August 13, 1862, and served in Company F of the 30th Wisconsin Infantry. He became a sergeant and mustered out in August of 1865.

Benjamin Wilcox letter of January 16, 1863, from the Phineas C. Flint Papers (River Falls SC 42) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center

Benjamin Wilcox letter of January 16, 1863, from the Phineas C. Flint Papers (River Falls SC 42) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center

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