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1863 August 8: Death of Lieutenant Gordon Allen

August 8, 2013

The original letter is in the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO), in the University Archives and Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Vicksburg, Aug 8th, 1863

Dear Parents,

                        We received your last letter of the 19th and 21st ult. [July] several days ago.  I was much surprised that you had nothing later from us than the  inst. [August], — slow time for patience, indeed, and as mysterious as slow.  But you know now how we were coming on.  In the 19 days following the surrender of V[icksburg], I had but one opportunity to write, being gone to Jackson, and this, too, will cause you a long anxious suspense ere you hear from us.  I am thankful I have had no sad news to write you concerning us.  This war is the occasion of much suspense and solicitude to all who have friends in the army and when sorrow and bereavement have become the log of so many, how thankful should we all be that such has not been the lot of our family.  How many times in a day you must think of us!  In the midst of danger, the dead and dying all around us, the uncertainty of life before us, surely, you can not believe us unconscious of your solicitude for us.  Be assured it is a scource of great satisfaction to us both, to know we are remembered at the throne of Grace by you daily, and to receive your kind and affectionate letters.  Their influence is felt and has done us good, and we hope to hear from you often.  [paragraph break added]

The weather is very warm, but there is a gently breeze in the daytime, and the nights are very cool.  Some cold KinnieKinnic¹ water would be a treat here, I assure you.  Much sickness prevails in the camps & men are dying every day.  If we can stand it till the middle of next month, we shall come out all right, I think.  [paragraph break added]

Our 2nd Lieut., Gordon Allen,² who recently got his promotion, died this week of diptheria [sic] and was buried in the City Cemetery on the 6th inst.  His was the first case of diptheria [sic] that has occurred in the Regt. — very sudden and violent.  He was a fine young man, a true and faithful soldier & officer and, best of all, has been a bright & shining light of Christian example & excellence.  He died at 9  P.M. of the 4th, the day the Capt & 1st Lieut left for home on furlough.  Kelsey, Roberts, Dale³ and I were with him the last few hours of his life.  For some time he tried hard to tell us something, but owing to his throat being so choked or filled up, we could not understand him.  A metalic [sic] coffin was got for him — His mother is a widow who had three sons in the army — one only now remains — one having fallen at Port Hudson.

Affairs here are not exciting at present.  Troops are moving both up & down the river.  Our corps has begun to move down to Natchez.  We, probably, shall not go for some time yet.  Not much to do here now.  The rebels are making a doleful cry over their late defeats.  They are in trouble all round & hardly know what General has whipped them worst.  They were emphatic in their assertions that in contending against Grant’s army [Ulysses S. Grantthat they had been fighting the best army of the U. States.  Now they insist Rosecrans [William S. Rosecrans] is the “right bower of the War Department & blame somebody, they don’t know whom, for their defeat, & they are getting sick & disgusted.  N. Carolina is on the eve of revolution & revolt against the Confederacy & ere long will wheel into the Union ranks.  Other States will soon follow, then.  They are taken by surprise in all quarters & their haughty leaders are much crest-fallen.

Have you got that $40 sent you about the 1st July — the draft on the N.Y. sent to Prescott Bank?  Also the last $40 expressed to same place?  I see that in the Ed of the Reporter R. F. has a man who can talk to Horace & Lute Taylor.4  Good.  Our health is “bully.”  Well there is nothing to write & I’ll stop.  Write all the news — home matters, &c.

Your affc s


1.  The Kinnickinnic River, called the Kinni for short, is a 41-mile river that rises from springs in St. Croix County and flows in a southwesterly direction, through the city of River Falls, before emptying into the Saint Croix River a few miles above Prescott. The city of River Falls got its name for a waterfall on the Kinnickinnic.
2.  Gordon Allen, who is listed as being from Sundersfield, Massachusetts in the roster, enlisted October 30, 1861, was promoted to sergeant, 1st sergeant, and received his commission as 2nd lieutenant on April 7, 1863. He died August 4, 1863.
3.  Wallace Kelsey, Samuel C. Roberts, and Wilber P. Dale, all members of Company A of the 12th Wisconsin Infantry.
4. Lute Taylor, you probably remember, is the editor and publisher of The Prescott Journal.  The “Reporter” is a River Falls newspaper called the Citizens’ Reporter and unfortunately only a handful of issues are still in existence so we do not know exactly what Ed is referring to.

Edwin Levings letter of August 8, 1863, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Edwin Levings letter of August 8, 1863, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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