1864: Edward Visart to Myra McAlmont

This letter was written by Edward Visart (1839-1893) from Fort Delaware in August 1864 while a prisoner of war. Edward was serving as a 2nd Lieutenant in Capt. Blocher’s Arkansas Battery when he was taken prisoner on 28 October 1863 in Arkansas county, Arkansas, by General Clayton’s troops and held in prison at Little Rock. He was then held at St. Louis for a time but transferred across country to Fort Delaware on 25 March 1864. He was received there two days later and not paroled until 10 April 1865.

Edward began his Confederate service enlisting in the Pulaski Light Artillery at Little Rock in April 1861. He mustered out of that regiment in September 1861 and reenlisted in the Weaver Light Artillery at Little Rock in December 1861. This battery was transferred to Blocher’s Battery in August 1862. Blocher’s Battery served in the Trans-Mississippi Department throughout the war, and campaigned in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and the Indian Territory.  In January 1863 the battery was assigned to Fagan’s Brigade in Hindman’s Division, and fought at Helena, the Little Rock campaign, and Price’s Missouri Expedition. 

During his long imprisonment, Lt. Visart began the study of medicine by reading books and prepared himself for admittance to medical school once he was paroled. He later got his degree from the University of Michigan Medical School and then returned to Arkansas to practice in DeWitt.

Edward wrote the letter to his “friend” Myra McAlmont (1846-1918), the daughter of Dr. John Josephus McAlmont (1821-1896), an 1843 graduate of the Geneva (NY) Medical College. He moved to Arkansas in 1850 and settled in Little Rock in 1852 where he practiced medicine and partnered with Solon Borland in a drug store. Myra married Francis (“Frank”) Terry Vaughan (1846-1916) in 1866. During the Civil War, Frank served in Capt. John G. Marshall’s Battery, Arkansas Light Artillery. He was very seriously wounded at the Battle of Helena, losing his left arm and receiving additional wounds in his right hand and breast. Myra’s uncle, Dr. Corydon Hanks McAlmont (1827-1862) served in Rust’s Brigade during the Civil War but after Corinth, returned to Little Rock where he rendered Confederate service in the hospital.

In September 1863, Union troops occupied Little Rock, Arkansas, and opened up communication and travel for Little Rock residents, such as Mrya, to travel North and visit relatives in Hornellsville, New York, where her parents had come from. Prior to September 1863, such travel would have been difficult and required passes to cross enemy lines.

(left to right) Mrs. John J. McAlmont, her daughter Myra McAlmont, and Miss Julia McAlmont, sister-in-law of Mrs. McAlmont. (ca. 1860)


Addressed to Miss Myra McAlmont, Hornellsville, New York

Fort Delaware, Delaware
August 2, 1864

My Dear Friend,

Your welcome letter of the 29th ult., cane duly to hand last evening. Yours and Frank’s letters are always so interesting, so “talkative” of home (I mean Little Rock). I was much amused at yours and Frank [Vaughan]’s dialogue while reading it. I imagined myself there and thought it was “my put in” and spoke out accordingly; was reminded of it by a bystander who asked me if it was “much funny.” Lieut. Halliburton received a letter from his friend J. B. Garrison written at Little Rock; he and Henry Halliburton are prisoners. Were captured at Col. H.’s July 5th. Gulware and Garrison were married on the 15th of May last. I have written to Hal. I did not know Miss Agnes Colter. I will expect you this fall. I believe you will get to come.

Miss Myra, I do not know how to thank you for your kind offer. You offer to do more than I could even ask a relation. I do not yet particularly need anything. I have clothing enough to do me till winter. Lieut. H. received a box of eatables last week from a lady in Baltimore. It was a nice treat being the first thing of the kind we have had since our sojourn North. I will accept the Anatomy. I prefer “Gray’s Human & Surgical.” I suppose it will have to be sent by Express to Lieut. E. Visart, Prisoner of War, Care of Capt. G. W. Ahl, A.A.A. Gen’l, Fort Delaware. If your Aunt will send a “ham” &c. and you some biscuits &c, box them up with the Anatomy. Get Frank to Express them. They will come safely & be very acceptable. I would not have you go to any expense to make up a box. When you write home, remember me kindly to all.

We are again allowed to receive papers. Should you get another Little Rock paper, send again. I may be more fortunate next time. I fear the “Bushwhackers” have interrupted my communication with Miss Georgie. I have not heard from her in some weeks. Lieut. H. joins me in love to you & Frank [Vaughan]. I cannot do your letters justice on one page but it is all I dare write. Write soon. I remain most respectfully, your true friend, — Edward Visart

Heard from Capt. Blocher. All’s well. I was not forgotten in the reorganization. Am now 1st Lieutenant. — E. V.

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