1863: Unidentified Deserter to Nelson Goodrich

This letter is unsigned and since there is no accompanying envelope to provide us with the location of its recipient—Nelson Goodrich—we can only speculate on their identity. We learn from the letter that the author is a Union deserter who has gone to London where he has found employment driving an omnibus in the city. He has left a wife and slipped a separate letter to her in the envelope with this letter. My hunch is that it was addressed to the Rev. Nelson Goodrich, A methodist clergyman in New London, Connecticut, who may have been a trusted friend that would assist him while keeping his location a secret.

The author implies that he was deceptively enticed into the service but deserted when he realized what was happening. He may have been a former sailor and had the means to readily sign onto a crew bound for London.

[Note: This letter come from the private collection of Richard Weiner and is published by express consent.]

An omnibus in London, ca 1860


London [England]
March 8, 1863

Nelson Goodrich, Sir

I wrote you a few lines to inform you that I am well at present and I hope these few lines will find you and the rest of your family enjoying the same blessing. You must excuse me for not writing before. I suppose you heard that I deserted. I found out that we were going to be sold to another man and that Captain Whitmer never intended to go with the company and I saw no signs of any pay. In fact, there was a great deal of deception every way so I made up my mind to leave as I knew how to do it.

I have not time to write much this time but I will write again soon. I will enclose a letter in this envelope for my wife and I wish you would be so kind as to send it to her if you know where she is for I don’t know but she has moved.

I am in London driving bus for a hotel.

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