1862: William Henry Taft to John Taft

I could not find an image of William but here is a CDV of Lt. Joseph B. Abbott who served as the Adjutant of the 137th New York Infantry (Photo Sleuth)

This letter was written by William Henry Taft (1827-1862), a carriage maker from Caroline Centre, Tompkins county, New York, who enlisted in September 1862 and was made 2nd Lt. of Co. K, 137th New York Infantry. In this 8 October 1862 letter to his wife, Phebe Robins, William shares some information about the regiment’s location and of an anticipated fight with Stonewall Jackson who had long since re-crossed the Potomac River returning to Virginia after the Maryland Campaign.

William’s military career was incredibly brief. He died of typhoid fever on 30 October 1862 at Knoxville, Maryland (see telegram below).

William was the son of John Taft (1795-1876) and Arethusa Gould (1794-1868).

Telegram relaying the news that “Wm. H. Taft is dead. His wife has started with corpse. Will be at Caroline Depot Monday morning. — R. Pierson


Addressed to Mr. John Taft, Caroline Centre, Tompkins county, New York

Pleasant Valley, Maryland
October 8, 1862

Dear Father,

As I have about ten minutes leisure time, I thought that I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and enjoying myself first rate. Our boys are all very well and like it down here in Maryland. We have to lay down on the ground to write.

I went up on Maryland Heights day before yesterday. There you can look all around for twenty miles and see perhaps 200,000 soldiers in camp. We could see McClellan’s army and Burnside’s division and just above here Burnside’s army lays in wait for [Stonewall] Jackson’s force. They expect to have a big fight in a few days with Jackson. They have got him surrounded so that he has got to fight or surrender soon. They say here that Jackson lost thirty thousand in killed & wounded at the least when he came into Maryland before.

The weather is very warm and dry here—about like our warm Augusts.

Tell the folks to write often. Direct to 137th Regt. New York State Volunteers, Washington D. C.

Yours in haste, — Lieut. Wm. H. Taft

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