1864: E. Amedee Dolhonde and Robert Goldsmith to Isabel Goshorn

These three letters were written by Pvt. Amedee Dolhonde (E. A. Doland) of Co. B, 8th Louisiana Infantry. Joining him in signing the letter was Sgt. Robert Goldsmith of Co. G, 8th Alabama Infantry.

Confederate Prisoners of War at Camp Douglas in Chicago (Civil War in Tennessee Collection)

Amedee Dolhonde (1840-Aft1880) was the son of Jean Baptiste Dolhonde (1798-1860) and Josephina Carolie de Alpuente (180901869) of New Orleans, Louisiana. Apparently, during the war, Amedee signed the payroll “E A. Doland” to simplify his name. During much of the time he was with the regiment, Amedee served as a clerk, presumably because of his excellent handwriting. He was taken prisoner at Gettysburg on 3 July 1863. His muster records include an unusual notation: “Captured in Penn., never fired a gun, took the oath, a skulker & coward.” Another record indicates that he deserted in Pennsylvania and was captured at South Mountain on 4 July 1863. He was paroled at Fort McHenry, Maryland, and transferred to Fort Delaware on 9 July 1863. It appears that he took the oath of allegiance in December 1864. After the war, Ameede returned to New Orleans where he worked as a fisherman.

Robert Goldsmith enrolled as a private in Co. G, 8th Alabama Infantry at Mobile on 25 May 1861. His muster records indicate he went missing at the Battle of Gettysburg and subsequent records inform us that he was taken prisoner on 2 July 1863 and taken to Fort Delaware. He remained a prisoner there until his release on 10 May 1865.

All three of the letters were addressed to Miss Belle Groshorn of Wheeling, West Virginia. Belle’s last name was misspelled; it should have been Goshorn. Isabel Goshorn (1840-1919) was the daughter of a Wheeling dry goods merchant named William Scott Goshorn (1814-1891) and his wife, Priscilla Jane Zinn (1821-1878). Mr. Goshorn was up to the time of the Civil War an Old Line Whig, but afterwards was a Democrat, and through the war his sympathies were with the South. He was a slave owner, and an incident is recalled by his death which made a stir all over the country at the time. A slave woman named Lucinda Johnson (note: her name was Sarah Lucy Bagby) ran away from him and escaped to Cleveland, Ohio. “Mr. Goshorn went after her, reclaimed her and brought her back. Anti-slavery agitators and others in Northern Ohio sought to prevent her return to Virginia and there were exciting scenes in which Mr. Goshorn had a close rub, the populace having been much stirred up by the discussion of the matter and being in a mood to do any slaveholder bodily injury.”

In 1870, Isabel married Joseph S. Irwin (1830-1876).

Sketch of Fort Delaware Prison in March 1864 (Boston Athenaeum Digital Collections)

Letter 1

Addressed to Miss Belle Groshorn, Wheeling, West Virginia

Fort Delaware, Delaware
17 October 1864

Miss Belle Groshorn
Dear Friend,

Having heard of your many acts of charity towards prisoners of war, I am resolved to ask your kind assistance in my behalf and friend, Maj. Mr. R. Goldsmith of Alabama. It may be in your power to allow our wants. Yuor name is furnished to us by a fellow prisoner. He reassured us that our letter would be received by you kindly. We have no friends or relations here in the North to whom we could apply to. As our clothes are nearly worn out and we have no prospect of getting any which will leave us naked for the coming cold winter, I feel a delicacy in applying to you but my actual necessity compels me to such a course of beg[ging] your kind assistance. And could you know our care here, or form an idea of our situation, I know you would not think hard of us for the boldness we have taken.

If you could only send us some clothes, at present we can only thank and bless you, but you will have the prayers of a fond mother and sisters at home whom are lost to us since we have been prisoners here in Fort Delaware.

Dear friend, we assure you as gentlemen and soldiers of the Southern army of which we claim to be, we will repay you as soon as we are set free from here. Our cause may look dark at present but a brighter day is to come for God will not always let his poor creatures suffer but will fix a way to effect a change in our prospect. We are as firm as ever and all we want is to be sent back to our army so we can make up for lost time and leave this awful Union. Hoping this may meet your kind approbation and to hear from you soon, we remain your sincerely friends,

— E. A. Doland, 7th Louisiana
R. Goldsmith, 8th Alabama

P. S. My height is 5 feet 6 inches, hat No. 7, Shoes No. 7
My friends is 5 feet 10 inches, hat No. 7, Shoes No. 9

In case you shall send us something, address on box, in care of Capt. George Wahl, A. A. A. G., Fort Delaware with a small note for us inside.

Letter 2

Addressed to Miss Belle Groshorn, Wheeling, Va.

Fort Delaware
2nd November 1864

Dear Friend,

Yesterday we received your letter dated the 23rd inst. which I assure you was a God send to us. We can not thank you sufficiently for your kindness and providence has sent you to befriend us in a wonderful manner. I hope and trust that we will be able to prove our gratitude hereafter. We will send you the permit in this small note hoping that you will have no trouble in shipping the articles. Our next will be longer. We remain, your most sincerely,

— E. A. Doland & R. E. Goldsmith

Letter 3

Addressed to Miss Belle Groshorn, Wheeling, West Virginia

Fort Delaware
29 November ’64

Miss Belle Groshorn
Dear Friend,

Have some time ago received the permission from the kind Capt. George Wahl to receive the clothes you have already prepared for me, and friend, I immediately sent the permit to you and I can’t see how you did not receive it. It must have been mislaid or lost, for the Captain promised me to sign and mail the permit.

Hoping you mat be successful in getting this one, and that you’ll have no trouble whatever in shipping the clothes, and may God bless you. We remain your most devoted friends, — E. A. Doland, R. Goldsmith

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