1864: William H. Doster to his Aunt

This letter was written by 32 year-old William H. Doster. He and Quartermaster Sergeant Edward P. Paul, also mentioned in the letter, were members of Hilliard’s Legion, Alabama Volunteers. This command went into camp at Montgomery, Alabama, and served in eastern Tennessee.

I could not find an image of William but here is one of Francis M. Sconyers of Coosa County who served with William in Hilliard’s Legion and later in the 59th Alabama Infantry. (Case Auctions)

After fighting in the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia, Sept. 19-20, 1863, the 59th Alabama Infantry was created in November, 1863, at Charleston, Tennessee, from remnants of the 2nd and 4th Battalions, Hilliard’s Alabama Legion. Many of the men from Coosa county who served in Capt. Walden’s Co. B (like Doster) were placed in Co. K of the 59th Alabama. The regiment was assigned to General Gracie’s Brigade, took part in the Knoxville Campaign, then moved to Virginia where it lost heavily at Drewry’s Bluff and in June, 1864, had a force of about 240 men. Later it participated in the long Petersburg siege north of the James River and in various conflicts around Appomattox.

This letter was datelined in early September 1864 from Dinwiddie County. The battle reports of the regiment inform us that “the last two fights” in which the regiment suffered 14 men killed, wounded, and missing referred to skirmishes at Petersburg and the Battle of the Crater.

[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Greg Herr and was transcribed and published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]


Dinwiddie County, Virginia
September 3rd 1864

Dear Aunt Cole,

I received your letter yesterday and was glad to hear from you all. I am always glad to get a letter from you as I am to get one from home. You give me the news. I got one from Uncle Jo yesterday and he said Uncle Cole was making some Stagger Juice & supposed Pa would make some too. I am in hopes they will make enough to supply their wants & some to spare to their friends.

“I got [a letter] from Uncle Jo yesterday and he said Uncle Cole was making some Stagger Juice & supposed Pa would make some too. I am in hopes they will make enough to supply their wants & some to spare to their friends.”

—William H. Doster, 59th Alabama Infantry, 3 Sept. 1864

I will give you a sketch of the crops in this country. Corn is very good and everything else. I have not eat more corn than I ever eat in my life. The stealing you need not be uneasy about. Uncle Gran [?] he is better off than any of us is today. He has just what any of us would of done. And when I am treated the way he was, I am going the same way.

I saw Edward Paul the other day and he told me he was all right if he will stay. So you will hear from him soon, I guess. The reason I didn’t write more, I was afraid to write & did just as I thought best. He was treated worse than I ever intend to be by any passel of dogs.

I want you to write as soon as you get this and give me all the news in your neighborhood. We will go on picket tomorrow morning and I think we will have some fun if not before. The Yanks is very saucy. We lost 14 men out in the last two fights—four killed on the field, nine wounded and one missing. I am in hopes the war will soon come to a close.

The weather is getting very cool here now. I will bring this scribbling to a close as I don’t know anything else to write. Write soon. From your nephew, — W. H.

Give my love to your Pa and Matt & the rest of the family.

— Wm. H. Doster

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