1861: Wilbur Fisk Haughawout to his Family

The following letter was written by Wilbur Fisk Haughawout (1842-1914) of Co. H, 3rd Wisconsin Infantry. Wilbur enlisted at the age of 19 on 22 April 1861 as a private. He was wounded in the Battle of Antietam on 17 September 1862 and mustered out of the regiment on 18 July 1865 at Madison, Wisconsin.

I could not find an image of Wilbur but her is a CDV of Henry Isbell of Co. B, 3rd Wisconsin Infantry. Like Wilbur, he enlisted in April 1861 and was wounded at the Battle of Antietam. (Marc Storch Collection)

A family history informs us that Wilbur was born in Brown county, Ohio, near Winchester, the son of Rev. Joshua Davis Haughawout and Amelia Stees. They lived for a while in Ohio but in 1844, Rev. Haughawout followed the emigrant’s trail westward, going to Lafayette county, Wisconsin in search of cheaper lands. “Locating near Galena, he entered land, and while improving a farm lived first in a double log cabin, an Indian family occupying the other half of the rude log house. He carried on farming for several years in that county, at the same time being a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal church. His last days were spent in Missouri and his death occurred at the age of seventy-six years of age. He married Amelia Steese, who belonged to a wealthy family of Union county, Pennsylvania. She was a daughter of William Steese, an officer in the Mexican War. She survived him, passing away at the age of 86 years, in Missouri.

“They were parents of twelve children—eight sons and four daughters. The following sons served in the Civil War: Wilbur F.; Frederick Steese, who was sergeant in Company I 16th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and who was wounded at the battle of Shiloh; Henry, a member of the same company as Frederick S., after the war was for eight years was postmaster at Webb City, Missouri, and then attorney at Caney, Kansas; Thomas Bond of the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry, at the close of the war located in Missouri, and until his death in Carthage, was one of the more celebrated criminal lawyers of Jasper county, which he served for one or more terms as county attorney; and John W., who belonged to the 23rd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.

“Very soon after the outbreak of the Civil War, Wilbur F. Haughawout enlisted in the 3rd Wisconsin Vol. Infantry, and was subsequently at the front in various engagements, including the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg. He took part in General Sherman’s glorious campaign, participating at Atlanta, Savannah and the Carolina’s under that great general and was present at the grand review in Washington D. C. after which he was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant.

Since locating in Jasper county, MO., Haughawout has been influential in advancing its material interests. Coming here from Wisconsin, he made the trip overland, traversing the country with teams, camping and tenting by the roadside. Arriving at his point of destination, he bought eighty acres of wild land in this part of the state, and met with such success in his agricultural labors that he was enabled from time to time to add to his original purchase, becoming owner of three hundred and forty acres of fine land, his estate, with its valuable improvements, becoming one of the best in the entire county. Mr. Haughawout subsequently leased the Quaker Flour Mills, on Spring River, and after leaving the mills wisely invested his money in Carthage property and has here erected eleven dwelling houses.”

[Note: The Wilbur F. Haughawout Papers are housed in the South Carolina Library.]


Frederick [Maryland]
September 25, 1861

Dear Pa, Brother and Sisters.

I embrace the present opportunity of writing a few lines to you to let you know that I am well at present. You said you had wrote 4 or 5 letters to me since I left Fond du Lac [Wisconsin]. I have received 6 letters from you besides 6 that I received from the rest of the folks so you see I receive all you write. I received a letter from you last night in which was 4 postage stamps. I thank you very much for the stamps but I could do very well without it. Has Mother gone to Ohio yet? If so, what company does she live in? I see you have not read the last letter I wrote you yet. That will keep you reading some time.

Father, I would like to know if the U. S. Treasury Notes are as good as the gold. We received our pay this morning up to the 1st of September. It amounted to $24.40 of which we received $20 in Treasury Notes and $4.40 in specie. Now I can trade the notes for gold at 1.5 cents discount but I shall not do it till I hear from you for I think it will bring a premium there. Now when you write, let me know what to do about it. I will not send it till I hear from you (I don’t think). I hardly know whether to send 15 or 20 dollars. I think I’ll send $20.

Some of the boys are strapped already. They borrowed money and bought things on credit. Now they see what good saving does. Some of the boys are very mad about the money. They wanted to get all in gold, but I think it is as good as gold.

In the afternoon, Lieut. [James G.] Knight has been to town. He says they are all anxious to get their notes. They give specie for them, dollar for dollar. I can get the gold for mine and lose nothing. Shall I send you the gold or notes? Please write immediately and let me know for I do not wish to have it on hand. I may send before you receive this.

It is reported that the rebels has got possession of Lexington, that our forces consisted of 2500 while there was 30,000. Now there is a skunk in the brush somewhere for every battle that has been fought yet, they have from three to twelve to our men. Why should this be when we have 500,000 men in the field and according to their own report they have 210,000 men. There is one thing certain—that we have enough men in the field to march through the entire South if properly managed.

I was talking with a teamster yesterday (that came here in one of the supply trains from Banks’ Division) that he had to run away from Martinsburg, Va., or go in the Southern Army. This was since the Bull Run fight. He said they would take the Union men, tie their hands behind their backs, them tumble them in a wagon and drive them to Winchester. There was 10 that run away the same time he did. He could tell instances of where brother would fight against brother. He knows several brothers that one is in our army and another in the Secesh. He has a brother-in-law in the Southern Army. He is a very good looking man, weighs over 200. His parents living in Virginia now with his wife and child. He has not heard from home since he left. He said they would drive up to a store, throw on all the pork they had, then give them Virginia script which he said was not worth a [shit] for Virginia was over 7 million dollars in debt before the war.

The soldiers there [in Virginia] has not received no pay as yet nor never will. They have not received their blankets. One boy wrote home to his poor widowed mother to send him some money and a blanket. The reason I believe it is true, he told it in good earnest and this Negro that run away from Johnson knows this fellow very well.

David or Silas received a letter from Mary Potter in which she told me some news. She said John had took to preaching. Is this true? Please let me know. Why don’t he and the rest of the boys write some. Are you going to do all the thrashing at once? How did the piece of wheat do that I sowed? Was it the best piece of wheat you had?

Word has been received here today that we are to stay here to guard this city and the regiment of Home Guards takes our place in Hamilton’s Brigade. I hope this is true. Tell Henry and Bond to write a little. Well, you see the paper has run out. — W. F. H.

I am getting along very well as far as health is concerned. I have better health than while at home. Now write and let me know what to do about the money. Your son.

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