The following letter was written by David Higgins Van Valkenburg (1823-1862), the son of Jacob Van Valkenburgh (1795-1879) and Mary Bethia Higgins (1793-1871). David was born in Plattsburg, Steuben county, New York, and was married in December 1852 to Elizabeth Humphrey in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where he was enumerated in the 1860 US Census as a “Dry Goods Merchant.” His son, William (“Willey”) Gilbert Van Valkenburg (1854-1934) was born in September 1854.
According to his biographical sketch, David was a sheriff in Manitowoc county at one time. When the Civil War began, David joined the 1st New York Light Artillery, mustering in as Major of Battery A on 26 October 1861. During the Battle of Fair Oaks (or “Seven Pines”) on 31 May 1862, after both of his superior officers had been killed, David took command of the battery and was shot and killed instantly. That David’s battery was in the thick of the fight is demonstrated by the number of casualties and the loss of 100 horses. The battery with all its camp and garrison equipage was captured by the enemy. The company was so reduced in strength that it was not even reconstituted; the survivors were reassigned to Battery H.
Camp near Yorktown, [Virginia]
April 30th 1862
My dear son Willey,
How do you do? Ma says you are a very good boy and help Grandpa to make garden. You must tell him that you are but a small boy and not very strong and he must not work you too hard. You used to like to make garden when you were at home. Do you like it as well as you used to? Was you glad to see Uncle Bill and did he tell you all about Walter and Ida and your other Manitowoc friends?
You must be a good boy so that Ma can always write me a good account when she writes. Do you go to school now? You must try to learn so that when Pa comes home you will know most as much as he does. Kiss Grandpa, Grandma, and Ma lots of times for me and there are a whole pile in here for you. Goodbye. Your own PaPa., — D. H. VanValkenburg
One thought on “1862: David Higgins Van Valkenburg to William G. Van Valkenburg”
Davids brother Garrett joined the Confederate Unit in Arkansas but his other brother (Robert, Edward, Barth all joined the Union Forces. Robert went on to service as Trade Commisoner in Japan.