Category Archives: 5th Connecticut Infantry

1861: William Fuller to Mary Ellen Leavenworth

This letter was written by William Fuller (1837-1877), the son of Richard and Maria (Parrott) Fuller of Vermont. He wrote the letter to his friend (later wife) Mary Ellen Leavenworth (1846-1930). After the couple were married in 1863, they resided in West Haven, Connecticut, where William worked as a carriage maker. He died young on 28 June 1877 and was buried in the town of Roxbury, Litchfield county, Connecticut.

Twenty-four year-old William Fuller enlisted in the 5th Connecticut Infantry on 22 July 1861 and was made first sergeant of Co. D. He served under Captain David F. Lane of Hartford. According to a history of the regiment by E. E. Marvin (1889), William was taken prisoner on 25 May 1862 at Winchester. A family biography states that he spent four months in Libby Prison. He was exchanged on 15 September 1862 and discharged for disability in mid-February 1863.

In this letter, William mentions the “bad managed affair” at Ball’s Bluff and Edward’s Ferry on 21-22 October 1862 and reassures his friend that, “They will soon receive a blow from us that they will long remember and will make them feel the power of [our] noble Union army. I think the war will be short and decisive.”

See also—The Desertion of Edward Arthur Elliott, 5th Conn. Infantry on Spared & Shared 19.

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


Addressed to Miss Mary E. Leavenworth, West Haven, State of Connecticut

Camp near Muddy Branch
November 12th 1861

Dear Friend,

Yes, I am fully convinced that you are a friend to me in every respect and you can be well assured that I am the same to you. I remember a few lines that a friend of mine wrote in the back part of my writing book that made a lasting impression on my mind. they were as follows:

“A constant friend is harder to find and if you find one that is true, change not an old one for a new.”

I received your last on the 18th. The reason of my letters being so long getting to you is our mails do not go regular. If it storms very much, they are delayed. The storm you spoke of reached us here. It raged for 24 hours most terrifically blowing and raining without ceasing. It makes it very unpleasant for the soldiers. We have to be out nearly as much in stormy weather as in pleasant.

There is no mistake that our troops suffered very much at the affair of Edward Ferry. It was a very bad managed affair. Our men were led to a complete trap and scattered like cattle without a chance for their lives. I am very glad our regiment was not there. They will soon receive a blow from us that they will long remember and will make them feel the power of [our] noble Union army. I think the war will be short and decisive.

This is a very pleasant morning for this season of the year. I ave just come in from usual morning work and take these few leisure moments to write to you thinking that I cannot put them to a better purpose. My duties are not quite as arduous as they were when I was in Hartford although I am busy most of the time. I have a good deal of care on my mind which keeps me busy thinking and writing when I am not otherwise engaged.

It is impossible for me to express my pleasure in receiving your letter—they are balm carried to many a wounded heart and joy to many a downcast spirit. Yes, through the silent medium of the pen, your letters are of more value to me than silver or gold. It is a great consolation to me to know that I have sympathizing friends at home. It reminds [me] that I have something to work for. I didn’t come here through selfish motives but i came to help to sustain that government that our fore fathers fought and bled to establish that we might live under the protections and enjoy its liberties.

If you could see the works of the secession soldier, it would make you weep. They ravish the country where ere they go. They pay no regards to the most sacred rights of the homes and firesides of private citizens. They rob the widow of her sole dependence—her sons, and impress them into their infamous armies and grossly insult and even murder the aged parent and innocent maiden. These are the kinds of beasts we are contending against. God grant that they may never set their unhallowed feet one inch farther north than they now do to pollute the sacred soil of our noble, loyal states. I feel confident that they never will. I could relate many incidents of their barbarity to hard for my part to describe. It is the other way with us. we place guards over houses that are likely to be intruded upon by any ill disposed one.

I received letters from two of my sisters since I write to you. My mother is as well as usual. I don’t know how long we will stay in this place. I think it will not be long. You need—or I hope you will not—let your mind be so uneasy. Let fond hope cheer your lonely hours. Let us both look forward to the time when we shall meet again and when we [will] be blessed with peace in our land.

Yes, Mary, I know just what kind of a set you are surrounded by. Keep yourself, or keep them to a respectable distance. They would lead you astray. It gives me great pleasure to hear that you look upon them in the light you do. I am happy to hear that you are well. Cling to your health. Preserve it as you do the memory of a dear friend. I am well and hope these few lines will find you the same. My folks send love to you through me.

I send my undivided and never failing love to you. From William. Write soon. Direct as usual.

1864: Unidentified Henry to his Wife

This letter was written by a soldier named Henry who served in the 5th Connecticut Infantry. This regiment fought with the Army of Virginia in the East until the fall of 1863 when they were transferred to the Army of the Cumberland and assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 20th Army Corps.

Henry Cornwall Clark, possible author of letter

The soldier did not sign his last name but he mentions being transported to his regiment in Stevenson, Alabama, where the regiment was sent in the fall of 1863. Most likely he was either a wounded or sick soldier held in the hospital on Bedloe’s Island (where the Statue of Liberty sits today in New York Harbor) and was being transported along with recruits or draftees to Alabama in time to participate in Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign. He mentions only one traveling companion, Bob Warner, who was a private in Co. B, 5th Connecticut. Bob had been wound in in 1863 and was most likely hospitalized with Henry. Bob had been transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps but then transferred back, presumably thinking he could endure the two months he had left to serve with his regiment. Henry writes of being plagued by pains that he feels certain will enable him to get his discharge once properly examined by a physician after getting back to his regiment. One possibility is that the author might be Henry Cornwall Clark (1836-1912) of Granville, Massachusetts, who also served in Co. B, 5th Connecticut. Henry and his wife, Lauretta Moore, were married on 21 April 1863—only a year previous. I cannot prove he was the author, however.

The Zollicoffer House in Nashville, only partially constructed when the Civil War began, was used extensively as a prison for Confederate POWs. Many of them were housed there on temporary floors that had been constructed as makeshift barracks inside the structure, and many of them were killed or mangled when the flooring collapsed on 29 September 1863. By the time Henry and his traveling companions were quartered there, there was still no roof and the upper floors were partially collapsed. After the war, a 1st Wisconsin Cavalry Quartermaster Sergeant named James Waterman remembered the Zollicoffer House as being “more like a prison than a barracks for civilized beings, and was a disgrace to the service.”

Fort Harker just outside of Stevenson, Alabama


Stevenson, Alabama
May 11, 1864

My Darling & Beloved Wife,

I take this opportunity of writing you a few lines to let you know where I am and how I am getting along. I don’t feel any better than I have felt. My back and side troubles me considerable but I could not get any examination anywhere on the road. But if the regiment is stationed in the same place, I shall ask for my discharge as soon as I get there and I will get it.

Zollicoffer House in Nashville during the war

But I hope these few lines will find my darling enjoying first rate health. I hope that you received the letter that I wrote from Louisville the 8th of this month in which I told you about our treatment from Bedloe’s Island to Cincinnati. But from Cincinnati to this place we was treated a little better. But when we was in Nashville we put up at the largest hotel in the City. It was called the Zollicoffer House but it was not half finished. There was no covering on the roof and when it rained, it came right down through on to the ground floor. We arrived there about half past five in the afternoon and stayed until the next morning about 11 o’clock when we took the cars for this place and just outside of Nashville I saw a great many new made graves. And for about 4 or 5 miles you could see graves and entrenchments where there had been engagements.

And when we got to Murfreesboro, there was very strong entrenchments which encircled the whole town so the rebs would have a hard time getting in there. There was one place we came through called Wartrace and it was rightly named for it showed traces of a war party and as our train came thundering into the depot, there was quite a tumult such as the ringing of bells and gongs which one could hear above the noise of the train.

We arrived here about half past 4 in the morning and had to stand around about an hour before we could find out where we was going to put up but at last we found a place and Bob Warner 1 and two other men belonging to the Fifth and myself went into quarters together.

I have borrowed about 75 cents of Bob to get some paper and stamps so that I could write to you but I don’t expect to hear from you until I get somewhere to stay a spell and then I will want to have you write for it would only be a waste of paper and stamps. But I have not got much more to write so I will draw to a close for this time. So give my best respects to all and keep all of my love to yourself with 50 million kisses.

So good day hoping to see you before long, I remain your ever loving and affectionate husband, — Henry

To his darling little [ ]. You need not write until you hear from me again. So good day, darling pet.

1 Robert (“Bob”) Warner of Hartford, was a private in Co. B, 5th Connecticut Infantry. He was wounded on 8 August 1862 at Cedar Mountain, Virginia, and again on 23 November 1863 (place unknown). He was transferred to Co. G, 20th Veteran Reserve Corps on 11 January 1864 and re-transferred to the 5th Connecticut on 26 March 1864. He was discharged on 22 July 1864 when his term expired.