1863: Walter Guppy Hole Duckett to John B. Sayles

Walter G. Duckett, ca 1875

Walter G. Duckett, ca 1875

This letter was written by Walter Guppy Duckett (1841-1909), the son of John Hole (1818-1844) and Ann Guppy (1813-1871) of Skaneateles, Onondaga County, New York. After Walter’s father died in 1844, his mother remarried Edward Duckett (1809-1888) who adopted Walter.

Walter enlisted in August 1862 in the 138th New York Infantry. As mentioned in the letter, this regiment was later reassigned as the 9th New York Heavy Artillery and Duckett was placed in Company K. Duckett served on the headquarters staff of Major Taft at Fort Gaines until he was detached as a hospital steward in Washington D. C. with the 2d Battalion at Fort Foote. Duckett was taken prisoner by a Reb wearing a Union uniform on 9 July 1864 between Monocacy Junction and Frederick City on the turnpike. He escaped while on the march southward. His account is captured in the regimental history of the 9th New York Heavy Artillery (p. 307-309).

Duckett wrote the letter to his friend, John B. Sayles of Skaneateles, New York, who would later (December 1863) join Co. L of the 9th New York Heavy Artillery and die of pneumonia in March 1864 in a Washington D. C. hospital while recovering from the measles.

TRANSCRIPTION

Headquarters
Fort Gaines
January 20th 1863

This evening I will attempt to redeem the promise I made you to write. For the past few weeks we have been busy building “barracks” and quarters, &c. I have now got good quarters (much better than barracks). I have got the tent that Lieut. Col. William H. Sward occupied. It is about 10 feet square and affords ample room for Ben and myself. The “wall tents” are entirely proof against rain.

I have been to the city today (Washington). Major [Edward P.] Taft, who had command of this post, started for home this evening on a furlough. I went to the city with him, He has been quite sick with the jaundice. I think a god deal of the Major. He is very lenient to me. He has never yet refused me a favor or a pass.

At noon I went up to the Senate Chamber. The President ¹ had just called the Senate to order. They were considering an amendment to a law relating to the Court of Claims ² and as it was not very interesting to me, I did not stay long but went into the Supreme Court which was then in session. I like to hear those able expounders of law argue for their respective clients. There are nine judges elected for life presiding over the court. I was very much struck with their inferior appearance. They reminded me of Catholic Priests with their robes on.

I suppose you have heard ‘ere this of our being changed into artillery. It is now a settled fact. We have received our new uniforms. I am much pleased with the change. This carrying knapsacks is not very pleasant though I have been fortunate enough to escape that partly.

January 22nd

John, I had to leave this night before last but will now finish it as it is a rainy, dreary day. It commenced raining yesterday morning and has rained most of the time since. This morning when I took the reports to headquarters, I found the mud nearly to my horse’s knees.

View from Capitol Dome in 1863; Patent Office is large white building at top of image.

View from Capitol Dome in 1863; Patent Office is large white building at top of image.

Well John, I suppose you would like to know what I think of war. I will not say much — only that I am fully convinced that it is a “humbug” or a war of speculation. I find that it is a fine thing for an officer to have plenty of patriotism when at home but when they get down here it is played out. Money and position are the only matters of consideration with them here. The more they can rob their “beloved country” (as they call it) the better they are suited. And if you could but be in the streets of Washington but for one hour, you would be fully convinced of the fact. Pennsylvania Avenue is constantly thronged with officers of all ranks who put up at the largest hotels and live in the best style and all this extravagance is at the expense of their beloved country.

The other day I was in the Patent Office and among priceless relicts contained in this the Nation’s casket was the clothes and camp equipment of that immortal hero and patriot Washington — the identical tent he used when enduring the hardships and perils to buy with blood the Union which we are now so weakly trying to perpetuate. Oh!! I could but wish that we might have a second Washington that those clothes might be doubly honored by again fighting the battles of freedom. But enough. If I were with you I could tell you more than I want to write now.

I will close by subscribing myself your friend, — Walter G. Duckett

P. S. Please give my love to Margaret, Mr. & Mrs. Weeks, and in short to all. Please thank Mrs. Weeks for me for her kindness in send[ing] us that nice cake. It made me think of other times. Now John, I hope to hear from you soon.

— W. G. D., Fort Gaines, Washington D. C.

P.S. Address: 9th Artillery, New York Vols., Washington D. C., Co. K

¹ The President of the Senate in January 1863 was Hannibal Hamlin — Lincoln’s Vice President.

² By January 1863, Congress recognized the need to control fraudulent claims against the government. They passed the False Claims Act on March 2, 1863.

 

Advertisements

About Griff

My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries. View all posts by Griff

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Spared & Shared 18

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Letters of Charley Howe

36th Massachusetts Volunteers

Sgt. Fayette A. Lacey

Co. B, 37th Illinois Volunteers

"These few lines"

the pocket memorandum of Alexander C. Taggart

The Civil War Letters of Will Dunn

Co. F, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers

Henry McGrath Cannon

Co. A, 124th New York Infantry & Co. B, 16th New York Cavalry

Civil War Letters of Frederick Warren Holmes

Co. H, 77th Illinois Volunteers

"Though distant lands between us be"

Civil War Letters of Monroe McCollister, Co. B, 6th OVC

"Tell her to keep good heart"

Civil War Letters of Nelson Statler, 211th PA

"May Heaven Protect You"

14th Connecticut drummer boy's war-time correspondence with his mother

Moreau Forrest

Lt. Commander in the US Navy during the Civil War

Diary of the 29th Massachusetts Infantry

Fighting with the Irish Brigade during the Peninsula Campaign

"Till this unholy rebellion is crushed"

Letters of Dory & Morty Longwood, 7th Indiana

"I Go With Good Courage"

The Civil War Letters of Henry Clay Long, 11th Maine Infantry

"This is a dreadful war"

The Civil War Letters of Jacob Bauer, 16th Connecticut, & his wife Emily

Spared & Shared 16

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Lloyd Willis Manning Letters

3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, Co. I

The Yankee Volunteer

A Virtual Archive of Civil War Likenesses collected by Dave Morin

William Henry Jordan

Co. K, 7th Rhode Island Infantry

No Cause to Blush

The Bancroft Collection of Civil War Letters

William A. Bartlett Civil War Letters

Company D, 37th Massachusetts Infantry

The John Hughes Collection

A Virtual Archive of his Letters, 1858-1869

The Civil War Letters of Rufus P. Staniels

Co. H, 13th New Hampshire Volunteers

This is Indeed A Singular War

The Civil War Letters of Henry Scott Murray, 8th New York Light Artillery

The Letters of James A. Durrett

Co. E, 18th Alabama Infantry

Spared & Shared 15

Saving History One Letter at a Time

The Civil War Letters of George Messer

Company F, 107th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Jeff's Prayers are as Effective as Abe's

The Civil War Letters of George S. Youngs, 126th New York Vols

Soldiering is a Very Uncertain Game

The Civil War Letters of Lemuel Glidden, Co. K, 145th Indiana Infantry

Tough as a Pitch Pine Knot

Letters of John Whitcomb Piper, 4th Massachusetts Heavy Artillery

An Honorable Peace

The Civil War Letters of Frank B. Knause, 6th Michigan Infantry & Heavy Artillery

Looking for a Rebel to Give him a Pop

Letters to & from Sgt. John Henry Ward, 93rd PA Inf

Civil War Letters of William H. H. Kinsey

Co. H, 28th Illinois Infantry

Spared & Shared 14

Saving History One Letter at a Time

The 1863 Diary of Thomas Wilbur Manchester

A Rhode Island Soldier in the American Civil War

The Daniels/Stone Digital Archives

A Collection of Family Civil War Era Letters & Ephemera

Spared & Shared 13

Saving Civil War History One Letter At A Time

Dear Nellie

Civil War Letters of Thomas L. Bailey

Homefront Letters to Mark Rankin

Co. B, 27th Massachusetts Vols.

%d bloggers like this: