1861: Joshua Dawson Todd to James Todd

USS St. Louis by Gunner Moses Lane during her cruise in the Mediterranean from 1852 to 1855.

USS St. Louis by Gunner Moses Lane during her cruise in the Mediterranean from 1852 to 1855.

This letter was written by 44 year-old Lt. Joshua Dawson Todd (1817-1861), the son of Samuel Poultney Todd (1791-1858) and Rebecca Ann Dawson (1790-1861). Samuel had a career in the US Navy as a purser moving his family from Washington D.C., to Philadelphia, and to Brooklyn. Joshua wrote the letter to his brother, James Todd (1813-18xx) who worked as a clerk in Brooklyn.

Like his father, Joshua made his career in the U.S. Navy. He appears to have served on the U. S. Sloop of War St. Louis as early as 1850. In this letter he tells his brother that the crew of the St. Louis suffered significant illness while on their last cruise and that the ship was lacking critical equipment to make it effective. “We have been treated shamefully,” he told his brother. He also expresses concern for his widowed mother’s health who, unbeknownst to him, had already expired on 9 August. The Philadelphia Inquirer of 30 December 1861 reported that Lt. Todd died just four months later on Christmas Day “at his residence in Brooklyn.”

In January 1861, the St. Louis was part of the Home Squadron fleet based at Pensacola, Florida. The ship was recalled from Veracruz to return to Pensacola to stand guard during the turmoil which preceded the outbreak of the American Civil War. In April, she aided in the reinforcement of Fort Pickens; then joined in the massive blockade of southern ports. On 5 September, she assisted Brooklyn in the capture of blockade-running Confederate brig, Macao, at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

TRANSCRIPTION

U.S. Ship St. Louis
August 20th 1861

Dear Jim,

I wrote to you day before yesterday but as the steamer Rhode Island has unexpectedly been detained, I add a few lines to go by the same conveyance. We are all looking anxiously for our relief and suppose we will sail for home as soon as the Preble arrives. She was at Key West when the Rhode Island left there two weeks since, and would sail in a day or two for Fort Pickens. The Flag Officer has orders to land us North as soon as a vessel can be sent to relieve us.

I think we have been treated shamefully. The ship should have been ordered North immediately after the reinforcement of Pickens. She had then been on the station and the worst part of it, two years and three months, and employed on the sickly coast of Nicaragua fifteen months of the time, officers and crew suffering from the effects of climate and long confinement on board ship. As an instance of the effects of climate, we have sent home sick during the cruise at least one third of the ship’s company and now have quite a number of men whose term of service has expired and who are fully entitled to their discharges. Besides we have reported months since that the ship was deficient in necessary articles to render her efficient and have made requisitions to supply them but without effect.

I mention the facts to you because many letters have appeared in the papers from other ships complaining when not a line has been written from this ship referring to the subject. As you may well believe, I am much distressed about our dear Mother and look anxiously for your letters.

Your affectionate brother, — Joshua

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

The Glorious Dead

Letters from the 23rd Illinois Infantry, the 111th Pennsylvania Infantry, the 64th New York Infantry, and the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry

Cornelius Van Houten

1st New Jersey Light Artillery

Letters of Charley Howe

36th Massachusetts Volunteers

Sgt. Major Fayette 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

%d bloggers like this: