Andrew Knox (1837-1925) was born in England and settled in Danbury, Connecticut, sometime before 1860. In that year, he married an 18-year-old named Sarah J. Morgan (1841-1911). Knox was working as a painter when the Civil War broke out, and in April 1861, he was mustered into Company E, 1st Connecticut Volunteers, served his term of three months, and received an honorable discharge. He re-enlisted and was mustered into Co. B, 1st Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery on May 12, 1862, at the rank of second lieutenant, but was promoted to first lieutenant 11 days later.
Along with his regiment, Knox participated in the battles of Yorktown, Gaines’ Mill, Hanover Courthouse, Malvern Hill, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. He survived the war and returned to Danbury, where he continued to work as a painter. By 1880, James and Sarah had six children living at home.
A collection of Knox letters are housed at the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan: “The Andrew Knox papers are comprised of six letters from Knox to his wife Sarah, written between July 31, 1862, and October 2, 1864. The letters convey rare and perceptive details about his locations and equipment, as well as deep affection for his wife and infant. In his letter of July 31, 1862, Knox described his pride in his regiment’s accomplishments after receiving accolades from Gen. George McClellan. In the next letter in the collection, dated August 3, 1864, and written from Union Headquarters in City Point, Virginia, Knox mentioned a nearby prison with 600 Confederate soldiers and a ride on a tugboat, on which he had “a pleasant little sail.” Knox seemingly took a great interest in his equipment and wrote a detailed description of it for his wife: “The 13 inch mortar I have charge of is on a car made especially for it to be fired from. The mortar is a big thing. I weighs 17,185 # without the bed, and throws a shell when loaded weighing 230 #” (August 5, 1854). Knox also speculated about strategy and future movements, as in his September 19, 1864, letter: “In regard to the expected battle down here, I do not think there will be any serious one for a long time unless the enemy makes the attack… My own observations lead me to think we will hold these lines for a long time. Many forts of a permanent nature are being made along the whole front. And the front lines are being retired in the rear of the forts in many places” (September 19, 1864).”
Hampton near Fortress Monroe, Va.
April 5th 1862
My Dear Wife,
I received your letter of the 30th inst. but have not received any since that one. We are now close to Fortress Monroe expecting to move forward every hour to Yorktown and Richmond. While I write, the advance has commenced the fighting at Yorktown. Our gunboats are shelling the batteries at Yorktown. The army expects to carry the town tonight. The flower of the Army of the Potomac is at this place. You will probably hear all about the events that transpire before you receive this letter.
Our regiment is second to none in the army. Gen. McClellan is with this division. It is about seventy thousand strong. I think Richmond will be ours. The regiment is camped at the town of Hampton—or what is left of it. There is nothing but a few hundred chimneys standing.
We left Fort Scott on 2nd day of April. I expected a letter from you before I went away but was disappointed in not receiving one. I hope you are all well. I have been exceedingly well since I have been down here. An active campaign suits me to a charm. We are sleeping on the ground in the tents but do not expect to have tents much longer.
When I was in Fort Scott, I was just as comfortable as I was at home but goodbye to all that. We have been reduced down to one carpet bag for our buggy. I carry all my traps in that—one blanket comprises my stock of bed clothes. It does not take long to make up the bed, you see.
I do not know if you have received my last letter yet. I sent $60.00 to you in it. If Mr. White comes after those brushes, save some of the largest and the oblong one I sheared [?].
You be sure and write as often as you can. I do not think my letters will reach you until the present move is completed. It may be two weeks before you get them. I think yours will reach me by sending to Washington D. C.
I was over to Washington a week ago and saw a trunk marked C. T. S. from Danbury. Supposing it was Charles Stevens, I looked to the book of the hotel to see if he was there but could not find him booked.
Five my love to all the friends and rest assured that I shall not forget my dear Sarah—my kindest love—and many kisses to you. So goodbye. Yours, — Andrew
Direct to Lieut. A. Knox, 1st Regt. Conn. Vols. Artillery, Washington D. C.