1861-3: William Lewis Savage to Selah Savage

These letters were written by William Lewis Savage (1842-1909), the son of Selah Savage (1807-1894) and Sarah M. Meade (1817-1900) of Greenwich, Fairfield county, Connecticut. William enlisted in Co. I, 10th Connecticut Infantry on 2 October 1861. He was promoted to Sergeant Major on 18 February 1862, and was commissioned a 2d Lieutenant on 2 September 1863. He mustered out on 18 October 1864.


Annapolis [Maryland]
November 12, 1861

Dear Parents,

I received your letter yesterday afternoon and [was] very glad to hear from you. I also got one from the Doctor. It did me heaps of good. Tell him I’ll try and answer it pretty soon but the time is nearly all occupied, now-a-days. There is roll call, morning drill and breakfast which occupies most of the time until nine o’clock, at nine there is regimental drill when all turn out are drilled by Lieu. Colonel Drake, which lasts until about eleven. Then there is an hour until dinner which takes some time. At two we have company drill dismissed at four. At quarter to five, dress parade, which takes until dark. That’s the way our time is passed.

Once in while it comes a rainy day; then all hands turn in and write all day. They send off letters by the bushel or something. In other words, there are a great many sent. The sutler carries the letters to and from the city, paying one cent for every letter he delivers.

I got a pass to go to the city today, it being the first time I have been off the ground since we have been here except one day when I went off after straw for our beds (which we got of a secesh). I went to the city today to get my shoes mended for I found they were getting pretty thin about the bottoms. Annapolis I found quite a small place—not scarcely any business going on; not regularly laid out excepting that the principle streets nearly all lead to the State House which is quite a large building standing on a rise of ground. I believe it is quite an old building. It is said Gen. Washington resigned his commission in it. There is a large white wood or tulip tree in the city that measures upward of thirty-two feet around it. They say that [when] Washington and Lafayette first [met], that they shook hands under this tree.

There is one man in the regiment who has got an honorable discharge, half pay as long as his life continues in him, and one hundred dollars bounty, on his from Hartford to Annapolis. He got [a] bayonet wound which will probably cripple him for life. He is to be sent home tomorrow.

Yesterday we—some of us—got straw in our beds and didn’t we have a good sleep last night. But I must close as I have got some studying to do.

Tell the Doctor to write me another letter if he has an opportunity and I’ll think just as much of it—yes, a little more than if I’d have answered his.

Your affectionate son, — W. L. Savage



Newbern, [North Carolina]
June 23d 1862

My Dear Parents,

The long looked for has at last arrived. On Friday there was a small mail come in, but there was nothing for me. Saturday brought another and five for me dated 14 June, 7th, one from Grandfather, one from Tillie, as someone wrote to me there was no one in North Greenwich who had heard from her I will say this—she is well and was very busy. It took most of her time to pick flowers to pieces which I suppose is the reason she has not written more. Her letter was written as late as the thirteenth of June. And one from Amy. Yesterday brought us another mail when I received two more letters—one from home of the 15th [and] one from Dr. Hyde of the 17th [whom] I was very glad to hear from as I was from all.

I think Father’s plan of getting his more than just dues from Roys & Co. a very good one and which, if he should adopt it, would accomplish two objects—that of getting the old building covered, and also of getting something out of Mr. Roys & Co.  Further, I think it will make a good roof. One that will last. I should think he would be glad to get an opportunity to do something toward canceling that debt, at least to the interest, I think if it don’t trouble him, he must have a queer conscience. But enough.

Major [Daniel M.] Mead is getting quite strong again. The bed sores trouble him most of anything now. I suppose he will be coming home before a great while now. ¹

Lt. Thomas R. Mead was promoted to Captain of Co. I, 10th Connecticut; the beloved officer died five weeks after his promotion.

I don’t know who we shall have for our next captain but most of the company know who they want and would pretty generally unite on the same one. We all know who made Co. I what it is today—who taught us, in our first attempts, at being soldiers—could explain all the drill and make it plain to be understood—who commanded the attention of the men without reproving—could and [did] make it interesting—a [man] who today is as able and brave and well liked as the Tenth Regiment affords—who I think I may safely say understands the evolutions of the line (i.e. maneuvers of a regiment in the field, in line of battle, any other maneuvers) better than most of the Captains and all the Lieutenants. Then why shouldn’t we know who we want for our next Captain, and all be agreed. I believe he is liked by every private in the regiment. I never heard one say anything against him nor ever heard of his treating the lowest man as though he considered himself any better than him,; but I have often heard men of different companies speak of him as the man they wanted to be on guard with and Lieutenant [Thomas R.] Mead’s the man for me. ² And what you [ask is] the reason of all this? It is because he has studied to fit himself to his duties in the position he held and afterwards for any position to where he might attain. It has also been his study to gain love and respect at the same time for the entire control of those under his command. And he has succeeded admirably—not only of those under him immediately, but of the whole regiment. And now do you wonder why the boys are all united. I think not after all the reasons I have given.

Again you might ask, what objections to Lieutenant [Isaac Odle] Close, at present our First Lieutenant, and the commander. We have already seen enough to know that he knows little or nothing about battalion movements, and I’ll say nothing about simple company drill. I do not doubt but there [are] privates in the company who would do as well as he with one quarter the experience. I don’t think he has ever taken a great amount of pains to inform himself any more than was absolutely necessary. I might multiply. I might fill a sheet with good and strong objections to Lieutenant Close as Captain but I don’t want to say against him to his injury so I forbear. But Lieutenant [Close] is kind to his men and I know does as well as he knows how; but that don’t help the matter much. He always used me well enough.

I supposed you had heard before I wrote of Willis being promoted to corporal, I think, and some of the rest here think it was a good deal owing to the regards he had for a certain young lady that he was appointed to that office, He gets along very well, I guess. They have nothing to do more than privates except on guard and accompanying them off to the river and back. So it’s nothing very difficult to do it so it will pass. But there is few that do it as it should be done.

The pictures—I am glad you sent them—I think are very good. But yours looks as though you had too much to do and Roxa’s as though she was or had been sick. Looks thin. The Mr. Dibble you [mention] I have very frequently seem and know where his store is well. Also where he lives. Have seen him at church several times but never spoke with him. I saw him yesterday at the Presbyterian church accompanied by three of his children—or I took them to be such. The services were conducted by the Chaplain of the Twenty-third Mass. Regt. which was in attendance. His text was Romans 8. Twenty-eighth. Those dried apples are tip top. I am going to cook some this afternoon.

Capt. Atherton gets along better than he did at first. His company like him much better. You wish to know what rank Willis hold as corporal. I don’t know as there is any difference in the rank of corporals.

Obe is getting along finely. He was up to camp the other day and spent the day. He got up there before some of the boys were up. Rye down this way is about fit to cut. The picture I like very much but I do want father’s very much. I did [not] think I had so much to write or I should have taken another sheet.

Your affectionate son, — William L. Savage

¹ Daniel M. Mead was promoted from Captain of Co. I, 10th Connecticut, to Major of the regiment, but became ill in New Bern during the summer of 1862 and died on 19 September 1862 at Stamford, Connecticut. His residence was Greenwich.

² 2d Lieutenant Thomas R. Mead of Greenwich was promoted to Captain of Co. I, 10th Connecticut, when 1st Lt. Isaac Q. Close resigned on 19 September 1862 (same date that former Capt. Daniel M. Mead died). Unfortunately for the company, Capt. Thomas R. Mead died a little over a month after taking over command. His death date is given as 25 October 1862.



Newbern, North Carolina
June 28th 1862

My Dear Parents,

Another Saturday evening is with us. Another week is past and gone, “never to come back any more.” Oh how swiftly the weeks and months fly away to us here. But I suppose it does not go as swiftly to you at home who are anxiously waiting the course of events for the moving the great army which is necessarily very slow. “Slow and sure,” is an old motto, but one not much in vogue among the Yankee race. I think that this division of the army is on the eve of great “events.” It is said we shall move in a few days; there has been several small skirmishes lately between the forces in these parts.

Sunday morn. A steamer came in yesterday about noon bringing a mail and some of the soldiers that have been home on a furlough. Wm. Salter was one. He came up here yesterday afternoon. He looks as though he had been kept pretty well since he left. He didn’t have a great deal of news to tell us. He brought me some stamped envelopes which he got me in New York. There were thirty one of them. I guess I shan’t need any more at present. I have a good supply on hand now. I don’t think but what I can get along now as to the clothing part.

In yesterday’s mail I received one letter from home. It had two envelopes in it. I got no papers.

Some of the regiments here have marching orders and we are ready to march any hour, or it is supposed so. It is supposed we shall have orders to cook three days rations before we get orders to move away from here. But we may not move.

Capt. Daniel M. Mead was promoted to Major of the 10th Connecticut but died of illness in September 1862

I am in the Lieutenant’s tent writing this—it being the most comfortable and convenient place I can find—and he invites me to come in there and write any time I choose. I have not tried it before today. I find it very much more comfortable writing. Lieutenant says tell them I am going. I believe he thinks he is well enough to march. I guess all in our tent will go except Amos. He is quite unwell. I don’t know [what] is the matter with him. He has been complaining for some time now. There is quite a number that will not be able to go. We only have one commissioned officer with our company now. Capt. [Daniel] Mead has been promoted to Major and Lieutenant Camp is sick at the hospital and is therefore unable to go. The sergeants are all on duty but one. Corporals are on duty, two off.

It is very warm here just now and I am short of material to manufacture a letter out of. Major Mead still continues to improve but quite slowly. His sores trouble him considerable.

I can’t see the end of the war just yet. I was never sorry on my account yet, nor am I now, that I joined in this war. But I have been sorry many times on your account, dear parents. I think if I were at home I might do many things to relieve you and do many things for your comfort. But an all wise Providence ordered it to be thus. I trust for some wise end. And I trust that the same Being who has been over us both thus far will one day sooner or later permit us to meet again where we can join in a family circle unbroken.

Your affectionate son, — William L . Savage


Addressed to Mr. Selah Savage, Greenwich, Conn.

St. Augustine, Fla.
Sunday Eve, November 1st 1863

Dear Parents,

Another day has passed and finds us rather more settled than we were last evening. It has been quite a busy day too, for Sunday.

The Cathedral Basilica during the Civil War

This evening the Major sent me down to the wharf to look after a desk. After I had found it, I sent it to camp and, as it was about church time, I went into the church. The church is very old and is a Catholic church. ¹ The congregation was composed mostly of citizens—quite a good many of them ladies—very fine looking and nicely dressed they were too. Reminded me very much of home.

The service mostly was unintelligible. What was not in Lain was in such broken English I could not understand it. The priest was an Irishman. Most of the congregation, I should judge, were Spanish. The music was fine—an organ and two or three female voices did all the singing—and splendid singing it was too. There is a chime of bells in the church.

There is an old fort [Castillo de San Marcos] here built they say in 1736 [and] built of the only kind of stone they have here. It is composed of shells in its natural state. It is soft [and] is cut with a spade—becomes hard by exposure.

Three companies of the Twenty-fourth garrison the fort. I have not been inside the fort as yet so I am not able to speak of the interior. Neither have I explored the city yet except two streets leading from our camp into it. The streets are narrow, There is the public square in the center of which is the market place. Then the hotel [is] kept [by] a gentleman by the name of [John C.] Buffington—the “Magnolia Hotel” I think is the name. That is all I know about the city yet.


Outside the town about midway from our camp is the hospital where our sick are at present. I called in there this afternoon. It is a very pleasant place. The rooms are quite large—twelve or fourteen feet square—-and only four men in a room. I saw Sergt. [William N.] Salter. He does not feel very well. He has not got entirely over his voyage yet. ² I found four or five ladies there visiting the sick when I arrived. Connecticut ladies, I think they were. Seventh Conn. officers’ wives probably. Salter thought it was very pleasant to have them come around and see them. And so it it. Methinks it does any one good to see them round.

I think our greatest trouble here is going to be about the mail. It is going to be very irregular and I am afraid not very frequent. But I shall try and send every steamer.

Your son, — W. T. Savage

¹ The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine is the oldest Catholic house of worship in St. Augustine. It was founded in 1565. The cathedral was completed in 1797. The interior walls of the church are adorned with murals depicting the history of Catholicism in the New World.

² Sgt. William N. Salter of Co. I, 10th Connecticut died of chronic diarrhea on 23 December 1863 in St. Augustine. See—1862: William N. Salter to Sister on Spared & Shared 7.



Camp 10th Connecticut Vols.
St. Augustine, Florida
November 20th 1863

Dear Parents,

I am glad to have another opportunity to send another [letter] home to you as well as to receive one from home. I received one this afternoon mailed November 7th.

I believe there is no bad news to write this time. [Sgt. William N.] Salter, I believe, is gaining. I see him nearly every day as I pass the hospital to my meals. Silas E. is well. Elbert Mills is better, and I believe most of the men come under the same category. As for myself, I am doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances. I only weigh one hundred and fifty now. I think my health when we came here was in just the right state for me to improve—at least I have been doing so since we have been here. Owing to my boarding, I suppose?

The papers arrived all right. If anything is only directed plainly, it comes straight.

I spent three evenings out since we have been here—one at a concert given by the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Glee Club, one at my boarding place with Lieutenants Wright and Linsley and some of the boys where we had a pleasant sing.

And one evening at Mrs. [Clarissa] Anderson’s—a very fine lady who has the finest place in town. ¹ We had a very pleasant evening—oranges and peanuts &c. She has a son in New York studying for a physician. Her house  is handsomely furnished and the grounds around it are in fine order. She attends to it all herself, takes hold and works herself. She is a northern lady from Massachusetts, I think. She has plenty of oranges—has lemons, limes, paw paw (or bread fruit), citron such as you buy for cake and grows on a tree—and other kinds of tropical fruit. She raises her own arrow root. It is very nice as they cook it here. The evening we were there, she had quite a large company together.

Some officers of the Twenty-fourth, Col. & Major, and three of ours, Dr. Newton, Lt. Linsley, three ladies I had not seen before—a Mrs. Smith and her daughter, Miss Lizzie Smith; and her sister Miss Driscol, formerly from Maryland.

We have dress parade at the city on the plaza every night. On Tuesday, the regiment was reviewed by the Commander of the Post, Col. [Francis A.] Osborne. All of these I do not attend because I have no uniform. My candle warns me that it is time to go to bed.

21st A. M. — It is a beautiful morning—rather warmer than the weather we have been having for a few days past. I think the cold weather agrees with me best.

I saw Salter this morning. He is up and dressed. He is gaining, I think now.

Three steamers arrived here yesterday—the Lillie with the mail and quartermaster & commissary stores, the Cosmopolitan is the hospital boat and has sick and convalescent onboard, and the steamer Monohansett with hospital and quartermaster stores on board. This afternoon at high water, the Lillie leaves with the mail. One of the others leaves to morrow and one next day. I shall send this by the Lillie. Send the trunk the same as you sent the last box. Your son, — W. L. Savage

P. S. Will you send me a few of the turnip seed and a few cucumbers? — W. L. Savage

¹ Clarissa Anderson was the widow of Andrew Anderson, Sr. The Anderson home (102 King Street) was described as a “large, imposing white house set back from King Street.” It is now owned by Flagler College. Mr. Anderson began construction on the home in 1839 and it was completed in 1843 under the direction of his widow. It was called “Markland.” Clarissa was a Union supporter and held numerous gatherings at Markland during the Union occupation. Clarissa’s son, Andrew Anderson, Jr., became a physician and later served as the mayor of St. Augustine.


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