1862: Nelly Tupper to William Henry Tupper

Pvt. David Keyes wearing the State-issued frock coat of the 6th New Hampshire [Dave Morin Collection]
These two letters were written to William Henry Tupper (1839-1931) who enlisted in Co. A, 6th New Hampshire Infantry on 15 December 1861. He was wounded by a Minie ball in the fighting at Second Bull Run on 29 August 1862 and was discharged for disability at year’s end. Both of these letters were written to him at the U. S. Hospital on Center Street in Newark, New Jersey where he apparently recuperated from his wounds. Veterans of the regiment would later recall the fighting at Second Bull Run as “the most disastrous” they faced during the war and most believed they “never fully recovered from the terrible loss suffered” there on that fateful day.

The first letter was written by Henry’s mother, Ann Felt (Church) Tupper (1818-Aft1862) of Campton, Grafton county, New Hampshire. Her husband, Henry’s father, was Roswell Tupper (1816-1867) who left for California in the late 1850’s where he died in 1867. Ann mentions a couple of her other children, “Flo” or Florina Alice Tupper (1844-1907) and Charles L. Tupper (b. 1843).

The second letter was written by Henry’s wife, Mary Ellen (“Nelly”) Dowd (1838-1912). They were married on 17 October 1858 and by the time of this letter, had two children—“the prettiest little ones the sun ever shone on.” I can only find a record for the one mentioned in this letter named Jennie who was born on 3 June 1861. She died on 19 January 1864.


[Holderness, New Hampshire]
Sunday eve, [December] 21 [1862]

Dear Boy,

I now write a few lines to let you know I have not forgotten you. I pity you to think you have so much pain. It is hard to bear but I am so glad you are so happy in your mind. Hold on to that which is good. It is better than all the riches of this world.

I am well. The children are [too]. I get along well only for wood. I mean Ed shall come and draw some. Poor Ide your to go and help them. I am glad there is a boy helping your folks. It was too bad for your Mother to do as she did. I don’t think they are any too good to her. John is real mean. I think Ed is going to carry on the place next year.

I had a letter from your Father last week. He wants us to come out there. He is going to send me some money soon. Son’t worry about me. I hope you will come home soon. I was over to see Nelly the other day. Ginney [Jenny] looks real sick. She is awful pale. I am knitting you some footings. Try and come home as soon as you can, won’t you? It is awful cold here but not much snow.

Put your trust all in God. We are all sinners. Pray for us all. How I want to see you at home again. Charley is a great boy. He wants you to see to him. So do all the children want a father. Flo[rina] is at Stone____. She is not yet married. She earns 5 dollars a week. She wants to come home.

This is from your mother, — Ann Tupper

Write often



Holderness, New Hampshire
January 11th 1863

My dear, dear Hubby,

How Nellie & her daughter Jennie might have looked

Oh Henry, have you forgotten that you had a wife and the two prettiest little ones the sun ever shone on? It seems to me that you have for it is going on three weeks since I have had a letter from you and I have written you three in the time. [   ] had been down and wrote in my letter and I have received it. But you will tell me what he wrote about John, won’t you Henry? Oh my hubby, why hant you written to me. It does seem as though my heart would break not to hear from nor see you when I love you so much. Oh, I wish you would come home and love me once more. I know that you love me now, but do [  ].

I write a few lines to you, Henry, to let you know we are all well. Ellen wants to know what I wrote to you about John. You tell her to find out if she can. She says she is going to write for you to send home my letter. You tell her to bite. There is nothing left of him but skin and bones (from Mudgett) come home. If you would ask to be discharged, they would let you come home. If they won’t discharge you, they will give you a furlough.

Elware says that you must come home this week. He is agoing West a week from Monday and you must be here before he goes and take the place or let it alone. We shall look for you this week and you must come. Mother says she had rather live with you and if you will come home, we can have a home, and if you don’t come, all is [lost and] I shall take the children and go down to the poorhouse. I will wait till you write. Now do write to me just as soon as you get this. If I don’t get a letter from you this week, my heart will break.

The Elves is agoing to move away this winter. They have treated him mean and he can’t stand it any longer. They all have talked about David and Lorette shamefully.

Dear hubby, if you can’t work on the farm, you can make shoes with David. It won’t take long to learn the trade. Oh hubby, how I love you. How I want to see you. Tell me that you will come Saturday next. If you don’t come, I shall go to the poorhouse for our little Jennie is sick. Her lungs are so bad that I won’t leave her to go out to work. Mother says she won’t live till spring. Oh hubby, do come home. What should we do if little Jennie should die? She is a little beauty. She can talk some. But hubby, won’t you come home to me. If you don’t, my heart will break.

Why hant you written before? David got a letter from you last week. Now won’t you come home this week and to write as soon as you get this? Won’t you?

Jennie sits in her chair by me now and she says Mamy and Papy so pretty. Oh my dear hubby, won’t you come home to me. If you don’t come, the next you hear from me I shall be on the town so do come. Write soon. This is from your wife, — Nelly Tupper

To her hubby, Henry Tupper

You will come home, won’t you?

Mother wants you to come home that she can take care of you. You don’t know how she feels about you. If you can get into the cars, then you can lay down in the saloon. Now come, won’t you sweet Henry. A thousand kisses.





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