1861: Albert H. Whipple to Maria (Mank) Whipple

This letter was written by Albert H. Whipple (1830-1885), the son of Harvey Whipple (1804-1884) and Mary Thorne (1809-1901) of Pittsfield, Berkshire county, Massachusetts. Albert volunteered as a private in Co. K, 8th Massachusetts Infantry on 30 April 1861. He mustered out on 1 August 1861 after three months service. The 8th Massachusetts was one of the first four Regiments to respond to the call after opening of hostilities. Gathered at Boston April 16, 1861, they left the State for Washington on April 18. They served in Washington until May 15 and then moved to the Relay House near Elkridge, Maryland until July 29. They mustered out at Boston on August 1, 1861.

Albert was married in 1856 to Maria (“Ri”) M. Mank (1835-18xx) of Adams, Massachusetts.

Albert wrote the letter from Camp Essex which was located at the Relay House near Elkridge, Maryland. Both the 6th and 8th Massachusetts Regiments were placed here to guard the critical Baltimore & Ohio Railroad viaduct.

A stereoscopic view of Cook’s Boston Light Artillery battery emplacement overlooking the Thomas Viaduct near the Relay Station at Elkridge, Maryland (1861)


Relay House
Camp Essex
June 6th 1861

Dear Wife,

I received your letter of the 2nd this morning and you may rest assured that I was glad to hear from you. It had been nearly a week since I had received a letter from you and my anxiety for Fred & the intimation in Dodge’s letter of Mrs. Whipple’s being sick had made me so nervous that I could not sleep when I got a chance for my thought would stray (in spite of all my endeavors to make myself believe that you were well & comfortable) to that home and loved ones that I might perhaps never see again & I would imagine how hard it must be for you to be there sick with those two little ones and would wonder who there was that would take care of you. Oh “Ri,” I do so hope that you will not be sick while I am gone for if you should be and have to suffer with no one to care for you, I shall never forgive myself while I live. But as you did not mention in your letter anything about being sick, I shall take it for granted that you are well (at least as well as usual), and my prayer is that you may be until my return—if God spares my life for that happy hour.

I am provoked to think that anyone should be so lost to all Principle of Right & so selfish in their motives as to dun you for debts contracted before I left when they know that your only support is hardly enough for the necessaries to say nothing of the luxuries of life. The coal bill of Gayle’s I intended to have Werden pay but forgot to mention it to him and since he has had the impudence to dun you for it, I am glad I did not and you need not pay that or any other debt for I know that you will need all that you have or can get if you get such things as you need without running in debt any more. You mentioned in your other letter that Joe said that I agreed to board him for $2.50 per week. He is very much mistaken for there was no price set but it is no matter about that. I can arrange that when I get home. If Werden has not paid you anything and you need it, you had better ask him for $10.00 as he owes me that or more besides Joe’s board. You wanted to know if I had received any of the money that Dodge brought on with him. I have not as it was not given to be distributed amongst the men but to be expended by the Commissary. Mr. Dodge for food & necessaries to make us comfortable when our rations were not sufficient which I think is the best way that it could be used as there is some of our men that would fool it away for Rum if they had it & I am willing to suffer a little myself for the sake of doing good to others.

Capt. Briggs has not got very popular yet with the men but many of the stories that get circulated are false. Still I shall not sustain him nor censure him until I get home. I received a letter from Sister Sarah this morning when I did yours. She wrote me an excellent letter. They are all well & have given us all an invitation to come home & make a visit in my return from the war so I expect to be lionized a little when I get out of this, if I ever do. If you can only be comfortable & enjoy yourself, I shall not be sorry that I have come for I think that I have done my duty. Besides, I have seen & learned a great deal that I could never have done in any other school.

Now dear “Ri,” do write me often. Write me a good confidential letter for it would seem so good to have a chat with you if it is only on paper. You can tell me all how you get & how you are three all alone. I wish I could write 3 times a week. My health is very good. It is a great wonder to me that I do not have the rheumatism for we have had a great deal of wet weather for the last few days & yesterday I was on guard in the rain all day, wet to the hide. I had a good nap this morning & am as good as new again. There afternoon there is quite a number of the boys in the hospital. Wm. Clark & Wardwell with the rest. If I get there, I shall be homesick in good earnest.

I have written to Alvin & Jane since I wrote you, I believe. Give my respects to all enquiring friends. Don’t forget to write often. Your ever loving husband, — A. H. Whipple

Have you got the letter I sent by Kellogg?

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