This letter was written by William Bemis Alexander (1832-1900), the son of Samuel T. Alexander (1780-1871) and Deborah Paty (1785-1853). of Plymouth, Massachusetts. He served as a lieutenant in Co. B, 3rd Massachusetts Volunteers at the beginning of the Civil War, but returned home to recruit a company for the 23rd Massachusetts Volunteers and was named its captain (Co. E, 23rd Massachusetts) when they mustered into service in October 1861. Shortly thereafter, Capt. Alexander was more seriously wounded in the left arm while engaged in the Union capture of New Bern, N. C., 14 March 1862. He was wounded on 14 March 1862 in the Battle of New Bern and discharged for disability on 28 December 1862. William joined his wife, Mary F. Alexander, and daughter, Ida, in Boston. By 1890, the family had moved to Plymouth. He died 5 February 1900.
See also William B. Alexander Letters, 1862 at UNC Libraries.
See also 1862: Mary F (Atwood) to Capt. William Bemis Alexander on Spared & Shared 5.
Newbern, North Carolina
October 4, 1862
To my own dear wife,
I have just received your letter mailed September 21-22-23-24. I was expecting to get them [and] I was not disappointed. I am right glad to hear you had gone to Bridgewater. I hope you will continue to take such trips as I know they will do you good. Your staying in Boston so long at a time can do you no good. I also got 2 journals by the same mail but they were old dates. But But Tim had some of the 23 & 24 which were of the latest dates. When you send me any papers, send the latest.
I have not much news to write. Three of my men have been tried and sentenced by court martial. Seth Meheuin to 2 years hard labor at Fort Macon & only allowed 3 dollars a month for getting [caught] asleep on his post. Henry Howe for getting drunk & striking Lt. Rogers 15 months hard labor at the same place & 5 dollars a month. James W. Page for being drunk & resisting an officer 2 years hard labor & no pay. This is rather tough but when men go into the army, they can’t expect to do as they are a mind to & each of these men knew just what the penalty was for these crimes. This will set an example to the regiment.
Tim is well & all right & got the letter you wrote about. I rather think George found some difference in playing soldier & going to war. I see by the OC Memorial that Thomas is going with the Standish Guards. If he goes as a private, I am afraid his wife can’t swell around so much as usual.
The reason why George Benson got his discharge was on account of his shoulder which slips out of joint when he is not careful. There is a great of humbug in some of these discharged men but I think not in his case. I get the OC Memorial from Plymouth regular & that is all I do from there. When you go to Plymouth, I wish you would find out whether Father ever received a letter from me with 5 dollars in it. I sent him that some time ago & have never heard from it.
We have very pleasant weather here now. I hope the box of figs will reach you all right. You can tell Mrs. Appleton it will be no use to try to send on a mocking bird at this time of year as the change in climate will kill them. Everything is quiet here. There is another mail due here this week & I shall expect some more of them good letters from you & papers. I should think by this time that Plymouth was pretty well cleaned out of young men. I see they have not come to drafting yet but hope they will as in my opinion that is the best way to fetch out the skulks which ought to have been out here long ago.
I am expecting to hear some good news soon from Gen. McClellan. The Rebs keep at a respectable distance from us but we may hear from them at any day. There is nothing like news to write from here. If I am lucky enough, I may be sent home recruiting but there is no telling. I am afraid if you do not soon see Ida, she will get so wild you can do nothing with her. Tim has letters from Mary Ann. I hope you will go up there & see her & make a short visit. The mail goes in a short time. I can write more. I am ever thinking of you & Ida & hoping you will take care of yourselves & enjoy yourself as much as possible. Give my respects to all enquiring. From your own dear & true husband, — W. B. Alexander
Send me some postage stamps. I am almost out.