1862: Adelbert Knight to Julia A. (Fletcher) Knight

This letter was written by Adelbert Knight (1841-1913), the son of Abner Knight (1803-1852) and Julia Ann Fletcher (1808-1886) of Lincolnville, Waldo county, Maine. Adelbert’s older brother, Jonathan M. Knight (1839-1862) preceded him into the service, enlisting as a private in Co. H, 4th Maine Infantry Regiment. Jonathan fought at First Bull Run and was captured there. He survived imprisonment but by the time he was paroled in mid-spring 1862, he was suffering from scurvy and died in June 1862.

Adelbert was 21 years old when he enlisted in the Army on 26 March 1862 and was assigned to Co. F, 11th U. S. Infantry. Like his brother, Adelbert would also be taken a prisoner in early June 1864, when Confederate soldiers slipped past his regiment’s flank and into its rear, “surprising the Union soldiers and capturing almost 50. Marched two miles behind enemy lines, Adelbert was shipped immediately to Libby Prison, a three-story brick hell hole where many Union men suffered and died. From there Adelbert shipped by train to the notorious Camp Sumter in Andersonville, Ga., then later to Camp Lawton in Millen, Ga. Future prison destinations included POW camps at Savannah, Ga.; Florence, S.C.; and Salisbury, N. C.” [see Maine at War blog by Brian Swartz]

Adelbert survived the war and returned to Maine where he married Sarah Avesta Whitmore (1843-1916) in Lincolnville and made his living as a farmer. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1913.

Adelbert Knight’s Letter & Image


Camp near Sharpsburg, Maryland
September 28th, 1862

Dear Mother,

I now seat myself once more to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hearty. We are encamped in the woods in a growth of walnut. We have a very pleasant camp. It is getting to be very cold here nights. There is so much fog rises from the river in the morning when we turn out, our blankets are most wet through. Our camp is about 200 yards from the river. We are doing picket duty at the ford. We are on guard every third night and that is all we have to do. We have lived first rate since we have been here, We go out skirmishing as the boys call it and get apples & dig potatoes and once in awhile we get a sheep or pig and have a nice dish with squash and cabbage, but I suppose the farmers will get paid for it when the war is settled—at least they ought to be.

Every house and barn is full of wounded soldiers—all rebels where we now are. They are taking them away as fast as they can to Frederick City and other places. The Rebs still hold the other side of the river but their pickets are not within 2½ rods of the river. Our cavalry goes over every morning and comes back at night. Yesterday they took a lieutenant-colonel prisoner and some privates. The ford where we crossed the water is from 6 inches 2½ feet deep. I don’t care about crossing again this fall into Virginia.

I have not had a letter from home since I left Harrison’s Landing but one. That was from R. Moody. I want you to write oftener and tell E. Martin to write. We have not been paid off yet. I don’t think we shall till we go into winter quarters. There is talk of our going to Harpers Ferry. I must close. Goodbye. Write soon.

—A. Knight

Direct to Co. F, 11th U. S. Infantry, Sykes Division, Washington D. C.

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