1862: Martha A. Hodgkins to William Alexander

This letter was written by Martha A. Hodgkins (1845-1905), the daughter of Abraham D. Hodgkins (1804-Aft1880) and Judith Ann Figgies (1825-1884) of Gloucester, Essex county, Massachusetts. Mary remained single, employed as a dressmaker, until March 1884 when she married Joseph Floyd Lane (1846-1918) at the age of 39.

Martha wrote the letter to her uncle, Capt. William Alexander, Co. E, 23rd Massachusetts Infantry. Capt. Alexander was wounded at the Battle of New Bern on 14 March 1862.


Gloucester, [Massachusetts]
October 26, 1862

My Dear Uncle,

Think not that I have forgotten you because I have never answered your welcome letter but I have been thinking that you would have your discharge and be at home. But I have got disappointed and tired of waiting and so I thought I would write a few lines if you would accept them. We are all well and hope these few lines of bad writing will find you enjoying the same blessing of health. Aunt Harriet says she has not had a letter from you for nearly a fortnight and she don’t know what to make of it unless you have no paper to write one.

I wish I could run in this afternoon and see you for we have no meeting this afternoon for our minister is not well and it is real lonesome without any meeting. There is no news to write for it is very dull.

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From the 13 September 1862 edition of the Gloucester Telegraph

I wish this war would be over for it is a very wicked thing. Lieut. Westover Greenleaf ¹ has been brought home and buried. I never see such a funeral in my life. There was a great many there. The streets was thronged with people.

Fitz Hodgkins ² is pretty sick. He has got the typhoid fever. [He] is in the company that is encamped to Boxford—the Old 8th—and another of the same company lays at the point of death with the same fever. I wish you would send me home a picture of yourself for it is very hard for me to recollect [how] anyone looks.

Has Mr. Merrill got any better?

I have been to Salem to make a visit with Emma and I tell you what, I should not like to live there always for it is one of the noisiest places there is, I guess. I had a very pleasant visit. It is raining splendidly this evening.

Dennison and another fellow went out after potatoes for the Lieut. and went without the password and the Provost Guard took them and are to be kept 30 days but that is ___ out nor the company is too pleasant. Wally Add says he is well and growing as fat as a hog. All the trouble he has is his foot when he fell off the horse that time. But I will draw my few lines of bad writing to a close for the present. Excuse my mistakes and bad writing. All the folks are well. Love from all. Answer soon. Accept these few lines from your true friend, — Martha A. Hodgkins

October 27th

We see by the paper that Mr. Merrill is Hospital Warden.

Monday. It is a rainy day and I will try and finish my letter. We have had a sudden death in the parish—the death of a Sunday School scholar [named] David Stanwood. ³ He died with the typhoid fever. They say our Division is all broke up. 8 in all. The officers have enlisted to go to war. You say that I cannot feel as though I had a brother or husband out there. I know that I cannot but I have a good many friends there in the war. And may they all be spared to come home again alive and well. But enough of this for the present.

Father & Mother sends their best respects to you. Love from all. I will send you this paper so you may answer on it for you may not have any. If you have no postage stamp, you can send it and I can pay for it after it comes. From Martha

Forget me not
Forget me never
Till yonder sun
Shall set forever

Do you think this wicked war will ever be over? Do you get anything fit to eat out there? But I must go to bed for I am getting sleepy. But I must get a piece of gingerbread first. I wish that I could run in and bring you a piece first. Excuse my bad writing. From Martha

Answer soon for I want to hear from you and tell me if you think you shall come home.

¹ Westover Greenleaf was a 2nd Lieutenant in Co. C, 23rd Massachusetts Infantry when he died of typhoid fever.

² Fritz Hodgkins (1843-1931) was the son Aaron Hodgekins (1798-1875) and Sarah Goodhue Parsons (1802-1877) of Gloucester, Essex county, Massachusetts. Fritz enlisted in Co. G, 8th Massachusetts Infantry, on 15 September 1862. He mustered out on 7 August 1863 at Boston.

³ David W. Stanwood (1848-1862) was the son of David Wharf Stanwood (1822-1910) and Susan Riggs Allen (1824-1862) of Gloucester. His death was attributed to “Phthisis” (tuberculosis).

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