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This biography is from HEROES OF ALBANY, by Rufus W. Clark, D. D.


Colonel John Wilson, of the Forty-third Regiment Infantry, N. Y. V., son of James and Ann Wilson, was born in Albany, N. Y., December 29th, 1838. His father was a native of Scotland, a man of sterling integrity and great benevolence, a useful citizen and sincere Christian. His mother was an American of Scottish descent. His maternal great grand-father served in the army of the Revolution, upholding bravely the cause of his adopted country. He was a man of great physical strength, and power of endurance. He suffered much on board a prison ship near Brooklyn. His son, a boy of seventeen years, also served and was wounded in the Revolutionary war.

John Wilson received his education at the Albany Academy, which institution he entered at a very early age. He immediately commenced the study of the Latin language, in which his father was very desirous of having him proficient, as it was necessary to a scientific knowledge of the business, for which he designed to educate him. He studied the French language a number of years, and went farther than the course prescribed by the Academy. His father dying when he was sixteen, he suspended his studies and succeeded to his business of florist and nurseryman.In this he continued till he entered the army, giving up then a lucrative and prosperous business to devote himself to his country.

From his infancy he attended the Sabbath school established by his father, then the only Sabbath school in the section of the city where he resided. He was actively engaged in it till he entered the army, and was always interested in its success. He united with the Baptist Church in 1858, under the ministration of Rev. Dr. Hague. He maintained always a firm religions character, was charitable in judgment, and liberal in giving, especially in private. Generosity was, from childhood, his distinguishing characteristic. While he was in the army, he devoted one-tenth part of his income to charitalble and religious purposes.

He entered the army as a Captain, having raised a company for the second requisition of troops in the summer of 1861. In about one week from the time he had resolved to give himself to his country, his company was raised. They marched to the barracks, on Saturday, August 3d, the first soldiers to occupy the barracks after the troops of the first requisition had gone to the field.

The following extracts from Col. Wilson's letters will give a view of his movements after he left Albany:

New York, September 18, 1861.

Dear Mother and Sisters—I arrived safely in New York on Tuesday, at two o'clock. It rained very hard when we came in, but ceased about an hour afterward, when the regiment arrived.

As soon as I stepped from the cars I proceeded to the Astor House, and soon after met the Colonel, who entrusted the disembarkation of our men to me. We landed safely, and fortunately it ceased raining, but it commenced soon after we had obtained our quarters in the Park barracks.

The ofiicers are mostly quartered at the Astor and Lovejoy's Hotel. I am very well at present, and trust this finds you all well. I cannot find out when the regiment will leave, as nobody seems to know anything about it.

I will write as soon as I learn anything definite. Our men are all well, but do not like the confinement in such barracks as those in the Park.

Your son and brother,

Camp Casey, Meridian Hill, near Washington, D. C.,
Head Quarters of N. Y. Forty-third Regt.,
September 22, 1861.

Dear Mother and Sisters—I have just obtained an opportunity to write to you this afternoon. I am ofiicer of the day, and as I am all alone in my tent just now, I feel like writing to you, to tell you how I like camp life.

The last letter I wrote you was from the Park barracks, New York. I said in my letter of Friday last, that we would move soon, and so it turned out, for with but three hours notice we were ordered, by telegraph, to Washington direct.

You may imagine what a commotion there was among the men, when at six o'clock Friday evening they were ordered to Washington, and to be ready to start by nine o'clock p. m. Well, we got under way at precisely half past one Saturday morning, having waited from nine p. m., the evening before, for our baggage and equipments to be sent to the railroad depot, and our rations to be prepared for us, which latter, by the way, we never got, as they were by mistake left in New York.

You may think we were all pretty well tired waiting, but to add still to our troubles, we had to wait in New Jersey, at the depot in Jersey city, till four o'clock a. m. before the train could be got under way.

We arrived safely in Philadelphia at twelve o'clock m., and were received by the women of the city in grand style. They prepared a dinner for us free, and a good appetite we had for it, too, as we had had nothing to eat since the night before, except what food the men, at the supper table, had placed in their haversacks. As it was, they did very well, and complained but very little.

We took rail at one o'clock for Baltimore, and all through the streets of Philadelphia, as we passed in the cars, we were greeted by thousands of cheers and hurrahs. We reached Baltimore at eleven o'clock Saturday night, and immediately marched two miles to the depot of the railroad for Washington, and arrived in Washington four o'clock Sunday morning. We were all very tired, and immediately proceeded to have our supper of one slice of bread and one slice of pork per man, and a cup of coffee, after which we took a sleep of three hours duration, being called up for breakfast at seven o'clock.

At eleven o'clock a. m. we received marching orders, and proceeded to encamp on the grounds we now occupy on Meridian Hill. There are, in all, about twenty thousand men encamped near us, and we have nothing but din, and the music of bugle and fife and drum all day. I am very well, having a fine tent, ground nice and dry, a good floor to the tent, and plenty of coats to cover me with. Write soon.

Yours affectionately,

Head Quartees of Forty-third Regt., N. Y. S, V.,
Meridian Hill, Washington, D. C, Sept. 27, 1861.

My Dear Anna—I received your letter yesterday morning. I was very ghid to hear from you and all at home, as I was afraid that any letter written to me at New York might not reach me here.

We are having a fine time here in camp—plenty of tent room, as I have taken two tents and joined them in one, end to end, and now we have a sitting room, and a sleeping apartment, with a curtain between. You should see our arrangements, and I am sure you would be surprised to find how comfortable we are. Even now it is raining quite hard, but our tents are covered with large canvass flies, and no rain can get near us.

We are all well, and are not troubled with any inconveniences complained of by many in camp, except the nights are very cold, especially towards morning, and the middle of the days rather warm. But we manage to overcome the former by overcoats and extra blankets, and the latter we avoid by keeping inside of our tents.

We hardly ever take off our clothes, except to bathe, as we must be always ready to spring into our places, even at the dead of night, fully armed and equipped. I shall soon get used to such a life, and I like it more and more every day.

I think there will be a grand battle some time next month, but I am afraid we cannot get ready to be there, but we may have a chance to be lookers on. * * * * *

I resigned all claim to the majorship of the regiment, as I find the field officers will have to pass an examination here, which I could not do, as I understand nothing of battalion movements. I shall have a chance of promotion before long, I think, and then I shall be Major. I am very well satisfied with my present position. Write soon, and remember me to all friends.

Yours affetionately,

Camp Advance, Va., Sept. 29th, Sunday.

Dear Mother—I will write you a few lines, to-night, to let you know that we are on the sacred soil of Virginia. The enemy are some six miles from us. We are in the advance camp, and may have a chance to see action before long; but I am not afraid at all, myself. I keep in mind that verse you wrote in my Testament—"He will give his angels charge over thee." I keep my Testament always in my breast pocket, and read it as often as Ican. I think a battle is near, and I also think it will be a decisive one for our cause and freedom. I will write you again very soon. Give my love to all; Kate, Anna, Eliza and Mary, and to yourself. In haste.

Your affectionate son,

Fort Marcy, Va., Oct. 30th, 1861.

My Dear Sister—I received your letter of the 25th, this morning. I am now writing an answer to your inquiries (time, ten p. m.) I am at present with my company encamped within the above named fort, about three-fourths of a mile from Chain bridge, and three and a half miles from our regiment, being detached therefrom for the present, and sent here in command of the fort. I came here last Saturday morning at six a. m., to relieve Company A, of the Vermont Fifth, who have been here some three weeks. I am having a fine time of it now, as the company have all their tents nicely pitched within the breastworks of the fort—and mine stands at the head of the street, and, standing in my tent door, I can at one glance see the whole interior of the place. When I came, I brought nothing but a blanket and an overcoat, and the men brought only their overcoats, thinking we would have to stay but twenty-four hours. But we have had to sleep on the ground three nights, and that, too, through two frosty ones. But I am very well, and the men complain but little of any sickness. Our tents came yesterday afternoon, and before night they were all up and occnpied. I have a detachment of my company stationed as guard at Chain bridge, under Lieut. Wilkinson, of Company F, and with the fort and the bridge to care for, I have my hands full.

We have had two or three grand reviews lately, and this has kept us all busy getting ready for inspection, so that I have had no time to do anything outside of military alfairs. Gen. Hancock, the other day, congratulated Col. Vinton on the drill and discipline of the Forty-third, and, although we have been but one month "out," he confesses us superior to regiments out over four months. This is saying a good deal for us.

We had a set of colors presented to us, the other day, by Simeon Draper, of New York. They are very handsome, and elegantly mounted. Last Thursday, four companies of our regiment, or rather parts of four companies, under command of Col. Vinton, made a reconnoissance as far as Flint Hill, or about two miles from Fairfax. Our guide said, we were the first Union troops that had been on Flint Hill, since the battle of Bull Run. He said, also, that our Colonel was the most ambitious one he had met with, as we proceeded over half a mile further than he advised, and would have gone to Fairfax, had not our orders commanded us to go but to Flint Hill. Had we gone further, our Colonel would have had to bear the consequences, had any been killed. As it was, Company A went half a mile beyond, being thrown out as skirmishers. We drove the enemy's pickets before us about a mile, they running off at double-quick, after exchanging a few shots with us. We took eight prisoners, and then returned to camp, having walked in all about twenty miles. This reconnoissance has given us quite a name for courage, and we are already known as the "plucky little Forty-third."

But I must close my letter, with the wish that you will write soon, and all the others too; and don't mind if I do not write as often as I would like to, as I am very much engaged with company aflairs. Give my love to Mother, Kate, Anna, Mary and yourself, of course, and remember me to all my numerous friends. Tell H. S. that I am sorry the articles were not sent, as anything from Albany seems one hundred per cent better, than anything bought here. Give her my regards and thanks for her kind endeavors. I have not received my box yet, and do not know what has become of it. Suppose it will turn up one of these days. I wish I had it now. Good night.


Mr. Wilson wrote to his mother and sisters very frequently, giving a minute account of his daily life, and of matters of interest that came under his observation. All his letters breathe the spirit of an earnest patriotism, and personal devotion to duty. Most of them possess a private and family interest, while a few contain matter suitable for publication. The following letters give an account of the movements of his regiment near Williamsburg and City Point, Va.

Camp No. 11, in the Field,
Near Williamsburg, Va., May 8, 1862.

My Dear Mother—I wrote a short letter to you yesterday to let you know that our regiment was safe, as it was held as a reserve, together with a few other regiments belonging to Keyes' Corps, and four or live batteries of regular artillery and two regiments of regular cavalry. We were very near the scene of action all day Monday, being separated from it by a strip of woods so dense as to prevent our seeing anything of the conflict. The firing all day was very severe, and once in awhile we had a few shells thrown toward us, but they did no damage. We have had a complete victory, as the forts of the enemy, eleven in number, are all ours, and many prisoners, the exact number I do not know.

I will give you a little account of our movements since Saturday morning last: On that day we moved our camp nearer to the rebel works, and all Saturday night the firing on our immediate right was very heavy, and we expected every moment to be called to arms to repel the expected attack or sortie of the enemy. At daybreak, we were called out, and stood under arms for half an hour, were then dismissed, and breakfasted. At seven a. m. came an order to be ready to move immediately, to cross the dam and take possession of the enemy's fort, directly in front of our division, as the enemy were reported to have evacuated Yorktown and the entire line of fortifications, from the York to the James river. We at once were ready, and drew no extra rations from our commissary, thinking we could cut cross the dam and occupy the enemy's forts, or move but a short distance in advance of them, and he assuring us we could draw our rations there as well as in camp. We found the whole of the enemy's works deserted, and our only wonder was, as we filed through their works, that they evacuated them as they did, as they appeared almost invulnerable. We marched on, after we had passed this line of forts, very quickly, and found, as we went along, camp after camp deserted and the tents left, in the haste of the rebels to escape. At about four p. m., Sunday, we joined Hooker's Division, which had marched off from Yorktown, and were the advance of Heintzelman's Corps, and found that the First U. S. Cavalry, and their batteries of artillery, had had an engagement with the enemy some distance in front, overtaking the rear guard of the rebels in their retreat. They appeared to have had a severe time of it, and judging from the wounded carried past in ambulances, had been pretty well cut up. We expected an engagement every moment, and at five p. m. were drawn up in line of battle, on a place called "Whittaker's farm," a field skirted by woods, containing some two hundred or three hundred acres, and covered with a beautiful crop of wheat, a foot high. We remained here till six p. m., when a charge through the woods in front and towards the enemy's forts was ordered, and with a tremendous shout we started forward. We were halted, however, by Gen. Hancock, before we cleared the woods, he not knowing the exact position of the enemy, and being too good a General to risk our charging on any uncertainty. We remained all night in the woods, lying on our arms, my company being deployed in front of our regiment. It was anything but agreeable, as I had no overcoat, no blanket to lie down on, nothing but my pants, vest and jacket. The night being chilly, I was compelled to keep warm by pacing from tree to tree all night, no fires being allowed, as we did not know how manv yards we were from the enemy. At three a. m., Monday, it commenecd to rain, and before long we were all waked. At five a. m. we fell back to the commencement of the woods, to build small fires and warm ourselves. We remained in this position most of the day, expecting every moment to be ordered forward, although we had had nothing to eat, and it was raining hard all day; but the order did not come, as we (the Federals) held our own admirably, and defeated our adversary at every point. Our brigade lost but four killed and fifteen wounded, as far as I can learn.

Sickles' Brigade, on our left, was badly cut up, and lost many, killed and wounded. I took a walk yesterday morning all through the woods and over the field, where the fighting was the heaviest. I saw a great many of the relbels lying in the woods, dead, (our own men who had fallen having been buried,) and a sad sight it was, almost all the dead having been shot through the breast or head. They have all been buried, and the wounded all well cared for. I took a stroll through Williamsburg, and found quite a number of white families still living in the town, and any quantity of negroes, some of them very intelligent. It seems that when their masters retreated, they (the negroes) took to the woods, and returned as our army advanced. The town is a pretty country one, and is some three miles or more from the James river. It contains some very fine churches and dwellings, and is by far the prettiest place I have seen in the south. I found from the negroes that it must have had a population of eight or ten thousand at one time, being a very old town, and quite unique in appearance. The streets through the town are in an awful condition. Wagons sink in to the hubs, and drawing the heavy wagons, is very heavy work for the mules and horses. Gen. McClellan had his head-quarters at a large mansion in the town. I do not know how soon we shall move from this camp, and am in no anxiety about it, as we are pleasantly encamped in a wood, on high ground, and near a splendid cold spring of water. Indeed, it seems like another country here, from the old camp before Yorktown, as the country above that city is rolling and elevated, and the air pure and healthy. One report is, that we shall follow up the enemy, who are said to have made a stand on the Chickahominy river; another, that we shall go to Richmond, to be garrisoned there, after it is taken; and still another, that Norfolk will be our destination. I think the former the most probably true one; but am no way concerned about our movements, as long as I keep well and our men are in as good spirits as at present. It must be very demoralizing to the rebels to be forced to fall back with defeat from such strong works as those of Yorktown and Williamsburg, especially after having employed six thousand negroes for over six months on each of these lines of forts. I should not be surprised if the report of Magruder's surrender would prove true in a few days, and if this happens, the Old Dominion may be counted one of the Union. I forgot to tell you that on our advance from the forts at Yorktown, we dug up many shells and torpedoes, buried in the roads, and fixed so that the least pressure upon the fuse would explode them, but they were discovered too soon to do any damage; and all along our march we had a squad of picked men precede us to examine the roads we had to march over. Such an operation on the part of the enemy is the best proof of their cowardice we could have, and holds them up in their true light. I saw quite a number of prisoners yesterday, whom we had taken at the last battle. They were, with few exceptions, poor specimens of the creature, man, and had all of them a downcast, sorrowful expression, which, added to their variety of coarse clothes, gave them the appearance of a lot of thieves or jail inhabitants. They are well treated by our men, however, and will, no doubt, be thankful that they have escaped to such merciful captors.

Your affectionate son,

Camp No. 12, in the Field, near West Point, Va.,
(said to be) 35 miles from Richmond,
May 11, 1862. Sunday afternoon.

My Dear Sister—Your welcome letter of May 2d was received by me this morning. I do not know when I may have a chance to send a letter again, so as the mail closes this evening I send this, written this afternoon. We have been making severe marches the last few days, in hopes of overhauling the enemy; but to-day, after having been "reveilled" at three and a half a. m., the hour when we intended to march, and being all ready, by five a. m., down came an order from Gen. Mac, who has his head-quarters directly in our rear, countermanding the orders to move forward to-day, and advising an observance of the Sabbath as strict as possible. The men of all the regiments of our brigade and division are overjoyed at resting to-day, and McClellan thus wins the hearts of all the men by his kindness, and also the favor of Heaven by his observance of its laws. With such a General, victory must be ours. Smith's Division, and especially Hancock's Brigade, is a favorite with Gen. Mac, and has been ever since the battle of Williamsburg, and he sticks close to us on the march. You should see the army of the Potomac on this peninsula, under his immediate command, if you would see soldiers; and if you could only stand a few hours by some roadside, as the troops file down it on the march, you could have some idea of ''the soldier."

We have frequent skirmishes with the enemy nearly every day, as we are in hot pursuit of him to prevent him from fortifying further this side of Richmond. Gen. McClellan anticipates being there on Thursday, I believe, if all goes well. It may be longer before we reach that devoted city, as the weather is very warm and marching very fatiguing. Our troops stand it well, having been pretty well inured to it, but the eftect on new recruits would be very "sensible." Gen. McClellan seems to be "wrapt up" in his troops, and well may he be proud of them, and of their victorious march. I have at last got a little contraband, about twelve or thirteen years old. He is jet black, a good looking little "dark," and answers to the name of "Carter." I will bring him home, if I can, and he will stay with me. I wish I had my box, as our fare is hard, very hard, and it is almost impossible to get anything but hard crackers, coffee and sugar; and salt meat, seldom "fresh, is served to us; but I do not complain at all of our fare, as long as I keep well, and our arms are victorious and old rebeldom overcome. I do not know how soon we shall engage them in conflict again, but I trust Heaven may grant us the victory in all our contests, and soon peace be restored to our beloved country. You should see the negroes here. We meet any quantity of them, and each house on our journey is decorated with a huge white flag, whether the occupants are white or black. We do not touch anything belonging to the inhabitants on our march, but, of course, we return no slaves coming to and with us, as we do not believe in slavery, and do not intend to pollute the old flag with any more "negro slavery protection." I have held many conversations with negroes about their opinion of us and their former masters. I went over to Williamsburg the other day, and through some of the log cabins of the once slaves. I asked one very nice looking colored woman what she thought of our soldiers in comparison with the rebel troops. She said: "Your men look so very bold—don't hang down their heads as our soldiers do. Your troops frighted the life out of our men; and then the good clothes—oh, my! they look like soldiers."An old man, in another cabin, said of our troops firing, on the day of the battle of Williamsburg: "I notice that when our men fire, your men don't fall; but when your men fire, our men come down very fast." They all tell of the ridiculous stories of their masters and missus; that the Yankees would cut off their ears, sell them off north, burn them up, and what not; but they find it is all lies, and they are in the best of spirits, and rejoice beyond measure at our successful progress. We are in the finest country I ever saw, but most too warm for comfortalbe marching in the day time. Water is plentiful, and woods are abundant, so we march a great deal of the time in the shade. But I must close. My love to all, and many respects to all my friends. I send your letter and mother's in the same envelope, as this is the first chance I have had to write for a long time. Write soon, and tell all to do so too.

Your affectionate brother,

Camp near City Point, Va.,
on James River, July 4th, 1862.

My Dear Sister Mary—Your letter reached me to-day, at four p. m., and to-night, the night of the glorious Fourth, I sit down on the top of my little mess chest, made out of a cracker box, to write an answer to you. It is now a week or more, since I had an opportunity of handling a pen, and I have almost forgotten how to write a letter. I have so much to write, concerning our movements since last Saturday morning, that I do not know where to commence. I will therefore begin with June 27th, last Friday, a week ago to-day; the day before Porter's Division of the army, in front of Richmond, had pressed the rebels severely in the centre of our lines, and had gained on them a mile or more, after severe fighting and consideralbe loss. All the bands in our army, in front of Richmond, were playing our national airs, all the evening. I did not go to bed till one a. m. the next evening; and the next morning early, 5 a. m., our entire regiment went on picket. I had command of the right half (or wing) of our picket line, of the Forty-third New York. Our picket line was in close proximity to that of the rebels; so close, that each could converse with the other, in one or two different places. The part of which I had charge, ran through a wood; the other half, of the Forty-third picket, was posted in a wheat field, and were in full view of the rebel picket. The day was a lovely, warm one, and I enjoyed the picket duty very much, although I had heard that "shoulder straps" were the aim or mark of the rebel riflemen, they having made an agreement with our pickets, not to shoot each other, except officers. Our forces had thrown up, during the night before, quite a fort (six hundred men working all night upon it) near the picket line of the Second Brigade, immediately on our left, and at an early hour in the morning, this fort was the object of an attack by a rebel battery. One could plainly hear, from where we were lying on picket, the artillery of the rebels, coming down towards their picket line. They commenced with a full battery volley, six pieces discharged at once, throwing shells; I should judge ten or twelve pounders; and their first volley was answered by one from our battery in said fort, and by a battery of thirty-two pounders a short distance in the rear. This exercise was kept up for about half an hour, when the artillery of the enemy withdrew. All was quiet till three p. m., when the rebel sharpshooters endeavored to turn our right wing, of which I had command. Our support on that wing was immediately thrown forward on the line, doubling it, and old sceesh fell back repulsed. We lost none, killed or wounded. Quite a large reserve was then thrown to the rear of the line, and were greatly needed before night fell. The part of our picket line, running through the wheat field, was strengthened to six times its former strength. So matters stood till seven p. m., when all of a sudden, just before we should have been relieved, a volley along the entire picket line of the rebels greeted us. Of course, the suddenness of the thing surprised us somewhat, but our men stood to their posts, to a man, and fired quick and surely, as you may well suppose. It was a strange sight in the woods, where I was stationed. I was on the picket line at the time, talking to one of the men about being relieved, when, all along the line in front of us (it seemed not more than ten yards olf), a bright flashing greeted my gaze, and bullets whistled close around us. My first exclamation was: "Everyman stand on his post, and give them all you can!" I rushed down the line to the reserve, and hurried it out on the line, and then the work commenced in good earnest. In a few minutes we could not see three feet from us, on account of the smoke. We kept up the firing until the enemy in front of us were completely silenced, which did not happen till our men had fired over fifty rounds each, of ammunition, and the guns were so hot I could not lay my hand on them. I then gave the order to my part of the line, to cease firing. It was kept up for some time on our left, as there the rebels had advanced a brigade or two, while we, on the right, were apparently opposed by a picket line. Our side had an entire brigade opposed to theirs, as soon as the firing commenced, in front of the fort, and the enemy were repulsed with a loss of two hundred and eighty killed and wounded (from an account furnished by a prisoner taken two days afterwards); while we lost but twenty-eight, killed and wounded, out of the Forty-third, and four or five more in the brigade. There were two in my company—James F. Hogan and Henry S. Long, both privates; the former wounded in the stomach, the latter in the hand. Young Hogan died on Sunday morning, June 29th, in the hospital at Fair Oaks, or Savage's Station; I was unable to find out which. On acconnt of our quick movements, I had only time to see him once on Saturday morning. at our regimental hospital, where I gave him a few lemons, which he seemed to like very much. He told me he could not live; he knew, he said, he would die. I endeavored to cheer him up, bit in vain. A few minutes after, he and the rest of the wounded were placed in ambulances, and taken away to the hospital I have mentioned before. He was a fine young man, and a good soldier, and I regret, exceedingly, his loss to the company. But his time had come—and I trust he was ready. You mention that your heart bled for the wounded, carried up to the Albany barracks. Could you see some of the wounded soldiers here, brought from a battle field, you would sicken at the sight. After the battle of Fair Oaks, some of the rebel wounded lay two days in the sun, on the field, and in the woods, before being brought in. Many of their wounds had commenced to mortify and decay. * * * I have given you an idea of our picket skirmish on Friday night. We were relieved at nine p. m., by the Vermont Brigade, and right glad were we, to go home. I will, in my letter to Eliza, tell about the retreat (or driving back, or retiring) of Porter, the same day; and will close, with much love to all.

From your brother,

Camp in the Field, near City Point, Va.,
on James River, July 5th, 1862.

My Dear Sister Eliza—Your letter of June 23d came to hand yesterday, while our regiment was lying out in the woods, watching for an attack from the enemy. It afforded me great pleasure to read the two letters, from yourself and Mary. I am very glad to hear of your efforts in behalf of the sick and wounded soldiers at the Albany barracks. How much gratification it must afford to them, to know that some one cares for them; and how delightful to them must seem the fresh fragrance of flowers, and the flavor of ripe strawberries. It must be a delightful task for you to carry them such little delicacies; and rest assured, that I am proud to know that I have sisters who can do such deeds of kindness to soldiers, voluntarily and without compensation. You may rest assured, that any such deed of charity you at home do, is fully appreciated by me; as much, almost, as though I was the happy recipient myself. Be sure a Heavenly Father will reward all such good deeds. My advice to all at home is, to do so, as much as you possibly can, knowing that you have a brother who is a soldier, and can appreciate such deeds when shown to the sick and wounded.

I gave Mary quite an account of a picket skirmish, on the evening of the 27th. Next morning (Saturday, June 28th), we were called to form line of battle at three a, m., and after awaiting an attack of the enemy, half an hour, retired to our tents. At half past five, heavy firing on our left and front called us out again. We stacked our arms on the color line, and broke ranks, ready to fall in, to move camp. At 8 a. m. our hospital and baggage train moved off, and proceeded in the direction of James river. At ten a. m. the order came to fall in, and we moved to our left, about one-fourth of a mile, and formed line of battle, composed of our whole division, and laid down on our arms, and awaited an attack from the enemy. Porter's Division, who were on our right, had retired the day before, and had recrosscd the Chickahominy, followed by 75,000 or 100,000 rebels. All the day before, we could hear the heavy cannonading across the river, and two of our batteries, near our fort, were playing on the rebels as they crossed, and created great havoc among them. After we had left camp about an hour, the picket line of our division was driven into the rifle pits, and we were held there all day (the Forty-ninth Pennsylvania doing picket duty that day), and the shells began to fall in our old camps thick and fast around us. We lay there all day and all night, waiting for the rebels to come out and charge on our old camps and follow us up, as they would reasonably expect us to cross the Chickahominy, as Porter had done, and follow straight to the rear. We would then have given them an awful enfilade fire, as we had battery after battery planted, ready to receive them should they follow us. But they refused to do it, and at three a, m,, Sunday, we moved to the left, towards James river, and marched some six or seven miles to a place near Savage's Station, on the railroad to Richmond. About three p. m. we moved to the station (Savage's), and commenced to destroy the property there. Vast quantities of hard bread, ammunition, coffee, sugar, salt, rifles and muskets were smashed, and burned in great heaps. I felt almost like crying when I saw the rifles broken across large pieces of railroad iron, and the more so when I remembered how long I had carried the old muskets, and would have given almost anything to have had such arms. At seven p. m., Sunday, the rebels came down, some 10,000 strong, by the railroad, and commenced an attack, which was repulsed with an enormous loss on their side. They had but one gun, mounted on a platform car, but it was charged on by the Irish Brigade, and taken. Their troops were soaked with "gunpowdered whiskey," and came up right to the mouths of our cannon, and were mowed down by grape and cannister by the score. At about nine a. m. they retired, completely repulsed, and our forces began to march again towards the James.

We marched, I should judge, some seven miles, and halted at one a. m., Monday, and laid on the side of the road, and fell asleep as soon as we rested. It rained slightly during the night, and at seven or eight a. m. we moved back to a wood, and formed line of battle, and waited for the rebels to come up in pursuit, which they did about twelve m., and opened with full battery on one of our batteries. They did not dare to attack us with infantry, but kept off at artillery range. This was kept up all the afternoon as long as the daylight lasted, and near evening some of the brigades of Sumner's Division made a charge on them, and took some two hundred prisoners. The enemy lost, last Sunday night, at Savage's Station, some four thousand killed and wounded—our loss a mere trifle; on Monday they lost about two thousand—we as many hundred. As soon as it was dark, Monday night, we moved to concentrate our forces at the division head-quarters, and at ten p. m. moved off towards the James again, and marched some fifteen or twenty miles all night till broad daylight, about four a. m., and lay down to rest on our arms; slept till eight a. m., when we of the Forty-third went on picket, and remained all day by a beautiful mill pond, and at ten p. m. were called in to join our brigade. We were on the side of the road, watching the troops pass by, regiment after regiment, battery after battery, wagon after wagon, hurried on. I watched them some two hours, and got so weary looking at them that I fell asleep, and when I awoke, at four a. m., Wednesday, they were still passing. So many troops, so many batteries, so many wagons, I never saw at one time before in my life. We moved off at six a. m., being the rear guard, and then the rain commenced to pour down. Before we had marched six miles (the extent of our journey), City Point being that distance from us, and on the James river, the mud was awful—full eighteen inches deep. We trudged on, and at ten a. m. we encamped in a cornlield near City Point landing, in mud full two feet deep. The whole plain, for miles near the landing, was covered with troops, but such looking ones—mud from their shoes to their knees, and drenched with rain. We encamped here all night, and, at eight a. m. next morning, moved back two miles from the river, and encamped in an oat field, where we remained till this morning, when we moved forward to a wood, in which place we are now encamped. The marching from City Point, on Thursday morning, those two miles, was the most severe I ever experienced. Mud almost knee deep, small men having to be pulled out many times; shoes drawn off, and buried out of sight. We got through it safely, however, and spent our Fourth of July lying in a place near the woods full of blackberries, in line of battle, and at seven p. m. returned to camp. But I must close. I will give mother an account of some of the incidents by the way, in answer to her letter I received to-day. Much love to all.

From your brother,

All the flowers I send to you and Mary to-day, are from the picket line, in front of Richmond, five miles from the city.

Camp near Berkley Landing,
James River, Va., July 7, 1862.

Dear Kate—Your welcome letter reached me, together with Anna's, yesterday morning. As I have informed Eliza and Mary, in my last letters to them, we have just undergone the most severe duty and fatiguing marches the army of the Potomac has yet experienced. We had a week of it, and during the most of it we were either on the march or on the qui vive for the enemy. Of course, we obtained but little sleep, and that but an hour or two at a time. I stood it well, never falling out from my company, but doing all in my power to encourage the men to do their duty and keep up with the marching columns. I think the excitement did more than anything else to keep me up to my duty, for now, when we have arrived at a "stand still" I do not feel so well as I did on the march, but am by no means sick. I am doing my regular camp and picket duty. I am sorry to hear of mother's sickness, and hope that by this time she may have entirely recovered from her indisposition. We are having very fine weather for the month of July, the days being very warm and the sun powerful, but the nights cool and accompanied by a heavy dew. Moonlight nights are prevalent now, and it is a magnificent sight to stand on an eminence, near a new fort just built by our troops, and look on the camps, as still as death (at twelve o'clock at night), except when the tread of a neighboring sentinel on his beat, or the whippowill on some oak or pine tree, breaks the silence. Only think of over fifty thousand men lying encamped in a vast plain, to be seen, at a few glances, in different directions. I do not know how far the rebels are from us; we see or hear nothing of them at present.

We have been moving our camp every day since we reached the James river, and are now about two miles from it. We may have to stay here some time, and we may move on to Richmond, up the James, under cover of our gunboats, and clear the place out. I am ready for anything, move or rest, it makes no difference. Our troops of the army of the Potomac have implicit confidence in McClellan, and all seem satisfied that his movement to the left, has been the salvation of his army. Many rumors concerning him are current here, but I presume they are all unfounded, some to the effect that McClellan and Stanton will both be superseded—Halleck to be placed in command of the army, Scott to be made Secretary of War, &c., &c. They had better reinforce McClellan sufficiently, and then let him try it again. He is by no means beaten, but has made a movement to the left and towards the James, in order to save his army, the only course he could pursue; besides, we have whipped the enemy at every battle, and killed and wounded two of them for one of us. I am glad to hear of the comfortable quarters provided for the sick and wounded at Albany. It must be pleasant at the Albany Barracks Hospital for the soldiers taken there. * * * * I am right glad mother "does as she does," sending the soldiers delicacies, and I can somewhat appreciate the feeling such gifts must inspire in the bosoms of the recipients of them. It is gratifying to us here in active service to know that our comrades are so well cared for in their time of trouble, and I can assure you that it is a great incentive to us to renewed exertions in the field. Those who remember the sick and wounded soldier, and administer consolation and comfort to him in his distress, must feel that they are doing their duty and serving their country full as much as those who face the foe in the grim battle, amid screeching shells and whistling bullets; and so surely as the God of Nations exists, so surely must a blessing from Him be the reward of their labors of love. I was much shocked to hear of Melville Marble's death, but all must die, and an early death saves one from much toil and anguish. Was he prepared? If so, all is well. I sympathize deeply with his family, but many family circles mourn the loss of some who have fallen within one short week; and some, the only one that that circle contained. Who can tell the mourning; that the contest which has continued since the 27th of June has occasioned. Forty-iive thousand reported to have been killed and wounded; fiftteeen thousand of that number accredited to the Federals.

I might tell you of awful sights I have witnessed; of human forms mangled in every conceivable manner; of straggling soldiers shot dead by the dragoons in our forced march, because they would not join their regiments; of the marches by day, and the marches by night; of the destruction of arms and equipments for which we could not provide transportation, although our train of army wagons was over twenty miles long; but you would sicken at the recital of them, and they being now over and gone, the memory and recital of them would do no good. Our regiment, although under hot fire, has been very fortunate, having lost but forty-one in killed, wounded and missing. I myself have escaped any injury whatever, and trust I may come safely through all the contests yet to be endured. My trust is on high, and faithfulness to my duty is my firm intention, leaving consequences with Him who "notes even a sparrow's fall." I send my love to all. Good bye.

From your brother,

From the following letters we gather the events of interest that occurred during August and September, 1862.

Camp near Hampton, Va., August 21, 1862.

Dear Mary—I received your letter of the 13th, an hour or two ago, for which I am much obliged. I write to you this evening more to let you all at home know that I am well and alive, and that our Army of the Potomac has arrived safely here, without any attack by the enemy. I will give you a little account of the movements of our division from the commencement of our movement.

We started the 16th of this month, Saturday afternoon, at four o'clock. We brought up the rear of the whole army, the Sixth Maine and Ayres' Battery being the last infantry and artillery to leave the encampment. We marched that night as far as Charles City Court-House. I can not tell how many miles it is from Harrison's Landing or Berkely to the Court-House. You might take a map and examine our course from Harrison's Landing to the camp here. We encamped at ten that evening, and the next morning at six we moved off, and encamped at three p. m., Sunday, after crossing the Chickahominy river, near its intersection with the James, on a very fine pontoon bridge, which had been put together in nine hours, and was as firm and solid as a floor. We encamped on the banks of the Chickahominy, and started at six and a half a. m., Monday. We marched to Williamsburg, and through it, encamping at two p. m. three miles from it. At six and a half a. m., Tuesday, we started again, and marched past Yorktown, and encamped two miles below it, on the York river, at one p. m. Started at five and a half a. m., Wednesday, and marched to Great Bethel, and encamped at eleven and a half a. m. near the battle ground of Bethel. Started at four and a half a. m., Thursday (to-day), and reached this camp at nine and a half a. m. We expect to be encamped here a day or two, and then proceed by transport to—I don't know where. During our entire journey from Harrison's Landing to this place we have had splendid weather, the sun being rather too powerful sometimes, and the dust on some roads being almost stilling. We got along very well, however, and have arrived here safe and sound. * * * * I received Kate's letter, and will answer it as soon as I get a chance. I do not know when this letter will go off, but I hope either to-night or to-morrow morning. My love to all.

From your brother,

On board Steamship "Arago,"
August 23, 1862.

Dear Mother—I write to you a few lines to-day, though I do not know when the mail goes out, to let you know something of our whereabouts and destination. We embarked yesterday, at one and a half p. m., on board this steamer, (belonging to the Havre line), at Fortress Monroe, having started from camp at Hampton at ten and a half a. m. Immediately on our reaching the Fortress, after a fine march, there being no dust, as a gentle rain, of two hours' duration, had completely laid it, we were taken on board of a small steamer and conveyed to the "Arago," Iying at anchor in the Roads. The Fifth Wisconsin and the Forty-third New York were both taken on board the same vessel, and by dark we had all our stores and baggage with us, they having been all brought out to this vessel by small steamers. We lay at anchor till this morning, and at daylight proceeded on our \oyage. We are now, three p. m., going up the Potomac, our destination being, as the Captain of the vessel informed me, "Aquia Creek." I do not know yet whether we shall go into camp there, or be sent on to reinforce Pope's army at once on our disembarkation. I am very well indeed, and enjoy this trip very much, as the accommodations are very fine. * * * * I am still in command of the regiment (Lieut. Col. Baker not having joined the regiment yet, and Col. Vinton being absent on a sick leave), and have a good deal of anxiety and care on my mind at this time of marching and transporting troops. I will write again as soon as we get encamped, and let you know where we are. My love to all at home.

Your loving son,

Camp California, near Alexandria, Va.
August 29, 1862.

Dear Eliza—Your letter reached me yesterday, and was perused with much pleasure. We are encamped, pro tem., near Alexandria, on the road, or rather in a fine field situated on the road, leading to Fairfax. We encamped here on Sunday night last, or rather Monday morning. All our Army of the Potomac except Keyes' Corps, which was left to garrison and guard Yorktown, have arrived here, and lie encamped between here and Fairfax. Rumor says Gen. Pope has fallen back and is in full retreat before the rebels, but I can not vouch for the truth of it. The rebels made a raid on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, on our forces guarding the railroad near Manassas, and stragglers and runaways from the army there, say that our forces were terribly cut up, and beaten badly. The Eleventh New York Battery, (the Havelock's, Capt. Von Putkammer), are reported to have been badly handled by the enemy, and to have lost almost ail, if not every one of their guns, and many belonging to the battery are reported missing, either killed or prisoners. Very unfortunate affair for so promising a company of soldiers. * * * * It may be untrue, or a greatly exaggerated report of the affair, but I fear it may be too true. One regiment of cavalry, the Twelfth Pennsylvania, broke, and then run, many of them never halting till they were arrested by our pickets on the road near our camp. I saw and conversed with many of these latter, and a more frightened and distracted set of men I never saw. No two of them told the same story, but all of thorn agreed our forces were badly cut up. I've asked one of them: " Where are your wounded, if your regiment was so badly cut up?" He replied: "Our officers commanded us to retreat," and it seems they were retreating, and would have retreated to Alexandria, if they had not been stopped by our guards. Somebody is to blame for the disgraceful affair, and Gen. McClellan will cause the matter to be sifted to the bottom, as the Twelfth Pennsylvania Cavalry were all taken by our guards to his head-quarters. We received orders last evening to hold ourselves in readiness to march at a moment's notice. We may move to-day. I do not know where we go to. I will write home as soon as we become settled in our camp again, in case we move to-day or to-morrow. * * * *

From your brother,

Camp near Fort Worth, Va., Sept. 3d, 1862.

Dear Mary—Our regiment and division are encamped once more. This time we are encamped on a fine, level plateau, on top of a hill, adjoining Fort Worth, about two and a half miles from Alexandria. I have not written home for some time, and for good reasons: First, I had no paper with me, no ink, no pen; second, no mail has been sent off from our division since Thursday last. I send a letter to Eliza, to-day, written last Thursday evening. I have carried it in my pocket since that time, and it has been almost to "Bull Run" since then. Our division moved last Friday morning, at six o'clock, and marched some five or six miles that day, formed line of battle, and encamped behind our stacks of arms. Started on Saturday morning, at a quarter past eight o'clock. We marched very rapidly that day, having no baggage along to impede us; our only baggage being one blanket to a man, and an overcoat, if any had one. Passed through Fairfax at twelve m.; through Centreville, and to within half a mile of Bull Run. The battle had been raging fiercely to our left, on the other side of Bull Run, but by the time we got to within that distance of it, night came on, and we were ordered back, to occupy the fortifications at Centreville. We arrived at half past ten p. m., having been on the march from a quarter to eight till that time. We were ordered into a large rifle pit, and were ready for an attack from the enemy, at any moment. Our troops were very tired indeed, and the disappointment of the men, in marching back to Centreville, some six miles, caused more fatigue than marching twelve miles forward would have done. I laid down at one end of the fortification, in my overcoat, and, sharing my blanket with another officer, went to sleep at once—and was wakened up at four a. m., by the rain running down my neck. It rained very hard all Sunday morning, and we lay in the rifle pit, in mud and rain, waiting to see if old "Reb," would attack us. But no attack. We were moved out at twelve, to another position, and lay encamped there all night. We remained here all Monday, till half past nine p. m., when we moved toward Fairfax, and encamped at half past one a. m., Tuesday, having marched four hours through the darkness and mud; the latter rendered very deep by a tremendously heavy thunder shower in the afternoon. We encamped near Fairfax, the men lying down by their arms, and their clothes being covered with mud up to their knees, and their feet muddy and wet, they slept till 8 a. m. It was a very cold morning, and I shivered when I got off from the wet ground, in spite of the sun's bright rays. We moved from Fairfax at half past two p. m., Tuesday, having been in the line of battle in the woods, all day, expecting an attack from the enemy's cavalry. We then marched towards Alexandria, and reached our old camp, California, at ten p. m., having marched some fifteen miles from two and a half to ten p. m. This we call pretty smart marching. Our men were pretty well tired out, and had had nothing to eat all day, except some green corn which they got in the corn fields as they came along. Our rations awaited us in camp, and I got my supper at half past eleven, and then went to bed, or to my blanket, rather, but not to sleep a great deal; for just as I was in a good sleep, some orderly from "head-quarters" came to my tent, and woke me up, with some order. We moved to this present camp at seven a. m., and are now once more at rest; for how long a time I know not. It may be till Stonewall Jackson endeavors to take Washington. I send you a little little flower I got from one of the forts at Centreville. Flowers are rather scarce "in these parts," but I will try and send you some more. I could send you some splendid bunches of the trumpet flower, but they are too large. That was a beautiful little flower you sent me; it is preserved finely. Much obliged for it. Don't forget the plums when the box is sent. How I would like some of those Imperials or McLaughlins or Green Gages to eat fresh. I have seen no plums here, but the Damson and the Horse plums. But I must close my letter. * * * * My love to all, and regards to all my friends. I am still in command of the Forty-third.

Your brother,

Camp near Sharpsburg, Md., Sept. 20, 1862.

Dear Anna—I take the first opportunity I have had of answering your letter of September 4th, which I received on the 7th instant, during our bivouack at Kockville, Md. We have been on the march continually since the evening of the 6th, and I have had no chance either to write home, or to get any material to do so. All my baggage (a small valise) is in the wagons, and I could not get pen, ink or paper for love or money, and there was no opportunity of sending a letter when written. We have been on the march now two weeks this evening, and all the bed or covering I have had during this time has been my overcoat and rubber coat, which I carry strapped on the back of my saddle. The weather has been very favorable to our movements (a rain once in a while incommoding us but very little), and I have sufiered but little inconvenience from sleeping on the ground. I do not know when this letter will go to the post-ofiice, as we send out no regular mail yet. I write to you now, having borrowed this one-half sheet of foolscap, to dispel any fears you might have for my safety. We have had a very severe, if not the most severe battle of the war. It has continued five or six days, and the dead and wounded, on either side, are counted by thousands. The loss of the rebels on the last day of the battle Wednesday, was fearful in the extreme; and the battle field on Friday morning, after the rebels had left and no damage could be done by their sharpshooters, to persons going out on it, presented an awful appearance, the dead being in some places near fences, and clumps of trees and rocks, piled up in heaps. The smell arising from the field, or rather fields, was almost stilling, many of the dead lying unburied three or four days under a hot sun. This has been the first time I have had a good opportunity of visiting a battle field in every part, and of examining all the different positions held and taken during the engagement.

The battle field of this last action comprised a large extent of ground, our line of battle running a distance of four or five miles, and along its entire length the dead and wounded were gathered. If I had time now, and the paper, I would give you a detailed account of the movements of our division and corps, since Saturday evening the 6th instant, (on which evening we marched from Alexandria to our camp near Tenallytown), and of our march to this time, where we are encamped within one-quarter of a mile of the Potomac, on the Maryland side of the river. We have driven the rebels out of Maryland completely, compelling them to leave their dead and wounded on the soil of this State uncared for by them. Their rear guard crossed the river yesterday, and last evening, at five o'clock, we reached our present camp.

I am very well, having never enjoyed better health than at present, although I do not feel as clean and comfortable as I would with a good change of clothing. We may follow up the rebel army in Virginia, or lie still for a while. We are prepared for either, although a little rest for a few days would be very acceptable. My love to all at home.

Your brother,

Camp No. 47, in the Field, Near Sharpsburg, Mb.,
September 20, 1862.

Dear Eliza—I received your letter of the 9th instant last Thursday, while the regiment, of which I have the temporary command, was lying on the field of our last battle, in support of the First N. Y. Artillery. It seemed strange to receive and peruse a letter from home amid such scenes of carnage and death. Just think of reading a letter, written in peaceful Albany, where all is quiet and undisturbed, here on the battle field the day after an action of the most severe nature, and with here and there a dead man lying before you, and your whole regiment lying on the ground in line of battle, bayonets fixed and pieces loaded, and fingers on the trigger, ready to draw at a moment's notice; eyes steadily fixed to the front, and eager to discern any advance of the enemy; and on either flank of the regiment a battery of six pieces, and their accompaniments—caissons, limbers and ammunition wagons; men standing ready at the loaded cannon, ready to throw a shower of iron balls or screeching shells at the enemy on his first appearance in force, and you may have some idea of the scene of last Thursday morning. I would give you a lengthy account of all our movements since we left, two weeks ago to-night, and marched through Washington to Maryland, and from there to the battle field, but I must reserve that for some future letter, and content myself with a few lines. I wrote a letter to Anna this afternoon, and sent it off this evening. While I am writing these words, our mail has come in, and a letter from Mary for me. I am glad mother is getting better, and trust and pray her health may be completely restored. * * * * I still ride Lieutenant Colonel's gray horse. He has not yet returned to his regiment, but will shortly return, as he has over four hundred men for the regiment, and has orders from the War Department to return when he has five hundred recruits. I have been in command of the Forty-third since the 3d of August, and have quite an experience as a commanding officer. Gen. Hancock has been temporarily detailed to command Gen. Richaedson's Division, he having been wounded, and unable to command. Col. Cobb, Fifth Wisconsin Volunteers, assumes command of the brigade pro tem. We have completely driven the rebels from "my Maryland," and we are under orders to move at two a. m. to-morrow, so I must close and retire to my blanket. My love to all at home, and my regards to all my friends. I send you a letter from the battle field in lieu of a flower, which I have not been able to find, for you.

The following letters will be read with interest, as illustrating Col. Wilson's confidence in the final triumph of our arms; his personal bravery on the field; his benevolence and his lofty patriotism in resisting the temptations to resign and return to the peace and comforts of his happy home:

Camp near Belle Plain, Decemher 9, 1862.

Dear Kate—I have jnst received your letter of the 1st and Eliza's of the 2d instant. As we are under orders to move at a moment's notice to-morrow, I will write you a few lines to-day, as I may not have an opportunity to do so again for some days; for in case of a move we cannot depend upon the mails being regular. We spent Thanksgiving in camp, without a turkey, as we were unable to procure any; but we had a Thanksgiving present in the shape of a chaplain for the Forty-third, the Rev. Mr. Osborn, lately of West Troy, who gives promise of being a useful and energetic chaplain. I sincerely trust he may do much good to the regiment. We moved from our camp, near Aquia, on Thursday last, and encamped near Brooks' Station, on the railroad from Aquia creek to Fredericksburg. It snowed hard all day Friday while we lay there, the snow melting fast, and at night when it ceased, there were but two or three inches of it on the ground. It froze a little that night, and on Saturday we moved to our present camp, the road being very muddy, the day cheerless and cold. Our wagons could not reach us that night, so we bivouacked, without blankets, by a good fire. The night was very cold, the ground freezing very hard, and on Sunday, at twelve m., our wagon train reached us with tents and food. The weather since has been very cold, the ground remaining frozen solid, and the roads firm, and though rough, in good condition for teaming. Winter campaigning, if this be a sample, is not very pleasant or comfortable work; but if we can overcome the rebellion by a vigorous campaign this winter, I for one am willing to undergo any hardship consequent thereto; but I have not much faith in a campaign in the winter, as it has seldom or ever proved successful. If we once get into winter quarters, I will try to get a furlough, but I begin to fear my being able to procure one by Christmas.

The President's Message meets my hearty approbation; the proposed "compensated emancipation" especially. I trust it will meet with the earnest support of every lover of our Union and of humanity. Should it be adopted, the war, I think, would be materially shortened, and final peace be hastened. I think the doom of slavery approaches, and the end of the war will be the end of its reign.

I cannot but believe that this Republic will pass through its present trials unscathed; and although darkness spreads over it, and every thing looks dreary, yet the sun of freedom and peace will soon arise, and the day of prosperity appear brighter in contrast with the late obscurity. God only knows the suffering and hardships of the soldier, and how welcome would be the tidings that peace was once more restored. Till that good news goes forth, let each stand firm, and the right must be the might. My love to all at home. Write soon to

Your loving brother,

Camp near Rappahannock, Dec. 19th, 1862.

Dear Eliza—I have at last an opportunity of answering your letter of Dec. 2d. Our tents came last evening, and I am once more permitted to handle a pen, and to write home. I embraced the first opportunity to write a note in pencil, to Mother, to remove any fears or rumors which might have existed as regards my own personal safety. I have myself, as well as all the officers of the Forty-third, escaped unscathed. The regiment had eleven men wounded, of which but two will prove very serious; one causing the amputation of the leg, above the knee; the other I cannot tell about, as the man was removed to the Corps hospital, and I have heard nothing since from him. He was shot by a bullet, which entered the-back of the neck just below the skull; he was carried off from the field insensible. You will, no doubt, learn all the particulars of the engagement from the newspapers much more fully than I could give them to you.

We crossed the river, Friday morning, and lay in line of battle till Saturday morning, when the engagement commenced in right earnest. We laid in different parts of the field till Monday evening, when the whole army was safely moved back across the river, without the loss of a man. Night before last was a very cold one, and as we had no tents, we suffered some from the cold. We have been without our tents just one week, having only our blankets and overcoats to cover us. But the weather proved uncommonly favorable, and we have all become rather tough; so we do not complain at all of anything we have to suffer; our only murmurings and complaints being against the misfortune which seems to attend our arms.

The carnage attending this last battle was perfectly awful. Hancock's Division went into the light with live thousand men; came out eighteen hundred strong, losing, in killed and wounded, three thousand two hundred men, thirty-two officers killed, and one hundred and fifty officers wounded. I have this account from an aid of the General, who had his horse shot from under him. Our division not being actually engaged with the infantry of the enemy, suffered very slightly. We had to endure a very hot fire from the batteries of the enemy, however, and not a man flinched from his post. The discipline of the army, at least as far as I know of it, is all that could be expected; our recrossing the river in the time and manner we did, could only be done by well disciplined troops.

I do not know what will be done by the army next, but think it must go into winter quarters—for a short time at least. Col. Baker is still absent from the regiment, and I have been in command of it for five weeks to-day. I sometimes think he intends to give me command altogether of the Forty-third, as he has not written a single letter to any officer since he returned the last time. If he does not come back to the regiment soon, I shall give up all hopes of getting a furlough, as the time for it will be in a few days, or not at all this winter. I could not think of asking for one, if I was in command of the regiment—as it would demand my whole attention.

You ask about my horse. He is a large fellow, six years old, iron gray, and can travel very fast. He was the best looking horse I could get from the corral; and although very lean when I got him, he promised to make a fine horse. He is improving some at present, although he has had a pretty hard time of it standing out these cold nights. The army, in a winter campaign, is a very hard place for horses, and many die of exposure and lack of feed and attention. * * *

Our new Chaplln, Rev. Mr. Osborn, has proved himself quite a hero—accompanying the regiment on the field, and going through the shelling quite courageously. He proved of great assistance in the Corps hospital, acting as recorder of all the wounded brought into one of the departments of it, and he has been detailed to go to Washington in charge of a number (ninety) of wounded, thus saving the services of one or more surgeons. He left on Thursday afternoon with his charge, and has not yet returned. He is a worker, and one of the few men I think peculiarly adapted to the service. I have great expectations of the good he will do in his labors in the army, and think him just the man we have been looking and waiting for, for so long a time.

* * * Give my regards to all my friends, and wish them all for me, as I wish all at home, " A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."

Your loving brother,

Camp near Belle Plain, Va., Dec. 20, 1862.

Dear Anna—To-day is Saturday, and a terribly cold blowing one; it froze very hard last evening, and was a severe night on horses and men. I have not been able to get a stove for my tent yet, and it is as cold as charity in it, in spite of a huge fire in front of it. I am now sitting in the Adjutant's tent writing to you. He managed to get a little stove, and his tent is the only comfortable one in camp. We moved to this camp yesterday; it was a fine short march of some four miles length. We are encamped very near our former camp near Belle Plain. We have a fine camp ground, a very good supply of oak wood standing near camp, and awaiting the soldier's axe. I am still in command of the regiment—Col. Baker being absent either at Albany or New York. I do not know when he will return, but expect him every day

. The whole Army of the Potomac, under General Burnside, has fallen back from the Rappahannock, and lies encamped in the vicinity of Belle Plain. Our future course of action is as yet uncertain. We shall probably lie here for three or four weeks, and then I should not be surprised if it would be "on to Richmond" again via James river. I think everything will depend on the movements of the enemy, and the course pursued by Congress this and the next month. Yet I hardly think we shall lie idle longer than one month. If Col. Baker were present with the regiment, I should at once forward an application for leave of absence; but until his return I do not feel at liberty to do it, even were I certain that it would be granted. I begin to fear the possibility of my getting a leave this winter, as I do not hear of any being granted at present.

I am glad that the citizens of Albany are alive to their duty in assisting sick and wounded soldiers. The last battle will fearfully swell the list, and too great efforts cannot be put forth for their assistance. If I could only get my pay, I would send mother my mite to use for charitable purposes; but, you know, we have received no pay from the United States since July, and very soon there will be six months' pay due us. I suppose sixty or seventy dollars could be expended very easily in charity if I should send it home, which I will do as soon as I am paid.

We had twelve men wounded in the Forty-third on the 13th and l4th inst. We were under a very hot fire of shot and shell on both of those days, and it is a miracle that one-half of the regiment were not wounded. This brigade is the most fortunate one, I think, in the whole army, as we have never met with severe loss, although our positions have always been among the most exposed. I can only account for it in the superior generalship displayed by its commander. Our division (Smith's old one), at present under command of General Howe, has the name of being one of the best fighting divisions in the Army of the Potomac. At the last battle our picket line, composed of two Vermont regiments, the Second and Fourth, held in check and fought for over half an hour the combined picket and line of battle of the enemy opposed to us. They fought like lions, and many of them fell dead and wounded. They are no more than a sample of the regiments composing the division. But I must finish my letter by wishing you all at home, and all my friends, a "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year," as I hope this will reach you in time for the first of these holidays. My love to all at home. How much I desire to be with you on Christmas or New Year; but here is my place.

Your ever loving brother,

Camp near Belle Plain, Va., Dec. 23, 1862.

Dear Kate—I write you a few lines to-day, more especially to let you know that I am well, than to give you any news. Nothing of importance has transpired for the past few days; the army, as far as I can ascertain, remaining "in statu quo." The weather has again moderated, and to-day is as balmy as May. I think a storm is not far off, as it rained for a few minutes last night. The roads are again quite soft, as the frost is coming out, which had entered the ground some two or three inches. The transportation of army supplies by wagons is not, however, much hindered as yet by the mud, but in case of a heavy rain it would be very heavy work.

Rumors are current that the Army of the Potomac will not be allowed to go into any permanent winter quarters, but that in the course of a few days this part of it, in the vicinity of Fredericksluirg, will be moved by transports to the James river, and thence to the vicinity of Harrison's Landing or Petersburg, via the Appomattox. I should not be surprised in the least if these rumors should prove true, and that New Year's day would find me on the James, or in the vicinity of the devoted city of Richmond.

Rumors are also current that the entire Cabinet, except Stanton and Halleck, have resigned. This I hardly credit, as I think Secretary Seward would hardly desert the President now, in the time of his need. I think the upshot of the whole affair will be that "Little Mac" will be called to take command of the entire army of the United States, which I do not doubt he would do if it were offered to him, as I think he would do anything in his power to conquer the rebellion, and win for our arms the long looked for success and victory. Although things look gloomy and dispiriting enough just now, I think that He who presides over the destinies of nations, has not yet forgotten us as a Nation, and although through much tribulation, we shall yet enter into a state of perfect peace (as far as peace on earth can be); and that in due time some one will be raised up who will lead us on to victory, and right and justice assert its authority over oppression and wickedness. Although the night still grows blacker and blacker, and not a star, even, seems to illuminate our political horizon, yet I am led to hope that the watchman may soon have to say, "the morning dawneth."

In all our depressions, in all our reverses, when our enemies seem to triumph over us, and destiny seems to frown upon us, then we have one refuge to which we can always flee; to Him who is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.

I myself, although it seems like hoping against hope, can still say with the old Roman: "Never despair of the Republic." I cannot believe that such a great country as this, such a government, such a Nation, will be permitted to be torn asunder and totally disabled; to be wrecked, and thrown to the winds; to be made the object of mockery of the whole world. I still think that our continued troubles and afflictions are all ordered by the hand of God, and if we will but acknowledge His hand, and bow before His sovereign will, all will be well; and out of the great darkness He will command the light to shine ten-fold brighter than in the days gone by.

For my part, I can only pray that I may do my duty, and that each of those in authority may do theirs; and that the hand of the Almiohty may guide and direct our government, that all things may be done to the honor and glory of God, and that we, as a people, may be brought to say: "Not unto us, not unto us, but to Thy name be the praise and glory."

Then, I think, we shall be victorious, and then we shall see peace and prosperity once more smiling upon us as of old, and we be that happy people whose God is the Lord. That this time may soon come, should be the prayer of all those whose country's cause is dear to their hearts; and for this hope alone, I remain still in the army of the Union, endeavoring to do all in my power to attain the grand object, viz: to crush the rebellion. I confess I did feel somewhat inclined to offer my resignation when I fully understood the condition of affairs after the late battle at Fredericksburg, but upon thinking the matter over, I concluded that at this time, above all others, did it become me to remain at my post, especially as the Colonel of the regiment is, and has been, absent from the regiment upwards of a month, and the command has devolved upon me, which duty I have endeavored to perform to the best of my ability. I trust I have done right in remaining, and that when the war is over, I may look back and say with satisfaction, that "I have done my duty." Happy New Year to all at home, and much love to mother and all my sisters.

From your loving brother,

Camp near Belle Plain, Va.,
Dec. 24th, I862.

Dear Mother—I was exceedingly happy to receive a letter from you day before yesterday. * * *

I do not know but what you are about right, in relation to my resigning my position in the army, and coming home. I have thought the matter over and over again, and am still considering in my mind, whether I could, or not, honorably resign, and come home; but the more I ponder over it, the more I am convinced that my duty demands my remaining where I am. "Where is your patriotism, of which you felt so proud?" seems a voice within me to ask. "Where is your firmness, your devotedness to the Republic, and its welfare; your love of justice and of freedom?" "Where your veneration for that old Flag, which, in days gone by, floated from every mast-head and from every house-top, from Maine to California?" "What excuse can you give for deserting the standard under which you have willingly enrolled yourself, now in the time of its greatest need?" " Of what benefit to your country have you been, if, after having but just learned to be of use to her, in a military point of view, you throw all your knowledge to the winds by a hasty resignation?" "Have you become so demoralized, that you fear to longer endure the privations and hardships incident to an active campaign, and rather desire to return to your home, to the more agreeable duties of civil life, while those, as little able to endure the burdens of the war as you, remain, and earn for themselves a name which shall endure as long as the Nation exists?" "Do you suppose you have done your duty, your whole duty, and that you could satisfy your conscience, that not a regret or shadow of remorse would cross it, should you be compelled in future days to carefully review your course of action?" "What answer would you make to inquiries—'Why did you resign? what made you leave the army?' "etc.

These, and other questions of similar import, continually arise, to none of which I can make a satisfactory reply; and till I can do so, I shall consider it my duty to remain in the army, not simply to idly remain, but to do my duty to my utmost ability; to rise as high as I can, honorably and fairly; to return home from the war, if God wills, with a conscience assuring me of having done my duty and having given all my power and strength to the support of my country in her hour of need, and having remained true and steadfast to the end. Rest assured, then, I have no intention of resigning, although you well know how much I desire to see you and my sisters again, to spend a few days at home—a place I cannot but hold most dear—and much more so, as I am daily convinced of the uncertainty of life, and the uncertainty of my beholding you all togetlier again on earth. But I hope a way may be opened for me to get home for a few days, and that before long. I will embrace the first opportunity to do so; and till then, ever believe me,

Your loving and affectionate son,

Did our limits allow, we would gladly publish more of the letters of this gallant Christian soldier. But these must suffice to give a view of his military career, and of his qualities as an officer and a man.

Possessing such rare talents, and distinguishing himself equally in the camp and on the battle field, he rapidly rose in rank, and we doubt not but that he would have filled with honor the highest position in the United States Army.

On the 17th of July, 1862, he was commissioned as Major, and as Lieutenant Colonel, September 24th, 1862; which rank he held till February 1st, 1864, when he received his commission as Colonel. He was in command of the regiment in 1862, from August 3d, till October 22d, commanding at the battle Antietam, September 17th. He was the only field officer present with the regiment. From November 4th till December 25th, he was in command, and was at the first battle of Fredericksburg. In 1863 he was in command of the regiment from June 17th till August 10th, leading it at the battle of Gettysburg, which was fought July 2d and 3d, 1863.

He possessed a constitution naturally very strong and healthful, yet he suffered from sickness during the encampment in the swamps before Richmond. Without proper nourishment, and unable to eat the only procurable food, he became so weak that he was not able to march with the regiment when the army withdrew from that position. For several days he found conveyance with the wagon train. He suffered also from an attack of camp fever in July, 1862, but remained all the time with the regiment.

Col. Wilson yielded to none of the temptations of camp life, but whatever he saw of evil seemed to be only a warning to him to shun it. He refrained ever from innocent indulgences, that his example to others might be the purer. An officer who was associated with him from the beginning of his early career, said of him, that "he was the most perfect man he ever saw." His commanding personal appearance; his firmness; his love of the profession of arms; his accurate knowledge and strict observance personally of all duties connected with a soldier's life; his pure, unselfish patriotism, and above all, his faith in God, eminently fitted him for the position of commander.

He was always hopeful and confident of the success of the army and believed in the vigorous prosecution of the war. He had no personal fear in conflict, firmly believing that his life was in God's hands, and that under his protection he was as safe on the battle field as he would be at home. He was entirely devoted to the interests of the men under his charge, both as captain of a company and after his promotion to the field. He was always interested for the religious character of his associates in the army, an instance of which is seen in a letter to his mother, written January 16th, 1864, desiring her to present to a brother officer, whom he feared was careless about religion, a Bible similar to one she had sent him. Of course, the gentleman was entirely unaware of his Colonel's agency in the matter, and received the book when he was in Albany, with evident pleasure and promises to read it. This officer fell in the battle of the Wilderness.

He won, in large measure, the friendship and esteem of those with whom he was associated. A letter written soon after his death, by a brother Colonel, speaks of him as many felt: "I cannot close this without adding something in memory of the brave dead, my associate in the camp and on the held of battle, and personal friend, Col. John Wilson. In his death, our beloved country lost one of its firmest supporters and purest patriots; the service an accomplished soldier, and a refined and Christian gentleman. What the loss is to his family, the anguish of a mother's heart, and the deep grief of affectionate sisters, can alone tell. He was beloved by all who knew him personally, and honored and respected by all with whom he met. In his death, I lost a pure-minded and high-souled friend. No fitting eulogium can be paid to the dead who die in the defence of their country. Their deeds are more lasting than words, and no nobler epitaph can be written than 'killed in battle, May 6, 1864.'"

Single-hearted himself, he never attributed unworthy motives to others, and strove always to do his duty without sparing himself.

The chaplain of the regiment says of him in a recent letter: "I think I never knew a man who so completely and truly made duty his watchword, and never one who had so thorough a conviction, in all circumstances, that the place of duty was the place of safety; and out of this conviction, I think, in great part grew his remarkable coolness in danger. He believed that God directed and ordered the events of life and death, and that we could not, by any action of our own, change them. The result of this was a character which, in inhesitancy and directness, was perfectly Cromwellian."

Maj. Gen, W. S. Hancock testifies to his character as a soldier in the following words:

"Col. John Wilson, of the Forty-third New York Volunteers, was well known to me, and served under my command, in the Army of the Potomac, for a period of more than a year.

"As his conmiander, I was early attracted by his many good qualities, as a faithful and able officer, and had frequent opportunities to notice his character and conduct. In paying this slight tribute to one who attested his devotion to his country by the sacrifice of his life, I desire to express in the strongest terms my appreciation of the many admirable and brilliant qualities he displayed while under my command. His amiable and chivalrous character, added to his gentle bearing, made him friends wherever he was known; and when he fell at the 'Wilderness,' while leading his command against the enemy, he was only exhibiting his accustomed example of daring courage and rare devotion to duty. He was mourned by myself, and by every officer and soldier with whom he had been associated."

The following are the circumstances attending the death of Col. John Wilson, as given by his personal servant :

"On the morning of May 6, 1864 (Friday), Col. Wilson was slightly wounded in the calf of the leg during a hasty skirmish. He paid no attention to the wound, which had no serious effect, as he was in excellent health and spirits, up to the hour of his receiving the wound which resulted in his death.

"This occurred on the same day between the hours of five and six p. m., when the enemy made a most determined and fierce attack on the right of the Sixth Corps. The division on the right of Neil's Brigade gave way, and the Second Division bore for a long time the brunt of the battle.

"At the first attack, and while rushing to the front to place his regiment in the most favorable position, Col. Wilson was wounded, and the rebels charged completely over him—for awhile gaining ground. The Second Division rallying, drove the enemy from the position, recovering the person of their beloved commander.

"It was found that the right knee was shattered by a rifle ball, and he was immediately carried some three miles to the rear to the Fifth Corps hospital—the enemy having in his temporary march cut off connnunication with the Sixth Corps field hospital. At ten a. m. the following day the surgeons decided that amputation might perhaps save the Colonel's life, and the limb was amputated. As he was carried from the operating table and laid beside Lieut. Col. Fryer, the latter said : 'I am sorry, Colonel.' The heroic answer was: 'Major, it is all for the old flag.'

"About an hour after the operation, the Colonel was seized with a violent pain in the left side, which continued to increase in violence until about twenty minutes after three. This violent pain seemed to be the direct cause of his death, which took place at about half past three. His last words were addressed to his faithful attendant, Moon, and were these: 'I can't stand it.'

"That evening the whole army train, with the wounded, was to go to Rappahannock Station, but the enemy being reported at the fords of the Rapidan the destination was changed, and for some time it was uncertain where they were to go.

"Sergeant Sweeney of Company A, attached to the ammunition and supply trains of the Artillery Brigade, Sixth Corps, did his best to bring otf the body of Colonel Wilson. For some time he was enabled to carry the body, which had been carefully wrapped in blankets, but at about ten o'clock the medical director ordered the body to be buried, which was done.

"The grave was marked with a simple head-board, and in order to identify the spot a rifle was buried in the same grave."

Extract of a letter written to Mrs. Wilson by William Moon:

"As soon as I found out that the Colonel was wounded, I went to the hospital where he was. I saw him on a table under the influence of chloroform. After his limb was amputated, he revived: I went to him, and he said he wanted me to stay with him. After that they removed him to the tent where Major Fryer was. We made a bed beside him for the Colonel. He seemed to feel pretty well until about half past two, when be was taken with a pain in his left side. I went to the surgeon and told him, and he gave me a mustard plaster to put on his side. That did not ease tbe pain, and I went and told the surgeon and be came himself to see him, and he gave him a pill, but nothing could ease that pain. Just before he died be took my hand in his, and said: 'Moon, I can't stand it.' Those were the last words he said; he died very easy. I think if any man went to heaven he did."

When the gentleman who went to bring home the remains arrived at the scene of the conflict the ground was in possession of the enemy, as our forces, with the wounded, had withdrawn to Fredericksburg. He was well acquainted with the country about there, and procured a flag of truce from Gen. Meade that he might bring off Col. Wilson's body. Tbe rebels refused to acknowledge a flag of truce from any other officer than Gen. Grant. It was procured, and he was enabled to find the grave and bring away the body in safety.

The remains reached Albany on Wednesday, May 25th. The funeral took place on the following Sunday, May 29th.

To appreciate tbe services of this distinguished officer, we need only trace the history of the Forty-third Regiment that was fired with his zeal and animated by his patriotic enthusiasm.

The regiment left Albany for Washington, Sept. 16th, 1861. It was mustered into the United States service Sept 22d, 1861, and was, by orders of the War Department, attached to the brigade commanded by Brig. Gen, W, S. Hancock, Smith's Division. It took part in all the movements of the Army of the Potomac, from Centreville, via Alexandria, to Fortress Monroe and the Peninsula, arriving in front of the rebel works, at Lee's Mills, April 5th, 1862. April 16th it supported the batteries of the division in their spirited attack on the rebel works, losing one man wounded. April 28th it covered a working party beyond the picket line; skirmished with the enemy for an hour and a half, losing one man killed, one officer and eleven men wounded. On the withdrawal of the army from the front of Richmond, the Forty-third held the extreme right of the line of the Chickahominy, thrice repulsing the famous Eighth Georgia Regiment, and holding the ground until after dark, contributing greatly to the successful withdrawal of Porter across the river. It lost, in the action, forty-three men killed and wounded. Throughout the famous seven days' battles, and in the subsequent campaign of Pope before Washington, and McClellan in Maryland, the regiment was present at every engagement from Golden Farm to Antietam. While at Harrison's Landing the old companies were consolidated into five, and five full companies were recruited and officered in Albany, N. Y., to fill the regiment to the required standard. These companies were mustered into the U. S. service Sept. 14th, 1862, and joined the old regiment in Maryland.

After the battle of Fredericksburg, where the regiment lost twelve men killed and wounded, it was deemed advisable to organize a Light Division for the most arduous duties. The Forty-third was one of the five regiments selected from the army to constitute the infantry force. At the battle of Fredericksburg, the Light Division carried the pontoons one mile and a quarter by hand and at night, completely surprising the enemy. When the first assaulting column on the morning of May 3d had been repulsed in its attack upon Marye's Heights, the task of carrying this redoubtable position was entrusted to the Light Division. The colors of the Forty-third were the first planted upon their part of the works. The regiment captured in the charge two guns and seventy-five prisoners, pursuing the retreating enemy to Salem Heights, and the following night, together with the Sixth Maine regiment, repulsing a brigade of the enemy who attempted to cut off the retreat to Bank's Ford; losing in both actions, two hundred men and eleven oflicers. In the second Maryland campaign, the brigade to which the Forty-third was attached, marched thirty-two miles in twenty-four hours. July 2d, 1863, it reached Gettysburg to take part in that battle; drove back the enemy's skirmishers on the extreme right and established a line, which was held until the close of the engagement, losing one officer and two privates killed. In the subsequent movements to the Rapidan, the regiment bore its share of the dangers and hardships. On the occasion of the brilliant affair at Rappahannock, resulting in the capture of four guns, two brigades of infantry and eight battle flags, the Forty-third drove the enemy's skirmishers on the extreme right, procuring a position for artillery, and preventing the escape of any part of the force up the river, thus contributing to the completeness of the victory. The loss in the action was four men killed and six wounded.

After the Chancellorsville campaign the Light Division was discontinued and the regiment was assigned to the Third Brigade, Second Division, Sixth Corps, in which it subsequently served.

Col. Wilson, during his whole connection with the regiment, was never absent from it at the time of an engagement, and passed through the following battles: Lee's Mills, April 29th,1862; Warwick Creek, April 30th, 1862; Siege of Yorktown, 1862; Golden's Farm, June 27th, 1862; Seven days' battles, 1862; Antietam, Sept. 17th, 1862; Fredericksburg, Dec. 12th, 13th, 14th, 1862; Marye's Heights, May 3d, 1863; Salem Church, May 3d, 4th, 1863; Bank's Ford, May 4th, 1863; Fredericksburg, June 5th, 1863; Gettysburg, July 2d, 3d, 1863; Rappahannock Station, Nov. 7th, 1863; Locust Grove, Nov. 27th, 1863; Mine Run, Nov. 29th, 1863; Wilderness, May 5th and 6th, 1864.

He was in the service of the United States from August 3d, 1861, till the time of his death, May 7th, 1864.

Each of these names and dates is radiant with the valor, the pure patriotism and the iron energy of our departed hero. Could we give the minute details of the part he bore in these successive bloody scenes—could we depict his thousand acts of bravery, of self-sacrifice, and of devotion to his country's cause, the history would present one of the most brilliant records of the war.

Of this remarkable regiment and its gallant officers, the Albany Knickerbocker thus speaks, under date of May 17th, 1864.


"Few regiments engaged in the recent desperate conflicts at the Wilderness and Spottsylvania Court House suffered more severely, or accomplished more brilliant achievements than the gallant old Forty-third. Its previous record was a proud one, but its late daring demonstrations climax anything heretofore undertaken by the noble boys. Capt. Wm. Thompson, of Company H is now in the city sutfering from a severe wound in the foot, which he sustained the first day while in charge of a picket line. From him we learn some of the actions of the regiment during the tight, and also how his gallant Colonel and Major met their deaths.

"The Forty-third Regiment was in Neil's Brigade, which was deployed to the front as skirmishers on the first day, supported by Seymour's Brigade. On that occasion the regiment lost only four men. On the second day the regiment was formed in line of battle for a charge on the enemy, who were undertaking to execute a flank movement on the Forty-third. Col. Wilson seeing this, gave the order: 'Charge front to rear on eighth company;' and the order was no sooner uttered than he received the fatal wound. He was carried from the field by a couple of his men, when amputation was resorted to, and he died from the effects. His only words were: 'I care not for myself, but my poor mother.'

"About an hour subsequent to Col. Wilson being shot, Major Wallace, who was in charge of his old company, was killed. This company lost all but one man, Thomas Kelly, of Canal street, in killed, wounded, or missing. The command now devolved upon Lieut. Col. Fryer, who led the regiment in the charge. They carried everything before them until they reached the rifle pits of the enemy, into which they charged in a terrific manner. Christopher Hackett, the color-bearer, was seen to plant the colors on the enemy's works, but neither he nor the colors were seen afterwards, and both are supposed to be captured. He was a brother of Miss Hackett, the celebrated singer. Two rebel colors were captured by the Forty-third; one of these was in the hands of Capt. Burhans, who was carrying it off, when he himself was captured and taken off a prisoner.

"It was while superintending all these noble deeds that Lieut. Col. Fryer received his mortal wounds, and from which he has since died. The regiment lost all its field officers—killed. All the line officers who entered the fight were either killed, wounded, or missing, save Capt. Visscher and Lieut. Reid. The regiment went in with about four hundred men, and came out with eighty-six. This is a record that few regiments can show, and one of which our citizens and country should feel proud."

The bereaved family of the departed Christian soldier were consoled by several touching letters from friends, and testimonials to the worth of Col. Wilson. The following is from Prof. Murray, of Rutger's College, formerly Principal of the Albany Academy:

Mrs. Wilson:

My Dear Madam—You ask me to write down my recollections of your son, John Wilson, late Colonel of the Forty-third regiment of New York Volunteers. The task you ask me to perform would be a delightful one, were it not that it recalls the memory of his sad fate, and the irreparable loss which you and all of us have sustained. Recollection travels backward, in the reverse order from the march of events, and gathers up first the scenes which last transpired. And now while I sit here, trying to collect together the broken fragments which my memory retains of his life and character, the first picture which presents itself is one which I saw in April, 1804.

I was making a brief visit to my friend, Gen. Patrick, in the Army of the Potomac, which then lay in its winter quarters on the south side of the Rappahannock river. It was just prior to the opening of the campaign toward Richmond, which resulted a few weeks later in those terrible battles of the Wilderness, in which so many gallant men, and Col. Wilson among the number, lost their lives. I remember that upon the one day of sunshine, out of the rainy ones I spent in camp, I rode out with Gen. Patrick on a brief tour of observation. A young officer from the west, whose name had scarcely been heard in the Army of the Potomac, had just come to assume command of the cavalry corps. My friend called to pay his respects, and we saw for the first time Gen. Sheridan, whose name has since been heard in every civilized land. We visited the head-quarters of the Sixth Corps, then under the command of that prince of corps commanders, Gen. Sedgwick, whom the soldiers fondly called "Uncle John." As we rode away from Gen. Sedgwick's head-quarters, I remember turning to Gen. Patrick and saying: "General, I have been looking all day for fortifications, where are they?" "There they are," said he, pointing to an opposite eminence, on which a regiment was going through its evolutions. " Where," I repeated. "There, those fellows in blue, they are our fortifications. "As we rode past this regiment, its commander galloped up to us. It was Col. Wilson, and this regiment was the Forty-third New York. He took me into his tent, and we enjoyed a delightful chat on our common friends, and on matters of common interest in Albany.

The Albany Bazaar had just closed its triumphant career, and I remember with what delight he showed me the photographs, illustrative of its scenes, which you had sent him. And as he talked there of the dangers through which he had passed in the war with his regiment, and spoke so bravely and hopefully of the coming campaign, which they all knew would be a desperate one, I thought then, and I think now, that I never had seen a more noble, gallant looking officer. And when a few weeks later I heard of his death, it was one of the saddest of the many tales of sorrow which came to my ears at that terrible time.

My recollections of Col. Wilson, at the Albany Academy, are of the most pleasing description. I remember him as a bright little lad, when I first came to the Academy. I believe he had already been a student there several years before that time. Indeed, I suppose his education was begun as well as finished at this institution. His classical training was chiefiy conducted under Prof. Miller, and was, as you may be well assured, extensive and thorough.

Among a class of young men, whose classical reading extended to the Greek tragedies, and included selections from all the principal Greek and Latin authors which are read in college, he was selected as entitled to the Van Rensselaer classical medal; and what was very unusual, he was in the same year the recipient of the Caldwell medal for superior proficiency in mathematics.

As a student, he was a universal favorite with teachers and pupils. He had a manly independence about which commanded respect. He was diligent and persistent in his duties as a student, not easily discouraged, not easily elated, indeed, but working on with a steady purpose and a persevering temper. There were among his compeers young men more brilliant in particular branches, and who acquired with less labor; but there were few who, in a happy balance of faculties, and in careful habits of application, were in the race of scholarship more likely to succeed. He had a natural shrinking from prominence and publicity, and hence I think his more public duties of declamation and speaking at exhibitions, were always distasteful to him.

There were as his cotemporaries in the Academy an unusual number of young men whose character and attainments were notable. I could name many a little older than himself, and many of about his own age, who have already attained in business and professional life, positions of great usefulness and promise. There seemed to be a tone of manliness and earnestness pervading these young men, even during their academic career, which enabled one to prophecy their future integrity and success.

And yet it is sad for me, when I look at this brilliant array of young men, who were cotemporaries of Col. Wilson in the Academy, to see how many have already been cut off. John H. Meads, memorable to all who knew him for the loveliness of his person and character; Orlando Meads, Jr., his brother: Heber Smith, who perished in the war; Richard M. Strong, another costly sacrifice; Edavard D. Walt, James H. Bogart, William H. Pohlman, Alexander B. McDoual, all were his contemporaries, and all are dead. All of them had the brightest prospects in life; they had friends who loved them; they had careers of usefulness opening up before them; and yet all, in their early manhood, have been cut off. To those who, like Col. Wilson, gave their lives for their country, we all owe a lasting debt of gratitude; and it cannot but be a consolatory reflection, even in this great sorrow, and under the sense of your irreparable loss, that his life was sacrificed in his country's cause, and that all posterity will bless his memory.

With the kindest regards,
I am your obedient servant,
Rutgers College, New Brunswick, N. J., March 3, 1865.

The following letter is from the warm heart of a loving friend:

New Orleans, June 24, 1864.

My Dear Mrs. Wilson—I think that I have never felt the utter inadequacy of words to express emotions as I have felt them since the sad news reached me of your terrible bereavement—of your almost second widowhood—in the loss of your noble son. Terribly crushing, I know, the blow must have been on yourself and your dear daughters, who had every opportunity to know his excellence and appreciate his value, and could rejoice that he was your own son and brother; for I have not myself been yet able, to control my emotions, when alluding to him whom I had learned to love so much. From his early youth I had watched with delight the gradual, but sure development of all those qualities of mind and physical elements which made him so nearly a perfect man. For more than two years past John Wilson had been, to my mind, the type of manly beauty in its full development, while his mind and soul were of the character to intensify the admiration and deepen the regard which observation of him in previous years had caused me to feel for him.

It has been to many, I doubt not, as it was to myself at times, cause for surprise that John should have felt it to be his duty to leave the dear ones at home to do battle for his country and the maintenance of the Right; but those who knew him best do best know that it was probably the very strength of the temptation to remain at home, and the strong reasons that could be urged in its behalf, that caused him the more determinedly to resist it, from a conviction that all had a duty to discharge in this terrible struggle, and he became

—"More brave for this, that he had much to love."

He, more nearly than any man whom I have ever known so well, was described in these lines of Wordsworth:

"Whom neither shape of danger could dismay,
Nor thought of tender happiness betray;
Who, not content thiat former worth stood fast,
Looked forward, persevering to the last;
From well to better, daily self surpassed.
Found comfort battling in a righteous cause.
And, while the mortal mist is gathering, draws
His breath in confidence of Heaven's applause."

No purer life, no braver soul, no more manly form, no more constant heart has been offered up since the commencement of this struggle than him whose loss we mourn.

"He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow," is the touching description given by the evangelist in the case of the young man of Nain, when his body was met by the Saviour; and how often have these words rung in my ears even while your son was living, as I trembled in apprehension of the result, and realized how much of the happiness of the circle at home depended on the preservation of his life. Trembled, too, because I knew he was not the man to save himself from any exposure, for he had deliberately chosen his position, and from it, no consideration of personal danger could for a moment swerve him.

"I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me," said the Psalmist when mourning the loss of a beloved child, and this thought will be your consolation in this your hour of deep affliction. In the beautiful words of Bishop Heber:

"Wake not, O mother! sounds of lamentation!
Weep not, O widow! weep not hopelessly!
Strong is His arm, the Bringer of Salvation.
Strong is the word of God to succor thee."

May God enable you constantly to repose in the confident faith that "He doeth all things well." For His own wise purpose He has used the young life of your beloved son, so that it has been of more value, than the combined lives of thousands, who have sluggishly plodded out their three score and ten.

Men live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial.
We should count time by heart throbs. He most lives
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best,
And he whose heart beats quickest lives the longest.
Life is but a means unto an end; that end,
Beginning, mean and end to all things—God.

Judged by this, the only true test, your son was not cut off with his labor unperformed, but with every duty discharged, and his life-work done. What a precious consolation you must experience as you now reflect that your dear son had early given himself to Jesus, and that, during the remaining years of your pilgrimage, you can look forward, in the full assurance of faith, to the time that you shall join the company of the redeemed ones and receive the welcome of husband and children gone before—part of your inestimable "treasures in Heaven."

"And when the Lord shall summon us
Whom thou hast left behind,
May we, untainted by the world,
As sure a welcome find.

"May each, like thee, depart in peace.
To be a glorious guest
Where the wicked cease from troubling,
And the weary are at rest."

That such may be the happy lot of each and all of us, through the mercy and merits of Christ, I earnestly hope and pray; and that God may vouchsafe to you and your dear ones the consolations of His Holy Spirit, leading you in the green pastures, and by the still waters of his grace, and enabling you, though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, to fear no evil, but to find Him with you, and his rod and staff to comfort and support you; that you may find him a very present help in every time of need, is the earnest prayer of

Most sincerely your friend,

Mrs. Ann Wilson, Albany, N. Y. The following is a most valuable testimonial to the Colonal's Christian character:

South Dedham, Mass., May 22, 1864.

My dear Mrs. Wilson—I have learned through the papers of your sad bereavement, and though I know that no earthly hand can bring relief from so overwhelming a sorrow, yet I thought that a little comfort might be found for you in the words of sympathy, and of testimony to the Christian character of your dear son, which I could speak.

Sometimes there is fear in the minds of Christian friends at home, lest their friends may not maintain their religious character amidst the temptations of army life; and when they are taken away from us, the one source of consolation is in the assurance that they were ready for the great change which has passed upon them. But I can testify, as no one else perhaps is able to do, that John Wilson maintained in the army a worthy Christian character, that he did not yield to its temptations, but that he was as good a soldier of Jesus Christ as he was of his country, and this is saying a great deal for one who was looked up to as the "best field officer in the brigade."

I have not yet learned the particulars of his death, but in relation to this subject I do not need to ask them, for I know how he lived. I know his faith in God; I know his tender conscience; I know his noble heart, and everybody in the circle of his army acquaintance knew his spotless life.

I am not mentioning these things for the sake of praising him—that will not be lacking from other lips and hands—but that you, who are so deeply afflicted in his loss, may, with the greater confidence, apply to him the words of inspiration: "Say ye to the righteous it shall be well with him." I have, since his death, thought of a hundred incidents and habits connected with my intercourse with him, while Chaplain of the regiment, and of one with peculiar pleasure: Whenever we were on the march or in line of battle on Sunday, when no religious services were practicable, he used always to say to me at some time when we halted, "Come, Chaplain, read to the Major and me a chapter or two in the bible," and those little Sunday bible readings are among the most pleasant memories of our intercourse.

He always stood by my side when we had preaching, and his voice was always heard in the song of praise to God at our meetings. No one who knew him there will doubt that he honored his Christian profession, and had a great influence for good with the men of the regiment. We think and talk a great deal of you all, and very much desire to see you. It is the sweetest thought we have in such sorrow, that the parting is not to be long, and that we shall all soon be together at God's right hand.

Your friend,

Let me add the following merited tribute from the Common Council of the city of Albany:

Albany, May 17, 1864.

At a regular meeting of the Common Council, held at their rooms this day. His Honor the Mayor announced to the board the death of Col. John Wilson, as follows:

Gentlemen of the Common Council:

The sad events of this war have taken from our midst another brave, devoted and gallant soldier, whom we were wont to meet in fraternal relations. It has pleased God, in his mysterious providence, to remove by death our much esteemed fellow citizen. Col. John Wilson, of the Forty-third Regiment New York State Volunteers, who died from the effects of wounds received while gallantly charging the enemy's works at the recent battle of the Wilderness, in Virginia, thus adding another name to the already long list of Albany's noble sons who have laid their lives a voluntary sacrifice upon the altar of our country; therefore,

Resolved, That we recognize in Col. Wilson a young man of the rarest excellence of character, whose gentlemanly deportment, unassuming manners and social virtues endeared him to all who shared his acquaintance, and who, although surrounded by all the endearments of a most pleasant home, hesitated not, when his country called, to sacrifice every personal interest, sever every endearing tie, and exchange the comforts of a happy home for the hardships of the tented field.

Resolved, That his was no ordinary sacrifice. That those who knew his circnmstances and relations in life best, can not but appreciate the pure, unselfish, devoted patriotism that prompted him to enter upon a career where, personally, he had everything to lose and nothing to gain.

Resolved, That in his death our coinitry has lost one of her most earnest, faithful defenders, our city one of its brightest ornaments, and his family a most dutiful son and loving brother.

Resolved, That we deeply sympathize with the bereaved family in their severe affliction, and while we share with them the sorrow, we may also share the abiding consolation that the loss to us of one so noble, pure and virtuous, can not be other than his eternal gain.

Resolved, That to his remains and memory are eminently due the highest respect that a city can pay to her most valiant sons.

Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed to make all necessary arrangements for the funeral of the lamented Colonel Wilson, on the day to be appointed after the arrival of his remains, and that the members of the Common Council will attend his funeral in a body, and wear the usual badge of mourning.

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be signed by the Mayor and Clerk, and sent to the family of the deceased.

The above preamble and resolutions were unanimously adopted, and Messrs. Amsdell, Johnson, Teacey, Judson and Bancroft appointed the committee.

Clerk of Common Council.

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Debby Masterson

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