Saturday, March 17, 2012

Treasures from the SFC: A Letter from Home

"I hope to have the pleasure of Seeing you very Soon, I think every minute an hour, and every hour a day, and every day, a Week till I see you..."

In the annals of American history, the most moving letters from home to soldiers on the front lines are often considered to be from our Civil War. This latest offering from the Sol Feinstone Collection provides an example of a wife's affection that is every bit as poignant and moving as any document written during the great conflict of the mid-nineteenth century. On 13 September 1777, Elizabeth Morrison wrote from her home in Bedford, Massachusetts, to her husband John, who was posted with his regiment in Bennington, Vermont. Though John presumably hailed from Bedford as well, he was serving in Captain Samuel McConnell's Company of the 11th New Hampshire Regiment of Militia, commanded by Col. Thomas Stickney. The answer to why a Massachusetts man was serving in a New Hampshire militia unit may come from the fact that Stickney was a native of Bedford, a town that neighbored the more famous town of Concord, Massachusetts. In raising his militia regiment in 1777, Stickney may well have called upon old friends in Bedford to help supply him with recruits. The 11th saw hard service in 1777, first reinforcing the garrison of Fort Ticonderoga in the spring, then joining General John Stark's Brigade for the Battle of Bennington in August. Judging by Elizabeth's letter, John escaped unharmed, though many of his colleagues would not have been so lucky. As her letter shows, John's family missed him a great deal, leading Elizabeth to use every argument in her power to cajole him home and head off any impulses he might have entertained to serve longer than his allotted time. The full transcript of the letter, which is available below, testifies to the heartfelt bonds that linked the home front to the front lines during the Revolution, and which made the war extremely difficult for those civilians, even in protected areas, who had relations serving with the army.



Sol Feinstone Collection No. 2401
Elizabeth Morrison to John Morrison in Capt. Samuel McConnel’s company at Bennington, VT, Bedford, MA, 13 Sept. 1777
Transcribed by WP Tatum III, March 2012

Bedford September the 13th 1777

Most loving Husband
            I have received your letter, dated the 4th Inst. which greatly contributed to revive my languishing and Sinking Spirits; as [tear in document, two words illegible] Informed of your present State of health, we are all well here, thanks be to the Almighty God for it, the Author of our being, and the fountain of all our comforts and consolations. Dr. John I hope to have the pleasure of Seeing you very Soon, I think every minute an hour, and every hour a day, and every day, a Week till I see you, I hope that no pecuniary influence, or any other encouragement will effectualy Sway with you, or prevail upon you, to Stay beyond the limited time, You must seriously reflect and consider upon the faithful and loving promise, you made me at your departure, I hope not time, nor distance or place, or any thing else I could urge, will cause you to Violate the Same. my dear consider the tender emotions of mind, the disinterested love, and Warm affection that of course Should Subsist between man and Wife I assure you, I have been quite disconsolate and Solitary during your absence; and vastly more so, than I allowed (if possible) to appear to view, therefore, I request, my Dr. that you’ll alleviate and banish my corrosive cares, and anxious concerns, by your personal appearance, I have Sent you eight Dollars by Mr. John Wallace, for fear you would be [tear in paper, words illegible] Money, I have nothing material to communicate to you at present but can inform you, that your Father & Mother and the rest of the family are well, and likewise our family, and desire to be remembered to you most affectionately, I conclude Dr. John recommending you to the care and protection of the Almighty God, the Wise disposer of all things; Praying that he would be mercifully pleased to prosper and bless all Your proceedings and undertakings yr. most faithful and affectionate Wife till death    Elizabeth Morrison.

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