8 March 1862: “I wrote you in my last that Thommy Saunders was dead. this is not so he was almost dead but is getting better. so if you have told anyone so please contradict it, as it may make his folks feel bad for nothing.”

Item description: This is the second in a series of four letters, which were written in 1862 by William B. Alexander to his wife Mary F. Alexander.  In this letter, Alexander writes describing his experiences on the gunboat U.S.S. Hussar, which was anchored at Roanoke Island, N.C.  Alexander describes the cost of provisions, his participation in the seizure of a Confederate schooner, and confusion over the fate of an ailing soldier who had been transferred out of Alexander’s unit.

More about William B. Alexander: William B. Alexander was born in Plymouth, Mass., around 1832. He worked as a carpenter in Boston before enlisting with the Union Army as a second lieutenant in Company B of the 3rd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, April 1861. He mustered out in July 1861, but returned to service in December of that same year as a captain in the 23rd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, Company E. On 8 February 1862, the 23rd participated in the Battle of Roanoke Island (N.C.), which ended in a Union victory. Shortly thereafter, he was wounded in the left arm while engaged in the Union capture of New Bern, N.C., 14 March 1862. On 28 December 1862, he resigned his post and joined his wife, Mary F. Alexander, and daughter, Ida, in Boston.  He died on 5 February 1900.

[Transcription available below images.]

Item citation: From the William B. Alexander Letters #5197, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Roanoake Island
U.S. Str Hussan March 8. /62

To my own Dear Wife

We are here yet But are off again Monday the Troops are nearly all on board the vessells again, it is a month since we have been here, we are all glad to get out of this place. I have just returned from an expedition on my own hook. Col Kurty sent me & Co in this Steamer up the sound about 50 miles to sieze a schooner which was laying up in one of the Rivers & belonged to a Rebel we started Thursday morning & have just got back found the schooner & brought her down, to use for our Regt, we had a very nice time, & got lots of Eggs chickens Turkeys & potatoes & enjoyed ourselvs very much. we shall probably go down the Sound to Newbern or Washington but we do not know for certain. we never know anything for certain here. produce is very cheap up the country were I have just come from. I bought 9 doz of Eggs for 10 ct a doz & half doz chickens for a dollar & a bushell of sweat potatoes for 40 ct so you see when we do get anywere here to stop we can get things cheap enough. I am enjoying good health & am very sorry to hear of your anxiety on my account my letter must have been a long time getting to you. I have got no answer from it. but as a mail is comeing up tonight, I shall probably hear from it I got yours of the 19″ which is the last I got you must write me at least 3 letters a week & send them I shall get them Safe you must send me your potograph in a letter & it will come safe you can see specimins enough of what I want they take them just the size of a envolope so they can be sent just as well as not. if you only knew how much good a letter from you done me you would write one every day, as I am ever thinking of you & Ida. you are ever in my mind & hopeing every day that I may get through this war & come home & live with you & my dear little Ida again & take real solid comfort. I can only write occasionally as we never know when a Mail is going untill it is ready to go. I wrote you in my last that Thommy Saunders was dead. this is not so he was almost dead but is getting better. so if you have told anyone so please contradict it, as it may make his folks feel bad for nothing. I have recieved no letter from Father but should like to very much. write me in your next how you get along about money matters & if you have all you want to eat drink & wear. & how you get a long generally I hope you will not worry about me if you can help it, as it will do no good & only make me feel bad. I suppose you cant help worring some, but hope you will take things as easy as poseible & look on the bright side I shant always be sepperated from you. so keep up good courage. our 2 months pay is due but have not yet seen the paymaster I should like to know what paper you saw that 5 of my Co were wounded. none of my men were hurt. all are safe & sound & well. you must be sure & send me your picture if you have not already in the next letter after you get this. I must close this short note as the boat is waiting for it. from your own true & loveing Husband

W.B. Alexander

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