Andersonville Prison letter: A very rare letter written by...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionAndersonville Prison letter: A very rare letter written by William W. Fish, 11th New Hampshire Infantry.
William W. Fish was a resident of Manchester, New Hampshire, and was 19 years old when he enlisted on August 8th, 1862 into Co. C of the 11th New Hampshire Infantry. Fish would be wounded at the battle of Fredericksburg in December of 1862 and then in 1864 became a prisoner of war at the battle of the Wilderness, May 6th. He was imprisoned in Andersonville, Georgia which was also called "Camp Sumpter". Very few letters exist that were written from Andersonville as the conditions were so horrible. Prisoners were only allowed to write one page, and this was Williams first letter after reaching Andersonville.
"Andersonville Ga. May 25 1864
Camp Sumpter Military Prison
My Dear Beloved Mother,
We arrived here yesterday noon and hearing that letters can be received by prisoners from home, I hasten to inform you of the fact I am well, thank God.
And hope this will find you all enjoying the same blessing. I am in good spirits and trust I shall get into our lines soon again. I have written twice before this. We give our names (three of us) to Col. Harriman to have them published in some one of our papers. I am obliged to be brief in my letters and left unsealed. Do not delay one hour in answering this, so I am exceedingly anxious to hear from home. Please enclose a blank sheet, envelope, and stamp and write a good long letter. Please inform me, if you know, of the loss of our Regt.
When you write, direct to Camp, William W. Fish, Prisoner of War, 3rd Mess, 55th Detachment, Sumpter, Andersonville, Ga.
From your affectionate son,
William mentions "the three of us". The other two comrades from his regiment, the 11th New Hampshire, were James W. Franklin of Co. K and John L. Phelps of Co. C. Neither of his two friends would make it home. Phelps died as a prisoner and Franklin died of disease after making it to Camp Parole in Annapolis, Maryland.
When William made it home he carefully kept this Andersonville letter and because it was so fragile, and backed it with another sheet from his real estate and insurance business that he eventually started. Stamped on the reverse of the backing sheet
"WM. W. FISH,
REAL ESTATE & INSURANCE,
DAVIS SQUARE, Opposite R. R. STATION,
WEST SOMERVILLE, MASS." From the Calvin Packard Civil War Battlefield Letter Collection.
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