Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for War Letters of William Thompson Lusk.

War Letters of William Thompson Lusk.

July 20, 2012

War Letters of William Thompson Lusk.

Headquarters Stevens’s Div.

Burnside’s Expedition,

Newport News, Va.

July 20th, 1862.

My dear Mother:

I rode over yesterday to Fortress Monroe in my old clothes. Maj. Elliott, now Act’g. Inspector-General of our Division, and others, were of the party. On reaching the Fortress we found a man who for the sum of fifty cents, gives you half a dollar’s worth of likeness — a “Cheap John” style of man — and him we concluded to patronize. I send you the result. If it has defects, I have no doubt there is fifty cents worth of truth in it. The moustache and imperial in the picture I consider an improvement of the original, the most considerate of mirrors being unable to conceal the fact that these articles of beauty are in reality a bright plinthic red. Next week the “Cheap John” style of man says he will have an apparatus for taking carte-de-visite. If so, I will put on my best clothes, get taken, and forward myself to you in a more presentable manner.

I have received a couple of letters from you, one of the 5th, the other of the 9th, both of which took first a trip to Port Royal. I hope my telegraphic despatch may prevent any more from traveling so far in vain.

I am much obliged to my friends for their kind thoughts and words regarding me. I’ll tell you what, I think I ought to have a place in the Field of one of the new Conn. Regiments, not that I feel myself peculiarly competent for such a position, but because I think I’ll do better than those they are likely to select. I have been the longest in the service of any of my friends. I have been oftener in battle and been subject to more vicissitudes, yet they all outrank me. Matteson and Doster are Majors. Ely commands a Regiment. Harland commands a Brigade. Charles Dodge has a Regiment. Rockwell commands a battery, and so on all through the list. Somehow or other I’ve not been so accustomed to bringing up at the tail end as to fancy it now. I am delighted, to be sure, at the success of friends. I feel no envy, but would like to be a little more upon an equality with them. To be sure, by crawling along slowly, I have risen from the Junior Lieut. of my Regiment to rank as the 2d Captain — that is to say, from the 30th position in the line to the 2d. Still I would like a Major’s position in one of the new Regiments. However, where I now am, I have responsibility enough, I suppose.

Benham being disposed of, my letter to Uncle John has proved uncalled for, but I was very indignant at the time of writing it. . . . You may have read something of his letter relative to Gen. Stevens. It is unnecessary to characterize the whole as a malicious falsehood. I will only mention one thing. Benham quotes a letter from Stevens to prove that he (Stevens) approved the reconnoissance Benham projected. I happen to know personally the note quoted was written by Stevens with regard to a reconnoissance proposed by Stevens himself. This plan of a reconnoissance was agreed to by the Generals in Council in opposition to the plan proposed by Benham. Benham at first consented to this, but finally ordered the attack of the 16th to be made as he had originally proposed. The letter then of Gen. Stevens written regarding the Stevens plan of reconnoissance, is used by Benham to show that the Benham plan met with Stevens’ approbation.

Benham had an unaccountable aversion to Rockwell. When Rockwell was sick, and stopping on board the steamer with the amiable General, Benham growled so much about it, that Gen. Stevens was obliged to advise (privately) Capt. Rockwell to return to his company, though he was still pale, weak and unable to do duty. After the battle of the 16th, Benham wrote his report complimenting Capt. Hamilton of the Regular Artillery, omitting all mention of Rockwell, though Alfred’s Battery had been the most exposed, and had done nobly. This made Gen. Stevens very angry, so he informed Benham that he must alter his report, that his Command should have justice, that Rockwell had acquitted himself as well as Hamilton, and that he should have the credit he was entitled to. (Somewhat mixed way of expression, but comprehensible I believe). Gen. Stevens being an unpleasant man to deal with when angry, Benham got frightened and altered his report.

Since commencing this letter I have received one from you regarding dear Lilly’s wedding. I could not be there, but you all know how I feel. You speak of $100.00 having been spent on Lilly’s wardrobe by you in my behalf. I only mention it to have it fully understood that that money must never be returned to me.

Tell Mrs. Tyler, information I afterward received at James Island, renders the presence of Alfred there, to say the least, very doubtful.

I am tired, so I will close. Love to all.

Affec’y. your son,

W. T. Lusk.

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