The Letters of Henry E. Parker













Date:               July 21, 1862


Address:        Mrs. Rev. Henry E. Parker

                        Concord, NH


From:              Henry E. Parker


Editor's Notes:           Enclosed with this letter is a dried leaf and a map of the United States.   There is a note written on the map: “This Ivy leaf from the bridge near Alloway Kirk where Tam O. Shanter made his escape from the pursuing hag.”  The reference is to a poem written by Robert Burns in 1790 entitled “Tam o’Shanter.”  The Alloway Kirk is a ruin of a church in Alloway, Scotland.  As there is no reference in the letter to the map, the leaf or the poem, it is quite likely they were sent in a different letter.  Parker did visit this area of Scotland during a tour of Europe in 1865.



                        2d. N.H. Reg’t Near Harrison’s Landing

                                            James River, Va. July 21st, 1862


My Dear, Dear Wife—

                        What can be the reason that I do not hear from you?  God grant you may not be unwell.  The last letter I had from you was mailed I think the 30th. ult., and written before you had received my short letter from Fair Oaks written just after my return to the Reg’t.  I have not written to you since a week ago yesterday, daily thinking I must receive something from you and so waiting from day to day.  Whenever any such interruption occurs in your sending me letters I fear there is sickness in the family.  I am apprehensive there may be now.  If there be, may God raise the dear one up whichever of the family it may be.  You are all in His hands, and there I must leave you—thankful that I may commit you to such gracious & sufficient care.  I received a letter last night from Sister Mary, mailed the 18th. inst. which, as she did not speak of any of you being unwell, encourages me to think that my fears may be groundless.  It takes some time for letters from here to reach home but our letters this way now come promptly & expeditiously.  There is very little variety of incident in our daily life here.  Monotony is the general characteristic of camp life but eminently so of ours now.  My own health, I am thankful to say, continues quite good, but there is considerable sickness in the Reg’t although few cases of severe illness.  The spirits & strength of the men are reviving, and the army is already again in formidable condition for meeting the enemy.

            We heard the other day by a letter from one of our absent wounded men that Burleigh Jones, one of the members of Comp. B. who is wounded on the 25th of last month died on board one of transport steamers employed in removing the wounded East before the steamer had left the York River.  This young Jones was brother to Mrs. Merrill, wife of the young man from Hopkinton who with his father used to supply us with eggs, butter, berries, &c, &c.  The death of Burleigh seems very sad as I knew him so well.  On board the same boat, too, died another of the same Camp, wounded at the same time, who was from Concord: his name was Lamprey[1].  Perhaps you may remember his sister calling upon me to make enquiries respecting him.  I would like to have you get a horse from Mr. Dudley’s and ride down and see her.  Her father resides near Mr. Meeks.  She heard of her brother’s wounded & wrote to me with reference to it.  I replied to her letter then, but as I have heard of none of the particulars at all in regard to her brother’s death, I would like to have you call & present my sincere sympathies with your own to her & the family.  This would be much better than a letter.  There is a young Hodgkins here from Keene sick with typhoid fever & not likely to survive the day out.  His family are near neighbors to ours there.  It is a sad, sad case, & the blow will fall very heavily upon his widowed mother.  If Johnny was with you he would tell you, undoubtedly, all about them.  I have just been to the tent where he lies and I found him realizing his situation fully.  He gave me a kind message for his mother & the other members of the family asked me to pray with him.  Poor fellow, he told me that he tried to trust in the Savior with all his heart—speaking in this emphatic way.  I hope his is a trust that will not be disappointed.  I have of late felt more than ever hampered and confined in regard to my religious intercourse and influence with the men.  Still I pray that I may not altogether fail of doing good.

            I had a pleasant Sabbath service yesterday morning preaching from the 10th ch. of Acts[2], the 33d verse – more especially the latter part of the verse.

            Capt. Bramhall, in command of one of the batteries that has been connected with our division, asked me Saturday afternoon, if I would not conduct a religious service at his encampment yesterday – I was glad to consent, and at five o’ cl’k yesterday evening I had what was to me a delightful service with his men.  Capt. Bramhall is son of a wealthy New York importer—the family live out at Rakway.  He is one of the most agreable young men I have met in the army.

            Our Colonel has not yet returned; we shall look very confidently for him this evening.  I have been waiting for his return before writing to Dr. Stone.  I had hoped that I might see my way clear to return by the end of this month; I am, indeed, not without a little hope that I may yet: but it is only a very little hope that I can indulge.  Yet if Providence thinks it best for me He will open the way.  How desireable it does seem that I be with my people when the Gen. Association meets.  It will undoubtedly be a large gathering and I know the people will do everything they can to make it comfortable and agreable for all who come.  I pray and hope that the happiest influences will result from this meeting of the Association with our people.

            Our cause at present seems to be at a stand-still.  We have a rumor here from Richmond that Jackson with a large force is making his way by some route towards Washington.  If the report be correct I think he will find the movements disastrous to himself.  God, I am confident, will yet smite the efforts of the Rebels in utter shame.

            Mary in her letter spoke of having just heard from Johnny that he was well.  Have you yet made any arrangements for getting a little change yourself?  I hope you may be able to.

            Capt. Godfrey enquired for you particularly on my return.  He is in almost every day to see me.        Has been in today to ask me to go over and drive with them.  As I have told you before, there is no one here who does more, perhaps no one who does as much for my comfort as he.  I shall always be under obligation to him.

            I am afraid from what you last letter said of those who had written to you about the money I took home for the men, as well as from the various letters of inquiry I have received, that you have had not a little trouble mad you on account of it.  The Cashier at Great Falls was very dilatory in distributing what I entrusted to him, and Mr. Sanborn, our State Treasurer, quite so in regard to what I placed in his hands.  Has Mr. Sanborn returned the lists of those whose moneys I placed in his hands?  He was to do it after he had completed the work, as also the cashiers severally of the Neag Bank at Manchester, the Great-Falls Bank, and the Cheshire Bank at Keene.  I directed them to return the lists to me at Concord, or to you if I was not there.

            I must hasten to close or be too late for the mail today.  I suppose Austin Sanger is about returning and I shall certainly hear from you him, if not before.  Major Stevens we have heard has reached home.  A report has reached us from Washington that Col. Marston is to be made a Brigadier.  It is very doubtful about his accepting the rank even if it be offered him.  If he does recept it, however, it may open the way for me honorably to leave the Reg’t also: I however, not like him for another post & higher honor in the army, but for my dear home where God had given me a companion marvelously answering all my wishes in a wife, and sweet children, sweet & dear as a kind Providence ever bade irradiate the home of any man.  This long separation and the many, many trials connected with it, are attaching me more & more to my family ties & household joys.  What great, undeserved mercy that He gives and spares them to me.

            May God kindly keep you all, and soon happily bring us together again.

                                    Tenderly and truly—

                                                Your Husband,

                                                Henry E. Parker.




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[1] According to the National Parks Service Website: “Civil War Soldiers and Sailors” there were two Lampreys in Company B: Horace A., and John L., both listed as Privates.

[2] Acts 10:33  Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.