1863: Charles Wilson Crocker to Benjamin Curtis Lincoln

Charles Wilson Crocker, Co. E, 40th Mass. Vols.

This letter was written by Charles Wilson Crocker (1843-1913), the son of Wilson Crocker (1808-1885) and Tabitha Freeman (1807-1845) of Barnstable, Massachusetts. Charles wrote the letter to Benjamin Curtis Lincoln (1840-1865), who was serving as an officer in the 2nd USCT at the time. The two were warm friends and had previously worked together as clerks in the Boston dry goods firm of Haughton, Sawyer & Co. at 28 Pearl Street. In the 1862 City Directory, Charles’ residence was given as 41 Northfield.

Charles enlisted in Co. E, 40th Massachusetts Volunteers in the fall of 1862. He wrote this letter while detailed in Boston Harbor in December 1863 while his regiment was encamped at Fort Ethan Allen near the Chain Bridge outside of Washington D. C. The regiment spent the  fall and winter performing guard and picket duty near Miner’s Hill, Mills’ Cross Roads, and Hunter’s Chapel. Charles remained with the regiment for the duration of the war, mustering out of the service in 1865.

By 1870, Charles had relocated from Massachusetts to Union county, Michigan, where he served as clerk in a dry goods store and boarded with William A. Moseley and his family. He took William’s daughter, Mary Whitney Moseley (1849-1889) as his wife, and eventually moved to Wilmette, Cook county, Illinois.

Benjamin Lincoln was married to Isadora (“Dora”) Frances Whitman in early December 1863. Lincoln’s letters written to Dora while serving in the 39th Massachusetts Volunteers earlier in the war may be found at: Benjamin C. Lincoln Letters.


Camp Provisional Guard
Long Island, Boston Harbor, Massachusetts
December 9th 1863

Most valued friend,

Your friendly letter was received a month ago but owing to “Thanksgiving times” and all together I have not until the present time had a good favorable chance to answer it.

What was my surprise to learn from friend Dyer the other day that you were married in New York a short time since—and not greatly surprised either for I thought you just such a chap. I did not ask whom you were married to for I took it for granted I ought to know. That news tickled me some, it did. Well. Ben, glad for you and almost wish myself in the same situation but my circumstances will scarcely permit the thought of such a thing at present. You both have my best wishes. May there be much pleasure and comfort in store for you. Can I have the pleasure of calling on Mrs. Lincoln and if so, please inform me where she is to be found.

I learn that your regiment has been sent to the “Department of the Gulf,” but I shall direct this to Washington nonetheless. I could not obtain C[haplin] G. Tyler’s address when in Boston. ¹

I spent Thanksgiving day at home with my folks and a number of Aunts and Uncles (the first time I have been at home on that day for five years) and had a jolly good “old folks” time in a real old fashioned way.

George Mathews has left Haughton, Sawyer & Co. ² and is in Government employ at Portsmouth, Va., Quartermaster’s Department, and kind of a stevedore, I believe. Barnes still remains at the entry desk. [Henry G.] Robbins travels with woolens in New Hampshire & Maine, and Lewis is doing a heavy business out west.

I enjoy tip top health and am having pretty easy times compared with many of my fellow soldiers. Know not when I shall be returned to my regiment.

Don’t you think it quite a contrast—calling back entries to Mr. Haughton and giving orders to a regiment. I do. What kind of men have you for lieutenants?

The volunteers begin to come forward in response to the last call and I am told a large number are able to receive their $325 State Bounty tomorrow. Big pile that at one time, I reckon—“right smart lot.” I don’t think the people of our state display as much patriotism as they did a year ago. I am sorry to say so but I believe it to be the fact.

Now, my old friend, I must bid you good night and when possible, please let me know of your whereabouts for I assure you I feel deeply interested in you and consider you as one of my best friends.

My regards to Mrs. Lincoln.

From your old associate, — Ch. W. Crocker, Co. E, 40th Mass. Vols.

Address C. W. C., Co. A, Provisional Guard, Long Island, Boston, Mass.

[Additional sheet (may or not have been part of same letter)]

We are having bitter cold weather with heavy wind. Three men froze to death on the Island last night. It is really to bad to keep men on this island this winter but you need have no fear for Crocker as long as they give me sufficient wood to feed my stove.

Do you get Boston papers often? I look for the President’s Message today and that will be a long document to peruse. Now, Capt. Lincoln, reply at the earliest period. Your friend, — C. W. Crocker

¹ Chaplin Greenleaf Tyler (1834–19xx) worked as a clerk at Haughton, Sawyer & Co. with Crocker and Lincoln in 1862. He boarded in Charlestown. He was married to Annie Bagley and later to Ursula D. Berry. His parents were Caleb Greenleaf Tyler (1805-1860) and Rooxbee Lincoln Chaplin (1813-1904) of Georgetown, Essex county, Massachusetts. In the mid 1890’s Chaplin was employed as clerk for the City of San Diego, California. He was a member of the Masons (King Solomon’s Lodge) in Wakefield, Massachusetts in 1863.

² James Haughton and Samuel E. Sawyer were partners in the dry goods business located at 28 Pearl Street in Boston. Both Charles W. Crocker and Benjamin C. Lincoln were employed there as clerks before enlisting in the service. Others known to work for the firm included Wolcott A. Richards of Roxbury.


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