This letter was written by Corp. Otis G. Cilley (1828-1895) of Co. D, 14th New Hampshire Infantry. Otis was the son of John Cilley (1801-1854) and Judith E. Cilley (1802-1855) of East Weare, Hillsborough county, New Hampshire. Otis enlisted on 23 September 1862 in the 14th New Hampshire Infantry. He was taken prisoner at Cedar Creek on 19 October 1864 but was paroled in late February 1865 and mustered out of the service on 8 July 1865.
In 1860, Cilley was enumerated in the mining camp in Mountain City, Arapahoe county, Kansas Territory (Colorado). He was in company with a number of other New Hampshire residents who had come to the Colorado gold fields in 1859. In 1858, he married Mary M. Morrill (1834-1909), the daughter of George E. Morrill and Hannah S. Bartlett.
This letter requests verification of a rumor that Stark Fellows, formerly a Lieutenant in the 14th New Hampshire Infantry, and more recently with the 2nd USCT, had died. He did, in fact, die of disease on 23 May 1864 at Key West, Florida.
Otis wrote the letter to his friend, Benjamin Curtis Lincoln (1840-1865), who was serving as an officer in the 2nd USCT at the time. Benjamin Lincoln was married to Isadora (“Dora”) Frances Whitman in 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.
June 28, 1864
I presume to trespass upon you for a few moments to inquire whether the newspaper reports are correct in respect to the death of Colonel Stark Fellows for the company that he belonged to felt sad to think that so good & respected officer has passed away & nothing has been heard by his parents by the last mail. ¹
Please to write by return mail. From a warm friend & neighbor—I still remain the same. Please to direct to 14th Regt. New Hampshire Volunteers, New Orleans.
I remain your obedient servant, — Corporal Otis G. Cilley
¹ Stark Fellows (1840-1864) was the son of Rufus and Sarah Ann (Silver) Fellows of Sandown, New Hampshire. He was a graduate of Dartmouth College who entered the service as a private in the 14th New Hampshire Infantry and rose to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant before resigning to accept a commission as Lieutenant-Colonel of the 2nd United States Colored Troops (USCT). He was in command of Fort Taylor, Key West, Florida, when he died of yellow fever on 23 May 1864.