1863: Alfred R. Ellis to Julia (Dean) Ellis

Ralph A. Jones was killed less than a month after his enlistment in the 35th Mass. Vols. at the Battle of Antietam

This letter was written by 31 year-old Alfred R. Ellis (1833-1919), a cabinet-maker from Dedham, Norfolk county, Massachusetts. He was the son of Jesse and Julia (Dean) Ellis.

Alfred enlisted in Co. I, 35th Massachusetts Vols. on 16 August 1862 for three years. All of the members of the company, save two, were from Dedham. Just days after the regiment was mustered into service, they were issued arms and hurried off to the front.

Alfred was wounded in the fighting at Antietam— only one month after his enlistment—after which he was promoted to corporal. He was again wounded in the fighting at Poplar Spring Church in 1864 and was subsequently promoted to sergeant before mustering out at Alexandria, Virginia, in June 1865.


Near Vicksburg [Mississippi]
June 14th 1863


I am a going to write you a few lines to let you know where we are and that I am well. We have just landed after being on board of a steamboat ¹ ever since last Monday. We are in sight of the City of Vicksburg and can here and see cannonading but I don’t know whether we shall have to go in or not—but I reckon not. I think that the city will be taken before you get this letter.

It is very warm down here and very poor water. Please to write and tell me if you have settled that note of Jo[e] White. You can get Emily to write about it in her letter.

Yours, — Alfred

[to] Mrs. Jesse Ellis, South Dedham, Massachusetts

¹ The 35th Massachusetts Vols. boarded the “immense” steamboat Imperial on 8 June 1863. They were joined by General Ferrero and staff, the 11th New Hampshire, and Benjamin’s Battery E (of 2nd US Artillery). They disembarked at Sherman’s Landing below Young’s Point on 14 June 1863 near the north end of Grant’s failed Cutoff Channel, opposite the mouth of the Yazoo river.

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