This letter was penned by 1st Sergeant Everett W. Pattison of Worcester, Massachusetts who enlisted in May 1861 to serve three years in Co. I, 2nd Massachusetts Infantry. He was promoted to 2d Lieutenant and transferred to Co. E on 1 March 1862; promoted again to 1st Lieutenant in August 1862; and promoted to Captain in December 1862. He mustered out as Captain of Co. F in May 1864.
Also adding brief messages on the reverse side of the single sheet letter were other member of Company I including Corporal William Nutt of Natick who later in the war served as an officer in Co. F of the famed 54th Massachusetts; Segt. Horace F. Nason of Natick; and finally Sgt. George H. Willis (1839-1862) of Natick. According to the Massachusetts Town & Vital Records, Sgt. George Willis was killed at the Battle of Cedar Mountain August 9th 1862 while acting voluntarily in the place of Sergt. H. F. Nason as color-bearer, Wilson being off duty awaiting promotion” at the time of the battle. Sgt. Horace Bosmore is also mentioned in the letter.
The letter was addressed to “Mr. Wilson” who was William H. Wilson of Natick, Massachusetts. In the 1855 Massachusetts Census, George H. Willis is enumerated in the household of William Wilson (1816-18xx)—a “cutter” in the shoemaking business—and his wife, Susan. My assumption is that Mr. Wilson was George’s step father; his mother being George’s second wife.
The content of the letter pertains to the health of Sgt. George Willis and seeks to correct a misimpression by the folks back home that the men of the 2nd Massachusetts were being ill-used by Uncle Sam.
Maryland Heights [opposite Harpers Ferry, Va.]
August 15th 1861
Yours of the 12th is just received. Somebody must have given you a false account of George. There was a time for a few days when none of us were very well & he shared the indisposition with us all. But he has had no occasion to go to the hospital and is now as well as any man in the company. He looks hearty, eats as though he had an appetite, and performs all his duty without interruption.
Allow me in this connection to correct an erroneous impression which has be gaining ground in Massachusetts—-that this regiment is ill-treated. I have only to say that we are treated as well as any regiment in the service and our officers do as much to make our lot easy as the officers of any regiment in the service.
If I can at any time afford you any direct information, please feel at liberty to call upon me for it.
Truly yours, — E. W. Patteson
You need not fear but what we shall keep you well informed if George is sick without going to the 13th Regiment for information. — William Nutt
I take this opportunity to tell you that you & your friends can put yourselves perfectly at ease about George. He is as hearty as any man in the company. He can beat me eating & a man that can do that can’t be very sick. — H. F. Nason
Dear Father & Mother,
I received your letter about the same time that Pattison did his. I am in good health. I never was better in my life. You must not be afraid that I will not write home when I am sick. There is no need of writing to [Horace] Bosmore. I will write when I am sick. — G. H. Willis
There is 17 streets of Rebels the other side of the mountain.