Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
William B. Wilcoxson Papers, 1862-1865

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, June 1992

Summary Information
Title: William B. Wilcoxson papers
Creator: Wilcoxson, Susan M. and Wilcoxson, Mary Ann
Inclusive dates: 1862-1865
Extent: 31 items
Abstract:
William Wilcoxson served in the 2nd Connecticut Light Artillery Battery during the Civil War. This collection of letters home to his mother and sister document his wartime activities, including a stay at the U.S. General Hospital in Annapolis and later hospitalizations in New Orleans.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1991. M-2662a24.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

William B. Wilcoxson Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is in chronological order.


Biography:

Wilcoxson, William B.

Rank : Private

Regiment : 2nd Connecticut Light Artillery Battery (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 September 10-1865 August 9

William B. Wilcoxson was a young man from Stratford, Conn., who enlisted as a private in the 2nd Connecticut Light Artillery Battery in September, 1862. This unit saw little action during its assignments at Washington, D.C., and Wolf Run Shoals, Va., however in July, 1863, they were rushed to the battlefield at Gettysburg as reinforcements. Under General Stannard's command, the 2nd Battery was sent to the middle of the lines along Cemetery Ridge, and took part in a fierce artillery exchange throughout the third day of the battle. Though, remarkably, his battery suffered only three casualties during the battle, Wilcoxson's baptism by fire left a strong impression on him. Speaking of a friend at home who was thinking of enlisting, he wrote "I think [Mr. Newton] would find it mutch plesanter a Mowing grass and geting in to a Bumble Bees nest than he would on the Battle Field the Singing of a Bumble Bee is mutch Plesanter than the Singin of Minnie Rifle Balls & Cannons Balls and if one gets Stung with one of them it is more apt to hurt him ... I cannot Say that I did enjoy the Forth very mutch on the Battle Field of Gettysburg" (1863 July 26).

After Gettysburg, the battery moved to Frederick City, Md., before being reassigned to Washington. During these movements, Wilcoxson fell out from fatigue and the effects of chronic diarrhea and sunstroke, and was sent to the U.S. General Hospital at Annapolis, where he remained from mid-July until December. During his stay, Wilcoxson was well enough to act as an orderly on occasion, though he eventually quit, stating that he disliked the work and thought that it was "not Healthy to be around Sick people all the time." He nevertheless considered the hospital to be unusually clean and well run, and was impressed with the quality and kindness of the doctors and nurses. The hospital was situated near the camp for prisoners of war paroled from Richmond, and as a result, Wilcoxson frequently witnessed the spectacle of cadaverous soldiers disembarking from parole boats: "[T]hey were the hardest looking set of men that I ever see they were nothing but living skeletons they were Starved to deth by the Rebs a good many of them were to weak to walk and had to be carred on Streatchers...it was enough to makes ones Blood run coald to see the poor fellows as they come of from the Boat. I think that the curse of the Almighty will be on the Rebs for treating our men in the way that they do it seems to be a part of there plan to Starve our men to Death" (1863 November 8).

The 2nd Connecticut Artillery was ordered to Louisiana early in 1864, and, though Wilcoxson was well enough to accompany his regiment south, he was hospitalized again in April, spending at least two months at the Marine Hospital in New Orleans, and a third time, from January to May, 1865, at the St. Louis Hospital, New Orleans. Wilcoxson was present, in the hospital, when Richmond and Mobile fell and when Lincoln was assassinated, witnessing the varied reactions of the citizens of New Orleans to the news. He mustered out with the Battery in August, 1865.


Collection Scope and Content Note

All but one of the letters in the Wilcoxson papers were addressed to his mother, Susan M., or sister, Mary Ann, at home in Stratford, Conn. Most of the surviving letters were written from hospitals. They include fine descriptions of the U.S. General Hospital at Annapolis and reflect the feelings and experiences of a strongly pro-Union patient.

Wilcoxson seldom wrote at great length though occasional letters are carried by the emotional power of the events he described. Noteworthy in the collection are the three letters describing the Battle of Gettysburg, those describing the return of prisoners from Belle Isle Prison, and two fine letters describing New Orleans in the days after the assassination of Lincoln.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Gettysburg, Battle of, Gettysburg, Pa., 1863.
    • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Assassination.
    • Military hospitals--Maryland--Annapolis.
    • New Orleans (La.)
    • Nurses.
    • Prisoners of War.
    • United States. Army--Connecticut Light Artillery Battery, 2nd.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   43, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    William B. Wilcoxson papers,  1862 December 7-1865 May 1 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Partial Subject Index
    Accidents
    • 1863 February 26-28
    Bees
    • 1863 July 26
    Burials
    • 1863 July 28
    Confederate States of America. Army
    • 1863 August 14-16
    Confederate States of America. Army--Mosby's Rangers
    • 1863 March 23
    Connecticut. Militia
    • 1863 November 16
    Draft
    • 1863 March 1
    • 1863 July 26
    • 1863 August 20-23
    Fairfax (Va.)
    • 1863 January 6
    Fatigue
    • 1863 July 26
    Fires
    • 1863 February 26-28
    Fourth of July celebrations
    • 1863 July 26
    Gettysburg, Battle of, 1863
    • 1863 July 10
    • 1863 July 28
    Gettysburg, Battle of, 1863--Poetry
    • 1865 February 17
    Gettysburg National Military Park (Pa.)
    • 1863 November 18-20
    Guerillas--Arkansas
    • 1864 November 10-11
    Horses--Accidents
    • 1862 December 7-8
    Hunting
    • 1863 January 6
    Jackson, Stonewall, 1824-1863
    • 1863 January 4
    Johnson, Andrew, 1808-1875
    • 1865 May 1
    Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Assassination
    • 1865 April 20-29
    • 1865 May 1
    Maryland State House (Annapolis, Md.)
    • 1863 August 20-24
    Military deserters--Confederate States of America
    • 1863 August 14-16
    • 1865 May 1
    New Orleans (La.)
    • 1865 April 20-29
    • 1865 May 1
    Nurses
    • 1863 August 20-24
    • 1863 August 20-23
    Prayer meetings
    • 1863 January 6
    Prisoners of War
    • 1863 August 20-23
    • 1863 September 23-25
    • 1863 November 8
    • 1863 November 16
    • 1863 November 18-20
    Richmond (Va.)--Capture, 1865
    • 1865 March 19-April 11
    Soldiers' wives
    • 1863 January 4
    Soldiers--Alcohol
    • 1863 September 16-18
    Soldiers--Books and reading
    • 1863 August 14-16
    Soldiers--Death
    • 1863 August 14-16
    Soldiers--Religious life
    • 1863 January 4
    United States. Army--Artillery
    • 1863 September 16-18
    United States. Army--Inspection
    • 1863 May 24
    United States. Army--Surgeons
    • 1863 September 23-25
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals
    • 1863 July 26
    • 1863 July 28
    • 1863 August 14-16
    • 1863 August 20-23
    • 1863 September 16-18
    • 1863 October 18
    • 1863 November 18-20
    • 1865 March 19-April 11
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Scouts and scouting
    • 1863 March 1-5
    • 1863 May 24
    Virginia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Destruction
    • 1863 January 6
    Washington (D.C.)
    • 1862 December 7-8