This letter was written by Edwin Weller (1840-1908), the son of Theodore V. Weller (1815-1888) and Catherine Bennett (1818-1876) of Horseheads, Chemung County, New York.
Edwin enlisted on 25 July 1862 at Havana to serve three years in Co. H, 107th New York. He was mustered in as First Sergeant and was later promoted to First Lieutenant on 2 November 1863 after the resignation of Thomas K. Middleton. Edwin mustered out with the company on 5 June 1865 near Washington D. C.
Edwin was with his regiment at Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and in the Atlanta campaign, among other engagements. A 6th generation New Yorker, Edwin lived most of his life in Montour Falls, formerly known as “Havana.” As a young man, he clerked in the dry goods store he later came to own, and in time became one of the village’s leading merchants.
During the Civil War, his correspondence with a local young woman, Antoinette “Nettie” Watkins, blossomed into romance. The couple were married on November 15, 1865, and eventually became the parents of 6 children. His Civil War letters to her were edited and published by their grandson, William Walton, under the title “A Civil War Courtship“, Doubleday & Co., 1980.
Note: Edwin’s surname is sometimes spelled Wellar.
Camp of 107th N. Y. Vols. near Stafford Court House, Va.
May 23rd 1863
Your letter of the 17th Inst. came to hand yesterday. I was very glad to hear from you, it being the first letter I have received from home since the Battle [of Chancellorsville] (some three weeks). We have again got well situated in camp — have got as nice a camp as there is in our Division — have set out pine trees all through the camp which gives it a very fine appearance. We have always had the name [reputation] of having nice camps. Gen’l Ruger rode through our camp yesterday and seemed very much pleased with it.
At eight o’clock this morning we have Brigade Drill so I shall have to hasten if I finish my letter before drill. The prospects are quite favorable for our remaining in camp for some time yet as there seems to be no forward movement on foot at present. Some division or corps will have to be reorganized before another movement on account of so many of the two years men going home. Our corps will have to be filled up. We have lost some four or five regiments going home.
Col. [Alexander Samuel] Diven, Adjutant [Hull] Fanton, & Asst. Surgeon [David G.] Himrod have resigned and gone home since the battle. It is said our next Colonel will be the Lt. Col, of the old 23rd New York.
You wished to know what the prospects for me were. I consider them pretty slim although I have had very great promises from Diven, Fanton, & Donnelly but I do not make any calculation on promotion so that I shall not be disappointed if do not get a position. There has been no promotion in our company — only the promotion of 2nd Lieutenant [Thomas K.] Middleton of Co A to 1st Lieutenant of our company. This leaves the 2nd Lieutenancy vacant. I understand that Sgt. [Abram] Whitehorn has been recommended for that vacancy but further learn that there is to be no more promotion in our regiment till it is filled up. The small number of men will not allow the full complement of commissioned officers to each company. Capt. [Henry Delos] Donnelly has sent in his resignation and probably will leave us in a few days. He promises to do all in his power for me when he gets home, but I do not place much confidence in what any person promises me anymore. I have been cheated too often.
I heard sometime ago that there was quite a feeling existing in Havana in regard to the manner I have been used and I think if my friends in Havana could have their wish, I should soon have a commission. Capt. Donnelly received a letter from Fanton yesterday in which he mentioned my case and said he should do all he could for me. I presume he is partly forced to pursue such a course as many of my friends demand the cause of such treatment as I have been subject to and he is trying to bring himself out all right. I hope he may.
I heard with much regret of the death of Luther’s children. The diptheria is an awful disease when it once gets seated in a person. It seems to prevail among children more than older persons. I heard with much surprise of the marriage of Adeline Longstreet and King Thomas. I was not aware before that they were at all intimate. It must be a sudden thing?
Charley Duryea ¹ is now home on a furlough of ten days. We expect him back next Wednesday (the 27th). The captain told me that I might go next if I wanted to but I do not know whether I shall try to go or not. Ten days seems like a very short time to make a visit home and at Havana too. If I should make up my mind to accept the next furlough, you may expect me home in about two weeks from now. If I thought there was a prospect of the Army moving by that time, I would not attempt to go but if it is going to lie still for a month or two, It would be a good opportunity to make a short visit home. One great hindrance on my leaving is this — that I now have the full charge of our company matters (the captain being on the sick list) and there is no one in the company that knows as much about company matters as I do, having had all the company business to attend to since it was organized. But I begin to think I get no credit for what I do so I shall be more independent hereafter. I am not obliged to take charge of such matters. Consequently I prefer to do less and get just as much credit.
I have not given you any account of our late battle as I can give you a much better account of it if I come home which I now think I shall. Give my love to all. Write me very soon.
Your affectionate son, — Edwin Wellar
¹ Charles H. Duryea enlisted on 4 August 1862 when he was 21 years old to serve three years in the 107th New York. He was a corporal in Co. H until 10 April 1863 when he was promoted to sergeant. He was later promoted to first sergeant. He was wounded in action on 25 May 1864 at Dallas, Georgia and mustered out on 11 May 1865 at Elmira, New York.