In Search Of Lawtons & Basingers: William Starr Basinger Writes To His Mother, June 16, 1865






                                Johnson’s Island, June 16, 1865

My dear Mother,

                I have just received yours of the 8th,

informing me of the death of George & Tupper.  I was

not surprised to hear of it.  Poor fellows, I fear they

suffered greatly.  However dark the designs of Heaven

may seem to us now, perhaps they will not have

fallen in vain.

                I do not know whether all my letters

have reached you.  I’ve written so many I cannot

identify them.  Yesterday I wrote to my sister by

Yates Seay, who was released.  Fleming & Fred Blois,

of my room, leave to-day.  The latter will take this, &

both will see you perhaps.  They will explain my

attitude on the oath question.  Your letters all show

that you do not understand the situation.  It is

necessary to do right, whatever happens.  Heaven

knows that I’ve no desire to remain here a moment

longer than I can help.  Though I cannot contemplate

without a shudder a return to a life (?) and

miserable as the life of all (?) men must be in the

new order of things.

                I have thought of leaving the country

forever, but incline latterly to the opinion that we

ought not to leave to their wretched fate the

maimed men & the desolate women & children. It

seems to me we cannot abandon them.  Nevertheless,

the state of things may prove intolerable; & with a

view to that Maj. Stiles & I have projected a

visit to Canada, if we can get the money.  I wish

to see what prospects of success in the practice

of my profession are there.  I do this the more

readily because were I at home now I could

do nothing.  As that will be the case for some

time to come, I propose, if possible, to stop on

my return, whether we go to Montreal or not,

to stop at Newcastle to see Miss Read, at Balti-

more to see where those poor boys were buried,

at Washington to see Mrs. Smith, & in Virginia.

All this, if I can get the money.  That I must

have.  I am in rags, & cannot travel anywhere


                I have not refused Mrs. Smith’s offers.  I

had sent to N. York for clothes & money before

receiving her letter.  I told her that, & that if I

failed to get them, I would call on her.  But

she offered only under-clothing, of which I am

not so much in want .  That she understood me

properly appears from the fact that she sends me

a paper now & then as I asked her.

                But I am writing as if any

(?) were certain.  On the contrary, as Blois

will explain to you, it is only those below the

rank of Major they are releasing, & we have no in-

formation of any (?) regarding the

rest of us.  But in any event I protest against

your falling into a depressed state of mind.  The

calamity is fearful, & the ruin, I know, universal.

We cannot accomplish anything by sinking under

the sorrow.  Cheerfulness is now an absolute es-

sential.  We will yet find a way out of this

valley of the shadow of death.  But I must

reserve what I have to say till I see you.

                It is reported that all hands are

to be released by the 4th (?).  If so, you may

look for me about Aug. 1st.  I cannot but

think it likely Eddie is with you, as they must

have begun to release the prisoners there simul-

taneously with it here.

                I have forgotten to mention

before that I had reason to think George was

engaged to a young lady near Mattoax, & George

Turner also.  Eddie will know more than I do.

My love to my sister & Aunt A. & Uncle C. if

he has arrived.

                                Affly Yours,

                                                Wm. S. Basinger

Ask Mr. Brigham, or some friend who has not behaved im-

properly, if I may draw for necessary funds if I am

obliged to do so, & how.  A better way will be for him, if he

will, to arrange with the Steamship agents at New York

to supply my wants.  I think I had better

go there first.  If Mrs. Hoover had (?) her-

self about one, I would be glad to know where

to find her; as it is, her address is of no value to

me.  If Mr. Brigham is not there, ask Mr. Padelford.

John Screven will be able to arrange it for me, &

do not hesitate to call on him & say I asked you to.

I will write to him I think.  A couple of hundred

will cover all my wants.  If Screven is away, ask

Wallace Cumming.



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2 Responses to “In Search Of Lawtons & Basingers: William Starr Basinger Writes To His Mother, June 16, 1865”

  1. Sarah Alexander Cunningham Helps Me Solve A Mystery | Ruthrawls's Blog Says:

    […] Wallace Cumming died. […]


  2. The Death Of Henry Hull, April 26, 1883 | Ruthrawls's Blog Says:

    […] of Wallace Cumming & Co., and […]


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