This letter was written by Pvt. Benjamin G. Wallen (1843-1924) who received a bounty to enlist in Co. I, 2nd Rhode Island Infantry, in July 1863. Benjamin was wounded slightly in the Battle of the Wilderness on 6 May 1864 and was later transferred to Company C, Veteran organization. He mustered out with the regiment in July 1865. [Note: Regimental History has his name spelling “Walling.”
Benjamin was the son of Rev. Joseph K. Wallen (1798-1885) and Sarah Aldridge (1811-1892) of Providence County, Rhode Island. Rev. Wallen was a Methodist preacher.
I suspect Benjamin’s letter was written to his younger brother, George A. Wallen (1846-1869). The envelope (below) does not appear to coincide with the letter and was probably written by someone else.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Brandy Station, Virginia
March 25, 1864
I take the present moments to answer yours of the 20th which I received and was glad to hear from you. I am well as usual and hope this will find you the same. I have not had a letter in three weeks till I got yours. I got a letter from Abbie Drake. She wrote in place of Phillip. They were all well when she wrote.
You say Father is going to move to Easton. I should think he could find some better place than that. He has lived there twice and he can’t get a living there anyway.
When did you hear from South Middleborough? I have not heard from there in some time. The last letter I had from Zalmon ¹ he wanted a hundred dollars of my bounty money for six months. I told him he could have it by going to Father about it.
I think you get a very good price for your summer’s work. I wish I was going with you. I want you to have your picture taken before you go.
What do the nigs say about Father’s going away from there? Does Fred say he can stay as long as he lives or has that played out?
I don’t think of anymore to write at present. Yours &c. — Benj. G. Wallen
¹ Zalmon Tobey Wallen (1836-1890) was Ben’s older brother. Zalmon was married in April 1858 to Lucy Ann Smith (1838-1879) and resided in MIddleborough, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.
Related Family Material
Philip F. Packard (1832-1911) was the son of Mason Packard (1790-1844) and Sally B. Wheeler (1792-1865). He was married twice; first to Mandana Wallen (1839-1863) [she died 1 May 1863 at Easton, Bristol County, Massachusetts], and second to Mercy Ann Williams (1844-1899) [marriage took place on 3 November 1864 at Easton]. Philip was a shoemaker in Easton prior to the war; a farmer afterwards. Mandana was the daughter of Rev. Joseph K. Wallen (1798-1885) and Sarah Aldridge (1811-1892) of Providence County, Rhode Island. Her younger brother was Benjamin G. Wallen (1843-1924).
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
April 8th 
I now improve a few moments in writing to inform you of the state of Mandan’s health. Her appetite has been failing for some time past. She cannot eat nothing but a little broth and not much of that. I have got her everything that she thought she could eat but nothing seems to nourish her. her mouth is very sore indeed. She coughs up a great deal of matter that looks like the white of eggs. She is very weak and can hardly get around. Dr. Tucker was here the other day and I asked him what he thought of her. He says that there is no help for her. She don’t know what he said about her and I don’t think it’s best she should. Her feet and legs have been swollen for a day or two past and that is no good symptom. as she was going to write today, I thought I would send this in her letter but I will close for now.
Yours, — Philip
P. S. She don’t know that I am going to send this.
This letter was written by Mandana (Wallen) Packard to her brother, Benjamin G. Wallen. It was probably written in the late 1850s but can’t be certain.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
October 24th [year?]
We received your letter and I will now try to write you a few lines but I hardly know what to write. I suppose you know that we have got moved down to the shore. I expect school will commence here the last Monday in November and I suppose you will have to come home about the 12th of next month or about that time — sometime when it is convenient for [my husband] Philip to carry you to the depot.
And in regard to Philip’s getting you some clothes, Mother & Father both think you had better let Philip get you clothes ready made for Mother cannot make them and if she could, you would have got to be almost a man grown and Mother cannot cut your clothes as she has been in the habit of doing. I do not think of anything more to write this time.
This from Mandana