This letter was written by 26 year-old John Williams Hudson (1836-1872) who enlisted in August 1862 as a 2d Lieutenant of Co. D, 35th Massachusetts Infantry. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in September 1862, to Captain in April 1863, to Major in August 1864. and to Lieut.–Col. in November 1864. During his service, Hudson participated in the battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, Knoxville, North Anna River, Cold Harbor, and the various battles around Petersburg. He served on the staffs of Generals Ferrero, Ledlie, and White. He mustered out of the regiment in June 1865 at Alexandria, Virginia.
John was the son of Hon. Charles Hudson (1795-1881), a Universalist minister, who entered political life in 1828 as a Massachusetts State Representative. He served in Congress from 1841 to 1849 and was an Assessor of Internal Revenue during the Lincoln Administration — a personal friend. Charles’ first wife was Ann Rider who died in 1829. His second wife was Ann’s sister, Martha Brigham Rider (1808-1888) — the mother of John Williams Hudson.
Before serving in the Civil War, John graduated from Harvard College in 1856 and taught school while he read law. He was admitted to the bar in 1862.
John married Sophia Whitney Mellen (1835-18xx) in 1865, the daughter of Hon. Edward Mellen and Sophia Whitney of Wayland, Massachusetts. He wrote this letter to Sophia from the Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland.
Addressed to Miss S. W. Mellen, Wayland, Massachusetts
Mouth of the Antietam [Creek], Maryland
(near Sharpsboro [Sharpsburg])
September 23rd 1862
My dear Sophy,
It is about 3 or 4 days since I wrote. Since then I have received various letters from you & other friends. Yours were dated Sept. 7th, 9th, & 14th. I notice you & others seem dissatisfied that I do not write oftener. You all say, “Write twice a week, even if you only say a word.” The request is flattering but very cool. I can’t do it while we are running about as we have been doing lately. Now don’t think me unkind in saying this. I will write as often as I can and write a decent letter. Moreover, if any impertinent individual, regardless of the fact that I am now at work in the army & not a gent of leisure, expresses any surprise that I neglect you, please consider yourself authorized by me to say that I have not lost my interest in you & that no conclusion can be drawn from what is done in a busy regiment. If other Maryland boys write oftener & from them you leave of me oftener than I think I can write (since I must write to 2 or 3 families), you ought to be happy to know more than you otherwise would instead of being dissatisfied.
Your pictures are delightful. Why couldn’t I have had as happy a sitting? Nobody likes mine & I wonder not.
We are now encamped at the same place as when I last wrote — if you call it a camp where men bivouac without tents (Irish?). I am with Co. D at my own request. I think I told you that Gen. F[errero] had agreed to send me back. ¹ I have been a little down but am now well. I shall go with the regiment & have no doubt about my ability to do it. You will perhaps be pleased to know that I have not yet had any symptoms of fever & ague. I’ve got a Washington darkey for a servant. I expect to get to be a long-heeled Republican in reality soon for I nightly sleep alongside this Nig.
You may certainly keep the picture of B. & me if you want to. I asked you to send it to Mary, intending to write to her to have it varnished anew.
Mary’s letter, just received, tells me that she is going to visit you. She may perhaps tell you some things more I have written. I am obliged to stop now on account of business & the hubbub which prevails around me. I sit in a violent smoke.
When we move, it may be toward the enemy or from them; none of us can tell which. Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me so soon as you would like to. If we ever get into a comfortable camp, I will write many letters & a good proportion of them to you. With love to you all & to Mrs. Martha & the rest of the Wights, I am ever yours, — John W.
September 24th — After writing, I got a letter from Mary & now have no doubt that you have read my letter from Brookville & that you see I should like to write a great deal. In future, know that I will write as often as I can well do so & be content, won’t you dear? If I’m sick, I will say so. Your interesting questions about my being threatened with fever came after I had endured 10 days of banging & passed through 2 battles & it is funny to read them. Mother fears disease for me more than bullets &c. When you see her, please say I rather apprehend danger from the bullets.
With love to you all. — J. W. Hudson
¹ During the 1862 Maryland Campaign, Lt. Hudson served as an aide to Colonel Ferrero and was at his side during the Battle of Antietam.