1865: Augustus Luke Holbrook to Cyrus Holcomb

This letter was written by Pvt. Augustus Luke Holbrook (1835-1911) of Co. H, 14th New York Heavy Artillery (NYHA). Augustus was a resident of La Motte County, Vermont when he enlisted as a Musician on 12 September 1861 in Co. C, 5th Vermont Infantry. He received a disability discharge on 9 August 1862. He was a resident of Poughkeepsie, New York, when he re-enlisted as a private on 5 January 1864 at the age of 29 years. He mustered into the 14th NYHA on 5 January 1864 and mustered out on 26 August 1865 at Washington, D. C.

Augustus married Roxanna Priscilla Hall (1837-1892) in 1854 in Grand Isle County, Vermont. They had 10 children, 4 of whom died at a young age. The family was living in North Bend, Dodge County, Nebraska by 1870.  Roxanna died in Nebraska in 1892 at the age of 55 years. Augustus then married Mary D Kreger, a native of Germany, in 1893 in Papillion, Sarpy County, Nebraska. They lived in Omaha and Lincoln NE.  Augustus died on 17 Jan 1911 (per pension records) at the age of 77 years. He was buried next to his first wife.

Augustus wrote the letter to his brother-in-law, Cyrus Holcomb (1824-1907). Cyrus was married to Almeda Celeste Hall (1832-1883) in 1850.

The letter mentions touring the monitor Montauk anchored at the Washington Naval Yard where the Lincoln conspirators had been kept confined below deck. He also mentions taking a “piece of the table” on which the autopsy of John Wilkes Booth’s body had been performed as a souvenir.


Addressed to Mr. Cyrus Holcomb, Chateaugay, Franklin county, New York
Postmarked Washington D. C.

Post Hospital Forts
Simmons & Mansfield
August 7th 1865


Enclosed please find five dollars which I think will be enough to pay the express charges on the box. If there is any more, you are welcome to it towards paying you for the trouble of going for the box. If the charges are more than five dollars, let me know and I will send you the balance.

Roxana is not very well today. She has a diarrhea but no bad. It is hardly worth mentioning. Flora is alright. They are the only women kind that has come here from the North without having a sick month. I was a little afraid this morning that Roxana was going to have quite a sick time of it but I gave her a good big emetic which took a great load of trash off her stomach and this afternoon she is alright.

Cyrus, I wish when you write you would tell me what you can about how our farming gets along. If our colts should get to roaming around, if you will put them into your pasture and keep them, I will pay you well for their keeping. I must close by asking you to write and let me know of the money and the box both go through alright. Let me know if you will get what boxes I will send & I will pay the charges. If you will, I will send you some things that you will like first rate and will be of service. Don’t fail to write as soon as these things get there. I have only sent the one box and will send no more till you say you will take care of them.

I hope we may be mustered out this fall but I don’t expect we will. We were down to the city Saturday and went through all the public buildings and the Navy Yard. Went on board the Monitor Montauk. Went down below and saw the rooms where the conspirators were confined and got a piece of the table that Booth’s body was cut up on. Roxana has seen more in one day than she has in all her life before. It will take her a good long week to tell what she saw. She is writing so I will stop and get supper. Come and have supper with us. We have enough and to spare so come along any time.

Accept this from your absent friend & brother, — Augustus

P. S. Roxana says get the [New York] Herald and read all the news till she goes home. — A. L. Holbrook

Hospital Dept., 14th N. Y. H. A., Fort Simmons & Mansfield, Washington D. C.


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