William Alvah Austin (1846-1916) was only 16 years old when he enlisted in Co. D, 21st Maine Infantry in October 1862. When he returned to Maine after nine month’s service, he re-enlisted in Co. G, 2nd Maine Cavalry — a unit he remained with for the duration of the war.
The 2nd Maine Cavalry was assigned to the Department of the Gulf, spending time in the vicinity of New Orleans, Louisiana, and at Pensacola, Florida.
William was from Cross Hill — a small community near Vassalboro, Kennebec county, Maine. His parents were William Austin (1816-1856) and Lucy D. Sampson (1819-18xx). In 1869, William married Helen Frances Clark (1850-1934) and had at least three children.
Addressed to Mrs. Lucy D. Austin, Cross Hill [Kennebec county] Maine
May 18, 1864
I am well — all but a boil on my leg that has troubled me for some time. It has been some time since I wrote home for I have been waiting for a letter from home but I have not heard from anybody yet. Why did you not write?
We do not know how long we shall stay here but not a great while I guess [judging] by the way they are using Banks up Red River. I believe they are using Banks about the worst of any General we have got. We have got news up to the 10th of May. The papers say Butler and Grant are both within one day’s march of Richmond. We may get in there but I have my doubts of it.
The weather is very hot here now but we have some showers in the afternoon and evening which are very cooling. We have tents now big enough for 5 men in a tent, but tents are hot things any way.
Our first lieutenant’s (the pious one) horse stumbled two or three days ago and hurt his leg very bad. It was a pity that he did not break his neck.
How are all of the folks at home? How many did I give the mumps to in Vassalboro? I heard that Uncle Waldron was coming in there to live. I want to know how things are going on there at home. Where is Robert this summer? Have you heard from Orrin since I went off? I shan’t write again until i get a letter from home.
I will write when I get something to write about that is worth writing about.
— Wm. A. Austin
Direct letters to New Orleans, La.