1862: Moses Webber to James N. Webber

Moses Webber Headstone

These letters were written by 32 year-old Moses Webber (1830-1907), a boot maker of Ipswich, who mustered into Co. K, 2nd Massachusetts Infantry on 8 August 1862. He mustered out on 28 May 1864. Moses was enumerated in Ipswich in the 1860 US Census with his wife Susan (Willcomb) Webber (1829-1894) and two sons, Joseph (age 8) and James (age 4).

The letters were addressed to James N. Webber (1834-1908) of Ipswich, Essex county, Massachusetts. Like Moses, James made his living as a boot maker. James was married to Clara L. Willcomb (1839-1923), daughter of Capt. Joseph Willcomb (1801-1876) and the sister of Moses’ wife Susan.

Moses did not join the 2nd Massachusetts as a recruit until after the Battle of Cedar Mountain and the regiment did not participate in 2nd Bull Run but he was with the regiment during the Maryland Campaign and fought in the cornfield at Antietam on 17 September 1862. These two letters were written in November 1862 as the regiment encamped near the Potomac river not far from Sharpsburg. Moses’ obituary claims that he fought with his regiment not only at Antietam, but at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and other battles, without so much as a scratch.

Letter 1

Camp near Sharpsburg, Maryland
November 14, 1862

Dear Brother,

Having a few moments to spare, I thought I would write you a few lines and let you know that I am well and hope that these few lines will find you and Clary enjoying the same blessing. I suppose, James, you will want to know how I like being a soldier. Well, I don’t like it very well. It is harder than boot making. We are encamped in a beautiful grove about three hundred yards from the [Potomac] river and are now building our winter quarters. The rebel pickets are on one side of the river and ours on the other so we stand and talk and laugh with each other. The boys are all well but George Harris 1 and he is getting better.

I want you, James, to make me five pair of boots. One pair of 9=4 wide, one 8=3 wide, two pair of 7=3 wide, and one pair of 6=3 wide with a thin leather on the instep. I want you to write to me and let me know how soon you can make them and what they will cost. I want you to make them the same as you make all of your army boots. The pair 8=3 wide are for Caleb Lord 2 and I want you to put a row of screws from the plate back to shank of the right foot boot on the instep. Work them full. Write to me and let me know what they will be and I will send you the money,

Yours, — M. Webber

1 George Harris, 27 years old. Enlisted in Ipswich, Farmer, MI. 8/8/1862, Corporal 6/2/1864, transferred to Co. H 7/15/1864, Sergeant 7/15/1864, MO. 6/22/1865, Bounty $325

2 Caleb Lord, 20 years old. Enlisted in Ipswich, Clerk, MI. 8/8/1862, Re-Enlisted, Corporal 6/1/1863, sergeant 10/1863, 1st Sergeant 11/27/1863, 1st Lieutenant 5/24/1864, Wounded 6/19/1864 at Kennesaw Mt. Ga., Died of wounds 6/29/1864 at Chattanooga Tn., Bounty $325

Letter 2

Sharpsburg, Maryland
November 29 [1862]

Dear Brother,

I received your kind letter today and was glad to hear that you and Clary was well. My health is good. It never was better. I never have seen a sick day since I left home.

You wanted to know if there was any skirmishing now. Well not much—only when the rebels show themselves on the other side of the river. Nox has not lost his rag since we left home. Nox is a good soldier.

You wanted to know about our coats and tents. I heard that some of our boys wrote home that we weren’t half clothed. It is no such thing. We have a plenty of clothes. I never had so many at once in my life. We have drawn our new shelter tents and have built us a house of out boxes and logs and have got our tents for a roof so it makes a very good house. I am in hopes we shall stay here this winter but it is uncertain. If we make an advance, it will be into Virginia and [I] have trod her sacred soil all that I want to.

You say that you can have them boots by the first of December. That will do. One pair of the 7’s are for my own foot. I want you to send me the bill of them express bill and all and direct them to Harpers Ferry, Maryland. Put on the company and regiment on the box.

You wanted to [know] if I heard anything from Elared [?]. The last I heard from him he was in the hospital at Frederick [Md.] and was doing well. You must excuse my pencil marks for I have not got any ink.

Give my love to Clary and all the folks. From your brother, — Moses

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