Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"I shall never Cease to mourn his death"--Letter of Lemuel Stetson to His Sons

An earlier post (November 11, 2009) chronicled the journey of Lemuel Stetson to Sharpsburg to bring his son, John L. Stetson, home. John Stetson was a Lt. Col. with the 59th New York Volunteers in the West Woods. The letter below, written by Lemuel Stetson to his sons Francis and William, is from the Stetson Family Papers, Fort Worth Public Library Archives.

Baltimore, September 28, 1862

My Dear Sons:

You were doubtless informed by Mr. Platt[1] of the sad news of your dear brother John. He was a noble & [ ] man and his Conduct on the field of Battle was resolute and gallant beyond my hopes.

More than a dozen wounded Men of his own regiment at Keedysville testified to his Cheerful, Courageous demeanor upon this field and upon his way there as shells from the enemy was ploughing up the ground. The [telling] of one was that his face looked Smiling as a May Morning. He died in a glorious Cause and nobly__Still I shall never Cease to mourn his death. We are now alone in the world[2] and I hope that we shall all endeavor to soften our Solitary Condition by acts of sure [ ] kindness to each other. I rely upon you for appropriate bearing under the impressive Circumstances of our [ ] merit. Do not disappoint me I entreat you.

I recovered Johns horse and equipage from Sumners Camp[3] at the top of Bolivar Heights at Harpers Ferry Va. I arrived here night before last, almost Exhausted by fatigue and nearly sick. I wait to [ ] . Tomorrow I go to Washington to look after Johns affairs and return to N.Y. Tuesday morning or evening. The horse will be Shipped from here tomorrow 3 p.m. by The Northern [Steamer?] via Phild. & Canals[4] to Pier No. 7. N. River N.Y. care of Wm. L. Stetson & Co.

I hope to be home by Thursday or Friday.

Call at Express office and pay Charges on Johns parcel. ...

Love to Mr Platts family and all friends.

Affectionately, L. Stetson.[5]


Source: Manuscript letter, Stetson Family Papers, Fort Worth Public Library Archives Collection.

Square brackets [ ] indicate that the word is not decipherable.

Notation on verso. "Lemuel Stetson to F.L.S. and W.S.S. about Johns death." F.L.S. is Francis Lynde Stetson (4.23.46-12.5.1920) and W.S.S. is William Sterne Stetson (4.2.1850-5.29.1883). Stetson Family Papers "Biography."

[1] Probably the father of Lucy Maria Platt (1835-1860), the late wife of John Stetson.

[2] Lemuel Stetson's wife, Helen Hascall Stetson, had died in 1860 and a son, Ralph Hascall Stetson, passed away in 1859. The death of John left only the father and two sons from a family of six.

[3] Reference to the Second Corps encampment at Bolivar Heights, Va.

[4] Probably reference to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Opened for business in 1829, it provided a shortcut for shipping from Baltimore to Philadelphia, and down the Delaware River to New York.

[5] Lemuel Stetson (March 13, 1804-May 17, 1886). The Cyclopaedia of American Biography under Lemuel Stetson.

Photograph: Lemuel Stetson. The Cyclopaedia of American Biography.


Zack said...

Mr. Buchanan:

I've been researching the 59th New York for several years now, and I always enjoy stopping by your blog to hear about the fighting in the West Woods. My senior honors thesis at Kent State in Ohio this year deals with the 59th from Antietam to Gettysburg. I'd enjoy discussing some things with you sometime.

With my compliments,
Zack Fry

Jim Buchanan said...

Zack--Thanks for the note and I would be very interested in anything you might want to add to the the story of the 59th at Antietam. Please contact me at or post a comment here. Hope you can get down to the field in the spring.