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Collection Title: Wilcox (William E.) Letters

Collection Number: M125

Dates: 1854-1889

Volume: .25 cu. ft. (57 items)

Provenance: Unknown.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

William E. "Billy" Wilcox was born about 1840 in Taunton, Massachusetts. He enlisted in Company K, 4th Massachusetts Volunteers, on September 26, 1862, for nine months service. The first two months of that service were spent with the regiment at Camp Joe Hooker, Lakeville, Massachusetts, where the men engaged in routine military activities. In mid-December 1862, his unit expected to be transferred to Texas, but when they finally left camp on December 27, they journeyed to New York where they boarded the George Peabody and sailed for New Orleans. After a weather delay at Fortress Monroe, Hampton Roads, Virginia, the regiment arrived in New Orleans on February 7, where the ship awaited a tug to pull it upriver to Carrollton, Louisiana.

From February 20, 1863, until early March, the regiment was in Camp Mansfield at Carrollton, Louisiana; by March 12, 1863, they were nearer Baton Rouge and in early April they moved to Brashear City, Louisiana, aboard the steamer Nassau. The regiment remained in Brashear City until early June; they were involved in battle at Port Hudson in mid-June but by July 16 Wilcox and 160 fellow soldiers were under arrest for refusal of duty. Billy's letters during the August 1863 were written from the penitentiary at Baton Rouge, where the men were held until the regiment was discharged from service.

Following his discharge on August 28, 1863, Billy Wilcox returned home and in 1868 joined the William Bartlett Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. On April 16, 1889, Billy was given a transfer card from that post. No additional information is available about William E. Wilcox.

Scope and Content:

This collection contains letters from William E. "Billy" Wilcox, a private in Company K, 4th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, to his wife Lizzie, probably in Taunton, Massachusetts, from October 1862 through August 18, 1863. Also included in the collection are personal letters from friends; two accounts of pay and clothing, one for William Wilcox and the other for Thomas Larkin; a transfer card for membership in any post of The Grand Army of the Republic; a letter from Alice (?) To "Dear Sister"; and an undated poem about Billy's marriage.

Written from Camp Joe Hooker, on board the George Peabody in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, and in various camps in Louisiana, Wilcox's letters contain details of the daily life of a soldier, particularly his routine guard duty. Frequent comments in the letters refer to his status as a nine month soldier and how anxious he is to be at home. The February 20, 1863, letter is the first written after his arrival in Louisiana and contains some interesting views of southern land and people. Other letters describe battles near Brashear City and at Port Hudson, Louisiana, where the 4th Regiment was involved in heavy fighting. The last four letters are written from Baton Rouge where Wilcox and approximately 160 others were imprisoned for refusal of duty.


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Revised: November 10, 2004