ALS, 3pp., 4.9 x 7.75 in., Camp Dickinson, VA. January 4, 1864. Letter from Private James M. Williams to Ruth Lorenda Bradley, wherein his discusses reactions to President Lincoln’s Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, issued December 8, 1863: “Quite a number of the South are taking advantage of the President’s Proclamation and are returning to their allegiance, like the Prodigal Son they are coming back penitent.”
Private Williams, of Harpersfield, Delaware County, NY, enlisted in the 109th New York Volunteer Infantry on August 27, 1862. From that September until March of 1864, the 109th guarded the railroads leading into Washington, D.C. at Annapolis, MD, likely the same guard duty Williams refers to in this letter. Later in the spring of 1864, Williams and his comrades campaigned from Rapidan to Petersburg, VA, participating in battles including the Battle of the Wilderness and the Battle of Spottsylvania Court House. They were entrenched in Petersburg, VA by June of 1864 and remained there until the city surrendered in April of 1865. Williams was mustered out of service on June 4, 1865, whereupon he returned to New York and married Ruth Bradley that September. Williams wrote frequently to his future wife during the war, and forty-four of his letters to her are housed in the archives of Auburn University.
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