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Hamilton's Last Letter Home

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Source: Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives.


Seminary Hospital


Georgetown D.C. May 13, 1864


My Dear Father,


I have been wounded pretty well and this is the first chance I have had to write to you. I was shot by a sharpshooter through the fleshy part of both thighs last Friday morning, May 6. I had just brought my company off the skirmish line at daybreak and was joining the Regt. when I felt something go through me like "a dose of salts" and dropped on the ground. Four of my boys carried me back to the hospital where Dr. Sharpe dressed my wounds. The bullet in its passage made four holes. I am getting along very well and have scarcely any pain, and expect to be able to walk in a week or so when I shall try to get home. I saw Dr. Bowlesby last Monday — he said he would send you all the particulars of the fight he could scrape up , as soon as he got a chance to- I have not yet seen Uncle John but have sent him word I am here, and expect to see him tomorrow.


Col. Brown of the 30th had command of our Brigade at the beginning of the fight, but as he could not manage it, he was sent to his Regt. by Gen'l Meade and Col. Penrose put in command. Col. Penrose has changed considerable since last winter — he has found out that volunteers are not Regulars and has begun to act like a gentleman more than a tyrant… General Sedgwick is killed. We miss him very much. He was the best officer in the army of the Potomac...

I shall expect a letter soon,








Capt. E. Hamilton


Seminary Hospital Georgetown, D.C.


  1. Compare and contrast this last letter that Ellis wrote to his father with the observations that his Aunt Fanny made about Ellis on this same day, May 13, 1864.
  2. Why do you think the perceptions of Ellis' health are so different?
  3. What were some consequences that the war had on American families who had men fighting in the Civil War?