Two Letters to a Civil War Deserter who Escaped to Canada - 1863
Letters to a Civil War deserter who escaped to Canada. To Horace Burlingham from his father, Waterman, and other family members. Edmeston, [New York]: 1 May and 27 September 1863.
Two letters: one two-page letter and one four-page letter. Both have mailing and storage folds. Clean and legible. Centerfold of one has a split mended with what appears to be archival repair tape.
Both letters were written by Waterman Burlingham, a New York farmer, to his son, Horace, in Canada. Horace deserted from the 9th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment in April 1863 along with 43 other men. One letter also includes notes from Horace’s mother and sister.
While the letters provide Horace with family information, it is Waterman’s desertion information that is significant:
"We received a letter from you last spring which informed us that you was . . .safe and sound on Canada grounds, which we was very glad to dear. I felt some afraid, that you would meet with difficulty in the attempt to cross over. I am sorry to have you from home . . . but under the circumstances glad that you are safe from arrest, which you would not have been any where in the States The Provost Marshal by the name of Cole living in Albany, came to the flats [and] arrested John Sivcet, Bradley Sheldon, Seymour West, and John Yates, put hand cuffs on them & was off in a hurry. . . . The Marshall said to Coons that he had 200 names of Deserters on his list, & orders to take all that he could hear off he said his territory went as far west as Rochester, . . . now a word of advice to you don’t you be enticed by no man or woman to cross back into the states, a man in some office of the government, left with a large amount of money and went into Canada a short time ago. Some of these city officers that understand catching men tracked him to Canady & . . . and got him to cross over into this States, & then snapt him and if they find out where you are, they will play sharp in some way. . . . Don’t you write to anyone, anything that will hurt Richard E. Seill, you know the law makes him accountable for any breach of trust if he is Post Master, don’t let any body know that he harboured you, or informed you what was agoing on, or any one else keep everything to yourself, for if Barrett or Tresdell should find out that any one helpt you or done any act that they could get an advantage of they would probably take it, so be very careful when you write to any one."
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