26 August 1861: “…by getting an affidavitt signed by both my parents and family physician stating that I am under age and enlisted without your consent (which I did) and sent here to me I can get my discharge.”

Item description: Letter, dated 26 August 1861, from William Ray Wells (12th New York Infantry Regiment) to his family in Tully, N.Y. Wells mentions his desire to be discharged from his service in the Union Army, instructing his parents on a possible way out, “I was speaking with the Col, this morning about this being under age and he says if I am under age, by getting an affidavitt signed by both my parents and family physician stating that I am under age and enlisted without your consent (which I did) and sent here to me I can get my discharge.”

Item citation: From folder 3 of the William Ray Wells Papers #2960-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Washington City

Aug 26 [1861]

Dear Friends,

I wrote you yesterday but for fear you will not get it I will write you again to day. I was speaking with the Col, this morning about this being under age and he says if I am under age, by getting an affidavitt signed by both my parents and family physician stating that I am under age and enlisted without your consent (which I did) and sent here to me I can get my discharge. I would like you to have one made out and immediately sent to me so that I may try for my discharge. it will at least do no harm in trying even if I do fail. There has a few already recd, theirs in that way in our reg, I have heard I got a pass from the Col, this morning to come over the long bridge into Wash, and it holds good untill 8 o,clock to night. I intend before I go back to go and visit the Onon. Cavalry. I believe that is where Wood and Clark is if I remember right. They are here in the city at the fort up fourteenth street. it is now one o,clock and I have no money (except some the Capt, sent to get him some medicine with) and without anything to eat however I guess I can stand it. I sent some of that telegraph to you that was used by the rebels in yesterday,s letter but I presume you will not rec, it. I would send some more to day but dare not trust it as I want this letter if any to go safe for I am afraid [?] will have gone west but I hope not. I want you to get it and send immediately on receipt of this letter. all well. no more at present from your affectionate son,

Ray

answer soon

[note written at bottom of page 4] I do not know what I can do about writing after this as my money is all gone and I cannot get postage stamps hereafter untill paid. I expected when I came over this morning to be able to get some franked here but there was no one here to do it and would not be untill tomorrow morning. they had one left which I am now using. W.R. Wells

[note written at top of page 1] (as long as I can get writing materials I will use them in writing to you) I have been of the opinion that one way or the other our letters have been intercepted as I have not heard from you in two or three days.

[note written at the top of pages 2 and 3]  (perhaps if Pa has gone west that affidavitt would do without his name. I do (4 page)

[note written at middle of page 2]  (2 page) not know where you do go to have it made out but I think to a justice of the peace

More about William Ray Wells:

Enlistment:

- 21 years of age at time of enlistment

- Enlisted on Apr 30 1861 at Tully, NY as Private

Mustering information:

- Enlisted into I Company, 12th Infantry (New York) on May 13 1861

- Killed while serving in 12th Infantry (New York) on Aug 30 1862 at 2nd Bull Run, VA

[Click here to learn more about the 12th NY Infantry Regiment.]

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