Item description: William B. Alexander was born in Plymouth, Mass., around 1832. He worked as a carpenter in Boston before enlisting with the Union Army as a second lieutenant in Company B of the 3rd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, April 1861. He mustered out in July 1861, but returned to service in December of that same year as a captain in the 23rd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, Company E. On 8 February 1862, the 23rd participated in the Battle of Roanoke Island (N.C.), which ended in a Union victory. In a letter written nearly one month later, Alexander mentioned a cheek wound that he likely incurred in the battle. Shortly thereafter, he was more seriously wounded in the left arm while engaged in the Union capture of New Bern, N.C., 14 March 1862. On 28 December 1862, he resigned his post and joined his wife, Mary F. Alexander, and daughter, Ida, in Boston. By 1890, the family had moved to Plymouth. William Alexander died 5 February 1900.
A series of four letters, March-May 1862, written by William B. Alexander, a captain in the 23rd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, Company E, during the Civil War, to his wife, Mary F. Alexander. The first two letters, dated 3 and 8 March 1862, were written from the gunboat U.S.S. Hussar, anchored at Roanoke Island, N.C. Bemoaning the lack of provisions, Alexander called the island, recently captured by the Union Army, “the most Godforsaken place I ever saw.” He further expressed hope that news of an unspecified “important victory” meant the war was soon to end. Other topics include his participation in the seizure of a Confederate schooner and confusion over the fate of an ailing soldier who had been transferred out of Alexander’s unit.
US Gunboat Hussan March 3d / 62
To My own Dear Wife
I have received your letters dated Feb 9th & 10th & expect some more every day. I and my Co are still on this Str & we expect to go up the sound every day, to some of the places abouve here we are tired staying here & all anxious to go someweres. This is a mean place to stay in very difficult to get fresh provisions, but we are in hopes to get out of this soon. we head of important victorys & in hopes soon to hear that this trouble will be settled so we can go home. I am getting tired of this work & want to come home & stay with you & Sis & if I can see no speedy end of this war. I shall come home any how as I am tired of liveing apart from you even if I have to work hard for something to live upon. we are all heartily tired of staying in this place as this is the most Godforsaken place I ever saw. we remain here just the same as ever after the battle. all the prisoners have been liberated & sent home. nothing of any interest has happened here. I suppose you know all about the fight & the news generally we have to wait untill we get the newspapers from North. I just hear that a large Mail has arrived & will probably delivered tomorrow, I expect a half dozen letters from you. Thomas & Otis have each half dozen in each mail sometimes I have one. I get every letter you write, so if you write me one every day I shall get them as soon as the Mail get here, I hope you will send me you photograph, put it in a letter & let it come, as I am very anxious to have them. I received a letter from Wm & Sylvia, dated Feb 17th. You must send me some postage Stamps as I can get none here, we are expecting to be payed off soon, I dont know how to Send it home as yet as there is no Express here, but I will manage to get it to you as soon as I get it. our Engenear has got his discharge & will take this to New York, with him. you wrote that father & mother was with you & would write a few lines but I have not seen them yet you dont mention wether Lydia is with you now. you write a great deal about Religion I suppose you are haveing good meetings in Boston now. I should like to be there just now. Tell Ida to be a good girl I am thinking of her I am sorry she feels so bad because I am away. I am ever thinking of you & hopeing for the time to come when I can be with you & live to gather again, I am ever loveing you with the same true & lasting love & wishing I were with you. once more there is no news to write you can get all the news by the papers just as well & better than I can tell you all the wounded are getting well the Slight Wound I got on the Cheek as healed & will leave no mark. I went over to the main land the other day & saw green peas 6 or 8 inches high this is very different from the season at home I hear you will have some good Sleighing in Boston. we have seen no cold weather here, it is almost like May with us, with pleasant weather. I hope you will write very often & send me your Miniature by letter I shall get it safe enough, as I get all you send News has just come on board that Thos Saunders has died in the Hospital on shore, he was sick with [pleusery?] fever. he was transfered from my Co to Co K whilst we were in Annapolis, write so I can have half dozen letters every mail, this will go by Mr Smith to New York – from your own true & darling Husband
W. B. Alexand—
(give my respects to all)