1862: Charles E. Osborn to Ann Eliza Osborn

How Charles E. Osborn might have looked

How Pvt. Charles E. Osborn might have looked

This letter was written by Charles E. Osborn (1844-1865), the son of David Osborn (1820-18xx) and Ann E. _____ (1821-18xx). In the 1850 and 1860 census records, David’s occupation is given as a baker. No other family information could be found.

Private Charles E. Osborn served with the 10th Rhode Island Infantry, Co. G. This 3-month regiment was organized at Providence in May 1862 and was placed on garrison duty in the defenses of Washington D.C. Company G was placed at Fort Gaines — a fort guarding the northeastern approaches to the Capitol — until their limited tour of duty expired. They left for home at the end of August and were mustered out 1 September 1862. Following a month at home, it appears that Charles re-enlisted with the 11th Rhode Island Infantry, Co. K. They were mustered into service on 1 October 1862 for a nine-month tour of duty that took them back to the defenses at Washington, then to Suffolk, Norfolk, Yorktown, & Williamsburg, Virginia. Eight members of this Regiment died from disease; there were no battle casualties.

The 1862 Providence City Directory shows Charles E. Osborn residing at 16 Hewes Street and employed as a clerk. Likewise, the 1864, and 1865 City Directories show him residing at that same address but it is noteworthy and unusual that no occupation is given for him. It seems likely that Charles was incapable of working for some reason; perhaps due to broken health. His obituary was posted in the 12 April 1865 edition of the Providence Evening Press:

1862 Letter

1862 Letter


OSBORNE — in this city, 11th instant, Charles E. Osborn, only son of David and Ann Eliza Osborn, in the 21st year of his age.

Addressed to Mrs. Ann. E. Osborn, No. 16 Hewes Street, Providence, Rhode Island

Fort Gaines
July 13, 1862

Dear Mother,

I received your letter yesterday about two o’clock and was glad to hear from you. You do not answer letters as quick as I do for I always write the next day after receiving a letter. There is not much news so I shall not write a very long letter. I shall take pattern after you.

Fort Gaines, 1862

Fort Gaines, 1862

I am on guard again today. We have to go on about once a week now. I went on at eight o’clock and came off at ten and then made some lemonade out of one of those lemons that came in the box. I have not used but two lemons but have used all the sugar and all the rest of the things that were sent in the box. I should like to have you send some more sugar. The other was very nice but I had rather have fine sugar as it is handier to use & some dried beef or a bottle of those little small pickles would go very well. You must be sure and pack bottles very tight so that they will not break as the Sergeant of the mess had a bottle of pickles come in a box the other day and the bottle was broke because it was not packed close. Also, some donuts or ginger snaps I think I could eat out here though I would not eat them at home. I have got so I could eat a little pork now when it is fried well. This morning we had beef steak & bread & coffee for breakfast which was quite nice for us. It takes quite a lot of meat and bread for seventy-five men and it was not quite so tender as what we have to home. There is a lot of blackberries near here and I go once in awhile and get some and then buy some milk and use some of the sugar. I am sorry that it is all gone as some of the boys have just come in from blackberrying and they have given me some and I have not got anything to sweeten them with. If you don’t have time to put anything in the box that I spoke about, you need not do anything about it as it will not make any difference as perhaps I shall want a box for myself in the course of two or three weeks. If I do, I will write and tell you.

The Captain [A. Crawford Greene] ¹ & Lieut. [James H.] Allen went to Washington yesterday morning and Lieut. Allen came back last night but the Captain has not got back yet. I believe he is going to start for Providence tomorrow night, If he does, I shall send home ten dollars of my bounty and the rest will last me the rest of my three months.

Tell Laura I want her to answer my letter immediately as I want to hear from her. Give my love to Lucy. Tell her I should like to hear from her. Also give my love to Annie and tell her I want an answer to my letter immediately.

Graphic on Envelope

Graphic on Envelope

While I was writing, the rations were distributed which consisted of soup and bread. The soup, considering what we have had, was quite good. I am very much obliged to Annie for the portfolio though I have not received it yet but hope to soon as I have not got hardly any paper and I had to get a few envelopes off Uncle George the other day. Fred Fry said he would call at the house and thought you would like to see anybody that came from here. Benny Scott said he had wrote to his mother but I guess she had not received his letter yet. Tell Charlie Scott that I think that he might find time to answer my letter Sunday, if no other day, and he might answer after he gets home some night.

I am as well as I ever was but do not know how much I will weigh now nor do I know how much I weighed when I sent from home. Give my love to all the folks. Tell Evy I will answer her letter sometime. Write as soon as you receive this. — C. E. O.

¹ “A. Crawford Greene – Born North Kingstown, R. I., April 10, 1824; learned printing in Woonsocket, in his uncle’s office (William N. Sherman); in 1845 established a printing office in Providence, which he conducted until his death, July 29, 1881, in his 57th year. Captain Co. G, 10th Inf., in the Civil war.


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