The Civil War Letters of William Beynon Phillips

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Headquarters, 2nd Artillery P. V.
Fort Bunker Hill,
[Washington,] D. C.
October 10, 1863

Dear Annie,

Your very long wished for letter has at last arrived. I thought that I was totally forgotten. My patience was about giving out, and I was on the point of writing you another, thinking the first may have been mislaid, but I find it is different, being delay on your part. And as you have found me guilty of the same offence & say as I have had to say ďIíll never do so again,Ē I acquit you as Col. acquits a delinquent soldier, on promise of future good behavior. Believe me, I was very happy to receive your letter, & if you only saw the sulks I was in you would not delay so long next time. Now, my dear, news is scarce [and] fighting is scarcer since I wrote you last. I am now living, moving & having my being at Headquarters, plenty of everything & too much time. I wish I could sleep the next 20 months & wake up & find my three years out, but I have not to wait so long though; in 11 months (Just think of it) the 2d. Arty P. V. will be mustered out of service, 3 years up.

I am clerking now going on 5 months & I expect before the month is out to be made senior clerk of the Brigade, the only one now being promoted Sgt. Major & the Sgt. Major being promoted to Lieutenant. The Colonel told me I should have it. He is very kind to me, but he is a West Pointer, and old officer in the service over 33 years, and very cross & exacting. You ought to see him. You would say at once he is an old war dog, & full of fight. He is very lame [as he] had his heel shot off in Mexico. He is a Major in the Regular Army & so ranks above a Brig. Gen. of Volunteers. His name is Augustus A. Gibson, & here is his autograph like[ness]...

A. A. Gibson
Col. 2d. Art. P. V.

Sunday morning

This is a very cool but fine morning. I am going to Rock [Creek] Church this morning near the Soldier's Home some 2 miles from here, [my] first time since last winter.

I was happy to hear that you intend going to school. You will have fine times no doubt. But donít play truant & donít you & the other young misses of the establishment rebel because you get weak tea & weaker coffee to. And donít smuggle into the school any candy or cakes to. Mind now, my dear, for the "big awful" has an eye to business. I hope to see you though before you leave. I suppose, should you leave, you would not object [to] my coming to the school, provided I come in a dress coat, silk hat, perfumed handkerchiefs & eyeglasses. Whew! What a figure. But never mind Annie. If it is the soldier boy, a good & true heart may beat beneath it. And if he loves to ďcut upĒ now & then, he will be found ready for any sober thought & deed any hour of the day and night.

Now, the mail is about leaving, & so I must draw this to a speedy close. I shall try for that furlough hard & long before I yield, & then I shall be very happy to see you. I shall have it. I am almost sure of it. But it may be in the middle of winter. If we have a winter campaign, furloughs will be very scarce but after all the campaign is better than the furlough, for the war will end sooner & we can come home for good.

I was very happy indeed to hear of Mr. Richards being able to go out. I must close the mail is going. Good bye. Please write soon. Accept my love.

Yours with true love -- William [Phillips]


In 1851, the US government established the Soldier's Home for distinguished veterans of the Mexican War. The site was three miles from the White House on high ground overlooking the city. It had been the former estate of George W. Riggs, a prominent Washington banker, who had built a 14-room house known as Anderson Cottage. To escape the summer heat of the city, President Lincoln often spent his days at Anderson Cottage. It was located adjacent to the Rock Creek Church and cemetery.