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4th Vermont Infantry

The Henry B. Atherton Collection

Letter from Henry to his wife Abbie, describing the actions of his company in their first skirmish.
The next day he would be shot at Lee's Mills.

Lees Mills, Virginia - In Line of Battle, four miles north of Warwick Courthouse, Sunday noon, 6 April, 1862 [written in pencil]

To: Mrs. H. B. Atherton, Ludlow, Vermont

From: Captain Henry B. Atherton.

My Darling Wife. I having a chance to send you a few lines and improve it. A man is just starting back for the fortress and I have but a minute. The attack has commenced on the enemy who are entrenched at Lee's Mills about a mile in front. Skirmishers are about and an occasional shot is fired. We are on the extreme left of the Division in a warm sunny place in the woods and not in immediate danger. The first was fired yesterday about noon and kept up by a section of our artillery until night. We are lying in line of battle and shall probably do nothing today as it is Sunday. Tomorrow we shall charge and carry their works.

We took their fortifications at Young's Mills night before last. My company were first to mount the ramparts and colors of the Fourth Vermont; the first to come upon their defenses. They retreated as we approached. The place had cantonments sufficient to accommodate 10,000 men. McClellan is here and in splendid form. We hear that the fleet has gone up the York River to Yorktown about ten miles distant from us. We slept in the woods last night, the battalion in close order by divisions. A fire is by my side and I have my rubber suit on, but blankets are back in the wagons. It is not uncomfortable, however. Today it is warm and pleasant.

Darling, I dreamed of you last night as I do often almost every night. How thankful I am that I am blest with so pure and faithful a wife. My confidence in you and your love is perfect and I am not only proud of you, but of my boundless love for you. I know darling I have many times unjustly caused you pain. Forgive me darling. It shall never be again. Goodbye. Your ever loving husband, -- Henry.

This document is from the Henry B. Atherton Collection, contributed by Linda M. Welch, genealogist and historian of southern Windsor County, Vermont towns. She has many more like these and is planning to publish a book in the near future which will include them all."