The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln
"I suppose the awful news of the murder of our beloved president created a great excitement in our little town..."
4 pages, 5 x 8, in ink, written by Surgeon Joseph Cottrell, U.S. Navy. Comes with the original envelope addressed to Miss Hallie K. My, Columbia, Lancaster County, Penna., with C.D.S., Old Point Comfort, Va., Apr. 24, postage stamp has been torn off.
U.S.S. Mackinaw, James River, Va., April 24th, 1865
My Dear Hallie,
As I was absent from my vessel the greater part of last week, and only returned to her on Saturday, I have been obliged to delay my letter which otherwise would have been written a couple of days earlier. I went down to Norfolk on Wednesday last on business and was detained there for three days. Norfolk is in my opinion a miserable place and I always dislike to be sent there. I cannot tell you how anxious I am to get home and if they don't soon let me off I shall be tempted to resign my commission and become once more a private citizen. Situated as I am however, I feel that I can not consistently leave my vessel for more than a day or two at a time as I am the only surgeon on board, and with no medical officer within five or two miles, it would scarcely be right to leave between two and three hundred men exposed to the numerous accidents of a man of war. I still live in hope however that it will not be long until I see you and that the day is not far distant when we shall meet to part no more in this life. I suppose the awful news of the murder of our beloved president created a great excitement in our little town as it has done elsewhere, and all are anxious to see those engaged in it brought to justice. With us it was received with sorrow and calmness all feeling anxious for an opportunity to revenge this horrible affair. Oh! that the day may soon come when nations shall know war no more. I am anxiously looking for a letter from you as the last I received was written on the 4th inst. ten days ago. which is quite a long time, but I suppose your visit to Philadelphia (which you speak of in your last letter) has kept you from writing. You ask me when I am coming home, and in reply I must ask you to wait two short weeks for an answer as I think again that in time we will know what the ship is going to do. Norwood must look beautiful now and the weather must be delightful for riding or driving. How much we would enjoy it if I were only there. Since our vessel came down to this part of the river, I have not had a single ride on horseback as there are no troops near here. We have pretty good times however sailing around this river which is here some three miles wide. There are also some fine families living on shore near us with whom I am acquainted and occasionally I pay them a visit, but I am so anxious to see you that it always makes me feel homesick to visit young ladies. Some of our officers are now ashore for tea, but although invited I determined to stay on board and write to you. Tomorrow a number of young ladies are to take dinner on board with us. How I wish you were to be one of them. I had intended to fill another sheet, but the mail tug is coming, and I will not detain my letter. So good bye. Accept ever so much love and a good night kiss from your devoted,
Very bold and neatly written letter from this naval surgeon stationed on the James River, Va., near the end of the war. Came from a larger group of Cottrell correpondence. Excellent letter with very desirable content regarding the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in April 1865.
U.S.S. Mackinaw: A 974 ton side wheel steamer of the United States Navy during the Civil War. The Mackinaw first served in the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron on the James River, Va., starting picket duty in May and remaining on the river for most of 1864. She destroyed the steamer Georgiana McCaw on June 5th, and supported Union troops on their advance from Dutch Gap, Va., on August 11th. The U.S.S. Mackinaw also served in the Wilmington, N.C., blockade and participated in other attacks throughout 1865.