“I do not regret having done as I have done, for I with many thousands was honest and enlisted for our country. If I was home and knew as much as I do now I would enlist at the first opportunity.”

Sue Curry, the great-great granddaughter of Captain Wilson French, Company G, provided the following excerpt of a letter written home to his wife Mattie less than 2 weeks after the battle at Chancellorsville.  At the time of the battle he was a 1st Lieutenant, and he was promoted soon after the battle. Good officers look after their men, and by all accounts, Captain French was a good officer. As you can see in his letter home, he was as concerned, if not more concerned, for his men than for himself.

Captain Wilson French - Co. G

Captain Wilson French – Co. G

“…I have worried a good deal about my missing men. I have been to work faithfully to learn of them. I can account for all except two those are Andrew Couch and Andrew Lockwood. Srgt Charles Jenning was brought in today wounded in the left side. Wm W Morgan wounded in the right side. Sylvester Williams in the left foot, Wm Creeden and Wm Merrett are both wounded in the shoulder. these two came in with us. Daniel Dove and Charles Wurtz are prisoners in Richmond. I feel thankful we were not all

killed or taken prisoners. God has been Good to us in sparing our lives. I have trusted in him nice, and I can continue to trust in him hereafter. I have visited the hospital often looking after my wounded as they come in. they were very glad to see me. they are in good spirits and express a desire to get well soon so they can try the rebels again. there is a great many wounded come in to our Division Hospital some with the loss of leg, arms, and fingers. some have lain on the battlefield for thirteen days. some of their wounds smell very bad. I saw them take the leg off from one poor fellow. he bore it very patiently. it is sickening to go through the tents and hear some of the poor fellows grown…I wish the brave fellows were home where they could have their kind friends to administer to their wants. but we cannot always have our wishes gratified. our boys say the rebel soldiers rob our dead and wounded of everything. they took everything off from our Lieut Col Walters except his shirt and drawers. the rebels had abundance of greenbacks that they had taken from our dead and wounded. our wounded had very little to eat or drink while there…the rebels do not have any sugar, tea or coffee. they live on hard tack and half rations of meat…the rebels even pull the shoes off from our dead horses, so I think they must be hard up for iron…the late battlefield is a horrible sight to behold. the stench from dead men and horses is sickening, awful in the extreme. the building and woods are leveled by the canon ball and shell…we look forward for another attack soon that I think, if successful will finish

Corporal Andrew Couch - Company G

Corporal Andrew Couch – Company G

the work. I hope and pray that God may carry me through safe and soon may I meet with my family to live in a peaceful country. continue to pray dear wife. let us all pray together that this may soon be settled…”

The two soldiers that Captain French lists as unaccounted for would not remain so for long. Andrew Lockwood was captured during the battle but survived. Corporal Andrew Couch, (who wrote the words in the title of this post a few months earlier), was killed in action on May 2nd – the first of Captain French’s men to die in combat.

6 comments for ““I do not regret having done as I have done, for I with many thousands was honest and enlisted for our country. If I was home and knew as much as I do now I would enlist at the first opportunity.”

  1. Bob Rosati
    May 8, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    This is one of the most touching, and clearly heartfelt, letters I’ve ever read. Thanks for posting it.

  2. Carolyn Ivanoff
    May 9, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Thank you for posting. This letter gives us insight into the mind of an officer who led his men faithfully and cared deeply about them. He shared their hardships and understood their sacrifices and also knew, and accepted, for himself and them the horrible and difficult realities of combat and its aftermath. These patriots and citizen soldiers believed in and fought for the UNION. For the Union some gave all and all were deeply affected by the experience of war for the rest of their lives. God bless all of our veterans from every war.

  3. Ginny Gage
    May 17, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Very moving letter. Thank you so much to Sue Curry for sharing with us.

    • 17thCVI
      May 18, 2014 at 12:02 am

      Hi Ginny – welcome back!

  4. J.R. Rothstein
    February 24, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Is it possible to get the entire letter posted?

    • 17thCVI
      March 14, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      Hi J.R. –

      The owner of any submissions decides what they want (and don’t want) published on the site. Each person has different reasons for the level of permission that they want. In this case, what’s posted here is what the letters owner gave the okay for!

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