Ambrose J. Easton (1831-1862) enlisted as a corporal in Co. K of the Fourth Michigan Infantry on June 20, 1861. He was promoted to sergeant on Nov. 14, 1861. Ambrose was killed in action — hit by a cannon ball — at Malvern Hill, Va. on June 30, 1862.
Ambrose was the son of Paul Drake Easton (1805-1858) and Sally Adams (1804-1881) of Lima, Washtenaw County, Michigan.
The following letter is provided through the courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.
Sept. 15, 1861
I am still in sight of the Capital of this our great republic. Several times within the last few days we have been called to arms. The enemy are in the habit of exchanging shots with our pickets and some time 12 or 15 hundred men and a battery are engaged in a skirmish and a few men are killed every day. But few of our men have fallen although we have all, or nearly all, been engaged in skirmishing with the enemy. Co. G has lost 1 man, Co. F 1 (man) and several wounded. We are faring very well now. I have my state pay and would send it home but hope to send the government pay also in a few days and let it all come at once. Israel Bailey1 is now very sick (and) in the Georgetown hospital. I have had uninterrupted health since being in the Army. Never better and could I enjoy the same state of health in Mich. should not hesitate to return at an early opportunity. I can get a discharge at any time and think that I shall get an exchange and go into Town’s2 Company of Horse as soon as he gets here if, I can get a position, else it will pay better to stay here. Although Woodbury3 is down on Co. K and little hope is there of a many gaining a position, only by the hardest (effort). Enclosed you will find a letter to Mother containing some pines and of the long leaf southern kind. Some of them I want planted by Father’s grave soon. Bro., can you get and plant so they do well? I shall want some if our plants at home should fail and if any should succeed you may have some of course. Tell Mr. Paulkernas (?) that I shall send an order to him to pay him when I send my money home. You don’t know how I should like to spend one Sunday at home. Still all right, no time for despondence. But now, goodbye. Send the enclosed to Mother as soon as you can and when you write, let me know if she is well.
My Brother Fernando Easton
1 Sergeant Israel Bailey of Co. K Fourth Michigan Infantry.
2 Captain Charles H. Town of Dexter, Michigan, had just become Major of the First Michigan Cavalry on September 6, 1861.
3 Colonel Dwight Woodbury, in command of the Fourth Michigan Infantry.
The following letter is provided through the courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.
Sept. 29th 1861
Yours of the 16th was received last night. You complain at not receiving letters from me…I have written 3 or 4 to you and mailed several to our folks in your care. Sometime last week I wrote you last, but will probably write again today for fear it may have miscarried. Yesterday I wrote to Tip and sent 36 dollars in the letter and I hope to hear from it on it’s arrival. He will pay Mr. Paulkernas (?) when he gets the money. In my last letter to you I sent some seed of the long leaf pines which I directed you to divide with Tip. Hope to hear from you again soon. Let me know of the receipt of this. Tip says in his letter that there has been two deaths in Lima. [I] did not learn who they were. Hope to hear next time. Tip says I must come home in the spring and so I will if I live till that time. The war will probably close ere that time. We are so strongly entrenched here that all creation can not take Washington. We are one impregnable fortresses from the Chain Bridge to Alexandria. The enemy daily kill some of our pickets. One [was] shot this morning, the right hand shot off. Whose turn tomorrow I can not tell, perhaps mine. They have tried it 3 times already and failed. Corporal Willis1 will start for home tomorrow. I shall send to Rhoda2 (as he goes through Hudson) a pipe, two sea shells, and some flower seeds, to go to Mother and be kept as mementos of [the land of the] Secesh. But pray, write longer letters when you write next time. Last week I took a step from 3rd Corporal up to Sergeant. So far, so good. Hope to go higher as that is what I came for. But I must tell you today I sat down (at) the table to dinner. I went out of camp a mile to the house of a Methodist Minister and had boiled ham, cabbage, potatoes, pie, bread, butter, pickled grapes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, in fact a first rate meal, all for 75 cents. But [as you can] judge, my paper [is] used up and I must close. Enclosed is a letter for Em. Please give it [to] her. Not that I am going to make love or any thing of that kind, but just to keep writing. Thus I teach then and that you must believe.
A. J. Easton
to Fernando Easton
1 Corporal Sydney Willis of Company H
2 Rhoda Easton is the half-sister to Ambrose and Fernando Easton
Ambrose wrote this letter to his brother Fernando. The original letter belongs to the Dexter Area Historical Museum.
December 28, 1861
Your letter came to hand last night. I was glad to hear from you as 3 weeks had elapsed since I had heard from home. Now Cap just make an arrangement with Tip and one can write one week and one the other. By this means I shall be in receipt of letters weekly.
There is not much of news to write today. We have got marching tents. They are so constructed that 3 men can carry them — the guns serving as tent poles. 5 minutes after halting, we can have our tents pitched and we are under a waterproof cover. The receipt of these tents have given rise to the suspicion that we are to move soon. This may be so and it may not. Time will tell.
Capt. Depuy has gone home [and] will return in a week. My health is good again and I think I can stand a campaign if lead does not interfere. Cap, I am not going to serve 3 years as Sergeant nor any such thing. Something higher must be attained and if I had an influential friend at home, it would not [be] a great while first either. Bailey is no doubt glad to be at home with his family instead of in camp. George Crane is about to return. I am told if he does, I should like to have some dried apples sent [to me] by him. I should have written for some — and some butter — before this were it not for the uncertainty of our whereabouts. Tomorrow we may leave and we may stay until spring.
Last night a government stable in the city burned destroying 100 horses, and including horses, wagons, harnesses, and other property to the amount of 100,000 dollars.
When you write, just tell me how affairs at the saw mill are getting along. I have not heard from anyone in a month of Sundays. I have not written or heard from Thompson this summer. I don’t know whether you raised the money on the mortgage or not. If you did not, destroy it in the presence of Tip. But the mail is going and I must close.
Yours in haste, — A. J. Easton
In this letter provided through the courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library, Captain Harrison H. Jeffords writes to his friends the Eastons, back home in Dexter, Michigan to inform the family of the death of Ambrose.
July 7th 62
It becomes my sad duty to write you that you may know that Ambrose is dead. He was killed instantly by a cannon ball Monday, June 30th. For one week we had been fighting continuously through all of which he behaved like a true soldier & a brave man. None fought better than he, always at his post willing to face any danger. He helped contest inch by inch the ground we passed over in that bloodiest march that almost decimated our Regt. & brigade. We were drawn up in line of battle when the enemy suddenly opened a battery on us from the left, the first shot of which cost him his life. They were driven from their ground & the guns captured. We slept in line of battle that night & the next day were engaged in the most severe fight that we had yet experienced, but held the ground using up all our ammunition & off of the dead and wounded. The Colonel was killed here & many more officers & men killed & wounded. I have escaped so far with a slight scratch on the hand, two holes in my coat & sword scabbard cut into & have lost 22 of my Co.. Our colors were shot almost to ribbons. Before the second fight commenced we had an opportunity to do for him what we could not do for many others. We buried him in a beautiful spot in the shade of a tree that can be identified at any future time. I have in my possession his pocketbook & housewife, with a pocket testament, stained with his blood. I thought first I would not send it as it might increase your sorrow. But upon second thought, will send them all by mail as I am likely to lose my baggage at any time. I can sympathize with you in your affliction but it is one of the effects of war & many more will mourn for friends that never return. Ed Williams was killed instantly. Chas. Dupont wounded & a prisoner. Sergt. Thrig, Capt. Depuy killed etc., etc., a long list, the particulars of which you will find in the papers. They attacked us in overwhelming numbers but we could hold our ground & did drive them with fearful loss, as you will see by their own admission. I have been in service over a year, have been in six different engagements, have had shot and shell bursting & flying around for weeks at a time. But if I live, will fight till the last Rebel has laid down his arms & the Gov. stands, as it will stand, firm and strong, to protect its friends & defeat all its enemies. The army now is in a position from which it can not be driven & Richmond will yet fall. My best wishes to all the friends & believe me as ever, your friend,
H. H. Jeffords