This letter was written by William Henry Tolford (1830-1864), the son of William Tolford (1791-18730 and Mary Spear (1803-1853). He was married in December 1852 to Lucy Irena Blowers (1832-1870). They had four children: Mary (b. 1854), Flora (b. 1857), William (b. 1859), and Carrie (b. 1862).
William enlisted in Co. F of the 4th Michigan Volunteer Infantry on September 10, 1861, at Hudson for 3 years. Mustered September 10, 1861. Age 31. Height 5 feet, 8 inches. Complexion light. Eyes gray. Hair black. Farmer by trade. Re-enlisted as Corporal January 31, 1864. Mustered February 1, 1864. Killed in action at the Wilderness, May 5, 1864.
Published in the Hudson Gazette, Sat., July 11, 1863
From the Fourth Michigan
Gettysburg, Pa, July 5th 1863
Dear Family & Friends;
I am happy to inform you that I am safe, but I have sad news to tell you concerning the rest of the Co. and Regiment.
We arrived here on Thursday last, soon after the fight commenced, and were immediately ordered to the front. In the afternoon we were ordered to support a battery. The battery soon became disabled and we were ordered to charge on the Rebels, which exposed us to a severe cross fire. We were nearly surrounded before we were ordered to retreat. Col. Jeffords was wounded on the way back and afterward died. Our loss in killed, wounded, and missing is very great. We have only ten men left in our company, and not much over one hundred in the regiment. Hiram Fountain and Addison Hassington, of our Company, were killed and afterwards found and buried by us. Lieut. Westfall and his brother were slightly wounded.
We have since learned that six of our men were prisoners and unhurt. Noah Webster and myself are all that remain of the boys who came from Pittsford. Albert Boies was taken prisoner and escaped in the night. He says that Irvin Miner and Bill Dillon with four others are prisoners.
We have taken a great number of prisoners, and according to all scouts, have got the rebel army in a pretty tight place.
We had no fighting near us yesterday and but little the day before. We heard some cannonading to the left of us, in the rear of the enemy and it was supposed by some that the rebels were trying to escape. Others thought that reinforcements were coming to us, and in the rear of the enemy.
I could not tell all the news concerning our march from Virginia and the fight here if I were to write all day. Suffice it to say, we had a very rough time of it; but we are thankful that we are no the worse off. Our regiment may not be called to go into the fight again very soon on account of our numbers and the loss of our colonel. I hope to hear from you soon.
I remain, as ever, your affectionate friend and husband, — Wm. H. Tolford