18th Virginia Infantry – William Robert Elam, Wounded & Captured in Picket’s Charge, Writes from Johnson’s Island, Ohio

William enlisted on May 7th, 1861 at Appomattox County, Virginia as a Corporal in Company H, the “Appomattox Grays”. 

Little did he know at that time that the war would end in his county! In fact, after being wounded at Frayser’s Farm, Va. and wounded and captured at Gettysburg, he would be captured near his home on April 6th, 1865 at the battle of Sailor’s Creek, Va. Only 3 days before the surrender of Lee and Elam gets sent to Johnson’s Island, Ohio on Lake Erie! After his vacation there, he would be paroled on June 15th, 1865. 

Our letter, written on legal size stationery is in fine condition written in nice dark ink and perfect for framing with a picture of Johnson’s Island (which we can provide). 

Our letter is headed “Johnson’s Island, Ohio May 7th, 1865”. Elam is writing his cousin, who was Sallie E. Andrews of Columbia, Tennessee, and states “I am much better satisfied than when I last (or first) wrote.” He then goes on to explain the reason for his encouragement: 

• “In a day or so after writing, I ventured to peep into different rooms, & see what was going on, etc. when upon entering the second or third, who should I find its occupants but a group of my old friends from C. I was never more agreeably surprised. They have to a considerable extent driven dull care from my mind.”

• “We have rehearsed many things which happened previous to the days of carnage & bloodshed, & at times I’ve felt almost like I was within the corporate limits.”

• “I visit them daily & we find something new at each meeting. Several of them have received letters recently, & I have thus been posted somewhat as to what might be the news, etc.”

“I am very anxious to hear from you & family. Have not heard a word from Virginia since I was captured.”

• “From present prospects, I think it probable that most of those now confined here will before a great while be allowed to return to their home. I shall be compelled to return to Va., but it is my intention soon to be in C.”

• “My love to each & all the family. With the hope that you are quite well, I am as ever, your fond & attached Cousin, Wm. R. Elam.”

There is an archive of the letters of William R. Elam in the Special Collections Department of the University of Virginia Library.

#PO109VA.5-7-65 – Price $950 

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