Milton Historical Society


"Fort Wood" N.Y. Harbor1

Jan 30th 1865

Dear Mother

I promised you, in my last Letter to write Sunday but as I had plenty of good reading to occupy my mind thought I would wait untill to Day when the Library would be open and a good chance to write there, away from so much confusion but I find the Library full this morning so seated on my knapsack with my writing Desk on my Knee I will try and interest you with a few lines:

I got up early this morning, had a good wash and took a walk out it being such a beautiful morning. This is our third Day on the Island "the Notorious Bedlow" which I was afraid was a second "Galloupe" It is as far as the Grub is concerned but the Building is warm and convenient: It is a very pleasant place here and from the Fort we can look about the Harbor having a fine view of New York, Brooklyn and Jersey City and watch the numerous Ships and Steamers coming and going all the time:

This is a splendid Fort, mounting about 75 heavy Guns and just above us towards the City is another built of Brick, perfectly Sound and standing out in the water away from any Land: I have seen the Forts, coming up the Potomac, below Washington and have a good idea of the strength of the Country which makes me think a great deal more of it: Though I had much rather be at Home with you all yet I enjoy myself making the best of what cannot be helped.

I thought of you often yesterday and how I would have gone to Church with you all Day if I could have been transferred there but I made the best of it: I could not go to Meeting in the morning as I had to be on hand to get the Clothing I had spoken for but in the evening I went: There is a neat little Chappel and a good Minister. I believe it is the only Sermon I ever heard that I could remember so long: it was on parts of the 7th Chapter of Revelations and a real Soldiers Sermon: they have one of those Organs like ours and the Singing was by the Congregation so that all we wanted was a "Jabez" to make it like Home.

I wish I could hear from you but as we shall leave Wednesday suppose I must give up the idea until I get to Savannah: I dont think I am getting Home sick at all and I dont mean it but I think just as much of you as if I was:

I dont know what News I can find to write you after this but I shall probably write again. If I do not, you may write next Sunday directing to Savannah Georgia and it wont be a great while before we shall be corresponding as regularly as ever:

I wish you felt as easy about me as I do myself but I cant help knowing a Mothers anxiety. Everything flew so rapidly when I left that I had not time to feel bad about it and it was quite a good thing for me:3 Now I am settled into Soldiering again. I make the best of it but I shall be just as thankful to get back as you will be to receive me: I would like to write to Father and Johnny but they will excuse me at present: the same with Hattie & Carrie.

With my Love to them all & hope to hear soon. I will close with much Love from

Your Aff. Son


Fort Wood, New York Harbor

1 Fort Wood is situated on Liberty Island, which in Henry's time, was named Bedloe's Island after one of its early owner, Isaac Bedlow (1667). The granite fort includes eleven bastions laid out in a star configuration, which in 1886 became the base structure for the Statue of Liberty. The reference to a "second Galloupe" may refer to Gallop's Island in Boston Harbor - a mustering in and out location for several Massachusetts regiments during the Civil War - at approximately ten acres, Gallop's is only a few acres smaller than Liberty Island.

2 The Moultons were members of the First Methodist Church in Dorchester. Henry's and his brother Luther Moulton's names are included with 49 others on a plaque entitled "Not for Conquest but for Country," honoring members of the Church who served in the Civil War. The original church structure was demolished in the 1960s to make room for the present Wesley United Methodist Church. The original plaque along with "The Kneeling Soldier Monument" (dedicated 2004) is seen in the lower left quartile of the photo below. The reference to "Jabez" is from scripture and may relate to the Prayer of Jabez which was often sung: "Oh that you may truly bless me and extend my boundaries. Help me and make me free of misfortune, without pain. And God granted his prayer." (1 Chron 4:10)

United Methodist Church, Dorchester MA

3 Our readers may recall several earlier letters in which Henry mentioned fellow soldier, corporal Charles Moulton. Charles was discharged for medical reasons March 1863 thus creating a slot for Henry's promotion to Corporal.. Charles Moulton died December 27, 1864, shortly before Henry returned to active service. Charles Moulton may have been Henry's cousin (see 1 July 1864 letter — footnote 2).