August 14, 1863

Johnsons Island

Near Sandusky Ohio

August 14th 1863

Dear Sarah,

I wrote to you but a short time ago but having nothing to do I shall let you hear from me as often as possible as I know it will be a source of pleasure for you to hear from me daily if it could be so. we are still lying idle nothing to do but eat & lounge about quite an easy life but we would all much rather be in Dixie. (1) When we will get there I am not able to say. when you write again let me know if you ever received your money from Mr Danl Turner, (2) if not you had better go and see him as I think he owes me some. I was truely sorry to hear of the distress in the family in hearing of the death of Tom Owens. (3) such is the fate of war. I must repeat your words I have been blessed so far never having been touched and I feel thankful to our Maker for the blessing. we are all well how is Ida & Lucy, well I trust also your dear Self. give my love to Ma, Aunt May, (4) and all friends my respects to Bowers and family. (5) I must now close to be in time for mail. from your

Affectionate Husband

Captain Henry A. Allen

9th Va Regt Infantry

Thomas C. Owens

Thomas C. Owens

  1. See Roger Pickenpaugh, Johnson’s Island: A Prison for Confederate Officers (Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 2016). Pickenpaugh describes the boredom experienced by Confederate prisoners suggesting that Allen’s testimony in this case is accurate. However, Allen’s description of an “easy life” seems something of an embellishment. Pickenpaugh also describes an experience of harsh climate and hunger at Johnson’s Island.

  2. Daniel J. Turner was a contractor from Jackson Ward, Portsmouth, Virginia. His primary occupation was working on canals. He was 51 years old at the time of this writing.

  3. Thomas C. Owens, the younger brother of John Crowder Owens (see letter dated August 11, 1863) had been a ship’s carpenter in Portsmouth before the war. At Gettysburg he was wounded - shot through the neck - and captured during the Pickett-Pettigrew assault on July 3. He died on July 12 at the General Hospital in Gettysburg. He was buried across the creek from Breams Mill in Gettysburg and his body may have later been exhumed.

  4. There are ten women living in Portsmouth, Virginia listed in the 1850 census, only three who are of the age to fall into the “aunt” category: May Applewhite, May Holliway, and May Sanders. More on this as the story develops…

  5. See letter dated August 4, 1863.

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