August 29, 1863

Johnsons Island Sandusky Ohio

August 29th 1863


Dear Sarah,

It is indeed a dull monotonous life we spend here and as we have no sence of amusement this afternoon I thought I best wrote you a few lines. There is a floating rumor that we will be exchanged shortly but I do not give it a thought. (1) I trust my little Ida is now quite well. I promised when I wrote last I would send her a ring you will here find it enclosed, tell her it was made by one of the Rebels in prison here, no doubt she will be quite proud of it. (2) you need not trouble yourself about sending me money I can make out and what you have you will need for your own purposes. I wrote to Ma a few days ago you can tell her it is in care of Mr Bain. (3) I have also written to your Pa. I think he will get at this time, I received a letter from Gus (4) (unclear) the other day and was very glad to hear from him he sent me a lot of Stamps, it has been nearly sixteen months since I have seen you and my dear little ones and you must know I feel anxious to again be with you all but I feel it will not be so until this bloody war is ended when that will be I am not able to say give my best love to Aunt Mary when you see her I trust she is well, do you see her often, tell her her Boy has not forgotten her but thinks of her daily and prays he may see her again. I have not heard from Brother since I was taken prisinor, (5) my love to all home remember me to all friends trusting these lines may find you all I remain yours affectionately


Captain Henry A. Allen Co K 9th Va

Prisinor of War, Johnsons Island, Sandusky Ohio

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  1. Civil War prisoners of war spoke and wrote frequently about the prospect of exchange, and rumors of such generated a great deal of enthusiasm and hope. See, William B. Hesseltine, ed., Civil War Prisons (Kent: The Kent State University Press, 1962), 10-12; David R. Rush, I Fear I Shall Never Leave this Island: Life in a Civil War Prison (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2011).

  2. Faced with the monotony of life as a prisoner of war, many made use of their time carving rings and other trinkets out of wood or gutta percha. See images below.

  3. See letter dated August 4, 1863.

  4. There are three local Norfolk/Portsmouth area men bearing the first name Gustavus or Gustave, only one of whom, Gustave Seibert, because of age, is the likely candidate for Allen’s “Gus.”

  5. “Brother” is likely referring to Robert Allen, who also served in the 9th Virginia Infantry, co. E.

Hand-carved POW gutta percha ring

Hand-carved POW gutta percha ring

Hand-carved POW wooden ring

Hand-carved POW wooden ring

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