Letter, 15 Jan. 1862, (Hilton Head, S.C.) from U.S. Army Pvt. Elhanen W. Gosseline
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Letter, 15 Jan[uar]y 62, written by Union soldier E[lhanen] W. Gosseline, a private attached to Co. B, 100th Pennsylvania Infantry, from Hilton Head, South Carolina, is addressed to his father and reports that he had been “put in charge of a battery in the place of a captain of Engineers.” In this capacity, Gosseline had “built the barbettes ramps and other necessary appendages, put in the platforms and mounted the guns.” His work had “met with the highest approval of all of the officers concerned… [and] consequently you will see that I am getting to be a military Engineer of no trifling importance.” Gosseline was “working hard for a commission,” and reported that he was “not only studying on fortifications but… committing Hardee to memory in order that if I should be taken before the examining board they will not be able to corner me on anything, even the army regulations are also among my studies.” | Manuscripts Gifts 2006 | Previous Issues | Endowments | Friends of the Library |
Gosseline’s message continues on the 17th. He writes that “there is now no doubt but there will soon be a move from this point in a very few days, the tools of the Engineer department are being packed and put in readiness, there is a large Balloon here, to go with the troops, Col. Williams’ Regt. of Cavalry is also on the island, our destination is of course kept profoundly ‘Secret’.” There follows a lengthy discourse ridiculing the fact that “the Grand Army,” while often said to be “now ready for a move,” seemed to be suffused with “infernal apathy.” “…if Genl. McClellan is the man for the emergency he ought to shake off the lethargy that now seems to enthrall him and rise up in the breach with the power and vigour of the nation to support him and crush out the viper of secession,” he writes. But, “if he has not… the nerve to do so let Halleck or Pope lead on the armies and in six weeks with the present army and equipments the whole matter would be eternally settled or the tories shot.”
Of William T. Sherman, the Union commander overseeing the Port Royal expedition, Gosseline writes in conclusion, “as for Gen. Shermans intemperance there is nothing of it I am acquainted with and frequently converse with officers who know him well they all say that he is perfectly temperate. I see him almost every day and I have never been able to detect anything of the kind.”
The 1850 Federal census identifies one Elhanen W. Gosseline as a twenty-one-year-old carpenter living in Pulaski, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, in the home of his engineer father, T.J. Gosseline.