unc logo

Collection Number: 05197-z

Collection Title: William B. Alexander Letters, 1862

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


expand/collapse Expand/collapse Collection Overview

Size 4 items
Abstract William B. Alexander, a carpenter born in Plymouth, Mass., served as a second lieutenant in the 3rd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, April-June 1861, and as a captain in the 23rd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, December 1861-December 1862. The collection consists of four letters written by Alexander to his wife, Mary. The first two letters were composed in early March 1862 on the gunboat U.S.S. Hussar, anchored at Roanoke Island, N.C. In them, Alexander bemoaned the lack of provisions on the island and expressed hope that news of a recent, unspecified victory meant that the war was soon to end. Other topics include his participation in the seizure of a Confederate schooner and confusion over the fate of an ailing soldier who had been transferred out of Alexander's unit. The last two letters, 25 March and 2 May 1862, were written in New Bern, N.C., newly occupied by the Union Army. Alexander, wounded during the battle for the town, 14 March 1862, noted the return of New Bern's residents to their homes and shops; began planning his departure from the Army; and related the story of one Union soldier killed and three taken prisoner in a surprise encounter with Confederate soldiers.
Creator Alexander, William B., d. 1900.
Language English
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the William B. Alexander Letters #5197, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Purchased from Historical Collectible Auctions of Graham, N.C., in February 2005 (Acc. 100007).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

William B. Alexander was born in Plymouth, Mass., around 1832. He worked as a carpenter in Boston before enlisting with the Union Army as a second lieutenant in Company B of the 3rd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, April 1861. He mustered out in July 1861, but returned to service in December of that same year as a captain in the 23rd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, Company E. On 8 February 1862, the 23rd participated in the Battle of Roanoke Island (N.C.), which ended in a Union victory. In a letter written nearly one month later, Alexander mentioned a cheek wound that he likely incurred in the battle. Shortly thereafter, he was more seriously wounded in the left arm while engaged in the Union capture of New Bern, N.C., 14 March 1862. On 28 December 1862, he resigned his post and joined his wife, Mary F. Alexander, and daughter, Ida, in Boston. By 1890, the family had moved to Plymouth. William Alexander died 5 February 1900.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

A series of four letters, March-May 1862, written by William B. Alexander, a captain in the 23rd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, Company E, during the Civil War, to his wife, Mary F. Alexander. The first two letters, dated 3 and 8 March 1862, were written from the gunboat U.S.S. Hussar, anchored at Roanoke Island, N.C. Bemoaning the lack of provisions, Alexander called the island, recently captured by the Union Army, "the most Godforsaken place I ever saw." He further expressed hope that news of an unspecified "important victory" meant the war was soon to end. Other topics include his participation in the seizure of a Confederate schooner and confusion over the fate of an ailing soldier who had been transferred out of Alexander's unit. The last two letters, 25 March and 2 May 1862, were written in New Bern, N.C., newly occupied by the Union Army. Alexander, wounded during the battle for the town, 14 March 1862, noted the return of New Bern's residents to their homes and shops; began planning his departure from the Army; and related the story of one Union soldier killed and three taken prisoner in a surprise encounter with Confederate soldiers.

Back to Top

Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Letters, 1862.

Back to Top

Processing Information

Processed by: Jessica Tyree, March 2005

Encoded by: Jessica Tyree, March 2005

Back to Top