Monday, November 7, 2011

Letters from the Front - Henry Abbott

Thursday, November 7, 1861

In a letter to his father, Lieutenant Henry Abbott shared his thoughts about his conduct under fire at the recent conflict at Ball's Bluff:
You know I told you that I didn’t believe I was physically brave. In fact, I was pretty sure I should be frightened on the field of battle, though I hope my feelings of duty, pride & honor would keep me up. The fact is, however, that on the battle field I was very much surprised to find that I wasn’t frightened at all ...
Abbott modestly downplayed his bravery while praising that of fellow officers Captain William "Frank" Bartlett and newly-promoted Captain Norwood Hallowell:
All the stuff you see in the newspapers about 'young Abbott, son of Judge Abbott,' is all blow & poppy cock. I no more deserve to share Frank's praise with him than any of his privates do ... There are plenty of officers in the regt., Hallowell for instance, who deserve more praise than I do, though they haven't had the distinguished honor of being posted by the newspapers. Frank, however, you may be sure deserves all he gets.
He admonished his father to be skeptical of newspaper reports: "In a word, you had better disbelieve all the stories & all the puffs in the papers, except those which have the sanction of this regt., & then you will be safe..."1

1Robert Garth Scott, editor, Fallen Leaves: The Civil War Letters of Major Henry Livermore Abbott (Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 1991), 73-74.

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