From Camp Douglas near Chicago, Illinois, Albert Washburn wrote a letter to Emma Osborne, who must have been a friend because he addresses her as ‘Em’ – rather casual for the day. And the letter was written sometime between October 1861 when he joined the 55th Illinois Infantry Regiment, Company G, and 15 January 1862 when he died of diphtheria. He was just shy of his 20th birthday.
I’ve built this story from clues in the letter. Known: It was written by A. Washburn to Em and mentions Erista (and kept with other letters to Emma and Erista Osborne). Known: he’s in a company with a Capt. J. Clay. Known: In the 55th Illinois Infantry, Co. G, there is an Albert Washburn and a Capt. Joseph Clay.
The Em he’s writing to is Emma Osborne, who in 1866 will marry Thomas C. Duncan of Chicago. Erista is her younger sister. I put Erista’s name in the title of this post erroneously – it should have been Emma.
Albert Washburn’s grave can be seen here.
What an amazing letter to have.