This August 1864 letter comes from the pension file of William Davis with the following introduction by David T. Richards, written in 1891, who submitted it on behalf of his brother-in-law:
In the matter of the application for pension of William Davis of Plymouth Borough, County of Luzerne and state of Pennsylvania. I, David T. Richards, aged 57 years of No. 1010 Scranton Street of the City of Scranton, County of Lackawanna, and state of Pennsylvania, being duly sworn according to law, do declare and say that I am well acquainted with William Davis, above named. That I have known him for a great many years, that I knew him on August 12, 1864 and previous to that time, that during the time he was in the war I carried on a correspondence with him, that I received several letters from him. That about August 12, 1864 I received from him by mail the letter which is hereto attached, marked “E.A.” — that it has been in my possession from that time until this. That it was written by the said William Davis to me and in in his hand writing.
I further declare that I have no financial interest in the claim of the said William Davis nor am I concerned in its prosecution. — David T. Richards
[Notary Public, 17th day of August 1891]
U.S.A. General Hospital
August 12th 1864
My Dear friend Richards,
Supposing a few lines from me would be very acceptable giving you the latest reports from the Regiment, I haste to drop you these few lines. A letter has just come to hands of me of my Brother Officers who is in this ward from the Quarter Master Sergeant of the Regiment dated August 9th stating that our beloved friend [William B. Phillips] is missing and probably killed, also giving the names of other of the officers who have been killed, missing, and prisoners. I have some hopes from his letter for in another part he states that while the flag of truce was pending between the lines for the purpose of burying the dead, that the bodies were so blackened and swollen that few could be recognized except by their clothing.
Now it does appear to me almost impossible if William was killed that his body would not be recognized for I know he always had sufficient records about him to show who and what he was. He was always very particular in this respect. He also wore sufficient uniform, together with his sword and pistol, which is in my judgement sufficient to recognize him by as an officer.
Another reason why I now think he is a prisoner is that in the letter received today is the name of one Lieut. [John] Kellow who was killed and buried, before reported in the Enquirer as missing. Also the name of one who was reported missing, now known to be a prisoner. This is about all I can glean out of the letter in relation to the last engagement and which makes me feel more hopeful for the safety of one who is as dear to me as a brother. I hope you have heard direct from the Captain of the Company to which he was attached. If so, please be kind enough to let me know the purport of the letter.
I have written direct to the regiment for information but as yet received no reply. I shall let you know of I should hear from there in a few days. As to myself, I am getting along tip top, but the heat don’t agree very well with the disease I have — it being the chronic diarrhea. I feel very weak yet from the effects of it having had it from the 1st of July although not taken to the hospital until the 22d.
My kind regards to all my friends, to Mrs. Richards & Nettie, not forgetting to reserve a portion to yourself. I am very truly your friend, — Wm. Davis
Lt. William Davis
Provisional 22 Pennsylvania Artillery
1st Division, Section 2, Ward “A”
U.S.A. General Hospital