December 1863


Returns to Fort Lincoln following 10 day furlough, Annie attends school in Kingston, rumors of move to Richmond, Goddess of Liberty raised on Capitol dome.

Headquarters Haskins Division
First Brigade, 22nd Army Corps
Fort Bunker Hill,
[Washington,] D. C.
December 1, 1863

Dear Annie,

Kingston_EnvelopeI am back again “drafted into the Army.” I arrived Sunday, safe & sound, and am now settled down again for the next 10 months. Heigho, that will end soon & half my troubles will be over. I staid in Baltimore the night of the day I started from Hyde Park. We stopped some ten minutes at Kingston. I jumped out hoping to see you but I suppose you were at that early hour home in your room, dreaming of Fairy Land or some other bright sphere. I had the misfortune in the hubbub of changing cars at Kingston to leave my cap behind. So you see what an absent [minded] fellow I must be, but it happened from the fact that I had my Citizen’s cap on and hung the clumsy military one up for ease sake. I lay the whole blame on you though. If you please.

1_Dec_1863_1I received your letter of Thanksgiving Day next day and felt very happy. I hope, dear Annie, that you will have a very pleasant time of it in school & that you will make it a point to enjoy yourself. I am very thankful for your kind interest in endeavoring to make my visit so very pleasant. Indeed, I did enjoy myself. The visit was to me an oasis in the Sahara of Military Life. But, I firmly believe it is near ending. God grant it for the sake of our distressed country, is my prayer. Won’t the bells ring & the people shout when glorious peace will be announced in trumpet tones all over the Land? The 4th of July will be eternally eclipsed.

Won’t the bells ring & the people shout when glorious peace will be announced in trumpet tones all over the Land?

There are rumors current here of our Regiment being about leaving, but I don’t believe it. They say so many false things here. [inkblot here] If you blot your copy, fix it so.

1_Dec_1863_2We had the honor today at Ft. Bunker Hill to salute the “Goddess of Liberty” ♠ raised today on the Capitol Dome with 35 guns. 9 Forts along the Defenses saluted also. Congress meets next Tuesday and I shall have the pleasure of being present on its opening. I shall let you know the interesting points when I write again. Now dear Annie, you will please excuse this scribble for I am in a great hurry being very busy always the beginning of the month. Be sure to write soon. Good Bye & a Kiss.

Yours as ever, — William [Phillips]




♠ The 19.5 foot bronze statue of “Freedom” that stands atop the Nation’s Capitol Dome was originally called the “Goddess of Liberty.” Thomas Crawford was commissioned to design the statue in 1855 and executed a plaster model in his studio in Rome before he died in 1857. The model, packed into six crates, was shipped from Italy in a small sailing vessel in the spring of 1858. During the voyage, the ship began to leak and stopped in Gibraltar for repairs. After leaving Gibraltar, the ship began leaking again to the point that it could go no farther than Bermuda, where the model was stored until other transportation could be arranged. Half of the crates finally arrived in New York in December, but all sections were not in Washington until late March of 1859. Beginning in 1860, the statue was cast in five main sections by Clark Mills, whose bronze foundry was located on the outskirts of Washington. work was halted in 1861 because of the Civil War, but by the end of 1862 the statue was finished and temporarily displayed on the Capitol grounds. Late in 1863, construction of the dome was sufficiently advanced for the installation of the statue, which was hoisted in sections and assembled atop the cast-iron pedestal. The final section, the figure’s head and shoulders, was raised on December 2, 1863, to a salute of 35 guns answered by the guns of the 12 forts around Washington. William Phillips’ letterhead suggests that the day of the statue-raising was December 1st, but he may have either written the date wrong on his letter or started the letter on the 1st and finished it on the 2nd.

The Washington Defenses

The Washington Defenses



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s