March 20, 1863

Headquarters 2nd Divn
Near Falmouth, Va.

My dearest children

I want to tell you about a little boy about the age of Grace. The other night just at evening I was sitting before the fire a knock at my tent door:  “come in;” when in bounced a little black eyed boy. He looked something like this little fellow, with his pants rolled up near the tops of his little boots. A large man followed him. “Well where did you come from!” No answer, only eyes sparkle. Then, “What’s your name.” Willie. Willie’s uncle had been traveling around with Willie trying to find his father in the 98 Tenn. Regiment all that afternoon. It was in Gen. Sedgwick’s Corps people had sent him to Gen. Sedgwick’s old Division. I was delighted. He looked at my tongs, handled my shovel called for my poker and insisted that that was not a poker but a cane. He got hold of the black end of the tongs and I had to wash his hands. He next had my photographs and in an instant was out begging for a ride on a horse. Uncle Charlie gave him one – it was near night – and the boy and uncle had as much as five miles to go. I kissed the little boy and sent him off in an ambulance. I asked him while here where his mother was – he said in her grave. His uncle said he was an only son – and his father was a Lieutenant in the army.

Oliver Otis Howard to his children [Oliver Otis Howard Papers]


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