This brief letter was written by Manly T. Bronson (1839-1863) who enlisted on 11 May 1861 with his brothers, Elisha (“Eli”) Bronson (1834-1862), and Spencer H. Bronson (1841-1930) in Co. B, 7th Wisconsin Infantry. Eli was killed on 17 September 1862 at Antietam, Maryland. Manly died at Belle Plains, Virginia, on 26 March 1863. Spencer survived the war—his memory forever preserved in witnessing the assassination of President Lincoln [see the Journal Sentinel].
The Bronson brothers were the sons of Major Tyler Bronson (1802-1880) and Matilda Hotchkiss (1812-1872) of Fall River, Columbia county, Wisconsin. The boys father was a blacksmith by trade and came to Wisconsin with his family from New York State to begin a new life as a farmer in 1852.
Civil War buffs will recognize the 7th Wisconsin Infantry as one of the five regiments that composed the vaunted Iron Brigade—also known as the “The Black Hats” or “Black Hat Brigade.” This letter was written just after the regiment’s fight at the Brawner Farm on the 28th, followed by Second Bull Run on the 29th of August. Bronson survived both of these engagements, followed by South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg, only to die of disease in a hospital at Belle Plains before the brigade effectively ceased to exist after the first day of Gettysburg.
[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Jim Doncaster and is published by express consent. The image of the soldier in the header is Manly Bronson wearing the State-issued grey uniform of the 7th Wisconsin early in the war.]
Camp near Centerville, Virginia
August 31, 1862
Dear Parents & Friends,
We have been fighting two days. Our Captain [George H.] Brayton was killed the first day last Thursday night and two others was killed and fifteen or twenty others were wounded [including] Hobart and Morgan from Fall River. I believe the rest of the boys from Fall River are all well.
You must not feel concerned about us if you do not hear from us very often for we are not allowed to write and send by mail.