1863: Hugh Quinn Adams to Eliza Jane

hatThis difficult to read letter was written by Hugh Quinn Adams (1843-1903), the son of Alexander M. Adams (1812-1888) and Harriet Quinn (1818-1865) of Beaver county, Pennsylvania. Hugh was married to Mary Martha Clever (1845-1923) in 1868.

Hugh enlisted in August 1862 in Co. H, 140th Pennsylvania Infantry, and was with the regiment when they left in September for Parkton, Maryland, and guarded the line of the North Central railroad for some time. While posted there, the regiment was thoroughly drilled and disciplined and in December joined the Army of the Potomac at Falmouth, Virginia, just after the defeat at Fredericksburg. Here they exchanged their old Vincennes muskets for new Springfield rifles in time to participate with credit in the Battle of Chancellorsville, where they lost 44 in killed, wounded and missing, and then returned to Falmouth. This letter was written a couple weeks following that battle.

Hugh was with the regiment when they marched to Gettysburg, arriving on the morning of July 2. They lost heavily in the fierce fighting at the wheatfield later that day. Its total losses during the battle were 241, more than half its effective strength, Col. Roberts being among the killed. Hugh was among the number wounded, shot through both thighs. He laid under a tree on the battlefield for nearly 48 hours before he received attention. He was finally transferred to a Philadelphia hospital and then to Auger Hospital in Washington D. C. where he recuperated from his wounds and was discharged in June 1865.

[Note: The header image sketch shows the White House (No. 3) on the Chancellorsville Battlefield.]


Camp near Falmouth, Va.
May 24th 1863

My dear friend,

I seat myself once more to pen you a few lines to let you know how I am getting along in the Army of the Potomac. I am well and hope these few lines will find you enjoying the same blessing. We remain in the same camp we were in on the first day of May. [one or two sentences illegible]

…we was [  ] and to tell the truth, it was a hot place. There was [  ] of our company got killed. There was three wounded. Will Yolton got his finger shot off and Will Carothers got his big toe shot off. He was running when he got it done and Jo. Calhoun from Hookstown got wounded in the leg. Our regiment got off about as well as any of the regiments. Our general give us great praise on the battlefield. He thought we was the right kind of a regiment to stand up to the Rebs. I tell you, it ain’t a very nice thing for to stand and let the shells fall all around like hail. It is a hard thing to stand and  see some of your comrades fall dead on the field, but we was fighting for our country and they don’t care if it is a few men.

Well, I will tell you of some rebel girls at the time of the battle. There was a big brick house [  ] and there was some women in it and when the shells commenced to fly through the house, they thought it was about time for them to leave, so they came back to the rear. I don’t know what they done with them but I recon they would send them back when we got through. There was two of them that was middling good-looking but their clothes was [  ] bad, but I recon they hadn’t time to put on their good ones if they had any. ¹

Well. Eloise Jane, I was very sorry to he hear about Jimmy when I heard of him being dead. I will never forget the time I last saw him. He was in great spirits and him and me had a long chat. I didn’t think  then it would be the last time we would have the pleasure of seeing one another in this world. But I know it is hard to think a person will be deprived of a friend in such a short time but there is a world to come where there ain’t any war. He was far away from home but he was there for to fight for his country. But now he will be in the world where ain’t any wars and at the right hand of God. There are pleasures for ever more in hopes if we don’t meet in this world, we will in the next world.

The sun is very warm and we have to go on drill and I will bring my letter to a close. Nothing more but still remain your friend, — H. Q. Adams

to Miss Eliza Jane

If these few lines ain’t worth answering, burn them. But I would like to get a letter. You hain’t any idea how much good it does me to get a letter from some of my old acquaintances. Yours truly, H. Q. Adams

¹ During the morning of May 3rd, the 140th Pennsylvania was supporting the 5th Maine Battery near the “White House” which was being used as a hospital. After it was hit by a shell, it took fire, and 33 men and three women who had taken refuge in the cellar were brought out of the house by a party from Co. F.



  1. Great to read this letter! My great great great grandfather was in the Pennsylvania 140th company I I have his pocket bible he carried around during the war with his name and year written in it. Is there any existing pictures of this company. I wouldn’t know where to start looking?! Best regards George m Brooks. Btw my great great great grandfathers name was George m Brooks.


    1. Glad you found the letter. Pictures? I could only point you to pictures I found on the internet. Don’t know much more about the regiment myself.


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