Lincoln Library Acquires Civil War Letters

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A collection of letters and sketches penned by a Civil War soldier has been acquired by Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.

The correspondence was purchased from the Union soldier's family for $25,000.

Born in Scotland in 1823, William Wyllie became a corporal with the 58th Illinois Infantry after enlisting from St. Charles.

Library officials say his letters are extremely detailed. (Wyllie) was very literate and made very astute observations.” “He explains things,” said Glenna Schroeder-Lein, with the library’s manuscripts department. “What being on guard duty is, how long the shifts are, how things were cooked.”

Wyllie, a stonemason with a fourth-grade education, was born in Scotland in 1823. He enlisted from St. Charles when he was about 40 years old. His entries reveal a devoutly religious man. He comments on sermons and was scornful of officers who drank and gambled. The letters include accounts of a whiskey riot and the Red River Campaign of 1864. He was guard at a Confederate prison.

He almost always was writing, sometimes stopping abruptly and, after a day or two, picking up where he left off. But he also spent his free time during the war knitting gloves and socks he sent back to his three children, one of whom, a young daughter named Lillie, died while he was away.

Springfield State Journal-Register and Chicago Tribune report.

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