William H. Hix alias Persons, age 19, enlisted, September 24, 1861, at Cortland, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. F, 76th New York Volunteer Infantry, October 11, 1861; absent February 28, 1862 on detached service February 28, 1862 with Western Gunboat Service; scalded to death, June 17, 1862, by the explosion of the gunboat "Mound City" in the White River, State of Arkansas.
Sarah Hix, was not married when William was born, he took the name Persons from a man, Carmi Persons, Sarah's brother-in- law, that he had lived with for several years. His mother never had any other children and remarried to Moses Macumber.
Mis Sarah Hix
Wreckers Island, NY Jan 24
Dear Mother & Friends,
I take my pen in hand to write a few lines to you I presume Elon has writen to you that I was not agoin to write you again while I was in Albany as we left so suddenly I told him to write you I should not I dont know what he has written about the ride to New York and here but I will write some to and before that I will some to Nettie;
Well, Nettie how do you do, pretty aint you, what do you do this cold weather, dont your fingers and nose and ears get cold little
now I will tell you what I saw and heard in Albany; well I went to the Grand Concert they had in Albany a little while before we left then there were a great lot of little while before we left there there were a lot of little girls and boys and some large girls, there were 300 of them all them were some 100 girls and some wasnt any larger than you and one or two sung alone wasnt as big as you and they sung alone with two or three thousand looking at them want you dared to done that there was two sisters a little larger than you who sung beautiful indeed them they most all had small flags which they waved and made the same look very nice
This is terrible day, the wind blows huricane, this forenoon and its very lonely and disagreeable; we have had our pay I had 35 dollars and ten cents and sent 30 dollars home I intend to make as much as I can for I say its worth it.
We had a mighty nice time freezing and such like coming from Albany, to NY City a very fine time to the city and the beautiful airy ride we had comeing up to this Lone isle as for me I am determined to be as contented as I can and take what comes and make the best of it Elon has written all about the ride and the Isle and I have to say is what the Drum Major said although a pious man and one who has seen service and been in battle he says we aint but a short sail from hell more than half right and now I have written quite a little and guess I'll close by telling what I saw coming up hear as we passed Blackwell Island we saw the prison for the culprets of the city they were dressed in their uniforms which were Striped the stripes running round the body and arm and legs and they looked like a damned pack of hornets
we have seen great sights and things that I should never have seen had I not went a soldiering we have seen very hard times I think what times we are to see God onely
as for me let come what will come I must meet it an what is more I expect to meet whatever may happen so let it come "Give me Liberty or give me Death, America thou shall be the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave Well never rest in peace till the Star spangled Banner in triumph shall wave Oer the Land of the Free and the home of the Brave", Please write me a letter on getting this Ever Yours Sarah Hix
���������������� W.H. Persons
Letterhead has a picture of a soldier standing in front of a flag, tent, cannon and stand of muskets. The banner says "The War For the Union".
Albany, Jan 5th 1862
Today finds me well and it being Sunday this afternoon I take the pleasure to sit down and write a letter to you you know I promised to write you when I was in Albany, Perhaps you may think that I have forgoten you but I assume you that you are wonderfuly mistaken I have delayed writing sometime so as to have lots to write Elonz writing to your folks so I knew that you heard from me I have writen home some so I have heard from you
The weather has been very cold here but I keep warm night and day guess that I shall have to give you a little account of our journey here and so forth
We left Cort(land) at 8:30 o'clock amid waving of hand kerchiefs swinging of hats cheers and music by a brass bank at Homer they received us by firing the canon at Jamesville they fined the canon as we passed we got to Syracuse at noon changed cars and put of at hard drive for Albany. The country is level only quite Swampy in Some places and Some beautiful farms; we stoped several times on the way we got to Albany at 7 in the evening all the way we were cheered by ever one man woman or child tell you dident we take comfort who wouldent be a brave "sojerboy"
On New Years we had a grand time went down to the capitol went through it than went down to the house of the secratary of state Heratio Ball and who gave us a short and stirring speech than introduced the brave hero of Lexington Col. Mulligan then we marched to the residence of the Hon M. Conklin so we saw the Govenor Morgan Sec of State the hero Mulligan and a honorable senator say who woldent be a "brave sojorboy" Ive made up mind I never saw any houses or churches before such brick blocks makes a feller open his eyes
I have had the mumps on one side and have got over them dont think I shall have them on the other We have not had our pay yet we dont know when wee shall leave here nor where we shall go But I must hasten this to a close dont weary your self about me Ill keep right side up Elon is grunting some had some peas for dinner the other day didnt get good greese Elick is well has written two letters has had no answer the sleighing is good Ill write again before I leave so Good
By ever yours Wm H. Persons
Letter head has a picture of Gen. Scott in the upper right hand corner.
Off Island No 10
Miss. River Apr 4, 1862
I now take my pen in had to let you know that I am still "right side up with care" and have despaired of getting a letter from you so I concluded to write again and see if you have entirely forgot me or not yet I guess that perhaps i may be to blame for not getting any letters I certainly am if you dont know yet where I am I wrote to Washington and sent my address to my tent mates and told them to show it to Elon and tell him to send it to you so that would save me the trouble of writing first for when I first came on this boat I had no stamps and no money to get any more were they to be borrowed so I could not write any scarcely till I got a litter a week or so ago from home with some
I am on the U.S. Gunboat Mound City and one now beseiging Isl. No. 10 you have quite likely seen the papers that we are a bombarding it we came here 3 weeks ago tomorrow and commenced firing from the mortar boats that day and fired that day and the next on the next day after or the third day we opened fire on one of their batteries with our boat but the enemy did not reply Soon 4 other boats floated down and opened a heavy fire on their works he enemy than replied to them from the batteries that we all were firing at and also one that we were not shooting at the battle continued till night which was 5 hours from the time we commenced the next day we of our boat fired on them for 5 hours again and we have kept up our fire for 2 nights all night long well I was most mighty tired those nights and slept half of the night with one of the 42 pound guns firing within 15 feet of me and not waked the other half of the night I had to help work the gun
you may not believe it but it is a fact we have been here more than 2 weeks and done nothing onely once or twice fired some 15 minutes at the enemys works for one day the rebels shown a red flag of defiance at our boat and than opened a heavy fire on us the balls whized over and around the boat but did not hit us that was a little to mighty to bear so we thought we could shoot as well as they so we opened fire again fire on them and every shot took effect and they onely answered once we could see them in large number picking up their dead and wounded and then we would lodge a shell in their midst and then not a man would be seen soon more would come and share the same fate so we give it to them till the Commodore signalized for us to stop we nocked over their guns and shot down their flag and give them fits in good and that is onely one of their batteries�
W. H. P.
U.S. Naval Depot
22nd Aug 1862
I am Sorry to inform you that your Son was one o the unfortunate men who perished on the "Mound City" June 17. The circumstances were Such that but few of the bodies could be recognized and hense it would be uterly impossible to tell you how to claim his remains.��� A few we were able to get and claim and bury but very many perished in the river and were not recovered.���
There is a balance due your son of ($41.51) forty one dollars and fifty cents which you can learn how to obtain by writing to Hon Hobart Berrian 4th Auditor U.S. Treas Washington D.C. to whom all the accounts have been Sent.
Your Ot Svt�������
(signed) E. W. Dunn������������
Cairo, Ill September 18, 1862
Your letter of the 18th of Aug to Commodore Dunn has been handed me to day, and I hasten to reply for I well know how terrible is the agony of suspense.��� It is with no slight degree of sadness, that I am compelled to inform you that your son perished, with so many other brave fellows, at the time of the explosion on the "Mound City". Here he died, whether from the bullet or the steam, or by drowning, I have not been able to ascertain. At the time of his death, there was due him from the U.S. forty one Dollars, and fifty one cents (41.50). In order to procure this indebtedness, you should write to Hon. Hobart Berrian 4th Auditor U.S. Treasury, Washington; and he will inform you what steps it will be "necessary to take in order to do so. His pay as seaman, was eighteen Dollars a month.���
I will not venture to trespass upon the sacredness of your grief, by expressing the words of consolation my feeling would prompt me, for I know they would fall but coldly from the pen of a stranger, but, believe me, you have my warmest sympathy in this hour of trial.
�������� Not signed
These letters were transcribed by B. Conrad Bush, 1940 Reading Road, West Falls, NY, 14170; e-mail Bushresear@aol.com; from original letters found at the National Archive, Washington, DC.
For more information on the �Mound City� see �The 76th NY and the Navy�
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