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Spared to Each Other:
The Civil War Correspondence of
Fanny and Frank Hall.

[Last update: 1/7/2018]

Civil War Correspondence:

Frances (Webb) Hall, was the grand-daughter of Henry Delord, a French emigre who settled in the newly settled town of Plattsburgh, NY in the late 1700's.  He was instrumental in financing the American cause in northern NY during the War of 1812, losing nearly everything when Congress refused to reimburse him and his partner after the war.  His only child, Frances Delord married Henry Webb of Wethersfield, Ct. and died soon after giving birth to Frances (Fanny) Webb.

Frances Webb married Francis Bloodgood Hall in 1856.  They were the last generation to live at the House in Plattsburgh. After the Civil War, Francis Hall became the minister of the Presbyterian Church in Plattsburgh, and by the late 1800s had broken away and started his own church (the Peristrome Presbyterian Church).  Frances (Fanny) Hall went on to train herself as a doctor, aiding the poor in the area. By the late 1800s, she had converted an old outbuilding next to the House to start the Cumberland Bay Works, which manufactured a special salve based upon one of Fanny's original recipes.

These Civil War Letters cover the early years of their lives together, when both Fanny and Frank were finding out who they were, at a time of national and personal upheaval.  Frank Hall struggled with his choice of calling, ministering to the soldiers of the 16th Regt. NYSV, or return to Plattsburgh and take up his first real ministry.  For Fanny Hall, she would have to struggle with life on the 'home front', with few skills to prepare her for life without a husband around.  As the letters indicate, Fanny had to learn how to sign a bank check and pay bills, as well as run a household and nurse her elderly grandmother (Betsey Delord Swetland) and step-grandfather, (William Swetland).  Oddly enough, Fanny refers to herself as 'Dr. Fanny Hall' at one point in the letters, referring to herself in this role due to the care she was providing for the grandparents.  It would appear the Civil War affected not only Frank, but Fanny as well, helping to lay the groundwork of her medical work in later life.

One important note: Francis Bloodgood Hall was one of the first chaplains to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery at the Battle of Salem Heights, VA., (Chancellorville, May 1-3, 1863). The citation states: "For voluntarily exposing himself to a heavy fire during the thickest of the fight, and carrying wounded men to the rear for treatment and attendance, Salem Heights, Virginia, May 3, 1863."1

1Francis Hall's citation. As quoted in: Henry Delord and His Family. Allan S. Everest. Plattsburgh, NY: The Kent-Delord House Museum. 1979.

Bibliography: (Both editions are available from the Kent-Delord House Museum, 17 Cumberland Avenue, Plattsburgh, NY, 12901)
          Henry Delord and His Family. Allan S. Everest. Plattsburgh, NY: The Kent-Delord House Museum. 1979.
          Love and Duty: Letters and Diaries of the Delord-Webb Women, 1794-1913. Virginia Mason Burdick.
                   Plattsburgh, NY: Wiki Publications. 1987.

For more information, please see  The Kent-Delord House Museum website, regarding the Museum and three-generation family history.

The Journals and Letters:  Most of this material was transcribed in the early 1990's, while I was the director of the Kent-Delord House Museum, with the assistance of volunteers from the Museum.  To understand the difficulty of transcription, I have attached a sample of one of Frank Hall's letters to Fanny Hall during the Civil War:

The highlighted area reads: "...I know own dear one don't sit up late. Can you not go to bed by ten o'clock or thereabouts as I am confident that you & I need sleep more;..."  This gives a small taste of the problems of transcription of hundreds of pages of letters from Fanny and Frank.  Punctuation was rare in these letters, and to make the transcriptions understandable I have had to add punctuation where necessary.  The words, however, are complete with their own words kept intact and unedited.

To see the full letter/journal, click on the date of the correspondence.

Please Note:  This is a work in progress. There are a number of letters (mainly from Fanny Hall and from Frank Hall's family) that remain to be translated.  These should be completed by the spring of 2002 and items added after the initial publication of the letters in September, 2001, will be denoted by a NEW label)

  • December 3, 1862. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall, From Willard's Hotel, Washington, D.C.
    "When I left you, John hurried down to the cars reaching there just in time. At first I could not get a seat, so I camped out in the aisle, setting on my bag. But soon a gentleman left his seat to go into the sleeping car & I took his. I felt pretty tired so I was right glad to get it. Reached New York about 1/2 past five or six, went right down to Astor house, took breakfast & tried to get a poncho but no stores open..."

  • December 3, 1862. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. From Willard's Hotel, Washington, D.C.
    "In the bridge they have two doors they can shut to with musket holes or loop holes to fire through & at the other end they have two cannon looking hard nearby so as to sweep right through the whole length of the bridge if needful..."

  • December 9, 1862.  Journal 1: Camp on Belle Plain, VA. 16th Regiment, N.Y.S.Volunteers.
    "I am sitting in a tent before a huge fire of logs, and the high full moon is shining directly in front of the door and over the woods where the regiment is encamped. The camp fires are everywhere burning in front of me among the trees and among the cracklings of the flames of the hum of the camp. Just at this moment away off in the distance I hear some one whistling "dixie." And near, another one has just past the tent door whistling the same tune. A huge plain intervenes between us and the Potomac & we are spread out in the woods just above it with many other regiments around us. The axes are almost continually sounding & there goes a tree just falling...."

  • December 11, 1862(a). Letter from Fanny to Frank Hall, from Hartford, Ct.
    "Oh, my heart goes out to you in deep, earnest love. If I could be assured you were safe and well I should think I could safely feel you were happy to in the performance of your duties for I know you enter into it all with a full, warm heart. Oh, how I wish I could in any way help you in the work. Can I? I imagine you engaged here and there doing all you can. The excitement must be fearful. Oh that you may be kept in the path of duty through all. And it must need a great deal of grace and strength to do it, I am sure. But he is faithful who hath promised...."

  • December 11, 1862(b). Letter from Fanny to Frank Hall, from Hartford, Ct.
    "Here it is, the 1l and yours from Washington was the 8? I know, my husband, it is from no fault of yours, no neglect. For ten years, I have whenever we have been separated, had letters every day or other one, so I have not a shadow of a doubt if you are able to have written, I know you would make every effort rather than not, but then if the mails keep the letters from me, it is not to be wondered at that I am troubled...."

  • December 12, 1862. Letter from Fanny to Frank Hall, from Hartford, Ct.
    "Have you a good servant? Horse? Are you in any way comfortable? Oh, what a pressure of questions come to me. Your time, I know, will be constantly occupied, but if you can find time only for a short letter, write and tell me just how you are, physically & mentally. A few words and wifey knows that your duties must be great and oh, how earnestly I pray that you may be guided and protected in them all...."

  • December 15, 1862. Letter from Fanny to Frank Hall, from Hartford, Ct.
    "Those three words, "I am well," nobody in the wide world can estimate the comfort of true circumstances as we are. And my own one, now where are you? I so fearfully fear that in your utter forgetfulness of your own self, you will in some way expose yourself when you should not, Oh, think of your duty. Remember wifey all alone at home and take every precaution that you can. The sixth commandment means a great deal...."

  • December 16, 1862. Letter from Fanny to Frank Hall, from Hartford, Ct.
    "   I do not mean to doubt your love, but there it is hardly possible to realize how a wife's heart is wrapped up in her husband. There has been so much danger, so much exposure. I fear that I do not know what to do. All I can do is pray for you, my husband, oh, how earnestly, how fervently, that you may be guided & protected and kept from harm. And be strengthened for your duties and be spared. Do you know my heart, my husband?"

  • December 18, 1862. Letter from Fanny to Frank Hall, from Hartford, Ct.
    "I do not want to be too persistent, but if you catch a chance to send an envelope and can write on the inside how you are, it would be such an unspeakable comfort. Cannot I come down & be with you and help you? Oh, do say yes, if you can, deary."

  • December 22, 1862. Letter from Fanny to Frank Hall, from Hartford, Ct.
    "Dear hubbie, I must tell you that Saturday the news of secretary Seward's resignation and his outcome so that troubled me more than a little; what a selfish mortal. Remember dearest and send some one on for me if you are sick or injured, telegraph & write too, but do not trust only to that send some one, will you remember & give me your promise that you will, my husband. It will be such a comfort to me."

  • December 22, 1862. Journal 2: Camp Near White Oak Church, Va. 16th Regiment, N.Y.S.Volunteers.
    "...Then I find another who also was dying with whom I did the same & in the room were two rebel officers, a Col. & a Captain. The Captain was a very fine looking young man & a cousin of ours, a van Vetterburgh, his father having removed to Georgia from Albany. I was polite, but dodged more than civility & past on. Then I saw a dying Liut. of our army & next a soldier bending over the body of his dying brother, just in the last gasps - had met the men bringing him on a stretcher. He was unconscious. The poor man grieved greatly. I conversed with him & then helped him to draw a ring off of the dying man's hand. Says he, "I am not strong enough, will you not help me." I took soap & removed it in that way, one of the nurses telling me so to do & handing me a piece. It was hard to go but my place was with my regiment...."

  • December 25, 1862. Letter from Fanny to Frank Hall, from Hartford, Ct.
    "Now, I wrote some time ago, begging you to tell me how to endorse over that check (V.R.'s) to y[ou]r account at the bank and then, dear hubbie, will you please send me some checks. It is the sweetest way for me, I want it so. Don't send any very large sum, or anyhow if you like the plan, I will send you on the amount of any bills and you can send on the check. But you may deem it best to send the checks to me for my endorsement. Just as hubbie thinks best, but I meant do not send on checks for too much. Comprenez vous?"

  • December 25, 1862. Journal 3: Camp Near White Oak Church, Va. 16th Regiment, N.Y.S.Volunteers.
    "At last we reached Aquia Creek landing, the most inhospitable place possible, docks made of wood in the midst of a marsh & shanties upon it; all along the way down smokey cabins of duty soldiers on guard & not on guard, crawling in & out of their lice breeding huts by the way side, and the most villainous, bare faced, revolting profanity I have ever heard. It seemed to me here as if little puny men shook their fists right against heaven & rolled out wherever acting without sense or reason or provocation in the very face of the Almighty..."

  • December 27, 1862. Letter from Fanny to Frank Hall, from Hartford, Connecticut.
    "Dear hubbie, I must hurry and finish my letter so as to have it go this morning. Lottie & Annie are both in my room, so that my advantages for writing are not very good. Dearest one, I hope I've not written wrongfully but my heart was heavy last night and I cannot but feel troubled. You must put it all on my deep love for you, my own one. I am watching and waiting for the treat of your letter, journal letter, but I can't believe, Franky, you know how I long to know more fully of your employments..."

  • December 29, 1862. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
    "Own dear wify, oh how sweet your letter was to me, this morning & all the time. Would you have loved to have seen hubby reading it. Well now in a din, a row of four wall tents (no the Col's tent down for the present) & two A tents in a line facing toward the south & in the bright sun light about 10 o'clock in the morning in this order, the Dr.'s, the Col.'s, the Adjutant's & c & then beyond a parade ground sloping down toward the south, the encampment of the Regt. & a Woods pretty near all round. Then imagine hubby standing by a pile of baggage & blankets in front of where the Col's tent is being framed, reading Wify's letter...."

  • January 14, 1863. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
    "Our tent is very comfortable, fireplace, bed steads. Mine is over the Major's. We don't sleep on the ground now & we do sleep so soundly. I don't want to get up in the morning...."

  • January 15, 1863. Letter from Fanny to Frank Hall, from Plattsburgh, NY.
    "Tell me, own one, do I write too long letters. I wish there was more of interest for me to write & cheer you but news is something we do not possess here. Oh yes, I can tell you about Mr. Myers; he has had a hard time with an infected toe nail and Michael has been quite ill with some hard tonsil neuralgia. I think Mrs. M. appears very well indeed for, you remember, has gone to Memphis, for the present at least. I've not yet had an opportunity to call there."

  • January 20, 1863. Journal 4: Camp Near White Oak Church, Va. 16th Regiment, N.Y.S.Volunteers.
    "Morning of the 21st: Oh, what a night last night was. I slept pretty sound but waked up several times. Suddenly, there came a cry of "To Arms, To Arms." Oh! how we jumped. I thought it was the Major I followed & oh what confusion and tramping & pulling. There was a perfect uproar when suddenly I found myself laying on my back under blankets staring at the fire at my feet. It was a dream & the water was coming down in a little stream through an opening in the two India Rubber blankets. The Major slept very little & the Col. soon woke with a groan, saying "This is the roughest night I ever knew." He waked coughing & saying & 'I have been all over the world & home six months sick in my dreams.'..."

  • January 23, 1863. Journal 5: Camp Near White Oak Church, Va. 16th Regiment, N.Y.S.Volunteers.
    "Our boys have stacked arms & the Major thinks we are going to pull pontoons out of the mud. It is beautiful country around & you would have been delighted with the walk the Major & I took yesterday down a beautiful ravine, very romantic & picturesque, leading down to the river. It is probable that the military movement was abandoned on account of the mud & that we will go back to camp near White Oak Church. The old camp. There goes a pontoon drawn by nearly one hundred men. Coats got corn for the horses last night from a mill near...."

  • January 26, 1863. Letter from Fanny to Frank Hall, from Plattsburgh, NY.
    "Capt. Wood, dearest, told me you had talked of having me with you. Do you know at all what a comfort that was to me. You had not written about & oh it made my heart well up within me, my conversation with him. He will tell you all about it. Oh how kind & considerate he was. He said he would take me on, but of course the reputed move renders that an impossibility, You cannot think how much good it did my heart to know you had thought and talked about it. I am sure it would not be wise now. I shall think & pray as ever for you only more earnestly...."

  • January 26, 1863. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
    "Here we are back again. The expedition has failed entirely. We have had a very eventful time & I have prepared for you a Journal of about 40 sheets, 160 pages & will send it off as soon as possible, There have been no mail facilities during our marches. We have received our mail but not yet sent any. Your dear letters have come, dear wify. You ask, have I forgotten you? Oh, my own one how could you feel so? If you could have been with own hubby & have known his constant thoughts of you. All the way he has written to you in sun shine and in rain, in mud & hail. You would know differently, but I think own Fanny Fan knows differently now...."

  • February 2, 1863. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
    "Yesterday we had our usual service. The troops turning out & forming on three sides of a square & I think God seemed to help me even more than ever before & we had likewise a most excellent choir of voices formed of officers & soldiers standing at my left. (Pliny Moore was one) & all went off sweetly, occupying in all about 1/2 hour. Service at 12 o'clock. A little after 2 o'clock I went over to Chaplain Adams service with the 5th Maine & then in the evening our usual meeting in the hospital tent...."

  • February 6, 1863. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
    "Yes dear Wify, use our journal just as you want to: what I meant was that we would not want any feeling about us like what we had about Henry Clay Trumble, but possibly our Plattsburgh friends, knowing that all of us boys down here were piled in together sharing the same might not give any room for such feeling as people in Hartford might have had. Any way possibly it will not be well to say much about hubby's exposures, but wify I leave it all for you to judge of it, do just what you think best. If you think it will be well, do so my own one. Do just what you think & Judge to be right. Read aloud just what portions of all or any letter you desire. I only care for your sake & I know you will judge rightly...."

  • February 9, 1863. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
    "Here we are yet in the same place. Hubby is all well & all is well. Yesterday was so muddy on the Parade Ground, that I had services in the quarters, taking two companies at a time, and service in the evening in the quarters. So I preached six sermons. But as the services were short ones, I went through very well & the men helped me in the singing."

  • February 12, 1863. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
    "I want to give wify twenty eight kisses for yesterday & then just as many more as I can, Own dear one. It came to me like a flash yesterday that it was wify's birthday, but it was after the mail had gone. I try & send a letter every mail but sometimes I miss, as they are not very regular about taking it & it goes off often before I think it is going...."

  • February 21, 1863. Letter from Fanny to Frank Hall, from Plattsburgh, NY.
    "Dearly as I love my own one & anxious as I am for letters, I really was a bit troubled to find that it seemed to be from you, for it renders Mr. Myers not having any all the stronger & I am questioned so closely. I do not know what to do. Well, one is just a line, date 16, saying "all well, mail going". The other from Catherine outside, and Frank Hall, sure as fate, you have directed my birthday letter to me at Hartford. What in the world is the matter with you? That is being absent minded, with a witness. And as it came as a soldiers letter you must be minus post office stamps. Well, well, what has possessed you? The Maj. Col. projecting you into the five footer must have effected your brain. What a Franky...."

  • February 21, 1863. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
    "If you could see hubby just as it is down here, you would not be otherwise than able to see him it is. Love own hubby & tell me just exactly what you think about my letter. Pray for me & love me dearly. I must put this in the mail. Own dear loving hubby...."

  • February 23, 1863. Journal 6: Camp Near White Oak Church, Va. 16th Regiment, N.Y.S.Volunteers.
    "Sabbath evening we had our meeting at night in the Hospital Steward's tent. The Hospital steward has a little mess dog that is a good friend of mine. I go in there frequently to pat him; he is so companionable. The Steward lately has had a fireplace built & it is amusing to see the little dog enjoy it. He comes & sits up right before it & keeps looking at the fire. The other night I had a funny time in the Steward's tent, when there in came an old pioneer of the Regt., by the name of Averill, with a tremendous black beard & mustache that they call Cyclops. He goes by that name among the boys because they say he sits down before a great kettle of beans & downs them all...."

  • March 3, 1863. Journal 7: Camp Near White Oak Church, Va. 16th Regiment, N.Y.S.Volunteers.
    "...We could see quite distinctly the monument of Washington's mother in the cemetery above the city. We saw a rebel regiment marching through the town; how they looked - butternut uniforms & a rag for their colors. Officers seemed to be riding here & there & waggons going about. Soon we rode off towards Falmouth R.R. Station, expecting to meet Mr. Seaver there. A horse of one of Gen. Couch's aids, tied at the Lacy house, just then escaped & the Col. took means to have him sent back, stopping a man who was gobbling him up & taking him off & telling him to wait for the orderly who was coming after the horse. The word "gobbling up" is used very generally here. If a thing has been carried off, it has been gobbled up, they say...."

  • March 9, 1863. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
    "It is a beautiful day today. The regiment has been having a two hours drill from 2 to 4 o'clock & they look well, the old battered colors were unfurled to the height & all looked very well. In the midst of the drill, Preston King arrived, the ex N.Y. Senator, He is a very large fat man. The Quartermaster brought him up from Falmouth in an ambulance...."

  • March 10, 1863. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
    "There go heavy army waggons rumbling by & there goes the rattle of a neighboring regiment's drum corps, We will have no parade this afternoon, it is so unpleasant. We have nothing but drum corps, you know, for music now & we hear it for revellry guarde, most parade & all instead of a band. However we have lately purchased the instruments for a Brigade band that is for the 5th regiments that compose our Brigade, the 96th Peru V., 121st N.Y., 27th N.Y., 5th Maine & 16th N.Y. But the band is not yet organized...."

  • March 25, 1863. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
    "Well we took breakfast. Then at the conclusion of breakfast Col. Seavet said "Mr. Barber. I am going to take the liberty to answer a question for Mr. Hall. Tell your people Mr. Hall thinks he can not come now but in June probably he may not be needed here & that he would therefore like time to consider the matter" Mr. Barber was going to leave Just after breakfast. Col. Palmer said, "Why, the people carl get someone to supply the Pulpit till Mr. Hall can come," "No" said I playfully, as they had, "No Mr. Barber, Mr. Meyers has intended that the church will be injured by duty, Don't let me for an instant influence the committee. Give my answer that I am sorry but I can not come. I would love to go but can not, my duty is here," or something to that affect...."

  • March 26, 1863. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
              "Dear Sir - Mr. Barber has delivered to me your favor of the 17th and stated that the committee of the church of Plattsburgh desired him to extend to me an invitation to come for a time & labor there.
              It appears from your letter that you deem it to be indispensable for the welfare of the church that some suitable person should be obtained immediately...."

  • April 11, 1863. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
    "The day is delightful. The wind is pleasantly flapping the tent. The Jersey band back of it has just finished a delightful air. On the hill in front, to the left of the camp, the boys are playing a game of ball & a few men are to be seen in camp who are excused from picket. Two are washing & are carrying a pan down one of the streets. A little Contraband over by one of the officer's tents has just been having a tussle with one of the soldiers. Heavy guns are firing, off some where...."

  • April 22, 1863. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
    "I am very very well. Have received your dear letter with Ed B.'s letter in & send these few lines to go by the mail...."

  • May 1, 1863. Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
    "Camped at the very banks of the Rappahannock. Washed in it this morning, own dear wify. All well. I am very well, had a splendid sleep last night. Plin Moore & I measure the distance across with a comb, taking the angle & the altitude for the water & c. & c. Good fun."