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John S. Powers Letter,

Identifier: Ms-2015-047

Scope and Content

The collection includes a letter from John S. Powers to Nellie E. Williams describing the state of living in the recruitment camp and the city of Alexandria. The letter was written from a camp on November 23, 1862. Powers writes about sites local to Alexandria (including the Marshall House) and news from his regiment. Powers' letter includes his observation of the area where he is stationed, calling Alexandria "the dirtiest hole that I ever got into, nothing but secesh and contraband."

Powers reminisces over apples from his home in Massachusetts and tells Nellie that the salted pork is such that it "...would like a hog to eat it or a dutchman. They are the only ones that I see eating it. The bread is pretty fair only sometimes it is rather aged."

Powers enclosed a sprig of Boxwood in the envelope and explains the significance of it as a memento from the grave of an unnamed solider left behind by a regiment.


  • 1862 - 1862


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the John S. Powers Letter must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Biographical/Historical Note

In 1844, John S. Powers was born to Mary A. and Joseph S. Powers in Ashland, Massachusetts. In 1862, when Powers was 18, he traveled to a recruitment camp in Alexandria, Virginia where he wrote the letter to Nellie E Williams (Death: 1886). Powers enlisted as a Private into Company H of the 25th Regiment of Massachusetts on August 14, 1862. He was killed in action at the Battle of Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864.

Sources: Wearing the Blue: 25 Massachusetts Volunteers.Denny, J. Waldo. Putnam &Davis Publishers.1879.

Ancestry. U.S., Civil War Solider Records and Profiles, 1861-1865

Ancestry. 1860 United States Federal Census.


0.1 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



The collection includes a letter from John S. Powers to Nellie E. Williams on November 23, 1862 and a sprig from a boxwood tree. Powers letter includes a personal description of conditions in Alexandria, local sites, and news.

Aquisition Information

The John S. Powers Letter was purchased by Special Collections in August 2014.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the John S. Powers Letter was completed in September 2015.

John S. Powers Letter, 1862
Kaitlyn Britt, Intern, and Kira A. Dietz, Archivist
© 2015 Virginia Tech. All rights reserved.
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US