LANE BRANDON, HENRY ABBOTTS' HARVARD CLASSMATE AND FOE IN BATTLE
[Postwar Letter from Lane Brandon to Josiah G. Abbott, father of Henry Abbott and Ned Abbott (officer of 2d Mass killed at Cedar Mountain). Brandon was a Harvard classmate and friend of Henry Abbott and served as an officer in the 21st Mississippi, a regiment which met the 20th Mass in battle many times! A oft-told story about the 20th Massachusetts' famous charge through the streets of Fredericksburg on Dec 11, 1862, was that Lt. Brandon refused to obey orders to withdraw his Confederate troops from the skirmish with the 20th Mass., and he was placed under arrest. The reason being that Brandon did not want his classmate Abbott to win the skirmish! This letter was obtained from a scrapbook of letters and clippings collected by Caroline Livermore Abbott, and now in the possession of her great granddaughter, Elizabeth Abbott de Mowbray, of London, England.]
Letter furnished courtesy of Robert Garth Scott (author of "Fallen Leaves" ) and Thomas Rice
Arcole P1, La.
April 20, 1866
Hon. J.G. Abbott, My Dear Judge:
Your kind letter was received several days ago. Please accept my heartfelt thanks for the photographs of your boys and the obituary notice of Henry. The photograph of Hen. is not so good as the one I lost. The one of Ned is the same style as the one of him I received during the war and is lifelike. Numbers of strangers who have seen Ned's photograph have universally remarked the will of iron indicated by the eye and expression of his mouth. I can bear witness to both having possessed this attribute in the hightest degree--though their memories are endeared to me by other and closer ties.
The "in memoriam" of Maj. Abbott is a beautiful tribute to the memory of a Soldier, a gentleman & a Christian.
It is remarkable that our brigades should have met face to face on so many fields. In fact Henry's old brigade became so well known to us, that several times when the fighting would become warm and stubborn I have heard the remark, "boys, these must be the old fellows--they fight mighty like it." My company was stationed all winter '61 until March '62 on picket at Ball's Bluff. Three Regts. of my Brigade participated in the engagement at this place on [21st] Oct. 1861, but my Regt. was not assigned to the command until some time subsequent.
We renewed our acquaintance on the evening of 31st May at Fair Oaks or Seven Pines--the meeting was a warm one for us. We next met on [the] evening of 30th June at Glendale, mentioned in Genl. Lee's report as Frazier's Farm, & again on Tuesday evening 1st July at Malvern Hill. Then in the streets of Fredericksburg night of Dec 11th, '62 & Marye's Heights May 3, '63.
I see by the papers that Henry has been Breveted a [Brig.] Genl. of Volunteers. I sincerely regret thet the courage & skill displayed by him on so many bloody & hard fought fields could not have been exercised on this broader field of action...
Before closing I will add that none of my immediate family were killed in the war---And that if you can write "Charity requires us to suppose there were a great many honest persons on both sides, and duty requires us to do justice to all", how much more ought that sentiment to be binding on me. And I trust I will not prove recusant to it. Please remember me kindly to Mrs. Perry & George--to Mrs. Abbott & family. And accept for yourself the assurance of the esteem & regard
Lane W. Brandon