A Rediscovery of an Old Document Bears Fruit

Recently I found among my pile of papers a short narrative from the Longwood High School website with some letter excerpts from a 65th NY soldier which evidently I printed off the internet in 2002 and then forgot about for eighteen years. The narrative came from a collection of brief vignettes on local veterans apparently written by Middle Island, New York’s Longwood High School students in the late 20th century or early 21st century. The letter excerpts in the piece related a wonderful anecdote which involved President Lincoln.  In letters to his sisters, Alexander Monsell, who mustered into the regiment on August 24, 1861, told of having “… to briton my butons and plate for to drill everything has to be clean here…”  Monsell also wrote about a review of the troops at Camp Middleton by President Lincoln.  According to his sister Jerusha, who related the story to local historian Thomas Bayles, Lincoln shook hands with all the troops.  “When Lincoln came to Alexander, who was 6 feet 3 inches tall, he asked him how tall he was.  When Alexander replied, President Lincoln said that was his own height and that he always liked a tall boy.”  In another letter to his sister, Alexander expressed how the Chasseurs felt in the fall of 1861 about the war.  “We are all waiting for to fight. I suppose that you might think that strange, but that is what we are all wishing for.”  Unfortunately Alexander never got the chance to fight, as he died at Camp Cochran hospital on December 7, 1861. Finding his grave in the lovely Yaphank Cemetery in August 2020, with the help of the information on Findagrave.com, my daughter Rachel and I placed a flag there in his honor, then took a few photos.

Source: http://longwood.k12.ny.us/community/longwood_journey/time_periods/civil_war/monsell__alexander

The author’s daughter Rachel, who found Pvt. Alexander Monsell’s grave in the Yaphank Cemetery (photo by author)
Pvt. Monsell died in December 1861 before getting a chance to fight (photo by author)
The Monsell family stone in Yaphank Cemetery, Long Island, New York (photo by author)
The Monsell House, on Bartlett Road in Middle Island, New York

Published by 65th NY Guy

I am a high school history teacher in my 31st year of teaching. I have been studying the 65th NY Infantry, my great-great grandfather's regiment, since 1993. After 8 years of writing, I recently finally published my history of the regiment, "No Flinching From Fire." I also coach cross country and track and field, and I have a wife and two daughters.

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