War Through the Eyes of a Young Sailor

Text by Randall Wade Thomas and Elizabeth Singer Maule

Images from Freeport Historical Society

John Monroe Dillingham of Freeport lost his life at Andersonville Prison in Georgia, one of thousands of Union soldiers to have died there in the year before the end of Civil War hostilities.

The Dillinghams were seasoned letter writers. His father, John G. Dillingham, had years of practice writing to Margaret Dennison Dillingham of Freeport, whom he was courting and who he then married. When "Mon" Dillingham joined his father at sea, he also joined in writing home to his mother and sister.

The letters gathered here, which cover the period from 1861 to 1865, offer a unique glimpse into a young man's early feelings about national politics, including disdain for the secessionists, and the possible excitement of war to his growing sense of unease with war and, eventually, his time in Confederate prisons after his capture in 1864.

The letters offer a unique local perspective on events of national importance and clearly express individual family hopes, fears, and sense of loss in relation to the Civil War.

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