Uberto Burnham on
the Execution of Winslow Allen

JANUARY 14, 1864 VOL 2, NO. 15 Pg 2, COL 5


The following letter from the 76th Regiment who handed to us two weeks ago, but owing to the pressure upon our columns of matter that could not be delayed, we have been unable to publish it until now. The letter is quite interesting, and we gladly give it a place.

CAMP 76, N.Y.V., DEC. 18, 1863.

REMEMBERED PARENTS:- Your very welcome letter, mailed December 14th, was received to-day. It finds me well, though rather muddy. We can go nowhere now without wading in mud as you wade in snow up North.

Everything here is quiet. Since our campaign beyond the Rapidan no demonstration of importance has been made by either army. No further move will probably be made until Spring. The weather will not permit an advance now. The savage criticism of some of the Press on Meade's policy finds no response here in the army. Every officer, so far as I know, believes that if Meade had attacked the enemy in his entrenched position defeat would have been the result. We can not afford to sacrifice the lives of thousands and imperil our cause because the people are impatient. Those who point to the success of Grant and claim that we ought to do as much here, should remember that there is a great difference between General Robert Lee and Gen. Braxton Bragg, and in the spirit and morale of the armies they respectively command. The Army of the Potomac is fully equal to the task of whipping the rebel army of Virginia, if it can only get that army out of an intrenched position, but it would have been suicidal to attack it at Mine Run. We certainly could not afford to have another Fredericksburg. It is much better to avoid an engagement than to seek defeat.

Our corps is camped on the south bank of the Rappahannock near Kelley's Ford. We have all been very busy since we stopped here preparing for winter. The men have got up good comfortable log huts rooted with canvas. As soon as I can build some stables for the mules and horses, and finish my property returns to January 1st, I shall apply for leave of absence. Officers and soldiers are every day leaving in large numbers for a short visit home.

The 76th will hardly get home next Fall. There are probably only about one hundred and fifty of the original 76th men present for duty. Nearly all of them will re-enlist. Of eighteen present in Co. D, fourteen re-enlisted to-day. Some of the other companies did nearly as well. You will see many of them fellows around home in a few days, for they get thirty days' furlough.

Private Winslow N. Allen, of Co. H 76th, was to-day shot for deserting. Allen deserted in May 1861. Among an arrival of substitute's for the 76th last September was a man that answered to the name of Newton. He was assigned to Co. H.

At roll call he was recognized as Allen, who deserted from the same company fourteen months before. He was immediately put in irons and charges were preferred against him. The court found him guilty of desertion, and sentenced him "to be shot to death by musketry." He was shot to day in presence of the 2d brigade. Capt. Kellogg, Provost Marshal of the 1st Div., had charge of the execution. Everything passed off in the best of order. The prisoner was hit by eleven bullets. He died without a struggle.

In looking over the mail to-night I noticed two letters for Winslow Allen, each marked "Please forward in haste." They came too late.

Adolphus Morse has not yet been shot. His execution is deferred until further orders. A.P. Smith and R. H. Duell are making efforts to procure his pardon.

Thomas Baron of Company F was to-day dishonorably discharged the service for cowardice and absence without leave.

(Uberto Adelbert Burhnam)

(Note: Adolphus Morse, age 18, enlisted at Homer, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. F, October 21, 1861; died, September 24, 1864 at Fort Jefferson, Florida. - from NYS Adjutant General's Register of 76th NY. See our Roster (M) Page for more information on Morse)

Transcribed by B. Conrad Bush from The Gazette and Banner from microfilm files at the Cortland Public Library, Cortland, New York.

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- last updated January 19, 2005