Monsell, Alexander

65th New York State Volunteers
Company E
Middle Island

Alexander Monsell
65th New York State Volunteers, Company E
Middle Island

Alexander Monsell was born on October 6, 1840. He was one of eleven children born to Nathaniel and Maria Monsell, who lived on a farm on East Bartlett Road in Middle Island. Two of their sons, Alexander and Nathaniel, served in the military during the Civil War.

Monsell, Alexander
Monsell house on Bartlett Road in Middle Island.

Alexander was mustered into the service on August 24, 1861, when he was twenty-one years old. He was part of the 65th Regiment, which was organized at Willet's Point in New York. They left for Washington, D.C. on August 27, 1861.

The regiment was stationed at Camp Middleton during the month of September. This was the first time that most of the enlisted men were away from home for an extended period of time. It was a lonely time for many of them. They wanted to hear from home as much as possible, as Alexander's letter to his sisters from Washington illustrates:

Dear sisters one and all. I will inform you that I have not forgotten you. Some of you rote and never sent anything. But when you get this I want to see something from you all… Mary L Downs has never rote to me … I did not think she would forget me for I have not forgotten her. I have not much time to write her. I have to briton my butons and plate for to drill everything has to be clean here… You must write all you can think of for I want to hear all about what is going on if I am not there… Goodby give my love to all my friends and send word to the rest.

This from your brother
Alexander Monsell

While at Camp Middleton, they received an important visitor. President Lincoln reviewed the regiment. Monsell wrote home about this event. His sister, Jerusha, recounted his story to local historian, Thomas Bayles. Bayles wrote:

Alexander and his troops were reviewed by President Lincoln, who shook hands with them all. When Lincoln came to Alexander, who was 6ft. 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.

While it was exciting to shake the hand of President Lincoln, Monsell and others grew weary of training and waiting. They were eager to fight in this war, despite the danger involved. Monsell wrote about this in another letter to his sister:

I received your letter this afternoon and was glad to hear from you. It is not much use for me to try to write for I can't. I don't know as you can read it. I have not got any table or stand to write on. I have to lay it on my knee and you can judge for yourself how pleasant that is to write. We are all waiting for to fight. I suppose that you might think that strange, but that is what we are all wishing for. When we marched to the field, it was if we were going somewhere to play, but after all that is hard play… You must not forget to write… This from your brother.

Monsell never did get that chance to fight in the war. He became sick and died from an undisclosed illness at Camp Cochran hospital on December 7, 1861.

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