Seth Kaller, Inc.

Inspired by History

Other Civil War and Reconstruction Offerings


Other Great Gifts Offerings


Future Hero of Little Round Top Advises a Friend on Getting a Leave of Absence
Click to enlarge:
Select an image:

GOUVERNEUR K. WARREN. Autograph Letter Signed, to Philip L. Wilson, March 19, 1863. 2 p., 8 x 10 in.

Inventory #21386.08       Price: $395

Complete Transcript

Head-Quarters Top’l Engineers, Army of the Potomac

                                                                        March 19 1863

To / Lieut Philip L. Wilson

Dear friend

            Your letter of the 14th Inst was received this morning. I have been on duty at Head Quarters since the 1st of February and did not learn of your application for a leave of absence till you informed me.

            Upon inquiry I find that your leave of absence has been forwarded to Washington where all leaves of absence for a period longer than 20 days have to be acted upon.

            I would advise you to address a letter to the Secretary of War to be placed with your application giving a copy of your letter of resignation and the endorsements thereon if you have them and also the substance of your letter to me giving your present condition. I am exceedingly sorry to hear of the prolongation of your suffering and hope yet you will be rewarded by a perfect recovery. Be assured if I can do anything to aid your wishes, that in doing so I shall be <2> but fulfilling a duty that I consider most sacred and pleasing to myself.

                                                                        yours truly

                                                                        G K Warren

                                                                        Brig Genl Vols

Historical Background
The 5th New York Volunteer Infantry under Colonel Abram Duryée mustered into federal service in April 1861. The regiment, known as Duryée’s Zouaves, wore colorful uniforms modeled on those of the French Zouaves. The majority of the soldiers were well educated.

Shortly after the regiment arrived in Virginia, the 5th New York participated in the Battle of Big Bethel on June 10, 1861, near Fort Monroe. In this poorly planned and poorly executed attack on the Confederates, Union forces suffered 76 casualties to the Confederates’ eight. After the battle, Captain John E. White was taking dead soldiers out of carts to replace them with wounded men, when Lieutenant Colonel Gouverneur K. Warren and Corporal Philip L. Wilson arrived to help him get the wounded men back to the Union lines.

When Duryée was promoted to brigadier general, Warren took command of the 5th New York. By the time he wrote this letter eighteen months later, Warren was a brigadier general, but he still assisted members of his old regiment when possible.

Wilson received a discharge from the service in April 1863.

Gouverneur K. Warren (1830-1882) was born in New York and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1850, as second in his class. Commissioned in the corps of topographical engineers, he worked on the Mississippi River, transcontinental railroad surveys, and mapped the trans-Mississippi West. He served as a mathematics instructor at the Military Academy, and when the war began, he became lieutenant colonel of the 5th New York Infantry. Promoted to colonel in September 1861, he commanded his regiment in the siege of Yorktown in 1862 and assisted the chief topographical engineer of the Army of the Potomac in the Peninsula Campaign. Warren received promotion to brigadier general in September 1862. In February 1863, he became chief topographical engineer for the Army of the Potomac. On July 2, 1863, Warren initiated the defense of Little Round Top, understanding the strategic significance of the undefended hill on the far left of the Union line, earning him the nickname “Hero of Little Round Top.” Again promoted to major general, he commanded a corps from August 1863 through the end of the war.

Philip L. Wilson (1840-1905) was born in New York and enlisted in the 5th New York Infantry as a private in May 1861. He received a promotion to corporal one month later and to sergeant in October. He became a second lieutenant in August 1862 and was wounded severely in the leg at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Warren was discharged in April 1863.  He later became an attorney in a New York law firm. In 1866, he married Rachel Wightman, and they had five children. By 1900, they had moved to Bergen, New Jersey.

Add to Cart Ask About This Item Add to Favorites