Give That Man a Pistol


William H. Higgins (Maine State Archives).

Sometimes when you read a Civil War letter, the personality of the writer just leaps from the page. So it is with this letter from William H. Higgins of the 3rd Maine, written to Governor Israel Washburn on July 10, 1861. Higgins, who eventually became a captain, survived the war and died in 1900. His letter is in the collection of Civil War Regimental Correspondence in the Maine State Archives.


Dear Sir,

I take the liberty to write you  few lines at this time, being a stranger to you it may appear to you that I take too much liberty, but I think not, I am an American, I was born in Georgetown State of Maine, and the same state is the birth place of my Father and Grandsire, my grandfather was a soldier in the Revolution, my Father was in the War of 1812 and I am trying all that is in my power to fight for my country and her flag in this unhappy struggle, but I am not sufficiently armed, I have asked many times for a pistol but can’t have any. I have the confidence of my company officers and the colonel and Major, I have been trusted with a Picket guard and scouting parties, and can send you a certificate from my Superior officers that I am a fit man to be so armed, they tell me that the order is that my government is to furnish pistols only for the First Sergeants and all other Sergeants may have them if they can or will buy them for themselves, do they have furnished the First Sergeants all the drummers fifers Wagoners chaplain Musicians Qr Masters department and some others, now I ask you as you are the Governor of my state to send me a Navy Revolver from the Arsenal as a present from yourself, which I will promise to use faithfully in defence of my country, my company is placed on the extreme left of the Regiment and I rank as 2d Sergeant of Co. D 3d Maine Regt, my place in Battle in on the extreme left flank in the front rank, and I have only a smooth bored musket while those that never have to face the Enemy are armed to the teeth, I will wait patiently for your answer for one week, and I I ever was to return to Maine I will call and tell you whether you send me one or not.

Yours respectfully, Wm. H. Higgins