Soule, Aurelius

Aurelius Soule Letter



Collection Overview
Title: Aurelius Soule Letter
Date: 1861
Creator: Aurelius Soule 
Call Number: DAL.SMS.055
Repository: Drew Archival Library
Location: Small Collections Box
Quantity: 1 folder
Language: English

Administrative Information:
Access Restrictions: The collections is open to researchers.  There are no restricted materials in the collection.
Acquisition Information: The letter was purchased, DAL.2012.010
Preferred form of citation: DAL.SMS.055, Aurelius Soule Letter in the Drew Library of the Duxbury Rural & Historical Society.
Related Materials: 
Finding Aid Prepared by: Carolyn Ravenscroft, May. 2013.

Scope and Content:
One letter dated September 15, 1861, written by Civil War soldier, Aurelius Soule, to his mother, Deborah Delano (Sampson) Soule in Duxbury, MA.  The letter was written soon after Soule arrived in Virginia.  He write of his homesickness and describes Washington, DC.

Two interesting stories are also relayed in the letter.  One describes a fellow soldier who “dremt he was shooting Jef Davis and fired his gun off and shot four toes off of one of his feet.” The other tells of the disturbing, but all too common possibility that money being sent home was being stolen.  In this particular case the thief appears to be fellow Duxbury resident, A. Weston, who apparently “took the money and spent it in Boston and then told that there was none.”

Biographical Note:
Aurelius Soule was born into a tight-knit Duxbury clan.  His father, Capt. Thomas Soule (1795-1864) married a cousin, Deborah Delano Sampson (1809-1880).  The couple had six children: Aurelius (b. 1833) being the oldest.  Whether Capt. Thomas Soule was a master mariner aboard one of Duxbury’s many transatlantic merchant vessels, or merely captained a coastal fishing boat is unknown.  What we do know is that Aurelius did not follow in his father’s footsteps.  The 1850 and 1860 US Census both indicate he was a shoemaker, a very common occupation for those living in the economically depressed Duxbury of the time.  In 1857 Aurelius married Emeline Cushman Thomas of East Bridgewater, MA.  The young couple was living in Hanson at the time of their marriage.  Interestingly, the 1860 US Census shows them living apart, he in Duxbury with his parents, she “living out” as a domestic in a Plymouth inn.

In 1861, 21 year-old Aurelius joined Company E (often called the “Duxbury Company”) of the 18th Massachusetts with 54 of his friends, relatives and neighbors, including his brother, Joseph Alcide Soule (b. 1842).  By September the 18th Mass was camped just outside Washington, DC at Arlington Heights, VA.

Despite having survived many of the major battles, including those fought on the Peninsula in the Spring and Summer of 1862, Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg, Aurelius Soule died in a hospital in Beverly Ford, VA on Feb. 28, 1864 of illness.

See also: Aurelius Soule: A Letter Comes Home in the DRHS’ Duxbury in the Civil War blog.

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