March 1863 Letter by Private David T. T. Litchfield, 34th Massachusetts - Doctors 'Misdiagnose' Skin Condition as Syphilis

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March 1863 Letter by Private David T. T. Litchfield, 34th Massachusetts - Doctors 'Misdiagnose' Skin Condition as Syphilis

115.00

Item No. 8237749

A nice March 1863 letter written by Private David T. T. Litchfield of the 34th Massachusetts to his father, Liberty Litchfield, in Southbridge. Though enlisted as a private, the letter seems to indicate Litchfield was serving as a musician, as he mentions “not having any rehearsal.” The 34th Massachusetts was then serving in the defenses of Washington, DC. He wrote about the regiment being paid, the lack of letters from home, and, most notably, a terrible skin condition on his face that the doctors initially diagnosed as syphilis. The letter reads:

Fort Lyon Va
March 3d 1863

Dear Father
Not having any rehearsal this afternoon on account of our leaders being away to the City, thought I would improve a few moments in answering your letter of the 23d Feb. which was rec’d last Saturday containing the amount I sent for & which should have been answered before if I had been perfectly well.

Last week a small pimple came out on my face near my right ear & Friday night the band went out & serenaded two of the officers & their wives & I got cold, & the next morning my face was swollen so badly that I could not see out of my eye. The Doctor called it syphilis but the swelling has gone down & it has turned out to be a pretty large boil & therefore I have neglected writing but I am getting along nicely & think it will be well in a day or two.

Last Saturday the Reg. was mustered for pay & probably we shall get paid off again by the middle of this month & if we get paid for four months I shall have $50.00 that I shall want to let wages count up rather slow here in the army, but I am in hopes the time will come when I can once more earn $1.30 per day.

The weather here has been very irregular for three or four days. Part it has been very cold then warm & then snow & rain. First one & the other but presume it won’t be long before it will be very warm weather.

I hardly know what to write about, there not being anything of importance transpiring & think I will draw to a close hoping this will find all at home well. Hope ere this that Peter is well. Please give my respects to him & all other inquiring friends & tell them that a letter form any of them would be very acceptable. I don’t get a letter once in a dog’s age. I was going to say but one once in about two weeks & therefore it makes business rather dull with me.

Hoping to hear soon. I will bid you all good night
Yours with respect
David. T. Thurston Litchfield

The letter was written on three pages of a stationery sheet measuring about 5” x 8”. Minor foxing and toning. Creased where originally folded. The letter also includes the original stamped cover with Alexandria postmark.

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