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The Civil War Letters of Sergeant John Whipple of De Kalb, NY

John Whipple was born in the Town of Le Ray, Jefferson County New York August 18, 1836, the son of Elisha Whipple and Fannie Johnson Whipple. His grandfather Esek Whipple was a member of the original settlement party of the town of De Kalb in 1803. John's father Elisha Whipple was born in Rhode Island and came to De Kalb with his parents at the age of eight.

John Whipple attended the Gouverneur Wesleyan Seminary in the 1850's and was certified to teach in 1859. John and his 18-year-old brother Daniel traveled to Potsdam, NY where they enlisted in Company I of the 92nd NYS Volunteers on November 29, 1861.

john whipple

Company I was headed by Lieutenant Myron Cushman of Gouverneur, NY, a documented UGRR conductor. The Utica herald of October 24, 1861 stated, "Myron Cushman of Gouverneur is engaged in raising a company of old men to fight for the Union. He has about 20 already enrolled, all over the age of fifty years, and the prospect is good for a full company in a few days."

During the war John Whipple sent home over 100 letters and kept a pocket diary. He was elected second sergeant of Co. I at Camp Union. His letters cover: training at Camp Union, transfer to Kalorama Heights near Washington DC subsequent engagements in Virginia and New Bern, North Carolina as well as his time in the hospital at David's Island near New York City and his eventual assignment to the Elmira Prison Camp.

In October 1864, he became inspector of barracks at Elmira prison camp. According to his obituary shortly after this he was attacked while on inspection duty. He suffered neurological damage, which left him crippled for the rest of his life.

Following the war John Whipple was a census taker in 1870. The same year he received his local preachers license form the Methodist Episcopal church. He worked as a clerk at Moore's Store in De Kalb Village (Old De Kalb). He was Postmaster of the De Kalb Village post office from 1874 to 1881. He died December 1, 1901 and was buried in the Old De Kalb cemetery.

John Whipple's letters are addressed to:
Elisha Whipple – John's father
Fannie Johnson Whipple - John's mother
Lib or Libbie - John's sister Elizabeth Whipple
Mr. and Mrs. Hurlbut - John brother-in-law and sister Charles and Mary Whipple Hurlbut

These letters were donated to the Town of De Kalb Historical Association in memory of John and Daniel Whipple by their great nephew Charles Hurlbut III.


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