Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Figures, Henry S. (d. 1864) [Collection of Henry S. Figures, F company, 4th regiment, Alabama, infantry] [Decimalized .01- .33]

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00653.01 Author/Creator: Figures, Henry S. (d. 1864) Place Written: various places Type: Header Record Date: 10 April 1861-29 February 1864 Pagination: 33 items + 10 envelopes

Summary of Content: Figures was a member of Law's Brigade, Longstreet Division, of the 4th Alabama Infantry. Letters mention prisoners from the "Star of the West," the Battles of Manassas, Yorktown, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg, slaves, etc. Figures was killed at Battle of the Wilderness on 4 May 1864. Two of the letters (10 April 1861 and 25 April 1861) are on "Confederate States of America, War Department" stationery. Also includes 1867 burial card and a 6 page biographical manuscript (ca. 1890).

Background Information: Henry Stokes Figures of Montgomery Alabama enlisted in the Confederate Army on 10 June 1861. He served as private and sergeant in Company F of the 4th Alabama Infantry (the "Huntsville Guards") ...before being named adjutant, with a rank of 1st lieutenant, of the 48th Alabama (May 1863). He was killed at the Wilderness on the evening of 6 May 1864. Robert T. Coles, who served with Figures in Company F and later wrote a history of the 4th Alabama, recalled him as "a gallant soldier and esteemed friend, a youth of decided military talent" (Jeffrey D. Stocker, ed., From Huntsville to Appomattox, p. 166)See More

Full Transcript: [draft excerpts:]

[25 April 1861:]
"The crew of the Star of the West are her as prisoners, they are a very bad looking set of looking men."

[27 April 1861:]
"We are expecting a ...fight every day, very heavy fighting was heard down at Yorktown today. The two armies are only about one mile apart, we are a mile & a half from our line of battle in the rear, kept back as the reserve. It is reported here that the enemy have New Orleans. If that is true they will have Memphis very soon...."

[GLC00653.01.22]
Hd Qrs 48th Regt Ala Vols
(Sunday) June 21st 1863
My Dear Ma,
We left Culpepper last monday morning & got here day before yesterday & left that evening; crossed the Shenandoah river without taking off our clothes. As soon as we got to the top of the mountain we were put in line of battle to wait for the yankees. It was said by Gen Law that the Yankee general Slocum had orders to come through the gap in the mountain at all hazards, but he did not come, so yesterday we recrossed the river. You have heard by this time of our capture of Winchester, Va. by Genl Ewell. We are just twenty miles from Harpers Ferry. It is thought by all that we are going into Maryland & Pennsylvania. Dr. Hudson (Brigade Surgeon) told me yesterday that Gen. Lee was going to Penn to subsist his army; that he would probably remain there two months. Hooker's Army has left Fredericksburg. Rumor says he has gone to Washington to keep Lee from getting there....

[GLC00653.01.23]
Hd Qrs Laws Brigade
July 8 1863
Dear Father and Mother,
You know by this time that I am in Maryland. We crossed at Williamsport on 26th, got to Chambersburg, Penn that evening, staid there several days. Our regt was sent over to Scotland, about 2 miles from camp, to guard some commissary stores, then we went to New Gilford. Then to Gettysburg - where we had a great fight. I escaped unhurt, did not get touched any where. I tried to conduct myself with credit through the fight. I think I done it. Col. Sheffield & all the Officers in the regt think a great of me [sic]. I never saw a braver man in my life than Col. S. is. Our regt charged up the mountain for two miles, when it became so steep that we could not go any farther, we then fell back, & charged it four successive times but could not take the heights. - The enemy were upon the top of the mountain the steepest place I ever saw in my life-I will send you a list of the killed & wounded in our regt. You will get one from the 4th I suppose. Capt Lefwich, Tom Lanier, Jim Duff was killed in our old company... Tell Mr. Leftwich that I have his son's sword... [2] I carried the colors in the fight for a while. We had the fight on the 2d; on the 3d some yankee cavalry about a Brigade charged through our lines. Our brigade was double quicked about 300 yards & got behind them & caught them all but 18 or 20. Next day we fell back about halfmile. Next day we came on to Hagerstown. We have been here two or three days. Col. Sheffield was put in command of the Brigade on the night of the 2d- Genl. Hood was wounded in the arm. Genl. Law took command of the Division. I am now acting Adjutant Genl. for the Brigade...

[GLC00653.01.24]
[18 July 1863:]
Dear Sister,
I wrote a letter to Ma yesterday. Now I will try & tell you a little about our trip into Maryland & Pennsylvania. I did not enjoy the trip like some did. It reminded me of home when it was in possession of the enemy. I treated everybody like I do at home, if anything, better. But some of the army treated the citizens very badly, stole their chickens, milk, butter, etc. Most of the horses were impressed by the government but [we] paid them in Confederate money. The first night we stayed in Pennsylvania we were allowed to burn rails & cord wood. You never saw fences disappear as fast as I did that night... I did not kill any...When we got in half mile of the battlefield of Gettysburg I went to a house about a hundred yds from the regiment to get some water, it was full of women and little children. The battle was going on then. I felt very sorry for them. They were crying & running to & fro, almost crazy, an old woman said to me, for the Lord's sake don't come here. I did not know what she meant, she was crying so. Bomb shells were coming over the house then from the enemys batteries. I do not know whether she was hurt or not. It is an awful place to be in when a desperate battle is going on, for it was the hardest fought battle I was ever in. After the fight we went back to Downsville, four miles from the Potomac and threw up breastworks and waited two days for the enemy to attack us. But they camp in about three miles and commenced fortifying too...


See More

People: Figures, Henry Stokes

Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Subjects: Soldier's LetterFirst Battle of Bull Run (Manassas)Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas)Battle of FredericksburgBattle of GettysburgCivil WarMilitary HistoryConfederate Soldier's LetterConfederate States of AmericaSlaveryAfrican American HistoryPrisoner of WarPatriotic StationeryDeathBattleBattle of the WildernessInfantryNavyUnion Forces

Sub Era: The American Civil War

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources