William E. Vanauken

Date of Birth


Date of Death

May 25, 1864

Letters Authored


Letters Received


159 years ago, William E. Vanauken passed away.

Letters Received in Collection


William (Billy) E. Vanauken enlisted in the 107th New York Infantry on 7 August 1862. The 107th was engaged in numerous battles, including the battles of Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, as well as the battles of Resaca and Dallas which took place in the Atlanta campaign. William was killed on 25 May 1864 during the battle at Dallas, Georgia, where he was shot in the hand, arm, and head. A letter written by a fellow soldier, Dean West, on 27 May 1864 describes how his body could not be retrieved and buried until the next morning. Although there are only four letters in the Archive written by William and one written by his brother-in-law and sister, he was a prolific writer and chronicled with much detail his experiences during his 21 months of service. In other letters, which are not part of this collection, William describes in great detail the horrors of Antietam as witnessed by him as he lay on the ground near the infamous Cornfield. He wrote this letter on 18 September 1862 from the battlefield even as the fighting continued.