Jonathan Curtis Tyler to John Wolcott Phelps

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Yale Coll.New Haven. Conn.June 13, 1861.Col. PhelpsDear Sir,

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I have had a long conversation with Mrs Hayes - a common friend of ours - to day, and we, from speaking of the Great Bethel disaster, (in which we did not know who to blame,) fell to speaking of yourself, and finally about myself. The result is the following letter.

I am through Coll. one week from date, and shall then be ready to do what little I can to aid this most holy uprising of loyal citizens to crush out rebellion.

I am graduated with whatever of knowledge & experience, four years of application to books and human nature has given me. My most prominent studies have been, Languages, Surveying, Political Economy, Several branches of Metaphysics, and International Law. Nor is my military education as poor as might be tho' it is poor enough. I have drilled and been drilled daily for six-weeks and have gone thro' with Hardee's Infantry Tactics. This is all. I supposed I should go with my class as a company - but this plan is now relinquished.

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I have been led to suppose I could obtain the position of Adjutant in one of the four Vt regiments, now recuiting. I have also received a proposal from a New York Col. I wish to go with a Vt regiment for there my fathers have lived and my grandfather died. So the New York plan is put aside. I desire to be under an able Col. and I fear the remaining Cols will not have the experience and judgements that give grace and dignity as well as insure success to your own military movements. More than this there is a natural pride in all to be among the first, and who is more so than the first Vt. regiment? It follows then, I would glady accept an inferior position, under your superior command, than a superior position - and perhaps one I could not fill acceptably - under an inferior command. -

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If then you have any thing for me to do, or for any young man of my limited parts and qualifications, "try me". I shall do my best, and pray that I may not falter. My health is immense - I'm glad to say, my muscle well developed by daily exercise. In short if my mind was as good as my body I should flatter myself with the saying "Sana mens in corpore sano" -

This letter may appear indelicately forward, but I am very anxious to do some little good for my country. I have ever felt this inclination to be strong in me, but I have always sought my prospective success in the civil walks of life. Now I feel that a soldier's, part is the more important at present, and that in the cause of country, "it is noble to be found dead embracing her"-

If you have no place for me at present, I might be a "hanger on", write letters, go on

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errands, carry dispatches, draw out plans, matured by yourself as I had several years education as a draughtsman. I should then be under your guidance and at all events fit myself for some successful service bye and bye. -

I do not send recommends, for I am known to you, and I have no military recommends of any high order to send. I can obtain good recommends from Pres. Woolsey, for general character &c. but I defer it until you desire it. I hope to hear from you at your earliest convenience. I shall be here - New Haven - until the 21st, when I shall go to Brattleboro. Mrs Hayes and all her young friends would like to be remembered kindly to you, and be assured they think often and earnestly of you.

I am, my dear Sir,
With the greatest respect
Your young friend.Jno. Curtis Tyler.

To Col. Phelps.