Edwin Martin Whipple was born on 9 December 1842 in Sardinia, Erie County, New York. He was the youngest son of Herman Whipple (1774-1842) and Phoebe Boa Lafferty (1816-1904).
In the summer of 1861, Edwin enlisted in Co. C [the Chicago “Jackson Guards”] of the 23rd Illinois Infantry—the “Irish Brigade” led by Col. James A. Mulligan. He served with them on their expedition into Missouri and from his letters we know that he made it as far as Jefferson City, Missouri. It isn’t known whether he was still with the company when they marched on Lexington and then fought to defend the city in the First Battle of Lexington in which Col. Mulligan was wounded. Presumably Edwin was mustered out with the regiment in October 1861.
Edwin then enlisted on 25 November 1861 at Erie, Pennsylvania, to serve three years in Co. C, 111th Pennsylvania. He remained with the regiment until 25 November 1864 when he mustered out with his company. He stood six foot tall, had dark hair and blue eyes. He was a tailor by profession.
After the war, he married Maria E. Oslerhack (1852-1878) and resided in South Haven, Kalamazoo, Michigan. In 1892 he relocated to Allegany county, New York, where he remarried to Thursa Jane Wickwire (1860-1899). He died in Bath, Steuben county, New York in December 1925 at the age of 83.
Serving with Edwin in Co. C, 111th Pennsylvania Volunteers was his step-brother, Sgt. Benjamin Franklin Edy (1836-1917) who is mentioned frequently as “Ben” throughout Edwin’s letters. Ben’s father, William Edy (b. 1799) took Phebe B. Lafferty (widow of Herman Whipple) to be his second wife. At an advanced age, William enlisted in Co. 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry and served for several months during the winter of 1862-63 before he was discharged for disability.