1864: David Hall to Lydia (Benedict) Hall

These letters were written by Pvt. David Hall (1820-18xx) of Co. G, 139th Illinois Infantry—a 100-day regiment. David enlisted in May 1864 at LaMoille, Bureau county, Illinois.

The 139th regiment, Illinois Infantry (100 days, 1864) was organized at Peoria, Illinois, and mustered in for 100 days on 1 June 1864.  They march into Missouri toward Franklin in pursuit of Price, October.  The regiment mustered out of the service on 28 October 1864.

David wrote the letters to his wife, Lydia (Benedict) Hall (1827-18xx). Mentioned in the letters was their son, Frederick Stewart Hall (1850-1930).

Note: Three of David’s letters to Lydia are housed in the Southern Illinois University Special Collections Center.

David Hall’s letter to wife Lydia dated 9 October 1864


Provost Marshal’s Office
1st Sub District of the St. Louis District
Franklin, Missouri
October 9, 1864

My darling wife Lydia,

I have written a pretty long letter to Freddie today and told him pretty much all in the way of news then I had to say.

My last letters have been directed to you and I thought that I would write this time to him but I could not well let the letter go without writing a few lines to you.

Does it not seem odd to read the heading of this letter? It reminds me—and doubtless will you—of my 3 months in Cairo. There is this difference, however. I was there in the very hottest part of the summer and had a great deal of work to do, while here we have cool, pleasant, October weather and shall not have probably but little work to do. I say pleasant weather as it has been so far. Of course I cannot tell what it will be in the future.

I am glad that the box & satchel got to you safe. The things in one side of the satchel belonged to Albert [E.] Porter. Those in the other were mine. If the satchel had not been opened, you could tell readily which were which for I put a card in the side that belonged to Porter. Did you find a pair of lady’s shoes in the satchel? If you did, they are for you if they fit you. When I get home, I shall be able to tell you all about the things and what disposition to make of them.

I presume that you found some things in the box that I did not take from home and did not draw from the Government, but I find that are some places to draw from besides the quartermaster’s.

I am very glad to hear that you are getting along well at home though you say I have no doubt that it is lonesome to you. You must not think, dear, that because I am in this office and Capt. [Roderick B.] Frary is detailed as Provost Marshal that it will add anything to the time of our stay here, because the whole thing is temporary in its nature. We relieved today a force that was placed on duty here yesterday morning and we can be relieved equally as quick should occasion require it.

The time of our stay here depends entirely upon 2 things. If Price is defeated badly at Jefferson City, I think that we shall go home soon. There is one other string to the banjo. Gen. Moers has been reported on his way to St. Louis from Cape Girardeau with a large force. If this be so, and his army comes out here, then the commander may need us no longer. I hope to be in LaMoille in the course of 2 weeks, but there is nothing certain about it. But keep up good courage, love. Election day is coming and there is no doubt that we shall all be at home then. Our vote will be needed. I close with my best love and wishes for you & Freddie. Remember me to Mrs. Feuego, Fassett’s, Howard’s & all the other friends. Affectionately yours, — David Hall

Do not forget to write. Direct to David Hall, Co. G, 139 Illinois Infantry, St. Louis, MO, Care of Capt. R. B. Frary

to Lydia B. Hall

[Letter is offered for sale on-line; transcription by seller]

Peoria, Ill
October 26th 1864

Darling Lydia,

Once more I sit down to write you a few lines and yet I am not able to write a word that will be in the least degree satisfactory to you or myself about my coming home. Everything “hangs by the gills” in relation to this matter. We have a mustering officer here since Monday. But no ordnance officer and the mustering officer cannot perform his duty until the arms are all turned over and each man’s accounts straightened up. I understand that the Colonel has appointed an officer to act as Ordnance Officer and there is a little hope that we can keep the mustering officer here a day or two longer and muster out in the course of this week. But after all this is done, the regiment is to be paid off and whether the Paymaster will be ready to attend to us or not then, I cannot even guess. And so the things go. Everything in a state of most “glorious uncertainty.” There is no prospect of our getting through this week as I can see. But if we can get mustered out, and I can get furlough, I shall most certainly come home this week. Unless there is some certainty of our being paid off the very first of the week. I am sick and tired of staying here day after day and doing nothing. The men are all getting very impatient and are anxious to get out of the scrape as speedily as possible.

The things you sent by Buhler all came safe, and I can assure you that I am glad to eat, one more, some thing prepared by your dear hands. Buhler also brought some things for Chapman and Myron Mater went home Saturday and brought back a lot of things form home. So you can guess that we have lived like “Kings and princes” since these goodies came. Lt Chapman, Myron and myself mess together and we have good times generally.

But I want to say a word or two about your coming down here. I do not hardly think that it would be best. It would cost considerable for your fare, and then it would cost a good deal here for board. But as I have written you in this letter, unless there is a prospect of our getting through altogether pretty soon I will come home. If I go home on a furlough, I can go for half fare. I need not say that I am exceedingly anxious to see you and Freddie, for you can judge of that anxiety by your own feelings.

The weather has been quite pleasant for several days until today. It is now raining some but not very hard. I hope that it will not come on a long wet spell, for our sleeping places are not very comfortable, and our cooking has to be done outdoors.

I am very sorry to hear of Frank Howard’s sickness. I hope to hear that his fever has taken a favorable turn, but am quite anxious to hear. I should think from what Freddie writes that the folks were needing help in the store, pretty bad. Mr. Fassett’s boils and the sickness of Frank and Mr. Neowan not being well would make it rather hard for them. I am glad that Freddie’s eye is better but I hope that he will not tax it too much.

I think that Freddie has done first rate about gathering my nuts this fall. Did you go with him any? I presume not, as you had so much to do yourself.

Tell Freddie that the apples were very nice. I enjoyed them very much.

I came down from camp this afternoon expecting to go to work on our company papers, but found that I could do nothing to them. I am now writing to you in the Court House and after finishing and mailing this letter will go back to camp and await further developments.

Hoping to see you in the course of this week, I will now close by sending lots of love to you and Freddie and all other endearing friends.

Your loving Husband,
David Hall

Abner is quite well. If I go home, I hope that he will come with me.


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