These three letters were written by Theodore S. Caufman [or Kaufman] (1844-1908) of South Middleton, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Isaac Caufman (1806-1867) and Elizabeth Smith (1811-1863). Theodore was unmarried until he returned from the Civil War when he married a woman named Sallie. Years later, he would take his third cousin, Anna D. Kaufman (1844-1918), as his second wife. Anna was the daughter of Daniel Kaufman (1818-1902) and Catharine Fortenbaugh (1824-1907) of Boiling Springs, Cumberland county, Pa.
We know with certainty that Theodore served late in the war with Co. A, 209th Pennsylvania Infantry, which explains his presence at “Bermuda Hundred” and the “Camp in front of Petersburg” where the last two letters were written. It isn’t clear, however, in which regiment Theodore was serving when he wrote the first letter from Arlington Heights, Virginia, in the days just after the Battle of Gettysburg. We learn from the letter that his unit was at Dumfries, Virginia, near the Potomac river south of Washington D. C. late in June, 1863, before being withdrawn to the Capitol’s defenses before and during the battle at Gettysburg. Unfortunately I cannot yet find a military unit with a “Capt. Pearson” in it whose regiment’s movements matched those described in the letter. I suspect his service was with one of the Pennsylvania Reserve units.
There is a curious article that appeared in the Patriot (Harrisburg, Pa.) on 1 March 1905 stating that Theodore S. Kaufman—“A grizzled veteran and a widower”—aged 61, married Mrs. Anna D. (Kaufman) Sheaffer—the wife of James Fortney Sheaffer (1840-1894). This article claims that Theodore went to war in 1861 and promised to marry Anna on his return. But when he returned, Anna had already married Sheaffer, so he married Sallie. Decades later, after both of their spouses had passed on, the two encountered each other at Boiling Springs and rekindled their relationship, resulting in their second marriages. [See clipping.] Sheaffer must have been an unsavory character. An 1894 article appearing in the Patriot (May 10, 1894), the same year he died, indicated that he was arrested for “cutting” Edward Diller of Boiling Springs, and then rearrested for threatening the life of Judge J. C. Leaman. He was sentenced to 1 year in the Eastland penitentiary but the sentence was later reduced to two months and a fine.
Theodore wrote all three of these letters to Eliza C. Crider but I haven’t been able to learn anything about her from on-line records. It is supposed that Theodore struck up a relationship with her after Anna Kaufman married her first husband. She appears also to have been originally from the Boiling Springs area.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Addressed to Miss Eliza Crider, Chambersburg, Franklin county, Penna.
July 9th 1863
I seat myself again at my nice table to write a few lines to you but would rather sit by your side and talk face to face like we did in former days for writing has always been a task for me.
I was glad to hear that you were well. At the same time I was sorry to hear that you had to leave the Boiling Springs and all your things behind. But I hope you will get them again. My friend, you are certainly pardoned for delaying your writing for some time. I think the excitement was greater than [we had] any use for. My friend, since I have written to you the last time, we have retreated. In the first place, we retreated back to Dumfries [and] from there to Alexandria where we lay for two weeks. From then to Arlington Heights where we are now encamped, not knowing how long we will stay here —perhaps a month and we may not stay two days. When we were in Dumfries, the rebels were firing all night. Some of our men were taken. They hallowed for our captain to halt but he did not [so] they fired at him but did not hit him. They must be sharp if they get him.
I think the next move we make we will go to Washington. My friend, but a few more words and I shall close as it is very hard to write here—everybody running in the tent and talking and laughing. I cannot write without making so many mistakes. But you said you did not know whether you should send me your photograph without the promise of mine. My friend, it is impossible for me to think of getting mine now. But if I was in Chambersburg, you should have it by all means. But I can promise you this, that if I ever get home again, you shall have it, or if I get to Washington, I shall try to get it for you. So I hope you will favor me that much and send it. It is scarcely ever that we get to see a lady here.
But I must close for this time. If I had a table to write on and a room to myself, I should write a longer letter. Excuse me for not doing so. Write soon, sooner, soonest.
Still yours, — Theodore Caufman
Direct your letter in this manner. Theodore Caufman, Arlington, Va., In care of Capt. Pearce, Co. A, 20 A. C. [??]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Addressed to Miss Eliza. C. Crider, Chambersburg, Franklin county, Pennsylvania
October 23rd, 1864
Friend Eliza. C. Crider,
I take my pencil in hand to inform you that yours of the eighteenth was received by your friend Theodore, the contents of which were very interesting to me. My friend, I am sorry to tell you that I have ben excused by the doctor from duty ever since last Sabbath. Therefore, do not feel like writing you a long letter this time. But I must close hoping you will pardon me for not writing more as I feel too weak to sit up any longer. the next time I shall write you a longer letter. Please write me a long letter and tell me all the news for that is all the pleasure I have—reading letters. write very soon and do not forget to send me that photograph as I am anxious to see you again.
From your friend, — Theodore Caufman
My love to you and all inquiring friends.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Addressed to Miss Eliza. C. Crider, Chambersburg, Franklin county, Pennsylvania
Camp in Front of Petersburg [Virginia]
January 2, 1865
Friend much loved,
As I have a few leisure moments, I think I can devote them no better than of writing to you but do not know how much I shall be able to write this evening from the fact that I have been sick for the last three weeks in the hospital. I presume you have read of the raid Gen. Warren made on the Weldon Railroad at which time we were ordered front. We had a very hard march. It rained all the time. We marched all night for fear of the guerrillas for the woods was full of them. We had to wade several streams and it was very cold. A great many have sickened and died since. The hospitals are all crowded. For that reason I have not written sooner. They brought me here on the 6th of December and I have been here ever since. And it so forcibly struck my mind this evening that I had not answered your last letter, but am not sure of it yet, for I have been looking for a letter from you for some time. But again I thought if I had written to you before the raid, you would have answered it before this. If you only knew how dearly I love to glance over the pages penned by you, I think you would write to me oftener.
My friend, had I the time, I would write to you every week. It thought it pleasant but I am glad to tell you that I feel better this evening. I think I will be able to go to the regiment in a few days. I have many pleasant dreams of you which I will tell you in the future. My friend, I wish you would be so kind and oblige me by sending me a lock of your hair. That that I got when I was up there, I left at home and would like to have some here. I shall never forget the time I was up there. I can see you standing on the platform at the station yet.
But I must close for fear I will sit up too long.
“Happy the home when God is there,
And love fills every breast;
Where one their wish, and one their prayer,
And one their heavenly rest.
“Happy the home where Jesus’ name
Is sweet to every ear;
Where children early lisp his name,
And parents hold him dear.
“Happy the home where prayer is heard,
And praise is won’t to rise;
Where parents love the sacred word,
And live but for the skies.” ¹
My friend, I am sorry I cannot or do not feel like writing you a more interesting letter this evening, but I hope you will excuse me for the present. At a more convenient season, I may write more. Write soon if not sooner and give me all the news, if not more. From your true friend, — Theodore Caufman
My friend, as I did not get my letter sent off last night, I thought I would let you know that my sitting up last night to write to you did not make me feel any the worse. And this morning there was a thought come into my mind, and it is this—have you been to the Boiling Springs on a visit this winter to see the folks? I presume you have learned that William C. Griffith ² and his brother was captured with the Colonel [Tobias B. Kaufman] and several other boys. ³
My friend, are you as true as you write? But I presume you are. You have always proved true to me. You stated in one of your letters that you wished you were here to take care of me. I wish myself you had been for the ward is so full that the nurses are kept so busy that they cannot tend to all. However, I soon got acquainted to one of them by the name of Harry Albright and he took very good care of me and would now like to get me to assist him in the hospital. He appears to have taken a liking to me and does not want me to leave him.
But I must close. Wafting many kisses on the breeze to you. Write very soon and let me know all the news if you please. What is the general opinion of the people on the war subject? And what do you think of it? Will it soon close or not? Nothing more but remain your true friend, — Theodore Caufman
¹ These are the lyrics (with some slight variation) of a hymn by Henry Ware written in 1846.
² Corp. William C. Griffith (1840-1908), of Co. A, 209th Pennsylvania Infantry. His brother Pvt. Abraham K. Griffith (1844-1903) served in the same company. They were the son of Mode Griffith (1806-1884) and Eliza Kauffman (1805-1868).
³ The regimental history of the 209th Pennsylvania indicates that, “On the night of the 17th of November , the enemy made an attack upou the picket line in considerable force. Colonel Kaufman, who was division officer of the day, Captain Henry Lee, and Lieutenant Thomas J. Hendricks, with nineteen men, fell into the enemy’s hands, and were held as prisoners, until near the close of the war. The troops upon the main line were ordered out, and the attack was handsomely repulsed. In addition to the loss by capture, one man was killed and two were wounded.” Col. Kaufman spent three and a half months in Confederate prisons before he was paroled in February 1865.