These six letters were written by Simeon (“Sime”) Freeman (1838-1900), the son of Benjamin and Martha (Frost) Freeman of Orange county, Indiana. He wrote them to his wife, Nancy Emma (Lee) Freeman (1839-1908), with whom he married on 30 September 1857. Emma’s parents were Jonathan and Grace (Lindley) Lee, also of Orange county.
Simeon was drafted on 19 December 1864 into Co. D, 48th Indiana Infantry. At the time he entered the service, he was the proud father of three children—Jonathan (b. 1859), Mary (b. 1861), and Charley (b. 1862). I don’t find the Freeman enumerated in the 1860 US Census in Marshall county but it seems clear from the names mentioned in the letters that during the Civil War they resided in or near Union township, Marshall county, Indiana. After the war, the Freeman’s settled in Liberty, Tipton county, Indiana.
It should be noted that Simeon’s grave marker in the Sharpsville Cemetery in Tipton county, Indiana, states that he was born on 23 March 1832. In one of the letters below, Simeon reveals his actual birthdate as 25 October 1838.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Etowah River, Georgia
August 13th 1864
This morning I again had the great privilege of receiving a very kind letter from you dated the fourth of this month. I was pleased and some sad to learn that you were all well except the babe but that is not very serious I think.
I spoke to you in some of my letters before that I was chopping wood. We was relieved this morning and are now in camp. Four of us cut 18 cords while we was out and now we must go to soldiering again.
Lieutenant George Baldwin ¹ of our company resigned and started home last night. Oh if I could only went with him. It would have been very agreeable. But I live in hopes that we will all get to go home this fall to Election, if not to stay. That will be a furlough of thirty days at least, I suppose, to attend both elections. Try and find out whether there is anything about it and if so, tell me in your next letter. It is a general talk here in the Army that all Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan regiments will go; all others vote in the field. If so, it will not be long. We will start by the last of next month.
The report has been for a day or two that we were going to be relieved here and sent to the front but I am in hopes it is not so—at least I do not believe it. Your letter dated the 4th inst. came to hand two or three days ago and it has been answered—that is, partly. I was in such a hurry that it was a very poor letter. One thing especially I forgot in regard to what Mrs. Van said, do not think that I believe any of it. And in regard to your fine clothes, it is all right if you have because I want you to have good ones as any body of our circumstances will permit. So do not think that it will make me mad at you by her writing because it will have to come from a better source than from her for me o believe any such stuff. I know you will do as a wife ought to when her husband is from home.
But Emma, we will live in hopes that I will get home to stay and then we will buy such clothes as we want and then let people talk all they have a mind to. Well, about those pictures that my folks want, I can not have them taken now because there is no photograph gallery here—only common pictures—and I will have one taken for you as soon as I got to town. I would go this afternoon but it is very hot and I am tired so I will wait a few days.
Well, dearest one, my sheet being nearly filled, I will have to bring my letter to a close for the present. Tell me whether that ring I sent to you fits your finger. I will send Charley some more money. Get a pocket book for him and have him save it all until I get home and see how much he will have. I will close by giving a kiss to you and the children.
Write soon and oblige your husband, — Sime
¹ 2nd Lieutenant George Baldwin of Plymouth, Indiana, appears in the roster of Co. C, 48th Indiana. He may have been transferred to Co. D. when he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Etowah River, Georgia
September 4th 1864
This morning I received a kind letter from you dated the 23rd of last month. I am sorry to think that Charley is sick but hope he is better by this time. In regard to my coming home, it is rather uncertain although we may. A great many thinks we will but one thing is certain, time will decide it before long. It is close at hand for us to go if we go at all. I hope the Lord we will.
Em, for several days the railroad has been tore up in our rear so we have not had any mail until this morning and this being Sunday, your letter was a very welcome visitor. I was afraid it would be a long while before I would hear from you on the account of writing to Plymouth. You wanted to know whether I had heard from Frank. The answer that I must give you is no, he does not intend to write to me. He can use his own pleasure about it. As you will see in a letter that I wrote to you dated the 19th that I wrote to your father, it was on business that I done that. It was those letters at Plymouth I want him to send to you which I told you heretofore.
Oh Em, I can not think of letting anybody have Charley as long as I can get anything to clothe him with or the rest of the children. I have always done it and expect to if it is not so good. But I guess that my family has as much to eat and to wear as others. That is for you to say. When I get home, I will risk it. But what we can live, let the times be as hard as they may. If I only was there now I would put up with them if they were not so good as we should like.
I have written to you before that Atlanta was ours but it was a false report. But now it is so without any doubt at all. Therefore, I think we will get to go home to vote. There are some rumors that our General has orders to arrange matters so as to let his Indiana voters go. If it is so, we are all right for to go home. And if you stay there, I will come there. And if you conclude to go home, let me know to a certainty.
I will now tell you of an occurrence that took place last week. There was a forage train went out after corn and as they was coming back, there was three men on horseback riding ahead when a few guerrillas shot one of the men and killed him instantly and took the balance prisoners. The one that was shot—his time was out that day. So you see that life is uncertain at any time. Em, tell me how the Copperheads are acting. I hear they are going on at a great rate in Indiana but if soldiers go home, they will have to be very mute.
Em, get some good dark cloth and make me two shirts by the time I get home and if I do not come, you can send them to me by mail. Get some woolen stuff. Make them large. I want them plain in front and no collar on the opening in front. Leave it long. These government shirts drawed up so that a body can not wear them. And if I do not come home, I will send for a pair of boots.
I close my letter asking you to write soon. I am well as ever yours and a husband, — Sime
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Etowah River, Georgia
September 26th, 1864
With great pleasure I sit down this morning to answer your very kind letter which I received about one half hour ago and its contents—the handkerchief. The stamps I could not see; you must have forgotten to put them in, did you not?
Oh, dear Emma, how glad I feel when I get a letter from you—the only one I love in this world is you. Therefore, it gives me great joy. As you spoke about us being separated, we are; but I hope only for a season and then we meet to part no more until by death. I really this war will end before long so that when I come home that I can stay with you the balance of my days.
I was really glad to hear that you had got the money and my picture that I sent to you. There is yet three letters that you have not got that I sent to Ohio. When you write again, tell me how much wheat you got and whether all the grass was cut and put up, and how much there is of that. Emma, I sent a few lines by Oliver Silvey ¹ to have you get me a pair of boots made and send them to me by him. But if they are as high there as I hear, perhaps I had better do without them. You can do as you like about it if you have to pay so much.
Also, if there is anything else you want to send, you can do so. I have been expecting pay for several days but have not got it but will shortly and send it to you. I do not know certain whether I will get bounty this pay day or not. I wrote to Francis Hoffman but have not had an answer to it but will soon, I suppose.
I had a letter from Mary last week. They were all well when she wrote. I have answered it. I told her to remail those letters of yours and send them to you.
Emma, all probability is now that we will stay here this winter. I really hope we may. It is as good a place as we can get here in Georgia. I am in hopes we will get to come home between this and spring and that to stay if it is the Lord’s will. Well, Emma, I guess that I have said all that will be interesting.
Hoping that you will be as ever a true wife of mine and no one else’s—which I know you will—I remain as ever your true Sime until death or forever and ever. Write often and tell me all the news. A kiss to you and close.
Have Charley to learn all his letters and be a good boy and remember his Pa and I will come home as soon as I can. To Charley.
¹ Oliver P. Silvey (1844-1912) served in Co. D, 48th Indiana Infantry. He enlisted on 11 January 1862 as a musician and reenlisted in January 1864 as a veteran, He mustered out of the regiment on 15 July 1865.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
Etowah, Cartersville, Georgia
October 24, 1864
With great pleasure I was favored with a letter from you dated the 16th of this month. You can not imagine the pleasure it gave me to receive it as I have not had many letters lately. In regard to those boots, there has been a good many sent by mail. It is cheaper than to send by the express for one pair of boots. It costs 1.04 cents and two shirts and socks 64 cents. They were in two separate bundles. There is an express office at Cartersville but it is not safe to send in that way because we are liable to move at any time. Then they would lay still and by mail they will follow the regiment wherever we go and be perfectly safe. Therefore, I think that will be the best way to do if you want to send them to me.
Emma, it is a mistake about Van being sick. He is better than I ever saw him. He is company cook and has not much to do—only to eat when hungry. Thomas was mistaken about seeing me when I came through with those cattle. It was when the division came through to this place. I am as he said “fleshier” than I ever was—at least I weigh more. My weight is 186 pounds. As you remember, I never weighed but 173.
Emma, tomorrow is my birthday. I will give you my age. Perhaps you do not remember it. It is twenty-six years. I will now set a time when I expect to be at home to stay—six months from tomorrow. I believe as much as I believe that I am alive that the war will close by that time or before. I had a letter from Francis Hoffman last night. He thinks as I do about the war. He is well or was when he wrote on the 1st of the month and is at Atlanta, Georgia, and expects to winter there. But I do not believe he will as I think this railroad will be evacuated before long and if so, we will leave here about the same time. There is only one Corps at Atlanta and it is the 20th.
Emma, there was not as much wheat nor hay as I expected there would be but we are thankful for that much as we will perhaps need it, but do not sell any of the present because it will be a bigger price before next spring.
Dear Emma, do not think that I never will get home. I make all calculations on seeing you as I used to be. Oh, do send me your photo as soon as you get it taken as I am anxious to see it. If you send those boots, direct the same as you do the letters and they will come all right. Dear Emma, if you do not receive letters from me for some time, write extra ones because I do and a good many of them. I must close as my sheet is full, by saying that I am well. Write often and oblige your ever true husband forever, — Sime
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
Etowah River, Georgia
Sunday, October 30th 1864
To pass away a lonesome day, I thought that I would write a letter to you to worry off the time although I have been writing often and answer your last knowing that some extra ones will not come amiss if you are as anxious to receive as I am. Emma, you cannot imagine how lonely I feel today for this reason—the order has come that all those sick are to be furloughed home and I cannot go, although it might be better to stay here and keep well then to go home sick, though it would afford me great pleasure to go. If I had known about this, I should have played off a week or two and then I would have got to go. But so it is I must stay for this time.
But Emma, do not think that I never will get home because I expect to some time. As the time is set in an early letter, I will not now say. And as I said before, do not allow yourself to think that I never will come, but think that I may, and you will pass off the time more speedily and pleasant. But there is one thing—do not flatter yourself on that so much as to forget me entirely I beg. Live as quiet and a virtuous life as you ought. Those are my sincere wishes which I beg of you to do.
Emma, when you write again, tell me whether those around there that was drafted are going themselves or not, and who Dan Garver ¹ hired as a substitute. I hope that Kyser and the Duff boys must go; and Wise and Thom. Berlin. ³ It is good enough for them—let them come.
Also tell me how your father feels about the Election [with] Old Morton and Colfax being elected by so heavy a majority.
The railroad is all fixed and the cars are running very fast so there is no trouble about the mail coming through. If you write, send those boots by mail as it will be perfectly safe or there is one of Co. C boys at home by the name of Wm. E. Hawkins. ² He lives south of ____ Town. If he has not left when you get this and he will not leave before the 10th of next month and you can send by him if you feel so disposed.
Dear Emma, do as I do when you do not get letters from me often. Write extra ones and I will hear from you often. Send me some more stamps when convenient as I have but one or two left. I am well, hoping you and the children the same are my wishes and a kiss to you. Have Charley to be a good boy and learn to read like a fine little boy. I will close hoping to hear from you soon and get your photo.
Remain as ever your true, — Sime.
Do write often as possible.
¹ I believe this is Daniel W. Garver (1838-1920), the son of John and Mary (Stutzman) Garver of Union, Marshall county, Indiana. The Duff family lived in the same township.
² Thomas Berlin (1836-1913) was the son of Dr. Matthew M. Berlin and Mary A. Von Szerahely of Union, Marshall county, Indiana.
William E. Hawkins was enrolled in Co. C, 48th Indiana Regiment, 21 February 1864 at Indianapolis. He was discharged on 15 July 1865.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
Monday, December 26th 1864
At this time again I enjoy the great pleasure of writing a short letter to you to inform you that our army has moved in the City of Savannah the other day. The Rebs evacuated the place and have gone to the City of Charleston and think we will follow them before long. There is some troops to stay here as a garrison and our Division has some hopes of staying. I hope they will because it is a beautiful town.
Emma, yesterday was Christmas but was very dull and lonesome. Went to see Francis Hoffman and the rest of the Band Boys. I see them every day. Also saw your cousin Alhem Sowers’ boy. He belongs to a Pioneer Corps. He is a veteran. Where his father is, I know not. We took about two hundred and fifty pieces of artillery at this place and a great many other things such as cotton and wheat and corn meal and ammunition. It was really a good haul to our army. They left in the night time.
By going down to the wharf, a person can see in the State of South Carolina.
Dear Emma, what is the reason that I do not get more letters from you. There was a mail yesterday and one a few days ago but none for me. Van got one from his wife. She says that the money has not as yet got through. It makes me a little uneasy for fear that it will be lost. If you get it, write immediately and let me know.
Emma, I have some hopes of getting detailed to the Ambulance Corps as a clerk. If so, it will be a good thing and an easy place for me to soldier. Nothing to do—only to write such as book-keeping. Shall work hard for the place. If I fail on that, shall try elsewhere and keep on trying until I do get a good place. Emma, I have such a bad cold that I can not think of anything to write so I had better close.
Though I will tell you how the weather is. This morning it rained some. Also last night. But it is quite warm and sitting out of doors to write and feel very comfortable. Suppose that it is cold at home. Tell me how you enjoy yourself on Holidays this year. Would send you a present if I had anything to send you—also to the children. But as it is, I cannot.
Will close hoping to hear from you soon and often and oblige your ever true husband forever.
Am well. Hope you and the children the same are my wishes. Most Anon.