1864-65: Horace J. Hammond to Eleanor Hammond

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A postwar picture of Horace J. Hammond

These thirteen letters were written by Horace J. Hammond (1828-1903) of Cohoctin, Steuben county, New York. He wrote all of the letters to his wife, Eleanor (1835-1919). Mentioned frequently is Oscar Hammond, their youngest child (1860-1938).

In August 1864, Horace accepted a bounty from his county to enlist in Co. G, 189th New York Infantry. He mustered in at the age of 37 on 1 October 1864 to serve one year. His enlistment record indicates that he stood 5 feet 8 inches tall, had brown hair, blue eyes, and a fair complexion. He mustered out with his company near Washington D. C. on 30 May 1865 after 9½ months service.

Hammond served largely at City Point, Virginia, the headquarters for General Ulysses S. Grant. While at City Point, he was injured when a fellow soldier’s rifle discharged and the bullet became lodged in his leg. Doctors removed the bullet and Hammond recovered without having his leg amputated.

Other soldiers in Co. G, 189th New York Infantry frequently mentioned by Horace include Fayette M. Van Wormur, Leonard Harter, Walter Slayton, Robert C. Gurnsey, John H. Covill, Warren W. Oxx, Abner Cary, and Joseph Tucker.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History claims to have fifty of Horace Hammond’s letters in their archives.

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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE

Washington [D. C.]
October the 3d 1864

Dear Wife,

I sit down to write a few lines to you. We are all well—only my belly aches a little but that is nothing. Hoping this will find you all enjoying the same.

Well that day that you left here [Elmira], we were called out and mustered for our pay and Saturday about five o’clock we was called out and paid and went down in the city about 15 minutes and then after dark we started for Washington. We went about 30 miles and laid there in the cars and the woods all night till seven o’clock the next morning. Then we started for Williamsport. Got there Sunday about noon. Then for Baltimore. Got there Monday morning one o’clock. Laid in the cars till daylight, then went down to headquarters and got breakfast. At eleven o’clock we started for Washington. Got there tonight before dark. Got supper and went to writing. In the confusion.

Tomorrow morning we have two hours to see the capital and then we get our guns and start tomorrow night for City Point [Virginia]. Well, I put in ten dollars and when you write to me, [let me know] if you get. Then I will send some more. You must not write till you hear from me again. That won’t be long.  Tell me how you got home and everything and all about the folks.

We fared better than we did in Elmira for victuals. Tell Charles that I will write to him when I get time. I am moving too much now. I want to know all. I bought a testament in Baltimore. [It is a] bad place to write here tonight a sitting on the floor and going around. I would like to see you but when the year is out, then I shall come home to stay with you. Keep good spirits. We will take a boat from here down the Potomac and up the James river.

No more at present but one word—they are wiping them out at Richmond now. Well I must quit and go to bed. Remember, don’t write till you hear from me again. No more at present. I remain your friend unto death. Goodbye for the present.

— Horace J. Hammond


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO

City Point, [Virginia]
October 28, 1864

Dear wife,

I received your letter tonight and was glad to hear from you and glad to hear that you was all well. It found me in good health and the rest of us is well. We are all enjoying good health.

We moved up about 2 miles today up by the woods and expect to stay here this winter. We have been fixing up our tents this afternoon. The weather is nice. It rained some last night yesterday and last night they had a very hard fight up to Petersburg. Our folks took the Southside railroad from the rebels and last night they fought from ten o’clock until most daylight this morning but our folks keep the road. We could hear the cannons very plain.

You spoke about my not getting your letters. I have had three from you since I have been here. I have wrote 6 or 7 to you since I have been here but you didn’t say anything about that money. I want to know whether you got it or not. I sent you ten dollars in a letter from Washington and twenty dollars by express to Liberty which makes 30 dollars. Now it is the 29th. You said you got it all right. Whether you got it all or not and let me know the first time you write. And send your photograph to me. I would like to see you very much and kiss you but we must wait patient[ly] till we can see each other and if it be the Lord’s will, then we can take comfort again. We must trust I the Lord. I pray to Him every day and for you and you must pray for yourself and for me. We must pray for each other and after a little while we may live with each other and take comfort. You must write me all of the news when you write.

You must get the potatoes dry before it freezes up.

I wrote a letter to James. He is with Sheridan. They have come up to Gordonsville most to Richmond on the back side.

As soon as it gets cool enough, I will write and then have some stuff sent in a box but I will tell you when and where. But you must write often for I want to hear from you often. I write about twice a week and you must to me.

My leg is almost well. I can travel most as well as ever on it. As for getting almost drowned, I hadn’t seen any of that yet. We hadn’t been in any danger of getting drowned. It was news to me. I want you to write who wrote any such thing for I hadn’t heard anything about it before.

Tell Charley and Matilda that I would like to see them very much. Tell them to remember me for I will remember them and they must write to me for they have more time to write than I have. We have to drill and get wood and water and it takes most all of the time. Tell Jane and Samantha that I would like to come and make them a visit and see them all. We will come by and bye and see them all. Give my love to all enquiring friends. Tell Oscar them pennies are for him to remember pa by. Don’t forget the photograph for I want to see them. You must do the best you can and be patient. A year hasn’t a great while and then I will stay at home with you as long as we live.

Well, you must feel well and pray to the Lord and think it won’t be long. Do you get grain enough for bread. You must look out in season and have some ground before it freezes up. A little will last you some time if you have plenty of potatoes. You didn’t say whether Ferris drawer that wood or not. You must look out for such things before it gets deep snow and you get out. Be sure to have the potatoes buried deep enough so they won’t freeze.

Abner Cary will send for that half ton of hay that I told him he could have and he will send somebody down and you get Charles and they can fix it they can get it of or weigh it just as they are a mind to and Cary will pay you just what hay is worth a ton and pay the money. Let them have it out of the front end of the bay…

Well I must stop for time. Goodbye for the present. Write often and soon as you get this. I remain your dear husband until death from Horace J. Hammond to Eleanor Hammond.

Direct as before to City Point, Va., 189th Regiment in care of Captain [WilliWashburn


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE

City Point, Virginia
November 16th 1863

Dear Wife,

I got your letter this morning and was glad to hear from you and that you were all well and the pills. It found us all well but Guernsey. He is a grunting a little but not much. My health is good but my leg. But that is a getting along well. I am a cooking with Oliver Towner. We cook for the company and I don’t have to do any other duty but cook. You needn’t be afraid that we will have to fight any this fall or winter for we have gone in winter quarters and expect to be here this winter. The weather is nice here. we don’t have much rain but we will by and by get enough of it here.

I would like to see you all very much and kiss you but I must be contented with my lot. It won’t be a great while if I live. Then I will be back to stay with you as long as we live. You needn’t be afraid that I will ever enlist again if I get home again with you.

I was glad to hear that you had your stuff all took care of. When you sell your butter, tell me how much you made since I came away from home. You must be careful about your health and take care of yourself. Tell Jane and Samantha that I would like to see them and I was glad to [see] that they had commenced to live a Christian’s life for I think it is better to live so and I hope they keep on and not turn back to the world a good Christian can take comfort in this world and in the world to come. They must be faithful to their God and He will reward them for it.

Betsy, you mustn’t forget me for I don’t forget you. You must pray for me because I am determined to live a Christian life while I live—whether here or there—and I pray to my God every day and read my Bible every day. If I could see you, I could tell you something but I trust in the Lord for His are right.

Eleanor, you must trust in the Lord and He will carry you through your trouble and pray to him daily and pray for me and I pray for you everyday and I trust in Him to carry me through my trouble. And when I get back there, we can take comfort together.

Well, you must do the best you can and it will be all right.

We are having a nice time here now. If we don’t have anything worse that this, we shan’t have anything bad. We have got nice log houses to live in. We are [at] the headquarters of the Brigade. The provision is here and everything. How much did Jerome charge you a bushel for that wheat? How much is potatoes worth there? Let me know how much things are worth there. I have just been to dinner. We got fresh beef, salt beef, salt pork, potatoes, coffee, sugar, new onions, cod fish, mackerel, soft bread. hard tack, beans and sometimes rice. We get enough to eat.

Eleanor I would like a little of that what you like a good deal of, but I can get along very well till I come home. You must send me a kiss. Take good care of Oscar for me and kiss him for me. No more this time. You must write often. I would like to have seen Leonard but you must tell him that I send my love to him. You must often, very often.

From your dear husband until till death. Goodbye for the present from Horace J. Hammond to Eleanor Hammond

Direct to City Point, Va., 189th Regt., in care of Capt. Washburn, Co. G


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR

City Point, Virginia
November 18th 1864

Dear wife,

I sit down to write you a few lines. We are all well and hope this will find you enjoying the same blessing. We lay here in our quarters and it is very nice weather here and warm. It keeps me pretty busy to cook for the men. My leg is a getting almost well.

I am a boiling some beef for dinner and I must write fast. We get along first rate but it seems like a good while since I came from home. But this winter the days will be short and the time will go off faster. If we stay here till the first of next May, there will be 8 months of our time gone. We came here where we be now the 2nd day of November and we have got some nice shanties to live in. Walter Slayton went to the hospital Wednesday with the fever. Leonard Harter went to the hospital last Tuesday. There hasn’t many sick here. It is very healthy for so many folks as there is here. We enjoy ourselves very well for time.

I can get breakfast and wash the dishes and get something cooked for dinner [ad] it is noon. And so it goes and so the days are very short to me. Yesterday I bought 2 pounds of loaf sugar for 30 cents a pound. Best, I heard that you had a few beaus. That is alright but you must stay with Eleanor till I come back. Then I will come to the wedding. There is no harm in sparking a little for I would like to spark a little myself. Kisses are worth 5 dollars a piece here. I haven’t seen a white woman since I left the Point. But that don’t bother me for I can wait one year without seeing a white woman. What fun is fun but we mustn’t forget our duty to our God and ourselves. We must not forget to pray for ourselves and for one another and read the Bible and live prepared to die when our Lord calls.

I would like to see you all very well but I am contented to wait my lot and I pray to my God everyday and you all must tell the folks that we are all well. Tell Charles and Matilda that I want to hear from them and how they get along. I don’t want them to forget me. If they hear from Charles Edwin, tell them to write to me. And do you hear anything from James? I wrote him a letter some four or five weeks ago but I hadn’t heard from him since. If you let me know and you must write all of the news for I like to read letters from you.

Last night I got a pound of fine but tobacco. It was good. I suppose you sent it. I was glad to get it. I had some plug but it wasn’t good. I get a little chew sometimes to cut but it cost so much that I can’t buy much.

Well, I have just finished dinner and now I will finish my letter. Eleanor, you must write all of the news and write often. I write often to you. Kiss Oscar for me and I would like to kiss you but you must put your trust in the Lord for He is good and don’t forget to pray and I want you all to pray for me for I have been a great sinner.

Well, I can’t think of anything more to write and I guess I will close my letter. It is bad writing but it was wrote in a hurry. You must often. John [Covill] growls yet about Old Abe Lincoln but he has got some here that can shut him up very quick. Goodbye for the present. I remain your dear husband until death and well wishes—

from Horace J. Hammond to Eleanor his wife

Direct to City Point, Va., 189th Regt. Co. G, I’m care of Capt. Washburn

Write often and I will.


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE

City Point, Virginia
January 3rd 1865

My dear and most loving wife,

I sit down to write you a few lines to let you know how we get along. We are all well as usual and enjoying ourselves first rate for soldiers. My health is tip top but my leg is sore yet. But it will get well when it gets ready. I hope this will find you all well and in good spirits. I got them 2 lbs. of tobacco last night and it got here in time. I only had a little in my box. It is good tobacco. How much was it a pound? We are fixing up things for winter. It spits a little snow today. The most I have to do is to cook and eat since we got our shanty done. I bought a pound of sugar this morning. We don’t her as much sugar as we want to use but we can buy it at Government prices here for we pay for brown sugar 16½ cents a pound. We can buy white sugar for 25 cents a pound but we cannot buy tobacco of the government for they don’t have it. Never mind the pitch fork handle but save the fork. We are having a good time of it now [even] if we don’t have any fighting to do. There won’t be anything very bad about it. We can stand it first rate. Snows quite hard now. It looks like winter here. They have some very cold weather.

John [Covill] is getting quite rational. He can eat as much as anybody. Eleanor, tell Jane that if Fayette ever lives to get home, that she needn’t be afraid that he will ever want to come to Virginia to live for he don’t like the country well enough to live here, nor I neither. It is a very poor country for poor folk to live in or anybody else. One acre of my land is worth ten acres of this land here and I wouldn’t live here anyhow if I was obliged to.

Well, I have just been to supper and I will write some more. I had some bread and milk for supper tonight. I bought a can of condensed milk. There is about a pint in a can and it is thick. Put one tablespoon full in a quart of water and it makes good milk. It is nice in coffee. We manage so that we live very well. It is warm and nice in our tent tonight for we have a good fire and plenty of wood. John has stayed in our tent 3 or 4 nights for they hain’t got their tent built yet but I guess they will get it up tomorrow if they work at it.

Joe Fuches, Ab[ner] Cary, Warren Oxx and John Covill tent together but I want to trade Gurnsey for John for Gurnsey is a good deal worse than John. John is a gentleman by the side a Guernsey.

It snows quite hards tonight. The ground is white now. I guess we will have some sleighing here. If we do, we will tale a sleigh ride. Those coons get scared any about the draft. I guess some of them will have to come down here if they did laugh at us for coming. Then we can laugh at them. We can laugh at them for coming down here. Tell the folks that I would like to see them and I send my love to them all. I trust in the Lord for my st____k. I trust in the Lord for he is good and his m___ endureth forever and He is a merciful God.

Eleanor, trust in the the Lord and read your bible daily and pray for me and O pray for myself daily and read my bible every day and pray to the Lord to give me health and strength. I will serve Him till I die. Keep good courage for the time w___ of 4 months almost gone.

January 4th. I thought that I would write another sheet tonight. This morning there was about one inch of snow on the ground. It was clear today but cold. It is quite cold tonight. I have eat so much that I can’t hardly write. We are all well tonight and hope this will find you enjoying the blessing for good health is a blessing.

My leg is sore yet but it is a getting better. I have had to work quite hard. I have been cooking and chopping wood and I put a patch on my blouse. You had better put some black thread in a letter and send to me if you hadn’t sent any in the box with the other things. I have considerable thread to mend my clothes and dew on buttons and one thing other time goes off very fast. I can’t hardly turn round twice before night times goes comes very fast but we have got 8 months to stay het if we live and if we don’t, our time will be out sooner. But I guess we will come out all right a good deal better than if we had been drafted. I should hate to come down here drafted for drafted men don’t fare very well. A man had better enlist and get something for it than to come drafted for nothing. You needn’t feel very bad because I came for I would have to come now, I guess, if I was up there. But now 4 months are gone and the rest of the time will soon wear off and then I will come home. And if I live to get back home, I will stay there with you while I live if they don’t steal me away and fetch me down here. I wouldn’t stay here if there wasn’t anywhere. It is a very hard looking country here. It don’t look as though they could raise anything.

January the 5th. My health good. My leg sore. My appetite first rate. The rest of the boys are all right. It was very cold last night. It is very pleasant today but quite cold. It froze very hard last night. I have just been to dinner this morning. I went up to the head commissary to get rations for the company. I was weighed. I weighed 165 lbs. I have gained 10 pounds since I was sick. I am very fat now. Fayette weighed 151 lbs—more than he ever weighed. Fayette is very fat. I never saw him when he was so fat and when he could eat so much.

If my leg was well, my health would be the best that it ever was since I had my leg hurt. I can eat all I can get and we get a very good supply if provisions. We get plenty of pork and beef. I had another dish of bread and milk. I ate a wolf’s meal for dinner. I have got pork enough layer up on the shelf to last my family one week if they had it up there and I would like to be up there if I hadn’t any pork or beef.

Pretty soon I will have to boil some potatoes for supper. I looked for a letter this morning but I didn’t get one. I shall look for one tonight. Eleanor, I would like to see you ad have one kiss from you and see my little Oscar and kiss him. But I trust in the Lord for strength and health to live through the year and return to my little family that I love so well. Eleanor, trust in the Lord. He will help you in your trouble. Pray for me that I may return to my family. Goodbye for the present from your dear husband and well wisher until death. Write [me.] Direct [to] City Point, Va., NYSV Co. G, 189th Regt., 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Army Corps in care of Capt. Washburn


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX

City Point, Virginia
January 7th 1865

My dear beloved wife,

I sit down to write you a few lines to let you know how we get along. We are all well at present and I hope this will find you enjoying the same blessing and in good spirits. My health is very good for me—better than it was last summer up there except my leg that is sore yet and I guess it will be while I live. But I can travel almost as well. I am very fleshy. I am the fastest that I have been in a good while.

This morning I got my hat and some tea and I was glad to get them. I had a little of that other tea yet. I don’t drink much tea but I like a cup of tea as well as ever. I thought that I wouldn’t send for any more tea but I am glad that you sent it. Green tea is worth 4 dollars a pound down here but they may keep it before I will buy it. The rest of the boys are getting along first rate. Fayette is a getting very fat—the latest I ever see him.

Yesterday it rained most all day and last night. Today it didn’t rain. This afternoon I have been washing. I washed 12 shirts and drawers besides my own. I get 10 cents apiece for washing but I rubbed a hole in one of my fingers. It was very sire tonight. We are a getting it so that it looks very nice here. We have cleared all off and digging the stumps all out. It is very muddy here now. It is almost impossible to draw a load.

While I am sitting, the mail came and I got 2 letters from you. No 12, December the 30th, and No. 13, January the 1st. I was glad to hear from you and I will them and go to bed.

January 8th. Very cold this morning. Froze very hard last night. My health good. I cooked beans for dinner and then had to boil beef. I feel first rate. We made some wheat flour pancakes for dinner and they were first rate and I had some sugar and butter on them. It is Sunday night. I went over to see Sylvanus Covill this afternoon and it is only a little ways over there. It has been very cold today and will freeze very hard tonight.

Eleanor, I guess that you needn’t feel very bad because I came down here because I guess I would have had to come now if I hadn’t a come when I did. I don’t feel very bad about it for my time will be half out by the time that they will come an I got more pay that they will. I wouldn’t come down here drafted anyhow.

You must get somebody to draw that wood for you can’t go without wood. You mustn’t let anybody have any of the corn. I don’t want you to sell a bit of it to anybody. You want to keep what you don’t use to feed the pigs next fall to fatten them. Maybe that we won’t raise any next fall and if Charles wants half ton of hay and will pay what hay is worth and will pay the money for it, let him have it. And if Charles don’t want it, keep it all and don’t sell it. Keep it till next winter.

How long did you pasture Charles’ cows and did he pay you anything for it? If he keeps his cows there long, he had ought to pay you something for it. You have to pay him for what he does for you and if folks charge you for what they do, you must look out for yourself. If you don’t, there won’t anybody else. I would like to see you but I can wait for my time. My courage is good and my faith in the Lord. I put my trust in the Lord and pray to Him for health and strength to carry me through.

We lay here in camp. We have enough to do, wood to get, and the ground to clear off for it was in the woods where we encamped and cooking to do. But if my health keeps good, I can do all I have to do.

I would like one kiss from you and Oscar but I can wait till I get home. You must keep good courage and don’t forget to pray daily to our heavenly father for he can take us through our troubles.

Well, now it is the 9th of the month. My health is good this morning and the rest of the boys are alright and we are getting as fat as hogs. My leg is sore yet but it is a getting better. It is the best it has been since it was shot. It is very cold here this morning. It froze very hard last night.

Betsy, I suppose that you don’t get time to say anything to me for you are looking at bigger things. That is alright, but I would like to see you. When you move away, you mustn’t forget to write for I want to hear from you if I can’t see you. I trust in the Lord that I will live to come home and see all of the folks but may be hat you won’t be there when I get back. Bit I send my love to you and give my love and best respects to Leonard. Tell Charles and Matilda that I would like to see them and they must write a letter to me for I hadn’t got much paper to write on. When that paper gets here that you sent in Fayette’s box, then I will write to them. I send my love to them. Tell Samantha and Jane that I would like to see them. Tell them to be faithful to their God and they will be rewarded for it. I send my love to them.

Eleanor, a few words to you. Be faithful to your Heavenly Father and serve Him and He will reward you for it. Eleanor, it makes me feel bad to think of the precious time that I have sinned away, but I am determined to serve Him as long as I live and if I live to come back, then we can take comfort to live Christians together. Keep good courage and pray to the Lord of hosts and He will take us through our troubles. And if we are faithful, we will land on that happy shore where sorrow never comes.

The most of the men think that the war will be settled by Spring and our General thinks so. I trust in God that it may be. I feel first rate here. If it wasn’t;t for my dear wife and son up there so far from me, I could take comfort here I believe the Lord is able to carry me through. But I would rather be with my family if I could. But I take the thing very patient and willing to have a little trouble for one year. And then if I live, we can take comfort together as long as we live.

There hasn’t been any picket firing along the lines for 3 or 4 days now. It is reported that Grant and Lee has gone to Washington together and that they had orders not to fire anymore along the lines till further orders. They went from City Point together on a boat under a flag of truce and I hope they will do something. Some of the officers offer to bet a thousand dollars that the war will be settled by next spring and I hope it will. They can’t suit me any better and let me return to my dearly beloved little family.

The weather is very nice today. I had another dish of bread and milk for dinner. Take and steap a cup of coffee and sweeten it and then put a tablespoon full of condensed milk in it and crum on the bread and it is good. I am getting very fat. I hadn’t had any diarrhea since I left Elmira [New York] and only once. Sometimes I have went a week without anything passing my bowels.

Tell Jerome if you see him that I hadn’t forgot him and I will write to him as soon as I get some more paper. My paper is very scarce. Tell him that I send my love to him and best respects. Tell him he must write. Eleanor, keep good courage and the time will soon come when I will come back home. A little over 4 months of it gone now. Kiss Oscar for me and when I come home, I will kiss you. Write often—very often—and of the news. No more at present. I guess you will think there is enough of this for I am in a hurry. I remain your most loving and dear husband and shall until death. Goodbye for the present. Write. Don’t forget that I love you more that ever. Tell William Nash that I was sorry to hear that he had such bad luck [and] that I send my best respects to him and that I would like to see him and his folks. Goodbye from your dear husband, — Horace J. Hammond

Direct your letters as before. Write often.


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVEN

City Point, Virginia
January 16, 1865

Near and dear wife,

Although a good ways apart, yet you are near and dear to me. You are my dear loving wife. I sit down to let you know how we are a getting along. We are all well and getting along well. My health is very good. My leg is a getting well. Fayette’s health is first rate and he is as fat as a pig and tough as a bear. Joseph’s health is good. He can eat as much as anybody. His health is first rate but he complains of his breach but he don’t want to do any duty. He wants to play off but it hasn’t very bad. He is fat as a hog and he says he feels well—only that I think if he had had my leg, then he might talk. But you mustn’t let anybody know what I have written to you for it would make hardness. I can trust you I hope about this.

We are a doing well. The weather is nice now and not very cold now. I hope this will find you in good health and all of the rest of the folks and enjoying God’s blessing for good health is one of the best of blessings.

Tell Best that I would like to be there to their wedding and get some of their wedding cake to eat. I don’t begrudge her her comfort. Tell them that I send my best respects to them both and my love to them. Tell them to remember me when they go to bed.

Yesterday the boys got their boxes and I got my things. That cake in the tin was very nice and good. My things was all right and nice and these things come very nice and good. Last night I got a letter from you — No. 17, the 10th of January—and some black thread in it and I was glad to hear from you and that your health was so good and the rest of the folks. And I am glad that you have got that note paid and it won’t bother you now. I can’t write much today for I hain’t got much time to write but I will write more in a day or two.

John got his when Fayette and Joseph did. His honey run out some but his things same good. But John has got the hypo most of the time.

Yesterday Captain [Burrage] Rice’s funeral serman was preached at the Brigade Headquarters at half past ten o’clock. ¹

Eleanor, I would like to see you and Oscar but I can’t till they discharge me. But the war news are first rate. The most of the folks think that it will be settled by Spring and I hope it will. The people of the South are going to turn Davis out. They have got mad at him. They think that he will destroy all of their country and they say that Davis will run them to the devil.

Eleanor, you must trust in the Lord and live a good Christian and I will do the same and if we live, we will meet again after a little while and then we can take comfort and live Christians together. And if we don’t live, we will meet in Heaven above where all is love. I feel contented till my time comes to come home and if I live, then I will stay with you while we live. It won’t be but a little while before the year will be out. Give my love to Charles and Matilda ad Jane and all of the folks. I must stop. You must kiss Oscar for me and do the best you can. Write often—very often.

I have been washing this afternoon. Goodbye for the present. I remain your affectionate and fear husband until death. I remain your well wisher, — Horace J. Hammond

Direct the same. Write to me what hay is worth and potatoes, grain, and everything. Goodbye from your dear husband.

¹ On January 11, 1865, Companies H and K went down the Jerusalem Plank Road (now a portion of U.S. Highway 301 near Petersburg known as the Crater Road) on a foraging expedition, where Confederate guerillas ambushed them and wounded Captain Burrage Rice, who was apparently executed by the guerillas after sending the train and men back to Union lines.


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHT

City Point, Virginia
January 20th 1865
Friday

My dewar wife and best friend,

I sit down to let you know that we are all well and in good spirits and I hope this will find you enjoying the same blessing and all in good spirits. I got a letter from you this morning—No. 19, written January the 13—and was glad to hear from you and that you all was in good health. There must be one letter that hasn’t come yet, No. 18 I hain’t got. The last one before this morning was No. 17 (January 10th). You have misnumbered them or else there is one that I hain’t got for I hain’t got No. 18 at all. Maybe that I will get it yet.

My health is first rate ands my leg is a getting well. It is all healed up so that it don’t run anymore ad I feel in good spirits and I don’t think we will have much fighting to do and theme will soon wear off. Then I can come home to stay with you and then we can live Christians together and then we can take comfort together as long as we live. And then we can take more comfort than we ever did for we will know what comfort it to live good Christians together and serve our Heavenly Father. While we live, only trust in Him the Lord and keep good courage and at His appointed time, everything will come right and good. I pray daily to my God and read my bible daily and I live in accordance with it.

Eleanor, you mustn’t despair now for the time grows shorter every day—most five months gone. Pray to your God and live a good Christian and keep good courage and all things will be right. My courage is better than it was when I first came down here for everything has a better prospect than it did then. I would like to see you and Oscar but I know I can’t till my time is out and so I don’t worry about it and live in hopes of the future and trust in the Lord, mu God, with all my strength and I want you to pray for me that I may be faithful to my God while I live so that when I die, that I can meet my wife in heaven and all my Christian friends.

The rest of the boys are all right but John [Covill]. He is a grunting yet. Fayette is as tough as a pig and fat as a pig. We are all getting along first rate. The weather is nice here now but considerable cold and freezes quite hard most every night. I have just had my dinner and now I will finish my letter. I don’t hear anything more about getting our pay. They think now that we won’t get it till the first of March but we don’t know. If we don’t get it now, we will int the spring. You will have to do the best you can till I get my pay. If Charles pays you for that hay, that will help you some and get along till I get my pay for we will get it by and bye anyhow. I have got to cook some beans this afternoon and I hain’t got much time to write.

When you write to me and send only one sheet, then you might put one in that you didn’t write on and that will help to keep me in paper. Samantha does so with Joseph’s letters. Tell Charles and Matilda that I want to live a good Christian and I want they should pray for me that I may be faithful to the end. I send my love to them. I want to see them very much. Tell Jane and Samantha that I would like to see them but I can’t but I send my love to them and I hope they will both hold out faith to the end in serving the Lord and Master.

Tell Betsy that by the time this gets there I suppose that she will be married but I send my love to her. Goodbye for the present from your near and dear friend and true husband until death, — Horace J. Hammond to his dear wife Eleanor Hammond

Write often and don’t forget to write. Direct the same as before.


aacivhamsan98

TRANSCRIPTION LETTER NINE

City Point, Virginia
January 30, 1865

My most loving and dear wife,

I sit down to write a few lines to let you know that we are all in good health and our spirits first rate and I hope this will find you enjoying the same blessing, My leg is some sore. It has broke on the inside of my knee but it is some better today. Last night I was whittling a bone with my pocket knife and it shut up ad cut the end of my forefinger on my right hand off and it bothers me to write but it will soon get well.

Last night I got a letter from you—No. 23, January the 22—and was glad to hear from you and that you was well and I hope that you will keep well and I duly pray that you may have good health. I was sorry Betsy was going away but maybe that you can get along if Charles and Matilda stay with you. You must do the best you can and be very careful of your health and be careful about catching cold and take good care of Oscar. Leonard and Betsy will be gone before this gets there. You must put your trust in the Lord and keep good courage. Pray to Him daily. I do, and pray for you. I live in hopes that we will meet to live together here on earth and take comfort to live Christians together and serve our Lord and Master while we live.

Will you have wood enough to last till spring? Eleanor, I would like to see you and kiss you but the time is rolling on. It will soon be spring and then it will be better for you for you won’t have to run round in the snow. It has been very cold here and froze very hard but it is warmer today and is a very pleasant day. It is very quiet along the line now. The officers and all of the soldiers think that the war is about played out and I hope it is, but I guess that some more of the folks will have a chance to come down here and see how it looks here. The draft don’t scare me. I hain’t afraid of it but I suppose that they are up there. And if they come, our time will be most out by the time they get here. Let them come. The government don’t pay any more bounty. Them that comes this spring won’t make much out of it. I hain’t sorry that I come when I did for then I got a good pay for coming and if I had stayed there, I would had to come now for almost nothing and I feel first rate about it.

Why of course I’d rather be with my family but I can get along for one year if I live and if I don’t live, I mean to [live] so that I can meet them in heaven where we will meet to part no more. Tell Charles and Matilda that I send my love to them and live in hopes that the time will soon come when I can see them and enjoy their company. Tell Jane and Samatha that I send my love to them and that I trust in the Lord that I will live to come back and see them again. And Eleanor, I want to see you and Oscar and I think that I will if you live.

About the furloughs, if anybody’s folks are sick or died, they can get 15 days furlough but if they hain’t, they can’t. And I had rather not come if I could come if you wasn’t sick for the river is froze so that it is very cold and bad to come and then I couldn’t stay but a little while. But if you was very sick, then I should try to come. You must do the best you can and write often. Give my love to all the folks. Tell them when I come home that I will come and see them. Goodbye for the present from your near and dear husband and best friend and well wisher until death. Remember me and write often. Kiss dear Oscar for me and I will kiss you for it. Joseph was weighed this afternoon and weighed 170 pounds—not very poor is that.

— Horace J. Hammond

Direct the same.


aahamte1

TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TEN

Camp near Hatcher Run, Virginia
March 7th 1865

My kind, dear loving wife,

I sit down to let you know how I am getting along. My health is first rate and I feel first rate—only I would like to be with you. Joseph [and] Fayette’s health is good and they are a getting along first rate. They are as fat as pigs and I hope this will find you in good health and a getting along first rate and in good spirits and trusting in the Lord. My health is tip top now. I am middling fat.

The weather is very warm and nice today. Yesterday Fayette and myself washed for the company and got 1 dollar and 80 cents apiece. That make 3 dollars and 60 cents that we have made apiece washing less than a week. I can make some spending money that way and I don’t spend much now-a-days. I hain’t much news to write. Joseph Tucker’s boy and  the two Harper’s boys came here to our company last night.

I wish I was there with you, We would take some comfort but the time is getting shorter. It is on the last half and that sill soon wear off if I live. Six months hain’t very long and I trust in the Lord that I will come out all right. I read my bible every day and pray to me Heavenly Father that He will give me health and to come home again and live with my dear little family that I love so much. I suppose that Leonard ad Betsy is there. You hain’t said anything about their going away and if they are there, I would like to see them. But I can’t now and I send my love to them. Tell Charles and Matilda that I would like to see them and I think that I will if ew live. But I would like to hear from them. They get more time to write than I do for I have a good deal to do every day and he can write in the evening but I can’t very well. I send my love to them. Tell Jane that I would like to take dinner with her and have some ham and eggs. Tell Samantha that I am coming to make her a visit next fall if I live. I send my love to all of the folks.

Eleanor, I would like to see you and Oscar and be there to stay with you. We just got our box. It came first rate. The pies broke up some but they were first rate. The rest of the things was alright. The pies wasn’t moldy a bit. The ink is alright. It is all right—only the pies broke up some. I wish I was there with you, Eleanor, but my courage is good. I think we will come out all right. You must keep good courage and trust in the Lord and be faithful to Him and if we don’t never meet on earth, we can in heaven. I mean to live a Christian while I live and then if I diem I will have a hope in Christ and we Neve meet on earth, we can meet in heaven never to part.

We have got provision enough to last us a good while and tea and tobacco and paper and envelopes enough to last me a good while. You must see who you can get to put that ground in and plow the potatoes ground and see who will cut the hay if Charles don’t. Find out whether he is a going to pay or not and let me know and sell one of the pigs and don’t let them cheat you in the weight of it. You must write all of the news and about everything for you are my best friend on earth and I mean to be a friend to you as long as I live and I love you as I do my eyes. And you are my dear and my little love ___.

I will put in 10 cent shinplaster for Oscar to keep and when I come home, then I will see how much money he has got. Goodbye for the present. From your dear husband until death. To my dear wife and son that I love so well. — Horace J. Hammond

to Eleanor Hammond and son.

The boys are all around our tent.


aahamte91

TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ELEVEN

Camp near Hatcher Run, Virginia
March 9th 1865

My dear loving wife and son,

I sit down to write but I am standing up and let you know how we are a getting along. My health is first rate and I have got a first rate appetite and I am as fat as a pig. Joseph and Fayette is tip top. We are a getting along well. We can’t complain. We hain’t had it very bad yet and I hope this will find you in good health and Oscar too.

It rained very hard all day yesterday and all night last night but it is warm and nice today. I am glad that Leonard and Betsy is a going to stop at the Union for that won’ be so far but that you can go and see them and Betsy will be there till the first of April and then you can stay without that girl of Ferris’ if you can for I wouldn’t have her to stay with me if I could get along without her for it won’t be a great while from the first of April and it will be warm weather. But if you want her to stay with you, get her. But if you can get along without her, you had better and it won’t cost you so much to live and we must try and save all we can and I will save all I can and send to you. And if she ain’t there, you can make more butter.

I got a letter from you. It was No. 40, March the 3rd. I haven’t got the 39th [letter] yet but it will come, I guess, for I have got all the rest. I was glad to hear from you and that you was well and a getting along so well. I am glad that it has got warmer and settled the snow down. You can get around. I will put in another 20 dollar bill. I washed for the company and got some and I sold my boots today for seven dollars and 70 cents and I will wear shoes. And I sold some of my victuals in the box. It had been so long a coming and it is so war, and wet that I thought it would spoil before I could eat it up and then if we should move, I couldn’t carry it. I sold some of the pies and some of the biscuit and some of the butter. We got enough to eat and I thought I would sell some of it and send the money to you. Then it would be better than to let it spoil.

John’s stuff we sold. He is in the hospital and we couldn’t send it to him and we sold it. His pies was smashed up very bad and they wasn’t worth much and I will send the money to you and you can give it to Prudy. There is 4 dollars and 25 cents for Prudy in that bill and you give it to her. I thought I would send it to her for John has got his pay and he don’t want it. That will make eighty-six dollars and 25 cents that I have sent to you and you must let me know when you get it. And if you can sell that pig, it will make you a lot of money and we must save all we can.

I wish I could see you and those with you but I can’t but I trust in the Lord that we will meet again and take comfort together. We must pray for each other and be faithful to our Lord and Maker. I would like to see Oscar and kiss him but the time grows shorter. It is on the last 6 months and the time will soon wear off. Do the best with the things you can and keep good courage and trust in the Lord and He will carry us through our troubles. I will have a little over five dollars left to use and that will be enough for me to use. I hain’t a going to use so much money for the next six months as I have the six months [past]. I can just as well save it till I get home and then we can have it to use.

Goodbye for the present. From your dear and loving husband until death. To my dear loving wife and son Oscar. — Horace J. Hammond

to Eleanor Hammond


aahamte4

TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWELVE

Camp near Hatcher’s Run, Virginia
March 14, 1865

My dear, kind and loving wife,

I sit down to write a few lines to let you know how I am a getting along. My health is first rate and we are a getting along first rate. My leg is as well as it has been since it was broke there in Pennsylvania and I feel first rate. The weather is warm and nice today but it [looks] as though we might get thunder showers and I hope this will find you in good health and enjoying the blessings of heaven and my dear little Oscar too. I got a letter from you last night. It was No, 41, March 5th, and I was glad to hear from you for I hain’t had a letter in a good while from you. I told you in my other letter that I hadn’t got No. 39 and I hain’t got it yet. But maybe that I will get it yet. I was glad to hear that you was well and in good spirits and I pray that my dear little family may have good health till I come home to stay with them.

Yesterday I washed for some of the boys again and got 2.05 two dollars and five cents and I have made two rings and 50 cents a piece for them. Today I have been cooking beans as common. I cook about half bushel of beans every 2 or 3 days. I have got the most of my stuff eat up what I didn’t sell. Them raison cakes was dreadful good but it was so wet and warm here that it soon began to mold and I sold some of it and sent the money to you. I have got a few fried cakes yet.

We lay here in camp very quiet but we don’t know how much longer we shall lay here and we may lay lay here a month yet. But I guess the war is about played out. There is a great many deserters from the rebels and some of them come in on our picket line and we can see them. Yesterday there Wass four cavalry came in with their horses. They average about 90 a day along this line now. We go the news last night that Sheridan had got Lynchburg and the Danville Railroad. They begin to cry for something to eat in Richmond now.

Eleanor, I would like to see you  and Oscar but I will have to wait my time. I would like to kiss you and be with you but I feel very contented for the time is a rolling on. It is on the last half now. It will soon wear off. Trust in the Lord and be faithful to Him and don’t forget to pray for I mean to live a Christian while I live. I would like to be there with you but I know I can’t till my time is out and so I might just as well fell well about it as not to. I trust that the good Lord will let us live to see each other again and live Christians together. I don’t hear anything from Charles anymore. Give my love to them and tell them I would like to hear from them. Tell Leonard and Betsy that I send my love to them and that I would like to hear from them. Give my love to all of the folks.

I was glad that Leonard stopped at the Switch for it will be a good place for you to go when you go to the Post Office. Do the best you can. Goodbye for the present. From your true and loving husband until death, To my dear loving wife and son, the best friends that I have got on earth. — Horace J. Hammond

To Eleanor Hammond and Oscar

Direct the same. Write often—very often.


aahamte7

TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THIRTEEN

Camp near Hatcher’s Run, Virginia
March 18, 1865

My dear loving wife that I love so much,

I sit down to write you how I am a getting along. My health is first rate and my leg is all right. The rest of the boys are alright only Joseph he has a cold. And I hope this will find you in good health and in good spirits and my little Oscar too.

The weather is very nice here now and warm. I thought I would put in five dollars more and send to you. Then I will have about seven dollars and fifty cents. That will be enough for me now. I just got a letter from you and was glad to hear from you and that you was well, It was No. 43, March the 10th. I have been washing again this afternoon enough to come to three dollars and seventy-five cents. I think that I had better earn a little money than to spend so much and it will be better for me to feel tip top for health.

We lay here in camp but we don’t know how long we shall lay here. I got a box of pills that you sent me. I was glad to see them for I don’t feel well. Then I will take some of them.

Eleanor, I would like to see you and Oscar and kiss you but it is on the seventh month. The time is a wearing off. It will soon roll around. You don’t say anything about Charles whether he is a going to stay there or not and work or ground or not. I wish I was there. I would work it and if you hain’t sold that pig, you had better sell it. One will be enough to keep. I have quit cooking and got a gun. I had just as leave carry a gun as to cook and they don’t have any cook in the summer for we can’t carry the kettles. We are a getting along first rate. You must keep good courage for my courage is good and I think I will be there to see you again.

We get lots to eat now—more than we can eat. I have made 4 or 5 rings and sold them for 50 cents apiece. I want to save all I can. This five dollars will make 95.50 cents that I have sent to you with the money that was for Pudy. I don’t think there will be much fighting but we don’t know. You must do the best you can and trust in the Lord and be faithful and I mean to be to the end, and if we never meet on earth, we can in heaven above. It seems like a good while to be from my dear but the time will soon wear off if we live and when I get home then we can take comfort. While we live we must put out trust in the Lord and He will carry us through.

Give my love to all of the folks and keep some for yourself. We must be patient for I must stay my time out but a little over 5 months hain’t much.

We have just been and got rations. We have got some potatoes and the soft bread is piled up in our tent. I wish that you could be here one day and see it and we could go hoe. Yesterday they had a horse race here. There was 25 or 30 thousand folks here to see it. There is lots of wild onions coming up here. The [camp] is full of them. My loving wife, I would like to see you but we must write often to one another. Give my love to Leonard and Betsy. Tell them I would like to see them. Goodbye for the present. I remain your dear, loving husband until death. From Horace Hammond

to my dear loving wife that I love so much and my dear little son, Eleanor Hammond and Oscar Hammond. Write often and all of the news. Don’t forget to write all of the news. Direct the same.

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1864: Simeon Freeman to Emma (Lee) Freeman

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.

etowah


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE

Etowah River, Georgia
August 13th 1864

Dear Wife,

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

Dear Wife,

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

Dear Emma,

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.

From Sime
to Emma

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

Dear Emma,

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

to Emma


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE

Etowah River, Georgia
Sunday, October 30th 1864

Dear Emma,

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

Savannah, Georgia
Monday, December 26th 1864

Dear Emma,

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.

From Sime

to Emma


 

1861: David Hamlin Beardsley to John Carey

This letter was written by 72 year-old David Hamlin Beardsley (1789-1870), the son of Squire and Hannah (Hamlin) Beardsley of Preston, Connecticut. He came to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1826, after have previously lived in Lower Sandusky where he served as a judge and a member of the Ohio Legislature. In 1827, he was appointed collector for the Ohio Canal at Cleveland and continued in that office for almost 23 years. “My salary, he once wrote a friend, “ranged from three hundred to twelve hundred dollars per annum.” He also recalled the following details of Cleveland: “When I first came to Cleveland to reside, the Court House—built of halved logs, clapboarded and painted red—stood on the Public Square nearly opposite where the 1st Presbyterian Church now stands. It was of two stories; the first story as used as a jail; the second, as a Court Room. Thus was there in Cleveland no church or military house used exclusively for religious worship.”

David wrote the letter to his respected friend, the Hon. John Carey (1792-1875)—a contemporary with whom he had long corresponded who was then a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D. C. Carey was elected in 1858 to represent Ohio’s 9th District as a Republican. He had previously promoted and was the first president of the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad from Sandusky to Dayton about 1845.

This incredible letter between old friends—with the wisdom of seventy years—looks prospectively at the impending war and its financial cost to the nation, without even considering the human cost. It was penned before the First Battle of Bull Run. For Beardsley in particular, the future looked dark and foreboding. “I fear ruin to both sections, to the North as well as the South,” he told his old friend. “Like Killkenny cats, we shall devour each other, leaving scarcely the tails behind.”

beard
Beardsley’s 1861 letter with period image of unidentified gentleman. No image of Beardsley exists to my knowledge.

TRANSCRIPTION

Cleveland [Ohio]
June 18, 1861

My much respected friend,

I thank you for the very valuable present you have sent me of two quarto volumes “Explorations for Rail Road Route to the Pacific.” Valuable as these books are of themselves, I still more highly prize them as a token of remembrance from one of my earliest and most esteemed friends in Ohio.

As our country is engaged in a civil war involving probably more serious consequences than any war in which mankind ever before engaged, you will, of course, pardon me for alluding to it. What is to be the result? Although I have a high opinion of your prescience and judgment, I do not think that even you, tho’ an ex-M. C. [military commander] can tell with certainty. You will probably say that the result will be most propitious—that our glorious Union is to be more firmly cemented than before—that the effort of this war will be to prove to the monarchs of Europe and to the civilized world that a Republican government is possible, and, in our case, no failure—and that the future of the United States is to be more prosperous and happy than ever. I pray God this may be the case.

But you know my ruling propensity notwithstanding your friendly efforts to correct it, it to look on the dark side of things; and I fear ruin to both sections, to the North as well as the South. Like Kilkenny cats, we shall devour each other, leaving scarcely the tails behind. We have now under pay some 200,000 troops which the papers say are to be increased to 500,000. To pay this latter number will require, if the gold for this purpose were now in our treasury, $500,000,000 per annum to say nothing of the expense of maintaining the Navy and the other departments of the government. But the money is not in our treasury. It must be borrowed. Our last loan brought but eighty-five cents on the dollar. The next will not bring seventy five cents; and before the war is over (and I think it will require at least three years for entire self-destruction) your bonds will not bring 25 cents on the dollar. Multiply your $500,000,000 by 3—the number of years of the war’s continuance—and we have $1,500,000,000 as the expense of the Army alone. But if your bonds on an average sell say for 50 cents on the dollar, the Army alone will saddle us with a national debt of $3,000,000,000 (three thousand million of dollars!!)

But you will say we are better off than the South in this respect; the North is worth then times as much as they. True—we have the most money, but they the most patriotism and are the best financiers. The first thing the Secessionists did was to authorize a suspension of specie payments by their banks and the latter are now offering the Confederacy a loan of $100,000,000 of dollars, which may be repeated as often as required during the war. And as to depreciation, patriotism—if not positive law—will induce the receipt of their bank notes at par during the war. It will not be safe for a citizen of the confederacy to refuse. If the love he has for the good cause be not sufficient, the fear of the public indignation and a coat of tar and feathers or the latter would cure his hesitancy.

In one thing the secessionists have been greatly mistaken. Whatever opposition they might meet with from the Black Republicans, they were sure they could rely on their fast friends and brother democrats of the North. The Northern democracy would take care of the Black Republicans, leaving the secessionists to do as they pleased—to steal forts, arsenals, navy-yards, sub-treasuries, mines and ships at their pleasure—and finally to march on the federal city and take the Capitol without molestation. In this they have been grievously disappointed; and to me the unanimity at the North looks more like an interposition of Divine Providence than anything I have ever witnessed.

But my letter sheet is filled. Yours very truly, — D. H. Beardsley

[to] Hon. John Carey

1863: John Charles Loomis to Betsy (Lyons) Loomis

This letter was written by John Charles Loomis (1846-1924), the son of Confucius Fitch Loomis (1809-1885)—a tanner by trade—and his wife, Betsy E. Lyons (1815-1891), of Great Bend, Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania. John claimed to be 18 years old when he enlisted on 23 September 1862 at Montrose to serve in Co. C, 151st Pennsylvania Volunteers, a nine months regiment. However, public records indicate he was actually born on 30 December 1846 making him 3 months shy of age 16!

John was with his company at Gettysburg when he was wounded in the left shoulder, left elbow, and left leg on the first days fighting while attempting to defend the left center of the 1st Corps against vastly superior numbers. General Doubleday credited the 151st Pennsylvania with “saving the Army of the Potomac” on Seminary Ridge but it was at a staggering cost. It went into the fight with 21 officers and 466 men; of these, 2 officers and 66 men were killed, 12 officers and 87 men wounded, and 100 men were missing.

John briefly mentions his brother Julius (“Jule”) Fitch Loomis (1842-1915) in the closing paragraph.

[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Charles Joyce and is published by express consent.]

TRANSCRIPTION

Camp near Bell Plain Landing No. 2
March 8th [1863]

Dear Mother,

As I have plenty of time to write today and am doing a little writing, I thought I would write to you. We have had a pretty hard time of it every since we left Union Mills but it is getting better weather now and the times are getting much easier for me. I am glad we have not got but 14 weeks longer to stay but if it holds this weather long, we will make another attack on Fredericksburg. Gen. Hooker says the army has got to take the place and be made mince meat of. I guess we will be moved on to Fortress Monroe before long.

We are in camp [with]in about 3 miles of the landing where Hod is. I expect him up here today. Lieut. William [Dubois] Lusk ¹ has gone home. I suppose you will send my shirts down by him. If you so not, you had better send a box. The most I will need is some shorts, some black pepper, dried fruit, butter, sausage, and &c. I think that will be all I will need.

I am in good health. So is the rest of the [Great] Bend boys. I suppose you will have lots of company now seeing it is maple sugar time. I suppose you had a good time with Mrs. Decker and Mrs. Crook. I heard they were coming up to see you—that is, if it did not storm. I got a letter written to you from [brother] Jule directed to me.  He said he would be home in about 3 weeks or so. I have no more to write at present.

From your obedient son, — John C. Loomis

P S. Write soon


¹ 2nd Lt. William D. Lusk was promoted from Sergeant on 3 February 1863. He mustered out with the company on 27 July 1863.

 

1864: James Monroe Putnam to Sarah Annette Markham

This letter was written by James Monroe Putnam (1837-1879), the son of Ira Horace Putnam (1797-1847) and Polly Alice Gavit (1798-1880) of Cass county, Michigan. In 1857, James married Polly Alicia Markham (1838-1880), the sister of Henry Lane Markham, and by 1860 had relocated to Bourbon county, Kansas Territory.

James wrote this letter to his cousin, Sarah Annette Markham (b. 1840), while serving in Co. E, 10th Kansas Volunteer Infantry. At the time, he was among the non-veterans of the regiment who were utilized as guards at the Gratiot Street Military Prison.

aacivmarham6

TRANSCRIPTION

St. Louis, Missouri
May 30th 1864

Dear Cousin,

I received your letter of the first inst. in due season but when it came to hand it found me very sick in the hospital. I could hardly raise my head from the pillow so you must excuse me for the delay in answering it. I was taken to the hospital five weeks ago yesterday and returned to my company day before yesterday evening. So you see I was in the hospital five weeks lacking about twelve hours, the first time I was ever sick in the hospital since I have been in the army. I was first taken down with the pneumonia. As soon as the the fever was broke & before I had gained any strength, the erysipelas set in my head and face swelled up so that the boys out of my own company would not recognize me when they would come in to see me. My eyes swelled shut so that I was deprived of seeing for several days. But through the blessings of a kind Providence, I have got up again. I never had a spell of sickness leave me in such a fit before. I have had the neuralgia in my head ever since. I began to recover after eating all the green trash I can get hold of. Then I have to take salts every third day to keep my bowels open. I never was in such a fix in my life.

Photo_of_drawing_of_Gratiot_Military_Prison
Gratiot Military Prison in St. Louis (August, 1864)

We are quartered between 7th and 8th opposite Gratiot Street Prison which establishment we are guarding. We have only got about 300 men left since the veterans went home on furlough. There is 8 or 10 old reble Colonels and Majors and any amount of reb prisoners—I don’t know how many. The M. V. Sanitary Fair is creating more interest than anything else at the present time. That and the Laclede Race Tracks has been keeping the people in a perfect hubbub for the last 3 or 4 weeks, but now the races is over & M. V. S. F. attracts all attention. Speaking of the Laclede  courses, it was surprising to me to hear the boys tell about the Ladies attending them by the thousands. The richest ladies of the city would go out there with their little baskets full of greenbacks and just pile up their hundreds and their thousands on their favorite [and] when the horses would be coming in on the home street, they would clap their hands, wave their handkerchief, and seem to be as deeply interested as the biggest jockey on the grounds. I hardly know how to take it but it looks strange to me. The idea of ladies who style themselves the first class of society attending jockey clubs and staking their money—and I was going to say credit—on a horse race! Surely we are living in fast times when we take into consideration the war with everything else, don’t you think so?

Our old Colonel has finally succeeded in getting himself under arrest. Our Lieutenant-Colonel has command of us now. He is a gentleman in every sense of the word. Well, I guess I will have to draw my scribbling to a close for the present. Give my respects to all enquiring friends. From your cousin, — James M. Putnam

Miss S. A. Markham

P. S. Direct to St. Louis, Mo. Please write soon. — J. M. P.

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