This letter was written by Manius Buchanan (1835-1914), the son of David Buchanan (1800–1874) and Lydia Tribbey (1802-1885) of Fairfield, DeKalb county, Indiana. At age 26, Manius first entered the service at LaPorte, Indiana, as a private in Co. B, 29th Indiana Infantry. He served in that regiment from 27 August 1861 until 5 September 1862 when he was discharged for disability.
In July 1863, he enrolled again to serve in the 118th Indiana Regiment which was being organized to serve for 6 months. He was selected as Captain of Co. D and served from early September 1863 to early March 1864. [Note: the officers of Co. D were originally recorded as being in Co. F, as well as some of the solders. By 1864, they were all clearly in Co. D, however.]
Service: March from Nicholasville, Ky., to Cumberland Gap September 24-October 3, and to Morristown October 6-8. Action at Blue Springs October 10. March to Greenville and duty there till November 6. March across Clinch Mountain to Clinch River. Action at Walker’s Ford, Clinch River, December 2. Duty at Tazewell, Maynardsville and Cumberland Gap till February, 1864. Skirmish at Tazewell January 24. Mustered out March 1-4, 1864.
Manius wrote this letter to his fiancee Emma W. Childs of DeKalb county, Indiana; the couple were married on 28 July 1864. In 1870 the couple were residing in Richmond, Ray county, Missouri, where Manius was employed as a surveyor. Sometime in the 1870s, Emma died and Manius remarried to a woman named Anne.
In Camp near Tazewell, Tennessee January 13, 1864
It has been a long time since I wrote you a letter and this is bound to be a short one; it is hard I am certain, but it can not be helped at present. You should be thankful for small favors in so busy a time. The time may soon come again when I cannot grant even these. you must not begin to think it is a burden to be forced to write a few lines to Em, for it is one of the pleasures left me. I have received letters very irregularly for the chance I have had, no mail comes of late without bringing one from my “M.” Nearly every one of them gave me a scolding for not doing what was not in my power, but it is a pleasure even to get a scolding from one I am so glad to hear from. It would be more natural to see those eyes flush with anger and those cheeks burn with honest pride.
I am well and hearty, of course I am. Who said I wasn’t? Rations fare hard that come before your “Capt.” [Pvt. Humphrey English] Chilcoat is sick and back on the road somewhere. I think he will get in sometime today. I do not know what is the matter with him but think he eat too many Tennessee pies. I would not have lost him, but he is in the habit of always struggling, sick or well, generally for the purpose of “crumping,” sometimes through mere laziness, so I did not miss him until after night. Then I was told that he fell out in the morning and was quite sick. You need not tell his folks, but I fear for his safety.
The health of the company is good—very good. The Orderly is sick but the cause is not Tennessee pies, nor anything in the eating line. But I fear his British cake is “dough.” I done all I could for him and he worked for himself but all would not do. Poor fellow, how I pity him. He is quite a different boy of late; he neglects duty and self respect. his chance for a Lieutenancy is played.
[1st Lt. Cyrus T.] Mosier’s resignation never was received at Department Headquarters on account of the siege at Knoxville but it made a better officer of him and now I shall bear with him until the end. Sergeants Whitney, [George N.] Cornell and [Erastus] Pyle, Corporals [Erastus] Finney, [Albert M.] Alton, and [Squire] Admire are my best officers. Of all the good boys in my company, [Pvt.] Martin Castleman stands preeminent.
I suppose you would like to know what I have been doing since I wrote to you last. Well here is our work briefly delineated. December 21st, we marched to Walker’s Ford, the scene of our recent battle. 22nd, marched back to Tazewell. 24th and 25th, marched to Monroe Gap, 25 miles from here and 12 beyond Walker’s Ford on the Knoxville Road and near the little town of Maynardsville, and here we lay until day before yesterday when we started back for Tazewell. We expected to go farther but nothing is certain in war.
Christmas dinner I partook on one of the tallest peaks of the Clinch in company with the Orderly. Our dinner consisted of fresh peaches, apple pulp, sardines, and the best of wheat bread. You may talk of your splendid dinners and rousing balls, but none were better enjoyed than our frugal repast high on the Clinch. It only lacked one thing to make it perfect—that we could not supply the society of those dear at home. The rest we had carried from Tazewell in our haversacks. From our mountain heights we looked over a large expanse of country once wealthy and prosperous, but now desolated by the ravages of war and thought of our happy homes and the happy hearts there. Imagination could see the tables spread with the richest luxuries, but here there was a dearth of everything except tears and broken hearts. The poet that sung:
“How little we know of soldier’s fare Until our brothers are in the fight”
might have gone a little further and said, “We know nothing of the hardships of war until we have connections in an invaded country.”
But I am transgressing. I am most to the point—if I have any point. New Years we spent as any other day, doing pretty much nothing. What did you do those eventful days?
H[umphrey E.] Chilcoat has come up, not so sick after all; fuss is peculiar to the family.
We have had some very cold weather for the last 10 days making the soldiers in their pup tents lay up close. Many of the soldiers had to stand by campfires night after night to avoid freezing. How hard! how terribly severe!
The officers tried to reorganize this regiment fo the “three years service” a few days ago. I suppose you would think that I would be in that movement as I am always at some devilment, but I was not. I was a dead weight on their hands. I protested that I wanted to go and see my little woman about it first (they thought I was married). We would not reorganize worth a cent. We are going home first to see whether there is any objection to it. I must quit and go to over to the widow’s and get my dinner. Direct your answer to Cumberland Gap.
Your soldier, — Manins
I will be home sometime if not sooner. If you do’t write immediately, I will “box your ears.”
This partial letter was written by 28 year old Augustus White (b. 1833) of Auburn, Androscoggin county, Maine, who served as a private in Co. H, 1st Maine Infantry (3months). There were several soldiers by that name but the key to his identity was the name and location of his camp near Columbia College on Meridian Hill in Washington D. C. This regiment was organized at Portland, Maine, and was mustered into service on 3 May 1861 and was mustered out on 5 August 1861. They did not participate in the Battle of Bull Run. Rather, they were ordered across the Chain Bridge on 20 July 1861 and held that position until the afternoon of 24 July 1861.
In his letter, Augustus conveys the hearsay news he received from those returning from the battlefield and repeats rumors of atrocities carried out by Confederates who murdered wounded and sick Union soldiers.
[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Richard Weiner and is published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]
Washington D. C. Meridian Hill Camp Jackson July 24th 1861
[portion of letter missing]
…thing for our troops to get drove but they did. But they fought like tyrants. This fight was at Bulls Run last Sunday. Ellsworth Zouaves was well cut up but they cut 2 to 1 besides taking 600 cavalry all but three and put them to an ever lasting death. The Maine regiments was scattered. Two or three of the New York regiments was cut up. The fight lasted 9 hours. Our troops—or the Right Wing—retreated but we now hold the battlefield. I expect that there was a fight that way today for the balloon was up.
If nothing happens but good luck, I shall be to home soon and then I will tell you all that I can about it. The boys haint found out yet what they are fighting.
The rebels played a yankee trick in good shape but we will whip them yet for we can do it—that’s so. The boys are all hell bent to kill the whole of them for don’t you think that at the last fight when our troops retreated, they followed them up and cut the throats of our wounded and entered a hospital and bayoneted and stove the brains out of the sick and then burned the hospital. That is damn hard but they will catch it the next time we get at them.
I don’t think of any more to write now for I am coming home soon. Then you know that I am in for a good time. I want you to get me some good old girl that will do…
[portion of letter missing]
…matter with me. From your old friend, — Augustus White
In haste. Don’t wait again for I shan’t stop here long enough to write another letter. Goodbye until I see you with my eyes.
This letter was written by James Ogburn Norton (1825-1862), a 1st Lieutenant in Co. F, 32nd Tennessee (Confederate) Infantry while imprisoned on board a boat docked at St. Louis. Lt. Norton was among the 528 members of the 32nd Tennessee that were taken prisoner on 16 February 1862. They would eventually be imprisoned at Camp Chase, Ohio, where they suffered through hard times. Though he tried to reassure his wife that he would be alright, Lt. Norton was one of the first officers to die at Camp Chase. His date of death is given as 4 March 1862, less than two weeks after this letter was written.
In the 1860 US Census, Norton was employed as a physician—a profession he learned from his father—at Hawkerville, Franklin county, Tennessee.
On Boat, St. Louis, Missouri February 24, 1862
My Dear Wife,
I write you a few lines by Dr. as I learn that he is going to Tennessee. I am well and am getting over hte fatigue of our late Battle Fort Donelson. We were all taken prisoners of war on Sunday morning, February 16th. There were none of our company killed and but three wounded. I was in the fight but did not get a scratch. How long we will be retained, I do not know know. I suppose we will be taken off the boats & be placed in comfortable quarters. We are treated very well by the officers who have charge of us. I can give none of the particulars as our letters will have to come open & be inspected.
I want you [to] bear up under it the best you can under the circumstances. We are in a healthy climate and when we get settled, we will enjoy fine health. My kindest regards to all. I want you all to do the best you can and not grieve about my confinement. I will ty and take care of myself the best I can and return when permitted. May God bless [my] dear wife and children.
From your affectionate husband, — Jas. O. Norton
Capt. [Elijah] Ikard [and] George is still with me.
This letter was written by Frank Brown (1832-1922), the son of Enoch Brown (1805-1851) and Anna S. Leonard (1809-Aft1870). Frank enlisted at LaPorte, Indiana, in Co. G, 87th Indiana Infantry on 21 August 1862. After two years of hard fighting as a private, he was promoted to Commissary Sergeant and on 10 June 1865 was mustered out at Washington, D. C. Before his promotion, Brown fought at Perryville, Hoover’s Gap, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Rocky Face Ridge, Resaca, Dallas, New Hope Church, Pine Hill, Kennesaw, Peach Tree Creek and Utoy Creek.
In his letter of 11 December 1863, Frank speaks of his intention of returning to the battlefield at Chickamauga to look for evidence of missing comrades. It was in the woodlands on that field where “the 87th Indiana established its bravery forever by standing steadfast with its brigade on three separate occasions, each time saving a significant part of the Union army.” [A Stupendous Effort, by Jack K. Overmeyer]
Frank wrote the letter to his sister, Charlotte (“Lottie”) Brown (b. 1835). Frank’s father died in 1851 but his mother was still residing in Almond, Allegany, New York in 1870. Frank had at least two brothers who also served in the Civil War. Joel Brown (1830-1865) served in Co. B, 211th Pennsylvania Infantry. He was killed in action in front of Petersburg on 2 April 1865. Albert Leroy Brown (1838-1862) served in Co. K, 11th Pennsylvania Reserves (40th Penn. Infantry). He was killed at Antietam on 17 September 1862.
Chattanooga, Tennessee December 11, 1863
I don’t like to scold but I really do want you to write oftener. I write to you as often as once a week without waiting to get letters to answer and I would be very happy to have you do the same by me. You will, won’t you? The mails are very irregular at present and I don’t suppose that over two-thirds of the letters that are written ever reach their destination. I have seen nothing of your Mother’s or Henry’s photographs yet. Why don’t you send them? I am going to have some more taken soon and then I will send you another one different style but still with the florid mustache which I shall wear until I am done soldiering.
I am going out on the old battlefield of Chickamauga where we fought September 19th & 20th tomorrow to be gone two days. There is a party going out to see what they can find out about the lost and missing comrades that was with there. I expect it will be quite interesting to me to go over the ground again that we made such desperate efforts to win but was compelled to let it slide.
I don’t much think that I shall get to see you this winter and if I don’t this winter, I shall not for another year. I have made up my mind to stay and see the end of the show if it don’t last too long and I think it is good to last another year yet at least. I may get a furlough but it is not much of an object as they won’t let you be gone only just about long enough to go and return so a poor fellow has no chance to visit. However, I may take a short run up that way. I have the promise of the next chance in our company so watch out or I may come in and take you by surprise. When I do start, I will beat a letter through.
I have no idea that I can get a furlough of sufficient length to go and see my Mother. Too bad isn’t it. I have got two letters from her yesterday and a paper. She thinks I am just one of the best boys there is. I write to her every week and have sent her seventy dollars (70.00) since last payday and shall send her fifty more in a day or two. You may wonder how I get so much money. I do a little speculating on my own account in the stationery line and then I am doing the Orderly Sergeant’s duty and keep our Commanding Officer’s Books and clerk for him for which I make them pay a nice thing. So much for having a good-shaped head.
Henry must be getting to be a large boy. How I would like to see him and all of you. Love to all. write to me about all our friends as far as heard from. Ever yours, — Frank Brown
This letter was written by Pvt. James B. Robbins of Co. E, 25th Georgia Infantry. James enlisted in the regiment on 5 April 1862 and was take prisoner at Marietta, Georgia, on 19 June 1864. He died of pleurisy at Camp Douglas, Illinois, on 6 January 1865.
Company E was organized in Henry county, Alabama. It was successively designated 3d Co E, and 2nd Co. K, 25th Georgia Infantry. They were originally known as the “Irwin Invincibles” and did not join the 25th Georgia until they were ordered from west Virginia to Savannah, Georgia in mid-January 1862.
In his letter, James mentions “a right smart little fight in South Carolina” that took place “this week.” He is referring to the Battle of Pocotaligo that was fought on 22 October 1862.
James wrote the letter to his brother-in-law, A. W. Benjamin Stewart.
I this evening seat myself to write you a few lines in answer to yours that has just come to hand which give me much pleasure to hear from you and to hear that you was all well. Ben, you don’t know how much good it did to me to read your letter. I had been looking for a letter from home some time. I’m sick now and have been very sick. I tell you, it looked like taking the old fella off to the old peach orchard, but my time hadn’t come then, but I don’t know how soon it may come. I’m mending now as fast as I can. I can sit up the most of my time.
It is very sickly here now but I hope the sickness will soon be over here for this season. There is several of our boys here in the hospital but none dangerous. They are all able to knock about.
They have had a right smart little fight in South Carolina this week. Our loss killed and wounded was 55—15 killed and 40 wounded. Our regiment got back from there last night. They weren’t engaged. It was all over when they got there. We are looking for it here every day. There has been right smart cannonading round here for two or three days but no damage done yet.
Ben, I have nothing of importance to write you—only I want to see you all mighty bad. But I don’t know when that time will come. I should like to be there to take another bate of fish with you and rather than miss, I would take it in venison. We could get fish and oysters a plenty here if we could have time to fish for them but there is so many sick, it keeps well to do the camp duty. They have to keep up camp guard and picket and drill three and four times a day. But I han’t been able to drill any this fall. I have been sick nearly ever since I was at home.
[Charles J.] McD. Stewart has got a chill on him now. Ben, you must [excuse my] bad writing and spelling. So nothing more this time only I remain yours, — J. B. Robbins
This Runaway Slave Notice was penned by 64 year-old Howard W. Everett (1793-1877), a native of Halifax county, Virginia, moved to Kentucky when he was young and then relocated again to Clay county, Missouri, in 1818 with his wife of three years, Sarah Ann Waltrip. In addition to being a farmer, Howard was ordained a Cambellite Preacher and started numerous churches in Northern Missouri.
It does not appear that Howard was always a slave holder. In the 1830 US Census, he held no slaves. In the 1860 US Census, he held only two middle-aged slaves. Howard wrote this notice from Richland which is now Missouri City—a consolidation of three villages, St. Bernard, Richfield, and Atchison. From 1850 to 1861, Richfield was probably the largest hemp market above Lexington.
Most likely this notice was a draft handed to the publisher of a local newspaper.
Runaway from Richfield
About the first inst., a negro man named Granville, 24 years old, about 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high, rather heavy set, square shoulders, not very dark complexion, weighs about 165, had on when he left a blue blanket coat, brown [ ] pants, otter cap flat top lined with silk stuffed with cotton, boots with grain side out, perhaps an old cotton vest. Limps a little. I will pay any person who will bring him to me at Richfield, Clay county, Mo. February 5th 1857
This pass was written by Thomas G. White who enlisted in April 1862 for the duration of the war in Co. F, 3rd Battalion Light Artillery (a.k.a., the Chesnut Light Artillery). He was made a Second Lieutenant in the unit in June 1862 and detached as Commissary for the Battalion in March 1863. Beginning in January 1864, he began to sign the rolls as 1st Lt., commanding the company. Company F took part in battles around Charleston, shooting artillery rounds at Union gunboats and soldiers, and disbanded after the evacuation of Charleston.
Lt. White wrote the pass 1 for Wilson Roe (1804-Aft1864) of Edgefield District, South Carolina. The pass gives Wilson’s age as 52 but according to census record, he was even older. In the 1850 US Census, he was enumerated in the household of his brother, Simpson Roe [Rowe] and his birth year was given as 1804. Wilson’s brother Simpson also served the Confederacy as a private in Co. D, 14th South Carolina Infantry.
Camp Robertson, Wilton [S. C.] April [ ] 1864
The bearer here of private W. Roe of Capt. F. C. Schulz’s Co. F, [3rd] P. B. L.A. [Pametto Battalion Light Artillery], aged 52 years, 5 feet 10 inches high, dark complexion, grey eyes, grey hair, and by occupation a farmer, born in Edgefield district, and enlisted at Camp Chesnut on the 26th of February 1863 to serve for the period of the war, is hereby permitted to go to Edgefield, District, State of South Carolina, he having received a sick furlough for sixty days from the [ ] day of April to the [ ] day of [ ] at which period he will rejoin his company at Camp Robertson or wherever it may then be or be considered a deserter.
Subsistence has been furnished to said private W. Roe to the 20th April & pay to the 31st of December 1863.
Given under my hand at Camp Robertson this [ ] day of April 1864.
— Thomas G. White, Lieutenant Commanding, C. S. A.
Camp Roberson, Written Jan, 1864
1 A pass would have been required for a soldier returning home on a furlough of any kind. This particular pass happened to be for a sick furlough. The pass offered the bearer protection from being arrested as a deserter. Pvt. Roe’s pass (above) did not have the actual dates filled in so it may have only been a draft or a copy kept by the company. The language in these passes was pretty standard. Here is another one I found online issued by the same company:
The bearer here of private John Driggers of Capt F. C. Schultz Co. F. Palmetto Light Artillery, age 46 years, 6 foot 1 inch high, dark complexion, black eyes, black hair, by occupation farmer, born in Sumter District and enlisted at Camp Hayward on the 15th April 1862 to serve for the period of the war is hereby permitted to go to his home in Charleston District, State of South Carolina, He having received a furlough from the 13 day of January to the 23 day of January 1864, at which point he will rejoin his company at Camp Roberson on wherever they may be or be considered a deserter— Subsistence has been furnished to the said private to the 20 of January to the 31 October 1864, given under my hand at Capt Roberson on this 13th day of January 1864. F. C. Schultz Capt. Charleston District.
Frederick’s brother, Jacob Hammerly, enlisted on 25 August 1861 in Co. B, 12th Illinois Infantry. Drowned 15 September 1861 Residence place give: Amboy, Illinois.
October 10, 1862. Friday. Yesterday and ever since the 2nd, it has been very warm but today it is raining and growing cold. Fires feeling very comfortable. October 11 & 12. Saturday & Sunday had been very cold for the Sunny South this time in the year. Prisoners are being paroled ever since the 6th. Received two letters—one from Mr. Brigham, another from (Mich). October 13 Monday had been quite cool last night but it’s now warm. Sent a letter to Michigan October 14. Tuesday. Weather fair. We are on duty every other day since the [2nd] Battle of Corinth doing Provost or Picket Duty. October 15 & 16. Wednesday & Thursday. Nights are cold. Guards are surrounding the fires. Received a letter from New York. October 17 Friday. Moved our camp northeast of Corinth. I am on Camp Guard. October 18 Saturday. Weather fair. Received a letter from M. B. October 19. Sunday. Cold nights and warm days. Guarded prisoners. Sent a letter to Rushville. October 20. Monday. I came off from guard this morning. The guards we relieved let a prisoner run away, consequently the orders were strict. Had a frost this morning. October 21. Tuesday. Has been quite windy today. Sent a letter to George. Saw Charlie Dykeman in the 21st Missouri. They are talking of going home. October 22. Wednesday. I am on camp guard. It is very warm. The 21st Missouri left Corinth for home before daylight. Co. K of our regiment have orders to take charge of artillery. Sent a letter to Helena, Arkansas. Received a letter from George. October 23. Thursday. Weather warm. Our stove feels comfortable this evening. October 24. Friday. Moved our camp a few rods in order to let them build a fort. Commenced clouding up before sundown. Had a very cold night. Co. K is going to stay. October 25. Saturday. It is a very cold day—cold enough to snow. 4 o’clock it snows like blazes. Cold enough to freeze. Am on Provost Guard. October 26. Sunday. Very cold this morning. The ground is covered with snow and frozen hard. Come off from guard this morning at 10 o’clock. Sent a letter to brother. October 27. Monday. Had a very heavy frost this morning. Suffered much from cold last night. The troops are breaking down houses like everything. The breastworks are growing fast in front of us. I went on Camp Guard this morning. Received a letter from Mother. October 28. Tuesday. Weather warmer. Came off from guard at 9 o’clock this morning. Heard from [brother] Martin through Glick. Sent a letter to Conrad mother, to sister Katie, a third to M. Page. October 29. Wednesday. Weather growing warmer. Am on guard. October 30. Tuesday. Had a frost last night but is warm today. October 31, 1862. Corinth, Mississippi. Am on guard. It is warm. Had muster for inspection in general. Received a letter from George.
November 1, 1862. Saturday. It is quite warm today. Had a letter from Ch. Alf[red]. November 2. Sunday. It had been cloudy last night. This morning it is quite foggy. Troops are on a move ever since 2 o’clock this morning. Their destination is reported to be Bolivar. 11 o’clock a. m. It is now real warm. Have been on guard camp. November 3. Monday. Had been warm today. Sent a letter to George and one to New York enclosed. November 4, 1862. Tuesday a.m. on Provost Guard. It is real warm today noon. Sent a letter to Ch. Alf. November 5. Wednesday. It is getting cold. This evening the wind is blowing big guns. Many have to hold their tents down. The dust blowing through our tent. The night it commenced raining. It did no rain much. Received a letter from M. Northway. November 6. Thursday. Had been very cold this morning. A fresh breeze blowing all day. Was on ordinary fatigue. November 7, 1862. Friday. The wind is again blowing heavy guns. Received a letter from Lew Roff. November 8, 1862. Saturday. Am on Provost Guard. More hopes of leaving here. Drawed a pair of socks and one overshirt. Sent a letter to Benton Barracks to Martin. November 9, 1862. Sunday. Corinth, Tishomingo Co., Mississippi. It has been warmer today than its been for weeks back although last night was a severe one. The ground was white in the morning with frost. Went as an escort to help bring Trover of Co. C. November 10, 1862. Monday. Has been quite pleasant today. Went on the sick report. Had several chills last night. November 11, 1862. Tuesday. Windy towards evening. November 12. Wednesday. Rained nearly all last night and part of today. Cloudy this evening. Took medicine three times today. November 13. Thursday. Was cloudy and frost this morning but now it is clear and warm. Received a slip from Martin. November 14, 1862. Friday. Weather fair and pleasant. Sent a letter to Cousin Fred. November 15. Saturday. Weather fair. Sent a line to Martin. After sundown, received a letter from him and another from R. M. Brigham. November 16. Sunday. Went on Camp Guard this morning. Has been real warm last night. Looks like rain. November 17. Monday. It is sprinkling at intervals, warm and calm. November 18. Tuesday. It’s cloudy all day. Commenced raining several times. went after rails about 3 miles out. November 19. Wednesday. Rained this morning. I was on Provost Guard. Cloudy nearly all day. November 20. Thursday. Has been cold and windy last night. The majority of Companies C & B went off guarding a train of wagons to some place. Has been clear and cloudy today. The artillery had a shooting match today. Some thought it an attack. November 21. Friday. Clear, cloudy, cold and windy. November 22. Weather clear and warm. Was on Water Fatigue. November 23, 1862. Sunday. Weather fair. Helped get some wood. Sent a letter to Brother John and Martin. November 24, 1862. Monday. Weather fair. Had review yesterday. Received a letter from sister Maria. Another from C. Alf. Hammerly told me of the unexpected death of cousin William. Sent a letter to M. North [?] November 25, 1862. Tuesday. Clear and cloudy alternately but cold all day. Received intelligence of a forage train being captured. Also of our correspondence between here and Columbus being cut off. No train came in the night. Am on Camp Guard. Received a letter from Rushville, Pennsylvania. November 26, 1862. Wednesday. Weather clear and cold. Rumors afloat of the rebels again advancing on here with the intention to siege it. The road is fight again and a train left here for Columbus this afternoon. November 27, 1862. Thursday. Had been very cold last night bu it is warm today. Had Battalion drill. November 28, 1862. Friday. Weather cold, clear, and cloudy. Sent a letter to Ch. Alfred. Another to Rushville. November 29, 1862. Saturday. Weather fair. Received two Watchman’s. Sent a letter to No. 2. N. Y. had a regimental drill. November 30, 1862. Sunday. Weather warm and cloudy. Looks like rain. Noon, sprinkling now. I am on patrol. Sent a letter to Mr. Brigham.
December 1, 1862. Monday. Weather wintery. December 2, 1862. Tuesday. Had a cold rain last night. Today it is quite cold. Rains and snows at intervals. December 3, 1862. Wednesday. Weather fair. Am on camp guard. One of the 7th Illinois shot a captain while discussing politics. December 4, 1862. Thursday. Commenced clouding up early this morning. Part of three companies—B included—went to guard a train of wagons to LaGrange. Had several small rains through the day. December 5, 1862. Friday. Had a considerable rain last night and snowed nearly all the forenoon. 4 o’clock p.m., seems to be clearing off. One of the 7th Illinois shot a Captain [Henry W. Allen of Co. G, 7th Illinois]. December 6, 1862. Saturday. Had a very cold night. Froze hard. I am on provost patrol today. I am guarding the Sergeant [John Myers] of the 7th Illinois who shot a Captain [Henry W. Allen of Co. G] in a quarrel. The Captain died this morning. [Sgt. John Myers was hung for his crime on 28 April 1864. December 7, 1862. Sunday. Weather clear but cold. Had a very cold night. Had general review. December 8, 1862. Monday. Weather fair. Sent a letter to No. 1 N. Y. The detailed guards came back tonight from LaGrange. One of Co. I was shot through both legs by an accidental discharge of a musket on the cars. Drawed a pair of boots. December 9, 1862. Tuesday. Weather warm. Have been out 10 to 12 miles foraging. December 10, 1862. Wednesday. Corinth, Mississippi. Another warm and comfortable day. Had Battalion Drill. Sent a letter to Mo. December 11, 1862. Thursday. Had been very warm today. Helped get some fire wood. December 12, 1862. Friday. Weather warm, cloudy and sprinkling at intervals. Went down to Glendale with a telegrapher on a handcar. Received a letter from Martin. Another from Charles Dykeman (Mo.), a third from N. Y. No. 2. Co. I man who had been shot through the legs had them both amputated (is alive). December 13, 1862. Saturday. Had been very warm and comfortable but windy. This evening looks like rain. wind increasing. Several detachments left here for Iuka. December 14, 1862. Sunday. Corinth, Mississippi. Another warm and fair day. Had some rain and considerable wind last night. Wrote a letter to Mich. and received a letter from Bithe and a paper from W. Bingham. December 15, 1862. Monday. Had several rain storms today mixed with heavy winds. Is quite warmer. More rain towards night. Is growing cold. Am on guard. December 16, 1862. Tuesday. Weather clear and cold. Received a letter from Cousin Fred. An attack on Jackson, Tennessee is talked of tonight. December 17, 1862. Wednesday. Had been real cold last night and is clear but cold today. Co. I man who was shot through both legs and amputated coming back on the cars from LaGrange was buried today. His sister, the Captain’s wife of the company, had been here to attend to him.1
1 The soldier who had both legs shot accidentally while returning to Corinth from LaGrange was wagoner Jacob W. Butt (1842-1862) of Princeton, Illinois. His sister was Alice Butt, was married to William D. Mills (1838-1906), Captain of Co. I, 12th Illinois Infantry.
December 18, 1862. Thursday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather clear but fresh. I am on patrol. Sent a letter to Mo. December 19, 1862. Friday. Weather fair and nice today. Three companies of our regiment with the 90th Illinois and others—also some artillery—left last night for somewhere, supposed to harass the Rebels marching on Jackson, Tennessee. They say they are fighting there. The 9th Illinois and 31st Ohio came back with a lot of prisoners from Alabama. No train, no news tonight. December 20, 1862. Saturday. Weather fair, nice and warm. Am on Provost Guard. Considerable excitement here on account of Jackson being taken by the Rebels. Had strict orders in regard to the last group of prisoners. A mounted infantry company was organized. December 21, 1862. Sunday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather fair. Received about one hour in the guard house of Corinth for the complaint of letting a prisoner off. This evening they are moving all Commissary and Quartermaster goods to the main fort. The question–What’s Up? No news tonight. December 22, 1862. Monday. Had been real warm today. No attack has been made on this place yet. Our forces whipped the Rebels at Jackson the day before yesterday. No reliable news from there has as yet been received although tis only 50 miles from here. A train left for the North but not come back. Today we were put on half rations. December 23, 1862. Tuesday. Another [day] like summer. Two trains came in with two days mail and some papers. Also the most of the troops that had left this place a few days previous. I am on Provost Guard. December 24, 1862. Wednesday. Had some rain early this morning but cleared off towards non. Another train came in tonight but only from Jackson. No news and no mail. We have splendid weather. Sent a letter to Peters. December 25, 1862. Christmas. Weather like summer. Our half rations are felt. Those who have money can have whole. The same are buying their whiskey. Many are having their drinking sprees. This has been a hungry Christmas. A train from Jackson again but no news. December 26, 1862. Friday. It commenced raining this morning about 9 o’clock and rained most all day and all night. Capt. Sharp—a secesh—got away last night. December 27, 1862. Saturday. Had considerable rain again today. This evening it cleared off and clouded up alternatively. No news at all. Am on Provost Guard. Drawed a pair of pants. December 28, 1862. Sunday. Had a real pleasant day today. Had company inspection. A train from Jackson arrived but no news. December 29, 1862. Monday. Another warm and nice day. No news yet (cut off yet). Am on patrol. December 30, 1862. Tuesday. Rain almost all day and the biggest part of the night. December 31, 1862. Wednesday. Clear and cold. Two trains arrived from Jackson.
January 1, 1863. New Year’s Day. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather has been very warm and agreeable all day. Cut off yet, consequently no news. Living on half rations ever since the 19th. Such a Christmas & New Year’s I never saw! January 2, 1863. Friday. Had been very windy and clouding up alternatively and [rained] hard all last night. Several regiments left for places unknown—some say to Pittsburg Landing. Co. G went on picket and on Camp Guard. January 3, 1863. Saturday. Rained much all night and considerable today. The Tennessee River must soon be rising. It is pouring down in torrents this evening. January 4, 1863. Sunday. Cleared off this morning and proved to be very fine day. Had company inspection this morn. Received a big mail tonight over which was great rejoicing. The mail was carried over the burned and destroyed bridges. Vicksburg is said to be ours sure. Received a letter from Rushville. Another from John Amboy. Third and fourth from camp near Fredericksburg. What a splendid moonlight night! January 5, 1863. Monday. It is cloudy and windy today. The few papers came in last night was sold for one dollar apiece. According to papers, Burnside is whipped. January 6, 1863. [No entry] January 7, 1863. Wednesday. Air cold but clear and sunshine. a large train of provisions arrived here last night. Sent a letter to Alford. January 8, 1863. Thursday. Weather fair but chilly. Martin arrived tonight. Am on patrol. January 9, 1863. Friday. Weather fair but is clouding up this eve. The long roll beat today. After we had fallen in, we were dismissed. Sent a letter to Benton Barracks with $1. January 10, 1863. Saturday. Had some rain last night. Had been very comfortable all day. Some cloudy. Heard heavy thunder all night. Sent a letter to Rushville. January 11, 1863. Sunday. Looks like spring. Am on Headquarters Guard. A small mail arrived here. Drawed a dress coat, a pair of pants for [John] Griffin, [coat] $6.70; [pants] $3.05. January 12, 1863. Monday. Weather fair like spring. A train with provisions from Pittsburg Landing arrived here. Had Battalion drill. A letter from Conrad. January 13, 1863. Tuesday. Warm but windy. Some cloudy. Draw whole rations again. January 14, 1863. Wednesday. Commenced raining early this morning and it rained hard all day and all night too. January 15, 1863. Thursday. The rain turned into snow this morning. Snowed most all day but partly melted. am on Provost Guard. Guarded the sharpshooters hospital. Sent a letter to John Church and brother George. January 16, 1863. Friday. Snowed and blowed the bigger part of today. Found George. Camp of the 72nd Ohio. January 17, 1863. Saturday. Cleared off last night. The sun shines nice this morning. January 18, 1863. Sunday. It is clouding up again. the mail consisting of 4 letters came to the regiment, very unfrequent and small. Am on Provost Guard. The snow is melting. January 19, 1863. Monday. Commenced raining early this morning. Rained all day and part of the night. The snow is gone. January 20, 1863. Tuesday. It is cloudy, chilly and damp. Rains at intervals. Was detailed for Train Guard. Was dismissed. January 21, 1863. Wednesday. Is cloudy, damp and the streets are very muddy. Went on Headquarters (Paymaster) Guard, Our paymaster came in this evening. January 22, 1863. Thursday. Has cleared off this morning and it looks again like spring. This evening at 5 o’clock an expedition left here for Pittsburg Landing or Hamburg Landing. January 23, 1863. Friday. Cloudy today but warm. went on picket [but] a few hours after were relieved. Got marching orders with three days rations in our haversacks. Ready to start early in the morning. January 24, 1863. Get our breakfast by candlelight and ready to start. Marched down i town, stacked arms in front of the Corinth Music Hall. About 9 o’clock we left town as a rear guard of a forage train to Hamburg. About noon it commenced raining and rained till after midnight. Arrived at Hamburg about sundown. The train was loaded through the night. January 25, 1863. Sunday. Left Hamburg about 8 o’clock. Halted about an hour on the hill back of Hamburg, took a different road, arrived at Corinth two hours after dark. Was cloudy and windy but did not rain. We had plenty of mud to tramp through. January 26, 1863. Monday. Early this morning the 7th Illinois and 81st Ohio were loaded on the train to Hamburg. Had some rain and much wind this afternoon. The paymaster paying the 90th Illinois. January 27, 1863. Tuesday. Rained much last night. Today is cloudy, damp and chilly. January 28, 1863. Wednesday. It is cold and cloudy. Was on Fatigue [Duty] last night until 11 o’clock to help unload a train from Hamburg Landing. Snowed some last night. Sent a letter to Cincinnati, Ohio, with $1 D. C. January 29, 1863. Thursday. Whether fair. Rather windy. Am on Provost Guard. Cut off again below here and Jackson. A train only stove up! January 30, 1863. Friday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather fair. were paid for two months. Received a letter from Michigan. January 31, 1863. Saturday. Weather nice and fair. Had monthly inspection. It sprinkled some on Dress Parade. Voted for to stand by the government. Martin received a letter from Ch. Church.
February 1, 1863. Sunday. Drawed blouse and forage cap. Rained last night and part of the day today. It’s warm. Sent $50 to Mr. Bingham by Lieut. Cook and $5 to Martin. February 2, 1863. Monday. weather clear and comfortable. Turned cold and cloudy towards night. Am on Patrol. February 3, 1863. Tuesday. Had been very cold last night but cleared. First US Infantry leaves this morning for Vicksburg. Co. G takes their places at Fort [Battery] Williams.
February 4, 1863. Wednesday. Corinth, Mississippi. Had been cold last night. Came off from Patrol. Is growing colder this morning. Five o’clock p.m., the ground is covered with snow and it snows like everything. went after nails to fix our tent. February 5, 1863. Thursday. Considerable snow fell last night. Is very cold this morning. Moved our bunks and altered the looks of our tent. Received a letter from Ch. Alf. February 6, 1863. Friday. Was detailed for taking off condemned horses and mules to Henderson. Went 15 miles and stayed over at a plantation. Quite a number of mules gave out. Had a hard time of it. Was freezing cold. February 7, 1863. Saturday. Corinth, Mississippi. The snow is melting fast. Went through Purdy. Is a very fine town. Arrived at Henderson after sundown. Got left behind with three more. Stayed over at the telegraph office. February 8, 1863. Sunday. Slept pretty cold last night. Now waiting for the train from Jackson. Had breakfast with some teamsters. 4 o’clock the train has come and is going. Arrived at Corinth after dark. Up in camp I am. Heard of another fight at Fort Donelson. The rebels whipped. The snow seems to have disappeared from all places but Oh! so windy February 9, 1863. Monday. Weather moderate. Looking again like rain this evening. Considerable trading done in town. The Adams express is open again. A lot of Christmas boxes received here but everything is spoiled in them. February 10, 1863. Tuesday. It is very muddy today and is raining at intervals. Two trains arrived from Jackson, Tennessee. Got a check from our money sent by Lieut. Cook. February 11, 1863. Wednesday. It is very warm today but muddy yet. Am on Camp Fatigue. went after rails for the regimental bakery. Got stuck several time [in mud]. February 12, 1863. Thursday. Rained last night and had two or three showers today. Thundered hard. It is growing cold this evening. February 13, 1863. Friday. Cleared off last night. Is growing warm. Was detailed to guard a train. Went after wood beyond Chewalla, 11 miles from Corinth on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad.Had been very warm. Sent a Valentine. February 14, 1863. Saturday. Corinth, Mississippi. Thundered and commenced raining early this morning. Was a rainy day. This eve it thundered hard and heavy dark clouds approaching. February 15, 1863. Sunday. Weather damp and cloudy. Am on patrol. Rained and thundered hard tonight. Only one letter for the [entire] regiment. February 16, 1863. Monday. Weather damp and cloudy. Commenced raining on Dress Parade. Our Colonel was going to have us meet at Headquarters in regard of their being the anniversary of the surrender of Fort Donelson [but] on account of the weather it was postponed. Received a letter from Cincinnati. February 17, 1863. Tuesday. Weather damp and cloudy. Rained last night and this evening it is again raining. Sent $5 to O. A letter to 21st Mo. February 18, 1863. Wednesday. Corinth, Mississippi. Rained much last night. Today it is damp and cloudy. Went after wood beyond Burnsville. February 19, 1863. Thursday. Weather damp, windy and cloudy. February 20, 1863. Friday. Clear but awful windy. Growing warm and nice. The roads are getting dry. A nice moonlit night. February 21, 1863. Saturday. It commenced to raining this morning early. It’s been raining all day. Am on patrol. A detail left horseback for the Shiloh. February 22, 1863. Sunday. It is very cold today. The wind is rising. Very dark this evening. Big guns were fired today in honor of Washington’s Birthday. Sent a letter to Chicago with $30. February 23, 1863. Monday. Corinth, Mississippi. It is rather cold this morning but looks like clearing off. In p.m., the sun shines and the sky is clear again. Sent off a letter to Mich. and to Church and George. A third to Ohio with $2. February 24, 1863. Tuesday. Weather fair. P. M. is warm and nice. Evening clear and moonshine. Am on camp guard. Received a letter from George and another from N. Y. February 25, 1863. Wednesday. Commenced raining early this morning. Thundered hard. Considerable rain fell. February 26, 1863. Thursday. An immense sight of rain fell last night and today it is raining continually. 5 p.m. it looks like clearing off. Am on Provost Guard. Signed the payrolls for two months pay. February 27, 1863. Friday. Corinth, Mississippi.Today it has been warm and nice. Sent a letter to Ch. Alf. February 28, 1863. Saturday. Weather fair. Some cloudy in a.m. Considerable wind. Had general muster. Am on camp guard.
March 1, 1863. Sunday. Weather had been fair and warm today. March 2, 1863. Monday. Weather warm and clear and cloudy and windy part of this afternoon. Sent a locket to Katie Henrick. March 3, 1863. Tuesday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather fair. Some windy. What a splendid moonlight night. Send a letter to Jim Dy. Amboy Martin to his. 200 Rebels were brought in. Am on camp guard. March 4, 1863. Wednesday. Weather fair. Nice moonshine. The capture of the Indianola and the Queen of the West is talked of and believed here. Received $4 of the $5…[See The Indianola Affair] March 5, 1863. Thursday. Weather is cold and cloudy. Snows lightly. Got two months pay. March 6, 1863. Friday. Weather changeable warm, cold, sunshine and rain. Am on Provost Guard. March 7, 1863. Saturday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather the same as yesterday, Considerable rain fell last night. Thundered hard. Sent a letter to Rushville and to Cincinnati, Ohio. March 8, 1863. Sunday. Weather cloudy but warm; sunshine at intervals. Had an awful hailstorm this evening. Received a letter with negative note paper. Sent off a letter to Brigham. March 9, 1863. Monday. Cleared off last night. was quite fresh this morning. Went to Chewalla after wood. One car ran off the track. March 10, 1863. Tuesday. Weather cloudy and considerable rain. Rained much last night. Sent a letter to Chicago. March 11, 1863. Wednesday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather clear but is rather fresh and windy. March 12, 1863. Thursday. Weather about the same as yesterday. Am on Camp Fatigue. Sent a letter to Cincinnati. March 13, 1863. Friday. Weather fair and very nice. Received a letter from Cincinnati. March 14, 1863. Saturday. Weather warm and nice. Went on extra patrol this afternoon. Received a letter from George’s wife. March 15, 1863. Sunday. Commenced clouding up early this morning. Looks like rain. Went on weekly inspection. March 16, 1863. Monday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather like spring. It cleared off this morning. Sent a letter to George. Another to Cincinnati… March 17, 1863. Tuesday. Weather fair. very warm all day. Am on patrol. Had two shows and two balls in town. March 18, 1863. Wednesday. It’s very warm today. March 19, 1863. Thursday. Very warm—yes, hot. was beyond Glendale as guard to a wood train. Received a letter with S. C. from Cincinnati, Ohio. March 20, 1863. Friday. Weather fair. Sent to Chicago to Hilton for books to Philadelphia. March 21, 1863. Saturday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather warm. Like summer. Am on Paymaster Guard to Chandler. March 22, 1863. Sunday. Weather foggy, windy and damp. Received a gold pen from Chicago. March 23, 1863. Monday. Is raining mostly all day, Went after some medicine. Sent to Philadelphia $1. S. C. March 24, 1863. Tuesday. Weather foggy, damp, and rained at intervals. Received a letter from Michigan. Am on forage guard. March 25, 1863. Wednesday. Has cleared off but is pretty chilly all day. I received news of being detailed to escort prisoners to Alton, Illinois. Much pleased. A fair show for a short furlough. March 26, 1863. Thursday. Memphis, Tennessee. Left Corinth at 8 o’clock this morning on board the cars for Memphis. Arrived at 8 in the evening. Have 21 Union prisoners to guard. marched them through the streets up to the Memphis Prison. Took our quarters n the same building. It is growing cold and a change of weather is eminent. Hear of Rosecrans fighting. Are anxious of further news. March 27, 1863. Friday. Commenced raining this morning and had several thunder showers through today. Not much news from Rosecrans nor from below here. The 190th & 130th left this eve. for Vicksburg. Slept cold last night. March 28, 1863. Saturday. Memphis, Tennessee. Had a heavy rain storm last night. Is cloudy and damp but warm. Slept comfortable last night. About sundown we marched our prisoners to the landing but as the boat could not leave before Sunday morning, we had to counter march them back to the same place.Two of them threw their shackles off, consequently they were put in the cell. One of them escaped but the secret police brought him in after two hours. Hear of the morning train being cut off by a rebel raid near Moscow. March 29, 1863. Sunday. The wind blew big guns last night. Is growing very cold. This morning it looks cloudy and may snow. Later, it is snowing and raining. 8 o’clock a.m., our prisoners are safe on board the boat, Mary Forsyth. 11 o’clock, she is pushing out. Later, are going a pretty good speed. March 30, 1863. Monday. On board the steamer Forsyth. Slept about two hours upon two barrels. Had the colic all day ad last night. Tuesday arrived at Cairo about 3 o’clock a.m. Left at 8 a.m. Stopped at Cape Girardeau at 4:30 p.m. and met an old acquaintance. March 31, 1863. Tuesday. Slept sound and comfortable on some bags of wheat.
April 1, 1863. Wednesday. Is nice and clear today. arrived at St. Louis at 3:30 o’clock p.m. [Robert] Donnelly and myself arrested three persons (passengers of the Mary Forsyth) who were suspected of having stolen money on their persons. Stayed over night at [ ]field’s Barracks. Pretty hard place.
This letter was written by Edward H. Spooner (1838-1888), a native of Wampsville, near Syracuse, New York. His parents were Dr. [Stillman W.] Spooner (1802-1880)—was one of the original abolitionists, and Lucretia Lydia Thorpe (1813-1888). Edward taught school for a year or two before coming to New York prior to the Civil War where he practiced law in partnership with his cousin, Trueman Gardner Avery. He soon married Frances (“Fanny”) Bush, the heiress of Dr. Ralph Isaacs Bush (1779-1860), making him independently rich.
Edward was counsel for the American News Company when it was formed which was later purchased by the firm Beadle & Co. (publisher of Beadle’s Monthly). In the New York City Directory for 1860-61 he was listed as a lawyer with an office at 4 New Street. His name appears continuously in the directories until 1882, with the exception of 1864-65 to 1866-67, inclusive, when he lived in Madison county, New York, and 1868-69, although his address was not always the same. From 1863 to 1881 he lived in Brooklyn, after which he moved to New Jersey, and in 1887-88 he lived in Plainfield. From the Registry of Voters in Brooklyn, we learn that his birth year was 1838. He left a wife and a son named Robert (b. 1865) when he died in 1888. Obituary notices in The New York Tribune, March 30, 1888 and the Plainfield Daily Press, March 29, 1888.
Edward wrote the letter to his cousin, Trueman Gardner Avery (1837-1914), the son of Jared Newell Avery (1803-1880) and Cornelia Benham (1808-1877) of Wampsville, Madison county, New York. Avery was prepared for college at the Oneida Conference Seminary; was graduated from Hamilton College in 1856; studied law with Judge Israel Selden Spencer at Syracuse; afterward at the Albany Law School where he was graduated LL. B.; was admitted to practice in 1859; practiced in New York City; removed to Buffalo in 1860; soon gave up the law for mercantile pursuits. He is a member and a trustee of the First Presbyterian Church; a Republican in politics; a director of the Merchants’ Bank; a trustee of the Fidelity and Guaranty Company; a trustee of the Buffalo Orphan Asylum; president of the board of trustees of the Buffalo General Hospital; a life member of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, of the Young Men’s Association, and of the German Young Men’s Association; president of the Niagara Frontier Landmarks Association; and a Son of the American Revolution.
As far as I can learn, neither of the correspondents served in the military during the Civil War.
[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Richard Weiner and is published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]
4 New Street, New York May 1, 1861
Dear Cousin TGA,
Your letter reached me in due time & was read with great pleasure though its patriotic sentiments did not in the least surprise me. It was to be expected from one who loves his country as I know you do & I am glad to hear that you have enlisted though I hardly hope that you will be called upon to suffer the hardships that I know are attendant upon a soldier’s life.
I had a strange dream the other night. What do you suppose it was—that I had gone to the war & at the first battle met Frank 1 fighting on the other side—that we concluded we would not hew each other to pieces & so with locked arms stepped one side & enjoyed a pleasant chat while our comrades continued to fight. Don’t you think we did sensibly? A matter of fact, however, I do not believe that Frank will enlist for the Southern treason. But my dream illustrates the horrors of civil war in which cousins & brothers are likely to meet each other in deadly conflict. But this I think is much exaggerated. Peoples sympathies seem to lean very much to the land of their birth & so very few born North will fight for the South & vice versa. Therefore, I would not put arms in the hands of any of the [border?] State men. They cannot be trusted until there is no chance for successful rebellion.
I met J. O. Benett a few days since. He was warlike enough & said he had offered to take charge of Uncle David’s business if he wanted to go to the war as Major. I thought it a very good joke for I should as soon expect Uncle David would turn pastor as soldier. A gentleman who is afraid to walk through Buffalo 5 Points in the evening—Uncle David will admit it—would not hurry to face the music of bullets and shells. I do not know after all but you will have to go for the credit of the family. Do you hear anything of Henry?
As to business, I am doing something. But I think law is not going to be very good with anybody here for the next year & I expect to do a small, but I hope increasing business.
This is May 1 & there is due from you $15.62 rent & I suppose you will be very glad to have your liabilities here cease. I made a small fortune today on the furniture I bought of you which I sold in order to “raise the wind.” I sold your desk for $9, stone for $5 and the biggest thing was your chair & my two small chairs for $1. The things ought to bring more but the 2nd hand dealers won’t pay any more; and besides, this war has upset things that such goods are a drag and many law offices will be without tenants the coming year. Mr. Wheeler has the office where we were. I could have had it for $100 but did not feel that I can afford to pay any more than I am paying here $60. Law offices are renting very cheap, Soldiering may be the best business going next year.
My love to Uncle & Aunt & hope I shall see them next time I am at [ ].
Very truly yours, cousin Edward H. Spooner
I have just come from the City Hall where I got my certificate as Notary Public—not worth very much however, in this building as there are now 4 notaries it it. When I found two of the County Clerks defending secession and maintaining the novel doctrine that Jeff Davis is not a traitor & cannot be punished according to law for anything he had done, I told them that if that were so, he would be punished contrary to law. In such cases, if there is no law, we will have to extemporize a little. But there is law enough & if Jeff Davis ever gets into our hands, he will find it out. Amen say you to that.
As for my enlisting like everyone else, I felt that all should respond to the country’s call if necessary, & those who were adapted should volunteer. Even unadapted to the rough work of a soldier as I know myself to be. I went so far as to present myself to the 7th [New York] Regiment on the invitation of one of the captains with whom I am acquainted. Butthose who joined were required to remain for two years & not wishing to play soldier in time of peace, I declined to enter into the arrangement & have concluded to fight the opposing counsel only for the present.
This going to war is no child’s play & is something much more wearing & burdensome than either of us ever endured. I have no desire to go and regret it afterward. However, I would have gone in the [New York] 7th for the war only as that is the crack regiment of the Nation & each man in it is a hero—at least with the ladies. And besides, I am acquainted with a number of young men in it & would have had plenty of company though probably soldiers are never lonesome for the lack of it.
Father, it seems, has been urged to go as surgeon. If I was a doctor, I would go in that capacity in a moment for [just think] how a surgeon could improve himself with so many subjects to experiment upon. If I went to war, I should want to take my own surgeon with me. I expect army surgeons cut and slash at a great rate.
1 Franklin (“Frank”) Newell Avery (1840-1864) was Trueman’s younger brother. He died on 19 November 1864 in the military hospital at Keatchie, Louisiana. After the Battle of Mansfield (Sabine Crossroads) on April 08 1864, Keatchie College was converted into a hospital. Many Confederate Soldiers were treated there and the ones that died were buried in this cemetery. There are a number of unmarked graves, some graves marked with a “CSA” headstone, some with only bricks or stones. A number of Union soldiers were also treated in this same hospital.
These letters were written by Charles Henry Bell (1842-1898), the son of James Bell (1792-1864) and Rebecca Fletcher (1800-1883) of Haverhill, Grafton county, New Hampshire. Charles was single and working as a house painter when he was drafted on 31 May 1864. I can’t find him in military records but he indicates on his letterhead that he was a member of the “1st Division Sharpshooters.” His letter suggest that the regiment was being recruited as most of the veterans had mustered out by the time of these letters.
After he was mustered out of the service, he married Ann Allissa Willoughby (1847-1926) and lived in Boston where he returned to house painting. He wrote the letters to his older sister, Licetta Bell (1840-1902), living in Boston at the time. Licetta never married and lived many years with her older sister Calista Bell who was married in 1848 to Rev. William McPherson.
In one of his letters, Charles mentions his cousin Jacob Leroy Bell who was Captain of Co. G, 11th New Hampshire Infantry.
Camp 1st Division Sharpshooters January 9, 1865
I thought that I would write you a few lines to let you know where we are. We have got our camp nearly all cleared off now so that it begins to look a little more like home. Egan [?] and me have got our tents [ ] done except some new men that just come last night and will [ ] here their tents up for me shall all help them and it won’t take long to get them done. We have yet only about 75 men now but they are going to fill us up to 100 in a few days and then we shall have target practice every day and by spring shall get to be quite good shots for we have improved a great deal since we were organized. And now when we get short of rations, we go out and shoot some wild turkey or squirrel but we have got them pretty well thinned up now for there has been so many after them.
The regiment got some more recruits last week and they were all foreigners but they are a better lot of men than the ones they sent before for them can understand english and the others could not.
I wonder why that John don’t write, I have written to him several times but don’t get any answer so that I shall quit writing to him now for awhile at least.
How does Henry Mitchel? I suppose that he is enjoying the honeymoon now and I wonder if it is as grand as the honey that we got one night by moonlight when we was on the raid. I went to taste a piece in the dark and there was a bee in it that showed his contempt for the Yanks by stinging me on the tongue. But a thing that is not worth fighting for is not worth having.
I don’t hear of any news except the report that the Pay Master is coming soon and that is good news if it is true for we have not been paid for 4 months now and a [ ] from him would be very acceptable.
When does Capt. Leroy Bell intend to come back to the army. His camp lays about 3 miles from us now. We lay outside of the rear line of works near the Jerusalem Plank Road, He will know where that is for his regiment laid there in the camp quarters that ours built. Please remember me to him.
Give my love to all the folks. Your affectionate brother, — C. H. Bell
Camp 1st Div. Sharpshooters May 1st
I was very glad to receive a letter from you and to know that you had received some of my letters at last for I heard that you had not any of you heard from me. I was very anxious to hear from you. I do not see why my letters were delayed so long on the road and was very sorry to learn that you had been so anxious about me for I was well all the time but I came very near going to Richmond on the first day’s fight, for the Rebs drove us out of the woods in rather a hurry and I had to make my legs do their duty for I had made up my mind not to be taken prisoner. But we soon made them run faster than they made us for we opened our artillery on them and the Old 3rd Brigade charged at the same time and they left in a hurry.
We are under orders to march again and shall probably start in the morning. I don’t know where we are going. Some say that we are going to march over land to Fairfax and others say that we are going to City Point to take transports for Alexandria but we shall know by tomorrow night. I think that it won’t be long now before we are home again for there is nothing more to do now and they won’t keep the whole army long. I had as leave stay here now until fall for so many of the boys get sick that go home in the summer.
Please give my love to all. Your affectionate brother, — C. H. Bell