1863: Mathew Bell Scofield to his Brother & Sister

This letter was written by Mathew Bell Scofield (1836-1922), the son Joshua Scofield (1800-1840) and Ada Warren (1800-Aft1870). Mathew and his wife Rachel E. Dean (1839-1920) were married in June 1858. Their first child (a boy) died at 18 months, but by the time of this letter in May 1863, they had two daughters, Mary Frances Scofield (1861-1940) and Amanda B. Scofield (b. 1863).

I could not find an image of Mathew but here is one of Mathias Roseberry who also served in the 21st Missouri Infantry (LOC)

The 1890 Veterans schedule informs us that Mathew enlisted as a corporal in Co. H, 21st Missouri Infantry on 19 June 1861 and he mustered out on 5 December 1864 after 3 years and 5.5 months. In 1870, Mathew and Rachel were enumerated in Lima, Adams county, Illinois. Ten years later they were in Rocky Run, Hancock county, Illinois. In 1890, Adair county, Missouri, and by 1910, Woodward county, Oklahoma.

At the time this letter was written, the 21st Missouri Infantry was on post and garrison duty near Memphis where they remained until January 1864.

Other family members mentioned in the letter include:

Isaac Thompson Scofield (1826-1921) and Lucinda [ ] (1821-Bef1867) were married before 1848 and lived in Bonaparte, Van Buren county. Iowa in the mid 1850s. In 1860, the couple were enumerated in Farmington, Van Buren county, Iowa. In July 1862, Isaac enlisted as a private in Co. K, 15th Iowa Infantry. He mustered out of the regiment in June 1865 after nearly three years service giving his place of residence as Jasper, Camden county, Missouri. The family was enumerated in Fort Scott, Bourbon county, Kansas in 1870.

Zerah Costin Dean (1838-1891) and Ada Scofield (1835-1884) were married in the late 1850s and were enumerated in Johnson, Scotland county, Missouri in 1860. In August 1862 when Zerah enlisted as a private in Co. H, 19th Iowa Infantry, he and Ada listed in Mount Sterling, Iowa. Zerah survived the war. He mustered out with his regiment at Mobile, Alabama, in July 1865. After the war, the Dean’s moved to Salt River, Randolph county, Missouri.

Susanna Scofield (1835-1917) and David D. Loper (1822-1904) were married in August 1856 in Henderson county, Illinois. David enlisted as a private in Co. G, 34th Iowa Infantry in August 1862 but was discharged for disability on 28 March 1863 at Chicago, giving Lucas county, Iowa as his residence at the time.


Camp in the woods
2 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee
One mile from the [Mississippi] River
May 18, 1863

Dear brother & sister,

I now embrace this present opportunity to let you know that I am enjoying good health through the mercy of God for which I desire to be thankful, hoping if these few lines reach you they may find you enjoying the great blessing of good health. I should have wrote to you before this time but I didn’t know where to direct to you so you would get my letters.

Well John, I have just received a letter from Isaac’s wife and they was all well. Lucy said she had just been to see mother and the girls. She said that mother’s health was some better than she expected to find it, though mother’s health is not near as good as it was two or three years ago. Lucy said that mother could be up the most of the time. It’s only a short time since I got a letter from Ada and Lorinda. Ada and her oldest boy [Henry] was not very well at that time. Mother has been subject to have fits or something of that nature for two or three years. She generally has one every month and sometimes oftener which renders her health very poor. She is also very feeble with old age after the toil of many a summer and the frosts of many a winter. Mother and Ada Dean, and Lorinda is living on my place where I was living when you was there to see us the last time.

Ada’s husband Zerah C. Dean is a soldier in the 19th Regiment Iowa Vols. Infantry. I got a letter from him a short time since and he was well. He volunteered last summer in the United States Service. He is a first rate man. Brother Isaac Scofield is in the 15th Regt. Iowa Volunteers. The last letter I got from him was wrote the 29th of April. He was well at that time. He was below Vicksburg several miles. He said they was expecting a battle soon. Isaac is a nurse in the regimental hospital. He said that their health was better than it was last winter. He said they had the small pox in his regiment last winter but it was all gone when he wrote the last letter to me.

Well, it’s two days since I got the last letter from my wife Rache and the children was in tolerable good health the 10th of this month. We have two children living. They are both girls [Mary F. & Amanda B.]. Our oldest was a boy but he died when about 18 months old. Rachel is living in Illinois with her sister Caroline Clark. They are getting along very well so far.

It is not long since I got a letter from Susannah. She said they was all enjoying good health too except her husband. Mr. Loper has been very poorly for 4 months. He caught a severe cold & it settled on his lungs and he was 4 months that he couldn’t speak above a whisper. He got a discharge from the army a short time ago and has gone home. Susannah said she had rented out his farm before he came home and she said they was going to visit mother this summer if nothing [happens] to prevent it. She said her husband’s health was improving some but she thought he would not be able to do much labor this season.

“This wicked rebellion [was] started out of the rotten hearts of accursed traitors of the South and Negro stealers of the North.”

Mathew Scofield, Co. H, 21st Missouri Infantry, 18 May 1863

Well, John, I enlisted in the army to fight for my country and to help punish traitors and to help sustain our old flag and to help put down this wicked rebellion which has started out of the rotten hearts of accursed traitors of the South and Negro stealers of the North. We may say what we may about the war or the cause of it, but now is the great struggle to save the Union or to see it destroyed and be ruled by Southern traitors and I say, crush this wicked rebellion in the quickest way it can be done—let it cost what it may. It is one year and 11 months yesterday since I was sworn in the service of the U. S. I have been a soldier long enough to know something about the hardships of a soldier’s life. I have had some easy times and some hard times. I must close now.

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