These letters were written by Samuel Connelly (1839-1918) of Co. D, 22nd Iowa Infantry. [He is identified as “Samuel B. Conley” in the muster rolls of the regiment.]
Samuel was the son of William Connelly (1812-1864) and Louisa Kilmer (1812-1847) of Cedar, Monroe county, Iowa. He wrote all of these letters to his girlfriend Sarah T. Patterson (1836-1908), the daughter of Samuel Patterson (1810-1887) and Malissa Mathews (1813-1880) of Albia, Monroe county, Iowa. But the correspondents did not “join hands for life” as Samuel expressed in his letter of 12 July 1864. From the letters we learn that their relationship ended by early 1865 and census records inform us that Sarah never married; she died “single” in 1908 and was buried at Lovilia. Samuel, however, took Paulina Odell Cross (1843-1937) as his wife in November 1866.
Samuel enlisted in the 22nd Iowa in August 1862 and spent the early part of his time in the service in southern Missouri.. During the Vicksburg Campaign in 1863 he was captured on 22 May and briefly held at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis until they he and the other prisoners were exchanged. Later in the war he was wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia on 19 October 1864 and he mustered out at Savannah on 25 July 1865.
[Note: These letters are from the personal collection of Michael Huston and were transcribed and published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]
Camp near Rolla, MO
December 24, 1862
I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well at present and hope that these few lines ay find you all well. I can almost speak now. I had an easy time of it I think that I can talk in a few days.
Capt. Wilson has not got here yet. I think that we will have a dry Christmas. We have very pretty weather here now. I guess that we will stay here all winter. I would like to be at home tomorrow.
Well, Sarah, I thank you very much for your kindness in sending me what you are a going to send. If you send them by captain, it will be alright. I will be sure to get them. All that I have to do is to walk about camp and eat. We have lost but four men out of our regiment by death yet.
Well, Sarah, I love you as well as ever. I always expect to love you. Give my best respects to all the family. I like soldiering first rate. It just suits me.
Yours truly till death, — S. R. Connelly
To S. Patterson
St. Louis, MO.
September 26, 1863
My Dear Sarah,
I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well at present and hope these few lines may fid you well.
Well, Sarah, I received a letter from you yesterday and was glad to hear that you was well. Well, Sarah, I am glad to hear the news that we are exchanged and will soon get to go to my regiment again for then maybe I can get some money. Uncle [Sam] now owes me seven month’s pay. We may leave in a few days and we may not leave for a month so I want you to write as soon as you get this and direct here till you get other orders.
I saw Frank Eshom [Isham] day before yesterday. He is in the Jefferson Barracks Hospital. He begins to look tolerable well now. He was up here to see us.
Well, Sarah, you wanted me to say whether I had anything against you or not. Well, Sarah, I have nothing against you and I do not want you to think that I have. I do not blame you for not going to see my folks if they do not come to see you.
Well, Sarah, I love you the same as ever and always expect to. I would [like] to have come home before I went down the river but I will not get to.
Well, Sarah, I do not want you to stay at home on my account for I do not know when I will be at home now. When I leave here, I do not know when I will hear from you. I must now close. Your lover truly, — S. R. Connelly
to S. T. Patterson
Camp at Algiers, Louisiana
July 12th 1864
It is with pleasure that I take my pen in hand to drop you a few lines to inform you that I am well at his time and hope these few lines may find you enjoying good health.
Well, Sarah, it has been a long time since I got a letter from you. I do not know what to think. It has been two months since I got a letter from you although [I have] written two or three to you. Well, Sarah, I hope you ain’t a going to forget me for I think as much of you as ever and my love [is] the same as ever and I hope yours is the same for me. I am a coming home when my time is out and then if you are in the same notion that you was when I left, we will join hands for life. I long to see that day. Oh, Sarah, you do not know what pleasure it is to me to hear from you.
In your last letter that I received from you, you said that you thought that as I was talking of going in the veteran’s [service] that I would like to back out [of our wedding plans]. I have no such thoughts and if anything of the like happens, it will be on your part. I am a coming home when my time is out for I do not like the Colonel that we have got now over us to be a veteran, so I am a doing to come home to you and I hope you will be ready.
Well, I will just say the boys in the company are all well and in good spirits. James Van Pelt and John Hittel is well. The weather here is very warm. This place is just opposite New Orleans.
There is an expedition leaving here and we are to go with it. We do not [know] where it is to go to. Some thinks it is to go to Mobile or to Virginia to Grant. Them that has left went on board of steamships and started down the river. 1
I have got Cuz to tend to my business. I expressed one hundred and sixty dollars to Cuz on the 23rd of June. My father owed me just two hundred and seventy-four dollars. I sent my account to Cuz.
I expect Park is nearly scared to death by this time. Well, I must now bring my letter to a close. I remain your affectionate lover, — S. R. Connelly
to S. T. Patterson
Direct to Company D, 22nd Iowa Vols. Infantry via New Orleans. Be sure and write soon.
1 The 13th Army Corps having been temporarily discontinued by the War Department, the 22nd Iowa was ordered to report to General Reynolds at New Orleans, was conveyed to that place on July 6th and went into camp at Algiers. The regiment was there assigned to the Second Brigade of the Second Division, 19th Army Corps, composed of the 101st and 159th New York, 13th Connecticut,3rd Massachusetts Cavalry, 22nd Iowa and 11th Indiana. The brigade was commanded by Colonel E. L. Molineaux, of the 159th New York. The 19th Corps, as reorganized, comprised three divisions. The first, General Dwight’s, was composed of eastern troops exclusively; the second, General Grover’s, had five western regiments and the remainder were eastern troops; the third, General Lawler’s, was composed entirely of western troops. The first and second divisions having been ordered to report to Washington D. C., the 22nd Iowa, with the 131st and 159th New York, embarked, on the 17th of July, on the steamer “Cahawba,” and arrived at Fortress Monroe on the 24th, after a voyage void of incident. On the 25th the ship proceeded up the James River to Bermuda Hundreds Landing, where the troops disembarked and, after marching seven miles, joined the forces under General Butler. These three regiments were separated from the division to which they had been assigned, the other portion of it having gone direct to Washington. They were temporarily attached to General Terry’s division of General Birny’s corps and placed on duty in the trenches, extending across the peninsula from the James River to Appomattox occupying a portion of the line in General Butler’s front until July 31st, when orders were received to report at Washington. The troops marched to Bermuda Hundreds Landing, where they embarked on transports, proceeded down the river to Fortress Monroe and from there up the Potomac to Washington, where they arrived on August 1st and disembarked. [From Regimental history]
January 15th 1865
It is with pleasure that I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well and hope these few lines may find you enjoying one of God’s greatest blessings—good health.
Dear Miss, I do not want you to think hard of me for not writing sooner for this is about the first letter that I have written since I have been wounded. Well, Sarah, when I arrived here, I found James Moore 1 and James Van Pelt. 2 James Van Pelt is a going to get his discharge. I do not know what they will do with James Moore and myself. They are both in good health. James Van Pelt is in a great fidget to get home and I will be very glad to see him get home for it is a great satisfaction for a person to get home and see their friends once more.
Well, what did you think of my not coming to see you again before I left home or going down to Eddyville with another girl. You may think that I asked her to go with me but I did not. But you will have to think as you will. I expect to hear of a wedding soon after James Van Pelt gets home.
Well, I must now close for it hurts my hand to write. Direct to 5th Ward, Camp McClellan, Davenport, Iowa. I hope you will answer this. Your fried and well wisher and lover, — S. R. Connelly
to S. T. Patterson
1 Moore, James J. Age 19. Residence Albia, nativity Indiana. Enlisted Aug. 2, 1862. Mustered Aug. 27, 1862. Wounded May 21, 1863, Port Gibson, Miss. Wounded severely Oct. 19, 1864, Cedar Creek, Va. Discharged June 8, 1865.
2 Vanpelt, James N. Age 26. Residence Albia, nativity Ohio. Enlisted July 26, 1862. Mustered Aug. 27, 1862. Wounded severely Sept. 19, 1864, Winchester, Va. Discharged for wounds Jan. 30, 1865, Davenport, Iowa.
April 15, 1865
I again take my pen in hand to drop you a few lines hoping these may find you enjoying good health. Well, Sarah, I received a letter from you about the middle of March and you said you wanted to know what to do with my letters. I answered it and told you what I wanted you to do with them but have received no answer yet and I would like to know if you are a going to send them or not. All that I want is my letters. The likeness you can destroy for I don’t want it. And if you do not want to keep the ring, you can send it to me. You can put the letters in a package and send them by mail. the money that I sent you I intend it for a present and I never will receive a cent of it back again.
[If you] had of acted as a girl should have acted, you would now have been my wife and it would have been before I left home on furlough, but I do not believe that you loved me by the way you received me when I came home. If you had of loved me, you would have acted different to what you did. It would have made no difference who had have been there when I came. You was always very long about writing to me when I wrote to you.
I hope you will answer this and let me know whether you are a going to send them letters or not. I will close. Write soon if you please. With respects, — S. R. Connelly
to S. T. Patterson