Dr. Alfred C. Hughes (1824-1880) was a born in Wheeling, Virginia, to a prominent family. His ancestors were Irish Catholics who had emigrated to Virginia in the early 1700s, and his father, Thomas Hughes, Sr. (1789-1849), was a veteran of the War of 1812 and a prominent local merchant who invested in lumber yards and steamboats.
Dr. Hughes, the seventh of ten children, studied medicine at the Homeopathic Medical College of Philadelphia before graduating in 1853. Upon graduation he returned to Wheeling and established a successful practice. Interestingly, assisting him in his practice was his sister Eliza Clark Hughes (1817-1882), a female pioneer in the field of medicine. Eliza commenced the formal study of medicine in 1855, and followed in her brother’s footsteps graduating from the Pennsylvania Medical College in 1860. Dr. Eliza Hughes was among the first female medical school graduates in the country, and was the first female medical practitioner in the state of Virginia. Eliza and the rest of the Hughes family supported the Confederacy and Eliza even had a brief personal correspondence with Confederate president Jefferson Davis. The Hughes’ hometown of Wheeling was predominantly pro-Union, and so the once-influential family quickly became ostracized. Alfred’s doctors practice was eventually forced to close, and in August 1862 Eliza herself was arrested after she refused to take the oath of allegiance to the United States; soon after her arrest, she took the oath and was released. She continued to practice medicine, but was increasingly distracted by the war, and she was eventually summoned to court and charged with slandering a pro-Union woman. Sources imply that her pro-Southern stance during the conflict also resulted in her being ostracized from the Northern medical community, as her name does not appear on all contemporary lists of female physicians. She was the author of Letter 6 and Letter 11 in this collection.
Dr. Alfred Hughes’ southern sympathies became widely known when he brazenly acted as a correspondent for the pro-Confederacy Baltimore Exchange. Hughes’ writings against the Lincoln administration ultimately branded him a traitor and when he refused to sign the Oath of Allegiance, he was arrested at Wheeling on 30 May 1862 and was received on 6 June 1862 at Camp Chase, a Union-operated prison camp in Columbus, OH, where he was held for approximately seven months.
While in prison he did his best to fill the many tedious moments of prison life by crafting many useful household objects and various other personal items typically found in a lady’s toilet. Many of these items can be now found in museum collections today. Hardly reconciled, he remained a captive until Dec. 25, 1862 when he was exchanged for the soldier brother of a Philadelphia physician. After his release, he moved to Richmond, Virginia. His family’s arrival there helped give rise to the belief that he was a peace commissioner sent to the Confederacy’s capitol in order to help end the war. At that time, he was lionized by many in the South and was even elected to the Virginia legislature. He advocated enlistment of slaves into Confederate military service. Among his many patients who he saw both during and after the war was the wife of Robert E. Lee.
Mary Kirby Adrian (1832-1909). Children were Thomas Hughes (1850-1941), Mary Joanna Hughes (1852-1939), Elizabeth Pitts Hughes (1854-1939), and Adrian Hughes (1865-1930).
July 13th 1862
My Dear Friend,
I have felt so sad ever since I received your last letter to think that unintentionally I have given you so much trouble when my only desire is that your mind shall rest perfectly easy is regard to home and all that you hold most dear, knowing that He who ruleth all things will take care of us if we only put our trust in Him and try all that is in our power to do only and all that is right. But knowing my dear Alfred that all of our letters have to be examined and not thinking for one moment but that you would know what I meant and hoping that your imprisonment would not be so hard to endure if good was brought out of it, will have to be my excuse. You know my dear Alfred that there are things that occur in every family that is most unpleasant to have strangers know everything about that necessarily. I cannot recall what is alluded to, therefore it is of no account to you & yours. I am compelled in writing to you to write in such a way that you might understand things that would be unpleasant—especially to me to have strangers know anything about, but I promise this thing shall not occur again. I was so much disappointed that I did not receive a letter from you last evening. I do not know why but I fully expected one. I have not been able to see Mr. McDermot yet. Will send down for him tomorrow and ask him to stop here and will tell him what you have written concerning the papers. Do not, my dear husband, give yourself the least trouble in regard to business matters. Of course I expected some trouble and have not been disappointed but some persons that I expected much trouble from have given me least and vice versa, but I implore you my dear Alfred, as you love me to keep up your spirits as I am sure we will get along.
My health has been improving every day since I have taken the medicine you told me and as I grow stronger I find that things do not trouble me as they did. Delia wants to know if she “bese a label” if you will have her for your girl but that she will not be a “lebel” if it is not for Jeff. I do not want to see you so very bad some times it seems as if I could not possibly bear this separation much longer and God grant that the time may not be much longer.
The last several days has been cool and pleasant here. I was so glad to have it so knowing how you suffer when the weather is hot. The pin and ring that I know you took so much pleasure in making for me I would rather you would keep until you can bring them to me yourself. Mother and Fan say they will write to you soon. All your friends desire to be remembered to you.
My dear Alfred, there is a better day coming for us. It will now always be dark and gloomy. I will send all the late papers in yours trunks and your cotton socks. I have hunted all the old ones up so that I can repair a number I order that you will not have to darn them yourself. You would find it a most difficult thing to do nicely. In fact, it is quite an accomplishment in any lady to be a neat darner and one that very few acquire. Send me word of there is anything I can send to you to make you more comfortable. Would you not like to have your lounging chair to sleep in hot nights? If you would and will send me word, I will send it by Express.
Write soon and write often for I would be glad to receive a letter every day and if it were not for other duties, I would be happy to write you every day. God bless you. Ever truly your wife, — Mary
July 21st 1862
My Dear Husband,
I have just this moment received the four beautiful rings you sent. The two you sent me are very handsome and I shall prize them very much. the lettering is truly most beautifully done. The one that has my Alfred’s name is most especially prized. I sent Mother’s and Hannah’s over to them and I have not yet heard how they fit but I presume they will be just right as mine are.
My dear Alfred, send your mother Eliza theirs as soon as you can. I am afraid they might feel hurt as you have sent me three and not theirs. Mr. Campbell sent me the note that he had written to enquire why you did not receive the intelligence and the answer he received from Camp Chase. I think that you will now receive your paper regularly. Mr. Bell called on me today and paid me 10 dollars and asked me to tell you to send me a blank order on him. I have got a great many papers to send you in the box we send and we will send just as soon as we hear from you what you most require. Do not hesitate, my dear Alfred. Send for anything you need. God bless you. Every truly your wife, — Mary
All is well and send much love to all.
July 27th 1862
My Dear Husband
I received your letter of the 24th inst. making No. 11 22 last evening and when I got it I do assure you I felt so certain that you were ill that I could scarcely open the letter, and when I come to the part which gave me positive truth that my apprehensions were not groundless, but alas were too true, I had scarcely strength to finish the letter. I felt like leaving everything and going out immediately to see you. But when I come to reflect, I thought I had better wait until I heard from you again.
Now my dear Alfred, do let me know if I shall come out for if you were to be very. ill and not let me know or to not let me come out and do all I could for you, I never, no never could forgive you. I know that it would be very unpleasant to have me exposed to all the different persons that I would have to come in contact wit whilst visiting you, but you know what sacrifices I have already made to have you do right and I am willing to suffer still when I have for its object the comfort of my dear husband. I shall direct this letter to Mr. Tiffany in the hope that you may get it much sooner than you otherwise would. And Alfred, do please answer it immediately for I shall be so unhappy until I receive your letter.
I was also disappointed that you did not tell me what you wished me to send you. Mother wanted me to send the box of honey out to you as she thought if you were not well, it might be good for you but I told her that I would wait until I got an answer to this letter for if you knew that we were going to send it, perhaps you would send for something else. If you need anything, my dear, let me know and then you can send again whenever you need. Do not be afraid of giving me trouble for it hurts my feelings to have you think anything a trouble I could do for you.
I went down to Mr. Shiver yesterday. The dividend due you was $30 which he paid me. He was very polite to me. There were a great many gentlemen present which was very embarrassing at first but at the same time I was glad they were there. He said in regards to his bill which of course I did not speak of, that he had a bill with you that he would make out this week and I could send it to you for you to see and receipt and that he would then pay me the balance due you. I thanked him and withdrew feeling most comfortable that the thing I dreaded was so different from what I had anticipated.
Mother told me to ask you who it was that you had fired to fix the cave and step at the hidrent in the house that Mr. Marshal lives in. Whoever it was has not done it.
Dear Alfred, do write as soon as you receive this for it seems as if I could not wait until I hear from you. Keep nothing from me. If you are very ill, tell me so. I pray God spare you and protect you and bring you home again in safely to your little family.
God bless you. Every your devoted wife, — Mary
Will Captain Tiffany have the kindness to hand this to Dr. Alfred Hughes as soon as it is possible and oblige me. Very respectfully, — Mary A. Hughes
August 7th 1862
I received your letter No. 27 last evening to late to answer and have it go in this morning’s mail. Do not, my dear Alfred, think for one moment that any of us are unwell for I am feeling as well as usual now and I do assure you that the little children never were in better health that at present.
You know, my dear Alfred, that I have many and various duties to attend too. I find that having been sick as long as I have that my work has accumulated to that extent until I scarcely know sometimes what to do first. But you will know there is nothing that could give me half so much pleasure as in writing to except my dear husband that of reading your dear, sweet letters. You have been very kind, my dear Alfred, to write as often as you have done. Continue to do so, my dear, for I could not do without hearing often. Sometimes I send to the office in hope of getting a letter and am disappointed. When such is the case, I am scarcely fit for any of my duties. I imagine that you are ill or are treated so badly that you do not like to write and tell me.
In your letter marked 26 I received the strip that you cut from the Cincinnati Gazette in relation to the exchange of prisoners. I mentioned to you in my last letter my having seen it in several papers. My daily hope and prayer is that you may soon be released and permitted to come home to your family for home is not home without my dear husband.
I cannot imagine what they want to hold you prisoner for. I am sure you have done nothing and they ought to know your word was worth more than those persons that have taken the Oath and say it is not binding nor it is for they do not think I want you to take an oath to support a state when they have failed in making any new state [referring to “West” Virginia] . How you could support a thing which they themselves do not acknowledge, I cannot understand.
I thought that I had told you that Mother and Hannah thought their rings were very handsome. Indeed, they prize them very much. Pinks’ Uncle John went out scouting and when he returned, his friends had retreated and the town was in possession of the opposite party and there he had to stay until he succeeded in getting with his friends again. I think the impression is that he has done so but I ask no questions as you know, my dear, that it is one of my feelings to never ask for more than is told to me.
Several of your friends have left to parts unknown. B. O., J. C., J DeB. These are among the numbers. I have heard that last night and night before that several hundred run off to keep from being drafted and the worst of it is that they are the very ones that were all in favor of having other people go to war. It is quite common now to hear of them talk of hiring substitutes. I asked our old friend across the way how she would like Will to be drafted. “Oh,” she said, “He would get a substitute.” I told her that I could not ask a poor man to do what I was afraid of doing myself. Mrs. Dunlop told her in my presence that she hoped that Will and both the Mr. Cran [sons?] would have to go—that she wanted all persons that were in favor of the Union to go and fight for it as her husband was doing. So you see how bitter the feeling is for them, even in their own party towards those who stay at home and say the Union must be restored at all hazards.
How I have run on telling you. what the general conversation is now. I hope this letter will not be considered contraband as I have told you no news. I have heard none to tell.
Write soon and write often. did Judge [George W.] Thompson 1 get the box Mrs. Thompson sent him? If he did, how do you all like the shirts we sent you? I sent you only one as Eliza made a mistake in cutting them and Mrs. Thompson sent the shirt of one of hers back as it was too narrow. She could do nothing with it. we could not get any more material like it so I gave her the shirt of one of yours which I had all done just ready to sew in the sleeves. I am making the other which I will send you the first opportunity.
God bless you and keep you my dear husband is the prayer of your ever true and faithful wife, — Mary
1 Judge George Western Thompson “was born in 1806 in St. Clairsville, Ohio, near Wheeling, Virginia. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1837. In 1832 he had married Elizabeth Steenrod, the daughter of Daniel Steenrod, a prominent landowner and businessman. James K. Polk appointed Thompson United States Attorney for western Virginia, serving from 1848-1850, when he was elected to the U.S. Congress, serving from 1851-1852. In 1852 he was elected judge of the 20th district of Virginia. He was succeeded in his Congressional office by Sherrard Clemens, another Unionist who would also have his own differences with the Restored Government. During the secession crisis in Virginia in 1860-1861, Judge Thompson delivered an anti-secession speech in Wheeling which he published as a pamphlet entitled “Secession is Revolution.” He had written to Abraham Lincoln on October 31, 1860 urging him to “secure able and upright men to aid you in executing your well settled & calm resolve to save the Union by a concession which shall not be unworthy of so momentous occasion.” When the Virginia secession ordinance was passed on April 17, 1861, Judge Thompson denounced it.” (See Pierpont’s Bastille—The Trials of Judge Thompson)
August 14th 1862
My Dear Husband,
I received your letter No. 32 this morning and immediately proceed to answer it. I think this letter should be No. 20 but if the letter I wrote you on the 12th was the 19th, then I am correct. Sometimes I have been able to keep a copy of my letters to you but whenever I have thought I had not time to copy them and that they might be too late for the same day’s mail, I have sent them just as I first wrote them. No. 16 I. was so fortunate as to have a copy of. After reading Mr. Gray answer in reply to the letter you wrote him, I went and got my letter that I had written to you and read it over and I cannot find one thing in it that would be contraband news. But he might not have liked my opinion as I expressed in regard to the treatment of my dear husband.
I do desire that you should receive all my letter to you. And as it would not give me one particle of pleasure to write in such a manner that I know you would not be permitted to receive them, I therefore always have been careful to avoid anything in my letters to you in the way of war news.
I received the little slip of paper giving the account of the death of a little girl from the chewing of fly paper. I know we have been in the habit of making use of it, but this summer I have not used any of it for with all care where that are little children, they might eat of it and the surest way is not use it or have it in the house.
The order from the Confederate War Department I have read before and will hear say that it will perhaps be best for me to make no remarks about it as I see what you have said in reference to it has been makes out in your letter to me. But I shall endeavor to wait as patiently as possible coming events hoping and praying that all will soon be right.
You say you see by the Intelligencer that some of those who run off to avoid the draft have been brought back and put in the Atheneum. If such be the case, I have not heard of it. I presume it is a mistake. I sent you this morning the New York Herald, Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Baltimore Sun using one of the labels for direction you sent me. I read [your sister] Eliza’s letter she received from you to Mother yesterday. She said she would do as you wished her to do but she thinks—and I agree with her in opinion—that there is nothing that can be of any effect to separate [your brother] Tom 1 from that vile creature but death which she said that she is wicked enough to pray for daily. Give him up my dear Alfred. Be determined to do right yourself and try and think no more about him. I try to control my feelings but when I think of his conduct since you have been taken prisoner, I feel such perfect contempt and despisement for him that I have not language to tell you my feelings and you know it is not my nature to remember wrongs but rather to look them over. But never could I forgive him unless he might be in great want of a friend some day. Then I might be that friend and forgive him all. We think that he has sunk so low as to write you anything that might give you trouble. Never mind him, my dear. There is terrible suffering in store for him for what he has made you and his good old mother suffer for him.
Write soon. Remember me to all. All’s well. God bless you and keep you is the daily prayer of your ever devoted wife, — Mary
1 Thomas Hughes, Jr. (1822-1886). Thomas worked as a merchant tailor in Wheeling, Virginia. He was 42 years old when he married Bessie McEldowney (1834-1875) in March 1864. They had one child together before Bessie’s death in 1875.
August 22, 1862
My Dear Brother,
I received the letter you sent me in the envelope containing one for Mary and today she received the one No. 41. Yesterday’s was marked No. 40. She is still getting better. Complains of headache but it is slight. She sat a short time on the chair this morning but seemed glad to get back to bed from weakness. Her appetite seems to improve about fast enough to be natural.
Yesterday Jack Martin came again for me to see Mort Gunther. I left at 7 o’clock. [ ] and returned at 8 p.m. which was 30 miles. I found Aunt laboring hard to get a regular breathing. She breathes so rapid and all the difficulty seems to be on the right side. The lung on the same side sounds hollow and wheezing like she may get along but I have my doubts about her being able to get home soon. Poor old Aunt. I pity her. Her family is broken up and she can’t hear one word about her husband or sons. She don’t know where they are—dead or alive yet. Jack told me he was so sorry you did not continue your business and submit to the powers that are over us all as they physicians in Wheeling had accomplished just what they [were] so earnestly anxious to do and some of them have said that you can never have the power to establish Homeopathy here again and they are determined to put it down or deprive you of your extensive practice. Alas! how depraved and selfish human nature can become when professional men will rejoice over the misfortunes of others. What can we expect from such creatures but that which is evil. There are times that try persons of honor and moral rectitude in a fiery furnace. The only thing for us all to do is to trust to provide for a speedy release from trials and fearful persecution.
Mary say she only hopes you may return home in safety and that there may be a speedy release for all political prisoners.
Did you get the two letters I wrote you and [ ]’s? One thing I forgot to tell you about the Iodine, the bottle containing the yellow powder is marked P_____ and the only Iodine I could find was a small quantity in the medicine case that stands between the door and window. I had enough to answer the purpose but would like to have a small quantity on hand for fear the children might need it….
All send their love. Write soon as you get this. Yours affectionately, — E[liza] C[lark] Hughes
August 28th 1862
My Dear Husband,
I slept a little better last night and consequently feel much better this morning. I received your dear letter marked No. 46 yesterday after I had written to you. No. 47 has just this moment come to hand. You do not know how delighted I was to get such a good long letter from y dear Alfred for I was led to expect from what you said in your first letter that you wrote in prison, No. 2, that I would never receive but one page hereafter. In your letter No. 46 Mr. Tiffany wrote me a few lines stating that you had written every day to me and that he could not account for my not getting your letters more regularly. I know that it is not my dear Alfred’s fault that I do not get them as soon as I should, and I am also perfectly well satisfied that it is not Mr. Tiffany’s fault. But you see, my dear, that I have received these two last as soon as I could expect.
Present to Mr. Tiffany my compliments and tell him I shall ever hold him in grateful remembrance for the many acts of kindness shown to my dear husband while held a prisoner and I hope that I may some day have [the opportunity] to express them in a more substantial manner, and if I do, it ill give me great pleasure to do so. And also too Col. Allison and to everyone that has shown any kindness to my dear husband for I have not language to tell you how this separation from you has grieved me. I have felt sometimes that it was almost impossible for me to bear that I could not live and thus be separated from you. But God is just, my dear Alfred, and we are often led to see that the very things we thought the worst for us proves to have been the best for us. But my dear, I hope and pray and fear and pray that ere long we will be permitted to be together again. Forgive me, my dear Alfred, for thinking for one moment that my husband would be so certain of release and be disappointed.
I am still weak and [your sister] Eliza says that hateful thing nervous. You know how it always offended me to be thought nervous that I cannot help but fear that you may still be held prisoner. God grant that they be only fears and that I shall have my dear husband home again soon. All well. God bless you and bring you home soon is the prayer of your devoted wife, — Mary
September 5, 1862
My Dear Husband,
The letter I wrote you yesterday should have been No. 29. My dear Alfred, I was told yesterday that you would not be discharged and that an exchange could be procured for you but that it was believed you would not be permitted to take your family with you. Now my dear husband, fearing such might be the case and also fearing that you would not accept the exchange under such circumstances, I write immediately to desire you to do so and if you can be permitted to come home and take your family with you, do so for Oh how happy I will be to leave all to go with my dear beloved husband. But if you cannot take us with you, do you go without us? Alfred, my dear one, you do not know how it almost breaks my heart to think of such a thing as separation from you, yet I feel I could better part with you to have you go to a land of freedom that to still be separated from you and have you remain a prisoner as you are. And if I cannot go with you, I can soon join you to there live and die. God will take care of us if we only do right.
My dear Alfred, if there is any thought of such a thing and you would not be permitted to come home, telegraph me and will meet you and travel with you as far as I can for I must see you before you go. The first time I was sick, the hope of going over to see you encouraged me too and helped to make me well in that I was deprived. This time I was sick I wanted to get well before you came home. If I am to be disappointed in this, I must see you before you go and then we can make our arrangements for my coming after you. Do not have one regret to leave Old Wheeling for I do not think unless things should become settled, you could ever live here again. I would have our old comfortable home if I could be certain I should have nothing but a covering over our heads—say, for instance such a house as you now live in. I should leave all—yes—if I had all the wealth of Wheeling. I would leave all rejoicing to be with my dear beloved husband. Home without my dear Alfred is not home.
I must make more sacrifices for the good of my dear husband Alfred. My dear, I would be willing to give my life for your good although I must admit that I passed the entire night before, I could not reconcile myself to part from you. I do not believe I am yet reconciled but I accept it as the best thing that can be done. If I thought you would be better to leave us behind, I could bear it much better for then I would be doing good for my husband. But I do not believe Sao for I think it would be better for us to go with you. If we cannot go, then you must go without us. Try, my dear, to see as I do for I feel if you go way satisfied, it is the best that can be done. I can bear it better.
I think I feel better this morning. I did not sleep last night for I was in so much trouble that I could not. I received your precious letter numbered 54 last evening. I assure you, my dear husband, I feel greatly indebted to you for your kind care for me although I had taken care to provide for the sudden change of weather yet it is very grateful to my feeling to know that my dear husband thus thinks and cares for his wife. God bless you and keep you and bring you home to me right soon is the prayer of your ever true and devoted wife, — Mary
September 11th 1862
My Dear Husband,
Today I am suffering with one of those terrible sick headaches that I am often subject to. But I am so happy at the reception of your dear letters marked No. 60 and 61 that I should not mind it at all only that I know that it will prevent me from writing a good long letter to my dear Alfred. How happy and light-hearted I feel in comparison to how I felt for several days. I tried to place confidence in the Lord knowing that in the end He would bring everything right but my dear Alfred tells me that I have nothing to fear—that I will be permitted to be with him wherever he goes. How happy & full.
Alfred, you can never know how much I have suffered for some days and feel so happy now that it appears as if I had some dreadful dream and just awoke from it. You were wrong, my dear Alfred, in thinking that the person that told me this was not a friend for they are a true friend to you as well as Judge Thompson and only had your interest at heart, fearing that you might not accept your exchange if you could not take your family. It would be improper to tell you their reasons for thinking and it does not matter if they only prove fears. The friend was the one that gave you the letter they had received from the Rev. Mr. Moore. Now you know, my dear Alfred, they could have no object to either distress or pain me. Coming from almost anyone else, I should not have paid any attention to it. God grant the time will not be long before I will have my dear husband with me. I feel as if it did not matter to me how my dear husband was reunited to me or on what terms except dishonor—that I could not suffer. I can bear being sent from home and all I hold dear to be with my husband & feel just as I have always expressed myself to you in regard to your taking of that oath & would undergo any suffering before I would have you, my dear husband, do what you think wrong.
God bless you, my dear Alfred. Do what you think is right in the end. I will write again tomorrow. God bless you and keep you is the prayer of your ever true and faithful wife, — Mary
Do not, my dear Alfred, be uneasy about me for I am still improving every day. You know it is nothing uncommon for me to have terrible sick headaches sometimes and to have to go to bed and stay until I get relief. I will be alright I hope tomorrow. Remember me to the Judge. God bless you and bring you home soon is my daily prayer. — Mary
September 14th 1862
My dear Husband,
This the Holy Sabbath day, the sun is shining bright and beautiful, but we now have no more quiet on the Lord’s Day. It does seem to me that the Holy Sabbath day sis especially selected and set apart for the most noise and confusion. The 14th Regiment is just now leaving here on their way to Clarksburg. It is said they are not needed now but they are fixed up and they thought better to send them out the road until they were needed but as there is six other days in the week, I think it is very strange that they select what ought to be the Holy Sabbath day—the day set apart by our Savior to worship and in prayer to thank Him for His kindness and protection through the week.
I received your dear letter marked No. 63 yesterday evening. I also received the slips you cut from the papers, one on Friday in letter 62 and the other in this last letter. I am much obliged to you, my dear, for them. I will, my dear, try to send you a paper in the manner you speak of. I do think it is not right that you should be deprived of the papers I send you. I have no doubt but they are thrown out at the office here.
My Dear Alfred, I have commenced to read the book, True Christian Religion. I try to read some every day. Tommy has gone through the catechism you gave to me just before you was taken from home. The other children I did not require them to learn to recite but read it to them, I do have them all pray for their dear Father every day, for the Lord to bless him and take care of him, and bring him soon home. My Dear Alfred, do not think for one moment I feel hurt at you for anything you might say for I know that my husband loves me and his only desire is for my good and you, my dear husband, know that I truly and devotedly love you and would do anything to give you pleasure and happiness. I pray God that it will not be much longer that we will have to be separated for I feel as if this separation were almost killing me. Forgive me, my Dear Alfred, but you know how dear you are to me and I am so lonesome and not feeling altogether well. You know how natural it is to become dispirited. I think, my Dear Alfred, that I am still improving and getting stronger each day. My throat is about the same as when I last wrote you. I still am very careful. I went over to Mother’s this morning for breakfast. I think a walk in the pure morning is good for me for I always feel better after breathing the pure morning air. I have felt much better since I received your last several. letters. I was so unhappy at the thought of your being still separated from me that it seemed that I had no heart or interest for anything but I pray God to let this trouble pass from me and to bring you home soon to me. I know that my dear husband has all confidence of being united [with] his family soon.
Mr. Friend was one amongst the first bills I presented after getting well. He told me that he would pay me just as soon as he could but he did not. I would have sent to him several times but hearing that e was sick, I preferred waiting until he was well. On last Monday I saw him pass our house so that I wrote him a note asking him to please to attend to your bill. The next day, Tuesday, his son called and gave me twenty-five dollars and said that his Father would let me have more as soon as he possibly could. Chat Wheat called to ask me to enquire of you if the Rev. Mr. Wheat that is a prisoner at Camp Chase was any relation of theirs. Mr. Tiffany did not take any part of my letter or rather your letter to me. It must have been the letter to your Mother he had reference to, as a part of it was cut out.
Alfred, my dear, write me every day if it is but a few lines for I truly cannot eat my dinner until I hear from you. God grant it will not be necessary much longer to write but that we may soon be united never to separate again in this world is the prayer of your true, devoted wife, — Mary
September 16th 1862
My Dear Brother,
Yours of the 12th inst. was duly received. We have not yet been [ ] to review our bonds. If Norton persists in taking me through, I will do as your letter advises me. Mr. Stansbery did not tell me. He told it at Hans Phillips’ with the request that they would tell me what to expect. Mother says for me to answer your letter for her. She called on Mr. Dulty for the rent. He told her he would pay it next week. If he don’t do, she wants you to tell her if she will. give it to the hands of someone else to sue him. And Mrs. Martin promised to pay as soon as her husband came home, but Mother doubts her and thinks she had better serve her as Dulty ought to be as neither of them have paid a cent. She also wants to know if there is a possibility of you getting home or to be exchanged. She thinks anything is better than a long imprisonment (that is, anything that is honorable). She sends her love and is anxious about your health. Says for you to write her about those business matters as soon as convenient.
I went out last Thursday to see Aunt Cynth. She was very ill, coughing almost every breath. A large swelling has made its appearance on the lumbar vertebrae and one in the right groin. Feet and ankles still much swollen. Her daughter told me she had spit up something that looked like a chicken liver streaked with blood. For her constant cough, I gave Hyoscin which had a [. ] effect on her while I remained there and sat up with her during the night. Today Jack came for me but I can’t go until tomorrow. When I told her what you said in your letter and headset word to her husband, she cried like a child and said for me to send her thanks to you and that she would pray daily for you to be released from your unjust bondage.
For some days past, I have had a kind of a temporary office at home. Walking there and back four times a day has, during the warm weather, brought on an excoriation which produces much suffering. What would some 25 remedies cost to begin on? You might need your [ ] when it would not be convenient to get others. I have about 87 dollars charged and have taken in but a small quantity so I thought I might start out on a small scale if I get the leading [ ] and the other small [ ]…
Last night I woke up and heard Mother crying at the top of her voice and sobbing like a little child. I started up and by the time I got half downstairs she had got over it, being caused by [ ] and I had just got back t sleep when Sing [?] who was sleeping with me waked me by the same crying so I concluded the wailings of mid____ had commenced in our quiet domicile. It seemed to be a strange coincidence for the fault of a hearty supper.
Would you believe it, Marshall Norton called to see Mr. G. during his stay in his sick room and was requested to walk up and see him. B. F. K. ‘s youngest daughter is on a visit there. I see Mr. G on the street. He looks as well as ever he did. Mr. and Mrs. Morgan came up yesterday to get some medicine fr their daughter who is going on a visit of ten day. She has not charged yet. Her Mother is very anxious to have that accomplished….
Your affectionately, — E. C. Hughes
October 5th 1862
My dear husband,
I received your very dear letter marked No. 80 dated October 1st on Friday evening. I was so much pleased and gratified to know that my letters to you had the effect to dispel so much of the sadness that you had so lately been suffering from. I know that I possess very little power of letter writing and therefore I was the more especially pleased to have you tell me that my letters were gratifying to you, my beloved husband. I write only from acute feelings and the strong love I have for you, my precious husband. The deep love I have for you, my own, is of that character that I would be wiling to die for you. I was not entirely conscious of how very dear you were to me until I was thus separated from you and I pray God that we will not be separated much longer. But God in His wisdom doth all things well. Let us, my dear, trust Him.
You ask me in one of your dear letters if I do not think you will be a jewel of a husband [and] that if I promise not to work you too hard, that you will assist me with my word. Indeed, I do think you are truly such and although I am pleased to know that you take pleasure in sewing and mending and in doing anything for your own comfort but when you come home, I shall think you have served sufficient time at such work and will therefore free you from such duties. Can it be possible that Judge Thompson gave you or any of the prisoners the impression that it was his intention to go across into Dixie? When he called to see me, I asked him if he were going south. I cannot remember the precise words he used but they were to the effect that Col. Allison had told him he was free to go where he pleased and that it was his intention to remain at home if the people here would permit him. 1 But I would not want to be uncharitable. His brother-in-law is buried today and I have heard that he would only be permitted to remain here as long as he [his brother-in-law] lived. He then may go South and do as he promised to do. We will only have to wait and see.
Sallie told me that her mother had sent word to Major [Joseph] Darr 2 that her brother was too ill to permit her to come in. He therefore sent someone out there to administer the oath. They did nothing that I know of. Miss Jennie and Kate had to take the oath and a number of others. The next day after those prisoners had been to see them, I gave Jennie and Kate the word you sent. They were much obliged to you and wished to be remembered to you.
I received your precious letters marked No. 81 and 82 both at the same time and you do not know how delighted I was to receive these dear letters and to know that the long expected Judge Hitchcock had arrived at Columbus. I do hope and pray that my dear will be permitted to come home to his family. But my dear Alfred, let us do what we believe is right, trusting the matter in the hands of the Lord, believing and knowing that He knows all things and that whatsoever He doeth, will have been for the best thing for us in the end. I would give all I possess in the world to have you with me.
This reminds me of a conversation I had with Mrs. Thompson. She may be to blame for the Judge conduct. I told her I was willing to give up all to go with you South. She said she was not for she did not expect ever to be able to have so comfortable a home again but that I might for I was so much younger. I told the difference that I had five little children to raise and educate; that hers were all raised and that I was broken down by sickness and though much younger, she was just as able to endure hardship as I. But let us be charitable. My dear, I would much rather have you remain a prisoner than to have you act in any way meanly. Do right and God will bless you and take care of you. Truly and devoted, your affectionate wife, — Mary
God bless you.
1 Judge George W. Thompson was released from prison at Camp Chase in September 1862 without having to take the Oath of Allegiance after arranging for a prisoner exchange.
2 Major Joseph Darr was the Provost Marshal in Wheeling.
October 13, 1862
My dear husband,
I am so happy to tell you that I feel so much better this morning. I do not feel like the same person. Yesterday I was very ill. The pain in my side was so severe that I could scarcely draw my breath. I suppose that I had taken cold but I find I am not able to bare any exposure at all so I will try, my dear Alfred, to be more than ever careful.
I was gratified so much with the description you gave me in your letter of your prison but it makes me more uneasy about you than ever. This constant hope deferred, this terrible anxiety about you, is so wearing upon me that I feel if you are to remain away much longer, you will fine me but a wreck on my former self. you know that I never was healthy at best of times but this constant trouble is so wearing that it is the mind that weakens the body.
Now, my dear Alfred, I tell you what I want you to do after waiting as long as you. think necessary, then if you do not get released in some way, I want you to let me go on to Richmond to try what I can do for you there. Do not tell me I cannot stand the journey. It is this inactiveness or rather this not trying to do all I can that is distressing to me. Set me to work with a prospect of your release and I am sure I will accomplish it if in the power of woman. Tell your fellow prisoners I will go first to work for you but I will not in my own happiness forget them. tell them to give me a carte blanche of all their wants and as I can have no selfish interest to serve, I will promise to do all that is in my power for their release also. And I am sure my simple promise is of more value than all the declaration of one who seems to have no regard for truth or honor.
Our old friend Mrs. P was over this morning. She told me of something that made it impossible for me to understand Judge Thompson’s course of conduct. One thing is that he—the Judge—wrote the oath for this government [and] that a gentleman told her husband that your lawyer Mr. Wheat, had said that he had the oath as written by Judge Thompson in his office and that they could not understand why he was not willing to subscribe to what he had himself framed. This she only gave as she got it, but what I am going to tell you now, she knows to be true for she heard him herself. The day the Wheeling Convention first met here, her husband wished her to go down to the house and listen to some speaking which she did but when she got there, the convention adjourned to Hornbrook’s Building and their was a debate between Mr. F. Colwell and some other gentleman after which Judge Thompson came in and delivered his charge to the Grand Jury which you remember of seeing in the paper. Then he made a little speech apprising of all that had been done for the preservation of the Union and that it was necessary for the new government to be here for the people of West Virginia ad he closed by saying if it was necessary, he would resign his official position and go forth to join the common ranks. This she heard him say herself. Now what has he meant? What does he now mean? God only knows.
I do not, my dear Alfred, want to be unjust but I cannot be blind. Therefore I must think his conduct is not what it ought to be. It is not necessary for me to say anything. The people here condemn Judge Thompson remaining at home for there are men here drafted that would not come out and join the militia that think he should go to the South and represent them. Judge Thompson got home before his brother-in-law made his will. The bulk of his property was left to Mrs. Thompson; Jim Finney and his daughters without a cent. I have heard several persons condemn this also. God only knows but I would rather be the Miss Finney’s than the Miss Thomson.
Trust the Lord, my Alfred, and all will be right in the end. God bless you is the daily prayer of your every true and devoted wife, — Mary
October 16, 1862
My Dear Alfred,
I received your dear letter marked No. 90 and dated October 13th yesterday. I was glad to see that my dear Alfred keeps up his spirits and does not allow himself to become discouraged. How many more prisoners are suffering for the same cause—-their love of country, and especially their love of truth. You have no idea how delighted I was yesterday. After I had written to you, my beloved one, I sat down to look over the morning paper to see therein copied from the Richmond Dispatch a correspondence ordered by the Legislature to be published between Governor Letcher and the Secretary of War. Read it, my dear Alfred. I see in the pending negotiations for an exchange of prisoners they intend to make [on] such terms as will prevent the arrest and imprisonment of peaceable citizens. Then they certainly will see to make arrangements for the release of such now imprisoned. And you, my dear, will also see in the same article the demand for the release of Mr. Duskey and Mr. Varner who were prisoners at the Wheeling jail at the time you were held in bondage there and who were placed in irons and sent to the penitentiary a few days after you were sent to Camp. Chase.
I do not give up, my dear Alfred, and sorrow as those who have no hope. If I had done so, I should have been in my grave before now. Bit instead of folding my hands in despair, I try to always look on the bright side knowing and believing that the Lord, the Ruler of the Universe who knoweth even the fall of a sparrow, will if we only place our trust in Him, bring all things right in the end though, my dear, the end does sometimes seem a long way off.
I received your dear precious letter marked No. 91 just this moment and also the note you wrote me after receiving my letter. I am so sad to think my Alfred should be made so unhappy although I was very sick and was truly alarmed, hoping not, but fearing much that I was again having another long spell of sickness. It did seem for a little while that there was nothing but trouble and sickness for me. I should not have written to alarm you but that I told you might depend I was well if I did not tell you I was sick. But thank the good Lord, I am almost well now.
The weather is very damp but I have a fire in my room. The children are all well. Delia has not had even a cold all this changeable weather. My dear, you were mistaken in telling me about having my picture taken. You wrote me to have Delia and Allie taken together and then separately and to have them framed and hung up in the parlor. If it will make no difference to my, my Alfred, I would much rather not have my own taken until I have you to go with me. You were also mistaken about telling me that Mr. Boggs took the paper for I did not even know when Bell Gashorn asked if Mr. Boggs was still there. I sent you three Heralds last week. Mother tales the Press yesterday & sent down and ordered the Herald to be left here every other day for it is almost impossible to get them unless engaged. I got a Herald and Engineer today that I ordered yesterday which I will send you this evening and hereafter you will look for the Herald every other day. And when I hear of anything interesting in another other paper, it will give me pleasure to send it to you.
I will write you, my dear, tomorrow and have written you every day this week. But do not be uneasy about me. I will soon be well and hope to live many very many, years with my dearly beloved husband. Give my kindest regards to your friends in prison—Rev. Dr. Baldwin, Judge Foster, and such others—and tell them they must all vie with each other to see who will make the time pass most pleasant and profitable while held prisoner, hoping sincerely that it will not be long now until they can all join their friends at home. God bless you and all is the prayer of your devoted wife, — Mary
October 19th 1862
My dear husband,
Your dear letters marked No. 92 and 93 and dated October 15th and 16th reached me yesterday. I assure you, my dear Alfred, the pleasure the reception of your seat letters have me was very great. I appreciate truly and thank you most sincerely for your words of cheer and communication of my desire of trying to do something for the release of your dear self and that of your fellow prisoners. You have no idea my dear, with what fear and trembling I proposed such a thing to you, fearing you might think my schemes were wild and imaginary and that you would think me the very last person in the world to send on such a mission & fully appreciate that the undertaking to one so little used as I have been to traveling alone will be very great. Yet I do not for one moment hesitate and I shall be perfectly satisfied with all the trials and dangers I may have to undergo if my future exertions will prove to be advantageous to you. And if you will always have reason too approve of my conduct, I shall be greatly rewarded for all of my undertakings.
I think it would be better for me to go as soon as I possibly can in order for me to accomplish my mission before the cold weather should set in. The older children I would leave with my Mother and I would either close the house and have Carrie sleep here at night and leave Delia and Allie with your Mother or leave Eliza come down ad keep house—just whatever you think best. One plan, I think, is just as [good] as the other as Marthy is beginning to have company now and Eliza is not much used to keeping house. I do not know but what it might be more safe to close the house. I could make all my arrangements and be ready to leave home in a week at the farthest. The only thing will be the procuring of a passport for that purpose. As I have no gentleman friend that I could ask to do me that favor, I shall have to depend on your advice in the matter or perhaps you can procure me a pass yourself. If not, direct me how to proceed about getting one.
You do not know how the conduct of Judge Thompson has grieved me. It is most painful for me to think about—much more painful for me to write of. Mrs. Goshorn and Delia was down here yesterday and said the Judge was there to dinner yesterday and I saw him pass our house which you know he would have to do both going and coming. Mother was also down here last evening. The Judge had been to see her and asked here to get Tom to write to Baltimore and try and find out if there was not some belonging there who was held a prisoner in Richmond who could be exchanged for you. Beautiful dependence you would have on being released depending on such friends as the above named.
Mother will be over today when I will talk the matter over with her. I am grieved that my dear husband should have to suffer unnecessarily so much uneasiness in regard to my illness but I was truly alarmed. I feared I might be very ill for I suffer on this Sabbath day one week ago very much and thought it better to tell you. But the next day I felt provoked at myself for having done so. I am now almost as well as ever so my dear Alfred, cast all fears aside, trusting in the promises of the Lord who has told us that [for] those who trust Him, He will do all things well. God bless you, my dear Alfred, is the daily prayer of your true and faithful wife, — Mary
October 31, 1862
My dear husband,
[yet to be transcribed]
Letter No. 70
Wheeling [Virginia]November 9th 1862
My dear husband,
[Not yet transcribed]