All posts by Griff

My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries.

1849: John Magill to John Magill

Even with the address on the stampless cover of this letter, I was unable to confirm the identity of this letter which was signed John Magill and addressed to “Mr. John Magill at Patrick, Care of Messrs. Stevens & Peabody, Merchants, Eastport, Maine.”

Regardless of whoever wrote it, the content of the letter is interesting as it gives us a glimpse of the early settlement of Newburg, Wisconsin—a village located approximately 35 miles north of Milwaukee and 10 miles west of the shore of Lake Michigan. We learn something of the character of the village, the composition of its inhabitants, status of churches, and social affairs during the long, cold winter of 1848-49.

There was a farmer named John Magill identified in 1850 in nearby Cedarburg but his age, occupation, and family profile does not appear to match that of the author.


February 16, 1849

My dear parents & brother and sister,

I received your welcome letter of the 15th of January on the 14th of February. I am very happy that you were all in good health. I hope that you may still continue to enjoy as god health as I do at present and have for some time past. I am very sorry that I caused you so much anxiety. It was not from any feeling of indifference or forgetfulness but from a desire to have some better news to communicate. I did not wish to write until I could say I was fully recovered and at work.

I thank you, my dear parents and brother and sister, for your kind sympathy and your earnest prayers for me and also all those who have been so kind as to enquire for me. Please to remember me to them all—especially Mr. Millain. I was not aware that he was still among you at the time that I wrote. I wrote to you on the 19th of January which I expect you will ave received since that time. I have been at work at what think you? Why making shingles!! out of cedar for Mr. Reynolds, son-in-law to Mr. Frisby, mine host. I engaged to work for him one half month at 16 dollars, food and board. I have not worked the time out yet on account of his absence.

We are about taking a job doing the joiner work on the Poor House which is to be built by the 1st of May. It is to be a log building 50 x 30 feet. The job was taken by Mr. Wise [Weiss], a German Jew. He will put up the logs and then let out the job of finishing it. It is to be hewn down on the inside, roofed, double floors laid above and below portions put up, batten doors made and ten window frames put in. Mr. Reynolds and I have offered to do it for 60 dollars. I went out to see the man yesterday but we did not finally conclude the bargain on account of Mr. Reynolds being absent. I expect that we will take the job. The building is to be put up on the County Farm which is 4.5 miles from here. There is a man living nearby with whom we expect to board. Our offer is low but as for myself, I think I can do better than at present and Reynolds is about as hard up as I am. What I have done for him will be turned over to his father-in-law against my board. There will be plenty of work here in the Spring but when that will be, I cannot even guess. We have had the coldest weather yesterday and the day before that we have had all winter. We have had uninterrupted cold weather and deep snow since it first came. I have been told that the Spring generally opens about the first of March. This is called an extraordinary cold winter and last winter the reverse.

Dear brother, I am very glad that you have begun to build a boat. I like the dimensions you have given very well. I should like to be at home to assist you. I hope you will go on with it and have her ready for sea by the time I get home. I should think she would be very stiff from her breadth of beam. I hope she may realize your expectations in sailing. If you should get her done in time and could make it convenient, I should like to have you come up the St. Lawrence into Lake Ontario, thence through the Welland Canal and Lake Erie and the other Lakes to Millewaukee [Milwaukee]. But my dear brother, do not be offended with me. I mean no slur upon your undertaking. I sincerely hope you will succeed. I think from your letter that Flynn’s folks have got their boat launched.

There was no truth in the report that Mr. Young was dead. I have seen him since I wrote to you and I saw two of his boys on the 13th. They said the family were all well.

There is not much stir in our village at present. It is too cold to do anything in the gristmill. 1 By way of amusing ourselves, we have a lyceum or debating society. We have lately passed a resolution to have but one debate the week and to have a short lecture delivered by one of the members every Saturday evening. I had the honor to deliver the first. The subject was that of “Land limitation”—that is, that the Public Lands should be given to actual settlers in limited quantities. The last question for debate was, “Resolved, that capital punishment ought to be abolished.” I was chosen as one of the chief disputants. My opponent chose the affirmative which obliged me to take the negative. We had four on each side. The questions was decided by the Chairman in the negative.

You wish me to tell you something of the country. I do not know that I can give you much information of interest. It is settling fast. There is little or no government land to be had in this county although it was the last settled. A great amount of land has been taken up by Land Warrants granted to the soldiers of the Mexican War, everyone being allowed 160 acres and to locate it where he can find enough vacant. There are a great many Dutch [Germans] in this county and also a great many Americans, the greater part of whom are from New York State, some from Ohio, and last but not least a number of Irishmen. There is nothing peculiar in the manners or customs.

With regard to religion, the principal denomination are Baptists and Methodists. We have preaching here by the Methodists about once a fortnight. They are endeavoring to have a Meeting house built here this Spring. The plan is drawn out and the estimated cost $1000. There are a number of Universalists here. Frisby is among the most prominent. He is perfectly versed in all the arguments by which it is supported. When he first came here, we used to have frequent arguments but as there did not seem to be much gained on either side and as I had none to support me but one man and he was not here long, I avoid the subject. Since the Methodists have talked of building, the Universalists have been looking round to see what they can do but I think they are too few to do anything.

You see I have filled up my sheet. I do not know as it will give you much information. I have no news of interest to you. You, I presume, do not care much where the county seat is located nor take much interest in the plank road to Janesville, nor wish to hear the latest news from California—the principal topics of discussion with us at present. Write to me soon. I sed my love to you all, my dear Father, Mother, brother and sister, and my respects for all who enquire for me.

I remain your affectionate son and brother, — John Magill

Newburg, Feb. 16, 1849

You mentioned in yours Ja. Kerr had received a letter from Mr. Louden. I have forgotten where he lived—in Indiana or Illinois. If he lives in Indiana, I did not take the most direct route home. I have seen persons from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, in fact all the Western country. They describe it as being all very fine farming land but sickly and subject to the fever ague—especially Indiana and Illinois. There are several men here who would have settled there but for this reason but Mr. Kerr made very well there but from what I have been told, I should not go there. The most direct route for to go home will be the way I came, to go the way Louden went. I should have to go either to Chicago or cross the Lake to St. Joseph, a distance of 100 miles in one case and 70 in the other. I can go from Milwaukee to Buffalo in 3 and a half days, from Buffalo to Albany in 24 hours, from thence to Boston in 10 hours. I have been told that the fare reduced on the Buffalo route. 1st Class from 12 to 82 from 5 to 3 but I am no certain it is so.

My dear Mother, I am very glad to hear that you were well. I long for the time to come when I shall see you again. It has been a very long winter to me and I suppose to you. I have not suffered any with the cold having been mostly in the house. I have bought no flannel shirts. You know that I am not very partial to them. As to price, they can be had at Milwaukee as cheap as anywhere. They ask a little bigger here. I bought a pair of boots here for $2.50. I know I could have bought them in the city for $2.25 or less.

My dear sister, if James takes the proposed voyage, I wish you to come along with him if you are certain there will be no danger, but in the mean time I wish you to write me a letter or part of a letter. You need not be very particular in waiting for me to write. It was more than 7 weeks from the time I wrote until I received an answer. You may say that it was my fault. I grant it, but I suffered no little anxiety during that long time. But I can write no more at present. I send my love to you, my dear sister, and to George. Excuse blunders. Goodbye.

The Webster House in Newburg, Wisconsin (Washington County Historical Society)

1 The Newburg village history informs us that the village was founded in 1848 by Barton Salisbury who built a dam on the Milwaukee river and used it to power a gristmill and sawmill. Salisbury died in 1849 when he fell from a three story inn he was constructing in Newburg which was called the Webster House.

1864-65: Edward Aquila Howard Hall to his Family

The following letters were written by Edward Aquila Howard Hall (1844-1917), Co. A, 1st Maryland Cavalry (CSA) to his mother, father, or his sister from June 30, 1864 to Feb. 16, 1865 while a prisoner of war at Point Lookout, Maryland. Edward was the son of Thomas White Hall (1800-1889) and Carolina Ann Howard (1820-1897) of Abingdon, Harford county, Maryland.

Edward Hall, 1st Maryland Cavalry, American Civil War Museum

Hall was captured 27 May 1864 at Pollard’s Farm, Virginia, and was not exchanged until 21 February 1865 at which time he promptly re-entered the Confederate service. He was taken prisoner again at Hanover Court House, Virginia on 13 March 1865. His final poignant letter to his mother before being released from Point Lookout indicates his dedication to duty for the Confederacy, “…my duty calls me & I would be unworthy if I were to hesitate…if it is God’s will that I should fall, I will die happy knowing that I have done my duty.”

Another letter of 1 July 1864 indicates his dedication, “I could not desert the holy cause in which I am engaged.” The content of the letters offer tidbits of information about other members of the First Maryland Cavalry. For example, on 30 June 1864: “J. [John B.] Cary joined our company about a week before I was taken.” On 6 July 1864: “Poor Colonel [Ridgely] Brown was killed 3 days after I was taken.” On 26 August 1864: “I heard that 20 out of my company were captured the other day including the two Lieutenants.” On 3 November 1864: “Have the Hanways heard anything of W[illiam] Hanway yet? I heard he was captured when the army was over in Maryland.”

The letters also speak of having scurvy, mail delivery twice a week, receipt of packages, talk of parole etc.  The monotony of prison life rings true in his letter of 6 August 1864: “It goes pretty hard, I tell you, to be cooped up here with no exercise but the little I get by walking about the camp.” 

For those unfamiliar with the Point Lookout Prison Camp, it was described as the largest and one of the worst Union prisoner-of-war camps. Established in August 1863, it was located at the extreme tip of St. Mary’s County, on the long, low, and barren peninsula where the Potomac river joins the Chesapeake Bay. A 40-acre site about 1/2 mile northeast of the hospital was selected, and work began on enclosing the area with a 15-foot-high fence, with a gallery along the top of the fence for the guards. The fence also divided the prison into 2 sections, one about 30 acres and the other about 10 acres. The inside of the prison was a flat stretch of sand without any shrubs or trees. The dividing of the prison was to separate the enlisted prisoners from the officer prisoners. All of the prisoners would have tents instead of barracks for their shelter. The camp was only about 5 feet above sea level. By mid-summer 1864, there were over 15,500 prisoners. To read more, see Point Lookout POW Camp.

Point Lookout Prison at right.

Letter 1

Point Lookout [Maryland]
June 30th 1864

My Dear Sister,

I received your letter yesterday. Let me know whether the letters sent to me with money in were sent by express or not & whether any was sent in either box or not. I would like very much to have a parole of about sixty days or so. I should think that some of you could get a permit to come and see me. You say that you are staying with Minnie. How do I know who Minnie is? J. Cary joined our company about a week before I was taken. I have been a little unwell the last few days but feel much better today. Love to Father, Mother, Uncle G., and the rest, & to Uncle John & Aunt Ann, & thank him for the money sent me. I will write him and thank him myself as soon as I get his letter. I remain your affectionate brother, — Ed. H. Hall

(P. S. I just received the letters with money.)

Letter 2

A sketch drawn by prisoner at Point Lookout, New York Historical Society

Point Lookout, [Maryland]
July 1st 1864

My Dear Father,

I received your welcome letter with five dollars enclosed as well as Uncle George’s yesterday. I hope that you may be able to get a permit to come & see me. I would love above all things to be at home to attend to things for you, & feel that my services are required there, but I could not desert the Holy cause in which I am engaged. The time passes very slowly in here indeed. Please give my love to Mr. Brand & thank him for the bible sent me last winter. I received the gold sent me by Uncle George. All the oys from the neighborhood were well when I saw them last & there are none here that you know. Give my love to Mother, Uncle G., and all the rest, & believe me as ever your affectionate son, — Edward H. Hall

I wrote to Uncle John today.

Letter 3

Point Lookout [Maryland]
July 6th 1864

My dear Sister,

I received your letter yesterday evening. I wrote to Miss Rachel yesterday. All of the money letters sent to me have been received & I answered Uncle John’s letter immediately. Let me know whether he received it or not. I would like to have another box soon now. If I can get my profile struck, I will send it to you. Tell Mrs. Cary that Johnny joined my company & was quite well when I last saw him. I suppose that most of the servants have left by this time. Poor Colonel Brown was killed 3 days after I was taken. 1 Love to Father, Mother, Uncle G., and tell Pattie that I look for a letter from her next. Direct hereafter to Co. C, 4th Division, as I got a transfer. Love to Willie & tell him to be sure and write to me. I remain as ever your affectionate brother, — Edward

1 On 1 June 1864, the 1st Maryland fought a six hour struggle to defend the South Anna Bridge, during which Colonel Ridgely Brown was killed. 

Letter 4

Point Lookout, [Maryland]
July 15th 1864

My dearest Mother,

It has been several days since I received a letter from you. I suppose the communications have been interrupted. I mentioned in my last letters that I would like to have another box of eatables pretty soon. I wrote to Uncle George yesterday and have written to Miss Rachel, & Uncle Aquilla. I suppose they have received them ere this. I suppose that Father & Sister Agnes have started for Bedford by this time. Let me know whether Uncle John received my letter acknowledging the receipt of the money send me. Please send me some smoked fish in the box. Much love to Father, Uncle G., and all the rest & believe me as ever your affectionate son, — Edward H. Hall

Letter 5

Point Lookout [Maryland]
July 29th 1864

My dear Mother,

I received Pattie’s letter last Saturday which I answered on Monday. I am in hopes that I will get my box tomorrow as I am much in need of the eatables. There is only two mails a week now & it makes a good deal of difference in sending and receiving letters. Let me know whether Uncle G. & A. received my letters or not. I hope that Nannie is much better by this time. I wrote to Uncle J. the first part of this week. I suppose that you have plenty of fruit now—especially peaches. Gove my love to Father, Uncle G., and all the rest. I remain as ever, your affectionate son, — Edward H. Hall

Letter 6

Point Lookout [Maryland]
August 6th 1864

My dear Mother,

It has been over a week since I received a letter from home & I have been very uneasy indeed, for fear that something has happened to prevent your writing or else the letter has miscarried. I hope that Carrie & Thom. have gotten well by this time. I have been right sick for the last three days but feel all right today. It goes pretty hard, I tell you, to be cooped up here with no exercise except the little I get by walking about the camp. I have been used to such exercise going night and day, & now be compelled to waste away so much time in a place like this. But I think they will trade a few away like they did last winter even if they do not expect a regular exchange. Love to Father, Uncle G., and all the rest. I remain your affectionate son, — Edward

Letter 7

Point Lookout [Maryland]
August 8th 1864

My dear Mother,

I have not received a letter from any of you since the 28th of last month & I have been very uneasy for fear that you were sick or it would not have been so long. But perhaps they were lost or destroyed? Did Uncle John get the last letter I wrote him. It was written about the 15th of last month. I wrote to you Saturday & would have written before but was expecting a letter & thought I would wait. I hope that Thom and Carrie are well & there are no more cases of dypyheria in the family. Best love to Father, Uncle G., and all the rest and believe me as ever your affectionate son, — Edward

Letter 8

Point Lookout [Maryland]
August 15th 1864

My dear Sister,

No picture of “Poor little Carrie” could be found; she would have been seven when she died.

I received your letter a few days ago. Poor little Carrie—just to think it has been four years since I last saw her, and then she was such a little thing. I suppose that you have no likeness of her. 1

I think it quite probable that we will have an exchange before winter now. The weather is extremely hot now & I have suffered from the heat a good deal. Please send me some vegetables such as cabbage, potatoes, and onions, when you sends me a box. But do not put yourself to any inconvenience about it. I expect you have had so much trouble & nursing lately that you are nearly broken down. Love to Father, Mother, Uncle G., and all the rest, & believe me as ever your affectionate brother, — Edward H. Hall

Send some stamps.

1 Carrie Howard Hall (1856-1864) died on 4 August 1864.

Letter 9

Point Lookout, [Maryland]
August 18th 1864

My dear Mother,

I received your letter of the 13th & Minnie’s of the 15th yesterday. I am very glad to hear that Tom has gotten better. You can send me a box as soon as it is convenient now as we are out some vegetables & a good shoulder, or middling. If you have not sent the box yet, send a pair of No 7.5 shoes as my old ones are worn out. I will have my photograph taken soon as I get money enough. I wrote o Agnes. I suppose she has received it ere this. I can get 12 taken for 4 dollars. It has gotten much cooler now & it is quite pleasant. Love to Father, Uncle G., and all the rest. I remain as ever your affectionate son, — Edward

Letter 10

Point Lookout [Maryland]
August 26th 1864

My dear Mother,

I received your letter & Etta’s yesterday. I suppose you have received a letter before this acknowledging the receipt of the box & jacket. I got everything that was sent & the “sugar.” I try and make myself as easy as possible here. It does no good fretting. I suppose we will be exchanged some of these days. I heard that 20 out of my company were captured the other day including 2 lieutenants. I have no news to tell as I can’t write what I would [like] to but I suppose that it is a pleasure to know that I am well. I will let you know if they make any arrangements about letting us receive boxes again. Love to Father, Uncle G., and all the rest. I remain as ever your affectionate son, — Edward

Letter 11

Prison Scenes from Point Lookout, New York Historical Society

Point Lookout [Maryland}
September 1st 1864

My dear Mother,

I received your welcome letter yesterday. I can’t get a permit here to get a pair of shoes, so you need not trouble yourself about them yet. I will write to you when to send them. We are allowed to receive money yet, but everything is so high that it does very little good. I have never received a letter since I got the money from Uncle John & suppose if he wrote it, was stopped. I got Howard’s likeness & think it was very good. Looked like Tom used to. Tell Nancy that she need not to write to me anymore as we are only allowed to receive letters from our nearest relatives. Love to Father, Uncle George, & all the rest. I remain as ever your affectionate son, — Edward

They are must stricter than they used to be.

Letter 12

Point Lookout, [Maryland]
October 18th 1864

My dear Mother,

Your letter of the 12th with fifty cents and six stamps enclosed reached me yesterday. I was very glad Miss H. R. received my letter. I have not hear from Minnie since I received my things. I do not know Bob Fall’s company or whether he is here. My teeth are not in a very good condition although I am very careful with them. I had one pulled the other day. The water sure blacks them so & I had no chance of getting them attended to down South. I think I have been very fortunate in keeping my health since here & ought to be thankful as a good many healthy ones have died in the same time. Love to all. as ever your affectionate son, — Edward

Letter 13

Point Lookout, [Maryland]
November 3rd 1864

My dear Mother,

It has been 3 weeks since I received a letter from you. One from Hen last week. I have written to you twice a week. It is raining a little now & quite disagreeable. I have been trying to get a blank for a permit but have not been able to get one yet. Have the Hanways heard anything of W[illiam] Hanway yet? I heard he was captured when the army was over in Maryland. I have never heard anything of Bob Falls yet. How long has it been since Aunt Hen. has been on friendly terms or don’t she visit you yet? Best love to Father, Uncle George, & all the rest. As ever your affectionate son, — Edward

Letter 14

Point Lookout [Maryland]
November 21, 1864

My dear Mother,

I received your letter of the 14th today with 50 cents & six stamps enclosed. I got the two dollars sent and received a letter from Uncle John with five dollars enclosed yesterday. The weather is very disagreeable. Been raining for a week. The sutler is not selling any eatables now but I hope will commence soon. I sent a permit to you for some little articles & suppose you have received it ere this. I intend trying to get one for some diet from the Dr. as I have the scurvy. Otherwise my health is pretty good. I intend getting my likeness taken this week & send you. Best love to Father, Uncle George, and all the rest. as ever your affectionate son, — Edward H. Hall

Letter 15

Point Lookout [Maryland]
February 15th 1865

My dearest Mother,

I have been called out & expect to be paroled soon now, to go South. May leave in a day or two. I will miss your letters very much. How I wish I could be with you but my duty calls me & I would be unworthy if I were to hesitate. I hope that there will soon be peace so that I can return to all those I love so dearly, but if it is God’s will that I should fall I will die happy knowing that I have done my duty, but I trust that I may survive this war, & be a comfort to you yet. I will write to Father & Uncle George before I leave. I received the box of eatables today. I can’t find out anything about the tools. Philips received his box this morning. He is going off with me. Best love to Father, Uncle George, Uncle John, Aunt Ann, Uncle Aquilla, & all the rest of my relations. As ever, your fond son, — Edward H. Hall

1862: Augustus Marcellus Foute to Daniel Ruggles

The following letter was written by Augustus Marcellus Foute (1819-1894) who served as an A. A. D. C. to Brig. General Daniel Ruggles from 20 June 1862 to 1 September 1862 at which time he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. He was then assigned to command the city of Jackson, Mississippi, which is where he was posted when he wrote this letter. Following that, in 1863, he was assigned to duty as acting inspector-general on the staff of Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton.

Foute was born in Tennessee, was educated at Yale College, and practiced law with his father at Jackson, Mississippi, many years. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was President of the Gayoso Savings Bank in Memphis, Tennessee. After the war, Foute engaged in the banking business in New York.


Headquarters Post
Jackson [Mississippi]
September 22nd 1862

Brig. General Ruggles
Commanding District of Mississippi

Sir, I have the honor to make known to you the following facts. The two companies stationed at this place as Post Guards have been so constantly on duty—frequently as long as 48 hours without being relieved—that sickness is increasing among them to an alarming extent. Furthermore, the large number of disorganized soldiers at this place and the constant arrival of prisoners arriving to be forwarded for exchange and other purposes renders it imperatively necessary that the Post Guard be strengthened.

Upon inquiry, I have been led to believe that did the request come from you, Maj. General [Tullius Cicero] Tupper would order a Battalion of Militia to this point. Hoping General that a sufficient guard of at least one hundred & fifty men may at once be ordered to this Post, I have the honor to be respectfully, — August M. Foute, Lt. Col. Commanding Post

1863: Walton William Fuller to Esther Fuller

The following letter was written by 56 year-old Walton William Fuller (1807-1894) and several other members of his family to his daughter Esther. In the 1860 US Census, 53 year-old Walton and his family were residing in Evergreen, Conecuh county, Alabama. His wife, Esther (Parker) Fuller (1805-1885), whom he married in 1832.

From the 1850 US Census, we learn that there were at least ten children born to Walton and Esther Fuller: Jane (b. 1833), Elizabeth (b. 1834), Walton William, Jr. (1835-1862), Emily (b. 1839), Daniel (1840-1864), Rachel (b. 1841), Andrew (b. 1843), John (b. 1845), Esther (b. 1846), and Zachariah T. (b. 1848).

The letter was addressed to his 18 year-old daughter Esther Fuller (1845-1914) although her location is not revealed.

Late in the war, or afterwards, the family relocated to Fort Gaines, Clay county, Georgia, where Walton and wife Esther lived out their days.

Emily (l) and Esther (r) Fuller in advanced years


Conecuh County, Alabama
December 16, 1863

Dear daughter,

I will write to you although I do not get any letter from you. I have not got but one letter from you in better than two months and that one had been wrote a month when I got it. But I promised you to write every two weeks and I do so. Sis, I think you write but I do not get the letters. We are all well but Zack. He is puny yet sometimes. He misses the chills and sometimes he has them. He is not well. I wrote to you that Liz and Puss had moved out here but I have had no answer so I do not know whether you got it or not. They are living in the Smith house but we do not know yet whether they will get to stay there all next year or not. The place has been sold and Alty Wilson bought it but she don’t want to move and I do not know yet what she will do with it.

Goodbye Sis. Write soon and tell me all the news. — [Walton W. Fuller]

Liz and family is all well. 1 I got a letter from [her husband, Moses] Joiner last week and he was well but not satisfied. He is at Pollard and faring bad about something to eat. Sis, I got a letter from Martha 2 last week and it is the last one I shall get in a long time. The Yankees has got all that part of Mississippi and has been to her father’s and broke them all up so they are a going to Louisiana to Claiborne Parish and she says the river is blockaded so there will be no chance to send a letter.

Sis, Martha got your letter but it had been wrote so long that the Yankees had been there and tore up the railroad and [post] office so she could not send an answer, but she told me to tell you she was glad to get it and if the times gets so she can, she will write to us again. She told me to tell you that if she ever can see a chance, she will send you her likeness.

Sis, I have wrote to you so much and get none from you, I hardly know how to write. — Esther to Esther Fuller

Dear sister,

You have been wanting me to write to you but I have been sick all the fall and I am not well yet. But I will write some anyhow. I have not went about to hear much news in a long time but I went to see Jeb Sheffield one time and he was so bad off that he could not move hand nor foot, but he is getting well now. James Sheffield was killed 3 and Hard 4 was wounded in both knees. Jesse Thomas is at [home] wounded in the knee. Pappy is going to move Riley Jackson’s wife to Florida. We look for him on Sunday. Gid[eon] Pritchett 5 is going to Tennessee but was so sick when they got to Evergreen, they let him come home five days but he did not get well but had to go on.

I have got Bulger trained to treeing a possum and if you will come at Christmas, I will give you a good fat possum to eat. I have not had a quarrel with old Mrs. Daniel in a long time but I tell [you], the last time I give her the low down.

Goodbye sis, — Zack T. Fuller

Conecuh Co., Alabama
December 16th 1863

Dear Sister,

I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that we are all well but Zack. He has the chills yet. Sis, I have just got out the clothes & Sis, you must write to me. I have wrote to you since [but] I have [not] any answer and I don’t know what to write. Sis don’t have nothing to do with Alice for she has talked about us scandals and [ ] with Ma and Pa and told Pa to his face that he would not do nothing for her. Sis, everybody said that Alice was in the family way and I believe it for she moved her washing from her for more than a month or more and would not come here. Sis, keep your [ ] for she has destroyed the rest of her things. I must close, Write soon. — S[arah] R[achel] Fuller

1 Elizabeth Fuller (1834-1910) was married to Moses Q. Joiner (1821-Aft1870) in 1856. The couple had three young children at home in Escambia, Florida, when Moses accepted a bounty and enlisted in Co. F, 2nd Battalion Florida Infantry during the Civil War. The regiment was posted at Pollard, Alabama, at the time of this letter.

2 Martha Ann Brickman (1838-1868) was the wife of Walton William Fuller, Jr. (1835-1903). She was the daughter of Michael James Bickham (1810-1865) and Sarah Jane Erwin (1815-18xx) of Wesson, Copiah, Mississippi. Martha died in 1868 at Claiborne Parish, Louisiana.

3 James Sheffield (1832-1862) was a farmer in Evergreen, Conecuh county, Alabama, before the Civil War. He was married to Nancy Jane Barlow (1830-1921) in 1856 and left small children at home when he left to join Capt. Welch’s Co. E, 38th Alabama Infantry. He was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga on 18 September 1862.

4 “Hard” was William Hardy Sheffield (1840-1935), the younger brother of James Sheffield. He served in Co. K, 21st Alabama Infantry.

5 Gideon Pritchett (1822-1909) was living in Conecuh County, Alabama when he was conscripted to the war on 29 October 1863 at Mobile, Alabama with Co. B, 4th Louisiana Infantry.

1862: John McDonald to Sarah McDonald

An unidentified North Carolina soldier
(Adam Ochs Fleischer Collection)

The following letter was written by John McDonald (1833-1897) who was conscripted into service on 20 July 1863 and assigned to replenish the ranks of Co. C, 3rd North Carolina. Most of the members of Co. C were from Cumberland county when it was first formed in May 1861.

John’s letter was written from Richmond on 2 August 1862 after being in the service only two weeks. He joined the 3rd North Carolina just days before Lee launched his Maryland Invasion. They were in the reserve at 2nd Bull Run and Chantilly, only marginally engaged at South Mountain, but at Sharpsburg, members of the regiment burned the Mumma farm buildings and then changed front to the north to support Jackson’s men near the Dunker Church. An intense fire fight followed against the Federals of Hooker and Mansfield and the regiment was out of ammunition when reinforcements from Hill and Hood arrived. Federal reinforcements also arrived under Summner and forced the Confederate line back. Reinforcements from Walker and McLaws arrived and advanced over the regiment as it lay prone at the edge of the field. The reinforcements allowed the regiment to temporarily withdraw and refill its ammuition, after which it returned to the fight. After the fighting died down at the end of the day it fell back to a position near the Dunker Church.

During the day’s fighting at Sharpsburg, John took a gunshot wound to his left leg, fracturing the bone and temporarily disabling him. Left on the field, he was taken prisoner and not exchanged until 15 February 1863. After he was exchanged he was often absent from the regiment due to sickness or on detached service until Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.

John was the son of Alexander McDonald (1810-1879), an emigrant from Scotland who came to North Carolina in 1833. In the 1860 US Census, the McDonald family was enumerated in Carthage, Moore county, North Carolina. John wrote the letter to his older sister, Sarah McDonald (b. 1830).


Addressed to Miss Sarah McDonald, Carthage, N. C.

Richmond, Virginia
August 2, 1862

Dear Sister,

I take my pen in hand to drop you a few lines to inform you that I am well, hoping this may find you all well.

Last Wednesday at four o’clock, we left Camp Holmes and reached Weldon about 12 o’clock that night. Thursday morning we left Weldon [and] reached Petersburg about 12 o’clock. Four o’clock we started for Richmond. Arrived there about 6 o’clock Thursday evening. We then had to shoulder our musket and march 4 miles to this place northeast of Richmond. It was after dark when we came here. There was no tents for us to put up. Some of us got into tents which were not full. The rest had to sleep without tents.

Friday morning we were divided among the companies of the 3rd Regiment N. C. Troops. Myself and 16 more of the Moore County boys are in Co. C, H[enry] W. Horn Captain. There are 450 conscripts in this regiment, 65 of them is from Moore County. 18 of our men were left at Camp Holmes for camp guards. 12 or 13 deserted. About 400 of the conscripts deserted last Sunday night.

I have got a plenty to eat so far but some are complaining. I could write a great deal more but there is so much noise about here so I must close hoping to hear soon from you. Your affectionate brother, — John McDonald

Address Richmond, Va. care of H[enry] W. Horn, 3rd Regt. N. C Troops

1863: Benjamin Franklin O’Bryon to Elizabeth (Beck) O’Bryon

The following letter was written by Sgt. Benjamin Franklin (“Frank”) O’Bryon (1837-1864) who enlisted in Co. E, 22 August 1862. Frank was from Uniontown, Fayette county, Pennsylvania. He was married to Elizabeth Beck in June 1858 and at the time he entered the service, the couple had a son named Charles G. O’Bryon who was born in July 1859.

Unfortunately for his family, Frank did not return home from the war. He was killed in action at Rural Plains, or Battle of Totopotomy Creek, Virginia on 31 May 1864.

The following brief note, scribbled in pencil by a comrade in Co. E, appears in the Widow’s Pension Claim record:

Camp on the field
May the 31st 1864

Mrs. B. F. O’Bryon,

I thought as I had heard of your husband’ B. F. O’Bryon being killed on skirmish line today, that as I was the only one that knew where you lived, that it was no more than my duty to inform you that he was killed today. I am sorrow to say it but it is my duty to do so. I have no more to write. Excuse mistakes and bad writing as I am in a hurry.

Yours in haste, — H. C. Diffenderffer


Camp near Falmouth, Va.
Thursday, April 25th 1863

Dear Wife,

Today is a dreary day in the Army of the Potomac. That forward move has been so long talked is again delayed by rain and mud so all we can do is to watch the enemy and I believe if all accounts are true, we can do more good than by fighting, for I have now become convinced that their supplies are about out from the way [they] look and from their anxiety to traffic with our boys for coffee and anything that is fit to eat. And there is more deserting by them at any time since we have [been] in the Army of the Potomac which is a good omen that they are about played out in Fredericksburg.

“And I trust the time may soon come they will have to give up the struggle in this unrighteous war for I [think] there has been enough blood spilt to purge the Nation. But the Lord only knows when this war is a going to stop.”

Sgt. Frank O’Bryon, Co. E, 140th Penn. Vols., 25 April 1863

And I trust the time may soon come they will have to give up the struggle in this unrighteous war for I [think] there has been enough blood spilt to purge the Nation. But the Lord only knows when this war is a going to stop. From present appearances we are going to have a war with England. If that be the case, look out for squally times in America.

But let’s change the subject, You stated in one of your letters that you had sent me postage stamps. I would say in reply that I have received stamps twice and have received no papers at all. I would like to get a couple of Genius [of Liberty] 1 to show what kind of traitors we have at home. I think that they imagine that kind of doctrine suits the soldiers. There is one thing if this regiment was in Uniontown, the Genius [of Liberty] would not stand twenty-four hours. If you can borrow a [American] Standard from Mrs. Stone that has the war resolutions that was passed in our regiment, you can form an idea of the news that we hold out here in front of the enemy. I don’t [think] the Genius [of Liberty] can say about us what they [say] in regard to Amzi Fuller’s Company or Regiment—that we are getting large pay and doing no service for our country.

There was yesterday some two-year’s service men mustered out of the service for to go home. I tell you what, they cheered and then they played the “Farewell March,” though a great many said they would enter the service again.

I believe I must stop for today. Please let me know whether you got the money, I intend on trying to get a pass to visit cousin Frank if I can get one. If I do, and he has not moved from where he is, it is my intention to get his picture and send it to you. Charlie King [musician] has been my shanty [mate]. He says he sent twelve dollars in money home. We are living now first rate since we have been paid off. I kept more than I actually needed but from the appearance of things, I thought in ll probability we might get in a fight and I won’t use it.

I have heard Tom Smith has raised a company and is in Harrisburg. If so, let me know all particulars of all [that] is going on and send me a paper when you see anything you [think] will interest [me]. [Corp.] Abe Moore says he sent home for some money and did not tell them where to send it so you will [do] him a kindness by telling them where he is so they will know where to send it.

Later. We have just heard that Jackson and his whole force is taken. I think that enough good news to satisfy you for the present. Everything is cheering on our side at this time and all our boys are afeard they will never meet the enemy and will be home in a short time. So keep in good spirits and all will be well. So I must close and when I write, I will write if you say so. I hope you will not forget me in prayers and trust Him who is able to make all things well. So goodnight. — Frank

1 The Genius of Liberty newspaper was published in Uniontown, Fayette county, PA. from 1839 to 1917. It was a Democratic daily paper.

1863: Frank Tileston Barker to Warren Snow Barrows

The following letter was written by Capt. Frank Tileston Barker (1838-1890), the son of Tileston Adam Barker (1807-1879) and Semira Albee (1810-1891) of Westmoreland, Cheshire county, New Hampshire. Frank’s father, Tileston, served as Captain of the Westmoreland Light Infantry or “Old West Light” between 1847-1857. In the Civil War, Tileston was commissioned Captain of Co. A, 2nd NH Volunteers and fought in the Battle of Bull Run. Later he accepted a promotion to serve as the Lt. Colonel of 14th New Hampshire Regiment. After the war he served as NH state senator 1871-1873.

Frank Barker also served in the 14th New Hampshire, enlisting on 31 August 1862 as a private and receiving his commission as captain of Co. A on 9 October 1862. He survived the war, mustering out on 27 April 1864.

During the time that Frank was in the regiment, they were assigned duty as guards on the Upper Potomac, in the Defenses of Washington D. C, and at Camp Parapet near New Orleans. The regiment took part in a couple dozen engagements before the war ended but not until late July 1864 at Deep Bottom, Virginia.

Frank wrote the letter to Warren Snow Barrows (1824-1888) of Hinsdale, Cheshire county, New Hampshire. Warren was an active member of the Democratic Party in Hinsdale and served as chairman of the Board of Selectmen for many years. One of his last duties in the town was as depot master. See also—1863: Andrew Russell Barrows to Warren Snow Barrows.

To read letters written by other members of the 14th New Hampshire that I have transcribed and published on Spared & Shared, see:

John Amsden, Co. A, 14th New Hampshire (1 Letter)
Alonzo C. Packard, Co. A, 14th New Hampshire (1 Letter)
Otis G. Cilley, Co. D, 14th New Hampshire (1 Letter)
Henry Calvin Day, Co. D, 14th New Hampshire (1 Letter)
George W. March, Co. D, 14th New Hampshire (1 Letter)
Austin Abel Spaulding, Co. G, 14th New Hampshire (6 Letters)
Leonard Erastus Spaulding, Co. G, 14th New Hampshire (13 Letters)
John Warner Sturtevant, Co. G, 14th New Hampshire (3 Letters)
Daniel Colby Currier, Co. I, 14th New Hampshire (3 Letters)
Daniel Colby Currier, Co. I, 14th New Hampshire (1 Letter)


Addressed to Warren S. Barrows, Esq., Hinsdale, New Hampshire

“Camp Adirondack”
Washington D. C.
May 6th 1863

Friend Barrows,

For many a day I have been thinking about writing you, and have at last attempted the undertaking. I suppose you have kept posted in regard to the movements of the 14th, being so many of the boys in the regiment [are] from Hinsdale. Poolesville [MD] was our residence during the past winter. From there five companies were ordered down the Potomac eight or ten miles but did not remain long before we was ordered to Washington where we now remain, doing nothing but acting as an escort to dead generals. How long we shall remain here is very uncertain.

“I suppose the North is all wrought up with excitement from the Army of the Potomac. Well they might be for a battle more “terrific” than ever was fought before on this side the Atlantic is going on near Fredericksburg and I hope the result will be such as to cause every loyal men to thank God for a stunning victory. A right damn thrashing of the Rebels by Hooker would be the grandest thing that could happen to this Nation and I pray that such may be the case.”

—Capt. Frank T. Barker, 14th New Hampshire, 6 May 1863

Judging from the thundering Hooker is making down the Rappahannock, I should presume our stay here would be short and sweet. I suppose the North is all wrought up with excitement from the Army of the Potomac. Well they might be for a battle more “terrific” than ever was fought before on this side the Atlantic is going on near Fredericksburg and I hope the result will be such as to cause every loyal men to thank God for a stunning victory. A right damn thrashing of the Rebels by Hooker would be the grandest thing that could happen to this Nation and I pray that such may be the case.

That there is not so many rebels in arms as there was a few days ago I know because they are coming in here as prisoners every day conducted by as many federal “bayonets” as is necessary to make them march through the “Yankee Capitol.” They do not look much as our soldiers so and one reason is because they have no uniform, They look more like “beggars” than soldiers, but there is no use of saying that they can’t fight.

How is public opinion up North? same as usual, I suppose—are death on the war and go in for settling this thing on “paper?” Better use the paper for wadding than to sit down and rough out a compromise on it. The time has not yet come and never will in my opinion when this government should kneel down and ask or even accept a “compromise” from such an enemy as oppose us—certainly not until every man is made a cripple and nothing is left to make him a staff. I have reason to believe that you sustain this war. I am glad it is so. It is sad that there is so many at the North that prefer power and party to country, government, and law. I can look over the errors of my rulers for I believe they are honest. I have no fear of the future of this country. It’s greatness and its glory will be ten fold more than it has ever been, “When war shall be no more.”

My health is good—much better than when I was on the Ashnelet. Father is quite well though damp weather gives him a touch of the rheumatism. I should be pleased to hear from you when convenient. Please accept for yourself and family my best wishes and believe me your friend, — Frank T. Barker

1863: Silas Green Hitch to his Aunt

An unidentified Confederate believed to be South Carolina (Adam Ochs Fleischer Collection)

The following letter was written by Pvt. Silas “Green” Hitch (1847-1871) who served in Co. D (Sumter Guards), 27th South Carolina Infantry (formed in 1863 by merging the Charleston Battalion Infantry and 1st S. C. Sharpshooter Battalion). Green survived the war, despite suffering from chronic diarrhea for much of his service, married Elizabeth Pinson in 1866, and died five years later at the age of 24. He was the son of Joseph Allen Hitch (1822-1896) and Elizabeth Caroline Motes (1821-1900) of Laurens, Laurens county, South Carolina.

Green wrote his letter from Legare’s Point on the Stono River where Confederate troops were placed to guard the river approach to Charleston.


Legare’s Point, James Island
November 6, 1863

Dear Aunt,

I embrace the opportunity [to] let you know that I am well, hoping when these few lines reaches your kind hand, they will find you well and find the rest well. I am doing as well as could be expected. I received your kind letter in due time but I did not answer it in due time. But if you please excuse me, it was so that I could not. The Yankees, it is expected that they will attack this place.

Tell Abraham that if he wants to come to this company for him to come on. The Charleston Battalion is on James Island. Mr. Franklin Pool is well. He says for Abraham to bring him something to eat if he comes down. We are all doing fine. You must excuse bad writing and spelling. I must come to a close so i remain your loving nephew until death.

So goodbye. Back your letter in this way:

S. G. Hitch
Co. D, 27th Regiment
Legare’s Point, James Island
In care of Captain [J. W.] Hopkins

1862: Edward Williams to his Sister

I could not find an image of Edward but here is a gemtype of Eber D. Herrings who began his service in the 10th Kansas Infantry (Kansas Historical Society)

The following letters were written by Sgt. Edward Williams of Co. E, 10th Kansas Infantry. Edward had enlisted in Co. E, 3rd Kansas Infantry under the command of the notorious jayhawker Col. James Montgomery, but when the regiment failed to raise the required number of men to form a regiment, they were combined with the 4th Kansas Infantry (also short recruits) and the consolidated unit was named the 10th Kansas Infantry and mustered in for three years service under Col. William F. Cloud.

These three letters describe in some detail the movements of the regiment as it saw its first action in company with the 2nd Ohio Cavalry on what has been called the Indian Expedition.

According to muster records, Edward enlisted on 23 July 1861 but he did not survive the war. He died of disease on 6 March 1864 at Alton, Illinois. At the time of his enlistment, he gave his residence as Mound City, Linn county, Kansas.

Companies A, B, C, D, E and F of the 3rd Kansas Infantry retained their original designation until the date of the consolidation. The members of the Third and Fourth Kansas Volunteers were accounted for in the new organizations to which they were transferred as though they had served with the last organization from the beginning of their original term of service, no reference being given to the fact that the first part of their service had been rendered as members of the Third and Fourth Kansas regiments, or that such regiments ever existed.

Edward wrote the letters to his sister Mary J. and her husband, Charles Payson or Paxson—I can’t be certain. More research would be required to identify this couple and their residence at the time. There are no accompanying envelopes.

[The following letters are from the private collection of Rob Morgan and were transcribed and published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]

Letter 1

Camp Buel 
Ft. Scott, Kansas
May 31st 1862

Dear sister Mary,

It has been quite a long time since I heard from you—more than a month, and as we have received orders to march tomorrow at 10 a.m., I thought I would write you a few lines. I will keep my letter open until tomorrow and let you know if we do march or do not.

Since I wrote to you, we, the infantry the 3rd Regiment, was consolidated with the infantry of 4th Regiment by the skullduggery of Gov. Robinson. But I understand we are to be the 3rd again very soon. 1

We left Camp John Brown and moved to Mound City. Stopped there one week, then moved down on Mill Creek, 5 miles from here. Stopped there one week, and then moved here, and have been here since—a little over 3 weeks.

James Montgomery was commissioned Colonel of the 3rd Kansas Infantry (New Hampshire Historical Society)

The boys are now hurrahing for Montgomery as they have heard that he had orders from the War Department to take his regiment wherever he can find them. I say three cheers for him.

You will address me for the present as Co. E, 10th Kansas Regiment via Mound City in care of Captain [John F.] Broadhead. If it’s sent in his care, there will be no danger of miscarrying if they change regiments every day.

Enclosed you will find a silver ring which I made. I send it to you not for the worth of the ring, but because I made it and I thought you would like it better on that account. I have worn it for more than a month on my right little finger and I have one on the left very near like it and we will compare them when you see me so that you may know me.  

I had a letter from Mary Tucker a few days ago and in it was a note from Lizzie stating that she was to be married in about a week.

There is four companies ordered to march tomorrow—the four companies of the old 3rd. That looks to our speedy recognition as the 3rd regiment again. We are to march down toward—if not into—the Indian country. At least we are to go with [the] Indian Expedition.  

There was a couple of soldiers violated the person of a young girl 3 miles from here on the night of the 27th instant. One of them was of this regiment; the other of the Ohio 2nd Cavalry. They were brought into the camp the next morning prisoners. The military not being able to deal with them, they were turned over to the civil law and night before last, were sent to the county seat of this county (Marmaton City). After the guard left and [they] were guarded by the sheriff’s guard, a mob came at 12 o’clock at night [and] took them from the guard and hung them to a tree close [to] town as a warning to all young men.  It is seven miles to the county seat. 2

I am glad we are going to leave this place as I perfectly detest this place.  It is one of the most God forsaken places in ten states.

Mr. Durbin’s were all well when I heard from them.  Casandra is teaching a school in a house about 40 rods from Mr. Durbin’s.

I guess I must close for the present as I have to go on guard duty. Write often.  Give my love to Charles. I remain your affectionate brother while life lasts. — Edward Williams

[To] Mary Paxson

June 1st.  I understand it is to be a general move south from here of all the troops going from Kansas. We will have a train of over 100 wagons besides the company & regiment wagons.  9 a.m. Tents are struck ready to march.  Hurrah for the Cherokee Country.  — Ed Williams

1 The following article on the origins of the 3rd & 4th Kansas Regiments explains: “The Third and Fourth Kansas volunteer regiments were neither at any time complete organizations, and after the danger of an invasion by Price had passed recruiting for these organizations became very slow; the regiments being organized under state authority were securing most of the new enlistments. The new organizations presented more promising possibilities for position or promotion, and, beside, were cavalry regiments, and the experienced horseman of the West preferred to ride when an opportunity to do so was at hand. In the spring of 1862 the War Department ordered the reorganization and consolidation of the Third and Fourth Kansas regiments. This was done, the infantry companies forming a new regiment, thereafter known as the Tenth Kansas Volunteer Infantry. It would have been very proper to have designated the new consolidation as either the Third or Fourth Kansas Volunteers, instead of the Tenth, but both regiments thought their regimental designation the one to adopt, and to settle the contention, the next vacant number was assigned to the reorganization. The cavalry companies were transferred to the Fifth, Sixth and Ninth Kansas Cavalry regiments, and the artillery companies were consolidated into the First Kansas Battery.” For excellent full article, see The 3rd & 4th Kansas Vol. Infantry Regiments.

2 Under the title of History of Lynchings in Kansas, the lynchings of the two soldiers is listed as having taken place on 9 June 1862. They were identified only by their units: “2nd Ohio Cavalry and 10th Kansas.” Their crime: “Rape.” Almost all of the other lynchings in Kansas during those years were for stealing cattle or horses.

Letter 2

Camp Spring River on the Government Strip
1 mile south of the Kansas line
June 26th 1862

Dear Bro & Sister,

I received your most welcome letter some 10 days since and should have answered it sooner but we marched from Ft. Scott the next [day] after receiving it and have been on the march since except two days, and as I am cooking for the mess, I got but very little time.

I will now try and scribble a little for your edification. If not that, them for] your information. As I wrote you last that we were going to leave Ft. Scott, we came down here 60 miles south from Ft. Scott, stopped here a couple of days, and then a detachment of our command, about 1000 men & 4 pieces of artillery, went down some 40 miles farther south on Grand River to attack some secesh. Our whole command here at that time was about 2000 men and 6 pieces of artillery under command of Col. Doubleday, Colonel of the 2nd Ohio Regiment.

We came on the enemy 500 strong, on Grand River just at dark—the worst time we could have chosen to attack an enemy, and Doubleday, instead of surrounding them as he might have done, and then have shelled them, he came up on one side and after our spy Capt. Brooks (long may he live for the good he is doing in this section) found the enemy’s position, he commenced shelling them, and they just got right up & left without showing any fight as we had nothing to hinder [his escape]. So much for poor commanding. 1 

We returned to camp in four days. Stopped here one day and our battalion from the 10th Regiment returned to Ft. Scott. Got there on Friday, and on Saturday we were paid 2 months pay, and on Sunday we marched. We marched to the Osage Mission 40 miles southwest of Ft. Scott. From there to Humboldt in Allen Co., 25 miles northwest from the mission. Stopped there 2 days and marched down here about 80 miles from Humboldt, making all some 300 miles since the 1st of of June. We have here forces as follows: 2 batteries 6 pieces each, the 9th Wisconsin Infantry, 2 the 2nd Ohio Regt. (Cavalry), 4 companies of the 9th Kansas Regt. (Cavalry), the 10th Kansas Regt. Infantry, and 2 Regts. of Indians—one cavalry & the other infantry. In all, 2000 Indians & near 3000 white soldiers. We are in what is termed the Indian Expedition. There has gone out 300 infantry and the same of cavalry and 2 pieces artillery to have a little skirmish. I hardly think they will get any.

When we move from here or how long we stop here, I cannot say but I think when you hear from me next I will be under my old Col. (Col. Montgomery).  Things are working in that direction. You will direct to me for the present in Co. E, 10th Kansas Regt. via Mound City, in care of Capt. Broadhead.

We are having a very dry time—almost bordering on a drought—and if we do not have rain soon, crops will be injured. We had a nice shower last evening but the ground was so dry that it done but very little good. Wheat is quite good and is being harvested.

Capt. Young Black Dog of the Osage Battalion who fought with the 10th Kansas Vols.

The Indians have given us a couple of war dances since we have been with them. The Osage Mission is a little village made the headquarters of the Osage Indian Nation. It is on the Neosha River. There is about 500 of the Osage Indians in our Indian Regiment. I must close for the present as I have to help get dinner and then go out on guard.

Excuse my hurried epistle as I look over all mistakes. I will quit cooking in 5 days more and then I will have more time to write. I remain as ever your brother—Edward Williams

Charles Paxson

Mary J Paxson

1 This expedition was described in The 10th Kansas Volunteer Infantry as follows: “The first action noted is the attachment of four companies of the 10th being assigned to the 2d Ohio Cavalry. This expedition formed for the purpose of attacking a force under the notorious Col. Waitie, of the 1st Cherokee Rebel Regiment. The command was all cavalry and artillery. The men of the 10th were compelled to keep pace with the cavalry in the burning sun keeping 30 miles a day and marching 120 miles to be before the rebels camp ready and willing to attack the enemy. Another testament to the “true metal” of the 10th. Marching from Fort Scott to the Osage Mission, and from the Mission to Humboldt, and then with 4 companies of the 9th, the Indian Regiments, and the 1st Kansas Battery marched to the Neosho River and thence to Baxter’s Springs. From Baxter’s Springs, now also with Solomon’s Brigade, marched to Cowskin Prairie. With the purpose of engaging the forces of Waitie, the advanced Brigade skirmished with the rebels. This failed to bring on a general engagement with the badly frightened rebels who fled in great confusion to the south.”

2 The 9th Wisconsin Infantry was raised in Milwaukee in the fall of 1861. It consisted predominantly of recent immigrants from German-speaking countries. An article appearing in the Muscatine weekly Journal on 23 May 1862 described the camp of the 9th Wisconsin at Fort Scott as “beautiful…in the streets of which are to be seen beautifully arranged flower beds, planted with a variety of early flowers and their tents variously and beautifully decorated…From the pains taken by the German to beautify and adorn their homes, it is evident they expect to rremain here for a time. Acting Brigadier General Doubleday is in command of the post. The forces there are the Wisconsin 9th, Ohio 2nd Cavalry, and Rabb’s Indiana Battery. Camp Marmaton is five miles northwest of the Fort, on the south side of Mill Creek, in a beautiful and healthy situation.”

Letter 3

Camp on Horse Creek
1 mile west of Grand River
Cherokee Country
July 3d 1862

Dear Sister Mary,

Your letter of the 13th of June was gladly received by me day before yesterday and I was very glad to hear from you and to hear that you were well. I thank you very much for that likeness. I will have to say for your encouragement that you have got a very good looking man for a husband—much better than I had expected you had got.

Since I wrote to you, I think we were at Humboldt. At the time of writing we came down from Humboldt to the Osage Mission, from there to the camp on Spring River, from Spring River down to Grand River, 40 miles farther south, and our present camp is 25 miles down the Grand River. Our yesterday’s march, my company and two other companies of the 10th Regiment remain here today. As an expedition went out yesterday or last night and 7 wagons went out from our regt. to carry the infantry that went with the expedition. The expedition was to take in some secesh 15 miles from here. I have not heard from them.

Since we left Ft. Scott the 1st of June, we have marched over 400 miles. We have four regiments of white men and two regiments of Indians & 12 pieces of artillery. Will have in a little more time 4000 men more & 12 more pieces of artillery. We will go down as far as Ft. Gibson & Ft. Smith and I do not know how much farther. Ft. Gibson is 35 miles from here in the Indian Country & Ft. Smith is about 80 miles in the edge of Arkansas.  We can hear of secesh and see the signs of camping but to get a fight seems almost impossible.

Old [James Spencer] Rains is said to be figuring here and in the western border of Arkansas and the corner of Missouri 5000 or 6000 strong but we do not get a fight with him yet.

We are having quite a dry time but not as dry as it was. The dry year crops will be very good. I have seen some nice pieces of wheat. I saw some of the handsomest county yesterday and night before last that I have seen in a long time. It was really beautiful and then the soil was deep, would compare with any country. Plenty of good timber and good water but it is Cherokee Country.

Do not worry about me for I never enjoyed myself any better in my life but still I should like to be out so as to visit some of my friends, but while on a march I see new scenery enough to interest me so do not worry for me but remember me.

I should have written to Henry on this but he said he would give me his address which he has not. I got it the other day and now I will write to him as I want to hear from him. Mr. Durbins were all well when I heard from them. I must close for this time as I think my letter is long enough.

Give my love to all. I remain your affectionate bro—Ed’d

Mary J. P.—

July 4th   Independence Day

Well I spent my 4th far different to any fourth ever spent before. We marched 15 miles and caught up with the brigade. There was 34 guns fired for the Union just as we were coming in camp and one for Old Abe. The expedition that went out the other night surprised 150 secesh under Col. Clarkson. Killed 18, took 102 prisoners & 40 wagons and a lot of horses and camp equipage. We had 3 killed, one of them accidental. 1


1 From the regimental history: “After a couple of days they marched south with Weer’s Division in the direction of the rebel Clarkson’s camp, hoping to surprise that precious cut-throat and his ragamuffins. A detail was formed and marched all night arriving before the rebel camp about sunrise on the morning of July 3d, 1862. The enemy was situated on a hill, the ascent being steep and rocky, and the only practicable road being a narrow track leading up on the south side. Weer, however, determined to throw his forces around the hill in order to capture the enemy if possible. The two companies of the 9th were moved to the northeast side, the 1st Indian Home Guard to the south and southeast, and the infantry of the 10th, supporting the 1st Kansas Battery, was ordered, after the artillery was found not to be of much service, owing to the abrupt rising of the ground, to fix bayonets and charge upon the enemy’s camp from the west. The attacking column coming from the west, the 9th and Indians being mounted, swept around on each side of the hill, driving the pickets, and then charged up the heights, while the command of the 10th, leaving a few Indians to support the artillery, charged up the western side of the heights, almost completely enveloping the enemy’s camp. Had it not been for the extremely rugged condition of the ground, and the density of the woods on two sides, the whole rebel command, amounting to about seven hundred, would have been captured. At the first dash, the enemy fired one round, and then broke in hopeless confusion over the two rough sides of the hill. Sixty or seventy of the rebels were killed or wounded, mostly killed, for the loyal Indians having but little quarter for their rebel brethren, and one hundred and fifty-five, including Col. Clarkson, their leader, taken prisoners, besides a large amount of camp and garrison equipage. The 10th’s loses were light with only a few men wounded.”

1844: James McMullin to Michael Engelbrecht

The following 1844 letter was written by James McMullin (1810-Aft1853)—a wood corder and local politician of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He wrote the letter to his sister Rebecca (McMullin) Engelbrecht (1802-1847) and her husband Michael Engelbrecht (1792-1886) in Frederick, Maryland. Rebecca and Michael were married in Philadelphia in August 1838.

James’ advertisement for the sale of cordwood, The Daily Chronicle, 22 March 1842
James’ advertisement in the Public Ledger, 29 March 1844

This letter was written during the “Native American” Movement of 1844 which culminated in riots in Philadelphia. Those born in American, who referred to themselves as “Nativists” were generally opposed to foreign emigration, particular the Irish Catholics.


Stampless cover addressed to Michael Engelbrecht, Frederick City, Maryland
Postmarked Philadelphia, PA

Spruce Street Wharf
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
November 22nd 1844

Dear Brother,

Your letter of the 17th I received this morning. It has been detained somewhere as I should have gotten it sooner & I have to answer it so that you may not be uneasy as to my Certificate or Rebecca as it was drawn by myself for this reason. There was to be a sale of timber land in Delaware on the 14th of this month for cash and a Mr. Alson & myself concluded to buy it if it sold for the price we thought it was worth which we thought, or was willing to [pay] for it 4000 dollars. And I had not money enough to spare out of my business so asked for the Certificate in Bank to be collected, the same that an individual Note is put in bank for collection, and I having an account in the bank, they collect it for nothing. The timber was sold for $4,700 dollars and bought by some men in Massachusetts who are ship builders—700 more than we thought it worth for the wood business, but as it is heavy timber, it will suit them very well for their use & therefore worth more to them than us.

But Mr. Alson, living in Delaware and close to the timber & myself here & in the wood business, he could have it prepared for market and I could sell it to the best advantage & thereby make some money off it. But so it is, we did not get it and now I have no use for the money for my Certificate, but I will not invest it now before spring as I still intend to buy me a farm if I can get one to suit me for a fair price. I must confess that I done wrong in not telling you that I was going to draw the money as it was natural to suppose you or Rebecca or both might think something was wrong about it. Your package and letter of the 3rd came to hand in due time and I disposed of its contents as directed for which I am much obliged to you for I intend to reciprocate the present so soon as an opportunity may occur. Mary Ann was pleased to get a letter from Sarah Ann. Charles & Elizabeth was pleased to their receiving a letter from their father and Elizabeth will write to her father soon. And here let me tell you the reason she has not wrote long ago. It is this. Their house is not furnished in the best, I do assure you, but they have enough to get along with and I want to keep them so until they make something themselves & then get what they want. So I tell them to work hard and be saving & they will soon get along & have all they want. So I have them both at work when there is nothing in the store to do. I have just left there and it is 7 p.m. and they are both at work & George is in the shop getting his lesson & when any person comes in, he calls his father, goes in and sells if he can. Then goes back to work until George calls him again & so they are getting along in this way and in a short time I think they will be able to help themselves finely. So I think about Christmas Elizabeth will write to her parents.

James’ name appears among those accused of being foreigners and Catholics, which he was not. “Nativists” at the time meant, those born in America. The Pennsylvanian, 11 October 1853

Everything goes well so far—only Charles is like yourself, he has to Huzza for Polk against the grain. You must think better of Polk until you see what he will do and if you wait to see that, you will like him better. Tell Sarah Ann that I never could vote for Clay for the Whigs deceived the Natives here so much that I believe they are nearly all rogues. They came to our association in Pine Wood and said if we would vote for Markle, they in turn would vote for all our candidates in the city proper. So they went to all the wards and made the same bargain. Well, I thought as the Natives had no Governor of their own, I would vote for Markle so as to elect our Congressman & members for State Senate Assembly Council for City and &c. Well hundreds voted for Markle believing the Whigs honest and would vote for our man but you see whose candidates they voted for and whose was elected. But this won’t do another time and this is the reason Clay did not get so many votes as Markle and if I had not been for this New York City, would have given Clay 8 or 9 thousand majority. But the Natives turned against the Whigs here and in New York both for their deceiving us here in the first election.

I have not room to write more or I could tell you a long tale about the Whigs cheating us here. We are all well and send our best respects to you all and hope you are in good health. Yours, — James McMullin

To Michael Englebrecht, Esq.