Category Archives: Copperheads

1863: Thomas M. Nickel to Henry C. Scofield

I could not find an image of Thomas but here is one of George J. Yeagley of Co. C, 5th Independent Battalion OVC
(Brad Pruden Collection)

This letter was written by Pvt. Thomas M. Nickel of Co. B, 5th Independent Battalion Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. This regiment was organized for only 6 months for duty beginning at the time of Morgan’s Raid on the southern border of Ohio until August 1863; they completed their organization at Camp Chase and moved to Cincinnati on 8 September 1863. They were assigned duty in the District of Eastern Kentucky engaged in scouting and raiding guerrillas until February 1864. They skirmished in Morgan county, Kentucky on 6 Otober 1863 adn at Liberty, Kentucky, on 12 October, 1863. They mustered out on 15 February 1864, losing one man killed and two men dying of disease.

Thomas wrote the letter to his friend, Henry C. Scofield (1836-1883), the son of Barzilla Schofield (1804-Bef1850) and Lydia Parish (1807-1870) of Cattaraugus county, New York. In the 1855 New York Census, Henry was enumerated in the household of his uncle, Amos Schofield (1809-1869) of Allegany, Cattaraugus county, New York.

[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Greg Herr and was transcribed and published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]


Addressed to H. C. Scofield, Esq., Portfield [Cattaraugus County] New York

Camp Garrett
Fleming county, Kentucky
October 3rd 1863


I received your letter day before yesterday and was glad to hear from home again. I thought you had not intended to write to me at all, as your letter of the 24th September was the first I got since we left camp Tod [in Cleveland]. You desired me to tell you how politics are in the army. Of this, I know very little. I have not heard [John] Brough’s or [Clement] Vallandigham’s name mentioned as much as once a week all the time I have been in camp except on the trip from Columbus down to Cincinnati. I believe, however, that there is not one Vallandighammer in our Batt[alion]. There is none that I know of. How it is in other parts of the army, I have no means of knowing except in the featherbed regiment at Camp Chase and the 10th Kentucky who are pretty generally down on Vallandigham.

We don’t think much about politics in our camp. If we can dodge standing picket, get somebody to lead our horse to water so we don’t get dusty, and have plenty to eat, we are quite content. We have so few men here that when some go on a scout, the others have to go on guard every other night. We have picket and horse guard. The horse guards have to attend to the horses, see that none get loose and run away, or that none are stolen. I prefer going on picket and then I have no horse but my own to attend to and I have no bother getting my preferences for there are a great many who have a peculiar dislike to going far from camp at night.

I was on picket both last night and night before. I was detailed night before last. Last night I went voluntarily because the rest of my mess went. I had to stand half of each night. Night before last was a very bad night. It rained and blowed very hard and the dust on the road got very muddy. Last night was a tolerably pleasant night to be out except that it was rather cool toward morning. I do not consider it near so dangerous on picket as some of the boys do. Some always hear somebody in the woods, or hear him whistle his countersign, and some fool will occasionally feel sure he sees a fellow and fire away. But we have got so used to that that we do not get much excited as we did at first.

I have never been bothered by any enemy yet, nor been fool enough to alarm the camp, but it does make a fellow’s heart beat a little quicker than usual to hear others approach him as he stands all alone in the dark. But I must reflect too much on the hard part of camp life for fear it makes you uneasy and me afraid. Now for something a little more pleasant.

We have (thanks to Plumner’s plank) got our camp fixed very comfortable. We are not crammed in tents or barracks, but a few fellows get together and make a shanty to suit themselves. Marshall [Harvey], [James M.] McKitrick, and I bunk together now. [William P.] Furgeson and old John [C.] Beymer stay in the same shanty with us. Bob Stewart and Newt Anderson have one of their own. We [get] plenty to eat and very good too. I think our mess lives better than half of the families in Guernsey county. We swap our extra rations for country produce and if we have no rations, we get them the other way.

The health of the Batt[alion] is good now. A few are in the hospital and about forty have the itch. 1 Ferguson is very bad with it. I have not got it yet and faith, I don’t want it.

I was glad to hear of the great Mass Meeting at Cambridge [Ohio] being such a splendid one. I was very glad to hear of the good circumstance of so many of the fellows—McLeeper and Joe, for instance, and the two dear Davis. I hope they will keep up the steam, all do the best they can, and don’t fail to let me know of the grand movements of the country. Tell Davy if he don’t want to write to me, he need not do it. If he don’t, I don’t care. If he can’t write a letter, he ought not to be teaching school. I have wrote to him twice without any answer—a thing which Marget Beal never did.

You never sent word whether you got my clothes or not. I don’t know as I will write so often in the future as I have been doing. I think we will remain here for some time and I don’t think there is much danger here. At Mount Sterling, sixty miles from here, the rebels took fifteen of our pickets prisoners and after they gave up their arms, stood them in a rank and shot them. That’s the way they use prisoners. 2

When you write, tell me if Mr. Criswell is got well as his son [William H. Criswell] here would like to know how he is. Direct your letters as I said in the last one I wrote. Having nothing more to say, I will wind up by wishing good luck to Till in her endeavors to take off Butternuts.

— T. M. Nickel

1 The “itch” might have been scabies. See “army itch.”

2 I could not find an incident taking place just prior to Thomas’s arrival in Kentucky at or near Mount Sterling. It might date date to events at Mount Sterling in mid-June 1863 during which time it was alleged that prisoners were shot. See excerpt from article appearing in the New York Herald on 19 June 1863.

1863: John Fox to his Father

This letter was written by John Fox but I can’t be certain of the middle initial which was probably either a J., I. or a G. He does not provide any names or places in the letter, only to imply that his father—and perhaps many of his relatives—were Copperheads, which is the principle target of his anger. Given that the letter was written from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and that there were many Copperheads living in southeastern Ohio, my hunch is that the author was from an Ohio Regiment. There are several by the name of John Fox who served in Ohio Regiments that were posted at Murfreesboro in June 1863 and given enough time, one might narrow it down to the one who wrote this letter. The best personal clue he gives is that the family at home consisted of his father, brothers and sisters. His mother was most likely dead and his father was courting a woman that John did not like.

[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Richard Weiner and is published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]


Camp near Murfreesboro, Tennessee
June 17th 1863

Dear Father,

I take the pleasure of writing you a few lines in answer to your very welcome letter than came to hand a few days ago. I was glad to hear that you was all well. I am well and in good spirits too. Just came off of picket yesterday. We had been on picket ten days. I hope that when this comes to hand that it will find you all well.

We have warm weather here at this present time. But then we have nice weather, [even] if it is warm. I expect that you have pleasant weather in the North at this present time. But then I will quit on this point at this time. I have considerable in my mind that I would like to talk to you about, could I have the privilege. Now I have (although I hate to say it) and that is I hear that there are a great many of my relatives that have turned out to be Copperheads. Now that I do not like to hear. Now I do not want you to understand that I charge you with that treasonable doctrine for I do not, although I say what I think of Copperheads. Although I do not wish to offend anybody but, “Away with Copperheads!” For me, they are traitors.

Now you may ask who we term as Copperheads and with kindness, I will tell you. All that we term as Copperheads and traitors knows this that are crying for peace and an armistice. Such that are afraid that their Southern brothers, as they call them, will get hurt. And these men of the North that are kicking and finding fault with our officers and Abe Lincoln & the Administration, & the Emancipation Proclamation & find fault in general, such men as these are Copperheads & traitors, for they are seeking to overthrow the government in every way they possibly can. Now would you not term them as Secesh? I most assuredly would.

No perhaps this won’t suit some of you so well as it might, but I can’t help it for I am going to say what I have to say and then quit. But who is to blame, you or I? I do not think that I am for I am yet as true a patriot as ever I was and am in for the war until all these Copperheads & traitors—both North and South—are subdued. A man has but two sides of which he can select. His choice [must be] either for the Union all out & out, or Secesh out & out. Now which of these are they all going to take? I will take the Union side. So will all loyal men. And if they take the loyal side, let them advocate loyally throughout the world and not Copperheadism as the most of them of the North do. Let them come out and own [up to] what they are and let them not be so deceiving as the monstrous Copperhead be.

I say let a man come out & say what he is & then we will know in what way to take him, and he will then know what to depend on. But then these government traitors in the North—such as Vallandigham & his friend Vorhees of Indiana, and their followers—they do us more injury than the whole Southern Confederacy. And why? Because they are sneaking & low degraded human beings. They are afraid to come out in front and face the cannon. No, they dare not come. They are cowards. But they they are like a dog that will kill sheep and more so. If they can do everything sneakily, they will do it. Everything to injure the government and the army, they will do it. If they could demoralize the army by sending their damned secesh, low-lifed, low-degraded, dirty sheets [flyers] in our camp and let them advocate treason, they would like it very well. But then they don’t have much effect in the army.

I am in hopes that they will arm all the African race in the United States and let them fight for their liberty until death for it is at this present time a military necessity that we should pursue that course and take all that they have (that is, from traitors), both North and South, & let it help to pay the national debt. The traitors of the North, they should have their property confiscated as well as the Southern traitors. Had the South behaved herself, she could have had her property. But no, that was not enough for her. She wanted more territory & thus far she has waged a war against us and what will she gain? Not anything. But then she has lost her membership of the United States. She has no right to ask protection under the bylaws of the United States whatever. In the least, they have no right to ask protection under that flag—those Stars & Stripes which they seek to destroy. No right at all what ever.

They first laid aside the Constitution and the bylaws of the United States to commit depredation & fiendish and outrages and haven’t we a right to use every means possible. Whether it is constitutional or unconstitutional. I say we have. I say any way to put down treason. If that would take the last man in the world. Let us defend that flag as long as one of us remains, in honor of the brave that have fallen by our side.

Now Father, I ask in the name of a true and faithful patriot soldier, will you forsake me after enduring the hardships of a soldier that I have now. I hope not. Now I am honest of what I have said, and it is for the love of my country and the love of the Stars & Stripes, and the love of you and my brothers and sisters. It is for all them that I have left home adn have left my young company and have left all that is near and dear to me, and I have offered my life as a sacrifice and who can ask for more. Well, I guess that I will have to close.

P. S. Well, Father, I hear that you do not make the best of use of my money that I have sent home. Now I have this all from good authority. I would not say it if I did not have a good reason so to do. But then I hear that you have used it in buying presents for that Miss Roberts. Now my dear and kind mother used to say to me that a man that had to buy presents in order to get a young woman to love would never amount to anything. That is what I think of that thing you are going with. I never thought anything of her. But then I will have to come to a close for I think that I have written enough today. I remain as ever, your son, — John J. Fox.

1861-63: Catharine (Pinckard) Greenleaf to Margaret St. Clair Pinckard

How Kate & Alvin might have looked (Will Griffing Collection)

These letters were written by Catharine (“Kate”) Pinckard (1834-1905), the daughter of Dr. Thomas Butler Pinckard (1793-1860) and Catharine Lawrence Vance (1804-1839). Kate was the wife of Alvin Choate Greenleaf (1829-1866) of Tennessee. She and Alvin were married in Indianapolis in January 1855 and they had three children, Catherine (“Katie”) St. Clair Greenleaf (1856-Aft. 1861), Annie Helm Greenleaf (1858-1860), and Margaret Pinckard Greenleaf (1864-Ukn). Kate’s father—a native of Virginia—was a physician who practiced medicine in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, in New Orleans, Louisiana, and finally in Lexington, Kentucky, where he died in 1860.

From the 1858 Indianapolis City Directory we learn that Alvin worked for the Greenleaf & Brown City Foundry & Machine Shop located at 93 South Pennsylvania. The firm was established by Alvin’s father, Edward Greenleaf (1802-1873) who came to Indianapolis in the late 1840s from Cincinnati, having previously lived for several years in Bolivar, Tennessee. The family became famous for inventing and manufacturing the “turntables” upon which railroad cars were turned. However, the Civil War caused a schism in the Greenleaf family though Kate does not speak of it in her letters. In fact, Alvin’s brother, Clement Allen Greenleaf enlisted in Co. A, 11th Indiana Infantry, serving under Gen. Lew Wallace.

At the time Kate wrote the first letter datelined from Indianapolis on 4 August 1861, she and Alvin resided at 114 E. Vermont Street—a boarding house near the center of the city.

Sometime during the Civil War, the Kate and Alvin Greenleaf left Indiana and lived in Memphis, Tennessee, where we learn from the second letter that he ran a livery business for a time and then went into the cotton commission business. He must have been living in Cincinnati by late 1864, however, as I found a letter in the national archives written by Hon. Green Clay Smith, datelined from Washington D. C. on 23 January 1865 to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton which read: “I have been informed that one Mr. Alvin C. Greenleaf of Kentucky is now confined in the old Capitol Prison and was arrested and brought here from Cincinnati without having committed any offense. I have also been informed that the papers in his case are now on file in some branch of your department. Will you do me the kindness to have the case examined and let me know the facts. His family are one of the most estimate and his wife writes me imploringly & I have promised to do for her what I can. I apprehend it is a case of personal pique.” The letter is docketed on the reverse with a statement that reads: “Respectfully returned and report that this prisoner is charged with dealing in & passing counterfeit government securities & notes, & is under the control of the Solicitor of the Treasury Department.”

Kate wrote the letters to her yet unmarried sister, Margaret St. Clair Pinckard (1832-1919) of Lexington, Kentucky. Margaret (“Mag”) married James Granville Cecil (1808-1881) of Danville, Kentucky, in February 1868.

Letter 1

Addressed to Mis Margaret st. C. Pinckard, Care of Mr. John Lyle, Lexington, Kentucky

Indianapolis, [Indiana]
August 4th 1861

My Dearest Mag,

At the risk of melting before I get through, I commence this letter for it has now been a week since I received yours, and I wrote Mary the same day. I never, never experienced such hot weather before, it seems to me; though I suppose I have, but we have had such a delightfully cool summer until the last week that it has spoilt us, and we are complaining terribly here. The thermometer stood at a hundred in the shade yesterday and today it is even warmer. I have not been able to do much sewing on account of the excessive heat, so that my dress is not made yet, though it is commenced, and I will finish it this week. I have made Katie’s buff and it looks very sweet. Am going to trim the ruffles with scarlet crocheted braid. I took her to Dr. [Theophilus] Parvin last week for him to prescribe as I thought she might have worms, but she did not, though she took the medicine he gave. She seems very well but has so little appetite. I get her milk every day right fresh from the cow but she drinks very little generally.

I have not heard from Alvin yet so of course am not thinking much of going there for the present at any rate.

I have more and more hope for the South every day. There is a great revulsion of feeling taking place here among the Democrats who are becoming daily more disgusted with the [Lincoln] Administration and more suspicious of the republican Party. How can Kentuckians be so blinded to their own best interest as for a moment to think of upholding a power which was the first to raise its voice in favor of disunion and had for its watchword, and has yet, “No union with slave holders.” The republicans are truly traitors and as such they will meet their reward. I feel as sure God’s vengeance will yet overtake them in their wickedness as I am that He still reigns supreme and has declared “vengeance is mine, and I will repay.” I do hope and pray the South may act purely on the defensive in this terrible war. If they will, I believe God will be with them, and yet give them the victory. He has already showed them many signal favors, which I rejoice to see they acknowledge and return thanks for as coming from His hand. May that spirit of faith and confidence in His mercy increase in them, as their enemies become more malignant and bloodthirsty and the dark waves of trouble roll more fiercely around them. May they put their whole trust in Him and He will never desert them but the clouds which now seem so fearful will break with blessings on their heads and this terrible war may yet usher in a happier state of things when men may be brought to acknowledge the Lord God their God, and living as His children, fear not what the world may do.

Tell Uncle Philip I received the fifty dollars in gold and am much obliged. Give my love to sis and all of the there, Delia included, Ma and all friends who enquire. If you get any letters from the South, please send them over and I will do the same if I get any. Did you see [Alexander] Stephen’s speech at Augusta, Georgia? It is perfectly splendid. Charlie Stewart and Mr. Gale always bring me anything they see copied from a Southern paper. If you have Dr. Palmer’s and Dr. Leacock’s sermons, please cut them out and enclose in an envelope like a letter. I want to see them so much. I never see a Southern paper now.

How does Mary look now? Is she getting any flesh on her bones since she went out to Aunt Janes? I hope she ain’t worrying yet about this war for it will do no good if she puts herself to death and we will have to learn to look things calmly in the face for the terrors have but commenced.

I was interrupted here last night by one of the gentlemen boarders—a Republican—coming into the parlor talking about this trouble. I wish some of the Unionists there could have heard him. He said this war was bound to abolish slavery forever and for that reason, God must be with their party and he “should rather every man, woman, and child in the South and all that sympathized with them in the North, should be butchered than our glorious government should be overthrown.” Just a piece from Cincinnati Enquirer to show you the intolerant spirit which prevails. I would send Stephens’ speech but Mr. Gale wanted it.

Don’t Marie write you? Kiss Mary and yourself for me and Katie and give a great deal of love to Aunt Jane, Uncle John, Aunt Susan, and all friends. All relations are well. Jennie expects to be sick every day. I don’t see much of any of the, Write soon. Your loving sister, — Kate

August 4th

My dearest Minnie and Maggie,

I send you two kisses and tell you thank you for all the nice present you sent me and please tell me where my dear Uncle Will is and Uncle Hal> and kiss them for me five times when you see them. I ain’t forgot how I used to love them and you too. I love you all so much and Aunt Jane too. Tell her I ain’t forgotten her in my prayer. I say Aunt Jane and Uncle John every night. I want to see you both so bad, I would just give anything I have. Mama put my pretty buff dress on me this morning to wear to Sunday school. She made it with a flounce round the bottom but she did not make it high neck. It is too warm.

I went with Mama to Mary Stewarts and stayed all night and all day yesterday and we had such a nice time. Played under the nice shady tree and had our dolls and a nice party. And one morning Mollie Stringfellow come for me and Mama let me go home with her and I stayed till Momma come for me after supper and I rode in the little wagon with the prettiest little goat hitched to it and he pulled me so nice.

Katie Noble has gone to Crawfordsville but I have a right nice time here for I have Lizzie Anderson to play with. I can just open the back gate and go right in there but I have to ask Mama though. Mrs. Gale made me a pretty little flag and Mr. Gale brought me a pretty little thimble. Ask Monroe if he knows how to read yet and if he sees any soldiers there. I see plenty most every day. I send Monroe two kisses and Aunt Annie & Uncle Philip and cousin Sis two. And how big is the baby? And is it pretty as my sweet little sister was?

Please to excuse the ugly blot on this. Mama don’t know how it got on and she is so warm she can’t write it over. Tell Aunt Martha I wish I was there to play with the in the nice big yard. Give my love to Aunt Susan and tell her I ain’t forgot her either. And to sweet Delia too. I love her. Kiss each other for me. Your little niece, — Katie Greenleaf

Letter 2

Memphis, [Tennessee]
December 16th 1863

Dearest Mag,

Your letter of the 28th was received several days since and should have been answered sooner but I just have not had the heart to do anything. It seems to me I never felt so low-spirited before in my life. All seems dark around us here—poor, crushed, humbled people that we are completely in the power of tyrants. We know not what moment even our lives safe. As to property, no matter how hard a man works for it or how honestly he obtains it, military necessity is sufficient reason to wrest it all from him and then call upon him and if he does not answer the call, force him to fight for the government which affords him such protection.

You will not be surprised after this prelude when I tell you Alvin has had almost everything he possessed taken from him in the last week, not for any fault he had committed but simply because the government had need of them and would pay of course for all it took in what was much better than gold—government vouchers, a little piece of paper saying six months after the restoration of peace when you can prove your loyalty. you shall receive so much. I am thankful I am not a man. I could never have borne what Alvin has had to, but I am truly thankful he can. Patience has almost had its perfect work in him. If they would only leave me, my husband and child, gladly—willingly—would I give up all else that I have for as long as he is spared to us and has his health, we will never want. I know he has strong hopes of getting exempted on account of his arm.

Thursday morning, December 17th

I have just written thus far yesterday evening when Stewart McMullen, who is with us now, came home with the joyful news that he & Alvin were both exempted—he on account of bad health, and Alvin on account of his arm. I could have cried for joy. To think that arm which I have grieved over so much should have proved such a blessing disguise. My spirits from being below zero have gone almost up to boiling point and I don’t believe I even hate the Yankees.

Well, I will try and write you about something else now. Katie is well and improving very fast in her reading and spelling. Alvin found a little orphan boy someplace the other day who had no home and brought him out here with him and Katie is taking great interest in teaching him. He is sitting by me now having his lesson which has made me make several mistakes.

Alvin told me last night he was going up in February and take Katie and me with him. As they have taken all his horses, he is going to open a cotton commission house in the same building he used for a stable, which he owns himself. Two wealthy men from Chicago are going in with him. They have a large Commission House in Chicago and this will be a branch.

I have not heard from Mary since I wrote you last which was about two weeks since. In the letter, I enclosed two dollars to buy a doll head for Katie. i suppose Janie will not come down this winter as her husband is likely out of business if he has not left for the house he was clerking in has been closed by military orders for the last month. I don’t know how she could have heard we were coming up in December. I expect her husband must have invented it.

It is bitter cold this morning. Snowing a little, or trying to, but we have had so much mild weather we must expect some cold now/ I have been busy for the last week dressing Katie’s dolls for Christmas—quite an undertaking it has proved to be for she has seven. She is almost crazy to see the one you have dressed but I am afraid she will have to wait for that pleasure till she goes up there for I do not believe you will have an opportunity to send it to her. I will send you the measure of her skirt in this and I know you will be surprised when you see it—she is growing so fast. Stewart has been with us for the last two weeks. He came to get a situation with Alvin. I expect he will send him down the river to buy cotton for him.

Did you receive a letter from Laura McMillen dated Knoxville? I had one from her not long since and she said she had written me to Memphis several times [but] received no answer and so concluded that I had left here. She said she then wrote to you at Lexington to know where I was.

Alvin weighs two hundred and four pounds now. What shall I do with him to keep him from getting so fat? He says the more trouble he has the fatter he gets. And it does really seem to be so. He has about made up his mind to settle in Kentucky but will have to get something ahead first, for it will take a good round sum to buy a nice farm there. I am glad to hear Ma is doing so well and Aunt Annie must be making money too with her house full of boarders.

I have had several applications but Alvin has a perfect horror of boarding or taking boarders so I have rejected them all. Well, I must close now hoping to hear from you very soon. With warmest love to Aunt Jane & Susan, Uncle John, Aunt Annie, Sis and Ma, and baskets to you in which Alvin and Katie join me.

I am your loving, — Kate

1865: William Fraser to William J. Fraser

Most of these letters were written by William Fraser (1801-1877) of New Ephrata (renamed Lincoln), Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. He wrote the letters to his son, William Jackson Fraser (1835-1910) who was serving in Co. B, 195th Pennsylvania Infantry (1 Year Unit) that was not mustered out until June 1865.

A mourning ribbon for the assassinated President

There are three letters included here written by Wiliam’s boyhood friend, Samuel Musser Fry, Jr. (1845-1924), the son of Samuel Fry (1808-1887) and Nancy Ann Musser (1811-1886). In the 1860 US Census, Samuel Fry, Jr. was enumerated in his parents’ household in Warwick township where his occupation was given as “miller.” In 1862, either Samuel or his father took ownership of the three-story stone gristmill and sawmill previously owned and operated by Jacob Weis. According to the History of Lancaster County (Ellis and Evans), both Samuel and his younger brother Phares Fry (1845-1921) served as privates in Co. D, in the Fiftieth Regiment Emergency Troops of 1863.” These troops were organized into companies and placed along the river in Lancaster county with Emlen Franklin serving as their Colonel. This regiment went to Carlisle and Chambersburg, then to Hagerstown and Williamsport. They were stationed for a brief time at Dam No. 5 where they did picket duty until the middle of July, then returned to Harrisburg where they were discharged. Samuel and Phares subsequently served in the 195th Pennsylvania from 20 July 1864 to 4 November 1864 (a “hundred days” unit). Phares was a corporal in Co. G and Samuel was a private in Co. C.

This collection of home front letters were all penned from the Lancaster county hamlet of Lincoln during the final days of the Civil War and the assassination of President Lincoln.

See also

1863-5: William Jackson Fraser to Parents published on Spared & Shared 17.
1864-5: Samuel Musser Fry, Jr. to William Jackson Fraser on Spared & Shared 17.

Letter 1

Addressed to Mr. William J. Fraser, Co. B, Detached 195th Regiment, Martinsburg, W. Virginia

Lincoln [Pennsylvania]
March 11, 1865

Dear Son,

I received two letters from you—one dated February 22nd, the other March 7th. You may rest assured that we were pleased to hear from you—especially that you were enjoying that greatly needed gift of the soldier, “good health and spirits.” I requested George to answer your first letter immediately after receiving it but was answered that he would soon see you personally but as circumstances would not permit for him to leave at the expected time, the letter has been neglected.

You enquire in your last whether we received the photographs, package, paper, &c. The photograph came to hand a the proper time, 2 in number. I also received Baltimore papers several times. Your discharge of the 100 days service is received and will be kept until your return home (if Providence grants you the boon). The package that you alluded to containing papers, coffee, &c. has as yet not been received although it may yet arrive. George has been the recipient of the fifty dollars forwarded by you and has deposited them safely into “Uncle Sam’s” coffers according to request. Mary sent a pair of stockings & a pair of wrist bands or pulse warmers to you (by mail) about the 3rd February but you have kept silent in your letter in regards to them. We therefore came to the conclusion that you did not receive them. Is our supposition correct? Or have you merely forgotten to note them in your letters?

You ask for my opinion of the President’s Inaugural Address. I think it is very good, suitable for the times; as the old adage is “short but sweet.”

…I do not know what kind of weather you have had in the “Old Dominion” but here let me tell you we have had an old fashioned winter—nothing but snow, sleet, ice, and sleighing all the time. I can yet by looking out of the window see the snowbanks along most every fence, but by looking over the uncovered grain fields, no one can fail to notice that the grain appears to have been invigorated by the warm covering of snow. The grain fields have a spring-like appearance, promising a fair yield for the coming summer.

We doubt you have thought that our little town must be lonesome since so many of our neighbors have left to reinforce the armies of the Union. We do not feel the effect of this last call of the President but nevertheless we cheerfully submit so that this cursed rebellion will be crushed and our banner float victorious over sea and land. All these soldiers’ families appear to be in good health and spirits, no doubt taking the consolation that their friends and relatives have gone to fight the battles of the just.

Our family are all in better health than myself. I as a general thing being the invalid on account of rheumatism but still being able to be on my feet and work a little….

Your father, — Wm. Fraser

Letter 2

[Note: The following letter was written by Samuel Fry, Jr. of Lincoln, Pennsylvania.]

Lincoln, [Pennsylvania]
March 31, 1865

Friend William,

Yours of the 19th came to hand and was read with pleasure for I always like to receive letters from my comrades in the army. Everything is quiet here now about the officers. You don’t hear a word. There is a rumor here that the regiment left Martinsburg and went on as far as Charlestown [W. Va.] but how it is, I do not know. There are a good many rumors here same as in the army. Last Friday a week I cast my first vote down the Ephrata. I voted on my age. We had a ticket settled for our township officers. We elected them all but two that was one of the supervisors and the assessor. Ed Nagle was the supervisor and John W. Gross was the assessor that was elected on the Copperhead side but they had not such a very large majority.

Thhe people are busy settling up their old accounts as April is approaching very fast and are busy moving about. There will be some changes in Lincoln. Heiser is going to move to White Hall and Ernie Buck is going to move where Heiser lives. Mrs. Hershburger from Lebanon is going to move in the house where Reason lived in. A man by the name of Ander is going to move in Oberly’s house. Levi Shirk is Swilly’s house. Swilly is going to leave Lincoln next Tuesday for Naperville, Illinois. I believe them is all the changes here. Phares left for Chicago, Illinois, last Monday. He is going to try to get a situation in a store out there if he can.

The war news is good and the people around here think that the war can’t last very long anymore. Sherman has been victorious again and so has Grant and I think Richmond must fall before very long. Lieut. Henry Musser from Ohio is here. He is brother to Ed Musser. He is a lieutenant in a nigger regiment. He belonged to the Army of the James. He says the niggers fight very well and learn the drill very fast. Fry was home on a furlough of 2 days but I did not get to see him. They are at Philadelphia just now. They must have their ship repaired. They were in the fight at Fort Fisher. They helped to capture the fort.

I must come to a close. I am well and hope you are all enjoying the same blessing. Tell Jack I seen his sister this week and they are all well at home. No more.

From your friend, — Samuel Fry, Jr.

Letter 3

Lincoln, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania
April 9, 1865

W. J. Fraser, dear son,

Your letter of the 28th March has been received giving us the information that you are in good health. In reply I inform you that I am in a much better state of health than I have been in five months. I feel well and have more work that I want. In answer to your former letter, I mailed one with a five dollar note enclosed as by you directed on the 27th March one day before the date of your letter. On the same day I send one to George with postage stamps but have since received no answer from him. Also on the same day I mailed one to Anthony and I have since received an answer from him. I hope you may reach your enjoying health in your new quarters.

We have the glorious news that Richmond has fallen and is in possession of our Union troops and have the large flag waving across the street in the patriotic town of Lincoln. All the Union men look pleasant and feel to be in good humor with hopes that you all may be soon spared to return home from the army. The Copperheads say it is good news if true, but are not ready to believe it.

“That President Lincoln was in the possession of the reception room lately occupied by Jeff Davis in Richmond is very disagreeable to the Copperheads and that the Negro troops first entered Richmond is another bitter pill to them. I saw in some newspaper that General Grant had turned Leeward and that Gen. Lee had turned Hellward.”

William Fraser, Lincoln, Pennsylvania, 9 April 1865

That President Lincoln was in the possession of the reception room lately occupied by Jeff Davis in Richmond is very disagreeable to the Copperheads and that the Negro troops first entered Richmond is another bitter pill to them. I saw in some newspaper that General Grant had turned Leeward and that Gen. Lee had turned Hellward. It seems that the last fall election laid the way to victories of our armies under the command of Gen. Grant. It seems the right men have got to the right places. Gen. Sherman, Gen. Thomas, Gen. Sheridan, Gen. Terry, Gen. Meade, Gen. Burnside, with others who fill places of men who were either not fitted for their positions or were not with their heart in it. But it seems that Providence destined things how it should be at the proper time and our complete victories now will have its beneficial influences over the whole world—that the people can maintain themselves by their government and wipe out a set of the greatest villains that ever lived in any country without the aid of some of the colossal powers of Europe.

Mr. Noah Zooks wife died and will be buried today. All the rest of our family are well. I would like to hear from you soon whether you received my former letter with the five dollars enclosed and if anything else you want, let us know.

Your father affectionately, — William Fraser

Letter 4

[Note: The following letter was written by Samuel Fry, Jr. of Lincoln, Pennsylvania.]

Lincoln [Pennsylvania]
April 25, 1865

Friend William,

Your welcome letter came to hand and I should have answered it long before this but I was kept pretty busy. We have our stock of spring goods and the people are rushing in to buy like everything. It makes a person hop around behind the counter. Cotton goods are cheap towards they used to be. So are groceries. We sell muslins from 12.5 to 40 cents, calicoes 12.5 to 25 cents, sugar 12.5 to 25 cents, molasses 12. to 35 cents. Woolen goods have not come down much yet and I don’t think they will come down much.

The weather is nice and warm and everything is growing nice and green. Cherry trees and peach trees are in blossom.

I think one of the most outrageous murders ever committed was that of murdering the President and Secretary Seward. If I could catch a hold of the assassins, I would cut them up in small pieces. Hanging is too good for them. They ought to make a ring and put him in and then put some brush around him and then set it on fire and push it up to him closer and closer and would make him confess all. If he would not do it, I would burn him alive. I am glad President Lincoln lived so long as to see the end of this Great Rebellion which he has accomplished. I think the rebels have not gained anything by murdering the President. I think they have killed a friend—not an enemy. I always thought Lincoln was a little too lenient to the rebels but it might have been all for the best. President Johnson, I think, will be a little more severe on the rebels and make them come up to the mark some better.

General Sherman has made a botch of himself if it is true what is reported. The report is that him and Gen. Johnston made a treaty for peace without having orders from the War Department. The news as a general thing is scarce. People are nearly all mourning our late beloved President. Most of hte Copperheads are mourning but whether it is only a sham, I do not know.

I received a letter from Phares yesterday. He is out in Greentown, Stark county, Ohio. He is not in business yet but he expects to get a situation in Akron, Ohio, before very long. I must come to a close.

Tell Jack I was up at Benj. last Sunday and found them all well. I am well and hope you are all enjoying the same. No more from your friend, — Samuel Fry, Jr.

Write soon. Excuse all mistakes for I was in a hurry.

Letter 5

Lincoln, Pennsylvania
April 29, 1865

Mr. Wm. J. Fraser, dear son,

Your letter of the 17th mailed on the 20th was received on the 22nd and glad to hear from you being well and that you received the five dollar note. We are all enjoying good health and my health in particular is much better than I have had for many years. You mention that you have sent some clothing with others directed to Rev. E. H. Thomas and Ben. Dressler. We have received none of your clothing as yet.

We have received the news that Booth, the murderer of President Lincoln, was taken but is now dead. Yet he was taken alive mortally wounded. We have mysterious news from Gen. Sherman but that Gen. Grant will bring all right and that Jeff Davis is fleeing heavily loaded with specie to Texas and is presumed bound for Mexico after having sacrificed the lives of so many for Southern Rights which enabled him to lay up a large store of wealth when thousands were suffering for want of the needful subsistence. I think the time will come when it will become manifest to the people of the Southern States that President Lincoln was their true, honest friend and desired to give them protection when they were blinded by falsehood &c. which afforded Jeff Davis to rob them of lives and treasure. The day of reckoning has come and although the much lamented President has fallen by the hand of an assassin, our government survives the shock and will overcome the disgrace which has been inflicted for a time.

The sin of tolerating slavery for such a length of time has manifested itself more conclusively and President Lincoln’s lenient policy of mercy to the misguided men has not been appreciated by them in any reasonable manner whatever.

…As soon as I receive your clothing, I will let you know. I expect to see Ben Wissler today or this evening. He had received nothing on last Wednesday.

Your affectionate father, — William Fraser

Letter 6

Lincoln, Pennsylvania
May 23, 1865

Dear Son, William Fraser.

Your letter of the 12th was received on the morning when Mr. Faust left and always glad to hear of you being well and would have answered sooner but as Mr. Forest left with whom I sent the V. which George in his letter states you had received…

I expected you to be mustered out of the service soon, but I have no satisfactory information now to form any opinion when you may be discharged. The sooner you could be relieved, the better I would like it as work has been crowding in on me with that expectation that you might return before long but will have to do the best we can.

George in his letter states that he has received his uniform and is pleased with the fit. This morning the ministers and elders who attended the meeting of the Classes all left after having been in session since last Friday. It was quite an interesting affair and some very good sermons preached. On Sunday there was meeting in the forenoon, afternoon, and evening. Dr. Nevin preached in the english language and Rev. Eckert from the lower end of the county preached in the english language. In the whole, it was not only interesting but a very creditable meeting of the classes. It was an unfortunate thing that the bell on the church cracked a few weeks ago and has become entirely useless and could not have been replaced in time for the meeting of the classes…

Your clothing, the overcoats and boots with some papers, has arrived all in good order….

We are all well and hope to hear from you soon. Your affectionate father, — William Fraser

[Note: The following letter was written by Samuel Fry, Jr. of Lincoln, Pennsylvania.]

Letter 7

Lincoln [Pennsylvania]
May 24, 1865

Friend William,

…Last week we had quite a lively time here at Lincoln. They had a Synod here at church. There were some fifteen to eighteen ministers here. It commenced on last Friday and closed on Monday evening. On Sunday we would have had a great crowd of people here but it rained so there were not so many as we expected. But I am sorry to say most of these ministers were Copperheads. Peter Kurtz has left the store so I was alone for about a week but we have one again. Phares is here now. He came here last Tuesday. He came back from the West last Saturday a week. He could not get any employment out there so he thought he would come back again. He was gone 7 weeks. He was at Chicago and Naperville, Illinois, from there he went back to Greentown, Ohio, and New Berlin, Canton, and other places around there but he could get no situation, he came out so late. All the merchants had made their spring changes already. He liked it very well in Ohio but in Illinois he did not like it so very well.

On next Tuesday there will be a “Love Feast” at Samuel Fahnestock and on Thursday a week there will be one at Christian Wenger’s down toward Earlville somewheres. There will also be one at Jacob R. Keller’s but when that will be, I do not know.

The news is scarce. The war is over now so there is not much news. Thy have caught Old Jeff now. He tried to make his escape in female attire through the woods but he was kidnapped and is now on the way to Washington to have his trial. I think he is interested in the assassination of Lincoln. Yesterday, Henry B.. Martin S. Fry, and some more started for Washington to see the Grand Review which is to take place.

Isaac Fry is home on a furlough of 10 days. He is still stationed at Philadelphia. I also seen David Grant of your company a few weeks ago. He was here at Lincoln. He looks well and hearty. I think after the review is over, you will all be sent home in time of haymaking and harvest. There will be a heavy crop this summer. I have never seen the grass look so well before this time of the year.

On Thursday a week we are going to have the store closed. It is a “Fast Day.” Rev. Boyer is going to preach a Funeral Sermon for Lincoln in Reamstown. I guess he will have a great crowd there. The stores at Gravel Hill & at Rothsville are about being closed up….

— Samuel Fry, Jr.

1863: Garrett F. Speer to Walter Speer

I could not find an image of Garrett but here’s one of John Citheart who served as a private in Co. I of the 4th New Jersey (Photo Sleuth)

This letter was written by Garrett F. Speer (1838-1894), the son of Garrett T. Speer (1794-1842) and Jane Sigler (1796-1860). He wrote the letter to his brother Walter Speer (1830-1887) who resided in Newark, New Jersey, with his wife, Sarah Ann (Cummings) Speer and their seven children. Walter was a carpenter/house builder by trade.

Garrett was a private in Co. F, 4th New Jersey Infantry. He later (January 1864) enlisted again in Co. K, 1st New Jersey Infantry Veterans and was wounded in May 1864 and taken to the Fairfax Seminary Hospital near Alexandria. He mustered out of the regiment on 29 June 1865.

In this letter, Garrett informs his brother that he has just returned to Alexandria after having spent the last three weeks in Pennsylvania. The 4th New Jersey did not take part in the Battle of Gettysburg. Rather, three of the companies were detached as Provost Guard and the remaining companies, including the one in which Garrett belonged, were detailed to guard the Reserve Artillery train. The majority of the letter is devoted to advising his brother to refrain from offering any support to the Copperhead Party.


Alexandria [Virginia]
July 18, 1863

Dear Brother,

I am once more at leisure and will improve my leisure moments by writing you a few lines. I have just returned from Chambersburg, Pa. Since the first of July I have been very busy night and day until I am nearly worn out with fatigue. I received your letter of the 11th this morning. Was very glad to hear from you but would be much gladder to hear from you since the great Copperhead riot in New York City. I hope that will convince you that that party really mean.

You may think that I am somewhat abolitionized. That is not the case. I am neither a Copperhead nor an Abolitionist. God forbid that I should be either.

—Garrett Speer, 4th New Jersey Infantry, 18 July 1863

Walter, let me implore of you to spurn them more than the vilest Rebel that pollutes the soil of America. Walter, as a brother, I want to give you a good advice. Don’t cast your destinies with a party so vile and corrupted that will place an eternal disgrace on you and your family that you can never wash out. You may think that I am somewhat abolitionized. That is not the case. I am neither a Copperhead nor an Abolitionist. God forbid that I should be either. The Rebel advance in Pennsylvania is enough to convince any good man the necessity of sustaining the government of the United States and the Administration until every Rebel North or South is subdued.

Walter, I consider a Copperhead of the Vallandigham stripe a worse enemy than the bold Rebel that comes right out and fights for the government that he wishes to sustain. Oh, I could mention so many instances of Copperhead imbecility in my travels in Pennsylvania that it has sickened me so much against that gang of traitors there. I have not language enough to express my disgust toward them. For God sakes, Walter, never allow yourself to be deceived by this hoard of traitors. They once partially deceived me until I saw for myself that they were the worst enemy the government had to contend against, and then I despised them as I would any traitor.

My motto is Stand by the Union until our glorious Old Flag waves in triumph over every street and every city in these once United States of America. And I know that there is loyal hearts enough yet left to accomplish that glorious end. Do not think that this is mere prejudice on my part as to the loyalty of this party that I am hostile to—not by any means. What I say to you about them is [true] and I know them to be what I represent them to be. And remember that the advice comes from a brother that would sooner have his right arm severed from his body than to allow the same to write you a bad advice. — G. F. Speer

Give my love to all of those friends that you speak of in your last letter. Tell them that I often think of them when I am in camp and think of the contrast between camp life and enjoying their agreeable company in a city like Newark. However, I expect to see them all again when this cruel war is over. When the Rebs are all disarmed of course, &c. &c. — G. F. Speer