Category Archives: Post Civil War Correspondence

1867: Paullin DeForest to Florence H. Crowell

The following letter was written by Pauline DeForest (b. 1840) of Pennsylvania. Paullin enlisted in 1866 at Philadelphia to serve three years in the 3rd US Cavalry. He was discharged at Fort Wingate, New Mexico in 1869 and then reenlisted in 1869 at Santa Fe, New Mexico for three more years in the 3rd US Cavalry. He was discharged on February 17, 1872 at Indianapolis, Indiana, as a first class private. This does not appear to be his final stint in the service, however, as there are subsequent military records for him. He claims to have been a soldier since 1861 but I cannot find any Civil War record for him.

Paullin wrote the letter to Miss Florence H. Crowell of Newark, New Jersey. The content of the letter suggests to me that the correspondents barely knew each other. I believe this may be an example of a “pen pal” arrangement wherein Florence responded to an advertisement placed by Paullin in a New York newspaper seeking a correspondent.


Addressed to Miss Florence H. Crowell, 37 East Broad Street, Newark, New Jersey

Fort Bayard, New Mexico
January 9th 1867

Miss Florence H. Crowell, Newark, N.J.,

Your letter came to hand on the 29th of last month. You can scarcely imagine the pride it has given me to hear from you but do not deem me impudent for writing again to you. I consider it very fortunate for myself when I get any letters to wile away time. Possibly you may think I am very trifling when I say “wile away time” but you can scarcely imagine the influence a letter from the States has over me. It seems as if I were conversing with one personally and goodness knows that a verbal conversation is more to my taste than that of writing. I have always heretofore considered letter writing a bore. That was the conclusion I had arrived at when I was in the Army before. But now the case is entirely different.

Here one is isolated from friends and civilization entirely while on the other hand only a few  hundred miles intervened betwixt myself & friends and communication easy, mails more regular than here. Mails from this Post has to have an escort of not less than ten men, well-armed, and always detailed from the company to which I belong on account of the depredations the Indians commit. They are famous for stealing and shooting who may be on the road and if there were a smaller party with the mail, it would be jumped very quickly. It is only the force that prevents and Indians in this country dread the seven shooters that cavalrymen are armed with. The Indians have  been roaming in small parties and are very much enfeebled at present. In fact, the late war in the States has played them out considerably. A great many of them joined the Confederate army in Texas and in this territory and they have been cut up to a great extent.

The late Civil War is in a manner beneficial to the Indian. It has helped to get rid of them and one thing they do know—that the Great Father in Washington is able to clean them out. This  accounts for the little or no depredations on the citizens last year. No less than 2000 Navajos  submitted to the military authorities and they were sent to Fort Sumner on the Pecos River Reservation about 600 miles east of this place.

Immigration is increasing to a vast extent, principally Mexicans from Chihuahua Old Mexico about 34 miles south. I suppose the Mexican  troubles has something to do with this. A large town has been established about 7 miles from here by them called Pinos Altos. The Mexicans you are, I suppose aware of, speak the Spanish language. One not acquainted with the lingo cannot get along with them nohow. In August last, I did not know a single word of the lingo. I am now able to converse with a Mexican sufficiently to get along.

They have a peculiar institution—a national one in fact—called fandangoes which they have nightly and they attend them, all of them from the child up to the old men & women. They dance from the  evening until broad daylight and never seem to tire of it. And such waltzing. You will scarcely believe me when I say it is unequaled, not in the States at least. I have seen some of the finest of dancing in the States but they cannot come up to the Spanish dancing. They chiefly dance among  themselves. The reason why the Americans do not dance with the señoritas is because the señors have such weighty arguments in the shape of stilletos. They—the Mexicans—are proverbial for their  jealousy in regards to their female portion of friends and look with hatred towards all foreigners, and will not allow if they can help it any interferences from Americans.

Article appearing in the Weekly Rescue on 20 July 1867 (Sacramento, California) pertaining to DeForest’s activities in the Good Templars.

I am sure no explanation was needed in reference to Mr. McDonald, and I do assure you that I had thought that no young lady of any education would have any correspondence with such an uncouth youngster as he  appeared to be, and I think you are justified in saying that he ought to be where [he] belongs. The service does not need renegades; there is plenty yet, I hope, that has an interest in the welfare of this country and that have cause to desert the same. Yet I always feel sorry to hear of any deserting the flag after the government is at an heavy expense to equip them and to instruct them. Then to desert is just as much of an act to defraud the government as those who at Washington or elsewhere are doing by the wholesale. Since January last, there has been 63 deserted from this company alone, and the proportion is just the same throughout the whole Regiment. Now there is 12 Companies and say the average desertion since the beginning of last year is 50 to each company. That would be 600 men in the regiment who have deserted. [If] each one of these deserters generally disposes of his horse & arms, very nearly $400 worth of material belonging to the government, the sum total is a very great loss not only to Uncle Sam but to the citizens tax paying.

I am quite sorry that I have nothing of very importance to write about and as to being an hero, that is entirely out of my range. I  have no ambition for such a title. To obtain [it] would cost too much time and too much hard labor. As Artemus Ward says, it is not my forte. There is certain kinds of heroism that is never looked at. Now there is the ball rom dandy. He is a hero who suffers more than he does not near the tightest of calf skin boots and does he not suffer from the fashion that prevail and never so much complains. There is a hero. Again I might write pages concerning heroes both great and small. But my true ideal of an hero is a moral hero who neither mingles with the wine bibbers or bible scoffers—a true, upright, conscientious, God-fearing person, one who loves his enemies who hates him. Very few army men especially. You can scarcely hear of them in the  army. General Howard is a true pattern & example for all soldiers.

Another thing before I am done with this letter is to state for your benefit before hand it this: I am afraid I will prove but a sorry correspondent and not knowing any of the people of New Jersey so one cannot gossip is too bad. I only wish I did because there is nothing I am so fond of as gossip. What I mean—news about this person and that person.

You caused me to smile when you alluded to the title of madam. I was not aware that the same is improper for a young lady, but always supposed that it covered all when addressed to the fair sex. Al least I was taught that all ladies, whether old or young, were supposed to be addressed  madam as a matter of courtesy. But I hope you will forgive me for my error. I suppose it is the effect of living in this outlandish country and another fact— that of soldiering since 1861. Well, I  am supposing & guessing like an down Easter, so suppose you will.

As ever, Paullin Deforest, Co. M, 3rd U. S. Cavalry, Fort Bayard, N. M.

1868: Charles Roswell Hine to Roswell C. Hine

This letter was written by Charles Roswell Hine (1832-1919) who came to Kent county, Michigan in the mid 1840s with his parents, Demas and Sally (Noble) Hine from Delaware county, New York. Charles was married to Emeline Whitney (1838-1892) in the mid 1850s and the boy mentioned in his letter was their son, Fred Benton Hine (1856-1922).

In the 1863 Draft Registration Records, 30 year-old Charles was enumerated as a resident of Lowell, Kent county, Michigan, and his occupation was given as grocer. He had not, as of that date, served in the military, and I can find no record that he did subsequently either. In this letter, written in 1868, he indicates that he engaged in the “drug trade” which was a common adjunct business to the grocery business. By 1870 he was identified simply as a “druggist.”

Roswell Hine and his daughter Sarah Elizabeth Hine (1839-1874)

Charles wrote the letter to his uncle, Roswell C. Hine (1811-1878), a grocer in Athens, Limestone county, Alabama. Rosewell was the son of Silas Hine (1764-1841) and Betsy Tyrell (1767-1834). Roswell’s wife, Mary (Malone) died in 1841 after only three years of marriage but gave birth to their daughter Sarah in 1839.

This letter reminds us of the challenge before the Nation regarding Black suffrage. Former Confederate states were required to form new governments in their respective states that would enfranchise all male citizens 21 years and older of “whatever race, color, or previous condition” before they could be readmitted into the Union. Ironically, it the North and West that objected to Black male suffrage and there were numerous state-level referendums—such as that described in this letter—that proved the road to the Fifteenth Amendment would not be an easy one.


Addressed to R. Hine, Esqr., Athens, Georgia

Lowell [Michigan]
April 11, 1868

Dear Uncle,

I have been waiting for a long time for matter of sufficient interest to make up a letter of, and at last, write more for the purpose of hearing from you than of communicating news—the best and most glorious of all is the result of our recent elections. Michigan has repudiated “Negro Suffrage” by at least 30,000 majority; while Conn. elects her Democratic Governor. 1 I think we have reason to hope for the “dawning of a better day” politically and we hope that the strength of the “Radicals” is growing less in Michigan but next fall will tell the story.

There has been no important changes with us since I wrote you last—no deaths, no births, although I am expecting the latter event to occur soon in my own family. My wife’s health is very poor but hope for an improvement soon. Milton’s wife has also been very poorly for the last year. The rest are in good health. Father and mother are thinking of removing to Lowell if they can sell where they are. Jimmy Hine has ben with me since last October with the intention of remaining permanently.

Business has been very good with us for the last year, although money has been somewhat tight. I still continue the drug trade and Martin the dry goods trade Martin started last Wednesday for New York to purchase goods accompanied by Fannie, a daughter of Charles Noble of Franklin who has been spending the winter here. A son of Charles Noble is clerking for Martin’s firm.

We have had some cold winter and the weather still continues cold. It is freezing some today.

Can you take Bettie and come North and make a visit this summer? If so, we will try and make it agreeable to you. I am in hopes of being able to visit you next year if I can arrange to leave home which I think I can after Jimmie has become more familiar with the business. I purpose giving him an interest in the business after awhile so as to enable me to get away from it myself in order to visit some of my friends. I have never been East since I left there with you which was 23 years ago. I now have a boy nearly as old as I was at that time and I now am about as old as you were then. So times flies.

Give my love to all the friends and in writing, please give particulars concerning them as well as yourself. It is some time since I have heard from any of you South. Your nephew, — C. R. Hine

1 In the 1868 Connecticut gubernatorial election, Democratic nominee James E. English defeated Republican nominee Marshall Jewell by a majority of only 1,700 votes. English was one of the members of Congress who broke ranks with the Democratic Party and voted for the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery. He feared it would ruin him politically but Connecticut voters rewarded him with the Governor’s chair twice in subsequent years.