Category Archives: Presidential Election of 1864

1862-64: Dwight Whitney Marsh to his Family

Rev. Dwight Whitney Marsh in later years

These two letters were written by Dwight Whitney Marsh (1823-1896), the son of Henry Marsh (1797-1852) and Sarah Whitney (1796-1883) of St. Louis, Missouri. Dwight had several siblings; those mentioned in these letters include, Calvin “Waldo” Marsh (1825-1873), Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Willard Marsh (1829-1882), and Clarissa (“Clara”) Dwight Marsh (1834-1899) who married Samuel Watkins Eager, Jr. (1827-1903). Dwight’s father was an attorney in St. Louis at the time of his death in 1852 at the age of 53.

Dwight was born in Berkshire county, Massachusetts, and graduated from Williams College in 1842. He studied theology at Andover Theological Seminary in 1842-3, and then taught school in St. Louis, Mo., from 1843 to 1847. He continued his theological training at Union Theological Seminary and graduated in 1849, after which he was ordained and sailed in December 1849 from Boston to Mosul, Turkey, as a missionary for the A. B. C. F. M. In 1852 he returned to the U.S. and married 19 October 1852 to Julia White Peck of New York City. He then returned to Mosul where his wife died in August 1859. He finally returned to the U.S. in 1860 and began a lecture tour on missionary life. He was married on 21 August, 1862, to Elizabeth L. Barron in Rochester and then accepted charge of the Rochester Young Ladies’ Female Seminary where he remained five years. While there, he also preached for the Wester House of Refuge. He then went on to serve in the pulpit of various churches in the midwest before his death in 1896.

Letter 1

Osburn House
Rochester, New York
Thursday, August 21, 1862

My own ever dear sister Lizzie,

I am very sorry that our marriage comes off so suddenly that you & Mother could not be present. I think of you all much. It is now about noon & we are to be married at 3:30 & at 9 shall be at the [Niagara] Falls if all goes well. We have a charming day & I wish you were here to share in our delight. How often in this life our affairs move differently from our anticipations. I think we are about to be happy; but only our Maker knows what trials of sickness or partings are in store.

We are in war times. I think I never saw a city so stirred with enlistment excitements as this day. A regiment has just gone & 15 tents are camped on the pavements in the very heart of the city & the roll of the drum calls not an ordinary crowd. At 3:30 stores are closed & the strength & enterprise of the city is at work & will meet with wonderful success. They will probably avoid any resort to drafting in this county.

Coming from New England here, having heard Parson Brownlow 1 here, I think I can safely [say] that the North is wholly in earnest & will give promptly all that the government asks. This interest grows with every friend that falls & does not for a moment falter at any reverse. This is a great country & I am getting more & more proud of it. Should you come from St. Louis here, you would breathe a purer air & feel a new patriotic thrill & exult in living where to be living is sublime. “In an age on ages telling.”

“We shall have no lasting peace till we are ready to do something in the name of God & liberty for the slave. There clanks our chain.”

Rev. Dwight Whitney Marsh, 21 August 1862

Lizzie, I hope you & Clara all all at home will not think that my heart loved you any the less for the happiness of my new relations. I think that I love each of our dear family with a true & abiding love. I want your sympathy & your prayers. At St. Louis, where tiresome abounds, you must feel sad & discouraged at times. We shall have no lasting peace till we are ready to do something in the name of God & liberty for the slave. There clanks our chain.

Do give my best love to Anna & Clara & Sam & Waldo & kiss the children. When shall we meet? I cannot go to St. Louis for the present. I shall have to go look after Charlie again, as soon as October 1st, if not sooner. I shall try to write more at length soon. I hope Katy will not forget “Uncle Dwight.” Remembrance to all friends.

Your ever affectionate brother, — Dwight

1 William Gannaway Brownlow (1805-1877) was a preacher in the Methodist Church and a Tennessee newspaper editor. A Unionist despite owning slaves himself, Brownlow criticized the Confederacy even after Tennessee seceded. He was briefly imprisoned by the Confederacy at the beginning of the war. After leaving the state, he began a lucrative lecture tour in the North.

Letter 2

Addressed to Mrs. Sarah Marsh, Care of S. W. Eager, Jr., Esqr., County Clerk, St. Louis, Mo.

Rochester, New York
Saturday, November 12th 1864

My own dearest Mother,

Your kind letter written just before election came yesterday & now we can rejoice & thank God together. This state and Nation are safe. God has heard the prayer of thousands of His creatures. He has been very gracious & to Him be all glory & praise. The world does surely move on towards the glad day when truth shall no longer be trampled down in the streets. The Nation, by God’s inspiring decree & influence, has asserted the heaven given rights to live notwithstanding rebels in arms & traitors at the polls would have assassinated the nation.

Rochester Female Seminary—pillars repaired in 1864

I am almost too happy in the defeat of the intriguer [Horatio] Seymour & hardly less in that of the weak tool McClellan. I think McClellan was a well-meaning little coxcomb—fooled to the top of his bent by larger and meaner men. The sun has set upon [Samuel S.] Cox & [Alexander] Long & poor Fernando [Wood] has not even traitors enough in New York [City] to elect him. All lovers of liberty & truth must rejoice in the result of last Tuesday’s election. I have some curiosity to know how [brother] Waldo voted. I hope that he is under good influences. I want very much from time to time to hear just how he is situated.

Lillie & Miss Eaton are well. Were they in the room, he would no doubt send love.

Our school continues full. We have about eighty. We had lately a singular case of theft by one of the girls of silver spoons & we were obliged to send her home. She was only fifteen & lived some thirty or forty miles away.

Please tell me any news of the dear ones in Racine. Love to them too if you write.

We have been repairing considerably. Clara will remember that the pillars in front of the house were very shabby. We have had them freshly covered and they look now very well indeed. We have expended over $200 in repairs since Mr. Eager & Clara were here & they would no doubt notice great improvement, This change has been essential to be decent.

Rev. Augustus Walker and his bride, Eliza Mercy Harding—Congregational missionaries to Turkey

Mr. & Mrs. [Augustus] Walker 1 of Diarbekir made us a very delightful visit of nearly a week—only it was too short. We put on Turkish dresses on Wednesday afternoon & the young ladies had quite a treat. One day the girls took a vote & found 58 for Lincoln to 12 for McClellan, & besides the teachers all for Lincoln.

Our city (I am sorry to say) gave some 80 majority for Little Mac. He must feel very small. Little Delaware was just large enough to vote for him.

Old Kentucky started wrong in this war (only half loyal)—that is, loyal with an if—and she has suffered & may suffer far more for it. I hope she will consult her own interests well enough to give up slavery. It is idle to attempt to maintain it longer & will only delay what is inevitable.

Please give much love to Waldo & Mr. Eager & all their families, kissing the little ones for me. Thank you for remembering & writing to me on my birthday. I see God’s hand more the longer I live & I hope am grateful for His goodness & love. Every affectionately your son, — Dwight

1 Rev. Augustus Walker and his wife, Eliza Mercy Harding, were missionaries to Diarbekir, Turkey, where they spent 13 years. They had six children, two of whom died in Turkey. Only one child, Harriet, was born in America during a furlough. In 1866 the Reverend Augustus Walker died of cholera in Turkey, and Mrs. Walker returned to America with their four children.

1864: Menzo Klock to Samuel R. Green

This letter was written by Menzo Klock (1835-1891), the son of Jonas Klock (1801-1881) and Mary Polly Klock (1807-1884). Menzo was married to Mary Diefendorf (1836-1865) at the time he wrote this letter from their residence in St. Johnsville, Montgomery county, New York.

He wrote the letter to Samuel R. Green who was serving in the 146th New York Infantry at the time.

Klock’s letter refers extensively to the late Presidential election.


St. Johnsville [Montgomery county, New York]
November 30th 1864

Mr. S. R. Green
Dear sir,

You last came to hand day before yesterday after having been patiently waited for three or four weeks. I was happy to learn that you are yet in the land of the living and enjoying good health and hope and pray that you may pass unharmed through the fiery ordeal of battle and return home to your family and friends to enjoy the gratitude of a free and liberty-loving people whose homage shall never cease to our heroic soldiers whose blood and toil shall have sealed forever the unalienable rights of man.

The status at St. Johnsville is the same as when I last wrote. The bitterness and determination with which the opposition entered the Presidential canvass has subsided into quiet and apparent submission. Never did democracy enter a canvass with greater resolution to regain her ancient prerogative than the one just closed and never did it leave the contest so much discomfited and with greater apparent resignation. The threats of resistance to the Administration, if successful in its reelection, their declamations of bankruptcy and ruin to our country and impossibility of subduing the rebellion, the usurpations of the President in the conduct of affairs with a thousand frightful scenes designed to destroy in the minds of the people the belief in justice of our cause and that the Administration was incompetent to conduct the country safely through its trial proclaimed everywhere in loud and stirring tones have not been heard or seen since election day.

Since my last, we have heard of Robert Vandusen’s death who was in the army and enlisted when DeWitt did. Aunt Lydia Green was also buried some six weeks since. Old Mrs. Curren and Julia attending the funeral, they being at St. Johnsville on a visit. We gave them your address and let them read your letters which pleased them much. You likely will soon hear from them as they have returned home to the west.

We shall expect to hear from you soon and would like to receive a visit from you which would be far more agreeable. Mrs. Klock sends her request that you send her your photograph if you have it in soldier’s likeness but will not refuse any other if you prefer to send one. Do not neglect to write and if you come gome be sure to make us a good long visit.

With respect, I remain as ever your friend and servant, — Manis Klock

I have written badly having a lame hand.

1864: Alburtus H. Peckham to Asahel G. Eggleston

A post-war image of Alburtus H. Peckham

This letter was written by Alburtus H. Peckham (1841-1919), the son of William Robinson Peckham, Jr. (1816-1886) and Maria Schermerhorn Kettle (1819-1887) of Cortlandville, Cortland county, New York.

At the age of 23, Alburtus enlisted on 1 September 1864 as a private in Co. F, 185th New York Infantry—a one-year regiment. He was wounded (gun shot through left thigh) on 29 March 1865 in the fighting at Quaker Road (see Battle of Gravelly Run) and transported to the Lincoln Hospital in Washington D. C. where he was discharged on 8 June 1865.

After the war, Alburtus was a merchant in Virgil, New York. He married Lydia Ann Smith (1842-1903) in 1870 and moved to Michigan prior to 1900.

Alburtus wrote the letter to Asahel G. Eggleston (1813-1897) and his wife, Louisa Kenney (1818-1897) of Cortland, New York. Asahel was a farmer in Cortland county. Alburtus does not appear to have been a relation but perhaps he had been previously employed by Asahel as a farmhand.


Addressed to Mr. A. Eggleston, Cortlandville, Cortland county, New York

Camp on the front
October 15th 1864

Mr. and Mrs. Eggleston,

I have a little time this morning and I do not know that I can spend it more agreeable than to write a little. The Army of the Potomac is at present rather inactive—or at least it is not in fighting activity. But how long this quiet will last is something only the future can develop. Very soon indeed may the deathly missiles of war be put in motion and the rebellious soil of Virginia be saturated with the blood of our American people. We heard heavy firing all night and we understand this morning that it was gunboats down on the James River. We think there must be a move somewhere pretty soon.

We were the witnesses of rather a solemn affair yesterday. At about half past nine, a member of the 2nd Maryland was marched to the rear of our camp to be shot for desertion. 1 Four men carried his coffin and the 9th Brigade Band played the “Death March” as thousands moved to the place of death. Many hearts beat in sympathy for the poor victim but from the history of his military life all were assured that he ought to die. We have too many men of such character in our army and doubtless many patriotic hearts have bled in consequence of them.

Our camp at present is located on the farm of a rebel officer. It does not look much like farming here now. Not a building except the house nor a fence is to be seen. The ground was the past summer covered with tobacco and cotton. We find occasionally a cotton plant standing now. I have not seen a stone of any kind since I have been in Virginia. Some of the company have seen one or two. The principle timber here is pine and the boys use it too, just as if it was not worth anything.

October 18

I did not have time o finish and mail this letter last Saturday and today finds us in a different location. Sunday we were ordered to march so we took our house and furniture on our backs and started for some part, we knew not where, but we soon found out for we only moved about a mile farther toward the front.

We now again occupy the front line of breastworks, over which the Rebs take the privilege to boost a shell once in awhile. We have not been troubled any yet but the old troops that were here before us used to get “woke up” once in awhile. Along the front of our breastworks was once a large piece of woods but now they are all cut down and present a wasteful appearance as they are mostly large pines, and appear to be of much worth—at least to northern people.

The regiment went almost wholly for “Old Abe” as most sensible people do. There was some deserters came into our camp the other day from the Rebs and they said if Lincoln was elected, they would have but little hope and it would be a hard matter to get many of them to fight anymore.

—A. H. Peckham, 185th New York, 18 October 1864

Maj. Waters has been at our regiment and taken their votes. The regiment went almost wholly for “Old Abe” as most sensible people do. There was some deserters came into our camp the other day from the Rebs and they said if Lincoln was elected, they would have but little hope and it would be a hard matter to get many of them to fight anymore. The coming election is looked to with a hope of its having something of an influence for the better, and such we think will be the case, but of course we cannot tell. No more at present for I have no time to write.

Shall be glad to hear from you at anytime. My love to all. Yours in Dixie, — A. H. Peckham

1 The soldier from the 2nd Maryland who was shot for desertion on 14 October 1864 was Charles H. Merling.