1881: Michael Gray to James W. Denver

This letter was written by Michael Gray (1827-1906) of Tombstone, Arizona. Michael came with his family to Texas in 1831 and “allegedly joined the Texas Rangers while in his teens, and followed Colonel Jack Hays throughout the Mexican War, attaining the rank of First Lieutenant.” In 1849, the Gray family moved to Marysville, California, where they took up gold mining and claim speculation. During this time, Michael Gray served as sheriff of Yuba county. In 1879, Michael Gray relocated to Tombstone in search of mineral wealth. While in Tombstone, Gray pursued community, county, and territorial politics. No history of Tombstone or Cochise county would be complete without a biographical sketch of this “mover and shaker.”

Gray wrote the letter to his friend, James W. Denver (1817-1892)—a lawyer in Washington D. C. During the Mexican War, Denver served as the captain of a company for the 12th US Volunteer Infantry under General Winfield Scott. He served as a member of Congress representing California in the mid 1850’s and was President Buchanan’s Commissioner of Indian Affairs. He also served briefly as Territorial Governor of Kansas before serving as a Brigadier General in the Civil War.

6150901c0fcee5542f704016913efc32
Michael Gray holding the reins of his buggy

TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to Gen’l J. W. Denver, Washington City, D. C.
Postmarked Tombstone, Arizona

Tombstone, Arizona
December 22, 1881

Gen’l J. W. Denver
Dear Old Friend,

You may be surprised to receive a letter from me after so many long years accompanied with so many changes &c. &c. I am yet among the living and have not forgotten your willingness to do favors for your many friends. Hence this request. To be brief, Gen’l, will you mention to the proper authorities the importance of establishing a Military Post near the Mexican line at a point in New Mexico near the dividing line of Arizona and New Mexico. The necessity for such a post is very great. There is a distance of one hundred and fifty miles along the border without any protection at all—the very best of this country that would support one million of stock, with mountains intervening full of minerals, that today is almost abandoned for want of protection by the troops.

I will guarantee one of the handsomest places of this country for the Post without cost to Government. After you consult with the proper one, you will communicate the facts to me and my part shall be attended to in haste. Nothing more at present. I remain yours as of old. — Mike Gray

P. S. My regards to all Mexican [War] Veterans.

 

1862: Pembroke S. Scott to Jane (Patterson) Scott

We often read of the effect the scenes of battle had on the mental well being of the soldiers who fought in the Civil War, but we rarely stop to consider the mental state of those same soldiers before they ever entered the service. The following letter was written by 19 year-old Pembroke S. Scott (1842-1890), the son of Charles Carruthers Scott (1803-1854) and Jane Patterson (1830-1893) of Taylor Creek, Hardin county, Ohio. He wrote the letter from the Lunatic Asylum of Ohio in Columbus in February 1862 and though his diagnosis is not revealed, his words suggest he suffered from severe depression at the time he was admitted. “I have been a kind of listless dreamer ruminating over past events and from the kind of misanthropy it produced, I was utterly incompetent to do any good for myself or anybody else,” he wrote his widowed mother.

It appears that Pembroke was well on the road to recovery in February 1862 and that sometime not long after, he was discharged from the asylum. In his annual report to the State, superintendent Dr. Richard Hills proclaimed that of the 262 patients treated at the asylum during the previous year, a remarkable 107 of them were discharged as “recovered” and 14 more as “improved.” This is an incredible cure rate indeed.

Not long after Pembroke returned home, he enlisted in Co. B, 118th Ohio Volunteers Infantry (OVI). His service entry date was 11 August 1862 and he remained with the regiment until he was killed on 14 May 1864 at the Battle of Resaca, Georgia—the first major battle in the Campaign for Atlanta. In the fighting on 14 May in which approximately three hundred members of the 118th OVI were engaged, Confederates killed or wounded 116 of them in approximately ten minutes.

A year ago I transcribed a letter by Pembroke written on Christmas Day 1862 from Kimbrough’s Bridge near Cynthiana, Kentucky. In that letter, Pembroke spoke of how he had spent Christmas under “very different circumstances” a year ago. I did not have a clue what he was referring to until I transcribed this letter. That paragraph reads in part:  “I felt pretty well then. I am quite well now. I had nothing to do then. I have much to do now. Yet I am better satisfied. This is the reason. I was protected by the good old constitution. Now perhaps I can do a little something to save it from destruction & to vindicate our birthright to be free. ‘Protect the right’ is the swinging limb to hang to in my philosophy.” [See—1862: Pembroke S. Scott to Jane (Patterson) Scott.]

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

Columbus_Ohio_PC1
The Lunatic Asylum of Ohio

TRANSCRIPTION

Co. L, Asylum
Columbus, Ohio
February 12th 1862

My Dear Mother,

I much regret that I haven’t written to you sooner when I promised to do so. Duty to yourself & family demands that I should have done this frequently. I done very wrong in neglecting it. I pray your forgiveness. I have been frequently importuned to write but I have resisted their persuasion to so so until now. I have determined to write to you. Indeed, I don’t know that I could have written any satisfaction had I tried from the first. I have been a kind of listless dreamer ruminating over past events and from the kind of misanthropy it produced, I was utterly incompetent to do any good for myself or anybody else.

I have lost those feelings to a great degree and have an intention and feel an alacrity to do everything in my power to ameliorate my condition. I haven’t the least doubt if I perform my part with any skill at all, I shall come home well sometime in the spring. The Doctor really encourages me to think this and I believe it is so. Why should I not use every effort to get well to do something for myself & friends. I believe I will try & do some of these things. When we consider the importance—the great value of a human being, even if he is part lunatic—what an effort ought one to make. How ought he to be encouraged to do good, I feel greatly encouraged to do better. I shall try and do my best.

Shall we look for a moment at the unrolled scroll of the year that is past? True, the record cannot be changed—what is written is written. The past is irrevocable. But its review may suggest lessons for the future and furnish motives to a better life. We take no note of time; but from its loss, to give them a tongue is wise in man. Alas! how many blanks—how many unimproved hours! How much good that might have been done, not done! How many things done that should not have been done! But if the past cannot be changed, why this review? For instruction and information. It teaches us to improve the present. This if time alone is ours. Now or never is a universal rule of human action. The present must be improved or its appropriate work remain forever undone. How imperceptibly it steals from us! While we wait to think, it is gone.

Our little clock is ticking in the hall. I think of time as a probation for eternity. I am startled! How it literally rushes past! How rapid the pendulum swings, marking off the passing seconds! That ceaseless tick, tick, each proclaiming a portion of probation gone! How many such have passed while I have been thus listlessly dreaming. It is a little strange that I have not profited more while here but it has all been my own fault. Indeed, I had almost resolved never to try to do right any more and I don’t know but I have kept my resolution more firmly than I resolved. But it won’t do to do wrong always. My conduct would lead to the conclusion that I had not the least confidence in my physicians here [and] such is not the case. I have had the greatest confidence in them from the first. I know them to be true physicians of the first order and while I comprehended their sympathy and sagacity to the full extent, I had a kind of impulse to treat them—to say the least—ungentlemanly. I have done so [but] I wish to do so no longer.

I confess my great fault and promise to do better for the future. I profess my willingness to sign a second pledge to obey every rule and regulations nearly as possible relative to my future improvement and well being. If we have done wrong, let us do right now. I could almost sigh for a return of the year just past that I might spend it more profitably—but that my philosophy forbids. While I daily recall the past and its un[   ed] blessings, I shall be content & try and profit in the present, that we may have pleasant memories of it when the future has become the now; that its scenes may be fair to look upon as the glowing sunset from which our steps are turned.

[Sister Ra]hama promised to write. I haven’t received any word yet. Hope to receive word from home soon! Tell Mort to write again and I will write to him next time. I should like to see John extremely well. Tell him to come without fail. It would do me much good as well as benefit himself greatly. I shall try and be able to work like a man with him next summer. You think perhaps I have forgotten you all by not writing. I think of you all every day. Your kindness I can never forget. You can’t imagine how I would like to see Thornton & Jennie and in fact everybody out there. Write one & all and let me know all about Old Hardin [county]. I want to get seven letters next week. I guess I shall have to stop. So farewell and if you do well, you will fare well. Hope you are all enjoying good health. Write soon.

Yours most affectionately, — Pembroke S. Scott

To Mrs. Jane Scott, Rushsylvania, Logan county, Ohio

1862: John Belfield Featherston to Thomas Bell

This deeply affecting letter was written by 51 year-old John “Belfield” Featherston (1811-1881) of Jamestown, Clinton county, Illinois. He wrote the letter in answer to one received from his nephew, Lt. Thomas Bell of the 30th Tennessee (Confederate) Infantry, who was languishing as a prisoner at Johnson’s Island—the prison in Sandusky Bay, Ohio. the prison was opened in April 1862 expressly for the confinement of Confederate officers. Bell was 2nd Lieutenant (made 1st Lieut. Sept. 29, 1862) of Co. H, 30th Tennessee Regiment, and had been taken a prisoner with the surrender of Fort Donelson in mid-February 1862. He was initially held at Camp Chase until Johnson’s Island opened. He was freed as part of a prisoner exchange in Sept. 1862 whereupon he returned to his regiment. He was wounded at Atlanta, Ga., on July 22, 1864 and died less than a month later at La Grange (Ga.) Hospital, 15 August 1864, with pneumonia listed as the cause. 

Belfield Featherston grew up in Amelia county, Virginia—one of at least ten children born to Burwell Featheron, Jr. (1784-1875) and Rebecca Adams (1788-1852). Belfield and his siblings—like so many American families—migrated West with the growth of the Nation, some into Illinois, and some remaining in the mid or deep South. These families were destined to experience the anguish of divided loyalties forced upon them by the American Civil War. In this exchange between an Uncle and his Nephew, each side condemns the other; one for turning his back on his relations, the other for turning his back on his country.

This letter was sold as part of a larger collection of letters, many of them written by Thomas Bell to his brother, Cornelius Bell (1832-1890) of Springfield, Robertson county, Tennessee (as per envelopes displayed on the internet). This Cornelius Bell was the son of Walter Bell (1802-1878) and Elizabeth Culbertson (1802-1877) of Robertson county, Tennessee. Belfield Featherston was married to Nancy Ann Culbertson (1812-1861), Lt. Thomas Bell’s aunt.

It should be noted that the family name was sometimes spelled “Featherstun.” The following obituary notice appeared in a Warren county, Mississippi newspaper: “Died in Clinton County, Illinois, on the 3rd day of February 1861.  Mrs. Ann Featherstun, wife of Belfield Featherstun.  She was born in Robertson County, Tennessee, January 54th, 1812, was married and moved to Warren County, Mississippi in 1836, and joined the Methodist Church at Mont Albon in 1839.  A few years ago, the family moved back to the State of Illinois.” Belfield Featherston died in 1881 in Paris, Lamar County, Texas.

[Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Richard Weiner for sharing another incredible piece of history from his private collection.]

TRANSCRIPTION

Jamestown, Illinois
August 3, 1862

Lieutenant Thomas Bell
Dear Nephew,

After a few days I attempt to answer your extraordinary letter. Whether I will be able or not, I cannot say. You appear to deal entirely in abruption & surmises. You appear to write as one of the sages of the olden times [as if] you supposed me to be a beardless boy of eighteen—ignorant—have been twice to mill & once to meeting—not remembering that I was born & raised with all of the southern prejudices that any man could inherit with all the birth and sympathies yet retaining. Yet you would write me that I would have the South wiped out. What vicious appetite have I to gratify, sir? Have I no kindred ties to solicit my sympathy?

[I] suppose you [think] that I am destitute of faculty and thought. Abandon your conclusion and ask the God of Heaven to cool your heated brain [and] return your reason that you may again calmly reflect what pertains to your everlasting happiness. I feel today as did our Savior when he wept over Jerusalem. Oh Southerners—Southerners—how freely would I gather thee together. But you will not [listen]. Your houses will be left desolate. Your beloved country will be ruined forever.

A few words of admonition & I am done. Read your Bible for in these you have eternal life. But these are they that testify of me, says the Bible. If you never have prayed, pray now, and thank God that you are a prisoner rather than be butchered & slain. Do you ever think of your dear old Mother? What do you suppose that she thinks today—children all gone—husband gone—[and] for what? To gratify that unnatural appetite of fallen men. Oh! delusion! delusion! when will I ever be severed from these bonds?

Receive these few kind lines in the spirit of forbearance from one that wishes you all the happiness that God has deigned for all of mankind. We are all well [and] hoping that these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessings. Answer this as soon as you get it. Though we differ in opinion, I am gratified to hear from you.

A few interrogatories I would drop. Please answer. Can your heated brain suppose the subjugation of the government? and if you did, the benefits striving [deriving?] from it? Do you not see that the government is calling into existence hundreds of thousands more of troops? When was that time when this government caused [failed?] to protect you? Haven’t your Father & Grandfathers grown rich under it? How did your hand tremble when you swore allegiance to the enemy? Have you forgotten the bitter sobs & tears that the old [folks] shed on your departure to the field of blood & butchery & now continue [to] weep & mourn those that are lost? Or has thine heart grown hard & thine brain heated so as thou hast become as Nero of old? that none of these things moves thee?

Oh God! save such an one. Answer this & oblige yours. Write me in your next whether there was any of the Featherstuns in the army besides George. Have you heard anything from your old Mother? No more at present but remain as ever yours.

— Belfield Featherstun

 

 

1862-65: John Caleb Lockwood Letters

These letters were written by John Caleb Lockwood (1811-1891) while serving as quartermaster sergeant of the 30th Iowa Infantry during the Civil War. He mustered in on 24 October 1862 and mustered out on 5 June 1865. His parents were John A. Lockwood (1759-1811) and Priscilla Blackiston (1774-1858). He was married in 1835 to Susanna Wilson Mitchell (1816-1864) with whom he had at least nine children. With his second wife, Nancy A. Ryder (1827-1897), he had two more children. Two of his sons also served in the war: Edwin Jaynes of the 11th Iowa, and Alfred Oliver of the Union army [?].

Lockwood moved west to Iowa from Middletown, Delaware in 1842. He had attended public schools in Delaware and pursued a mercantile business. He continued the business in Iowa and in 1854 was elected by Louisa county to be their representative in the Iowa Legislature. After his term ended, he was appointed in 1856 by the Governor at Register of the Des Moines River Improvements. In 1859 he moved back to Louisa County and was appointed Postmaster. He continued his mercantile business where he remained until the break out of the Civil War. He entered the army in the fall of 1862 as quartermaster in the 30th Iowa Infantry where he remained until the close of war.

One of the stipulations for purchasing deeds to lots in his new town, was that no intoxicating liquors were to be sold on his land. He purchased land on the Mississippi River known as Walling’s Landing, and laid out the town of Port Louisa. He also held the esteemed titles of Rep. to Iowa Legislature, and Postmaster. (State Historical Society of Iowa resources, Ancestry websites)


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER

On Board Steamer Minnehaha [at Keokuk, Iowa]
Monday 3 P. M., November 3, 1862

My dear Sue,

We are now just about to start, steam up, and shall very soon be on our way south. We left camp early yesterday morning. The regiment left about 6 but having some business to settle up, I was the last to leave. When I got to the wharf, I found the regiment and all the teams strung along the levee, having refused to go on the boat assigned to us as it had already several hundred horses on it and was otherwise cluttered up. So the Old General ([Samuel R.] Curtis) came down himself and soon got another boat—a very comfortable one—so that we are now very comfortable. The adjutant & I have a good room in the Ladies Cabin alongside the Colonel [Charles H. Abbott] & family who accompany us to Helena. I have my desk in the Ladies Cabin also where I can write as we go down, will will probably take some 3 or 4 days.

The 25th Iowa from Mt. Pleasant arrived here this morning and I went up to see them, meeting many acquaintances. They marched out on the levee and were soon marched back again with orders to go today for Helena too. Will leave here tomorrow. Among the officers of the 25th are Col. [George Augustus] Stone, Professor [John Allison] Smith of the public school, A[lexander] Lee, &c. &c.

An Illinois regiment also arrived today and have just passed down. Suppose we shall have lively times at Helena. Col. [Asbury B.] Porter is on board on his way to join his regiment at Helena. We have plenty of tents and equipments generally. The asst. wagon master told me that it took about 80 wagons to transport our equipments, stores, &c. from camp to the boat. It made a long train.

I called on R. J. Lockwood today. He was surprised to see me in uniform. Was very clever and agreed to forward my watch when it comes. I have been too busy to visit Rev. Eben. I wrote to him to come in but have not heard from him. My health continues good. With much love to you all. I must close as the boat is about starting.

Your affectionate husband, — J. C. Lockwood


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER

Headquarters in Camp
Helena, Arkansas
Saturday afternoon, November 7th 1862

My dear Sue,

After a pleasant trip, we arrived at the wharf at Helena about 12 o’clock night before last, remained on board the boat till after breakfast, when we commenced unloading. The Col., Lt. Col., Adjutant, Surgeon, & myself took horses & started in search of a suitable camp ground which we soon found in a grove immediately on the river bank about half mile above the town where we at once sent our tents with men to put them up. I then remained at the boat superintending the removal of our stores & equipments which occupied the balance of the day. Early in the evening I came out to camp and not having my tent arranged for sleeping, I accepted the invitation of our chaplain to sleep with him. And after partaking of his hospitality of some nic nacks brought from home, hearing him read some from his [Christian] Advocate, and having family prayer, we retired and slept soundly., ready to rise at reveille and enter upon the duties of another busy day.

Among the first acquaintances I met on landing was Doc. [Benjamin] McClure [9th Iowa Infantry] and Rev. [Pearl P.] Ingalls who were surprised and glad to see me. I have since met other acquaintances making me feel more at home. Rev. [Andrew J.] Kirkpatrick, chaplain of the 4th Cavalry, called to see us this morning.

We stopped several hours at Memphis, giving us an opportunity of taking a good look at that pleasant city. The Captains took their companies out and marched them through the city and fortifications. I strolled around at pleasure and as I was strolling through the public square [Court Square] (where I picked the enclosed magnolia leaf), one of our company marched in, and it done me good to see them in a ring around the marble bust of General Jackson to which they showed their respects with presenting arms. Upon the marble pillars upon which the bust of the general stands are cut the words, “The Federal Union—it must be preserved.” The words “Federal” I noticed were defaced as though it was intended to be obliterated. ¹ I thought I could see from the countenances of the citizens that we were not very welcome visitors.

While standing in the street talking to some of our men who I met, Col. John M[urray] Corse came up and seeing me there and in uniform, he seemed to be completely taken by surprise, remarking, “Is it possible that you are in the army?” He immediately took me around to his boarding house, his wife & son being there also, who soon accompanied us in a walk. John has been there for about 4 months. I also met Bartroff (formerly of Mt. Pleasant) at Memphis.

At Cairo where we stayed for several hours, I had the pleasure of taking the hand of the brave Col. [James Madison] Tuttle [2nd Iowa Infantry]—the hero of Fort Donelson—and heard him relate some of his exploits in that battle.

Mrs. Col. Abbott is still with us. Came out to camp and dined with our mess today, She leaves on the Minnehaha on her return this evening and I send this letter by her. Wish you could be here to see how snugly we are getting fixed up. Expecting to stay here at least six weeks—perhaps longer. There is said to be some twenty thousand troops here now and will be largely increased rapidly. I think our mission is to go down and open the Mississippi river—the very thing I would like to have the honor of taking a part in.

Having a good deal on hand to attend to today, you will please excuse haste. I will write to some of the children soon. Must now try & steal time to drop a few lines to Edwin. Hoping to hear from you very soon. Direct your letters to me at Helena, Arkansas via Cairo, Illinois.

Your affectionate husband, — J. C. Lockwood

Love to all of course.

¹ According to Thomas Hawley, US Surgeon at the General Hospital in LaGrange, Tennessee, who visited Memphis in March 1863, “Jackson’s monument, as tis called, but is only a bust mounted on a square pedestal with some few ornaments. In all about four feet high, yes  7 or 8, the features are good about life size surrounded by an iron fence. The renegade [Gen. Meriwether Jeff Thompson disfigured the word federal in Gen. Jackson’s immortal saying, ‘The federal union it must and shall be preserved.’ Magnolias, cedar, pine and spruce and rose trees are growing finely.” The bust may now be seen in the Shelby County Courthouse lobby in Memphis.


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER

Headquarters 30th Regt. Infantry
1st Brigadem 2nd Division
Army of Eastern Arkansas
Helena
November 17, 1862

My dear Wife and Family,

The labors of the day and evening being over, now past 9 o’clock, I take my seat in our comfortable tent at my convenient desk and with my mind traveling up the Mississippi toward home, sweet home, I pen these lines. The Major, my tent mate, has turned in and is comfortably snoring, having had a very busy day and no doubt, his rest is sweet. The fire is blazing cheerfully in our brick fireplace as cosily as it used to do in the old mansion of my youthful days, of which it strikingly reminds me—and our camp is remarkably quiet tonight—scarcely a sound save the hoarse cough of a youth in the chaplain’s tent nearby who the chaplain has taken in tonight to attend to. Poor boy, he would be much better off at home for its doubtful if he ever gets there alive. About the age and temperament of Johnney. I suppose his desire to see the army and some of the world will end in the soldier’s grave. For the first time since leaving home, I felt lonely and somewhat depressed in spirits for awhile on yesterday evening on my return to camp.

Sunday last was a day of great excitement at Helena. On Saturday morning the Col. called me aside and enquired whether i had bread & provisions sufficient for 400 men to leave that afternoon and judging from the issue of 40 rounds of cartridge to each that something was up, I soon discovered that a large force were about to start on some expedition, which I afterward found was to be by river. The detail of 400 from the 30th with their blankets, knapsacks, & haversacks and fully equipped marched out of camp (accompanied by Col. and Lt. Col.) to the boat in waiting at the landing on Saturday evening.

Finding next morning that they had not yet left the wharf, the Major and I came down, and such another army, I never before saw as was there congregated—cavalry, infantry, and artillery—twelve steamers apparently crowded all over and the banks of the river lined for perhaps half mile or more, still embarking, and occasionally a boat dropping out and leaving downstream. I rode up and down the levee amid the exciting scene and noticed the boat (“Decatur”) on which our boys were start down. After going down about two miles, it turned about and came back while I remained. I soon discovered something was wrong. The Captain of the boat had accidentally, in handling a pocket pistol, shot himself through the body and they brought him ashore on a litter. He was still alive and I have not heard from him since. The boat, after some delay, went on.

The fleet contained it was said some ten thousand men. Where they have gone or what to do, but very few are apprised of here. But it is supposed they have gone up White river to destroy some rebel fortifications building there. I think some two or three gunboats accompanied them.

Well, on my return to camp, I of course missed the 400 men (besides officers) of my family, and during my absence one had died in the hospital and I must provide for his burial. Dispatched my sergeant in the ambulance with an order for a coffin. On his return, the soldier was wrapped in his blankets in his coffin in presence of his son (another soldier) and with the fife & drum playing a mournful dirge, he was carried to the soldiers’ cemetery, leaving camp about dark. These scenes, as I before said, cast a gloom over my mind for a time, but the exciting, busy scenes of a camp life soon dispel in a measure such feelings.

Tonight our regiment was called in for more than we could spare, for picket guard of which we sent out [   ] for twenty-four hours. A line of picket guards extends in a circumference of some twelve miles, encircling the entire camps stationed in this vicinity.

After the return of the expedition below, I will write to some of you again. My health continues good, with continuing camp appetite, A col. who was going the rounds of the picket guard tonight called and took supper with me, remarking that he had not had so good a meal since he had been in the service. Goodnight. I must turn in.

Tuesday morning. Weather mild  and showery. I feel the need very much of an almanac and can’t find one in Helena. Send me one by mail for 62 & 63 both. Have not received my watch yet. Did you send it?

I received a letter today from Edwin under date of the 12th at Grand Junction, Mississippi, on the road to Holly Springs where they expect to meet the enemy and have a fight, but I am informed that the rebels have evacuated Holly Springs. Ed had not read my letter written from here. When I hear from him, I shall know more about transferring him or of forwarding his things.

Wednesday morning. Weather clearing off. Very pleasant. Health first rate. No news from the expedition below. One told that the Iowa 1st Cavalry have arrived and encamped near the Fort and that the Iowa 19th Infantry is near. Shall be glad to meet the boys of the 19th when they get in. I rode along the lines of the 4th Cavalry as they were waiting for transportation in the levee on Sunday last to find Lue Dean and other acquaintances. Found Capt. Spearman of Mt. Pleasant but did not find Dean.

Major Dewey was out on duty yesterday making the rounds of the outer picket. Returned after night covered with mud. It is an awful route to travel—so rough and hilly. I rode out last Sunday some two or three miles. The road leading along on the top of very high ridges, so sharp that a roadway had to be cut down in some places ten feet deep & just wide enough for one wagon. It would be difficult for the enemy to approach this place in a large body.

With much love to you all. From your affectionate husband, — J. C. Lockwood


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER

Headquarters, 30th Reg. Iowa Infantry
1st Brigade, 2nd Division
Army of East Arkansas
Helena, Arkansas
Sunday afternoon, November 23, 1862

My dear wife and family,

Your truly welcome favor of the 13th came to hand last evening bearing the pleaing tidings that “all is well,” but it seems that you had not received any letters from me since my arrival here. Having written some, I hope you have received them all ‘ere this. I noted that Alfred has got all his wood sold and presume at very good price, considering its quality, and as you say he has sold that at the end of the store (which I thought of keeping for winter wood), I suggest that he has a good lot of the remaining scattered wood at Odessa hauled in for use of house and store, it being good and dry, the rough. It will be better than green wood. And perhaps Mr. Cunningham will cut some for us just adjoining the Port, or on the channel piece, and any wood cut up there he must keep in account off and credit on account of Channel [?] Co. Same as Odessa, credit to Odessa Co.

Has Mr. Herron hauled the logs to mill at Odessa? If not, try and have it done and have the maple logs sawed into stuff suitable for furniture manufacture & have Winder or someone to stack it up carefully.

How much money have you now on hand? Let me know and all about what the boys think of doing at business. I hope that Big & Sis with their family are with you by this time, and settled ready for business. Shall hope to hear from them very soon. You say that Arnold was taking the wood from Odessa but said nothing about paying. Hope he will not fail in his agreement, but it may be necessary to give it strict attention and prep the matter if not paid soon, as he has done well with wood and probably received the money for it by this time.

I hear nothing from Weed & Co. yet about our settlement. I am sorry to hear that Mr. Law & Kuhn have come to blows instead of compromising their difficulty. Hope that my dear Libby has returned from her visit to Wapello and that her & Sobera [?] are making good use of their precious time in learning all they can at school. Do my dear children improve this coming winter in improving their minds, and Alfred too may improve himself greatly, if he will apply his mind to study during his leisure time. Do so my dear son while you have the opportunity and the assistance of Big and your Sister during the winter, you may find in after life that it was a time well spent. Don’t know, but it is possible that I may have some active service for you and Johnny to perform by next spring. There is no telling what this war or my wanderings may bring about in our destiny.

Well, the “great expedition” has been made. The fleet has returned—arrived night before last—and our boys got back to camp yesterday morning under the general impression that the expedition was a failure. There not being sufficient water to admit of the fleet going up White river (where they intended going to destroy a fortification, &c.) so after dispatching some foraging parties through the country, gathering in beef, cattle, mules, Negroes, &c., they returned.

Being on my way from camp to town, I met our men coming in and after saluting them, I joked them as I passed the lines about their having taken Vicksburg, opened the Mississippi, &c. Presently here came their squad of contrabands—men & women (quite a little drove)—trudging along with their bundles. It was really amusing—the whole scene.

Today, while resting on my cot in my tent with an appetite for dinner (our old backs only allowing us two meals on Sunday), one of the Captains sent in one of his newly acquired contrabands with a nice dish of prepared codfish & potatoes, and having the waiter take a stool, I had an interesting conversation with him as I enjoyed the lunch. He being quite an intelligent fellow, told me about his escape &c. and how much he likes the Yankees, they being “such nice folk, and dress so fine, &c, &c.” He got to the boats by skiff from the Mississippi side. I asked him whether the darkies through his country knew about the President’s Proclamation. “O yes,” said he. They all expect to be free after the 1st of January. I asked him how they found it out. “Oh,” said he, “the overseers are not allowed to tell us anything, but the ‘Big’ folks talk about it around the table or before the house servants and they tell it to those who they can trust, and so it goes around.” I was told afterward that Joe thinks the Quartermaster a very nice gentleman indeed. The poor fellow seemed willing to go anywhere or do anything in reason for the Yankees.

Again the funeral dirge was played through our camp today. Another fellow soldier received his final discharge last night. Our Pastor gave us a good short sermon this morning and this afternoon we had a Union Meeting at our camp of several regiments—Rev. Ingalls preaching for us in his usual good style. It looks odd that during the religious exercises of camp, so varied is the surrounding scenes. Tonight a very interesting and devoted speaking & prayer meeting is being carried on near our tent while I write.

The weather continues delightfully pleasant though cool enough at night to make a good fire comfirtable. The leaves of the large trees have generally fallen off, but I notice a good deal of greenness yet among the bushes, peach trees, &c. and the canes and bunches of mistletoe continue quite green.

Professor—rather, Commissary Grey is intending to publish and account of the White River trip. I forgot to tell you that our portion of beeves &c. was turned over to the quartermaster, so I am now having fed my 5 steers ready to butcher whenever needed.

Did not Libby & Johnny promise to write to Pap? Would be glad to have a letter from them and Delf & Sarah May. Am always glad to receive the information he writes to me about. Keep me posted. Alf—have not received my watch yet but hope Richard will forward it soon or someone of the numerous boats coming down. Keep me informed about the weather so that we can compare.

With much love to all and kind regards to the folks generally. Your affectionate husband, — J. C. Lockwood

Monday afternoon—just received my watch all right without any cost or charges. Handed to me by an old acquaintance of John Dodge from Council Bluff.


Screen Shot 2019-12-10 at 6.17.41 PM

TRANSCRIPTION LETTER

On Board Steamer Dictator
Lying at Napoleon, Arkansas
Headquarters 30th Iowa Infantry Vol.
Sunday evening, January 17th 1863

My dear Family at Home,

In the multiplicity of engagements, I ave deferred the answering of Alfred and Libbie’s letter of the 9th December, received just before leaving Helena. I hope they have not concluded that I do not set enough value upon them for they afforded me much pleasure, and in looking over it again tonight, my affection would wing away up the Mississippi on whose bosom we are once more waiting orders. Lib mentioned that she and Sis were engaged there making Christmas presents for the children—that she wished she could get one to me. I’ll take the will for the deed, Libby. I seldom, if ever, undress and remove my garters (a present last Christmas) but that I think of my pet, the giver. I am so glad to see that you are secure to enjoy yourselves together so well. That was my object in getting you all together and hope that each one will strive to promote each other’s happiness—in every possible way—and that the children will all make good use of the present winter at school. Also be regular in their attendance at Church and Sabbath School. Lit, Coant, Alf, Johnny, Libby, Nellie, Alfie, Sarah and Delf—a pretty good string, helps to fill up the Sabbath School from Lockwoods.

Now for Alfred who seems to have been bothering about the division of the wood at Odessa and Channel [?] All the old wood remaining on hand when I left, either on bank or in the woods, I wished sold on my own account—paying whatever expense attending its hauling or sale out of the proceeds, and keep an account of each separately. I think you will notice by reference to the Ledger that I have credited Odessa Co. with all the wood I had chopped. The Channel Co. I could not give full credit till you had got all hauled, you will however find memorandums in pencil that may be useful to you on those accounts.

Now for all that you and Bog shall get cut, I suppose you will have to be governed by the price going this winter, though I think that 25 C for the Odessa and 30 for the Channel wood is enough under the circumstances. You have done right in getting it hauled up to the poet, and as you have had a good deal of trouble with the wood, and its “all in the family.” If you prefer to take it in the rank at a specified price, you may do so, and allow your Mother whatever you and her can agree upon. I think she will be careful that you and Big so not cheat her. I therefore leave the matter among you.

About the logs cut by Perryman, you will find by his account on Ledger that we guessed them off, and closed his account and I think I credited them so to Odessa Co. You must examine the ledger more where you will find memorandums in pencil explaining such as I thought would not be clear. I intended to have sawed out of those Perryman logs—enough to fill the warehouse, for which the logs would have to be sawed the proper length. <r. Low would give the number needed of each length and he knows how I wanted the foundation of the warehouse fixed, which I would like carried out and finished—whether it will pay to get any more lumber sawed or not is a question, you must judge of that. If you do have anymore sawed, let it be such as will do for flooring for the warehouse, if possible, pile so that it will dry without warping. The fence posts belong to the Co. You done right in letting Brown go into the Kitchun as I hope they will take care of the property then. If he fixes the bottom of the fever he can have a good garden in the Spring if he remains.

I suppose you have your hogs killed and packed. Am pleased at your good luck in finding them. You will notice Brown account was unsettled. You will have to task his account partly for a few days work done, &c. Be careful he does not get in your debt—or any other of your workmen. They will do it quick by misrepresenting the quantity chopped &c. and fair promises.

Enclosed find a plot of the battleground, fort &c. of Arkansas Post furnished by one of our officers who went through the battle this day a week ago. It will give you some idea of our position. I went through the fort and saw the powerful effect of the balls from gunboats—knocking about 2 feet from the muzzles of two of their 3 big guns—10 feet long, 2½ feet diameter, 10-inch bore 3 inches thick. The casements around these guns were wood-splintered and awfully disturbed though built of 3 thicknesses of about 2 feet size logs, firmly fastened, and covered with railroad iron, which the balls from the boats sent flying high in air.

Before we left, men were set to work leveling the walls and the hundreds of comfortable quarters were fired. We have been having quite a little winter for several days. Several inches of snow and weather quite cold. More moderate today and raining tonight.

We expect to go with the fleet down to Milliken’s Bend and go into camp there soon as the troops certainly need recruiting from their long confinement to the boats. General Grant has been here and I’m told that our transports are to return for his army after taking us down. So there is yet another prospect of Ed & I meeting near Vicksburg. Another mail today & no letter for the Quartermaster—delayed in the route probably. Write to me often, my dear family, if its only a few lines and send paper occasionally.

With much love for you all, I bid you goodnight. Take a [   ] and go to bed.

Devotedly yours, — J. C. Lockwood


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER

Camp near Vicksburg, Mississippi
January 30th 1863

My dear Mother,

Thinking you would be anxious to hear from me again, I thought I would write this afternoon. We arrived here about a week ago. We are now about five miles from Vicksburg on the opposite side of the river in Louisiana. I am now staying with Pap. He has had an attack of the piles but is getting better now and will soon be able for duty again. Prof. Gray came up to our camp about 6 miles above here yesterday & told me Papa was unwell so I came down to stay with him a day or two. He is getting along very well now. I still have very good health and the other Port [Louisa] boys are well.

I believe I wrote you last from Memphis. We was there about a week and was paid two months pay there. We came down the river on the Maria Denning with three other regiments so we was pretty badly crowded. Our company had to go on deck among the mules. We had to sleep in a pile of stone coal but we got along first rate. We was on the boat just one week. We got very tired of the old thing, but we moved off at last and have got a very nice camp now.

I came down and hunted up Pap the next day after we got here. He was glad to see me and you better believe I was glad to see him. We have been having very disagreeable weather for the last week but it has cleared up now and I hope we will have pretty weather again for awhile.

Pap just received Alf’s and Libby’s letters of the 3rd and 4th inst. We was glad to hear that you all keep well. Libby gave a very nice account of how she spent her Christmas. I believe I told you how I spent my Christmas in Holly Springs over a pot of mush. That was all we had and no salt in it. We had lots of fun over it.

We can’t tell how long we will stay here. It may be some some time but I don’t think we will have much fighting to do at Vicksburg. I think we can siege them out. We are at work now digging a canal so as to get closer to them without getting in the way of their batteries. We can see the city from here very plain but it is six miles off. They have tried several times to reach this point with their heavy guns but they can’t make it out. I will send you a map of the city and our camping ground so you can have a rough idea how the thing stands. Vicksburg is on a high hill is the reason we can see it so far.

I have not made out yet to get a transfer and think it is doubtful whether I can or not. If I can’t, I think I can be detailed to help in the quartermaster department for awhile. But while we are so close  together, it won’t make much difference for we can get to see each other once in awhile.

I am in hopes this rebellion will soon be “squashed” and then we will all be at home together.

The boots Pap brought me from home fits first rate. I got them just in good time too for it has been very muddy ever since. Have you ever heard if Asbury Vandervort is alive yet or not? Or has he got home? We can’t get any news of him at all. His discharge papers were sent to him some time ago while we were at Grand Junction.

We had a very nice time while we were at Memphis. I was in the public square and saw Jackson’s Tomb and where the rebs had defaced it, trying to chip out the sentence, “the Federal Union must be preserved.” It can be read yet. Memphis is a very nice place. There are some very fine, costly buildings there. We stopped at Helena but did not see much of the place as we was not permitted to leave the boat. I saw Charley Lash on the levee. Lu Dean was there but I did not get to see him as he was on picket and could not come to the boat.

Well, I believe I have nothing more to write of interest. I will stop until I go back to the 11th. I guess I will tomorrow.

Give my love to all. Kiss all the little ones for me and don’t let them forget their “Old Uncle Ned.” Write soon and often. I remain your affectionate son, — Ed

Saturday evening, January 31st

I came back this afternoon from the 30th Iowa. Pap is nearly well but he was right sick when I first went to see him. I found a letter from Johnny when I got back. I will answer it before long. — E. J. L.

1863: Royal Prouty to Ellen (Prouty) Carpenter

Screen Shot 2019-12-02 at 3.05.14 PM
Lieutenants Tourgee, Wallace, & Morgaridge of 105th OVI, July 1863, L. R. Stevens Collection

This letter was written by Royal Prouty (1843-1918), the son of Varney Prouty (1798-1875) and Mary Carrel (1812-1869) of Mentor, Lake county, Ohio. Royal wrote the letter to his sister, Ellen Elizabeth (Prouty) Carpenter, the wife of Lucious Harrison Carpenter (1828-1905).

Royal was 19 years old when he enlisted in Co. F, 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) on 21 August 1862. Though he enlisted for three years, Royal was discharged prematurely  from the regiment on 29 June 1863 for disability.

Pvt. Prouty wrote this letter while the regiment was chasing Gen. John Hunt Morgan through Kentucky.

Screen Shot 2019-12-02 at 3.08.51 PM

TRANSCRIPTION

Camp near Horse Cave, Kentucky
January 2, 1863

Well I will write a few lines and let you know where I am and how I feel. Well, in the first place, we are on a chase after Old Morgan. We get up in the morning and start and go from 18 to 25 miles a day and most of the boys grow fat. I hain’t felt better since I left home. I am a getting fat and if we could keep on the tramp, I would feel better. It does not agree with me to lay in camp and most of the boys say they all feel better when on the march. Charley Radcliffe is as fat as a pig and stands it first rate.

We are sorry we sent for the box but it can’t be helped now. We have not had any mail since Christmas and don’t know when we shall. I will write when I get a chance. We went a rabbit hunting and got a few. ¹ One regiment got 200 rabbits yesterday. We did not go a hunting but laid in our tents. It is nice weather here, I can tell you. It is colder some than it was in Tennessee. We have good rail fence to burn. It makes first rate fire. What meat we have we pick it up on the road—that is, when we are on the march.

Christmas Frank Call got a box from home and he give me a fried cake and an apple and he had some butter and give me some. He is a very good boy. He has been sick and looks quite poor in the face. Well, I guess I will wait another day and write some. Direct to Louisville, Kentucky, to follow the regiment.

January 3rd—Well, I will try and write a few lines this morning. Well, we got an order to strike tents yesterday at 2 o’clock and came to this place—Cave City. It is on the railroad. There [are] only 5 or 6 shops here. Last night we got an order to fall in line and give 3 cheers for the news. The news were that our troops had beat the rebels at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and that our cavalry had got all of Old Morgan’s Artillery. We yelled some, I can tell you. It was the only time the 105th has hooted since they left Camp Cleveland.

When we are on the march, we get right along. Well, I will stop till some other time. We don’t know when we will leave here. It may be in 10 minutes. Well, we are a going to Murfreesboro, I guess, but can’t tell. You must write and so will [I]. We don’t know when we shall get our mail nor don’t fret about it. Give my respects to all enquiring friends and tell them I am all right. You must not think about me too much.

I suppose it is cold weather up in Mentor. I would like to be there and get some potato and butter and sausages and bread.

From Royal Prouty

Well Ellen, you may think this is a great letter but I want to do something to pass away the time. I would like to see the boys and all of my folks in Ohio. You done first rate in your last letter in sending those stamps. You must write when you have time. So goodbye for this time.

Does Mother keep well. — Royal Prouty


¹ Apparently rabbit hunting was a favorite pastime of the regiment. On Christmas Day in 1862, the 105th OVI conducted a rabbit hunt using nothing but stout sticks. They “formed a hollow square, faced inward, took distance at ten steps apart, and began marching toward the center, beating the cover as they went. It was a jolly hunt, abounding in shouts and ludicrous contretemps. Many rabbits were killed, many more escaped; there were broken heads and bruised shins, for one cannot be sure who is behind the rabbit at which he strikes; but nobody minded such things, and few who engaged in it will recall a scene of more hilarious merriment.” [The Story of a Thousand, page 160]

1865: Nancie Anne Jones to Alvin D. Howard

Screen Shot 2019-12-02 at 12.37.26 PM
How Nancie might have looked in 1865

This letter was written by Nancy (“Nancie”) Anne Jones (1846-1932), the daughter of farmer Henry C. Jones (1801-1893) and his wife, Keturah Bond (1806-1885) of Albion, Oswego county, New York. Nancie married Albert Sterns Barker, an emigrant from Derbyshire, England, on 4 July 1866.

Nancie wrote the letter to her friend, Pvt. Alvin D. Howard (1845-1920) who enlisted at Albion on 21 December 1863 in Co. K, 14th New York Heavy Artillery. Alvin was wounded on 20 August 1864 at Weldon Railroad, Virginia, while serving as infantry in the 9th Army Corps but returned to service and was mustered out at Washington D. C. on 26 August 1865. After the war, Alvin married Mary L. Jennings (1849-1884). After her death, he married Margaret L. Cole (1844-1921).

aacivnoty1

TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to Mr. Alvin D. Howard, Co. K, 14th N. Y. Heavy Artillery, Washington D. C.
Postmarked Sand Bank, New York

Sand Bank, [New York]
April 7th 1865

Esteemed Friend,

With pleasure I embrace this opportunity of answering your kind and welcome letter bearing date March 25th which found us all in usual health and enjoying the fine weather pretty well.

The papers state that Richmond is at last ours but I fear it is too good to be true. I am anxious and yet afraid to hear from the boys from Albion. We have already heard that John Mosher ¹ was wounded in his right hand. It is too bad that Deveroux Barber ² got back just in time to be taken prisoner. I hope he will not have to suffer as long as Henry Wilcox ³ did. He was a prisoner in a Georgia pen for about eight months.

Screen Shot 2019-12-02 at 12.45.07 PM
Pvt. Alvin D. Howard, Co. K, 14th N. Y. Heavy Artillery

Phina is well. She and her mother have been up here today. Mrs. Faucher is quite sick—also Sarah Balcom. She has got the diphtheria. But it is getting so dark I shall have to stop for now.

Mother has just come from Mr. Spaulding’s. She brings the news that Deveroux Barber is in Parole camp. Mr. Parmenter has had a letter, I believe. I suppose there is no doubt but what Richmond is ours. The celebrated the glorious event at Oswego very highly. Have you seen any soldiers swallowing cannon balls lately? I presume you have had a chance to.

They have filled the quota without the drafted men. Most all the boys in Sand Bank were away and went to Oswego and enlisted. Min sends her respects. I have written all the news that I can think of and I dare say this will be no news so I will close hoping to hear from you sooner than I did before. I will close wishing you a good night and good luck.

From your friend and schoolmate, — Nancie Jones

to Alvin D. Howard


¹ John Mosher (1835-1887) of Albion, New York, served in Co. F, 7th New York Heavy Artillery.

² Deveraux P. Barber was 23 when he enlisted at Albion on Co. K, 14th New York Heavy Artillery. He was wounded on 20 August 1864 but returned to his regiment only to go missing in action on 25 March 1865. He was finally returned at musted out with his regiment on 26 August 1865.

³ 21 year-old Henry C. Wilcox enlisted at Fulton, New York, in August 1862 to serve three years in Co. A, 12th New York Cavalry. He was taken prisoner on 20 April 1864 at Plymouth, North Carolina.  After he was paroled, he returned to his regiment at Goldsboro, North Carolina. Henry was born in Oswego. He stood 5 feet 4 inches tall. 

1862: Martin L. Claybaugh to Lizzie Coleman

This letter was written by Martin L. Claybaugh (1837-1904) of Co. D., 6th Missouri Infantry. When he enlisted in July 1861, he was described as 23 years old, standing 5 feet 7.5 inches tall, with brown hair and blue eyes. His place of birth was given as Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania, where he learned he became a “Collier” (coal miner).

The 6th Missouri Infantry was organized at St. Louis, Missouri June 15 – July 9, 1861, and mustered in for three years service. The regiment was attached to Pilot Knob, Missouri, to September 1861. Fremont’s Army of the West to January 1862. Department of the Missouri to April 1862. 1st Brigade, 5th. Division, Army of the Tennessee, to July 1862. 1st Brigade, 5th Division, District of Memphis, Tennessee, to November 1862. Duty at Memphis until November. Expedition to Coldwater and Hernando, Miss., September 9–13.

Martin Claybaugh died in 1904 in Ironton, Iron county, Missouri and was buried in the Masonic Cemetery.

TRANSCRIPTION

Camp, Memphis, Tennessee
September the 13, 1862

Dear niece,

I received your letter and hasten to answer it. It found me well and was glad to hear that you was well. I have just got off the battleground and my mind ain’t set right to write but I will try to give you a few lines to let you know that I am living yet but pretty near run down.

We run the damned rebels 3 days and fought them. We run them into the State of Mississippi and killed a great many of them. I did not learn how many of them yet. The first fight the first day, the rebels lost 40 and a great many wounded and we lost 3 and 12 wounded. We had 2 & 3 fights every day and every fight their loss was greater for every day we would get closer to them. They only stayed one day and fought us and there they only stood 15 minutes and our cannons let loose on them and thinned their ranks and they run like dogs. They had about ten to our one. When we commenced on them, I suppose they had even number. [We] run them till they burnt the bridges and we could not go any farther but turned in and helped them to destroy their property. We tore their railroad up for 5 miles and burn the railroad bridges and the mills that they was grinding on.

I was truly glad to hear from you for it is the second letter that I have got from you since I have been in the South. You must not think hard of me for writing to you as I did for I thought that you had forgotten me. I have wrote to the rest the same as I did to you and will not write till I get an answer from them.

Dear niece, you seem to think that I have stuck my own pretty deep. I don’t think that I have by the way that she writes to me. You seem to think that I have put the question to her whether she would marry but I have not and don’t think that it would pay. What do you think? But I think that she is a lady too good for me. I may take the [   ] to ask her some of these times. Do you think it would pay? Pay or not pay, I am bound to ask her. I will wait till you answer this and let me know in your next letter whether it will pay or not, and if you think it will pay, I will do my duty and stick to it till the war is over and if I am spared, I [will] make my words true.

While I am writing this I have got a letter from the old man Reel and he said that he had a place for me to go to and he said that he could get me in charge of a company there. I think that I will go to Missouri and be a captain. He said that he would let me know in the next letter. If I do go and get a command, I will have Thomas to go too. Tom is well and he came out of the battle safe.

Write soon and excuse me for my short letter and bad scribbling for I can’t write today. Only write soon as you get this and let me know how you are getting along. Goodbye for this time. Write soon.

Direct to Memphis, Tenn.
Company D, 6 Missouri Infantry
in care of Col. [James Harvey] Blood

M. L. Clayburgh to Lizzie Coleman

 

Saving history one letter at a time

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started