This letter was written by Elizabeth Kirk (1821-1911) of Salineville, Columbiana county, Ohio, to her husband, 40 year-old Pvt. Henry Barcus (1824-1864) while he was serving in Co. A., 143rd Ohio National Guard (O. N. G.). Henry and Elizabeth were married on 27 June 1844 in Jefferson county, Ohio. In the 1850 US Census, Henry was identified as a miner. In the summer of 1864, during Grant’s Overland campaign, the 143rd Ohio National Guard was placed into active service for 100 days started on 2 May. Most of that time the 143rd O. N. G. garrisoned the Union fortifications at Wilson’s Landing on the James river, which is where most of these letters were written.
Though they were never in battle, the 143rd Ohio National Guard suffered several deaths from dysentery and other diseases—poor Henry Barcus among them. Henry died at the very end of his term of service suffering from dysentery. He kept the deteriorating condition of his disease from his wife as long as he could but finally revealed his true condition in the last couple of letters he wrote home. The register of military deaths reports that he died of diarrhea at Patterson Park General Hospital in Baltimore on 31 August 1864, leaving a wife and six children born between 1844 and 1858. His wife applied for a pension on 18 November 1864.
[Editor’s Note: I have posted 25 Letters by Henry Barcus while serving in the 143rd O. N. G. at 1864: Henry Barcus Letters]
June 24, 1864
I take my pen in hand to let you know that we are all well and hope that these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing.
we received your letter that you wrote at Washington which brought hard news to us and we got the letter that you wrote at Point of Rocks. I was sorry to hear that you was so near Richmond. My prayers is daily going up to the Lord in your behalf. Trust in the Lord —He is ready and willing to save all. The trust is in Him. Although your time is slowly rolling away, I trust in the Lord that He will send you home to us again.
I started a letter to you the day that you left Washington with some money and some goldenseal for your sore lips. This is the fourth letter we have written you and you say you haven’t received any yet.
Times here is hard as everything is as dear again since you left—only floor is the same [as] it was. I don’t feel like murmuring. If you were only here. I will for this time. The children all join me in sending their love to you. Write soon and often for your letters is all that is bracing me up. I remain your friend, — Elizabeth Barcus
I had stopped writing and was just agoin’ to seal up my letter when the word came in that Thom. Storkey was wounded in the leg. Tell Bill Stakey that Thom. Starkey is wounded in the leg.