These letters were written by 35 year-old Samuel Huntington (1829-1864), a farmer from Carrollton, Cattaraugus county, New York, who was conscripted into Federal service during the fall of 1863, and was placed in Co. A, 100th Regiment, New York Volunteers. His enlistment papers identify him as standing 5 feet 10.5 inches tall, with brown hair and hazel eyes.
All of the letters save one were written to his wife, Elizabeth (“Libby”) Desire Fuller (1835-1914) who managed the farm during her husband’s absence while raising their three children, Adele Ernestine Huntington (1851-1942), Milford S. Huntington (1854-1937), and Ruba V. Huntington (1858-1904).
Most of these letters were written from Morris Island, South Carolina, where Huntington spent the winter of 1863-64. At this time, the regiment was attached to Gen. Terry’s Division, 10th Corps. They remained on Morris Island until April 1864 when they were attached to the Army of the James under General Butler. Huntington was captured with others from the 100th New York at the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia, on 16 May 1864. He suffered from chronic diarrhea while in prison and died in the Parole Camp in Annapolis, MD on 21 December 1864. He was buried at the Annapolis National Cemetery, Grave no. 790.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
In the Barracks at Dunkirk [New York]
October 9, 1863
I will send you a few lines. I hope you will not give yourself any trouble on my account. I think all things will turn out for the best. I hear there is a proposition for peace.
I have got my clothing. I have got my boots taped and going to wear them. The provost marshal thought it best they let drafted men go where they are a mind to go but the substitute cannot wink without they watch him. I have got a letter of recommend[ation] from the provost marshal to go into any regiment I may choose at Elmira. We start for there tomorrow morning. The provost said I might act as one of the guard to take care of the substitutes. Mr. Beardsley told him that I could be trusted in any spot or place.
You need not write until you hear from me. There is 3 or 4 of us a going from [_una]. I could have got a furlough until Wednesday but I thought it would not do any good to stay so short a time. I wanted to have got you a book and sent it back with my clothes but I have not time. Beardsley or Horace will take them with them.
Tell Milford and Adele and Ruby that they must be good children and I will be home in a little while. I don’t get any money here.
It is getting late and I must draw my letter to a close. Bomaman & Horace is with me a waiting for me to go to bed. We spread our blankets on the floor and lay down.
This from your husband and soldier, — Samuel Huntington
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Elmira, Chemung county, [New York]
October 11, 1863
I take the time I have to write a few lines to you. I am at the barracks and how long I shall stay here, I do not know but I think not long. There is a good many here that have left their families so you see I am not alone. There is a rumor that the war cannot last long.
I [have] been well since I left home. I think that I shall have the rheumatism so I cannot do duty for my right shoulder feels some sore this morning. When we left Dunkirk, the drafted me had all the liberty that anyone could ask. There is no examination to be had here. I understand there to be one at Alexandria and I may be sent home but do not expect too much. I know that I can’t stand life in the field without the rheumatism. You had not better send any letter to me yet for I cannot tell where I shall be tomorrow. I shall not get any money until I get ready to start from here so you see I can’t send until [we] stop again.
Tell George I am glad I did not let him go as substitute for they show them no mercy at all. We had a short drill this morning. It is uncertain into what regiment I can go. I have got a letter of recommend[ation] from the provist marshal to the officers to let me have my choice but whether it will do me any good or not, I do not know. If I can, it will be at Alexandria.
Elmira is a good-sized town and it is a good country here as far as I can see. All of the old veterans that I hear say anything [they want] about political matters. They say damn the Copperheads.
I think I can hear Milly holler to the cows and Line and Adele is washing up the dishes while Ruby is sweeping around the house. I shall write as often as I can and want to hear from you when I think I shall stay long [enough] in one place for you to send one to me. Take everything for the best for surely God will not forsake us now. I think everything will turn out for the best. I cannot make it seem as though I should be long from you.
I must draw my letter to a close. I will write as often as I can. You must overlook the mistakes. I will send you my likeness as soon as I can get it. I wish I had yours taken on pasteboard. If you have a chance to get it after I send you some money and I get where I shall stay any time.
Well, I must bid you goodbye for this time. Kiss all of the children for me and keep one for yourself. I may write more news next time. This from your affectionate husband, — Samuel Huntington
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Elmira, [New York]
Camp No. 3
October 16, 1863
Dear wife and children,
I am here yet. Horace Boyton arrived here last night and I have seen him and talked with him. He says you are well and I am glad to hear it. They are sending back so many of the drafted men from Washington that they will have a board of examination here, so the head doctor told Brown that they would be here in a few days—I think next week. I think that was the reason why we did not go. My back troubles so I think I shall get clear but do not think too much of it, but hope for the best.
Henry Borneman is gone to the hospital crazy—so doctors say. She may not hear from him until they discharge him—if they do—and I think they will. You might send word to his wife or tell Bailet’s folks.
The Ohio soldiers voted here for their Governor this week. Vallandigham got one vote out of 69. At night, they made a man of straw and burnt it & shot at it.
If we do not get examined here, we shall get it at Washington. How long I may stay here, I do not know. I think you had better not write at present although I should be glad to hear from you.
Horace says George is a going to get a wood machine to saw wood. If I come home, I will help him back for all that he may cut for you or pay him the money. If I should get my discharge, it will be a month before I can get around. You hope for the best. If I go, I shall take care of myself the best I can. We have plenty of company here in the army and good friends.
The substitutes have orders to march and I may go with them. I will [write] again Sunday if I do not go. I send this by Smith Barton. I feel as if all things will come out for the best. I think I leave this afternoon to racers I land this afternoon that is the North river, I think. I will write to you as soon as I can. Give my love to the children and keep a good lot for yourself. I must draw my letter to a close for I am in a hurry. Kiss all of the children for me and keep two for yourself. Goodbye for this time.
My love to all. This from your husband to his wife, — Samuel Huntington
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
Morris Island, South Carolina
October 29, 1863
I have arrived here on this island. We got here on the 28th just at dark and the boys of the regiment had our tents set up for us and our supper for us and they done all they could for us. We are assigned to the 100th Regiment New York. I think we shall stay here until Charleston is taken. I think it is very healthy here. This regiment has not lost but a very few men by sickness since it came here last spring. We had a very good time in coming here. The vessel rolled some but it did not make [me] sick. We was five days on the water. We are in hearing of the guns at Fort Wagner and they are firing on Sumter night and day all the time.
This island [is] nothing but sand and my feet sink into the sand as it would into snow. The weather is fine here now—like the last of September at home. We went to Hilton Head first and then back here. I can hear the cannon as I write up to the head of the island. Their second examination to be had. If I was a single man, I think I would like the service first rate. But I have a home, wife, and children that [I] cannot forget and would not if I could for they are all in all to me. Dear Libby, my love for you is all that I can give you now. But my love is like pure gold. Dear Libby, I have made up my mind to live a Christian life if I can the rest of my days for it is sweet to go to God when I am so far from you and home. I have a feeling that He will bring me home to you and then we shall never part again and I think it will not be many months before I shall return home to you and then we will praise God together for all His mercies He has bestowed on us. Dear Libby, I wish you would try to instruct the children in the way of holiness and strive so to live that when we have done with this earth, that God will take us up to heaven, there to live forever and praise Him evermore for there will be no wars there, nor tears to shed. I mean to love and serve Him while life shall last. God being my helper, U read the testament every day and it makes me feel happy in Him.
I want very much to hear from you and now you can write to me and tell how you get along with your work. I think you can write to me a good long letter by this time and I want you to write often for it will seem like talking to you. I want Adele to write to me and send it in your letter. Now write plain, Adele, as you can. I shall write to George, I think. Tell them to write to me anyway. I shall get my pay 20th of next month and then I shall get my bounty and pay up to that time. Them I will send you some money.
Direct to Samuel Huntington, Morris Island, Company A, 100th Regt. N. Y. Volunteers, S. C.
The last direction is the right. Write all the news there is. Give my love to all and keep a good lot of it for yourself for I have not much to give to anyone but you and the children.
— Samuel Huntington
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
Morris Island, South Carolina
Co. A, 100th Regt. N. Y. Vols.
November 22, 1863
I hasten to write a few lines to you. We have just come in from inspection and I am some tired so that my hand trembles some but you can take your own time to read it. I am well at present and feel better every day. I think I can stand this climate middling and the weather is as fine as one could wish for it is not like Cattaraugus at all. It is steady warm in the day time and cool in the night.
Our folks keep firing at the rebs and they fire back sometimes but do not hurt. We was all called out one night and went up to the front but there was no one to hurt us when we got there for the rebs did not come over. I saw the rebs fire a number of shells but they done no hurt. They looked splendid in the night. In the morning we came back to our quarters. We was in Fort Wagner. I did not write to Lib about it for I forgot it and you may show this to her if you will.
I want she should get [her] likeness and the children taken on one plate and send it to me. I do not want it on paper for that would soil too easy. I do not want in in a case—only on the plate. I will send some money in a few days I think now and I will send all I can share. It will not do for me to live on government fare here. I think we shall come North between now and spring. There appears to be something of that kind up as near as I can learn but do not know. I want to have you write often and not wait for me to write first for it will take some time for letters to go and come.
I have not heard from anyone since I left home and it seems a long time to wait. Send them every week for I have [written] two every week since I came here. There was five days I was on the water that I did not write and that is all. You can have Jane write every week. I do not want to have you enlist and if they should draft, you must get an affidavit that you have got two brothers in the army and your parents are dependent on you for their support and you will get out of it. I do not think of anything more to write at present to you Andy.
I have thought different of religion since I have left New York City. I was brought to see my dependence on Him who I had wandered from and I think you would do the [same] if you had been where I have been and no friend near to go to. But He has heard me, I believe, and I thank Him. God bless you, — Samuel Huntington
I will write a few lines to you. I am well and smart and feel that God is with me & that He will bring me home to you again to stay with my family and not leave them again. And may God grant it in His good time. I want you to pray for me night and morning that I may live as I ought to live here on this earth so that I may inherit eternal life and return to my family in His own good time. I can now realize some of the blessing that I once enjoyed.
Dear Jane, I can’t think of a great deal to write to you this time. I want you to remember me in your prayers to the throne of grace and my little ones. I often think of you and all of you. I want to hear from you. Write every week. I think I shall [het] a letter the next mail. That will be the first of next week. I have to write in a hurry and I may make mistakes. Overlook them. — Samuel Huntington
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
[Morris Island, South Carolina]
Co. A, 100th Regt. N. Y. Vols.
[Wednesday] November 25, 1863
Dear wife & children,
I will write you a few lines to let you know how I am. I am well at present and hope to hear the same from you and the children. I do not have a very good place to write but I think you can read it after awhile. There is not any news to write of importance. It is one thing over and over—every day the same thing. And then the fleas at night—I never knew what they was until I came here. They are as thick as gnats on tuna, if possible.
I have not had any letter from you yet and it seems as though I never should. The mail is very uncertain here. I think I send you two letters a week. I have been here four weeks tonight. I came here on Wednesday night and I wrote the next morning and shall continue to do so. I want you to hear from me if I do not hear from you. It would seem better if I could hear from them that is dearer to me than all the rest of the world but time will bring them around and I must wait for them to come. It is some ways to send letters the way they have to go by water. I often think of you and home and the little ones for I love them as my life. I should like to hear how they get along in getting volunteers for the draft will soon be along and take some of them that was so glad to see me go and leave home and them that was so dear to my heart. They may have a chance to try it for themselves. But I wish them no harmm but it will bring them to their senses, I think.
I think the war will stop this winter. I think that Congress will do something about it this winter. I think the rebs have got about as much fighting as they want. I hope so anyway.
Our pay has not come and I do not know when it will. It will come pretty soon or it will not come in two months. I should like to send you some but I can’t until I get it. The old men—some of them—have used all of their pay so they say the fare that we get is good enough. If I had you to cook it, but we cook it as best we can. We have good bread and meat but the coffee after it is made is not fit to drink. I should like to have one good mess of baked potatoes and butter. They would taste so good. And when you sit down to the table with them on the table smoking warm, think of me. But I hope it will not be long before I shall have the privilege of eating them with you for I feel that [God] will protect me and bring me safe home to you again, to enjoy each others society and God blessings and feel to thank Him for all the blessings that we enjoy. He has blessed us and we did not realize from whence they come. And now we are getting the punishment for it but behind a frowning Providence He hides a smiling face.
I have had to lay this down to go to drill. I will now finish it. I have received two letters from you and it made my heart leap for joy to get them. It made the tears run down my face. I was so glad and the news was good to hear that you was well. I got the paper and the boys read it as greedy as if they had never seen one before. I shall write twice a week as long as I can. The mail is not steady here but never mind that dear Lib. Send them often and I shall get them once in a week and maybe twice a week. You speak of the hay. I think you had better keep it till spring and see how much you will have left by the last of March or the first of April and then sell it if you have any to spare.
I got the list of names that you sent me and the postage stamps. Dear Libby, you can guess how I would like to come and stay with by your own feelings but we must wait till God’s own time. He is able to bring us together again and I believe He will if we trust in Him, as you say, for He has always blessed us in health and prosperity and He will not leave us now in the hour of trouble. I pray for you and the little ones every night and morning that God will bless you and provide for you.
I got the stamps.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVEN
Morris Island, South Carolina
Co. A, 100th N. Y. Vols.
I hasten this morning to write a few lines to you. I’m quite smart [healthy] and I [hope] you are enjoying the same blessing. The weather is quite cool here now. It freezes ice quite thick and feels as cold as it would in the North to me but I think it will be warmer here in a few days. It is pleasant here now.
I sent some money to you Monday and a letter but you may not get the letter and I will state the amount again. It was 37 dollars—seven 5-dollar bills and one 2-dollar bill. If you stop at the Junction, you can give an order to Daniel Smith or go yourself as an order to George and he can get it for you. I think that if you can spare enough money to build that fence on the line out of the money and that George is owing me, you had better do it for it [will] come good next summer to you, but do the best you can and I know you will do that for I have full confidence in you.
Dear Libby, I shall get them likenesses for you and send them as soon as I can. I want yours and the children as soon as you get the money and send them for I do really want them to look at for I am lonesome sometimes and it would cheer me up at times to look at the shadow of them that is most dearest to my heart. I want them on one plate if you can get them—or on two, I do not care which.
There is not much to write at present that I know of. You wanted me to write to you what we had to eat. We have salt beef and salt pork, bacon that is smoked, side pork and then packed in boards but when I do not know it is not fit to eat. The men do not eat much of it. They boil all of our meat here. I have not eaten any meat for a few days. I like the beef but the other I do not. We have fresh beef once a week and potatoes once a week and then they make soup sometimes that I can’t eat sometimes. We have rice and that tastes good to me. We have soft bread every day. We draw sugar once in five days. Their coffee I do not like to drink. It gives me the colic. I buy some tea and butter and it does me good to drink it. It costs 2 dollars a pound. Butter is 50 cents a pound and potatoes is 5 cents a pound and tobacco is 1 dollar a pound. I do not smoke much now but chew.
There is not much to write to the children this time but I want Adele to write every time that you do. I love to hear from those that I love so much and so dear to my heart. I hope the war will stop so I can come home and stay with you again and may God grant that the time is not far distant. I feel as if it was not for I can’t make it seem as though I should not be gone long from you and I pray God I may soon return to you. I feel it a great comfort to me here to me to pray to God and tell Him all of my troubles and ask him to protect me and you & the little ones. Goodbye for today.
[Editor’s note: The next page may or may not have been included with the previous part of the letter. As the page begins, Samuel appears to be giving instructions on what to send (or not send) in a box to him.]
I don’t think best to send any dried apples not much better. It may be warm [and] it may not keep good. Some dried currants and cherries would last good but put up what you think best. Some of the boxes are a month on the road here. They go to Hilton Head first and so does everything else. I had to go there first and then come back here. Our letters go there first and then come back here to us.
No Libby, do not worry too much for me. I know it is hard to part with those you love as I think you do me. It does me good to think I have one on earth for me & thinks of me. I try to remember you to the throne of grace & ask God to comfort you in your trouble. I know they are hard to hear alone. I know how I feel myself if I cannot hear from you. I do not know what I should do but when the letter come, it puts new life into me. I got the papers you sent to me and was glad to get them. Du Boyce sent me two. They all come good. The evenings are lonesome without anything to read. I read my testament and it does me good to read it. I feel that God will protect me in all things and return me safe home to you and then we shall be a happy family indeed.
If you can’t keep the property as good as when I left, you will do well. I do not expect it. And if things go wrong, do not worry about it.
We have had a hard rain here last night but the sun shines warm and pleasant this afternoon. Our house is rather damp when it rains. We live in tents. They are warm enough in pleasant weather. I will send my likeness sitting down if youy want it for one dollar. Dear Lib, I have not the money to spare. I am afraid you have got the one I sent by this time. I suppose you are writing to me today. Adele will get to be a good writer in a little while, I think. I read it all plain to read. She must learn to spell a little better but never mind that now but write and that will learn you. You can cut this off if you want and it is not…
…Milford will learn to drive team. I think if he drives team on that machine, it must be [ ] for you. I think Milford, is it not so well. When I come home I will buy a team for you to drive. I must draw my letter to a close for this time and send my love to you all & lots of kisses. I would rather fetch them. Let us put our trust in God and love Him and He will let me do it. This from your faithful husband, — Samuel Huntington
To his lovely wife Libby Huntington
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHT
[Morris Island, South Carolina]
Sunday, February 7, 1864
I have just come in from regimental inspection and have eaten my dinner which consisted of boiled peas and cold boiled pork and piece of bread—the last of my loaf I drew yesterday. Tonight I shall draw another loaf and a cup of coffee. Then in the morning some more coffee. The bread is very good—only there is some sand in it. We draw one loaf each day. If a man was hungry, he could eat it at one meal. I do it most sometimes.
I got two letters from Jane, one from George, one from you. I was glad to get them—especially yours. I am glad that you are so smart [healthy] and have your health. That [is] everything to us now.
The weather is fine here today—like the Norther Indian summer. The nights are cool and the days war, and pleasant but I like Old Carrollton the best, or my dear wife and children better than all the Souther States put together. I have [not] sit in a chair since I left home, I believe, nor slept in a bed. The bunks that we sleep on is better than the ground and healthier. My bones ache some in the night. Then I turn over and try the other side a spell till that aches. Then turn over again.
I have not got that box yet but expect it every day now. It may be at the landing. I hope so anyway. Brown is here in the tent writing today. His tent is a few rods from mine but he wanted to come in and write. I told him he might. But he is a regular Copperhead and I hate them or their principles, that is certain. I have not told you how my health is today. I think it is very good. I have eaten all of my ration up for dinner. My little box under my bunk is empty and I always feel pretty well when I can eat all I can get. So don’t worry about my health, dear one.
If I should have to stay here next summer, don’t worry if you can help it for I think it is a very healthy place here but I don’t think I shall have to stay here in the army longer than the first of June or else they all lie and what everybody says, they say, is always true.
I dreamed of being at home and seeing you, It was not on a furlough either. I often dream of being North and seeing you. I dreamed of getting my box last night but it was a dream. But do not worry about it, dear one. It will come in a good time for I only had two left. I sent one letter to you without a stamp. I send all of them to George without stamps. I shall keep them for you for they can pay the postage, I think, on without whining. I know them well enough for that. I shan’t pay them out for anything if I can help it. I don’t think we shall get our pay till the last of March but can’t tell. We can’t tell anything as we hear it from the North or from our homes. Let us take all things for the best and trust in God for He alone can deliver us from this trouble.
Dear one, then let us not give up never, but try to serve Him in all things though the times may seem dark, yet there is a fair day after a storm. I shall have to draw my letter to a close. I have got to go on picket tonight. I wanted to write a letter to our folks but I can;t today but will as soon as I can.
Dear children, Pa has not forgotten you nor never will. Try to do right and love and mind ma and pa will come home to you sometime for God will protect me from all danger and will return me safe home to you, my dear ones. This to my dear wife and children; my love to you all. May the Lord bless us all. — Samuel Huntington
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER NINE
Morris Island [South Carolina]
February 14, 1864
Loved wife & children,
Today is Sunday. It is evening. I have just come in from picket. There was no firing this time. I got two letters from you today. They brought them up to me and a paper with ginger in it. I feel truly thankful to you, dear one, for trying to send me something for my comfort but I don’t want to use any of it now and you need not send anymore of it now for I have got enough to last me a good while.
My health is first rate and appetite is good. I can eat anything that anyone can so don’t worry for me. Dear one, I know it is not an easy thing for one not to worry for those they love as I know you do me. I was glad to get that letter that Philetus wrote to you. I opened it and see it was from him and then I put it up until I read yours first. I have read them over more than once. You can’t tell my feelings when I read your letters over. My feelings are full of love for you my dear wife and children for the love that you express in your letters. I love to read them over and over again. You wonder if I would be ashamed of you with that rig on. I should not be afraid nor ashamed to own you anywhere or place. I don’t care what your dress was for I know that your heart is true and full of love for me. Do not try to do too much. Use some of the money for I sent to you to use and make yourself comfortable if you can. I have sent ten dollars to you this pay day. I hope I can send more the next time I get my pay and then when God returns me home to you, I can work for you and myself with comfort and a good heart. You are doing just right with the things. Sell when you think the potatoes will bring the most and some hay in the spring, if you have it to spare. But do not sell yourself short.
Oh how I long to be with you, my own dear wife & children. You may judge my feelings by your own. I am not afraid to leave it to yourself and let you judge.
Monday morning, February 14, 1864
Dear one, I will try to write some today to you. I feel real smart. I have eat my allowance this morning. I would like to know how you are this morning but I can only hope for the best. You must try and be careful of your health when I am absent from you and I will try to do the same. I begin to think there is too much work for you to do but I don’t know as I can help it now and keep you comfortable. Do not try to save too much money and work too hard in getting wood. How I would like to get the wood for you and do the chores for you, my loved one.
I am glad you have got them rings. I have got one done and I will send it in this letter for you to keep or sell. I will make some more and send them as I get time to make them. I can send one a week, I think. This one I made for a man here but his money is out, I guess, and I won’t trust them. I don’t think you are very stingy in sending me stamps. I have got quite a number of them now you have sent me. I don’t let them go for anything. I shall keep them to put on your letters that I send to you. I have not written to Joseph yet. We have more duty to do now that we did a spell ago. We only get about one night in camp, then one on picket, then one in camp again, and do our washing and cleaning our traps, old gun, black our boots and belts, wash our gloves. It is brush and fix all the time most.
The rebs had another time in shelling our folks last night but hurt no one as I have heard as yet. Then our folks fired on Charleston. I don’t think there will be any formal movement here this winter and if we are to be discharged in the spring, I don’t think we shall see any fighting. The rumor is this regiment is to go North in April.
[Editor’s note: The second part of this letter may be from another letter.]
…and how I would like to hug you all to my bosom and kiss you all. I think of you the first thing in the morning and my prayer to God is that he will protect you and give you strength to perform the duties that devolve upon [you] in my absence and to comfort you and I feel that is your silent prayer for me. And may God bless you for it, dear one. I have had a pocket bible given to me about the same size of that one at home. I love to read it here. It is a great comfort to me. There is so many good promises in it to those that love Him and try to serve Him. You can’t guess how much I praise them gloves. They are so warm. They are pretty large but then they will shrink some, I think. But if they don’t, they are warm and good to wear. When I get home, I will give you a good long kiss for them. I will try to send you something for them yet before I come if I can. I think I get everything you send. I got one envelope and two postage stamps in this last letter. I directed the other two you sent me and sent them back and will do the same by this one.
I liked the letter that Milford sent. It was a good one. I am glad he has got him a nice sled he can ride down hill real nice. He must put my old boots over his and that will save his. I am glad you can help ma do the chores so much. It will help her so much. Try to be a good boy and pa will love you for it. I was glad to get a letter from Adele. It sounded so much like her. Ruby’s was first rate. She must hurry and learn to write as soon as she can so she can write to Uncle Joseph. That will be so nice to write. Pa wants you to be all good children and not play on the Sabbath day. You can read to each other out of your books or out of the bible. Pa reads it much. You can learn to read first rate out of it. Pa would [like] to come home to you now if I could but as I can’t come at present, I must send my love to you and lots of kisses too. Kiss each other for me. Write, dear children, when ma says you may. Pa thinks it will not be long before I can come home to you and then we must wait awhile but I hope not long.
Dear wife, you say it seems as though I had been gone a year. It seems full as long to me sometimes but be patient and wait. There is something about our coming home in the spring that is certain where there is so much talk—there must be something at hte bottom of it. The substitutes are afraid they will have to stay. That is my opinion. They are sworn into the service for three years or during the war while the drafted me are not sworn at all to serve. I like it better here than I did at first but it is no place for me in the army nor never will be. The society does not suit me. There is not much intelligence in the army. If they had any when they left home, they have forgotten it. There is some fine boys here and some hard ones.
You spoke of making me some drawers and send them to me. I do not want you to do it. It is so near spring [that] before they could come to me, I should not want them. I have got me another pair of shorts to wear & more too and now I am comfortable.
I have read some of your letter today. I shall read it over again as soon as I get this done. Everyone washes just as he can get time. There is plenty of time in the course of a week. There is a good many boxes come last week to the men. I hope to get one sometime. Goodbye.
[Editor’s note: The third part of this letter may be from another letter.]
…coming in for I hear firing in the direction where they come. The rebs fire on them when they come sometimes but do no hurt as I know of. I shall finish this letter and if I get one, I will write Wednesday or Thursday. I have made each of you a ring out of coconut shell and I will send them to you in this letter. You can divide them to suit your fingers if you can. I don’t know as you can wear them. If you can’t, you can keep them till you can, They are pretty tuff stuff and hard. I may send you something else some time but could not think of anything else now. The largest one I made for you, dear Libby, & O have worn it some on my little finger on my right hand. I thought it would be right for one of your fingers.
One of the drafted men gave me the shell. I shall make me one more and wear it for you, dear one. Oh how Ruby will jump when she sees hers. If it is too large, she can keep it til her Pa comes home and her finger grows. I hope she will keep her rabbit till I come home and then I shall kiss her on both cheeks till they smart, I guess. I think her letter was good. She must tell Adele what to write for her. It is about time for Adele to write another. It will learn her to write. Take time.
When I come home, I shall have to bring you all something if its nothing more than a good kiss. Milford must tell George to write me for I often think if him but not so often as I do you dear ones, for I love you with my whole heart. This is true. If God returns me home, we shall know how to love each other, will we not dear Libby & children? And I believe God will bring me safe home to you. Then we can love and serve him for this great blessing. Live for Him and each other. Then we shall be happy. May God bless you all and comfort you, — Samuel Huntington
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TEN
Morris Island, South Carolina
March 3rd 1864
Dear loved wife & children.
Another tour of camp guard is over. It is one less night to stand guard for me. I have just come in this morning. I had the headache some yesterday but feel real smart this morning. There was one man got dead drunk on his post last night. They manage to get liquor some way but it is very dear, It is some cool this morning but pleasant. The wind blows some and the sand flies some. I wrote a letter to Manley the other day. I did not say anything about my disliking the service to him, I thought I would not. My last letter to you was a short one. I had not time to write much them. I don’t know as I wrote to you about seeding that corn ground. I want it seeded to clear timothy. I don’t want anymore [ ] hay—not where timothy will grow. I want you to be careful and not sell yourself short of hay for April is a long month and you will have to feed part of May. You may do as you think best about raising a pair of steers.
If I should not get my discharge this spring, I am afraid it will make too much work for you to do. Then you must judge something about the hay. You will not have so many cornstalks to feed next winter but I have strong hopes of come home in June by the first of the month. They all have the same opinion here but I can’t tell for certain but hope for the best and trust to God for my deliverance from this army and my return to you, my own dear loved one. I shall know how to prize your society and the comforts of home when I return. When I was at home, I did not realize the blessings that I enjoyed. There is no children here to while away an hour with or a dear companion to talk to, but all is for war—for one man to kill his fellow man in order to gratify a few. But it seems as though it was most played out and I hope it is from the bottom of my heart. If the Republican Party nominates Lincoln and they let the army vote, he would not get but a few votes in this regiment for the most of them think he is trying to prolong the war. They think the President can do any and everything. It is of no use to try to reason with them. I should think that one half the regiment is Dutch and Irish and the rest—or a good many—are canawlers. But most of the drafted men are more like human beings. One can talk with them with reason. Some of them are well read. I must now stop writing and get my dinner but I had rather have the poorest dinner you ever got than the one I get here.
Well, I have finished my dinner of potatoes & salt beef boiled, but I did not eat much of the meat. I ate my potatoes with butter that you sent me. It keeps good yet. That beef that Mrs. DeBois sent comes good to take with me on picket.
How long this regiment will stay here, I can’t tell but they all say when it goes from here, it will surely come north. I hope it may for I don’t want to go any further south. And then I should like to get out of this flea-ey country to a better one if I can. I can feel them eating on my ankles now as I write. They say when it gets hot weather, they don’t trouble so much. I should have to stop writing for today and mend my stockings. They have not needed my mending until now and they don’t need but a little now—on the toes a little—two of them. They have lasted first rate, I think. I have not worn but two pairs, I believe, until this week. I don’t expect I can mend quite as we as you can but I am first rate in washing out my duds. We have to wash them in cold water. We have plenty of hard soap to use. O how I should like to have the privilege of bringing my things to you and have you fix them up—not that I would like to add anymore work for you to do for I could change work for I think you have too much to do now.
You write that if you had the wings of a dive, you would come and see me. I don’t doubt you and if I had wings, I would fly to you every night if I had to fly back in the morning. Do not worry, dear one, about my bed for I am getting used to it and as long as I am well, I can stand it. But when I think of you getting your own wood, it makes me feel sorry for you. To think that my own dear wife should have to come to that. But I hope you won’t have to do it another winter nor long this summer. I was glad to get a letter from Adele. She must write one and put it on with yours. You need not send anymore postage stamps till I send for them. I have got a real lot of them now that you have sent me. I have not let any of them go for anything yet and don’t think I shall as long as I am well. I hope you have got that ten dollars that I sent you last month. I sent it by mail for most of them did from here. I am in hopes to send you more the next pay day than I did the last one. I want to send 20 dollars if I can. I think we shall get it sometime this month. I shall have to bid you goodbye for today. I have to go on picket tonight. I will put in lots of kisses to you and the children. My love to you all, my dear ones, and my loved wife and companion. — Samuel Huntington
Dears ones at home, I have just come in from picket this morning. There was no shelling last night by the rebs. It is some cloudy this morning but it is not cold. I am well this morning and hope you are. I shall put this letter in the office today. I can’t tell whether you will get this the same time you will another or ot but I mean to keep then on the road. I am sorry it takes so long for them to go and come but it can’t be helped. I dreamed of you last night. It is sweet to dream of them that are so dear to me for as you say, you are dearer to me than my own life. — S. H.
[Editor’s Note: It isn’t clear that this second part of the letter goes with the first part.]
I try and finish out on this sheet. I hardly think I can write too long a letter. The Captain on the gunboat McDonald told one of the men that tents next to me that we should be discharged in nine months and one other man heard him tell him so. The man that overheard them talking is a fine man, [even] if he is a private. The one that the Captain was talking to is a substitute and once was a shipmate with the Captain. The subs name is Duncan Malloy. The Captain could not be fooling with him for this Mallory is not to be fooled with in anything. So you can take new courage my loved one.
I could not help but laugh when I was reading about Milford driving back Mr. Bailett’s cattle. I think he must have them learned pretty well.
My health is as good as usual. I have just finished my dinner. It was fresh beef boiled, then some soup made with the water, potatoes & onions boiled up. It [went] very well. I do not eat much fresh meat for I don’t think it is good for one here. I want to be careful of myself as I can/ You have done just right in keeping that cloth and making Milley some clothes for he must of wanted them very much. I should thought hard if you had let it go and then let him gone without for you know that I love him very much. He is my only boy. If Mr. DuBois’ folks think hard of it, I think they do very wrong for they could not want it as bad as you did to use. They will get over it in a little while, I guess. If Mr. DuBois was drafted and had to leave home and Manley too, they would realize your situation. But they can stay at home and enjoy the comforts and the society of their families. But I hope that God will forgive them if they do wrong. Then let us forgive them as we wish to be forgiven. You have done first rate ever since I was from home—better than I expected you could do. If I keep my health as I do now till next pay day, and will be sometime this month, I think I will send you 20 dollars, I guess.
The weather is warm and pleasant here and we had a little sprinkle the other night. I am in my shirt sleeves. Oh how I would like to be with you today. It would be a joy beyond measure. The single man can enjoy himself here first rate but it is no place for me. If I was single, I should not want to stay here and remain a private for it is a dog’s life. The most of this regiment was raised in the city of Buffalo—Dutch, Irish, canawlers, bartenders, and everything else. There is some few in it that are fine men. Sill, at Elliottville, has a nephew here. I should call him a Copperhead by his talk. Well, I must draw this to a close, my loved ones. Let me take courage and trust in God for my return and try to do right and He will bless us for it. I have not room to write much to the children this time. They must kiss each other for me. Let them be good ones and kiss ma too for me on both cheeks. I send my love with it—the whole of it. This to my dear loved wife and children. This from your husband and soldier, — Samuel Huntington
May the blessings of God rest on us all forever. I don’t have ant time to make rings. If I did I would send one to mother. Leamon is in the army in Alabama. Jane sent me this letter. He is in the 127th Illinois volunteers. I don’t know the company or whether he is in any company or not.
[Editor’s Note: It isn’t clear that this third part of the letter goes with the first part.]
I could of got one dollar for going on picket tonight but I thought I would not go for anyone else. I will try and do my own duty and no more and I hate to that sometimes. But I don’t think that we shall have to do so much duty a great while longer for I guess that they will send some more men here. But then I had rather do the duty now than to go down to Florida. I think we are lucky so far. I hope we won’t have to go and I don’t think we will. It is getting spring and it seems as though I ought to be at home to commence work, putting in the spring crops, but them there is some snow there yet. It don’t really seem like any time a year to me. It don’t seem like spring, summer or winter—only pleasant weather. We have had only one hard rain, I believe, since about the 10th of January. That rain only lasted about half day, I believe, but then I like the northern climate the nest and I suppose the Green Islanders think that their homes are the best in the world. Mine is the best anyhow for me. There there is a woman and some children there that helps to make it the best and if I was there, it would be the happiest. At any rate, I should be the happiest one on earth, except your dear self and children. I expect that they would make some noise and I would not care if they did.
There is nothing going on here except playing cards and reading novels. I should get tired of reading them all the time or playing cards all the time I had to spare. I had rather spend some of the time in writing to the ones I love to think of. I went tonight and bought me a can of condensed milk. It cost 45 cents. It makes the coffee taste better a great deal. It will last me some time. But some good cream like you have at home would last some better, I know. I had for dinner today some boiled beef and bread. Tonight coffee and bread, and this morning coffee and bread. Tomorrow morning it will be coffee and bread and for dinner tomorrow we shall have beans and pork and bread. Then coffee for supper and breakfast—perhaps some potatoes for dinner again, or peas sometimes. We get rice and sometimes hominy they call it, some kind of ground corn ears. We get such kind of stuff as this a most every day for dinner about one in five days. We get fresh beef, boiled. They they take the water and put in onions and potatoes and you can drink your fill.
Some of the substitutes that have been in the Potomac Army two years say that they lived a good deal better there but I can stand this very well so son’t worry for I am not very particular now. I must draw this to a close. This to my dearly loved wife and children, my earthly treasures. I send the whole of my love and lots of kisses. Oh how I would like to place them on your cheeks and hope to sometime. And may God bless us all and return me home to you. — Samuel Huntington
to Libbie Huntington