Letter – Hiram Young, 15 August 1864

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Letter written by Private Hiram H. Young of Company B, 88th IN Volunteer Infantry. Young writes that Confederate troops unsuccessfully tried to drive in the Union skirmishers the day before, near Atlanta. He mentions that the Potomac Army calls the Confederates Johnny Rebs, while the Cumberland Army calls them Peter Butternuts. He comments on the hot weather, and mentions how the troops are in good spirits and participating in leisure activities. He ends by apologizing for the dirty letter, as “sow belly is plenty and soap is scarce.”


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August 15th 1864

The mail did not go out yester day and this morning Thought to tell you what took Place yester after I Quit Writing Just Before sundown the Rebs tried to Drive in Our skirmishers This Raised Considerable of a mess But nary Drive way there to our skirmishers they held them Ground and was Determined To fight – Like a fierce Bull Pug Rather than fall Back there was 4 Johnny come in Yester day I dont no as you will under stand By the name of Johnnys the Potomac Boys calls them Johnny Rebs and the Cumberland Boys calls them Peter Butter nut It is very warm

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It is hot Enough to Bake ahoe cake in the sand at any Time The Boys are all in good spirits this morning some are Playing Cards others are singing some Playing marbel others are Reading there Bibels some cussing some swearing there is Enough going on to make it Interesting all around I will close Henry Winebrenner Come to The Reg This morning he is about well I expect I have written more than you care about Reading

as Ever Yours

Hiram

PS Excuse all mistakes Dirt and Greese as Sow Belly is Plenty and soap is scarce


Hiram H. Young, from Wolf Lake, IN, enlisted with his friend, Henry C. Winebrenner (mentioned in the text) in Company B of the 88th IN Volunteer Infantry on July 26, 1862. Both survived the war and were mustered out at Washington, D.C. on June 7, 1865. Hiram was promoted to 1st lieutenant on June 1, 1865, but was not mustered.

Letter – Silas Burdick, 22 November 1861

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Letter written by Corporal Silas G. Burdick of Company C, 85th NY Volunteer Infantry, to his cousin Joel A. Crandall, from Barracks No. 4 in Elmira, NY. Burdick writes of good times in the camp; he is eating plenty of rations and is “hearty as any pig.” The regiment has orders to go to Washington, D.C. Burdick describes the upcoming election for company officers. Hiram C. Miller will be captain of this regiment, and Rufus Scott will be captain of a new company. Burdick mentions that they will soon be receiving new rifles, and briefly writes of William P. Maxon of the 23rd NY Regiment. He describes how the previous night he was corporal of the pickets, and how they had fun putting drunk men in the guard house.


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Barracks No. 4 Elmire Nov 22nd, 61

Cousin Joel

I hope you will be willing to decipher my scribbling Well and hearty as any pig. I am able to eat my rations as well as any one in the regiment We are having great times here now. We have orders to go to Washington next Monday yet we do not expect to get away before a week from then, some predict not till, January. There has been a considerable excitement in relation to our election but it is all settled now We do not have our election till next week. H.C. Miller is to be Capt Yet there is to be a new company raised Which Rufus Scott

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is to be Capt; There is 14 men to leave this company to help make the new company. I hope this thing will all be settled to the satisfaction of every one Now I would like to step in and see you all an hour or so and get some more apples & kiss the Girls once more We shall get our Rifles before we leave here. There were orders this morning. Well now you see there is so likelyhood of our doing some good for our country William P Maxson belonging to the 23rd regiment was here but a short time ago, he is a noble looking fellow. I suppose you have all all your work done and have nothing ot do except going to see Jenny & take care of

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of your sisters. I wish you would my best wishes to all the girls I was Corporall of the pickets last night. That is nice business all any one has to do is to station the Gaurd and then he can go and lay down or go out and have some fun running the gaurd, They cannot put one in the gaurd house who is corporal. We have some fun putting [???] drunken men in the gaurd house They put in two last night. One of them was so dead drunk that he did not know enough to know his own name There are a good many drunken men in Capt Kings Company

I must end my scrawls for this time. So good luck to you

S.G. Burdick

JA Crandall


Silas G. Burdick enlisted as a private in Company C, 85th NY Infantry on September 2, 1861 at Geneva, NY, aged 19. He re-enlisted as a veteran on January 1, 1864, but was captured with many of his regiment at Plymouth, NC on April 20, 1864. He was confined as a prisoner at Andersonville, GA, but was among the fortunate who survived and was mustered out on June 9, 1865 at Elmira, NY.

Letter – Sereno Bridge, 19 January 1862

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Letter written by Private Sereno Bridge, Gilbert’s Company of Illinois Independent Cavalry [later Company H, 12th IL Cavalry], to his wife, from Benton Barracks in St. Louis, MO. The miserable weather has given him time to write a letter. Bridge describes the conditions of the camp. He also writes that the army chaplains are overpaid and not focused on the spiritual well-being of the men, while the officers are “unprincipled, profane” and “have no regard for God.” Bridge believes that if the war ends, it will be because of the prayers of citizens in spite of the “sin and iniquity” of the army. He worries that his regiment may be disbanded.


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Benton, Barracks Jan 19

Dear Wife I received your letter of the 11 of Jan on Thursday last and to day being Sunday and a damp foggy day and (not) so much is going on as usual I thought I would write you afew lines to let you k[n]ow we are getting along well in the first plase as you are a good deale worr[i]ed on a count of my health I will try and releive your anxiety on that acount for the preasant for to day I feel as well as at any time since I have been here, although as I have written to you before I have not been entirely free from a cough since I came here some days quite bad and others about well I have not lost a meal on the acount of sickness since I enlisted one of the men that came back

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from the hospital said he thought I had grown fleshy while he had been gone but I do not know how that is as I have not been weighed since I left Geneva you wanted to know how we lived here our living is about the same as in Geneva with the exception that the dirt is more plenty and I do not think quite as good as it was there you wish to know where the Chaplains in the army are now every Reg has a Chaplain and government pays them some $130, per month they weare a fine uniform have a horse and waiter if they like and rank next to the field officers in the army now that some of them are good God fearing men I have

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no doubt and are doing much good. but with a greate many of them it is somthing as it is with myself now being a private I can take care of the sick and do some little good but if I had gone home with straps on my sholders which Grandfather Bruce discovered that I did not have on, I should have proberly got above my buissiness and not done as much good as now I think if our Chaplains was paid about the saim as the common soldier and had to wear plain cloths we should have those in the army that would labour faithfully for the temporal and spearitual good of the men but it is a hard matter for a Chaplain to exert much influence in the army for the officers from the hiest [highest] to the loust [lowest] with

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a few exceptions are unprincipled profane men they have no regard for god nor some of them for man if this reb[e]llion is ever put down and our country saved it will be bcause there is riches praying peopple out side of the army and government enough to save it in spite of all the sin anickety [iniquity] that is committed in high places there is some prospect that our com[pany] ma[y] be disbanded but I harldy think it will at preasant if it should I do not think i should come home I think if our country ever has needed my servises it needs them yet I think now I should go to Kansas and join Jim Lanes expedition proberly you have seen an acount of it in the papers there was a Reg of Caval[r]y from Ohio just come in to the Camp that are going to join Lane’s forces I here that our Reg is on the road backe here again kiss the boys for me good by

S. Bridge


Sereno Bridge, from Elgin, IL, enlisted as a private in Gilbert’s Company of Illinois Independent Cavalry on September 6, 1861. He was transferred out on February 17, 1862 to Company H, 12th IL Cavalry, then on December 25, 1862 to Company G, 15th IL Cavalry. He was mustered out of service on October 31, 1864.

Letter – William Morse, 28 July 1861

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Letter written by Private William H. Morse of Company C, 3rd MI Infantry, to his wife Lucy, from Camp McConnell in Arlington, VA. Morse requests that his wife apply to get money from the county, and asks if she is getting enough to eat. He has seen men offer a dollar for a drink of water on the battlefield, and observes that it has been hard for poor people to make a living during these times. He writes that his friends at home should rethink any decisions to join the army, as “the privations of camp life are far worse than the chance on a battlefield.” Morse mentions being in the battles of Blackburn Ford and Manassas, but writes that he doesn’t think he was any more afraid of dying than if he was at home, and that the 3rd Michigan was highly praised after Bull Run. He concludes by asking his wife to tell their son that his father is “fighting for the Constitution.”


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Headquarters Arlington Regt., third Camp McConnell Co. C

July 28 1861

Dear Wife

I again sit down to write a few lines to you when I wrote the other day I was in such a hurry I could not write much and as I have plenty of time today I thought I would write another I dont know as you will accept of another so soon but I will send it at a venture when you write again I want you to tell me wether you have received any

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money from the County if you have not you had better apply for some for you may as well have it as other families I know of other families drawing money that dont need it any worse than you do and if you have drawn any how much I should like to know how you get along wether you have enough to eat or not tell me wether you have heard from our stears or not. I sent you a little money the other day it was all I had but it may do you a little good money is no object here I have seen men offer a dollar $ on the battle field for a drink of water I shall have some more money before long I hope and I will send you some more poor folks can hardly get a living here it is very hard times for them I tell you

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tell Joseph V fairchild I should like their company very much but they had better stay at home for a soldier here and a soldier in michigan the privations of camp life are far worse than the chance on a battle field they may say I am homesick or afraid but I am neither a soldier has to put up with all kinds of fare durin time of war. I have been in two battles and I dont think I had any more fear of being killed than I would at home I have seen many brave men fall by the cannon and musket and I could pass by them without scarcely looking at them all the boys that came from around where we live are well we are in camp now near the City of Washington and I think

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we will stay here for some time I hardlg hardly think they will take us to battle again for a good many of our officers have resigned our old Captain got scared and left us just as we were going into battle and we fought a battle of four hours length without any captain the Michigan third ranks as high as any other regiment in the united states service We got all the praise of the first battle July 18 I wish you could been here and heard them hurrah for the Michigan third as we returned from bulls run back to Washington, I shall have to close for my paper is used up be a good girl and dont be scared about me kiss bud for me and tell him his pa is a soldier fighting for the Constitution and the laws. good bye Lu write soon

no more from Bill this time


William H. Morse, age 24, enlisted with Company C of the 3rd MI Infantry at Grand Rapids, MI on June 10, 1861. He was wounded by a gunshot to the knee at the Battle of Fair Oaks, VA on May 31, 1862. The regiment lost 30 men killed, 124 wounded, and 1 missing. He was sent to a hospital in Philadelphia, PA, but later died there on August 8, 1862.

Letter – Calvin Shedd, 15 November 1862

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Letter written by 2nd Lieutenant Calvin Shedd of Company A, 7th NH Infantry, to his wife and children, from St. Augustine, FL. Shedd writes about a rumor that the Confederates took over a steamer ship containing mail from the Union troops, though he hopes it isn’t true as he recently sent money home to them. Shedd feels isolated in the current camp, and remarks on the number of casualties his regiment recently suffered. He writes that the locals must “toe the mark under martial law,” and are not allowed to leave the town. He also recounts how he found three sentinels sound asleep while on picket one morning, and lectured them rather than sentencing them to a court martial. Shedd describes soldiering as “the meanest business in the world,” and wishes the war were over.


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St. Augustine Flo Nov. 15th 62

Sunday Eve

Dear Wife & Children

I have just heard that a Schooner lying here is to sail for N.Y. with a mail in the morning I shall try to get this in

I have been somewhat unwell for a few days with a cold but nothing serious. I am better today, I am on guard tomorrow & in for another ride. It is rumored here that the rebels have taken the Steamer Neptune, that took the last mail; I hope it is not so; for in that mail I sent you a Check for $55 & $5 in a letter if it is true. it is the detention of the money or rather Check that I care the most about for I would have given $5 to have got the Check to you a month ago, for I fear you have needed the money. If the Check is lost I can get another but will take time, I trust it is a false rumor I hope the Check will reach you in due season & if it does, write me soon. as you get it

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We get scarcely any News are almost shut out from the world. it is worse than Ft. Jeff. Ther was some discharged Rebel-Soldiers came in here the other day from Bragg’s Army & brought the tidings of the death of a number that went from here. Ther has been great wailing at the loss of Husbands & Sons in a number of Families I understand, they say that the War is about done; that they cant Whip the Yankees & is of no use to continue the strugle. I dont think it will do to take much stock in their reports for probably they have had enough of it & want to talk in a conciliatory manner to us seeing we have got to support them while we stay. I would not have you think we let in Rebels indiscrimately, we make them take the Oath & make them toe the mark under Martial Law they cannot leave the Town. but I presume they have some way of communicating with Rebeldom. I can go out side the lines any night when

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there is no moon & come in undiscovered for I know just where all the guards are & how Vigilant they are not. When I was on guard three weeks ago I visited a Picket post in the morning & found all three of the Sentinels sound asleep. They were Boys & new Recruits & I had not the heart to put the Ball & Chain on them, but I gave them a good Lecture & told them to go & Sin no more if I had put them in the Guard House as most Officers would have been glad of the chance to have done, they would have been Court Martialed punished severely lost their self respect & proved their ruin My conscience tells me I have done right but it would not do for Col Put to know if for then I should catch it & be Broke so dont speak of it. Oh Dear; this Soldiering a War is the meanest business in the world & I wish it was through with I fear this will not be very interesting but hte fact is I have nothing to write about I was on Picket the other day & had my

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Dinner sent, there was some Biscuit cut in halves & Buttered, I opened one & there was a bunch of hair just as it was taken from the comb, I pulled it off & ate the Biscuit & wondered how it got there. That is a specimen of my Boarding Place rather a marked one however. It seems to me that I have eaten a bushel of Bugs Ants & Flies this summer, I have thought since I sent the Check that I should have written on the back Who is was from & who to & where for & where it was going to, & this shall be your Power of Attorney to put it on if you find it necessary if you ever get it. Thanksgiving is coming soon I should like to be at home with you & go to Henrys & have as good Dinner as last year I dont know as I ever ate a Dinner that I enjoyed better in my life I thought then the war would haven been over before this time & that I should be dead or at home now, but I dont see any prospect of getting home at present but we must make the best of it & hope for the best & in the meantime believe me yours as Ever C Shedd

2d Lt, Co A, 7th Regt, N.H. Vols


Calvin Shedd, from Enfield, NH, enlisted at the age of 35 as a sergeant in Company C of the 7th NH Volunteer Infantry on September 23, 1861. He was promoted to 1st Sergeant July 4, 1862 then commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in Company A on July 23, 1862. Following the regiment’s service in FL and SC (including operations against Fort Wagner) he was discharged for disability on December 31, 1863. He died on June 11, 1891 in Tewksbury, MA.

Letter – Clark Edwards, 14 January 1863

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Letter written by Colonel Clark S. Edwards of the 5th Maine Infantry to his wife, from the headquarters of the 5th ME Volunteers near White Oak Church, VA. Edwards begins by expressing gratitude at still being alive when so many others have died in battle or from disease, and states how much he misses his wife and children. Edwards lists the battles in which he has fought with the 5th Maine, including West Point, Gaines Mill, Fredericksburg, and Antietam. He describes his daily life in camp, and that for the next three days he will be the field officer of the day while the regiment goes on picket. The papers have reported a bill to consolidate the regiments, and Edwards says he will leave if that happens.

A second part of the letter is dated January 15th, 1863. Edwards claims though he believes slavery is wrong, he feels it is none of the North’s business to meddle with the affairs of the South. However, now that the South has rebelled, the North must bring the states back together. Edwards bitterly writes of how unworthy officers are being promoted due to their political ties, and cites Henry Halleck as a prime example.


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Head Quarters 5th Me. Vols.

Camp near White Oak Church, Va.

                                  Jan. 14th, 1863

My Dear Wife

     I sit down to write you this evening with a heart overflowing with gratitude to our Heavenly Father for protecting and carrying me through the past year, while thousands of this army have been killed in battle – with prospects one year ago as bright as mine. And I feel thankful for His kindness in preserving me in health and strength while tens of thousands of this army have been cut down by diseases; while I have never seen yet a sick day. One year ago tonight I was with you at home, as I left on the fifteenth for Augusta. Little then did I think that one long year would pass before I should see you again. You may think I have lost that feeling which should always animate a father’s breast for his wife and little ones, but I can truly say that my dear

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family is always uppermost in my mind. Not a day nor an hour but some incident reminds me of beloved ones far away. Glad would I be if I could but press those little ones to my breast this night, but that cannot be. What a change has taken place in this the last year. When I look back, it seems like a dream. I can hardly realize it, but still there has been some reality, in the fight of West Point, Gaines Mill, Golding Farm, Charles City Cross Roads, Crampton Pass, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and a sprinkling of Malvern Hill & the last Bull Run, all of which I have taken part in. I think I have done my part of fighting. But few officers can boast of taking part in so many fights. No man can say in the 5th Maine that he has been in every fight of the regt, and has not seen a sick day. I am probably all the officers or man but what has [not] been off duty at some time on ac[count] of sickness, and I think but few can say what I can in regard to drink. Not a drop of

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the critter have I taken. But then I am not perfect, but far from it. When I look back, I can see many things I have done that I ought not, and many things undone which should have been, but we live to learn, and learn to live – or at least such has been my life. My life for the past year I am willing to have it published to the world. In battle I have always looked after the interest of others, regardless of my own in a great measure. But I will not boast of my deeds. I have done no more than any soldier should do in his duty to his country. But I must leave of this style of writing – you will say I am growing sentimental. I expect you will want to know how I pass my time now. I will tell you. I get up at eight, eat breakfast at nine, have the camp policed up, and the work done around camp till twelve. Then the men eat their dinner. I eat mine at half past one, drill the battalions from two till four, then have dress parade, supper at six, read & write till ten

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go to bed ½ past ten. That has been the way I have done for the past week. In the morning our regiment goes on picket for three days, but I shall not stay with them but little, as I am to be the field officer of the day for the next three days, and shall stop nights at my tent. I went to Falmouth tonight to look after that fatal box, but could not find it, so have now given up in full. I still wear the old blouse with a plenty of shirts, so I plan to keep comfortable. I have sent to W[ashington] some five times after it. I have also been more than one hundred miles, so I think I have some little reason to be cross about it. If it had come, or been sent at a reasonable time after I sent for it, I should have gotten it, but two months had passed from the first letter I wrote before it left Maine, and then we were away from Washington so far that it could not be looked after. I do not blame you, but those that had the job to get it. But we will let that pass now, henceforth and farewell. Your last letter that I received was dated ten days ago, and was answered six days

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[ago], so I have none now to answer. I am in hopes I may get one in the morning before this leaves. I wrote you or the boys about having an overcoat the same pattern of the one I now have, but they never sent me word why they did not get it up. But as it is almost spring, I shall not need it, so will let it go now, or if I ever get a chance to go home, I can then see to it. I see by the papers that they are getting a bill [up] to consolidate the regt. – that is put two or three into one. If so, I will leave the show any way, as it will be an honorable way to get out. I am in hopes of getting another commission before the time arrives, so as to go home as high as any of the Bethelites. I expect everything has changed some in Bethel within the last year. Write me of the most important changes. I expect the little ones have gone along some in size. Nelley must be quite a miss, & Frank a big boy. Waldo, I expect goes over to see Adel Twitchell as usual. Kate I hope is courted up

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to her knees, and I presume she is. Massie & Bertie are quite [the] boys now, I suppose as a year makes a great odds with such little ones. I feel somewhat older than I did when I came into to the show, but still I am well and hearty; fat as a hog, and about as putrid. Thursday morn., Jan. 15th 1863, The mail has just come in and it brought a letter from you to me. It is dated Jan. 9th. The thing you speak of I have received, that is the hat & scarf. You spoke of my being changed in politics, but it is not so. I am the same as ever. I was never a negro worshiper. I believe the principle of slavery is wrong, but it was none of our business to meddle with slavery in the states where the constitution planted it, or rather where it was planted before the constitution was passed. Let the North look after her own affairs, and she has enough to attend to. If she had always done that this war could have been avoided. But now as the South has violated the constitution and has rebelled against one of the model governments of the world, I say if she cannot be brought back by an honest promise of the North not to meddle with her states’ rights, why then use all the powers of the North to do it. I go for giving the South a chance to repent once. If she does not, make her if it takes all the treasure of the North

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and a million more men. But what I am sick of [is] this, of having men to fill offices that are not worthy of the place. There is Halleck, commander in chief of all the armies of the North. What is he? It he a warrior? No, never as yet saw the first battle – never under fire in his life. Is he the man for the place? It is some political favorite that gets these places. There is where all these blunders have arisen. For instance, I will give you an illustration. Yesterday, Capt.[James A.] Hall of the 2d Battery called on me. He is one of the best officers from Maine, puts on no airs, but goes in for work & has been in more fights than any other officer in any of the Maine batteries, but still is hardly known outside of his division; is not a political aspirant. Now for another capt. of one of the Maine batteries, his name is [O’Neil W.] Robinson, from one of the rural towns back in Oxford Co., Maine. He is a candidate

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for what  – it should be for a dishonorable discharge for cowardice from the service – but to the contrary, it is for a brigadier general. And I would not be at all surprised if he gets it. That is what a man by the name of Kimball is now at W[ashington] fixing. Is it to be wondered at that many of the battles come off as they do under such officers? As I write you, I am sick of the show. Who would wonder at it. Give us the men we want for leaders and the thing will be cleaned up. But force generals on us to serve under, that the latest recruit from Maine can teach, and who wonders at the result. When I tell you I am sick, I tell you the truth. Not of disease, but of heart. When McClellan was removed and Burnside put in his place, [that] was the first attack. But after the repulse at Fredericksburg it sunk deeper. But now if I could see any improvement I should get better. But when I see saints removed and the broken down politicians of the North replace them, it causes my

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heart to ache. Only give us McClellan, or more of his stamp, and victory is sure to follow. But force on us the political aspirant and the broken down demagogues of the east, and we are gone. I reflect and then rave. I rave and then reflect. But for no purpose, as such men will have sway. Is the thing to always go on in this way? If so, I am like the comedian Jerry Blossom, I want to go home. I am willing to fight if I can see the least prospect ahead, but for such generals we have already had enough of. Lord deliver us from any more such. But I have written more on this than I intended. Say to Kate that I know of no one by the name of Billy Toohey. I have not sent my trunk. I intend to go with it soon myself. As for money, I have but about $25. The government is now owing me some $400. It has cost me much more to live now than before I was a field officer. But I will try to

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save something for a rainy day. Ask the boys if the greenback is worth a premium. If so, in my next payment I would exchange it in Boston or Portland for bank paper, as that will pay my debts. You say in yours that not a cent of rent do you get, but I suspect Ayres gets it. So it is just as well, as it helps to pay [my debt?]. Do give my regards to Dr. Line. Say to him I will never forget his kindness, and I thank him a thousand times for his good wishes toward me. I have written much more than I intended to at first. My regt. has just gone on picket, and I must go over the line. I have written the last part of this in a great hurry, and please correct it before you read it to anyone. I have written the sentiments of my heart. I will be honest in expression. Let them say I have changed, or what not, I have tried to do my duty faithfully in all things, but have some regrets for things – that is your part.

             Regards to all,    

Clark


Clark Swett Edwards, was born March 26, 1824 in Otisfield Maine. On June 24, 1862 at the age of 37 he enrolled as captain of Company I, 5th ME Infantry, in Bethel, ME. He was promoted to major on July 1, 1862, following the severe losses of the 5th ME at Gaines Mill. Edwards was promoted to lieutenant colonel on Sept. 24, 1862, and colonel January 8, 1863. He was mustered out of the service on July 27, 1864, at the expiration of the regiment’s three years of service. Edwards was brevetted brigadier general on March 13, 1865 for war service. He died in Bethel, ME on May 5, 1903. Many of his letters have survived, and a large grouping are in the Peace Collection at Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas.

Letter – Charles Wilkins, 25 & 27 December 1862

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Letter written by Lieutenant Charles Wilkins of the 1st U.S. Infantry to his girlfriend Sarah while in camp near Corinth, Mississippi. Wilkins seems to be suffering from depression, claiming to have the “blues.” Wilkins was officer of the day on Christmas, and therefore had to remain in camp. He describes a meager Christmas dinner, as well as a few humorous interactions with fellow officers and guards in the camp. Wilkins laments the soldiers who willingly leave their homes and families only to end up “in a lonely grave.”


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Christmas Eve Dec. 25

    I hardly know how to commence writing tonight. Wish you would give me a remedy for the blues, for believe I have them occasionally. Here I am almost out of the world, and within a few days’ ride, my friends cut of[f] from all communication with them. It has been nearly a fortnight since the enemy destroyed a portion of the railroad at Humboldt, a short distance from Jackson, [Tenn]. When the damage will be repaired I don’t know. The enemy have destroyed all our stores at Holly Springs also. There was a report that the enemy had also captured La Grange, but hope it is not so, for my brother is there. There is so many rumors afloat that [I] have made up my mind to believe nothing until I can see it with my own eyes.

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You can imagine I think how I have passed Christmas when I tell you that being officer of the day [I am] being obliged to remain in camp. We are now on half rations, so you will say we had not much of a dinner. Will give you our bill of fare for dinner – fresh beef, bread and coffee, with a little stale butter. Don’t know when I have been so much amused as I was last night. As I was returning to camp, having called on a brother officer, it was a little late. As I was walking along the sentry challenged me. Says he, say Christmas gift or halt. I could not help but laugh, and pass on. The fellow was intoxicated. But when I got to our own camp, the sentinel says, “Who comes there?” I answered, “a friend with the countersign.” “Advance friend with the countersign.” I gave him it. He says the countersign is right, advance friend. I will tell you what remedy I have when

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a little low spirited. I take out one of your letters and read it. You can hardly imagine (I think) the pleasure I experience in receiving your kind letters, nor can you tell how often I read them, and reread them. When will this rebellion be crushed, and the soldier return to his friends. It makes me feel sad to think of the poor soldier who left home and friends feeling confident the he should return untouched and immortalized by his friends at the close of the war, and who now sleeps in a lonely grave. I think that there is no danger to be apprehended from a fight here, for I think the enemy do not care to trouble us. They were a little too severely punished on the 4th of Oct.

Saturday, Dec. 27th

Hearing that there would be a mail leave in the morning, [I] will send this. We have not had any papers since the 17th

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We had a very severe thunder shower this afternoon. It has passed over, and is quite pleasant but cool. It seems strange to have a thunder shower in the winter, but it does not seem at all like winter. You will see by the first part of my letter that we have strange rumors. There was not a man killed at Jackson, Tenn., and whether the other rumors are true remains to be told, as we have no means of knowing. Think I have written as much as you will care to read, so will close by hoping to hear from you soon.

                        I remain truly yours,

                             Charles


Charles Wilkins was born in Henniker, New Hampshire to James and Sarah Wilkins. He originally enlisted in Company B of the 2nd NH Infantry on June 1, 1861 at the age of 25. He served as a private until wounded at the 1st Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861. He remained on wounded leave at Hennikee, NH until January, 1862, when he was appointed 2nd lieutenant, 1st U.S. Infantry, to date from Feb. 19, 1862. On May 25, 1863 Lt. Wilkins was wounded at Vicksburg, MS and died of his wounds on June 20, 1863. He was brevetted captain for gallant and meritorious service in action at Vicksburg, June 20,1863.