Letter – James Peckham, 2 August 1866

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Letter written by former Colonel James Peckham to his mother, from St. Louis. Peckham writes that he and his wife Kate are both at home and doing well. He has been asked to go to Philadelphia during the National Convention to act as a correspondent for the Missouri Republican, but he declined. Peckham mentions a book he has written, and says the publishers Wynkoop & Hillenbeck have agreed to have it out by August. Peckham is already thinking of the election next fall, and says that he wants to “see what kind of a state of affairs we are going to have here in Missouri.” Peckham disputes rumors he has heard of an outbreak of cholera in the city.


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St. Louis August 2, 1866

My Dear Mother

     I got home safe & quite well in the night of July 3d. Kate came home last Saturday night, and is well enough to eat her regular rations. Today I do not feel so well as I would like, and I am at home resting & keeping cool & quiet. The Missouri Republican wants me to go to Philadelphia as its correspondent during the National Convention to be held there on the 14th of this month, but I am so adverse to making such a long trip again this summer that in my present mood I positively decline it. I haven’t got my book out yet. Wynkoop & Hillenbeck agreed to have it out by the 1st of August at latest. Their draft for the whole expense was paid July 25th.

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Kate has got house keeping on the brain, but I rather think now I won’t think of housekeeping until after our next fall election, and see what kind of a state of affairs we are going to have here in Missouri. These are terrible times all through the state now. We have had awful warm weather for the last two weeks, but today it is delightfully cool. There have been rumors of cholera being in the city, but I doubt it very much.

     My throat troubles me very much. Last night I made a short speech and today I suffer from it. Spank Fan and Belle for me, & kiss & shake hands & say “how’d’do” to all the balance. God bless you all.

                                  Yours affectionately,

                                            Jim


James Peckham was a member of the Missouri Legislature before the Civil War and was a strident Unionist when the state was debating to secede or not. He left the legislature and organized the 8th MO Regiment. Peckham served as the 8th MO Regiment’s Lt. Col. and led the regiment at Shiloh and Pittsburg Landing, TN, and at Jackson, MS. He later went on to lead the 29th MO. After the war he published a book on the history of the war in Missouri and General Nathaniel Lyon. He passed away in 1869 and is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.

Letter – James Peckham, 29 January 1865

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Letter written by former Colonel James Peckham to his mother, from St. Louis. Peckham is now a tobacco inspector, and he and his wife Kate have a new house. Governor Thomas C. Fletcher has promised Peckham that he will stay in this new role, after long talks with the Commissioner of Internal Revenue and the Secretary of the Treasury in Washington. Peckham writes about he and his wife’s efforts to furnish their new home, and talks about the possibility of visits from a few friends. Also enclosed is a letter from Kate to Peckham’s mother, in which she also mentions their new house and the recent cold weather.


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Saint Louis January 29. 1865

My Dear Mother

Kate & I are amusing ourselves this evening, writing letters – she to her own mother & I thought I would write you. It may be very possible that I shall go to Washington City in a week or so upon some business connected with my office, and if I do I shall return by the way of New York in order to see you. Kate & I are both well & we are now at house-keeping – got a nice place & continually accumulating something in the way of furniture. I think I shall Keep my office – Governor Fletcher when in Washington about a month ago called on the Commissioner of Internal Revenue & the Secretary of the Treasury, & had a long talk about me, in which the promised him I should not be removed. That is all I ask of the Governor, is to keep me where I am & he has promised to do so & is trying to do so. I dont think I shall be disturbed at all.

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Kate & I make a great fit of it, at marketing. She knows nothing about meat & I know but little, but we manage to be very lucky & get good stuff without knowing it until it is cooked up. However, we are improving & have a good girl. you would laugh to see us. We have plenty of room & but little furniture – but we are gathering a piece here & a piece there & I hope in a month or two we will be prepared to see somebody if that somebody should choose to call on us. I shall not be surprised if Nic comes west this spring. I would like to see him here and will be prepared to entertain him. Nic. Raynor tells me he bought quite a bill of good of Nic. It might do good to Nic to come out here. I know everybody here & can trot him around in double quick military style. I hope you are getting stronger & in better health. Kiss all the young ones for me. Give my love to everybody May God bless you all. Yours Affectionately

Jim

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Dear Mother,

James has told you about everything I believe that would interest you – we are really housekeeping at last. I teased James into it – James said I had “House” on the brain and at last told me if I would find a house we would go to housekeeping, and I found the house and we are quite settled down in it. I enjoy this way of living much better than boarding How is Amanda and the baby – has she named the little girl yet? I often think of you all and should like to see you. I have purposed writing to you and Amanda for a long time, but as usual have been negligent. James is growing so fleshy you will scarcely know him. During the past week the weather has been very cold, to day is warmer. I shall be glad to hear from you and Amanda. Kiss the children for me. Give my love to Miss Eliza Amanda and everybody else accept much yourself from

Yours affectionately Kate.


James Peckham was a member of the Missouri Legislature before the Civil War and was a strident Unionist when the state was debating to secede or not. He left the legislature and organized the 8th MO Regiment. Peckham served as the 8th MO Regiment’s Lt. Col. and led the regiment at Shiloh and Pittsburg Landing, TN, and at Jackson, MS. He later went on to lead the 29th MO. After the war he published a book on the history of the war in Missouri and General Nathaniel Lyon. He passed away in 1869 and is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.

Letter – James Peckham, 9 July 1861

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Letter written by Colonel James Peckham of the 8th MO Infantry to his mother. Peckham is writing from the St. Louis Arsenal, and has been in the city for three weeks. He writes that the volunteer force was comprised mostly of Germans, which was distasteful to the other (primarily Irish-American) troops and leading to dissension in the ranks. Thus Peckham organized an American regiment. Peckham is determined to lead the regiment as Lieutenant Colonel despite strong discouragement from “the big guns”. He has however asked Morgan L. Smith to be colonel of the regiment, as he feels he doesn’t know enough about the military to take the position himself.


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Saint Louis Arsenal July 9, 1861

My Dear Mother, The clock has just struck one – or rather the guard at the prison has struck once upon the high steel triangle which is suspended in the centre of the garrison. I feel very little like sleep – being too tired to sleep, for I have just come down from the city on foot the cars having stopped running at 11 1/2 oclock. I am here in Camp in the St. Louis Arsenal, which place is located on the line of the southern boundary of the city. I have been here for 3 weeks with my Regiment. I say “my Regiment” – for it is emphatically my Regiment. When I returned from the East i found the volunteer force here composed almost exclusively of germans, and a strong antipathy towards them on the part of the American portion of the population. Many men were drifting into rebellion through this antipathy. The consequence of this I took upon myself to organize an American Regiment. It was a big thing to undertake by one who has plenty of cash, and I hadn’t a solitary cent. But my little bed room was made the Head Quarters & by proper management I soon had a formidable

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organization. I picked out my men for Captains & Lieutenants, Major & Colonel, reserving the position of Lt. Col for myself. Of course I worked hard and ingeniously sent a messenger to Washington & was accepted by the War Department. It is four weeks since that acceptance & today we mustered in the ninth company with the tenth company on the ground to be mustered in tomorrow, which will thoroughly complete us. I have had no outside assistance from anybody. The big guns have never honored us with a single kindly recognition – on the contrary they have shown a disposition to throw cold water on our flaws because it was my work. But I want it distinctly understood that when I undertake a thing it must go through, no matter whether others assist or not. I was elected to the Legislature not by the assistance of the party leaders but in spite of them. I am Lieutenant Colonel of the best body of 1000 men in the western service not because of outside assistance but in spite of it. Since I have been in Saint Louis I have never yet received one solitary word of encouragement except from

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Frank Blair. On the contrary I have been snubbed and abused and slighted and injured by every mothers son of them who occupy position & have means. But they know me by this time. At the office of the Missouri Democrat one evening quite a crowd collected. The question was asked who is getting up this “American Zouave Regt” the answer was “that fellow Jim Peckham” Another remarked that I “was a d—-d busy fool & burning up with brass & impudence” One man spoke up, who was by no means my friend & said “Well! say what you please but if that d—–d Jim Peckham as you call him is getting it up it is going through all right, for he has got energy enough to move hell out of its place.” Now they may affect to despise me as much as they choose yet they have to cave whenever I undertake a thing & they know it. I think I can brag a little now for I have been so soundly abused & so meanly slighted that to brag once in the while is pardonable. This jealousy which is arrayed as a solid wall of stone masonry against me is what better men

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than myself have encountered & triumphed over and succumbed to, as well. I could have been Colonel just as well as Lt. Col but I did not know enough of Military to take such a position and so I got an old army officer to to be our Colonel. This week we will be uniformed & next week will obey marching orders. Our destination will be South West Missouri. I have not heard from you since I saw you at Mattewan in April. What is the matter? I hardly think you are so busy that you cannot drop me even one line to say you are well or unwell. Whenerver you do take a fit to write direct to St. Louis. Put the address in this form & it will reach me wherever I go,

Lieut Col James Peckham

American Zouaves 8th Regt M.V.

Saint Louis Arsenal

St. Louis

Give my love to everybody. May God bless you all & preserve our country. I am in first rate health,

Affectionately, Your son

James


James Peckham was a member of the Missouri Legislature before the Civil War and was a strident Unionist when the state was debating to secede or not. He left the legislature and organized the 8th MO Regiment. Peckham served as the 8th MO Regiment’s Lt. Col. and led the regiment at Shiloh and Pittsburg Landing, TN, and at Jackson, MS. He later went on to lead the 29th MO. After the war he published a book on the history of the war in Missouri and General Nathaniel Lyon. He passed away in 1869 and is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.