Letter – David Norton, 30 September 1861


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Letter written by Captain David Woodman Norton of Company E, 42nd IL Volunteer Infantry, to his mother, from Benton Barracks in St. Louis, MO. Norton begins by describing the weather conditions on the march from Camp Douglas to St. Louis, MO. They arrived at General John C. Fremont’s house for a review before marching to the barracks. Norton brags about his company and the hard work he has put in to make them great. He describes the Confederate troops in Missouri as being undisciplined, and that they “fight much after the manner of Indians.” Norton mentions his company is lacking in arms, having only a couple hundred Colt’s revolving rifles. Norton laments that the young lady he was hoping to court (Mary T. Dodge of Dodgeville, WI) has married another man. He feels that he will likely not marry for some time, as he still has great feelings for Mary. He has decided to focus his energy on his military achievement instead. Norton notes that there are more enlisted men than can currently be armed, and that they would have an easier time recruiting if the government could provide the weaponry. He asks his mother not to worry about his safety, as others have gone through greater dangers and survived.

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Benton Barracks, St. Louis. Mo.

Sept. 30th 1861

My Dear Mother

You have probably learned from the Chicago papers, sent you by Mr. Haskell, that our Regt. left Chicago on the 20th of this month. We had a wet march for our first. It began to rain just as we started from Camp Douglas, and we had a long 3 miles to march, and got wet to the skin. The men did admirably and the only grumbling I heard was from some of the officers whose new uniforms were somewhat damaged by the rain and mud. -O can assure you that I was proud of my regiment! The remark was universal, that we made the best appearance that that has been made by any army regiment in the streets of Chicago, since the war began.

One gentleman told me that he had seen most of the Regts. in the field, both east and west, and that the only one that equalled us in marching and soldierly bearing was Fletcher Webster’s regt.

We arrived at St. Louis Saturday afternon.

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without accident. We marched to Gen. Fremont’s house and were reviewed just at dark. He has paid us some high compliments. – After the review we marched to these Barracks, which are about 3 miles from the General’s Headquarters but through the blunders of our guide we went between 5 & 6 miles to get here. The camp is a very pleasant one with the best barracks and parade ground in the country. There are, at this time, about 8000 soldiers in this camp. There are four or five other camps in and around the city. – Our Regt. is the best in camp. We are proud of our field officers and intend to make a name for ourselves under them when we get into active service.

My company is about as well drilled as any one in the Regt. and has been complimented by the field officers, for being the cleanest. When I first took command of it, it was in a very disorderly condition. The Col. was affraid I should not be able to bring them ‘under’ at all. He said I would not be tyrant enough, – but he has seen his mistake. I had to be very severe for a week or two, but now I can be as easy with them as any other Captain on the ground. They have

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become well enough acquaintance with me to know that I never allow an order to be neglected. They know what the penalty of disobedience is, and that nothing can save them from the punishment if they are not prompt. They have learned that I make no orders for the fun of it. I don’t believe that I have a man in my company of 95 who will not stand by me under all circumstances. They know that although, at times, severe I am as just as I can be. My officers and privates fare alike, and that prevents complaint. – I am determined to do my duty as well as I know how, – and to have my men do theirs.

We can not tell how long we shall remain at this camp, – but hope it will not be long. We are all anxious to be in the field, where we can have a chance to gain some glory for ourselves, and do some good to our cause.

We have still, some little hope of being sent eastward, where we can have more chances of field fights than in this state. Here the Rebels are, for the most part ununiformed and without much discipline. They fight much after the manner of Indians; – they will not meet us in the field, unless they greatly outnumber

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us. They fight best in small parties, in the woods, where the fatigues are as severe, and the chances of gaining honors much smaller than in a field battle. We shall not be ashamed to put our regt. by the side of any other in the eastern army. We have a dark blue uniform – pants – blouse – & caps without any trimmings of any kind to make it easier to hit. We have out outfits complete, with the exception of our Arms. We have only two hundred colts revolving rifles, for the flank companies as yet. The rest of the companies are to have a rifled musket, which has been promised from day to day since we arrived.

Mother you will remember a lady I have often mentioned in my letters, as one who might at some future day be nearer than a friend? My fortune has been the same in this case as in most things since I came west. My poverty put it out of my power to win and another richer and perhaps more suitable man has carried off the prize. His attentions and the wishes of rich and aristocratic friends were able to carry the day against me. It happened sometime since but I have not before felt like writing on the subject even to you. I can now write, and I

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believe I could talk the matter over with you as cool as any other subject in which I might be interested, but nevertheless I don’t think the edge is blunted but only sunken in out of sight of outsiders. I may appear to talk as is usual in such cases, but I don’t think you will be at all likely to have a daughter-in-law on my a/c [account] in some time to come. My attachment was quiet – holy – and will not soon be weakened, for May has never done anything – not even in her marriage that has, in the least, lessened my respect and admiration. Mother, I believe I have lost the prize, to gain which, a life might well be spent. – I shall now strive to win glory enough to fill the void. I wish for nothing else now than to make a name that my friends and country may be proud to point to. – I have no confidence that I shall succeed in this aim, much better than in my past aims, – but what is life without some higher aim than to live? – I am almost selfish enough to wish that I did not respect and love her so much as I do – but her influence has saved me from committing since that you never thought I could be tempted to. Her influence will still have its affect on me, for I will never do anything

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that would, if she knew of it, tend to lessen the respect which I know she has for me. None of my enemies shall ever through it in her face, that I was unworthy of her respect and friendship, – for I know that she is really my friend. Of course, you will not mention any of the personal part of this letter. The facts of the case can not be changed and the less there is said about the matter here-after the better I shall be pleased. I have told it to you and do not wish it to go any further.

Mr. Haskell’s family was in good health when I left.

Where is Joshua now? Still at New Port News? Has John gone soldiering again? He aught to stay at home now. – he has done his share & there are plenty of men to take his place; there is no such scarcity of men as the papers say. There are more men enlisting than can be armed and equipped as they aught to be. We have been ready for the field for four weeks and have not yet received our arms. If the government could arm regiments faster, men would be more ready to enlist. But men who are fit to be soldiers, do not want to lay round camp without clothes or arms. We could fit our Regt.

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for fighting in one week if we had guns enough to teach the manuel of arms, but we can’t get them. We are about as well drilled in all but the manuel as we can be until we get guns to drill with.

We You must not worry over the supposed dangers by which I shall be surrounded in the field. You must remember that others have pased through greater dangers on the field than I shall probably encounter, and passed them in safety.

You will see me with my ‘laurels‘ – if I can win any.

I left my trunk in Mr. Haskells care and if I don’t want it again he will send it to you.

Give my love to all and write me a good long letter yourself.

I received a letter from Father a few days before we left Chicago. Tell him that I shall try to follow his advice.

Good by, Mother, for the presant.

Your Son

D. Woodman Norton

Capt. Co. ‘E’

1st Regt. Douglas Brigade

Benton Barracks

St. Louis MO.

Major David Woodman Norton was born 31 January 1838 in Chelsea, MA. He had two other brothers (Joshua and John) who also enlisted and served in the Union Army. He enlisted with the 1st Zouave Regiment of Chicago and was then promoted to 2nd Lieutenant of the 42nd IL Infantry then Captain on July 22, 1861. He eventually joins Major General John M. Palmer’s staff as acting Assistant Inspector General. He was killed in action near New Hope Church, GA on June 2, 1864 during the Atlanta Campaign.

Letter – Thomas Jackson, 6 September 1863


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Letter written by Major Thomas K. Jackson, C.S.A., to his fiancĂ©e Lucy Reavis of Gainesville, AL, from Enterprise, MS. Jackson writes how happy he was to receive a letter from Reavis, as his “anxiety was fast becoming intolerable.” He mentions having dinner with the paymaster, Captain Decker, in Meridian. Mrs. Decker is a friend of General Hardee, and is planning to request that Captain Decker be sent to Enterprise. Jackson mentions the train times from Demopolis, as he is planning on visiting Reavis. He then expresses his great love for Reavis, and writes that he will get a photograph taken while in Mobile. Jackson concludes by mentioning a compliment he received from the Chief Commissary of Mississippi.

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Enterprise Miss.

Sept 6. 1863.

Thanks – thanks, my own sweet Lucy, for your charming letter, every word of which is a breathing echo of your dear self – I have just received it, & am the happiest man alive – even this stupid Enterprise wears a cheerful smile this morning – My anxiety was fast becoming almost intolerable – it had been so long since I had heard from you – I have also, this morning a kind letter from yr Mother [missing] she was still at Kemper, but was to be at home today – Yr Father had returned – They were all quite well. I spent part of last Friday at Meridian & took tea with the Paymaster, Captain Decker & his family, consisting of his wife & her sister, whom I met

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for the first time – Mrs Decker is a charming lady, & I do not know when I passed an evening so pleasantly. Meridian has been vastly improved lately – ditched, policed, & numerous wells dug, adding immeasurably to the comforts of the sick & passing soldiers. Mrs D. says she intends to see Gen’l Hardee – whom she knows very well – and ask him to order the Captain to this place, which I should regard as a piece of good fortune, for she knows so many of my old friends, is so intelligent, entertaining & I think such a delightful Lady to visit.

The train from Demopolis is due at Meridian at half after five P.M. so you will have to remain there ’till 4 A.M. for the “up train” – It will be quite convenient & pleasant for me to go for you, because I have some business in that direction, & would like to get a glimpse of the coun-

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try so as to set about it at the proper time understandingly; so if my coming be entirely agreeable to you – write immediately & acquaint one with the day you wish to start, so that my arrangements may be made accordingly, & be sure to furnish me with the necessary directions to find you in the “Canebrake” – such as when to leave the cars &c &c

A delightful rain is falling now cooling the air & laying the dust – How welcome it is! for the heat has been intense & the dust [missing] most suffocating during these past ten days – Oh! my love, I have been so joyous & happy all day in the possession of your dear, dear letter – With what tenderness I regard each word traced by yr loved hand! If possible, I love you more than ever, and long for the day which is to

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unite our hands, as, I fondly [missing], our hearts are already united – I am going to Mobile soon & shall comply with your request about the picture – My letters to yr Mother were only little friendly epistles about nothing in particular, but I told her I had something serious to write to her about, but have not yet been able to approach her with the subject – When I see you I will tell you what it is, [missing] perhaps you can assist me, [missing] remind me of it, if I should forget – I received quite a complimentary letter from the Chief Commissary of Mississippi the other day, & feel right down rain about it – I didn’t know I was such a clever fellow. Goodbye my love – Ever yours

Thos K Jackson

Lucy Reavis (age 21 in 1863) was the daughter of prominent judge, Turner Reavis. She met her future husband Thomas K. Jackson while he was stationed in Gainesville AL. They married December 16, 1863. At least 30 known letters exchanged between them during the war years have survived. They had five children together. Lucy passed away in 1876 at just 33 years old. Thomas never remarried.

Thomas K. Jackson was born December 12, 1824 in SC. He entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in June 1844 and graduated with the class of 1848. He was appointed brevet 2nd lieutenant of the 4th U.S. Artillery, then transferred to the 5th U.S. Infantry, then the 8th U.S. Infantry. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant in 1849. He served about 7 years on the Texas-Mexico frontier with James Longstreet, until he was assigned as an instructor of infantry tactics at West Point in 1857. In 1858 he rejoined the 8th in Texas. In 1861 he resigned from the U.S. Army and was made a captain in the Confederate Army. On September 26, 1861 he was announced as Chief Commissary of the Western Department under General Johnston. He was appointed major on November 11, 1861. He was captured at Fort Donelson in February of 1862 and imprisoned at Fort Warren. He was exchanged c. May and returned to duty as depot commissary in Gainesville, AL, where he met Lucy Reavis. They courted and were married December 16, 1863. Jackson was stationed at various sites throughout the remainder of the war. He was paroled at Gainesville on May 13, 1865 following General Richard Taylor’s surrender. He remained in Gainesville with Lucy to raise their family and work as a merchant and farmer.

Letter – Lucy Reavis, 3 September 1863


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Letter written by Lucy Reavis to her fiancĂ©, Major Thomas K. Jackson, C.S.A., from Norwood, AL. Reavis mentions that it took some time for Jackson’s last letter to reach her, possibly due to the 12-year-old postmaster at Fannsdale. She requests a photograph of Jackson, and recites a fantastically bad pun from her travels. Several generals are in town, including Hardee, Breckenridge, and Pemberton, whose name “was never mentioned without execrations.” She mentions seeing the defenses at Demopolis, the death and burial of a family friend, as well as her time at church. Though she has met several young men and soldiers, she promises that she will remain faithful to Jackson.

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No 5

Norwood September 3d/63

I was so glad my dear Major, to hear from you, yesterday, that I must answer your letter immediately – It is strange that it should have taken so long to some, only a few miles – But the fault may have been with the post Master at Fannsdale, who is a little boy of 12 years of age I believe – It has been so long since I left home, that I have forgotten many things I had to say to you – but must try to remember – Tuesday morning was very cool, even disagreeably so, but it was much better both for us and the ponies, we stopped at Mrs Gould’s to dinner as we intended and passed a couple of hours very pleasantly, although both Captain G- and one of his little daughters were quite sick – Mrs Goodey looked so sad. I wonder if she did love that old man – He left a very peculiar will – Altho’ so immensely rich, he left his wife only $50000 in money & six servants. To his adopted

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Son, $40000 & six servants – and all of his property besides, which amount to two or three hundred thousand, to be given to an asylum in South Carolina, provided no minister is allowed to have any thing to do with the institution – Isn’t that too bad? He was a Unitarian – Poor fellows! About Sun. set, we reached the place which so surprises all visitors & were cordially received by Misses Innes & Butler – And now I must tell you that I was exceedingly disappointed in the beauty of the former – Uncle John said she was a model, a perfect Venus – and you were scarcely less warm thought her features so regular & delicate. She has a very ugly mouth I think & can not compare in beauty to Kate but I admire her character more. I think she is lovely – There were three Missourians there, from the Camp at Demopolis, and it was beautiful to see, how she addressed herself to them, trying to put them at their ease, and make them forget that they were strangers – Then too she is more anxious to do something for all of her guests than Kate & Butler – In fact she is sweet as can be, and

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I admire her very much, but like Kate the best, She is so good tempered, & full of fun & mischief – I saw more of her too – We were in the same room, all the time & talked until 12 every night – Whenever I was still a moment, she would say in the most comforting, soothing way – “Don’t you be blue, the Major is well” – She wanted me to tell her all about our affairs & asked me if she might not be one of the Attendants One thing I did not like; I heard her asking Mr Dobb, if we were not engaged & when we were to marry – He told her it was certainly to be, tho’ no day or special time had been appointed – He is very wise, Isn’t he? Capt: Carpenter was there the night we arrived, looked very well & natural, raved about you just as usual – said he should write you the following day – He is still devoted to you & says although he is so nicely fixed, he would gladly resign to be the least of your clerks. He says, he is not in love with Rosa Lightfoot, but the Thorntons say he is – I asked Kate if she thought he would be successful, she said no – but that he would not be rejected, while we was such a convenience-

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They are constantly receiving articles from their home at Pass Christian & Capt: C – being at D- receives & forwards them – I sang for Butler & then she sang for me – I was delighted with her voice – The upper notes are splendid, and if she practiced a good-deal, the lower would harmonize – As it is – her voice is like two persons singing, in one part so low & even feeble & in the other so powerful & melodious – She plays beautifully – She expressed her delight at my delightful & beautifully cultivated voice – If I had her voice, I know, I would sing divinely – But it matters little – You do not care much for music – and I do not care a great deal about pleasing any one else – You have no idea of how frequently my thoughts are with you and how truly I long to do something for your pleasure – Do tell me, is there nothing I can do? It would make me so happy – You will not be surprised to hear that we remained at Col: Thorntons until Thursday morning – I did not see a great deal of Mrs T- she was with her little sick grand child – but the Colonel is such a fine old man. We talked about our relatives & he thinks we are certainly

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cousins. Kate calls me nothing but “little Pet.” she is very curious to see you & wanted to know, if I had your picture. The next time you go to Mobile, do have it taken for me – Mr Dobb read “Tannhauser” to me as we rode along – It is beautiful – I must read it again for myself – He was as witty as usual during our ride – As we looked around and saw nothing but corn fields, east & west – he remarked – “Verily, this is a Corn-federacy” I was so amused at Mr Bradshaw – After you all left, Mrs D. asked Uncle John to give us a passport. He said – “Just write Mr Dobb & Lady”- But I said “No such thing, put Miss L. Reavis & Attendant” – Mr B- thought it was too good, went off down the street chuckling & shaking –

We took dinner at Mrs Pool’s Thursday – she was not at home, but we had a pleasant time with her sister. The streets were crowded with soldiers & officers – There were several Generals in town also. Pemberton, Hardee, Breckenridge & one or two from Mobile. Mrs Hayden told us that the former’s name was never mentioned without execrations. I hear that his men are to be organized at Enterprise – You will have a full

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benefit. We saw the defenses at Demopolis – The only thing of the kind I ever saw – They were busy at work on them as we passed – What do you think of my stupidity? When we got to the road leading here, I forgot to tell George & never thought of it, until we were several miles out of our road. Then we had to go into highways & by ways & did not get to the house until nearly 11 at night – We rung the bell, but no one heard us, so I came to the back gallery & knocked at Mar Lou’s door – as it happened Mr Mine was not at home – and the girls were terribly frightened Liz says, “Is that you Lucy” & I replied “Yes, it is Lucy Reavis”- But although they knew my voice, they feared some one was deceiving them & would not let me in for some moments – But we were delighted to meet. Of course, they are much quieter & less cheerful than formerly, but we have a very nice time together – Kittie Christian is as lively and funny as ever – I have not seen her before since I left schoo – Mar Lou is the same sweet girl – I know you must like her, when you know her – If you do not, I shall be so put out – She says if you come for me, she will be glad

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to see you, but that am to stay a long time – I expect I shall go home the latter part of next week, or the first of the week after – Do you think it will be perfectly convenient for you to come? – & do you think it will be pleasant for you? I do not wish to give you any trouble & perhaps some one will come from home – The girls are as busy as can be, making up black dresses & Mrs Minge is dying some. She looks so sad seldom smiles – but of course, she can not feel cheerful yet when George has not been dead three weeks – They carry wreaths & bouquets to his grave twice a week – He is buried in the church yard – where they are obliged to see his grave whenever they go to church – I like it so much. We feel serious & more humble, after passing among graves & we are better prepared to confess our sins before God – Mr Dobb preached & pleased the congregation very much –

I met such a nice gentleman the other day. Colonel Saunders of Pemberton’s Staff – There are few young men in the neighborhood & no possible hope of Maj Adam’s return, so be at ease & know that my heart will not go astray. I do not

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mean to mention that it would under any circumstances, for no one can compare with you in any respect I think – Mar Lou says her cousin Carter is as much in love with me as ever, but even if it is true, it gives me no pleasure – I am very much obliged to your sister for her kind messages – give my best love to her when you write & say that I deserve no thanks or credit for “taking compassion” on you, for my love was involuntary – I could not keep it, moreover any girl ought to feel proud of loving & being beloved by such a man – Don’t you agree with me? Say yes. I do hope your Sister will like me – for I love every body that is dear to you – I am so sorry Willie is going in the army. A mother must suffer, when she gives up her only child – It was right funny that you should dream of me with my hair cut off, for Mar Lou & I are tlaking very seriously of shaving our heads – Wouldn’t it be nice? Then next Summer we would have such nice little short curls – I have not heard from home yet, but will write this morning. I expect Ma has returned by this time – What did you write to Ma about? You & she have entirely too much to say to each other – I know

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Uncle John will be delighted to be with you – What sensible person would not? I told [Jennie?] Thornton of the admiration she had excited in G- (Uncle John you remember) She was crazy to know who it was & said she should make him a tobacco pouch & knit him some socks when he joined the army – she said it must be a widower, that they frequently took a fancy to her & declared her the image of a poor dear, dead wife – I assured her the gentleman in question admired her for herself alone – I have written a long letter, but am convinced you will not be displeased – Do write to me soon, dear Major, for if you wait very long, it will not arrive before my departure – I dont know what to number my letter, but as yours is No 5. I reckon mine is also – I am so warm, I dont know what to do – have no idea what I have written – Goodbye my dear, dear Major –


L. Reavis

Lucy Reavis (age 21 in 1863) was the daughter of prominent judge, Turner Reavis. She met her future husband Thomas K. Jackson while he was stationed in Gainesville AL. They married December 16, 1863. At least 30 known letters exchanged between them during the war years have survived. They had five children together. Lucy passed away in 1876 at just 33 years old. Thomas never remarried.

Thomas K. Jackson was born December 12, 1824 in SC. He entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in June 1844 and graduated with the class of 1848. He was appointed brevet 2nd lieutenant of the 4th U.S. Artillery, then transferred to the 5th U.S. Infantry, then the 8th U.S. Infantry. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant in 1849. He served about 7 years on the Texas-Mexico frontier with James Longstreet, until he was assigned as an instructor of infantry tactics at West Point in 1857. In 1858 he rejoined the 8th in Texas. In 1861 he resigned from the U.S. Army and was made a captain in the Confederate Army. On September 26, 1861 he was announced as Chief Commissary of the Western Department under General Johnston. He was appointed major on November 11, 1861. He was captured at Fort Donelson in February of 1862 and imprisoned at Fort Warren. He was exchanged c. May and returned to duty as depot commissary in Gainesville, AL, where he met Lucy Reavis. They courted and were married December 16, 1863. Jackson was stationed at various sites throughout the remainder of the war. He was paroled at Gainesville on May 13, 1865 following General Richard Taylor’s surrender. He remained in Gainesville with Lucy to raise their family and work as a merchant and farmer.

Letter – George Tallman, 30 September 1862


Letter written by Sergeant George W. Tallman of Company E, 20th IA Infantry, to his father-in-law, from Camp near Springfield, MO. Tallman thinks that this may be his last chance to write a letter, as he is about to go into a hard fight (Battle of Prairie Grove, AR). They are advancing towards Confederate forces under the command of Major General Thomas C. Hindman. Tallman’s brigade is in the reserve, and therefore may not be needed, but he feels it is best to be prepared for the worst. He gives his father-in-law instructions on the welfare of his wife and child in case he is killed in the battle.

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Father Carhart

Camp “Via” 12 miles South

of Springfield Mo.

Tuesday, Sept 30th 1862

Dear friends at Home,

Feeling somewhat in the spirit of letter-writing, I propose to improve this, perhaps, the last, opportunity of writing to you, in penning a “little letter” to each. This I will inscribe to Mr. Carhart.

Sir: The events of war are crowding fast, one upon another The vast army (not so vast when compared with our eastern armies, but vast in itself) which has for months been concentrating at Springfield, near the place of present writing, is again on the move. Thirty thousand troops (according to report) of which our brigade is a part, are on their

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way to meet the rebel forces under Hindman. The expectation is that we shall have a hard fight, providing that the “secesh” have any “fight” in them. Hindman has about thirty or forty thousand men; but under what discipline & efficiency is unknown. We shall meet him with almost equal forces – more or less discipline & with unbroken spirits. The word goes round “hurrah for a fight!” We are “all agreed” on that, tho, on but little else. We have taken up the line of march from Springfield for the scene of conflict. We shall probably meet the enemy near Mount Vernon 30 miles distant. Our brigade is on the reserve and our participancy in the battle will depend upon the firceness of the battle, or rather tha

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of the onset. Should the results of the first “go in” be successful to our side, the reserve will not be needed; – but whatever may be the issue, it is best to be prepared for the worse. With the many who must “go down” in the blast of battle, I may be numbered, & I desire in this to arange some little matters which ought to be in better shape in case I should be killed.

You know with what means & in what condition I leave my wife. The money in your hands I would have her use as she sees fit; but would suggest, nay request, that it be put in such a shape, that should she not need it herself, it be accumulating, & made available for the education of our child.

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Should Susan not object, I would leave the whole matter in your hands, believing you to be an honorable christian gentleman, who would shrink from doing injustice to the dead or the living. Again, while you shall be pleased to permit Susan to make her home with you &, she should choose to do so, I implore you to study her spirit, & not treat her harshly, for I know she means right in every act. With many thanks for your past kindness both to me & to Susan, and a thousand wishes of success to you in temporal, & especially in spiritual things, I, with much respect, subscribe myself, your son-(in law) and friend & brother in the blessed Gospel of our Savior in truth.

Geo W. Tallman

George W. Tallman, of Hickory Grove, IA, enlisted in Company E of the 20th Iowa Infantry on August 7, 1862 as 4th sergeant. He was 24 years old. He was promoted to 3rd sergeant September 10, 1862, and 2nd sergeant December 25, 1862. On December 4, 1863 he was discharged to accept a promotion as a 1st lieutenant in Company I, 73rd U.S. Colored Troops. He served with this unit in Louisiana during the remainder of the war.

Letter – W.H. Mann, 1 September 1861


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Letter written by civilian W. H. Mann of Athol, Massachusetts, to Joseph W. Luce of Charlotte Center, NY. Mann writes that farming is usually be a successful venture, but business is at a stand-still due to the war. Unemployment rates are high, and wages are low. He mentions that support for the Union is high. He has heard a rumor that the Confederates were advancing to Washington D.C., and mentions thousands of troops coming up the Potomac and from Manassas Junction. In a later section dated September 3rd, Mann writes about two Confederate forts that were captured in North Carolina. He thinks that the U.S. Government will ultimately prevail, as “the South was the first aggressor.”

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Sept 1st 1861

Friend Joseph,

I once before got pen and paper in order to answer your letter but for some reason got called away and have let it go untill now

You enquire about writing wheather it would be a successful business here now or rather the ensuing winter At any other time I think there would be a fair prospect but business at this time is very near at a a stand still The war has knocked every thing wrong end fore-most at present This vicinity is more of a manufacturing than farming country and consequently is more affected Thousands of people are out of employment and wages are less than 1/2 as high as they were 2 or 3 years ago There is very little except strong union feeling in this neighborhood over sixty able bodied men have gone from Athol to the aid of their country money is shelled out like water Here as in most places north

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all parties go in for the union News came last night that the rebels are going were advancing on Washington and that a great battle was at hand it may be so & may not 180000 were coming up the Potomac & 120000 coming by land from Manassas Junction

Sept 3d evening

you probable get the war news as soon as we so I will turn to other subjects the latest I have heard was the capture of 2 new secession forts in N Carolina by a fleet of ours

I hope this rebelion will be put down in a manner that it will stay down a spell It is going to be a hard struggle but with good management I think the right side will conquer (i.e.) the U.S. Government Evry man of reason will can see that the South were the first egressors Any government that is a government ought to try to sustain its self but enough about the war.

We have not heard from Uncle H for a long time and should really like to

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Hay came in very good this season all crops look well wheat not so good as last year We have had some warm weather but the season has been cool generaly I have built a house & barn such as they are within a little over a year

I have got a yok of stags 3 cows 2 calves 2 old hogs & 4 pigs and over 30 fowls I hardly know wheather I am doing well or not the times are so hard but I am in hopes they will soften before long

Beef is selling here for $5 per cut to average it Pork 3 cts corn southern & western 60 per bush (lowest ever known) meal has been $1.15 per cwt in Athol

Tell all to write and I will try and be more prompt in future I write so little I do not feel much like writing

Give my best respects to all and tell them a line would be very acceptable and I hope more promptly replyed to

JW Luce Yours truly W H Mann

Letter – Anonymous, 16 September 1871


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Letter associated with the papers of Sgt. Joh W. Wiggins, Company F, 39th NC Infantry, who was mortally wounded at Chickamauga, GA. Letter is written by an unknown author and addressed to “Eva,” from Blairsville, GA. The writer expresses his feelings for Eva, mentioning that while he received two letters and a “love baskit” from a Miss Jennie in Asheville, NC, that his feelings are for her. He defends himself against rumors “told by some vile Tongue” and implores her to answer “that question” in her return letter.

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Blaresville, GA

Sept 16th 1871

Dear Eva,

I have been passing the time pleasantly for the last two days at the camp meeting, but to day I am at home writing to you which is the greatest pleasure I can have, and I hope it will be answered, with the same interest, one word from you will be a great pleasure to me. When I came home I found two letters from Miss Jennie, she sent with one of the pritiest little love baskits you ever saw she said she made it with her own hands for me. she says I must hury and come home to Asheville for she wants to come to Georga She is trying to get her father to go to the west says I must go to. but I will not go til I loose all hopes of the only one I love and that is Miss Eva. Uncle says Miss Jennie [missing] is the pretiest lady she saw in Asheville [missing] She is worthy of any gentlemans [missing] I ca not love her as long [missing]

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you and your sweet company. believe me I am not jokeing.

Miss Eva the last words you said to me was be honest with you Oh that I would prove to you I am the same and unchageable I would suffer torture rather than flatter or deceive you. I have never told you any thing but truth and I never will. you will se[e] all the reports on me is demonstrably falce [false] and told by some vile tung [tounge] to injure me, and I have too much confidence in you to think you will believe them a gain

Miss Eva I have an intrust in your well fare, and I hope I can show it some day by makeing you happy. you are two nice a lady to be the survant man you should enjoy the pleasure of this world as you are worthy [of] it pleasurse, you said you probly would answer that question be fore my school was out please answer by the return mail and I will be pleased to hear the good news I will come after you [missing] bring you to Georga [missing] come and stay in Georga [missing] and I will take you home [missing] for ever enjoy your sweet company [missing]

the same and [missing]

Letter – Nathaniel Slaughter, 12 September 1865


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Letter written by Captain Nathaniel M. E. Slaughter of Company F, 39th NC Infantry, to Amanda Wiggins (sister of his deceased Sgt. John W. Wiggins), from Cherokee, NC. In this letter, Slaughter declares his love for Amanda, and urges her not to laugh, for he is serious. He writes that although they see each other often, he has chosen to communicate his feelings in a letter because he is a “timid man” and could not properly express his sentiments verbally. He writes that that though he is inferior to her in every way, he hopes that she might love him in return and accept his proposal of marriage. (Spoiler alert: she accepts!)

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Cherok N.C. Sept 12th 1865

Dear Manda,

I hope you will pardon me for this method of communication. I have no doubt you will think it strange why I should take this means of communicating when I see you so often.

Well! I can assign for one reason that – I am a very timid man, and have but a poor “nack” of telling verbally what I wish to be known, hence this communication. Since out last private conversation I have thought much upon the subject then spoken of. My mind has been much occupied with rememberances of the past, and what will likely be my destiny in reference to the subject which I submitted to your consideration. I feel much interested in the matter, and hope you have given the matter a calm and candid consideration and have decided in my favor. If I knew such was the case I would be happy. Manda to make a short story of a long one I have learned to love you. Dont be startled, dont laugh! I am in earnest, and I am in my right mind. If I only knew that the favor was reciprocal and mutual I should be much rejoiced. My dear friend, I have no inducement to offer but an honest heart, and the affections that spring therefrom. You are well acquainted with my character, my pecuniary affairs (as you well know) are quite limited, my moral character is anything but an enviable one and my mental acquirements are but weak. My object in writing you, is to bring, forcibly, to your mind the matter of a reciprocated affection, and what course you will will pursue in refference to the case, of union for life with one so far your inferior. My dear friend, I admit this is a grave question and

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one which carries with a great deal of meaning when viewed in a proper manner. If it was a criminal offense to ask a young lady for her heart and hand, you might have me condemned before the court of conscience, but in this matter, I think I have violated no law, neither human nor divine.

Right here let me remind you, that much of my future destiny for weal or woe depends upon the action you take in the premises. If it shall accord with your feeling and notions of economy to accept my proposition as heretofore submitted, I shall be happy in that respect, on the other hand you shall decide against me, I cannot say I will be miserable, yet I shall feel much disappointed, at having lost so valuable a prize.

My Dear friend. Let me remind you that no overtures of mine, nor sympathies for me should influence you in my favor. your actions should be from pure motives. Economy should be well studied. your own interest should be thought of seriously and not mine, It is the duty of every young lady to study their own interest in matters of this Caste, and not be influenced by sophistry used by their friends to her detriment. Self preservation, and self interest is the first law of nature, and we should cling to it very tenaciously even if it does wound our friends if duty demands our actions for our own honest interest. And right here let me remark, my dear friend, that if upon a candid consideration upon the subject, and a fair examination into the circumstances connected with the case, you disdain my suit and cast me off, I shall not have the least hard thought against you, and I am glad that I am that liberal in my heart I shall never as[k] you why you did it

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but still entertain for you that high admiration which I have long had for you. Think you not that I am so unfeeling as to have envy against one who would not comply with my wishes. [???] I shall be much disappointed. I have spun out this letter far beyond what I anticipated when I began to write, but just bear with me a little further, and shall hear the signal of the whole matter. I love you and I cant help it. I much desire that the favor could be returned and that circumstances may so turn out that there may be no hindrances to our union for life. What say ye. Be calm, dont get out of humor I am all “right” and hope you are the same. I know you will think me a strange specimen of human nature, well I have curious notions some times.

Manda my dear friend If I have committed an error in this matter and toped your patience to an extreme, do for pitties sake forgive me.

After I hand you this letter I will give you time to study its contents and then I shall be to see you on the subject of which it treats from what I learn I am rather afraid to come to your house much upon a courting expedition.

Now Manda, If this does not meet your aprobation for goodness sakes dont be mad with me just impute it to an error of the head and not of the for I would not intrude upon your generosity for nothing conceivable.

I will ask you again to forgive this long Epistle be sure and read it all through if you can I write in a hurry and have taken no pain in my chirography. There is no sacrifice [???] I would not make for your sake, and be assured, that in

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all your calamities you have my heart felt sympathies Manda I have one favor now to ask of you And that is this. This letter is intended for no eye but your own, and ask of you that it neither be shown or spoken of to any person living. you may if you please when you examine its contents commend it to the flames or lay it away where no eye will see it but your own this request I hope you will grant me. I will close by saying I have the honor to subscribe myself your devoted friend S.

Nathaniel Mateson Eddington Slaughter, was born c. July 1830 in TN. He was educated at Maryville College and became a teacher before moving to Robbinsville, N.C. He enrolled in Company F of the 39th NC Infantry as a private, ca. Feb. 1862, but was soon commissioned and rose to the rank of captain. He survived the war, and returned to Cherokee, NC, where in 1865 he married Amanda Wiggins (the sister of his deceased Sgt. John W. Wiggins). The couple had five children, three daughters and two sons, prior to his death at age 77, June 26, 1908. Amanda survived her husband by eleven years, dying April 18, 1919.

Letter – John Brown, 24 September 1863


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Letter of Private John S. Brown of Company F, 39th NC Infantry (illiterate), written for him by Private Samuel W. Cooper of Company K, 39th NC Infantry, to the family of Sergeant John Wiggins. The letter is sent from Ringold, GA, and while dated the 14th, this is likely a mistake as official records mark that he was wounded on the 19th at Chickamauga. It informs them of his death after being wounded on September 19th, 1863, at Chickamauga, TN. Wiggins was shot in the thigh and brought to a hospital, where he died on September 21st. Sergeant Wiggins’ brother, Joseph, was with him when he died, and had him buried. Brown writes favorably of Sergeant Wiggins, and mentions that he was a good soldier and well-liked in the regiment.

Ringold Ga Sept 14th 1863

Asteemed [Esteemed] friends it is with sorrow that I right [write] at the present from the fact that I have sad news to wright your son & bro is Dead he was shot Saturday in the first charge, he was shot in the Thigh & the ball Broke his thigh & he was caried to the hospital where he remained till Monday he Died a monday Evening & he ast me to wright home & tell you [???] that he was wounded. John’s Bro, Jo. came to him before he Died & he stayed with him untill he died & he had him Buried there was is one consolation to wright that is he was a good soldier & fought & died for the good of his country & all of the Boys in the Regt Like Sargt Wigeons he all ways done his duty & acted like a gentelman & was good to all of the Boys I recking I had better bring this letter to a close so no mor your friend John, Brown,

written by S.W. Cooper

John W. Wiggins, age 19, from Cherokee County, NC, enlisted in Company F, of the 39th NC Infantry, circa February 23, 1862. He is listed as a sergeant as of November 25, 1862, and was wounded at Stones River on December 31, 1862, but returned to duty the next day. He was promoted to 1st Sergeant of Company F on March 1, 1863. He was fatally wounded at Chickamauga on September 19, 1863, and died in the hospital on September 21st. He was twice reported on the Confederate Honor Roll for valiant service, at Stones River and Chickamauga.

Letter – George Davis, 28 September 1862


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Letter written by Private George W. Davis of Company E, 15th MA Infantry, to his uncle, from Harper’s Ferry, VA. Davis writes that he is getting “as fat as a hog” in camp. Davis describes being in the battle at Antietam, and a slight wound he received on his hip that has since healed. He mentions the casualties suffered at Antietam on both sides. He writes that “the Rebs fight like devils,” and that war isn’t as “funny” as he previously thought. He inquires about men enlisting back home in Hardwick, MA. Davis also describes the land of “Old Virginia,” before asking about the current state of friends back home.

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Harpers Ferry Sept 28th ’62

Dear Uncle as I promised to write to you I now take the oppertunity to do so I am well and having a good time and getting fat as a hog we are encamped near the Ferry now we have had hard times and hard marches and one hard Battle I was in it I got a slight wound on the hip but that is all well now you had ought to seen the Rebels that were killed we lost a great many men the 15th was cut up very bad the Rebs Fight like Devils but we are driving them I will bet I shall be glad when I get

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out of this I tell you war is not so funny as I thought it was before I come out here we dont know when we are going move nor what we are going to do till we have the order to march and then we dont know where we are going till we get there is there any more enlisting there does [Louee?] or Joshua think of enlisting yet I wish you could come out here in old Virginia and see the Country you can travel miles and miles and not see a house nor a fence nor a Cultivated Field and I have not seen a real good looking Girl since I left old Massachusetts how does Miss Carrie A Taylor get along now a days

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how does that boy of old Butlers get along does he grow any Can he walk yet I saw Joel and Silas and the rest of the Hubbardston boys at Cambridge and at New York they were in good spirits when I see them last have you heard from them since they left well I cant think of any more to write now you must excuse me for not writing before for I have not had time nor place to write please write as soon as you get this for I want to hear from you verry much have you heard any thing from mother lately write soon your truly

George W Davis

George W. Davis was an 18 year-old farmer from Hardwick, MA. He enlisted as a private in Company E, of the 15th MA Infantry on August 5, 1862. He was wounded on September 17, 1862 at Antietam. He was mustered out on July 28, 1864 at Worchester, MA.

Letter – Penbrook, 3 September 1864


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Letter written by Private Penbrook of Trenton, NJ, serving in Company G, 2nd Battalion, 18th U. S. Infantry, to his motherfrom a camp near Jonesboro, GA. Penbrook is writing to let her know that he is alive and well with his regiment in GA. He describes “one of the greatest charges of this whole campaign,” referencing the Battle of Jonesboro. Though he was in the Confederates’ works twice, Penbrook was forced to fall back each time lest he be captured. Penbrook writes that the Confederates were well-fortified, though could not hold back the 14th Army Corps. He mentions seeing a few friends and family members recently, and writes that the campaign may end soon. He wants to come home, but not as a dead soldier like so many of his comrades, neither does he want to be taken prisoner by the “infernal Rebs.”

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Camp near Jonesboro Ga,

September 3rd 1864

Dear Mother

It is with the greatest of pleasure that I take my pencil in hand to scratch off a few lines to you to let you know I am still alive, well and harty. I received your kind and welcome letter of the 20th a few days ago and was happy to hear from you. I am with my regiment now I came here the last of Aug. just in time to be in one of the greatest charges in this whole Campain my Regiment lost killed wounded and missing only 95. our Brigade charged twice and was drove back both times. I was in the rebs

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works twice myself and was obliged to fall back both times or be taken prisoner we had an open field to Charge a crosst about 40 rods wide and about a mile long. the enemy was well fortified but not well enough to hold back the 14th army corps our corpse took over 600 prisoners the 4th A.C. tooka great meny also I saw Pete Swick the other day he was over to see me he is well. Uncle Elie I have not seen him since I wrote to you last I saw his Reg yesterday, but he was not there he was sun-struck the day before. there is great talk of this Campain a comming to a close before long. you said something about all of the rest comming home but me Well for my part I dont want to come home as hank and Bill Atkinson did. to be sure bill is all right but for my part I dont want to ever fall in the hands of them infernal rebs. I had rather stay my time out with comming home. than to get out all up as a good meny I saw day before yesterday. I cannot tell you half as much as I want to tell but if I ever get back I can tell all so I will close for this time you must not look for a letter from me when I can write I will do so so good by

from your son


Co. G, 2nd Batt

18th Inft USA

2nd Brig 1st Division

14th Army Corps