I assume this letter was written by J. Lewis Pierson of Co. C, 39th New Jersey. It seems clear from the letter that he served with William Britton Durie (1840-1916) who was in that company and regiment in May 1865 when this letter was written.
The author wrote the letter to Mary Emma Durie (1846-1927), the daughter of Samuel Durie (1814-1901) and Nancy Maxwell (1817-1891) of New Providence, Union County, New Jersey. Emma’s brother, William Brittin Durie (1840-1916) was in Co. C, 39th New Jersey during 1864 and 1865. The 39th New Jersey manned the breastworks at City Point, Va., October, 1864, then moved to Poplar Grove Church. Battle of Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher’s Run, Va., October 27-28, 1864. Siege of Petersburg till April 2, 1865. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 2, 1865. Assault on and capture of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. Moved to City Point, thence to Washington and Alexandria April 20-27. Grand Review May 23. Mustered out June 17, 1865.
The 39th New Jersey Infantry was attached to the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps.
Addressed to Miss M. E. Durie, New Providence, N. J.
Postmarked Alexandria, Virginia
Headquarters Second Div. Ninth Army Corps
Office Assistant Commissary of Musters
Near Alexandria, Va.
May 11th 1865
Your note of the 4th instant duly received on the 8th and I thank you for the prompt response my last met with.
Your letter has not been answered before for this reason — excuse me if I speak plainly — I have waited in order to think what kind of a letter I should write in reply. The first time I perused that letter, I thought you had tired of the correspondence and wrote as cooly as you did to give me the hint — and then again I thought the reports of Miss M. E. Condic’s had lessened your friendship for me — that you would sooner believe the statements of one of your own sex than the mere appearance of one of the opposite sex, and had I given your letter an immediate reply, it would have displeased you. But now that I have taken a “sober second thought” (I was not intoxicated when your letter reached me) I hope I was mistaken. At least I will write as if I was and if you are displeased with me and wish to end the correspondence, please say so plainly for I endeavor to treat everyone candidly and hope to secure the same treatment from them.
If the ladies of the North consider it a pleasure to receive letters from the soldiers, they in return consider it both a pleasure and an honor to correspond with the fair damsels of the North.
I too hope it may prove time that we may soon retire to the society of the loved ones at home. One regiment in our Division has received a sixty days furlough and will soon leave for home. We all feel that if our work is done we should be at liberty and if it is not, it should be completed now. I would give one hundred dollars in gold to be at home for one hundred hours — but am not homesick.
I should like to see that “fashion of your own” you are going to establish in reference to your bonnet. You must be exceedingly independent to transgress the rules of society.
No, Emma, I have not forgotten that promise to send you one of my cards [CDVs] and will fulfill it just as soon as possible. As yet, those I ordered in Newark have not arrived but I will have some taken in Washington just as soon as possible and you shall receive a good one. And while speaking of promises, allow me to remind you that promised me a longer letter next time.
I sincerely pity your brother Britten. They are just killing him at these headquarters. If you will believe me, they make him do two hours duty out of every twenty-four and both he and I are getting most outrageously lazy.
Today the sun shines for the first time this week and I reckon it is a welcome visitor.
Does William give you any description of Alexandria and its inhabitants? If his ideas coincide with mind, he will pronounce the whole set a disgusting spectacle. I am disgusted with the whole Southern people and wish we could establish a protective tariff by making a wall in the Atlantic Ocean by piling them up in it. Now is not that a barbarous idea?
I cannot write more and if you knew the circumstances under which this has been written, you [would] excuse all errors and insufficiencies.
Please let me hear from you very soon and tell me just what you think of this letter.
This letter was written by Corp. Rufus Greenleaf Norris (1839-1873) who mustered into Co. B, 11th Connecticut Infantry, on 24 October 1861, and was discharged from the service on 7 November 1862 at David’s Island in New York. Rufus was the son of Greenleaf Rufus Norris (1796-1840) and Lucinda Lane (1811-1899) of Epping, Rockingham County, New Hampshire.
Rufus wrote the letter to his brother, Albert Lane Norris (1839-1919) — a physician in Boston. Albert received his medical degree from Harvard in 1860. Norris later served as an assistant surgeon with the 114th USCT.
Addressed to Albert L. Norris, Esq., 94 Hanover Street, Boston, Mass.
Newbern, North Carolina
May 1st 1862
I wrote you on the 22nd of April and sent you a box by Adams & Co. Express. Presume you have received them ‘ere this. Pay the Express with my money as I could not pay it here. I did not leave the hospital until the 29th. Came up on the Steamer General Burnside. Arrived here last night. Am gaining strength every day but am not fit for duty yet &c.
Am glad to get into camp again. It is much pleasanter here than at Hatteras. It seems quite like summer today. Find there have been some changes in Company B. Capt. [Timothy D.] Johnson and Lieut. [William] Horton have resigned and gone home. Lieutenant Samuel G. Bailey (of Co. A) is our captain, Lieut. [Joseph H.] Converse is First Lieut., Orderly Sergt. [George A.] Fisher is Second Lieut., Sergeant Charles Warren is Orderly Sergeant. One of our number was killed in the Battle of Newbern, two wounded, and since then, three have been taken prisoners. Find the men in excellent health and spirits. There is but one man in the hospital now &c.
Have not received your box yet. Doctor [Charles H.] Rogers says he will send it to me from Hatteras when it gets there. We expect a mail tomorrow when I shall expect a letter from you &c.
Thursday evening. Your letter of the 21st inst. is duly received and as I understand the mail is to leave early in the morning, I hasten to reply. I have received only three of your letters. Sergt. [Charles] Warren says Capt. [Timothy] Johnson took one of them with him on his way home intending to call and see me, but he did not call so I suppose he took it home with him. Please send me that letter of seven pages written on your return from Epping. It is now roll call. Good night.
These letters were written by Corp. Henry Dana Parmenter (1834-1907) who enlisted on 17 September 1862 in Co. F, 45th Massachusetts Infantry. Henry was the son of Jonathan Dana Parmenter (1794-1865) and Lois Maynard Damon (18xx-1874) of Wayland, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Henry and his brother Maynard (1831-1921) were cattle farmers; neither of them ever married. Together they amassed a considerable fortune after the war by investing in cotton mills.
The 45th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil., or Cadet Regiment, was one of the new militia regiments raised in response to the call of Aug. 4, 1862, for nine months troops. It received the title by which it was commonly known because of the fact that over forty of the commissioned officers of the regiment were former members of the Boston Cadets. Its commander, Col. Charles R. Codman, had served as Captain and Adjutant of the Boston Cadets during their period of service at Fort Warren in the early summer of 1862. Organized at Camp Meigs, Readville, in the early fall of 1862, the first eight companies of the 45th were mustered in on the 26th day of September, and the other two, “I” and “K”, on the 7th of October.
On Nov. 5, the regiment embarked on the steamer Mississippi for Beaufort, N. C., arriving at its destination on the 15th. Transported by rail to Newbern, it was here assigned to Amory’s Brigade of Foster’s Division. The regimental Camp was established on the banks of the Trent River near Fort Gaston. Here the 45th remained, following the regular routine of camp life, until Dec. 12, when it set out with Genl. Foster’s expedition to Goldsboro. Only eight companies took part in this expedition, Co. “C” having been sent on special duty to Morehead City, and Co. ” G ” to Fort Macon.
At Kinston, Dec. 14, the regiment had its first taste of real wax, losing 15 men killed and 43 wounded. At Whitehall, Dec. 16, it was again engaged, losing 4 killed and 16 wounded. At Goldsboro on the 17th the 45th was not in action, and on the following day it began its return march to Newbern, arriving at its former camp Dec. 21.
On January 17, 1863, the 45th started on a reconnaissance to Trenton, returning on the 22d. From Jany. 26 to April 26 it served as provost guard in the city of Newbern. During this period, on March 14, occurred the Confederate attack on Newbern, of which the 45th was an interested spectator but was not called into action.
On April 27 it started with Amory’s Brigade on an expedition to Cove Creek on the railroad toward Goldsboro. On the following day it was sharply engaged, taking a Confederate work which crowded the railroad near its intersection with the Dover Road, and losing one man killed and four wounded.
This expedition being ended, the regiment returned to its last camp, near Fort Spinola, just below Newbern, on the Trent. Here it remained until June 24, when it proceeded to Morehead City, a suburb of Beaufort, N. C., and there took transports for Boston.
Arriving at its destination June 30, the regiment was formally welcomed, then proceeded to its old camp at Readville where it remained until its muster out of the service July 8, 1863.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Camp Amory on the Trent [near Fort Gaston]
Newbern [North Carolina]
December 7th 1862
I had been waiting so long for a letter from home that I was almost discouraged — the mail had been delayed so long. I wrote my last letter home on the 28th of November & as I had written so many, I thought I would wait for an answer from one of them before sending another. Yesterday I received yours dated the 28th ult. I was glad to hear from home but had hoped for more cheering news. I am very glad that Mike is with you this winter & that [brother] Maynard is getting better. I think he was fortunate in having the biles for they probably saved him from a bad fever.
I am well — never better. The climate is delightful most of the time. It seems like spring. Last night and today have been the coldest that we have had. Water froze a little outside the buildings but the Trent River did not freeze at all. The Trent runs right beside our camp & we wash & bathe in it every morning. I wrote [sister] Louisa last and gave her an account of our Thanksgiving.
Sunday morning we had a grand inspection of everything we possess or have charge of & of our persons. The Regiment were marched out on the parade ground with knapsacks packed and equipment all on and rifle in hand and were there personally inspected. I have my clothes washed by a negro woman. She charges five cents apiece for shirts and drawers which I had rather pay than undertake to do myself.
Monday morning we were aroused at about three o’clock in the morning by the long roll being beat. We all sprung to our arms and in five minutes from the time the drum beat we were all formed in line before our barracks & ready & waiting orders. We were ordered to load our rifles which we did. The boys were all ready and anxious for a brush but were to be disappointed it proved. Our pickets are out three or four miles and are placed at five different stations. Their orders are to “Halt” everyone whom they see in the night which if they do & upon being required, give the countersign it is all right, but if they do not halt immediately at the word “Halt,” the picket is to fire at them, which fire is repeated at the next picket station nearer to the camp which fire three guns & rouses the camp. It seems the outer picket saw a stump in the dark which deceived him & caused him to fire & we were aroused. The Colonel [Charles R. Codman] sent out a messenger as soon as we were formed in line which returned in about an hour and a half during which time we were kept under orders & then allowed to return to our barracks.
Brig. General Foster is very highly pleased with our regiment. Co. C of the regiment is now at Morehead City doing garrison duty & Co. G is at Fort Macon also doing garrison duty. Co. G contains Stearns, Smith & Warren. It is said to be a mark of honor for a regiment to be divided up as this seems to be. I should like to go to some place like Fort Macon if we have got to be separated from the regiment.
I have just heard that Banks with a fleet of forty-seven vessels has just been signaled off Beaufort harbor. If that is the case, some fighting may be expected near Charleston, I reckon. An expedition is underway from here, I have heard, but our regiment has not been notified of any. We drill in Battalion drill every afternoon now — the 23rd, 43rd, 45th, & 17th Massachusetts Regiments. The drill of the 23rd & 17th is very fine but the officers say that we are improving very fast and shall soon be equal to the old regiments in drill.
I was out on picket duty last Thursday. I had charge of Post 2, distant about one mile from camp & had three men under me. My orders were to keep one of the men awake and on the alert all of the time. Carried out one of Cooper’s works & sat down under a brush shelter & read two hours & told one man he was relieved & ordered another to take his place. During the day we had a good fire & cooked our beefsteak & roasted sweet potatoes but in the night we were to keep a smothered fire. Not a Rebel has been seen at any of the picket stations since our regiment has been on picket duty. My labor on picket is very light but I have to keep awake for the whole twenty-four hours. I wish you would send me the papers now and then as often as you can economically.
I received a letter from Ellen Damon when we laid in Boston Harbor & have answered it since I have been here. Our Chaplain [Rev. Andrew Leete Stone] is liked by everyone in the camp. He is very earnest & mingles with the men easily. There is to be a Pioneer Corps sent out from Newbern. Lieut. [Samuel C.] Ellis & Sergeant [Joseph H.] Bird & Private George Haynes will leave from our company. I cannot say about its being a permanent division from the company. Haynes is Emery Haynes’ son. He goes as carpenter.
Our food in camp is better than it has been. We are allowed one loaf of soft bread a week and as much hard tack as we wish. Today [Sgt. Homer] Rogers & myself took a walk a little ways outside of the lines through the woods. All the timber used here is the fat southern pine which we use north for floorboards. The pines grow very large on the banks of the Trent River. At a farmhouse a few miles out, milk can be bought in limited quantities at twenty-five cents per quart. Not much anything happens to interrupt the monotony of life. The arrival of the mail yesterday made the boys feel happy for a time, I assure you.
Jane could have any quantity of pets in the shape of little pigs if she was here. They are all contrabands of the government — feeds hundred of men in Newbern. The roll of contrabands is called every morning & they take their food and set at work if there is anything for them to do.
Write often & give my love to all who may enquire. — Henry
Pages 1 & 4
Pages 2 & 3
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Camp Amory on the Trent
Newbern [North Carolina]
December 24, 1862
Dear [sister] Louisa,
I received yours dated 3rd inst. last Sunday immediately after my return from our late expedition I found four letter awaiting me — one from home, one from Ellen [Damon], one from Theodore B., & one from you. I have complied with your suggestion & have written to Mr. Draper an account of our late expedition. We have done nothing as yet since our return — not even drilled at all. Many are laid up with sore feet & other afflictions incident to a long hard tramp. We were successful in every point & the idea was prevalent amongst the whole of our force that there was a general movement throughout the entire army & the beautiful weather seemed so favorable that we were all in good spirits & bore the hardships of the expedition with a much better feeling than we otherwise should.
I will not write you anything about the battles as I have written a pretty full account of them which you will probably see. I got through safely & did my duty. We generally bivouacked for the night on the march on a large plantation where were large piles of sweet potatoes & droves of swine which we had perfect liberty to take for our own use. Plates, sticks, & everything you can think of were improvised for cooking utensils. If there was any honey or poultry near us, it was so much the better. Corn shucks were gathered for a bed & we piled together as thick as we could to keep warm. [Sgt. Homer] Rogers, [Corp. Arthur] Dakin, & myself usually managed to get together & cook what we had together.
Kinston is a very pretty place & looks more like a Northern town of any I have seen. Nearly all of the buildings in North Carolina are built with the chimneys outside the house but in Kinston they are not. I saw some very pretty young ladies here but could not have any conversation with them. I saw large fields of cotton not gathered as we passed along & nearly every plantation had its cotton gin.
I saw Capt. [Joseph Lewis] Stackpole [of the 24th Massachusetts] quite often during the trip riding up and down from the advance to the rear of the column. He superintended the foraging of beef & pork & our foraging party spoke highly of him. I heard him give an account of the Battle at Goldsboro at which our brigade was not drawn in. When we were scrambling through the swamp at Kinston during the fight, my blankets slipped from my shoulders unbeknown to me & were lost. After the battle, I went back with Capt. [Edward F.] Daland but could not find them, but took some others as near like them as I could.
Much as we hear about the want and misery of the rebels, I “cannot see it.” They were clothed in a light grey suit which looks shabby but is really a comfortable suit. Their arms are not equal to ours to be sure, but I think they know better how to use them. They are well shod as far as I have seen & as far as I have seen are as intelligent & fight like the very devil. Those that were taken in Kinston said that they had not been compelled to join the army & a person whose property was guarded in that place & who professed to be for the Union said that he had always spoken his sentiments & had never been molested — true or not, you have it as cheap as I.
I have stood the tramp as well as any. [Sgt. Homer] Rogers is well & desires to be remembered to you. [Corp. Arthur] Dakin is somewhat the worse for wear but is improving. Doct. [Edward P.] Bond drove a mule cart on the expedition & carried the Colonel’s baggage. Contraband flocked in upon us on our return & crowds of them came into Newbern. The boys hired many of them to carry their blankets for them. I got mine carried the last three days. [Pvt. William] Scott of Sudbury foraged a mule & took his traps & rode ahead and reached camp a day before we did. We now use him to draw wood, etc. I have not received that for which the folks sent yet but believe that all the letters & papers have got here safely.
Write often — Henry
Pages 1 & 4
Pages 2 & 3
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Camp Amory on the Trent
Newbern [North Carolina]
January 4th 1863
I received yours dated 14th December and expect another from you tomorrow as I hear that there is a mail in Newbern which will be distributed then. I am in very good health & live as well as circumstances will allow. Yesterday we were paid off up to the first of November being a little over a month’s pay. we were paid in greenbacks & they were very acceptable to many of the boys. The allotment roll which we signed at Readville is of no value for some reason & we were paid the full amount. I shall send home a little reserving a sufficient sum for my own use.
Mr. Bond (the gentleman with whom Bond — the connection of the Wrights in Wayland is in business with — has been here visiting his sons, one of whom is 1st Lieutenant & the other Orderly Sergeant in Co. B.
We are having beautiful weather now. Have hardly had a stormy day for six weeks. New Years Day was a little blustering but it is now warm again & today it seems like a warm day in November at home. There are more troops collecting at Newbern than have been ever here before & another expedition is supposed to be on foot, probably to Wilmington.
You will probably have heard before receiving this of the loss of the Monitor near Hatteras. She was swamped, drawn under & sunk. The vessel towing her going too fast for her, drew her under & she sank & everything on board went under.
We seem to have nothing but reverses in Virginia & in order to counteract the effect of such news, Gen. [John G.] Foster’s success in our late expedition is blowed about until it is fairly disgusting to read the accounts. To be sure, we were successful in destroying the railroad communication at several points & beat the Rebels in every engagement, but with the exception of the battle at or near Goldsboro, our loss in killed and wounded was greater by far than theirs. Everybody here say that they make too much of a hue & cry about the [Goldsboro] Expedition.
Major [Russell] Sturgis has been up toward Kinston with a flag of truce in order to bring back the bodies of several of those killed in the engagements. He reports that the Rebels have established their pickets down to nearly the same distance from Newbern that they were previous to our going out. They would not allow the Major to go only twenty miles out from here, but allowed one man and a team to continue & get all that was wished. So much for taking Kinston & not garrisoning it & I presume if we were to go over the same ground again, we should have to fight harder than we did before.
I am glad to hear that you are so well now at home. I want you should write me all that is going on. How much milk you sell & about the cattle &c. There is not a day passes but what I think of some of you & imagine what you are about.
Our Colonel is very particular about our appearance [and] now makes us appear on guard or on dress parade with polished shoes, clean hands & faces, & well brushed & clean clothes. I have been fortunate enough to escape censure so far but many a fellow has suffered an extra amount of guard duty as a penalty. We drill now everyday & have Brigade drill every other day. We have been relieved from doing picket duty for a week past & our labors are comparatively light now.
Please to write me in your next how you make out about sending me another box. Homer [Rogers] says he wrote his folks that they had better join as they did before in sending a box together. I wish you would send me out some sauce or jelly to eat with my other food when you send. I could live well here if they would only let me go a gunning. The River Trent right close to us here is swarming with ducks all of the time & large flocks are continually flying over but not a gun will be allowed to be fired.
I hear the old Sixth Massachusetts Regiment is in Newbern & I am going down tomorrow to see the Littleton folks who are in it. Write soon & write me everything that is going on in town or vicinity. I believe I have written you once before since I received your last. I am living & enjoying myself a great deal better than I thought I should before I enlisted. Tell Jane some more of her good pies would be acceptable & tell Michael to take care of himself. — Henry
Pages 1 & 4
Pages 2 & 3
Written just days before the 45th Massachusetts participated on a reconnaissance from New Bern to Pollocksville, Trenton, Young’s Crossroads, and Onslow, January 17-21, 1863.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
Camp Amory on the Trent
Newbern [North Carolina
January 11, 1863
Dear [sister] Louis,
We are under marching orders again. We heard this afternoon of it and expected that they would be read on “Dress Parade” but for some cause they were not. This evening, however, Captain [Edward F. Daland] came in and ordered the cook to cook up three days rations tomorrow for us to take with us on Tuesday. Also ordered us to take forty rounds of ammunition in our cartridge boxes. It is said that only a small force is going with us & that we are going on the same road which we went before in order that the enemy may be mislead while the main force will move on toward Wilmington. It is also said that we are to carry three days rations in our haversacks & two days more will be carried in waggons from which we infer that we are to go as far as Trenton or Kinston.
I have written thus far this Sunday evening but I will wait until tomorrow before I mail it in order to catch any items of information to send you. I have not heard a word from home for a fortnight which is not very pleasant, I assure you.
I am well & hope to remain so. Captain [Daland] says the reason why that the orders were not read on “Dress Parade” tonight was because they were afraid that there would be too many sick tomorrow.
Tuesday evening, January 13th.
I have delayed mailing this in hopes that I might get some light on the movements here & so write you of the prospects but I am still in the dark. Our cooks are ordered to keep three days rations cooked ahead to be ready if we are called upon. We drill hard every day. A disease called the “Congestive Chills” has appeared in our regiment & has proved fatal in three cases. It is very sudden. I saw a poor fellow whose name was Wellington from Lincoln, Mass., led into the hospital the other morning & in less than twenty-four hours he died. It is prevalent in the 44th Regiment, I hear.
Young [Benjamin F.] Hoar [of Co. D] from Lincoln, son of Leonard Hoar, was in the Battle at Kinston & was lying down loading his rifle. He was laying on his side when a ball from a cannon struck him in the rump & took the skin off & mashed the flesh. It lamed him some but he kept on to Whitehall with us but he took cold & an abscess formed which makes a bad sore but he is recovering now & is quite nicely.
Today has been very pleasant & warm & seemed like a June day. Some of the officers have their wives & families here in New Berne & some young ladies we see everyday riding horseback with young sprigs of officers accompanying them. Whenever we see a young lady, we all pay her particular deference. I will write you more tomorrow.
Wednesday evening, January 14th.
This evening the Captain says that we shall probably start tomorrow at half past six, but where we are to go, we have no idea. The last letter I had from home was mailed about the twenty-fifth ult. I am afraid that “The [CSS] Alabama” has taken the mail ship. I think that our expedition is not intended for any purpose other than to draw off the attention of the enemy from the main one which is expected to leave in a few days. I think, however, that I should rather go on the main expedition than on this one. I wish that you could be here this beautiful day & witness or Brigade drills. On this large plantation covering over a thousand acres of level plain, some three or four brigades of from four to six regiments each are on drill every other day & look finely.
The last month has passed very quickly & it don’t seem possible that it is more than that time since the fight at Kinston. I think I will mail this tonight & then if we do not go tomorrow, I will write home again before we do go. I do not imagine that we shall be gone more than five days. Do write often & send me papers. [Homer] Rogers is well & [Arthur] Dakin also. — Henry
This letter was written by James Watson Staten (1824-1892) of Statenville (formerly “Statesville”), Echols County, Georgia. Staten was elected Georgia State Representative from Clinch County in April, 1850 and he served two terms. He was elected Georgia State Senator from Clinch County in 1857 and he introduced the bill creating Echols County during the 1858 session of the legislature. He was elected captain of the militia from District 1052 and was commissioned 30 May 1861. On 20 November 1861 he enlisted in Company K, 29th Georgia Volunteer Regiment, C.S.A and immediately became 1st lieutenant. After his six-month enlistment ended on 7 May 1862, he raised a company of volunteer militia and was elected its captain and was commissioned on 4 August 1863. This militia became part of the 11th Regiment of the Georgia State Guards.
Staten wrote to Maj. Archibald Thompson McIntyre (1822-1900) of Thomasville, Georgia. Archibald was a lawyer and a member of the Georgia State Legislature in 1849. He was elected to the 42nd Congress as a Democrat. During the Civil War, he served as Major (later Colonel) of the 11th Infantry of the Georgia Guards.
Addressed to Maj. A. T. McIntyre, Thomasville, Georgia
August 24th 1863
Maj. A. J. McIntyre
Yours [of] 14 August [was] received. You will accept the Echols Volunteers in your Battery. I have sent on the election returns with a list of the company but have not been mustered yet. Would like to have seen you before making out the muster roll so that my muster roll would have compared with the others of the Battery. However that may not make any difference.
Very respectfully, — J. W. Staten
Mr. Staten wrote me several days ago to which I replied to the above in answer to my reply. — A.T.M.
This letter was written by F. F. Mayo from Bonsack’s Depot on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad in Roanoke County, Virginia. The 1860 Census shows a 44 year-old book keeper named “F. F. Mayo” residing in Richmond, Virginia. He apparently worked for B. Clopton and Frederick August Hattorf, commission merchants. It is unknown if he was any relation to Joseph C. Mayo, the mayor of Richmond during the Civil War.
William Henry Baxter was born 30 March 1830 in Havana, Cuba, to Thomas Baxter and his first wife Maria Exall. William Baxter became a machinist, a businessman and a property owner in Petersburg. He eventually became superintendent of a gas works. He married Matilda Shanks (ca. 1829-1886) in July 1853, and they had at least 3 children. Baxter died 5 July 1915 in Petersburg.
The Petersburg Gas Works was located off Lombard Street just west of Lieutenant Run and was within easy range (one and half miles) of Union cannons east of Petersburg. Extensive shelling interrupted gas service in July 1864 and severely damaged most of the houses in the vicinity. The gas works was built in 1851 and was capable of delivering 100,000 feet of gas through 16.5 miles of gas pipes throughout the city.
This content of this letter centers upon a contract to deliver quicklime to Petersburg for use in the production of gas at the plant. Apparently F. F. Mayo has promised the commodity but increased prices of labor and materiel during the war has more than doubled his expenses and caused delays in its production.
Addressed to Wm. H. Baxter, Esqr., Superintendent Gas Works, Petersburg, Va.
Bonsack’s Depot [Roanoke County, Virginia]
April 13th 1863
Yours dated 8th April is at hand enquiring what progress I am making about Lime, when I intended putting up the kilns, & whether I had made any arrangements to ship it &c. &c., any other information I might think advisable & so on. Now, my dear sir, I have been doing all that mortal man could do in the promises. I have secured wood and had it hauled a part of the way to this kiln & am using my utmost energy to get hands at any price to go to work which I hope to get in a few days. I shall burn the kiln at all events, but as to barrels they are entirely out of the question. I have been paying $16 dollars for 4 horse waggons a day to haul wood so you see my situation. Everything is high here & getting higher every day. Nothing can hardly be had at hardly any price; even my board has been doubled upon me in price since you were here & everything in the same proportion. I have been trying to make purchases for you, & will still continue so to do, but the people here are posted up as to prices in Lynchburg, Richmond, & elsewhere & seem to want even more than the markets elsewhere. It may seem to you that I ought surely have bought up some articles for you, but my dear Sir, I speak candidly. You I expect have no idea how things are here at this time. I will do what I can for you. Should I ever be fortunate enough to get another kiln of lime burned in the course of 3 or 4 weeks, there will have to be some arrangements to get it through to you without barrels. I will write again & let you know what progress I am making & when I will have it burned, &c., but I do tell you that I see plainly what I am to lose like the mischief in the next kiln. There is no certainty now for anyone about anything. As to cost, my expenses now will all be double in this lime business.
This letter was written by Starling M. Manly (1818-Bef1881) who enlisted in March 1862 as a private in Co. C., 32nd Alabama Infantry. Starling was considered “not able bodied” in April 1863 and was ordered at that time to detached service in a Confederate hospital at Chattanooga by General Bragg. He was on duty in Chattanooga for at least two months. Starling married Martha Jane Broughton (1839-1901). He is buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama.
Starling wrote the letter to Mary Emaline Matthews (1846-1932), the daughter of William J. Matthews (1823-1874) and Caroline Crouch (1827-1911). Not long afterwards, Mary married John Dowell McCrary (1839-1926) of Jackson County, Alabama, and the couple had at least twelve children together born between 1865 and 1888. John D. McCrary served as a private in Co. C, 18th Alabama Infantry. Mary’s gravestone is inscribed with the following: “She was the sunshine of our home.”
Front of Envelope
Back of Envelope
Addressed to Miss Mary E. Matthews, Care of Mr. John Matthews, Cuba, Sumter County, Alabama
Ash Creek [Gordonsville, Lowndes County, Alabama]
September 29, 1864
My Dear Mary,
I received yours of the 21st on Monday last and am thankful to learn that you had regained your health. You say “it seems strange that you are not going back” — to school, I suppose you mean — and that you often think it would be better for you to return to school this session. Doubtless you might accomplish much in a year. And I hope you will be made the instrument of doing much good in aiding one who is kept very busy. You say, “If I was only good, I would be contented, but my faults loom up before me & I shrink back appalled.” The scripture informs us that “there is none that doeth good, no not one.” You refer to your quick temper & infer that I know nothing of the evils of that infirmity. In that you are mistaken, but I have cause to thank God for grace given to me to enable me to control mine. It requires constant prayerfulness & watchfulness. God has promised “grace to help in time of need” & when do we need more grace than [when] we feel our evil tempers rising & tempting us to say or do something which we will sincerely regret a short time after. On such occasion I have found it the safest method to keep silent & mentally implore Divine Aid.
In the connection which you expect shortly to form, you will doubtless find trials, but I think I can safely say I know of no one who is better calculated to make a wife happy. He has ever been a most dutiful & affectionate son & has never shrunk from any sacrifice to which he has been called to contribute to the comfort of his parents, & indeed, all with whom he is associated. But you have had ample opportunity to know all about him in this aspect. You must agree to act in concert & with entire confidence towards each other, & by the grace of God, I hope you will be as happy as it but for us poor mortals to be on earth.
I have just received a letter from Dr. M. saying he expects to start for me on the 3rd or 4th. If he comes at that time & nothing hinders, we may return from the 12th to the 15th. I am writing hurriedly as an opportunity offers to send this to Benton from which point it will reach you sooner than from Hayneville. All were well at home. Chapman Hester is not able to walk at all. None of the ladies of either family were in church on Sunday. Love to your Mother & Father.
This letter was written by a Union soldier named “Charles” to William H. Stowe (1820-1894) — a mechanic in Tolland, Massachusetts — and his wife Maryette Wetherby (1822-1878). Charles may have been the same person enumerated in William’s household in 1850 as an 11 year-old laborer named Charles Stowe — possibly was a nephew. William and Maryette’s oldest child appears to have been Durand William Stowe (1844-1863). Durand Stowe served in Co. E, 46th Massachusetts Infantry. He died on 30 June 1863 at New Bern, North Carolina.
The author may have been Charles R. Stowe who served in Co. K, 25th Massachusetts. That regiment spent the better part of the summer of 1863 in New Bern, North Carolina.
Though brief, the letter contains an interesting reference to a spiritual medium within the regiment who shared his visions with his comrades.
Addressed to William Stowe, Esq., Tolland, Massachusetts
Postmarked New Bern, N.C., July 1863
Friends Mr. & Mrs. Stowe,
I can imagine in a small degree your feelings of anxiety about Durand, but I hope this will calm your troubled minds. Be assured that my Faith is strong that not many weeks will pass before you will have him with you.
We have no news of importance from this department. All that we have comes through our Spirit Mediom [Medium]. He was entranced this morning & told us that soon from this time, Gen. [John G.] Foster would get orders to assist in a raid up country connected with three or four other Generals for the purpose of destroying bridges & railroads — that they would go in a way best expected by the Rebs that could but warrant them an easy & complete success. He says concerning Lee’s present undertaking will be a great benefit to us inasmuch as it will arouse Northern men from all parties to a true sense of their duty, doing away with the fear of draft.
Our Medium has told us many truths that was at the time told of beyond his capacity or any of us to guess out. I place great confidence in much that he says. But enough of that.
Remember me to Brother Frank if you chance to see him within a few days. Tell him that the box I have not seen yet. Accept my best wishes & if you have occasion to need my assistance, don’t fail to ask me at once. — Chas.
This fascinating letter was written by Levi Jay Brown (1838-1883), the son of Isaac Brown (1812-1885) and Rebecca French (1819-1881) of Freedom Portage County, Ohio. Levi wrote the letter to his sister, Ellen A. Brown (1846-1928), from Ann Arbor where he was attending the University of Michigan (post graduation).
It appears that following graduation in 1863, Levi relocated to Des Moines, Iowa, where he hung out his shingle to practice law (admitted to the bar in 1865). A notice was published in the Daily State Register (Des Moines, Iowa) on 24 October 1867 which reads: “Our young legal (and geological) friend, Levi J. Brown, has been around among the chips of the U.S. Court House and Post Office and gathered up quite a rare collection of limestone curiosities. Chiefest among the collection is one limestone having upon it the heel-prints of the first stone-mason on earth. He also has a piece of the “tail end of creation.”
Levi formed a law partnership with Charles Ashman Dudley — another Freedom, Ohio, native and fellow University of Michigan graduate — in 1869 and practiced under the name of Brown & Dudley until his death on 7 January 1883 in Des Moines, Iowa. Levi is enumerated in 1870 in Des Moines, residing in the Edward Shankland boarding house. By 1880 he was married to a woman named Lizzie.
Levi’s letter contains a rare first-hand description of the State Republican Mass Convention held at Detroit on the eve of the 1864 Presidential Election. The only published account of this convention I could find appears in Silas Farmer’s Early History of the Republican Party in Detroit, which reads: “During the campaign of 1864 a grand Union and Republican demonstration was held on the first of November. Thirty thousand strangers were present. Orations were delivered by Hon. Salmon P. Chase and others, and an immense procession took place at night. In the election of this year the soldiers in camp and field were allowed to vote, commissioners being appointed by the State to afford them the opportunity of so doing.”
Levi indicates in the letter that he enjoyed the Republican event in company with a chum from the University of Michigan whom he said was nicknamed “Alba Longa” — a student by the name of White who stood 6′ 4″ tall — and a “Lieutenant.” This was undoubtedly Shubael Fish White (1841-Aft1910), the son of Reuben Banker White (1807-1880) and Chloe Fish (1810-1895) of Calhoun County, Michigan. He enlisted early in the war as a private in the Engineers & Mechanics but was rejected on account of bronchial difficulties. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1864 and was made first lieutenant of Company A, 28th Michigan Infantry at its organization 16 August 1864, and captain 10 December of same year. He served till the regiment was mustered out in 1866. After the war, he graduated from the University of Albany Law School (1867) and he married Harriet (“Hattie”) Rogers in Ann Arbor (May 1868) and practiced law in Ludington, Michigan until 1883 when he relocated to Duluth, Minnesota.
Curiously, there was another University of Michigan student named Laura Rogers White (1852-1929), who also carried that sobriquet. She was the first woman to earn a Bachelor of Science degree at Michigan (1871). She stood nearly six feet two inches tall and towered over nearly all the male students. She was from Garrard, Clay County, Kentucky, and apparently unrelated to Shubael’s family.
Addressed to Miss Ellen A. Brown, Freedom Station, Portage County, Ohio
Postmarked Ann Arbor, Michigan
University [of Michigan]
November 20, 1864
Dear Sister Ellen,
Age come first and beauty last. Hence my letter comes last to you. If I recollect, I have not written home in about two weeks. I received the letter from mother last week with all its welcome news. One letter from Dewitt and one from Shaw. Shaw was at Poughkeepsie and was “going in” the next morning. I hope he may learn something if it is no more than how to spell the name of his college. “Mishigan” is his spelling of this state on his letter envelope. Such ignorance is pitiable in one thinking to take a commercial course.
I understand that Net. and A. Kellogg are going to be married and come up here whence I shall send them one to Green Bay for their health for certainly Alf[red] must be sick.
To change the subject, I must relate my trip and experience in Detroit the other day [Tuesday, November 1, 1864] — or rather it was more than a week ago. I had resolved to serve Old Abe one day at least as I could not have the pleasure of voting for Father Abraham. It was announced in the Bill. that on Tuesday at Detroit, Sec. [Salmon P.] Chase, Dan. S. Dickinson, Fred. Hauserek, Gaddis, [Francis Preston] Blair, and others would enlighten the people on the great questions of the hour. The day was as gay as sunshine and a pure bracing air could make it. The city had chartered some cars to take the Ann Arbor delegation to Detroit. We had the band ready and in due time the train from Chicago arrived. The band saluted the crowded train and our three empty coaches were unlocked and we were soon all aboard for Detroit. We had a fine trip down and marched with the band up into the city to the “Wigwam” — an enormous building, rough and capacious, for the accommodation of the great political meetings. We were informed that we would all be furnished with torchlights at six in the evening. With three cheers for Lincoln, we scattered for and “everywhere.” I wanted to speculate and so I bought a pair of boots at the great “bankrupt sale” saving thereby about $1.50 or 2.00.
Rambled around town until noon, the flags waving in the sunlight all over the city, the innumerable little flags from windows and the balconies, everybody in his gay attire, the bands playing gave the Copperhead city a decidedly Republican appearance. I strolled the town with my college friend, Lieut. “Alba Longa” as we used to call him in college. He is 6 feet 4 and well proportioned. His name is White ¹ — hency “Alba.” He is very long — hence “Longa.” Alba Longa had marched under Buell in his race with Bragg across Kentucky. Hence, I was tired before noon.
Paid a dollar for dinner and went up to the Campus Martius to see the venerable and honorable Secretary Chase. He comes on to the stand with a light, square-brimmed, black hat and plain dark clothes and talked to as many as could hear and a good many more for over an hour [The Detroit Free Press says 30 minutes]. Roaring cannon and 10,000 voices cheered him from time to time as he spoke and he gave way to Judge Lyman Tremain of New York. Gaddis spoke from another stand — or rather a beautiful ship decorated with the flags of all the 7 different great nations. There were acres on acres of people. The vast throng could not expect to hear all or part of what was said. Alba Longa led the way and I followed into the crowd until we got a choice [spot] to hear. We had to stand it clear through for we could not get out of the vast throng if I should wish.
At 6½, Alba Longa stood at the head of the Ann Arbor delegation ahead and just before was a great tower — a transparency of course — with mottoes on the sides in great burning letters. A beautiful flag was on the top. A small cannon was run out from beneath ready to fire the signal. Four men manned the rockets and fireworks within. The whole was drawn by six splendid black chargers. They shone in the night and full of Republican and excitement were pracing and dancing. They were six [of] the most beautiful horses I ever saw together. In front of this and at the head of that vast procession of torches extending in a long line of light away into the distance the end of which resting on another street we could not see was a great reflection which looked like a miniature sun — a great headlight or pole star to guide and lead the whole. Marshalls were galloping up and down the line in all the panoply of war itself.
“Alba Longa” was the first torchman in the vast array and I was the second. We knew that we were the “Alpha” but the Omega was out of sight. Vast throngs of people lined the street, rockets and cheers were going up from house tops and balconies. Every ward as it came in the procession had its quota of fireworks in profusion and along the whole line rockets were whizzing heavenward at last to explode into red and blue lights in the dark depths in the sky. Ladies from aristocratic mansions, from windows waved their loyal cheers. The buildings where Abraham’s children resided were illumined. Alpha Longa and myself who were stand[ing] next to the tower and in front of the cannon stepped aside, the men behind likewise, until at a safe distance the cannon pealed it deafening thunder and order forward was given at the head. “Forward” was repeated down the line again and again until the command had reached the end and died away in the distance. I kept step with “Alba Longa” to the “music of the Union” and the long line wound around that city, I know not where except that I found myself at ten o’clock somewhere still marching. “Alpha Longa” was on the qui vive. I was not a little hoarse and my boots said they had seen too much service already for one day. I urged “Longa” to break ranks but that was against the principles of an old soldier. Necessity made me inflexible. I extinguished my torch, gave it to a ragged little rascal on the street who swore he was a Republican, and to Longa to desist, he gave up reluctantly.
I reached the sidewalk, shook the dust from my feet, my watch said it was much after ten, and I began to think I was forty miles bed time at Ann Arbor. I would have given more to have been in bed at Wilsie’s than I would in the morning to seen the whole elephant of the day. 11 o’clock is car time. I asked Alba if he knew where we were. He said he would follow me. I told him I would follow the procession on the back track until I came to where I could get my bearings. Alright says Alba. By George, ain’t that procession grand as we turned to follow back to headquarters if we could find them.
11 o’clock found the Ann Arbor delegates on board the cars in the dark and cold Michigan Central Depot. Cars stood there — not a whistle — not even a good round curse of a brakeman to tell us there was some prospect of starting. At last we did start and two o’clock in the morning found Alpha Longa and I “pikeing” from the depot at Ann Arbor to our rooms. It was a great day and Judge [Lyman] Tremain had made the great speech of the day. All was peaceable and no “raiders” from Canada came to [ ]. I shall send the papers to Link and Ida this week. I feel anxious to know how father gets along with the husking during this bad weather. We have had some of the worst weather here I ever saw. Two snowstorms and the great storm of election day which extended all over the North.
I am paying 4½ for board and spending money like dirt. I never saw the like of prices. I expect you will write to me often. Don’t be particular about waiting for me to write to you. When i write, it is to all. If you want some fine music, Wilsie says send and he’ll get you some. He is a music dealer.
Your brother, –L. J. Brown
¹ Shubael Fish White (1841-1914) was born at Marshall Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1864 and then enlisted and assigned as a private to the 28th Michigan Infantry Company A. During his time in the service he was promoted to Captain and is listed as such at age 23. During these last months of the Civil War Shubael’s unit saw action at both Wise Forks and Kingston North Carolina. Discharged in 1866 he entered law school in Albany New York and upon graduation in 1867 came to Ludington. He had the distinction of being the first attorney to locate in the village. Shortly after his arrival and working with Dr. Doty he erected a frame building on Main Street and opened his law office in the second story. Shubael came to the county during a time that was marked by strife and friction between Charles Mears monopoly of county affairs and the location of the county seat. White was nominated for prosecuting Attorney and David S. Harley an employee of Mears was also nominated. It was a hot contest and as we have discussed in previous columns the location of the County seat and the future of the area was tied into every political event. White won the election, served for two years and then refused to be re-nominated. He did however go on to win election as Circuit Court Judge in 1872. White held this post for two years.
This letter was written by John Milburn Rose (1843-1864), the son of Curtis Rose (1808-1862 and Irene Milburn (1816-1891) of Parkersburg, Richland County, Illinois. John wrote the letter to his sister, Sarah Ellen Rose (1841-1927).
John Rose enlisted as a private in Co. A, 63rd Illinois Infantry at Olney, Illinois, in April 1862. He died at his home in Richland County, Illinois, on 8 April 1864.
Addressed to Miss Sarah E. Rose, Parkersburg, Richland County, Illinois
July the 29th 1863
I received your very kind letter several days ago and as I had written several letters home a short time before, I thought it not necessary to write. Consequently, I have delayed until the present and now I concluded I would write you a few lines and let you know I am well. I have no news to write. There is talk that we will leave here before long. Three from our company started on furloughs last Sunday. One of them was [Sgt.] Sim[eon] Myers. The other James [W.] Leavell and lives near Fairview. The other one lives north of Olney. Again, one or two more squads goes home, then all the married men will have their furloughs. Then I think there will be a chance for some of the rest then.
Well, as I have nothing else to write, I will tell you about the prices here. Potatoes are worth from two to $3.00 a bushel. Butter 50 cts per lb. Eggs 50 cts. a dozen. Chickens from 1.00 to $1.25 cts each. Onions $10.00 a barrel and I paid 25 cts for two, corn [and] nice sized pears and I have paid 25 cts a many time for a pie and the crust would be as tough as sole leather and the inside so dry that it looked like they might have been baked half the summer. I bought two small onions today for 5 cts.
It has been rumored in camp that we was going to leave here and that we would go up the river but I think we will either go down the river or else out in Black River and maybe on to Jackson, Mississippi.
Joe Hart ¹ was at our regiment today. I must soon bring my letter to a close for I have written all that would be of interest to you.
Write soon. — J. M. Rose
¹ This was most likely Joseph Hart of Co. D, 8th Illinois Infantry, who was from Olney, Richland County, Illinois. The 8th Illinois participated in the Vicksburg Campaign and was in the vicinity afterwards.
This letter was written by a woman named “Sallie” (otherwise unidentified) from Wilmington, Clinton County, Ohio. There were a few young ladies named “Sallie” enumerated in Wilmington in 1860; the best fit would be Sallie Searles, born in 1843, and residing in the household of Thomas Hibbes, a merchant. The only relative mentioned in the letter is a cousin — Isaac Hayes Harlan, 39th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, of Muskingum County.
Sallie wrote the letter to her friend Dave who is also not identified. Sallie questions whether he has left the hospital, however, which suggests he was an Ohio soldier.
Wilmington, Clinton County, Ohio
August 5th 1864
I am seated after so long a silence to reply to yours of July 6th which was received and perused with pleasure. I have neglected writing so long that I did not know whether to write or not for I thought perhaps you had left the hospital.
I was glad to hear of your health improving so much. I received a letter from Jake two weeks ago tomorrow. He was in tolerably good health but almost tired out from the long and hard march. poor boy. How sad I did feel when I read his letter. but I still live in hope of a time yet when all the soldiers will return home when peace and prosperity will rule throughout our once peaceful land.
The weather has been extremely warm here for a time but it more pleasant today. It is cloudy and cool and has the appearance of rain. Corn and vegetables are suffering from drouth very much and the roads are very dusty.
The Copperheads here “lie low” and “ring dumb” just at this time thinking, perhaps, that it would be premature to divulge their real intentions yet for a time. But it is evident they will attempt to elect a peace man — which means a traitor — to the Presidency this fall. But if the soldiers have opportunity to vote, the Copperheads must fail. The recent battles in the Southwest, reports say, have been very bloody. I shall be anxious to hear the particulars and see the list of casualties. I trust our loss may not prove so heavy as at first reported. The statements are generally much exaggerated at first.
Charley Oren ¹ was killed at Bermuda Hundred last week. His remains was to be at Martinsville yesterday from all reports. I expect he was a brave and true soldier, but he has fought his last fight and has gone to rest where the roar of cannon and the sharp crack of the guns will no more disturb his rest. How many thousands have endured the same fate.
There is not going to be any Camp Meeting this fall at Spring Valley. There is to be a three days meeting at the campground commencing the 10th of this month. The 39th O. V. I. [Ohio Volunteer Infantry] will be home in a short time. I heard they started last Sunday. That is cousin Ike Harlan’s regiment. ²
As I have written all the news, I will close for the present. Hoping to hear from you soon. Your friend, — Sallie
P. S. Please excuse short letter.
¹ Charles Owen (1831-1864) was the son of Elihu Owen (1809-1872) and Jane Newcomb (1807-1890). Charles was the Captain of Co. E, 5th USCT at the time of his death on 28 July 1864. He had been in charge of a fatigue detail working through the night of July 27-28 improving a mortar position at Bermuda Hundred. As he stepped out of a trench in the morning, he was shot by a Rebel sharpshooter. The bullet him him in the upper thigh but deflected into his abdomen and he died within a few hours.
² Isaac (“Ike”) Hayes Harlan (1844-18xx) served in Co. H, 39th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). He entered the service as a private and exited as a corporal. Isaac was the son of Gibbons Harlan (1808-1883) and Rebecca Fox (1815-1892) of Muskingum County, Ohio.