1864: Nathaniel Wiggin Deering to Cousin Juliette

How Nat might have looked

How Nat might have looked

This letter was written by Corporal Nathaniel (“Nat”) Wiggin Deering (1840-1914) of Company K, 13th Wisconsin Infantry. Nat wrote the letter on his birthday — 23 October — from Paint Rock Bridge, Alabama, where he has just rejoined his company after spending some time in the hospital at Huntsville, Alabama. He describes the conditions of the hospital at Huntsville as so poor that Union soldiers from his regiment were no longer being sent there.

Nathaniel Deering was the son of Rueben and Betsy (Wiggin) Deering of Waldo, Maine. He married Harriet Robenia Whitten (1844-1920) and by the 1880s had relocated from Wisconsin to Iowa. He died at Atlantic, Iowa and is buried in Shenandoah, Page County, Iowa.

Nathaniel wrote to his cousin Juliette but there are no on-line genealogical records to aid further in her identification.


Paint Rock Bridge, Alabama
October 23d 1864

Cousin Juliett:

I think if being cross will only bring me such letters as your last that it will pay me to remain cross for a long time. Your letters always prove interesting but that was more so than usual. It came in time to cheer one of my lonely days in Hospital. I wish I could write you something that would prove interesting in return.

I am clear of the Hospital once more for which I am truly thankful. I came to my company four days ago. The Surgeon sent a squad of sick men to Nashville and had me booked to go but I was determined not to do it for I was getting strong very fast. I was homesick to get back to the company so when the cars got as far as here, I got off and left the rest to go on. I was so glad to get home again. I get something else to eat here except a small, small slice of bread, beefstake, sweet potatoes — the natives call them yams — onion, sauerkraut, soft bread, tea and coffee make a decided change in my diet for the better.

I am weak yet but gaining strength very fast. I have worked more or less every day since I came here. Have been helping my mess build a cookhouse. I found the company in rather a bad state of health. They report only four men for duty. Co. “I” are all upon the sick report — not a single man for duty.

A few of the boys from Co. K, 13th Wisconsin

A few of the boys from Co. K, 13th Wisconsin

I am doing guard duty. It comes hard upon the few of us who are able. Many of our sick boys are being sent to Stevenson and Nashville to hospitals lately. They got such poor treatment at Huntsville that we send no more there. I was in a ward where there were fifty sick men and only one man detailed to take care of the whole of them. Some nights we did not have even a tallow candle for the whole ward. One night when we had no light, a friend of mine was very sick. I sent out in town and got some candles and cared for him as well as I could but it was too late. He died at ten o’clock and one of his comrades near him died before morning. It was cruel to see men so neglected.

This is a rough-looking place. No natives live very near here. We are surrounded by mountains on every side. The forest leaves are turning and the mountains look gay and beautiful this pleasant morning. I long to take one of my old rambles among the mountains for grapes and nuts but guerrillas are so numeras that no one ventures out alone far from camp without risking his life.

We are rejoicing over the late Union victories in the field and at the ballot box and looking forward to the re-election of Lincoln as a “beginning of the end” that we have read so much about. If they don’t hurry up the war, I shall get to be an old bach before it ends. Twenty-four today. I feel more like a boy than I did six years ago.

Our mail comes quite regularly again. We get it every day.

I hope I am done taking strong medicine for this season. The surgeons have given us quinine, calomel, arsenic, strychnine, and even commissary whiskey which is a combination — yes, the very essence of all poisons. I have a bad cold and it affects my eyes. They are very sore so I will write no more this morning. I send love to all. — Nat

P. S. Don’t think that I have fallen in love because I used blue lined envelopes. I can get no other here at present. — N. W. D.


About Griff

My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries. View all posts by Griff

One response to “1864: Nathaniel Wiggin Deering to Cousin Juliette

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Spared & Shared 19

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Recollections of Army Life

by Charles A. Frey

The Civil War Letters of William Kennedy

Co. B, 91st New York Infantry

The Glorious Dead

Letters from the 23rd Illinois Infantry, the 111th Pennsylvania Infantry, the 64th New York Infantry, and the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry

Cornelius Van Houten

1st New Jersey Light Artillery

Letters of Charley Howe

36th Massachusetts Volunteers

Sgt. Major Fayette Lacey

Co. B, 37th Illinois Volunteers

"These few lines"

the pocket memorandum of Alexander C. Taggart

The Civil War Letters of Will Dunn

Co. F, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers

Henry McGrath Cannon

Co. A, 124th New York Infantry & Co. B, 16th New York Cavalry

Civil War Letters of Frederick Warren Holmes

Co. H, 77th Illinois Volunteers

"Though distant lands between us be"

Civil War Letters of Monroe McCollister, Co. B, 6th OVC

"Tell her to keep good heart"

Civil War Letters of Nelson Statler, 211th PA

"May Heaven Protect You"

14th Connecticut drummer boy's war-time correspondence with his mother

Moreau Forrest

Lt. Commander in the US Navy during the Civil War

Diary of the 29th Massachusetts Infantry

Fighting with the Irish Brigade during the Peninsula Campaign

"Till this unholy rebellion is crushed"

Letters of Dory & Morty Longwood, 7th Indiana

"I Go With Good Courage"

The Civil War Letters of Henry Clay Long, 11th Maine Infantry

"This is a dreadful war"

The Civil War Letters of Jacob Bauer, 16th Connecticut, & his wife Emily

Spared & Shared 16

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Lloyd Willis Manning Letters

3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, Co. I

The Yankee Volunteer

A Virtual Archive of Civil War Likenesses collected by Dave Morin

William Henry Jordan

Co. K, 7th Rhode Island Infantry

No Cause to Blush

The Bancroft Collection of Civil War Letters

William A. Bartlett Civil War Letters

Company D, 37th Massachusetts Infantry

The John Hughes Collection

A Virtual Archive of his Letters, 1858-1869

The Civil War Letters of Rufus P. Staniels

Co. H, 13th New Hampshire Volunteers

This is Indeed A Singular War

The Civil War Letters of Henry Scott Murray, 8th New York Light Artillery

The Letters of James A. Durrett

Co. E, 18th Alabama Infantry

Spared & Shared 15

Saving History One Letter at a Time

The Civil War Letters of George Messer

Company F, 107th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Jeff's Prayers are as Effective as Abe's

The Civil War Letters of George S. Youngs, 126th New York Vols

Soldiering is a Very Uncertain Game

The Civil War Letters of Lemuel Glidden, Co. K, 145th Indiana Infantry

Tough as a Pitch Pine Knot

Letters of John Whitcomb Piper, 4th Massachusetts Heavy Artillery

%d bloggers like this: