This letter was written by 19 year-old Vesta Wolcott (1843-1928), the daughter of Alanson and Caroline (McClure) Wolcott of Waterford, Washington County, Ohio.
Vesta wrote the letter to her friend (and future husband), Lt. George R. Bartlett (1842-1919), who was serving in Co. D, 63rd Ohio Infantry at the time. He was mustered into the service in October 1861 and was mustered out as the captain of Company A in July 1865. George was the son of Wyrum and Sarah (Kinney) Bartlett of Washington County, Ohio.
The 63rd Ohio Infantry was one of the first regiments to go down the Mississippi River and were engaged in battles at New Madrid and Corinth. After the battle at Corinth, Bartlett was detached as an assistant in the quartermaster’s department of the Engineering Corps, where he was responsible for supplying Grant’s army with the materials necessary for construction of the canal at Vicksburg. He later participated in “Sherman’s march to the Sea.”
From this letter, it seems pretty evident that Vesta was employed as a school teacher, probably in a rural school in the neighborhood of Flint Run west of Waterford. Righteous Ridge runs parallel to Flint Run on the west.
Tuesday, July 29th 1862
Friend Geo. B.,
I received your letter just one week ago today. I would have written sooner but thinking you were in Chillicothe yet and my letter would reach camp before you did, I did not write. I would have received your letter that same evening you whereat Mr. Vincent’s if Rachel had of gone to Bowen’s and inquired if I did not get it until you had gone. It afforded me much pleasure in reading it. Soldiers’ letters are welcome any time — especially from — well, it does not make any difference who.
I am a boarding to Mr. Swift’s this week. It is a very nice place although they are a little too much reserved to suit me. I boarded at Mr. Beckett’s last week and got acquainted with that soul dear that has come home sick He is gaining vastly and I guess intends to go back the last of next week. I saw his brother Winphrey’s picture. I think he is the best looking of any of them.
There was a Temperance Meeting last Saturday night. The girls around here all went. They tried to get me and Rachel to go but they did not succeed. Each and I had a beau Saturday night. We sat up until four o’clock in the morning. Then we went to bed and slept till seven, then to Sunday School at nine. After Sunday School we attended a prayer meeting at Righteous Ridge at eleven. I am sick of the Ridges. I think it is rightly named. I did not know but that mountain we had to go up would really lead us to heaven before we got to the top. After I got there I had the pleasure of seeing old Mrs. Lattimore dance a gig which was very amusing. If we had only had a fiddle there and someone would have played Yankee Doodle, she would have kept splendid time.
Oh, I forgot to tell you who our beau was. It was Jack Vincent’s little baby which was very sick with the lung fever.
Harriet went over in the holler a week ago today. She has not got back yet — or she had not yesterday morning. I think she is making quite a stay. I heard we had some ripe peaches to our house. Oh dear, it seems as if next Friday night would never get here. I am not homesick but I want some peaches. I expect you and Miles got some when you past our house. I wish you had eaten one for me.
I believe I remember the gypsies that you spoke about.
It almost makes me sick to think of this accursed war. They talk hard of drafting, I almost wish they would sometimes. There are a great many that are very much alarmed about it.
You said I must not complain of your letter — the length of it is nothing to brag on although it is on a large sheet of paper. It is no longer than some others you have written nor so long as some. You had better take a fools cap next time but be sure and fill it. Don’t leave it half-filled as you did this last letter. When you was home last, you spoke of getting your picture taken twice. George, please don’t slight me now. I have not time to fill this sheet quite full. It is going on nine o’clock and I have a mile to walk before I get to the schoolhouse.
As ever, correctly Vesta
Included with the letter is George’s copy of Special Orders No. 1 ordering his participation in court martial proceedings, dated 16 January 1865.