Monthly Archives: November 2015

1864: Ann (Mast) Maitland to Joseph Mast Maitland

This letter was written by Ann (Mast) Maitland, the daughter of Daniel Mast, a leader in the Mennonite church in Pennsylvania. Ann was married to James Monroe Maitland (1815-1864) of Kingston, Champaign County, Ohio. He was active in the Democratic party of Ohio. He took part in Stephen A. Douglas’s campaign, and served as a one-time representative of his district in the state legislature. The Maitlands had three children: Joseph M. Maitland, William Grier Maitland, and a daughter who died in infancy. Ann Mast’s brother, Elhanan, served as a lieutenant colonel in the Thirteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

Ann wrote this letter to her oldest son, Joseph Mast Maitland (1838-1918) who enlisted on 8 August 1862 as a private in Company G, 95th Ohio Infantry. He rose to the rank of sergeant before being mustered out of the service. After the war Joseph was married to Arabella Wharton (1844-1916).


Addressed to Sergeant J. M. Maitland, Co. G, 95th Regt. O.V.I., Memphis, Tennessee (to follow regiment)

[Urbana, Champaign County, Ohio]
July 31st, 1864

My Dear Son,

It is with pleasure I seat myself to answer your very welcome letter of the 23rd which gave us great satisfaction to hear from you again after so long a time. I am glad to hear of your good health and of your safe arrival back again. No doubt but you seen hard times and had some very narrow escapes and are very tired but I feel so thankful that your life has been spared through so many dangers and trials and I do hope you will still be preserved and kept by power divine. Still continue to cast your care on Him who careth for you. That God has been with you through so many trials, will never leave nor forsake you so long as you put your trust in him. We through the goodness of God are all well at present for which we feel very thankful.

Grier has gone to B. Church with Frank Taylor as there is a meeting in our church today on account of quarterly meeting at Pisga. We talked some of going but gave it up on account of it being so warm and dusty. Mr. and Mrs. Rettburgs are going and took Netty along with them. Grier brought Bill and Sally Sh____ home with him from Normal School last week one night to stay. They appear to be getting along very well at school. The school has been in progress one week. Grier and Billy goes in the buggy. They are all much pleased with the school. There is about 75 scholars and are not near all in yet.

There has been a great excitement here on account of the draft. There is one hundred and eight to come out of this township. The word came out from town last Saturday week in the evening that if they raised five thousand dollars against Monday morning, the men would be raised in other places and clear this township of a draft. Well, to work they went all day a Sunday and any that would not help they hoped would be drafted. So they raised the money but the men could not be had so I expect they will have to stand the draft. I believe if it had been for any other purpose they could not have raised that much money in one month so you see how the people about here feel about going to war and yet they  are very good Union people. ____ I would not give a fig for such patriotism. They very good when they can stay at home and enjoy life and have others fighting for them. I do not care much that they couldn’t get the men for I think there is some that has just as good a right to be in the army as you. But enough of that,

We received the package of letters and will take care of them for you.

Mary sends her best respects to you and wishes you to write to her soon. Well, harvest is about over and our wheat is in stock. Joseph Moss helped us and Abraham Weidman stocked for us so you only know it is well done. They intend cutting the oats tomorrow if it is a day fit. We have very dry warm weather but it has the appearance of rain today, I will now quit writing and give room for Grier. I now close by wishing you health and prosperity.

I remain your affectionate mother, — Ann Maitland

My dear brother,

I again attempt to write now again. I have not written to you for some time for the simple reason that I did not know where you had got to or when you would get back or anything about it. But I am glad and thankful that you have got back again safe and sound and that you still enjoy good health.

I am at present attending Normal School and getting along first rate and think probably I will get a certificate. Hope so at least. We have plenty of girls — about 4 times as many as boys. Bill Stewart, Bill Stonebraker, Albert Guthridge, and Evans does the teaching. So you see we have plenty of teachers.

As I sit by the open window this afternoon, I can hear and see the cars on the broad gage constantly passing and repassing all the time. I think it a great sin that they run so much on Sunday. We have not got the money yet that you sent home but it is at the Bank in Urbana and I will get it before long. Frank Taylor and Sal has got back from Kalamazoo, Michigan.

[unsigned — Grier Maitland]


1864: Charles R. Mosher to Augustine Sackett

Augustine Sackett(1841–1914)(Src: Anne Murray)

Augustine Sackett
(Src: Anne Murray)

This letter was written by Charles R. Mosher (1842-1867) who served in the U.S. Navy as a Third Assistant Engineer from 20 May 1863 until 3 March 1866. He was the son of John William Mosher (1811-1863) and Eliza Ann Meek (1812-1882). He is buried in Fishkill, Dutchess County, New York.

Mosher wrote the letter to Augustine Sackett (1841-1914), the son of Homer Sackett (1801-1871) and Flora Skiff (1808-1859). Sackett served in the Regular Navy, as an assistant engineer, doing duty on the ships Wissahickon, Chippewa, Ascutney, and Mattabesett. He was with the Gulf Squadron in the blockade of Mobile and capture of New Orleans; was with the North Atlantic Squadron in the sounds of North Carolina; was in the Roanoke River service, and in the conflict with the Confederate ram Albemarle. At the close of the war he resigned from the service and has since resided either at Lee, Mass., or New York City.


Addressed to 2nd Asst. Engr. Augustine Sackett, U. S. Gunboat Ascutney, New York City, New York

U. S. S. Chippewa
Broad River, South Carolina
January 28, 1864

Friend “Sackett,”

Your kind letter of the 19th and 20th ultimo have arrived today. I am glad to hear you are so well pleased with your ship for I am sure that adds much to the comfort of one in this life. To be  pleased with the ship and officers makes the time go smoothly by.

We are still down at Broad River doing our old duty — viz: going up and down the river — though last week we had a little fun shooting at the Rebs up at their picket station. We ran up within about 1,000 yards and anchored. Soon we commenced firing. We fired about an hour and a half. When failing to receive a reply, we ceased firing and started down the river to our anchorage.

Things remain about the same as they did when you was here. Our cabin affair turned out all right. We go up the river a short distance, anchor, go ashore, and dig clams, shoot birds, and yesterday we tried to fish a little but our net is too small so we did not get any fish.

I am still on the Glorious old Mid, but I think I will soon have a Dog watch so that the other Engineers will not think that I wish to do them out of the fun of standing the “Mid.” I saw by the papers that [Henry P.] “Gregory” was on the “Vicksburg.” [Thomas] “Heenan” ¹ thinks with you that Greg swore when he found who was in charge, “But such is life.”

Sackett, you must not expect a long letter this time for I have so many letters to write and a very short time to do it as the mail boat is behind time.

You had a good time home and are still having a good time. Well, old boy, I wish you success though I hope they won’t send you off on the “Chickopee” for I want to see you enjoy yourself in New York as long as you can. Our mail is not all distributed yet. And I want a letter from “Myra Burr” to find out whether she is home or not. If I find she is home, I will send you a letter of introduction and where she lives so that you can call on her which I wish you to do if you have time for my sake as well as for your own amusement. She will give you some music and sing for you. Besides that, you can give them my history. ²

Oh, I almost forgot. Mr. [Robert B.] Hine who went out with this boat on the first cruise wrote to “Heenan” to find out where Mr. [William] “Musgrave” was as he (Hine) says Mr. M. owes him the sum of $50. It seems Mr. M, got in debt with all who knew him and run off without paying them. But you know more about him already than I can tell you, so I may as well stop for I can hear but little good of him.

Last Sunday I went on a visit to the “Wabash.” Had a good time for almost 2 hours. After leaving the Wabash, we went to a revenue cutter which had just come in on the previous day from New York here. We had a good time. (I say we, for there was four of us here.) Each of us found someone that he knew. The only fault I could find with the officers was that they “drink strong drink” which I don’t like to see.

I must close though. Before this leaves the ship, I will add a P.S. Success and the best wishes of C. R. Mosher, Chippewa

P. S. Well Sackett, I have had a letter from my cousin. She is still at Washington so I cannot send you to see her. She will not be home for some time yet. We are having splendid weather down here now. In fact, have had all winter.

You spoke about those pictures. Don’t forget to send one. Give my kindest regards to Mr. Nones. The steerage officers all send their respects to you. Sackett, please excuse this for I don’t know when I ever wrote a letter so full of blunders. Yet I must say, I have been in a great hurry. Please write soon again and I will try to give you a better letter the next time. This is my sixth letter by this mail and I have one more to write. So you will see I have been kept quite full of business since the mail arrived. Excuse this for I have not another moment to spare. Write soon and oblige.

Yours truly, — C. R. Mosher, U.S.S. Chippewa

Part Third. Mr. [Robert H.] Thurston has just come down in the Engine Room. I asked him if he has any word to send to you. He says he wishes to be remembered to you and waits patiently to hear from you. He says he thinks the letter must have gone astray. Write to him for he is a good fellow.

— C. R. Mosher, U. S. Navy

¹ Thomas Heenan entered the US Navy as an Acting Third Assistant Engineer from 23 November 1861. He was promoted to Acting Second Assistant Engineer on 17 October 1863 and to Acting First Assistant Engineer on 28 April 1865. He was honorably discharged on 4 February 1866.

² Myra Clarke Gaines Burr (1844-1907) was the daughter of Samuel Jones Burr (1809-1885) and Caroline Chickering Read (1812-1877). They resided in Williamsburgh, Kings County, New York on Long Island. She married Dr. Henry Harrison Lowrie (1841-1916) on 16 November 1864 at Garden City. From the letter, we learn that Mosher was Myra’s cousin.

1867: John J. Wise to Henry B. Latimer

This square piano was made by J. J. Wise and Brother in Baltimore, Maryland about 1840. Smithsonian Institution.

This square piano was made by J. J. Wise and Brother in Baltimore, Maryland about 1840. Smithsonian Institution.

This letter was written by John J. Wise (1799-1879) of Baltimore, Maryland. He was the son of McKeel Wise (1755-1809) and Elizabeth (“Betsy”) Bonnewell (1779-1850) of Accomac County, Virginia.

John J. Wise established a piano manufacturing firm in Baltimore, Maryland in 1829, and he built a small number of square grand pianos and melodeons that were known to be of very good quality. In 1860, the name of the firm was changed to J. J. Wise & Brother, and instruments were built under the name of ‘J. J. Wise & Brother’, ‘John Wise & Brother’, and ‘Baltimore Piano Factory’. During the 1860s, the firm is listed at 31 Hanover Street. The company went out of business in 1877, and their instruments are exceedingly rare today.

Wise wrote the letter to Henry B. Latimer (1807-1885) — a prominent citizen of Atlanta who lived the last ten years of his life at Gainesville. He was a banker by profession. Henry probably purchased a piano from Wise for his daughter, Emma E. Latimer (1847-19xx) — a school teacher who resided with him in his Atlanta home until she married Dr. Henry Latimer Rudolph in 1875.

Addressed to H. Latimer, Esqr., Atlanta, Georgia

Baltimore [Maryland]
July 25, 1867

H. Latimer, Esqr., Atlanta
Dear friend,

Glad to hear from you. I am glad to hear the prospects of a good crop still holds out. Regret to hear the money market is still stringent. Hope things will be easier this fall. Cotton and wheat will have the effect to bring about a circulation towards the South. There is plenty of money here but it requires a business demand to bring it out of the hands of capitalist or money holders.

I rejoice to hear you have a mild military dictator, ¹ but what business have you for a military chieftain. Surely there is peace in the land — at least there is no use for swords and shields. No one desires to look on one except to despise them. Where is our American Eagle with his trphies of freedom and liberty? Is is not a gross falsehood to talk of liberty and military commissions at the same time? How is it a man can be found to execute such a mission and a man to appoint such an one and at the same time declares he is acting without authority of law and constitution and uses his veto power — a strange consistency for longheaded men as appear to me. I would displace all the chieftains. There is but one executive. Then the President Johnson would be constant to his veto proceedings.

I will mail you some papers that you may see what we are doing and about to do. I had no hope that you had sold the piano but hope this fall you may find a purchaser. Keep a look out. Much obliged for your attention to the express.

Yours truly, — J. J. Wise

¹ General John Pope was appointed the Governor of the Third Military District on 1 April 1867, giving him total administrative control of the state of Georgia. He issued orders shortly thereafter regarding the registration of voters in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. He also issued orders that allowed African Americans to serve on juries, postponed elections, and banned city advertising in newspapers that did not favor Reconstruction. He was replaced by Gen. George G. Meade after 9 months.

1844: Hiram Bradbury Tebbets to John Clough Tebbetts

How Hiram might have looked

How Hiram might have looked

This letter was written by 32 year-old Hiram Bradbury Tebbets (1812-1890), the son of Bradbury Tebbets (1779-1823) and Polly Clough (1783-1846) of New Hampshire. Hiram B. Tebbetts earned a medical degree from the Boston Medical College in 1837 and practiced medicine for a time in the East and then in Louisiana, but gave up the practice to become a planter. In 1842, he married Laura Watson, the landed widow of Clayton Boone. He had several land holdings, but resided on a plantation purchased from the Grahams and the Benjamins that he called “Concord” for his home in New England.

Hiram wrote the letter to his older brother John Clough Tebbets (1805-1881) — a merchant in Boston. He married Mrs. Sophia (Williams) Whitman of Boston.

1844 Letter

1844 Letter

Addressed to J. C. Tebbets, Esqr., Boston, Massachusetts
Postmarked Lake Providence, La.

Tompkin’s Bend, [Louisiana]
August 14 [1844]

Dear Brother,

I received your letter of last month informing me of your improved health etc.  It is the only letter I’ve had from you in six months. My health [has] been very good since I last wrote you with the exception of a brush of fever I had first of June as I’ve ever been since leaving the North. Laura has been in bad health this summer but it is now improving. She was attacked very much like she was last summer but has not been so sick as she was then.

I have no local news of importance to write. You have probably been informed thro’ the medium of newspapers that this country has been and continues to be almost entirely overflown. The river has been higher by several inches than it was ever known to be before. [See: Great Flood of 1844] It came over the banks early in April and still remains over. We are entirely cut off from communication with other parts of the country. Our only means of neighborhood travel is by canoes and boats. There are hundreds of Planters who are not making an ear of corn or a boll of cotton. The loss of cotton is estimated at some 400,000 bales and the damage sustained in other things is also immense. The country is in a bad condition. There are many who are making nothing and have nothing to go upon — have everything to buy and nothing to buy with. I shall not make more than half a crop though I am less injured than any of my immediate neighbors. The picking season has commenced but the weather is very unfavorable — have frequent & heavy rains.

Your business with H_____ will attend to as heretofore provided you do not come on yourself. I have been expecting your Sophia would come on and spend the winter and would like very much to have you so so.

You wrote me with regard to [our brother] Charles’ location for [medical] practice, etc. The encouragement offered to physicians is small in this part of the country. There are at least five times as many as are required to do the business. I will give you an example by stating the number and designating their location in my own neighborhood. At Providence — eight miles above me (this is a little town of about one hundred and fifty inhabitants) there are six physicians. On Swan Lake — seven miles back of me in the swamp — is another. Nine miles below on the river is another. Directly opposite on the other side of the river is another. All of these nine in number are not doing more than business enough for four. Three could do it all except a few weeks in the most sickly part of the season. The only way anyone can make anything by the practice of medicine at the present time is to go on a plantation to do business of the place for his board and get the practice of the neighborhood. when thus situated, he is at no expense and every dollar he charges is a dollar in his pocket. The object is such a case is to get into a well settled place where he can have a good field for practice. I accidentally found a situation of this kind and made money. But such places now are hard to be found. My old place was filled in less than two days after I left. There were several aiming for it but the first one there got possession and kept it. A good carpenter or blacksmith can make more money than a physician.

If Charles is yet undetermined where to go, I will make a proposition to him. I invite him to come on and spend a year with me or as much longer as he pleases. He can look about, see the country, see what opportunities there are for doing business, and if no sufficient inducement should offer to remain in this part of the country, he can then dispose of himself as he may think best. I will give him a good living, furnish him with a horse to ride, and give him books & instruments if he has use for them. I will afford him every facility for seeing the country and help him to find a situation if possible. But in order that he may not be disappointed, he should bear it in mind that he cannot come on here and make money at present. He must wait till better times. I would like very much to have him and Harriet come on and live with me as long as they can be contented. He he makes nothing, he will incur no expense.

1844 Campaign Banner for Clay & Frelinghuysen

1844 Campaign Banner for Clay & Frelinghuysen

You say you expect I’m in favor of Polk, Dallas & Annexation. You never committed a wider mistake in your life. I am in favor of no one of the trio. I go heart & hand for Clay, Frelinghuysen & Protection. Polk is a second rate lawyer — the minority candidate of the Baltimore Convention and a cowardly temporizer. He is narrow-minded, partial in his views, opposed to a National Bank, to the tariff, and to every true American interest. But he is in favor of what? Annexation — a pitiable footing on which to base a claim for the office of President of the United States. Contrasted with Henry Clay and how wide a difference do we see — a patriot, a statesman, a man of capacious mind, of consistency, firmness and integrity whose whole life has been devoted to his country’s welfare. Such a man is Henry Clay. I must stop. Tell everyone you [see] who make mention of me that I am a Whig up to the handle. Clay will be elected by a larger majority than Jackson was at his re-election —  by a larger majority even than Harrison got. I will bet on that to the amount of a round thousand.

Laura joins me in love to all. Yours etc., — H. B. T.

1864: James Hastings Drennen to Capt. James Galbreath Theaker

This captivating letter was written by James Hastings Drennen (1817-1896), the son of John Drennen (1785-1822) and Mary Power (1783-1821). James was 4 years old when his father died, and he was reared by an uncle at Wheeling Township, Belmont Co., Ohio. At age 13, he was apprenticed to a cabinet maker in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After leaving this trade, he settled at Mt. Pleasant, Ohio.

Shortly after his marriage in 1841 to Isabella Ross Mitchell (1816-1884), he moved to a farm on Scotch Ridge in Pease Township where he farmed until moving to Martins Ferry. He was a Democrat, but later became a Whig, then a Free Soiler, and finally a Republican. He was a radical abolitionist and took delight in relating stories about the “underground railroad.” In later years, he owned and edited the Ohio Valley News in Martins Ferry. He was a member and is buried at the Scotch Ridge Presbyterian Church in Pease Township.

jamesgDrennen wrote the letter to Capt. James Galbreath Theaker (1830-1910).  James was born in Colerain Township, Belmont County, Ohio where he grew up and attended a private academy in Mount Pleasant. After attending a business school in Cleveland, Ohio, he returned to his home county, where he farmed and taught school until the outbreak of the Civil War.

He served in the war from 30 August 1862 to 6 June 1865 and was wounded at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. In the course of his service, he was promoted to captain in Company F, 50th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. From his induction into the army until his discharge, James wrote many letters to various members of his family. In 1973 a collection of 95 of these letters were published in a book called, Through one man’s eyes; the Civil War experiences of a Belmont County Volunteer: letters of James G. Theaker.

After leaving the army, James served for some time in Washington D. C., as secretary to his uncle, Thomas Clarke Theaker who was U.S. Commissioner of Patents. He then returned to his native Ohio and settled at Mount Pleasant. James married Martha Ellen Sharon 4 April 1872.


Martins Ferry [Ohio]
August 22nd 1864

My Dear Sir,

I owe you an apology and a letter & I am going to give you both. Yours of July 15th found us right in the middle of harvest which was unusually late this year & no hands to be had so we had to improve every spare minute. I might have written after the days work was over; but I am getting old and writing by candle light is no pleasure & I wish corresponding with my absent friends to be a pleasure — not misery. We are not done hauling in our oats yet, but as this is a very wet morning, I am seated to give you the gossip of the day.

And first we are looking everyday for the return of our bold militia boys who have gone forth at their country’s call & I trust they will be able to recount deeds of valor done on the bloody field — but for fear their memories may prove treacherous I will merely suggest that there are rumors afloat of some very fast running — running that would grace the columns of the “Turf Register” — running with their backs to the foe, and a broad flowing stream in front which, however, presented no obstacle to their making the fastest time on record. Said running is connected with the throwing away of guns, knapsacks, haversacks, ammunition, blankets — in fact, anything & everything that might prove a hindrance to the great work before them — of leaving the foemen far behind them. But I trust it may be shown that the foe was unworthy of their steel — that the enemy came upon them in unnumbered hordes — that the disparity of numbers was greater than the tumultuous hosts of Persia that bore down on [King] Leonidas & his brave three hundred at the pass of Thermopylae. I know that our bold militia — the pride & glory of our noble state — can either give some good cause for running away, or explain the running away altogether. However this may be, their time is out and we have rumors every day of their approach but as yet only a few stragglers from the hospitals have arrived.¹

As to the weather, it has been extremely hot — in fact, very hot. That, taken in connection with the serocco blast predicted by that eminent astronomer Abraham Lincoln on the 5th of September several of our eminently useful & highly patriotic citizens of Scotch Ridge have found it necessary to emigrate to the umbrageous shades of Canada. Your old friends Hugh Pickens & Athelbert Alexander among the number. It is said that their friends have received letters from them in which they represent the mingled odors of Royalty and runaway negroes of that remote province of her royal majesty Victoria the 1st as delightful. One thing is certain, the population hereabouts is so dense that we could spare “a few more of the same sort” without serious detriment either to our patriotism or loyalty as a community.

As to the churches, the Martinsville congregation has got to so overrun with abolitionists, that those conservative christian patriots James G. Wiley and John Mitchell have found it necessary to demand their certificates that they may unite with Mount Pleasant, while Robert Finney refuses to attend or pay for the preaching of such an emasculated gospel, but fears to unite with Mount Pleasant though the fear that a taint of the moral leprosy may have crept in even there.

Our township has raised $20,000 by private subscription and the Trustees have ordered a Township levy of $10,000 to pay a bounty of $300 to 100 men to volunteer and thus save us from the danger, disgrace, and expense of a draft. Dr. Sedwick has been commissioned by the Governor to raise a company, has opened an office in Martinsville, & has 8 sworn in with about 30 others who say they are ready & willing to enlist in their country’s service. The prospect is very fair the Dr. says for raising the men, as other townships are doing nothing — or comparatively so. Colerain was to have a have a meeting last Saturday evening to see what could be done, but I have not heard the result of their deliberations. Richland refuses to do anything & thus far Mount Pleasant has not made an effort.

Talk of resistance to the draft is very common in the neighborhood, but I have not been able to trace it to any reliable source, and while I am free to admit that the copperheads are not altogether right in the upper story, I do not charge them with being such consummate fools as to make such a hair-brained effort. But if they should — why there will be occasion for parsons Olds & Medary to hang their churches in black for they will have lost many of their best members, and the copperhead candidates for public favor this fall will lose a goodly number of their warmest supporters.

As to politics, I don’t know what to say. Locally the cops [copperheads] have nominated the present incumbent for Auditor, Sheriff & Commissioner while our party have nominated Davy Thorburn for Auditor who I understand in in the last stages of consumption & will probably not live till the day of election. Somebody in Richland Township was nominated who thought somebody else should have been nominated & declined the honor. Squire [Jacob] Holloway of Flushing is our candidate for Commissioner. He is said to be quite wealthy, very unfeeling, and ambitious & therefore unpopular; but for the truth of the assertion, I cannot vouch as I have always found him very much of a gentleman.

The Cops [Copperheads] of course will nominate the Hon. Mr. [Joseph Worthington] White, the present incumbent, because he is disloyal and every way unworthy. Our men have re-nominated Hon. John [Armor] Bingham with Belmot County voting almost solid against him all the time, ostensibly because he has had it long enough and is unpopular, but really because he is antislavery — or rather was before the magnates of our party claimed to be so. We have some politicians in our county which I could wish were safely landed in Abraham’s bosom.

As to the Presidential contest, if there really should be any, or if it should rise to the dignity of a contest, I cannot speak. I do not think the Butternuts & Copperheads can harmonize at [the] Chicago [Democratic Convention], but if they should, it is no matter. Old Abe can beat any nag they may trot out, out of his boots, and we are just letting him elect himself in this state as we have other matters to attend to than fighting shadows. And the opposition has not even presented a shadow unless we count Fremont as such, and if he has a single supporter in the state he has failed to make himself heard.

I suppose you knew that Robert Amrine had sold out and gone to the West and James Steer has also sold to Lupton — his brother-in-law — and was to start today to Bainesville where he has purchased a large farm at $13,000.

I guess everybody is well that you feel any interest in. Gret [Margaretta] is so much obliged for that long letter which you were going to write. Write at your earliest convenience to your sincere friend, — James H. Drennen

¹ Drennen does not mention the unit by name but I believe he is referring to the 170th Ohio National Guard that was activated during the summer of 1864 for 90 days. They were engaged in a battle at Snicker’s Ford in July 1864 before being deactivated after 90 days service. See also — 1864: William Porter Phillips to Richard Lyons.

1844: H. Wilson Beckley to Solomon W. Beckley

This remarkable and lengthy letter was written by H. Wilson Beckley (1817-18xx), the son of Horace Beckley (1792-1877) and Abigail Willington (1794-1841) of Barre, Washington County, Vermont. Wilson wrote the letter to his younger brother, Solomon W. Beckley (1821-1847).

The letter contains an excellent description of the political atmosphere prevailing in Ann Arbor, Michigan, during the 1844 Presidential Campaign — in particular, the Democratic Mass Meeting held in the city on July 4th and the speech by General Lewis Cass at the depot.

1844 Letter

1844 Letter

Addressed to S. W. Beckley, Esq., Barre, Vermont
Postmarked Ann Arbor, Michigan

[Ann Arbor,] Washtenaw [Michigan]
House Room No. 4
July 1st 1844

Dear Brother,

Yours of the 13th was duly received. Was very glad to hear from you. Was astonished that Adeline had not received her letter which I wrote her soon after I received my tools which by the way came in good shape and very acceptable for $2.28 — cheap enough.

My health as yet is first rate. We have had so far a very wet season. It rains today (Sunday) if as some predict, one extreme follows another in this case and we have a long spell of dry hot weather, look out for breakers! There would not be well ones enough to take care of the sick one. What causes the sickness is the pond grows full of grass in July and August, the water gets low, the grass dries, and the miasmic fog which rises from that and the low lands or marshes makes an intolerable stench. If such is the case, if I don’t get it hitched on me, the good people of Michigan will see my back side — 34 dollars per month to the contrary, notwithstanding. But if it continues wet, it will be very healthy. I presume if I leave now, I shall not have the Ague at all and may not as it is but Eastern people have to become initiated to the climate by going through a process of the fever and the Ague which is a mean, mean dog to have. It depends on the attention given about the aggravation of the disease. Some have it very light; others which are careless have it very hard. Some never have it at all so you see it is a matter of chance.

I have not concluded what to do yet — whether to come home in August and then return in the fall, or run the risk of being sick by staying till late in the fall and then spending the winter in Vermont. Time and circumstances must decide that. If you will come back with me, I will return in the fall. In regard to your setting up here in Michigan, I have made no inquiries yet but will before I mail this. This place is pretty well stocked with lawyers. There is a number of judges on Ex Gov. Esqr. &c. and professors, teachers, etc. etc. There is a good deal of talent in Ann Arbor. If you wish to teach music next winter, you can do first rate here, I think.

I am chosen chorister and lead the largest choir in Ann Arbor which for excellence of tone and support of parts I never knew excelled though they need a teacher or need cuttinating [?]. I sing every Saturday eve and we have lots of singers in. I wish you were here to take my place. I feel my insufficiency. If you will come, let me know so I can make my calculations. You can spend the winter here without any danger, see the country, and see how you can do in your profession and leave Old Barre to settle their own quarrels or her divines. Bah!

July 3rd. 9 P.M.

Hon. Francis Granger

Hon. Francis Granger of New York — “6 feet 2 and well proportioned — fine figure” — HWB

I will now give you an imperfect description of matters and things as going the rounds. The Whigs have had a pole raised in the village for 6 weeks with a stuffed coon on its top. Beneath the same pole the American flag unfurled to the breeze — motto “Clay & Frelinghuysen.” In the rear stands a Clay pen (as I term it) where they meet to do business and talk politics. They chartered 3 locomotives with 3 trains of cars (they were trimmed with flags and banners) to go to Marshall — 70 miles west from Ann Arbor.  They go from Detroit and all the intermediate places to celebrate the 4th. It will be a mighty gathering. Hon. Francis Granger of New York, late Post Master General, I had the pleasure of seeing as he made a short call here today. He is 6 feet 2 and well proportioned fine figure, but the Whigs can’t do anything for Michigan is a Banner state.

Last eve the Democrats raised their Hickory pole far above the Whigs in the upper town amidst a mighty gathering and long and loud cheers, cannon, etc. This eve the Democrats raised another [pole] in the lower town in front of where I am writing. Tomorrow morning they raise another in the upper town for there is to be a multitude here tomorrow. So you see the Democrats are on hand. They go it with a perfect rush. They have some very smart men for leaders and as mean as they are smart.

7 A.M. 4th of July. It is indeed a delightful morn — the anniversary of our independence. It seems all life here grows from all quarters. 4 liberty poles with their respective banners. The Abolitionists cannot do much here — “Signal of Liberty ¹ to the con.” The pending contest will be a hard one here. I think Polk & Dallas will be elected. The new nom[inee] seeks to strike enthusiasm in the whole Democratic Party. It [Polk’s nomination] was so unexpected and I believe a southern scheme of John C. Calhoun to defeat M. Van [Buren] who was emphatically the people’s man.

In regard to [the] annex[ation of Texas], there is much to be said on both sides. It is enlarging our territory and that part too which is contaminated with slavery. It gives a greater range to slavery and more effectually giving the power unto the South. But my limits failed discussion for one. I go the Young Hickory and true democracy though the principles of the Liberty Party are the most democratic. There is today from 5 to 10 thousand present. In the forenoon we had a splendid Sabbath School celebration. We met in our respective churches and then all repaired to Presbyterian Church where there were speeches, singing &c. In the afternoon the multitude repaired in procession to the eminence just in front of the Depot to witness one of the most sublime spectacles that ever I beheld. 2 Locomotives from Detroit with a long train of cars with 1500 persons on board, the engines trimmed with hickory bushes, flags, banners, 4 [of] the most splendid military companies that could be, a brass band, and on behind car was a brass cannon pealing in thunder tomes. My pen is too feeble to describe the grandeur of the scene. Strings of waggons a mile long.

One thing more, the boys burst their cannon and most killed William — Mr. Redfield’s youngest son. Also Guy — Josiah’s youngest — was hurt pretty bad. ² He fired it off. It was emphatically a proud day for Washtenaw County. Oh, I forgot to say that Gen. Gov. Cass was present that called the gathering at the cars to escort him in. He is a noble-looking old fellow great man in every sense. He made an address, alluded to old times when he used to fight Indians. He is in favor of annex[ation]. He would make a good President. He is Michigan’s favorite and father — a very good man. ³

July 7th. Again I write and the reason I have not written this before is I have no leisure time. I never was so confined. I work week days, no evenings. Sundays we have 3 sermons so it is hard finding time to write. You will excuse me for being so long writing this. I am still well and enjoy life well. If I had my Miss Emeline here and my property, I should never return for the present, but as it is, I shall be at home some time. The gentle precautions in your last letter in regard to Miss Em may be of some use but I endeavor to keep myself right. I have some pretty strong temptations but they do not move me.

I expect Miss Mary, the oldest Hicks girl [Mary, L. Hicks, 1821-1903] will be married Thursday next 4th July to Mr. Pliny [Sykes] Lyman [1818-1868] of Shiawassee, Michigan some 30-40 miles distant. She is a little confiding innocent lovely girl. I have had many a good time with her for I knew she was engaged and I did not want to give the others encouragement. I have not committed myself at all and they think me engaged. You say you had ought to have let courting alone this 5 years and perhaps you had but you need not be married this five years. You can keep your virgin and improve her by your experienced counsel, literary attainments, &c, but for me I am old enough. But it remains yet to be seen whether I can maintain a woman or not. I feel rather ticklish about this business for I am getting pretty well along into the fixing.

I may take a start and be at home soon, and on my return home visit the falls and go by the way of New York and Boston. I want you to settle my business as soon as may be convenient and have it in a shape that I may have it together on my return. You need not drive but have that Smith concern settled if you can and that Champlain note. Perhaps Mr. Turney is going that way. If so, send by him. If not, perhaps I shall go there when I return. In regard to your setting up in Michigan, you can as well do it here an anywhere and it probably would require as much talent to do business here as there. There is new places opening all the while and why not for you as well as anywhere. You had better come here this fall and so look round, teach music this winter, and see the world some. There is nothing like blaring round, some do a great deal with a little while others with a great deal do comparatively nothing. It wants go-aheadittiveness to make a swathe through this world. There is no use of one’s cursing down for small things. Large oaks from a little acorn grow. I have always done somehow and I believe I can get a living somehow. It looks rather dark but if health is spared and no slip ups, I shall try it by and by. I have enough to make me ____ for I may not have business and to be idle with a woman on my hands for support is no pleasant theme to dwell upon, But I mean to trust to love and to be loved. He will give the necessary ability to acquire if proper application to business be observed. If I could conveniently get away from my work, I would go East soon but I do not presume it to have me leave till fall. Cannot tell what I shall do.

I wish I could see you and tell you verbatim how things are but I must desist for the present. You say you felt streaked when Kinoman wanted to settle. You say also you wish me to send you home some of the needful . I think it will be well for you not to be very flush with cash. You had better make close application to your studies for the present. You never have had to struggle through poverty as some have who have risen to eminence and wealth. I am willing to do all I can for you and the girls. I feel for them. I wish I was in a situation to do something for them and I will do all I can. I have a good many ways to pick off the change so that I do not have much to what I ought to.

I am aware of Slosson’s move by Miss Em. She tells me some things. She does not mind what is said. So you see, she is all confidence in me and shall I betray that confidence — no, never. I would rather suffer the tortures of the inquisition, it seems to me, than do it, Give my best respects also [to] Maria for she (good girls) sends hers to me often.

But I must close my epistle, trusting in ____ for the future it may be pregnant with sorrow. I know there would be such an alteration in Barre that I should not be contented and besides, what could I do. O, if that Smith house could be bought cheap now, would it not be a good time to buy it? If I could get it, it might be some inducement for me to stay in Vermont after all. Write whether you will come here or not next fall so I can make my arrangements accordingly. Give my hottest respects to all.

Monday morning, July 4, 1844

I now submit this incongruous mess to your scrutinery eye. Throw the mantle of charity on it for it comes from the honest hand of a poor mechanic. Please let me know and send me a _____ as soon as you receive this. Mary Hicks’ wedding is expected to go off Thursday. I expect to stand up with the other sis when she is married. Esther [Hicks] is a picture, no mistake.

— H. W. Beckley

¹ The Signal of Liberty was an abolitionist newspaper published in Ann Arbor. Its editors supported the Liberty Party who nominated James G. Birney and Thomas Morris on their ticket.

² Josiah Beckley (1789-1843) “was a person of wealth and property. He made several land purchases and, in the spring of 1836, opened a mercantile shop in Ann Arbor’s Huron Block on the east side of Broadway Street. The Signal of Liberty was published above the store,” one of its editors being Josiah Beckley’s brother, Guy Beckley. One of the young men injured by the accidental explosion of the cannon was Guy Beckley (1829-1893) who would have been 15 years old at the time.

[Source: The Underground Railroad in Michigan by Carol E. Mull]

³ The Ohio Statesman (Columbus, Ohio) ran the following article in it 31 July 1844 issue:

The Editor of “Signal of Liberty” takes the following notice of Gen. Cass and his remarks at the democratic mass meeting at Ann Arbor on the 4th inst. The Signal of Liberty is the organ of the abolition or liberty party in this State, and goes “to the death” against the annexation of Texas.

Lewis Cass

Lewis Cass

“Gen. Cass arrived at a late hour, he having been detained by an accident on the cars. He spoke briefly and comprehensively, with good taste. He referred appropriately to the day, and its celebration in the West at different periods since he had become a western man. Thirty-two years since, he had employed the Fourth of July in constructing a bridge over the Huron River for the passage of the regiment he commanded. He, with his troops, had been lost in the woods of Washtenaw, and were suffering from hunger and destitution in the county that now teems with all the varied products of human industry.

He then spoke of the party principles respecting a bank, tariff, &c., which he dispatched in a few sentences. The democratic nominees [Polk & Dallas] he knew personally, and could assure the democracy of Washtenaw that they were eminently worthy of of their most zealous support. He spoke at greater length on Texas, affirming that we must have  it; for if we did not take it, England would. He went on the grounds enumerated in his letter. Texas was an open country, and the possession of it would enable England to fill it with black troops, and assault the Southern States with her numerous armies, having a paradise before them, and leaving desolation behind. There was a large desert between Texas and Mexico, which with Texas annexed, would make a natural boundary between us and that Republic. He dwelt on the power and ambition of England, and the necessity of resisting her encroachments….

The whole of the General’s discourse was received with unbounded applause. He is a good sized, portly looking man, with quite a large head, evincing much force of character. As an individual, we have respect for the General. His moral character is said to be irreproachable, and he has through life been a strict total abstinence man. We remember that he was quite popular as a Governor of Michigan Territory.”

1827: Marianne Haslett to Harriet Slaymaker


How Marianne might have looked

This letter was signed Marianne Haslett but I have been unable to find anyone by that name in on-line records. She may have been related to Joseph Haslett (1769-1723), the former governor of Delaware. In the letter she says she is visiting with her Aunt and Uncle in Leesburg, Virginia, and contrasts the village with Columbia, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she either resided or had visited recently with a sister named Caroline who lived there.

Marianne asks that any return letters be directed to the care of David Ogden whom I infer was her uncle. At the time of Marianne’s visit to Leesburg, David Ogden (1781-1863) was married to his second wife, Eliza Crow of Wilmington, Delaware. Eliza’s father, Thomas Crow was a famous clockmaker in Wilmington.

Since Marianne pleads with Harriet to send her some news from Delaware, I assume it was David’s wife, Eliza, that was Harriet’s biological aunt. David was a clock and cabinet maker in Baltimore, Maryland, before relocating to Leesburg. As a side note, an Ogden family history claims that David was with Commodore Stephen Decatur in the Mediterranean when he “punished the Barbary States for piracy upon American commerce.”

The letter was addressed to her ‘dear friend” Mrs. Harriet Slaymaker of Columbia, Pennsylvania. Again, I was unable to confirm her identity from on-line records but she was probably related to the Samuel Slaymaker of that village who built the Margaretta Furnace and put it into operation in 1825. Samuel and, subsequently, two of his nephews named Slaymaker kept that furnace in operation for decades.

The letter includes a transcript of the poem by Barton entitled “The Grave” which Marianne favored. The poem had recently been published in a popular book of poems.


Addressed to Mrs. Harriet Slaymaker, Columbia, [Lancaster County] Pennsylvania
Postmarked Leesburg, Virginia

Leesburg [Virginia]
November 30th 1827

My dear friend,

Everyday I think of you and always conclude something must have changed your feelings toward me or I should hear from you. I will not say more for I hope not — only that I wrote to sister Caroline and directed it to you. I fear you think it was a mean act but Harriet my motive was, that, perhaps Chad left you and I hoped you would answer it. I have got a foot stove and have locked my chamber door. How much I should love you with me. Several young ladies have called on me but I think I shall return but few.

I went to an Exhibition lately as my cousin ¹ was to take an active part. Uncle went with me. I thought the boys performed admirably but it was too theatrical. The play was “Rights of Hospitality.” They continued it two evenings but I was satisfied with going once.

I do not admire this place as much as Columbia. It seems very secluded. Perhaps ’tis because I have not rode much to see the neighboring towns. When I did ride, I thought the roads very rough. From Aunt’s chamber window I have a view of the Sugar Loaf Mountain. It looks very blue and proud.

I should like to go to Washington City — it is about 40 miles from here. We are 12 miles from the Potomac. We crossed it on a flat-bottomed boat pushed by 3 slaves. I do not call it a large river — some places it can be forded. There is but one 3-story house in this place. Surrounding the town, there are many cabins. From what I hear of the slaves, they are more saucy than at Pennsylvania. I should be afraid to live farther south.

I think the climate more variable than at home and notwithstanding, I enjoy better health than I did. I thank you sincerely for your kindness to sister. May you be rewarded by the Almighty is my fervent prayer.

I have a excellent library but I waste much time and do not read. I can either go to m meeting or to church. I delight to hear the church minister. Please remember me in your prayers, dear Harriet. Were I called to exchange worlds, I am not prepared. For 7 years I have been a professor of religion but I fear that is all. O that I could tire of serving Satan. How is it with you? Perhaps you will not be pleased to receive this letter. Well if you are not, tell me so in your letter which do favor me with very soon. To you, I believe writing is no task. Therefore, please send along one. I love your letters so much. Aunt sends her love. Tell me some Delaware news if you have any. Will you accept of these lines? I like them.

The Grave

I love to muse, when none are nigh,
Where yew-tree branches wave,
And hear the winds, with softest sigh,
Sweep o’er the grassy grave.

It seems a mournful music, meet
To soothe a lonely hour;
Sad though it be, it is more sweet
Than that from Pleasure’s bower.

I know not why it should be sad,
Or seem a mournful tone,
Unless by man the spot be clad
With terrors not its own.

To nature it seems just as dear
As earth’s most cheerful site;
The dew-drops glitter there as clear,
The sunbeams shine as bright.

The showers descend as softly there
As on the loveliest flowers;
Nor does the moonlight seem more fair
On Beauty’s sweetest bowers.

“Ay! but within — within, there sleeps
One, o’er whose mouldering clay
The loathsome earth-worm winds and creeps,
And wastes that form away.”

And what of that? The frame that feeds
The reptile tribe below,
As little of their banquet heeds,
As of the winds that blow.  — Barton

Dear Harriet — I conclude with telling you to give my best respects to Mr. Slaymaker. Believe me to be yours truly and affectionately, — Marianne Haslett

Please direct to the care of David Ogden, Leesburg, Virginia

¹ Marianne’s cousin was probably Benjamin Franklin Ogden (1811-1874). He would have been 16 at the time and a student at Leesburg College. After graduation, he began teaching school in Virginia, and subsequently followed that vocation in several states in the South. Previous to the war he taught school on a large plantation in Louisiana, on which several hundred slaves were employed. This did not prove to his liking, as he was a strong Abolitionist, and as a result he returned north and taught school in Pennsylvania. It was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that he met and married Mrs. Hannah (Supplee) Frame. In 1865 they came west to Wapello county, Iowa, where he was already the owner of a farm of 349 acres, in Columbia township. He died July 30, 1874.

1848: George Washington Storer to Mary (Blunt) Storer

Naval Jacket worn by George Washington Storer being sold at Cowan Auctions

Naval Jacket worn by George Washington Storer sold at Cowan Auctions

This letter was written by Commander in Chief, George Washington Storer, U.S.N., (1789-1864). He was a career Naval officer entering in 1809 as a mid shipman, commissioned as a lieutenant in 1813, served on the ship “Independence” on the Mediterranean station in 1815-1816, Commanded the schooner “Lynx” on New England coast in the Gulf of Mexico in 1817, Cruised on frigate “Congress” and “Jabar” in the West Indies in 1818 & 1819, served on the frigate “Constitution” in the Mediterranean in 1820-1824. He was commission Master Commandant April 1828, Captain in 1837 and commanded the received ship “Constellation” at Boston in 1839. The frigate “Potoma” of Brazil station in 1840-1842 and in the Navy Yard in Portsmouth in 1843-1846. He was Commander in Chief of the Brazil squadron in 1847-1850, and was President of the Board of Inquiry and in 1855-1857 he was Governor of the Naval Asylum in Philadelphia.

The U. S. S. Brandywine was a wooden-hulled, three-masted Frigate of the United States Navy bearing 44 guns. On 13 September 1847, the U. S. S. Brandywine set sail for the Brazil Station where she cruised for more than three years protecting United States interests in the region.

Storer wrote the letter to his wife, Mary Lear Blunt (17xx-1868) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

1848 Letter

1848 Letter

Addressed to Mrs. Mary G. W. Storer, Care of Commander Storer, U. S. Navy, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

U. S. Brandywine
Rio de Janiero
April 17, 1848

My beloved Mary,

The Ship Courier sailed yesterday for New York with Purser [Joseph H.] Terry [1815-1853] & our Minister’s family as passengers. I sent a letter by her for Lincoln and two boxes directed to Geo. L. Storer, New York with a request that he would forward them by a packet to Portsmouth.

I regret to say that Mr. Terry’s health is far from good, but hope he may recover ‘ere he reaches his home. He is a most worthy & upright man; & has been particularly friendly to Jacob [J. Storer] & myself.

I hope you will receive the documents I sent by a previous vessel in good time. I have just received a letter from Jacob dated Montevideo, April 2nd. He was very well & pleased with his situation. He intended to go to a ball (given by General Oribe of the besieging army outside Montevideo) that evening. I had received an invitation to attend the same before I left the River.

It is believed that a peace will soon be concluded between France & Buenos Ayres & that the late revolution in the former country will be an inducement to conclude it without delay.

I have felt quite lonesome since Jacob left the ship, but I think I have been fortunate in getting my Fleet Surgeon as a messmate (Dr. Bache). He is very intelligent & gentlemanly, and takes charge of all men affairs &c. ¹

I hope after affairs are settled in the River La Plata that I shall be able to see more of Jacob, but as we are now situated, it is necessary to have at least one vessel in the River to look out for our interests there.

18th. A vessel will sail for Montevideo tomorrow. I shall write to Jacob by her & am sorry that I cannot tell him that I have had letters from home as I have not received once since my arrival from the La Plata, but hope to by the next arrival from the U. States.

I am anxious to hear how sister Eliza’s health is. I trust your eye is nearly recovered ‘ere this. Why does not Mary W. & Lincoln write oftener? I think they could find time to write to me at least once a week. The weather here at this season is delightful but rain is very much wanted.

A vessel sails early tomorrow morning for Baltimore by which I shall send this. My love to all sisters, Elizabethm and remembrance to Mrs. Chamberlain & all our friends.

Your affectionate husband, — Geo. W. Storer

Benjamin Franklin Bache

Benjamin Franklin Bache

¹ Benjamin Franklin Bache (1801-1881) was a surgeon in the United States Navy before and during the Civil War. He was a great-grandson of the Revolutionary War statesman and author, Benjamin Franklin. Born in Monticello, Virginia, Bache graduated from Princeton University in 1819, and from the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1823. He entered the Navy as an assistant surgeon in 1824, and in 1828 was promoted to the rank of surgeon. From 1838 to 1841 he served as fleet surgeon of the Mediterranean Squadron simultaneously serving as professor of natural science at Kenyon College, Ohio. Bache was in charge of the Philadelphia Naval Asylum from 1845 to 1847. He then served as fleet surgeon of the Brazil Squadron from 1848 to 1860, and at the Naval Hospital in New York from 1850 to 1854, serving as director of the medical laboratory of the Brooklyn Navy Yard from 1855 to 1872. During the Civil War, the laboratory provided medical supplies to the Union army. Bache retired on February 1, 1868, and in 1871 was appointed medical director with rank of Commodore. Commodore Bache died at his home on 283 Henry Street, New York, after a short illness on November 1, 1881.

Spared & Shared 21

Saving history one letter at a time.

Spared & Shared 20

Saving history one letter at a time

Notes on Western Scenery, Manners, &c.

by Washington Marlatt, 1848

Spared & Shared 19

Saving History One Letter at a Time

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Co. B, 37th Illinois Volunteers

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the pocket memorandum of Alexander C. Taggart

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Co. H, 77th Illinois Volunteers

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The Origin of Bluemont Central College

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

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Lt. Commander in the US Navy during the Civil War

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"Till this unholy rebellion is crushed"

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"I Go With Good Courage"

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"This is a dreadful war"

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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

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Co. K, 7th Rhode Island Infantry

No Cause to Blush

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Company D, 37th Massachusetts Infantry

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A Virtual Archive of his Letters, 1858-1869

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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