Head Quarters Co. “A” 129th Regt. Ills. Vols.
Atlanta, Georgia, September 21st 1864
My Dear Wife
I have not forgotten your request to keep this day as one of thanksgiving to “Our Father” for the very many blessings He has conferred upon us.1 I thought yesterday that I would devote this day to you and to memories of the past, but was detailed as Brig. Officer of the Day, & in addition to that duty, I had to receive and issue clothing which consumed the entire day. I have therefore devoted but very little time to reflection.
My reading last night was in Psalms from the 111th including a part of the 119th. The events of the past two years are so numerous and varied that even a day seems scarcely sufficient to enumerate them. I regret that I have spent them so poorly, yet God in his Infinite Mercy has continually blessed me. My trials have been few and light. Part of the time my heart has been filled with love, yet much of it has been spent without profit.
To-morrow it will be two years since I left you in our home, delicate in health and alone to bear your burdens and suffer your trials and privations. God alone knew what was before us. Have we not gained confidence in that hand that has protected us and that power which has sustained us? We have not been without trials; God has visited us with judgments. Our little boy, who had scarcely learned to lisp our names, was called by a kind Father to His arms. To-night he appears as a beacon light to guide us home, and surrounded with all the beauties of Heaven he awaits our coming. Are not our ties stronger, our desires more eager, our hopes brighter?
Nature smiles as ever, but the particles that form her beauty fade and die and from the roots springs that beauty anew. So each successive year adds its testimony to the power and goodness of our Creator. We have also had witness of the love exercised toward us amid dangers seen and unseen; we have been preserved in life, in health and to each other.
God has also in his kindness given us another child to fill the vacuum in our hearts. The ties of love which united our hearts have not been loosened in all his dealings with us, but month after month we have each become more necessary to each other’s happiness. Let us look hopefully to the future. “Our Kind Father” will still care for us. The clouds, dark and lowering, which overhang our Country may dim our vision. We cannot divine futurity, yet trusting, hoping, loving, our “joy surely cometh in the morning.” Above the clouds, the sun is shining brightly. I imagine at times its rays begin to break the vista and its rays will enliven the whole system of our body politic.
It would be a long story to tell you by what system of reasoning I have gathered my hope or to enumerate all the incidents that have made up my results. God who has thus far prospered and cared for us will develop all in His own good time. He is doubtless solving the great problem that has so long vexed the whole human family, “That the power lies not in man but in Himself.” The establishment of this theory has cost us very dear, and the debt is not yet fully paid, but, true as the magnet draws the needle to the pole, will the hand of Omnipotence guide us safely through. “Let us praise Him for his marvelous kindness, for his wonderful works, and his boundless love toward the children of men.”
I was disappointed in not hearing from you by to-day’s mail. We recd. two days mail but only a paper for me. I have been thinking to-night of the many cares gathering around you, & I ought not to expect you to write so frequently. The tobacco, book, & handkerchief have not yet arrived. I presume they have been laid aside in some of the Post Offices & may be overlooked for weeks. It is not a very rare occurance.
Bro. Sammy and Jim Rawlins were here on a visit to-day & took dinner with us.2 Sammy is looking very well. John is also well. John Lee came to the Regt. yesterday.3 He is looking quite well & is able for duty.
There is a rumor here of a glorious victory in the Shenandoah Valley and of the death of Valandigham, both rumors lack confirmation.4
We were to have a review to-morrow, but it has rained so much to-day that it has been postponed. We are getting very comfortably situated here, though it is probable our stay will be of but short duration.
The city is almost deserted by citizens, almost all having been sent either north or south. We have an abundance of rations for present use, and the supply daily increasing. All the troops continue in good health. My own health continues excellent; I have been blessed very greatly. Oh, how I wish I was more worthy. Pray for me. I know you do.
I have no news from Carlisle yet. [Lt.] Smith is getting along very well, though he has not improved very rapidly in health. Nate [Hill] has been on duty since noon yesterday in the city. I do not know how long he will be detained there, but he is very pleasantly situated. He has charge of a guard at the Bakery. I will try & see him to-morrow.
It is still raining and the night is very dark. It is almost 11 o clock, & I must close. Give my love to Mother [Murphy] and Maggie, and kiss the children for me.
May “Our Father” bless you & your treasure with good health and happiness. The year is growing shorter rapidly. If I am not permitted to see you sooner, I hope through the kind interposition of Providence to be with you then. Let me find your love unchanged.
Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver
- See J.F.C.’s letter of September 13, 1864. September 21 would have been Franklin “Frankie” Culver’s second birthday.
- James A. Rollins, a 25-year-old Pontiac Township farmer, was mustered into service on Aug. 12, 1862, as a private in Company M, 1st Illinois Light Artillery. He served with the battery throughout the war and was mustered out at Chicago, on July 24, 1865. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
- John Lee had been hospitalized since being wounded in the shoulder in battle at Peachtree Creek on July 20, 1864. Ibid.
- Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, on September 19, 1864, had defeated General Jubal Early’s army in the third battle of Winchester. General Grant, concerned by Early’s successes which had compelled him to send two infantry corps and a third of his cavalry to guard the line of the Potomac, on August 6 had placed General Sheridan in command of a force with orders to destroy Early’s command. Third Winchester was the first step in Sheridan’s campaign. There was no truth to the rumored death of Clement Vallandigham, leader of the “peace at any price” Democrats.