About Colleen Theisen

Outreach and Instruction Librarian. Lover of coffee, as well as 19th century photography, painting, tourism and print.

I could not clear expenses at home so I am better off here, till business revives at the North

Joseph Culver Letter, June 13, 1865, Page 1Office Chief of Artillery, District of Middle Tennessee.
Nashville, Tenn., June 13th 1865.
My Dear Sister:

Yours of June 5th reached me a few days ago. I had heard before the arrival of your letter of my new niece, Maggie I hope is better by this time. I wrote her a few days ago.

“Why don’t I come home right away” you say, “if I can only make enough to clear expenses?” This is the reason – I could not clear expenses at home. So I am better off here, till business revives at the North. Next Spring I intend going into some business that will promise at least permanancy What that will be, I am not sure. Until that time I don’t know what I will be engaged in. I have made application for a military appointment, but can not expect to get it as there is now a great surplus of Officers in the Department (Adjutant General’s) to which I applied.

I begin to look for Battery “M” here. I think it will be along this week. I have not heard from it for some considerable time. I hope the boys will all get home before the 4th of July. What preparations are being for the celebration this year? Do you anticipate a “galorious” time. I presume it will be the grandest gala day America has ever seen. There will be wild rejoicing and deep bitter mourning.

I received a letter a few days since from Cousin Lizzie Donaldson and she siad the regiment in which her Brother James went out, was daily expected home and all of his Company were safe but him. He was the only man lost out of the Co. during the war. Lizzie and her mother have gone to Cambridge and Wheeling on a visit.

Find me Tom’s address, if you have it. I’ve lost track of the scamp entirely.

Write me very often, Mollie, and keep me posted in the particulars of the natural increase of population in that section.

With much love
Ever your aff. Brother
W J Murphy

No word from Frank yet.

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We are still very busy preparing for our muster-out

Joseph Culver Letter, June 5, 1865, Page 1

Hd. Qurs., Co. “A”, 129th Ills. Vols.
Washington, D.C., June 5th 1865
My Dear Wife

We are still very busy preparing for our muster-out & are expecting our turn to come every day. The 102d Ills. was mustered out yesterday evening & start home very soon.1 I hoped to hear from you by yesterday’s mail but was doomed to disappointment. I hardly expect to hear again unless you have written yesterday, which, if mailed to-day, will reach me Wednesday [the 7th].

We are all well. Alf [Huetson] returned to the Company yesterday evening & will help me with my papers. I hope to have all completed by to-morrow.

I am going to the city this morning to get the money out of the express office that Charlie sent me. I sent down for it twice but did not succeed in getting it. We hope to get home sometime next week if nothing happens. Hoping to find you well & happy with God’s blessing resting upon you, I remain, as ever,

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. The 102d Illinois, like the 129th Illinois, belonged to the 1st Brigade, Third Division, XX Corps. That evening General Ward had his brigade commanders assemble their men to listen to his farewell address. Ward had had too much to drink, and “words as well as sense were wanting or but half understood.” He was interrupted several times by cheers and jeers from his soldiers. General Harrison and Colonel Doan of the 79th Ohio also made speeches, dwelling on the privations, hardships, and battles they had shared. They were interrupted frequently by applause. Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, p. 267.
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I have written 3 to 4 times a week ever since we arrived at Alexandria

Joseph Culver Letter, June 2, 1865, Page 1

U.S. Sanitary Commission [letter head]
Washington, D.C., June 2nd 1865
My Dear Wife

Yours of the 29th ult. recd. last night. I am very happy to hear that you are well. This was the 1st recd. since yours of the 11th ult. I have written 3 to 4 times a week ever since we arrived at Alexandria; before that we had very few mail facilities.

I am happy to hear that Maggie is doing so well. Present my congratulations.1

I am busy day & night but will be partially done by Saturday.2 I will then write. I do not know when we will start home, probably not for a couple of weeks yet.

I recd. a letter from Charlie [Culver] yesterday. Judge Watts told him that he wrote to you inquiring when & where he should send the money but recd. no answer.3 I presume he has lost your address. I will write to him next week if we are not nearly ready to start. I expect to call at Carlisle a few hours on my way home. I drew one hundred dollars from Watts by Charlie yesterday; it will be here to-day.

Mollie is lying very sick at the National Hotel, Washington. Bro. Wes’ Regt. has been sent north & is in camp near Philad. Penna. Wes will go as soon as Mollie can be removed. I have not had time to go & see them, but recd. a letter from Wes. I must close for the present.

May God bless you.
Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Mary Culver had undoubtedly written her husband that Maggie Utley had given birth to a baby girl.
  2. Orders were received on the 21st for company commanders to have all their returns, muster rolls, and accounts up-to-date and in order by June 1. General Sherman, on the previous day, had notified the adjutant general that much progress has been made “in the muster out and rolls of discharges.” General Slocum had given assurances that he could complete “the rolls and discharges” for his Army of Georgia within ten days. Distractions were numerous and work lagged. All trains departing Washington were crowded with discharged soldiers on their way home. The cheering of these men, as the trains rumbled northward, was heard in the camps clustered around Fort Lincoln, about one-fourth mile east of the right-of-way of the Baltimore & Ohio. General Sherman on the 30th had issued his farewell order to his troops, thanking them for their love of the Union, for their fidelity to him, for enduring so bravely the privations and hardships, and for their bravery in numerous battles. Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, pp. 265-66; O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, p. 598.
  3. Judge Frederick Watts of Carlisle, as administrator of the estate of Joseph Culver, was charged with disbursing the assets to the heirs.
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Another day has passed without any word from you

Joseph Culver Letter, May 29, 1865, Page 1

United States Sanitary Commission [letter head]
Hd. Qurs., Co. “A”, 129th Ills.
Washington, D.C., May 29th 1865
My Dear Wife

Another day has passed without any word from you. I begin to fear that you are sick. The last I have recd. was of the 11th inst. while everybody is receiving letters two & three days from home. I have thought that possibly you may be expecting me home on the 1st of June. I shall not go until the Regt. does if I can help it, as I wish to get all my accounts settled as soon as possible, & it will save me a great deal of trouble.

Sister Hannah & Bro. Charlie went home to-day, & I presume are at home with Mother at this hour. They enjoyed their visit very much.

The weather to-day has been beautiful. I do not remember when I enjoyed a morning as I did this one. We [J.F.C. and his brother and sister] started to the city at 5 o’clock. The birds sang so sweetly, and all nature wore a beautiful aspect.

We are all in excellent health. The days seem long to the boys waiting for their discharges, but I am kept so busy that the time passes rapidly. The moon shines brightly to-night. I wish I could look in upon you this evening & know how you are getting along. I think I surely will hear from you by to-morrow’s mail.

We cannot tell when we will start for home, yet we know ‘twil not be long. May Our Father in Heaven bless you. Kiss Howard for me. Remember me kindly to all our friends. With much love, I remain,

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

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I shall go to the city with sister Hannah and Bro. Charlie

Joseph Culver Letter, May 28, 1865, Letter 2, Page 1

Head Qurs., Co. “A” 129th Ills. Vols.
Washington, D.C., May 28th 1865
My Dear Wife

We received a mail this morning but no word from you; possibly I may be more successful next mail. I shall go to the city with sister Hannah & Bro. Charlie at 5 o’clock in the morning. Bro. Wes & wife did not come up to-day as they promised; I presume the mud prevented them. The weather has been beautiful to-day.

I just recd. yours of April 2nd. It has been lying doubtless at “Fortress Monroe.” I shall be very busy now until all my papers are made up. My Desk arrived this evening. Write often; do not delay on account of my going home. I cannot tell when that will be, but probably by the 10th June. I hope to receive a dozen letters before that time. I will write frequently.

I must go up to the house & see Hannah. I will add a few lines on my return if I can get at the table.

I have just returned. 9-1/2 o’clock. It is raining hard & promises fair for a wet day to-morrow. Frank Long’s trial comes off to-morrow, & Yetter, Hill & myself are summoned.1

We are all well. Alf Huetson was up here to-day. The days seem long as our return approaches. Remember me kindly to all. May the Richest of Heaven’s blessings rest upon you. Good night.

Your affectionate Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Frank Long was court-martialed for desertion and sentenced to forfeit 88 days’ pay. To do so, he would be retained in service in such regiment as Colonel Case might designate for the subject period. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
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I will add a postscript this morning

Joseph Culver Letter, May 28, 1865, Page 1

Sunday morning,
May 28th 1865
My Dear Wife

I will add a postscript this morning as the mail has not gone out yet. Charlie has gone up to the house to bring Hannah to camp. We are now very nicely fixed up. Cris [Yetter] has been very busy preparing for the reception of ladies this morning. A large bouquet of Laurel decorates the table, & the cedar boughs surrounding the tent & the arbor in front combine to make it very comfortable & pleasant.

It is a beautiful morning. The birds are singing sweetly & the sun shining brightly for the first time in four days. The band of the 2d Brig. is playing some very fine airs. How I wish I could be with you to-day. The band is now playing “Ever of thee I’m fondly dreaming.” I hope before many Sabbaths pass around, we may be all at home. It is time for Inspection. I may add a line or two again before I seal my letter up. Good Bye.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

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I have been sadly disappointed in receiving no letters this week

Joseph Culver Letter, May 27, 1865, Page 1

Head Qurs. Co. “A” 129th Regt. Ills. Vols.
Washington, D.C., May 27th 1865
My Dear Wife

I learned through J. A. Fellows this evening by a letter from his wife of the 22d inst. that you are well. I have been sadly disappointed in receiving no letters this week, & it is now Saturday night. I have felt uneasy thinking you must be sick. I hope, however, to hear from you by to-morrow’s mail.

It has been raining hard for three days, & we have been wet most of the time. Our Review came off very well on Wednesday [the 24th]. You will get the full particulars through the papers. Bro. Charlie came down Tuesday & found his way to camp in the evening. Bro. Wes. with Mary & Hannah were on a stand in front of the President’s Mansion, &, after the Column had passed the Reviewing Officer, I fell out and went back to them. I saw two Brigades of our Division & two Divisions of the 14th Corps pass.1

It was the first Review I ever seen & was quite interesting. After the Review was over, I brought Hannah & Charlie out to camp with me. I got a place for Hannah with Major Richardson & wife, the former commands “Fort Lincoln.”2 She has a very pleasant place. Charlie stays with me in camp. Our camp is 4-1/2 miles from Washington on the Baltimore Pike & 1-1/2 miles from Bladensburg. The situation is a very pleasant one.

We are hard at work preparing for muster out & hope to finish all our papers next week. We have not learned yet what time we may expect to go home, but ’twill not be long.

I was in Washington yesterday in company with Hannah, Charlie, Maj. Richardson & wife, & Mrs. Cartwright. The latter is wife of Lt. Cartwright, Bro. of Mrs. Richardson, & have been married but a week.3 It rained very hard all day, & we were kept close to the houses & the ambulance. We visited the Capitol & Patent Office. Considering the weather, we had a very pleasant trip.

Hannah & Charlie will go home on Monday morning [the 29th]. I could not drive from my mind the idea as we passed down the Avenue on Wednesday [24th] that you might be present. I thought there would certainly be a delegation from our part of the State thus affording you an opportunity to come. I know you would have enjoyed it. It occurs to me just now, however, that you could not leave Sister Maggie [Utley] which may also account for the long intervals in your letters.4

Another week has passed away, & another Sabbath approaches. I hope soon, very soon, to spend them with you in God’s service. I will probably write to-morrow if I am not called on for too many reports. Always when we get into camp as now there is a few months back work to make up, & the calls for papers are almost incessant. I made up the Muster & Pay Rolls to-day. We will receive part pay before we start home.

I will close for to-night; it is almost 11 o’clock. Charlie & I spent the evening with Hannah at the Major’s. All the boys are well & are making good use of the time looking around Washington. Remember me in love to all the family. Kiss Howard for Papa. May God bless you & keep you safe from harm until my return.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. The XX Corps moved out with the First Division in the van and General Ward’s Third Division bringing up the rear. In Ward’s division, General Harrison’s 1st Brigade had the lead. The unarmed men were left to guard and move the knapsacks, camp, and garrison equipage to the new camps east of the Potomac. Marching by way of Columbia Pike, the corps passed Fairfax Seminary and Fort Richardson and crossed Long Bridge at 7 o’clock. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 563-64.
  2. Fort Lincoln was near the district line, a few hundred yards east of the Bladensburg Pike. James M. Richardson, a 36-year-old Brookline merchant, entered service on Nov. 20, 1863, as captain of Company H, 3d Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. He was promoted major on Nov. 30, 1864. In the spring and early summer of 1865, Major Richardson served as acting inspector general, Hardin’s division, XXII Corps, with his duty station at Fort Lincoln. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
  3. Edward G. W. Cartwright, a 19-year-old Nantucket clerk, was mustered into service on Dec. 3, 1863, as a 2d lieutenant in Company H, 3d Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant on Dec. 15, 1864, while stationed at Fort Lincoln. Ibid.
  4. Maggie Utley gave birth to a child, her third, in May 1865. Culver, “Robert Murphy and Some of His Descendants,” p. 129.
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We are very busy preparing for the Review

Joseph Culver Letter, May 23, 1865, Page 1

Hd. Qurs., Co. “A” 129th Ills. Vols.
Near Alexandria, Va., May 23d 1865
My Dear Wife

We are very busy preparing for the Review to-morrow, but I haste to write a few lines.1 I have recd. only three letters from you since our arrival here, but presume you thought we were cut off from communications & therefore did not write.

Sister Hannah did not get here on Sunday [the 21st]. It has been raining ever since our arrival until to-day. It is very warm, & we fear to-morrow will be a hard day. We leave here at an early hour as we have 8 or 10 miles to march before we reach Washington. Our day’s march can be little less than 20 miles, & much of the way in line which at best is very Severe.2 If it is warm as today, many a poor fellow will fall by the way.

We are all in good health. All necessary arrangements are being made for our muster out, yet we will hardly be able to leave here for a couple of weeks yet. I will write when we reach camp after the Review. I hope to hear from you more frequently. We are all well. Remember me in love to all.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Those that did not draw new clothes repaired and cleaned their old uniforms. Small arms and accoutrements were cleaned and polished, “and preparations made … to appear in a proper condition” for the review. Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, p. 258.
  2. Orders issued by General Sherman on the 20th called for soldiers of the Armies of the Tennessee and Georgia to be ready to march at daybreak. The men would fall out without knapsacks, with canteens and one day’s rations in haversacks. Understrength regiments would march in close columns of divisions, and the others in close columns of companies; the artillery in battery front, with close intervals. Regimental and headquarters pack mules would be led in close order in rear of the brigade ambulances. With the Army of the Tennessee in the lead, the columns were to cross Long Bridge and take position on Maryland Avenue at the foot of Capitol Hill and east of the canal. At 9 o’clock a signal gun would be fired, and the head of the column would move out, the units marching by close columns of companies, right in front, guide left. Passing around the Capitol to Pennsylvania Avenue, the column would proceed down the avenue, and past the reviewing stand in front of the White House. All colors would be unfurled from the Capitol to a point beyond the President’s reviewing stand. After passing in review, the units would proceed to their new camps, those of the Army of Georgia to be located northeast of Washington and those of the Army of the Tennessee northwest of the city. O. R., Ser. I., Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 526, 539-40.
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We are very busy preparing for the Review

Joseph Culver Letter, May 23, 1865, Page 1

Hd. Qurs., Co. “A” 129th Ills. Vols.
Near Alexandria, Va., May 23d 1865
My Dear Wife

We are very busy preparing for the Review to-morrow, but I haste to write a few lines.1 I have recd. only three letters from you since our arrival here, but presume you thought we were cut off from communications & therefore did not write.

Sister Hannah did not get here on Sunday [the 21st]. It has been raining ever since our arrival until to-day. It is very warm, & we fear to-morrow will be a hard day. We leave here at an early hour as we have 8 or 10 miles to march before we reach Washington. Our day’s march can be little less than 20 miles, & much of the way in line which at best is very Severe.2 If it is warm as today, many a poor fellow will fall by the way.

We are all in good health. All necessary arrangements are being made for our muster out, yet we will hardly be able to leave here for a couple of weeks yet. I will write when we reach camp after the Review. I hope to hear from you more frequently. We are all well. Remember me in love to all.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Those that did not draw new clothes repaired and cleaned their old uniforms. Small arms and accoutrements were cleaned and polished, “and preparations made … to appear in a proper condition” for the review. Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, p. 258.
  2. Orders issued by General Sherman on the 20th called for soldiers of the Armies of the Tennessee and Georgia to be ready to march at daybreak. The men would fall out without knapsacks, with canteens and one day’s rations in haversacks. Understrength regiments would march in close columns of divisions, and the others in close columns of companies; the artillery in battery front, with close intervals. Regimental and headquarters pack mules would be led in close order in rear of the brigade ambulances. With the Army of the Tennessee in the lead, the columns were to cross Long Bridge and take position on Maryland Avenue at the foot of Capitol Hill and east of the canal. At 9 o’clock a signal gun would be fired, and the head of the column would move out, the units marching by close columns of companies, right in front, guide left. Passing around the Capitol to Pennsylvania Avenue, the column would proceed down the avenue, and past the reviewing stand in front of the White House. All colors would be unfurled from the Capitol to a point beyond the President’s reviewing stand. After passing in review, the units would proceed to their new camps, those of the Army of Georgia to be located northeast of Washington and those of the Army of the Tennessee northwest of the city. O. R., Ser. I., Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 526, 539-40.
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Yours of May 2d came to hand this afternoon

Joseph Culver Letter, May 21, 1865, Page 1

Hd. Qurs. Co. “A” 129th Ills. Vols.
Near Alexandria, Va., May 21st 1865
My Dear Wife

Yours of May 2d came to hand this afternoon. I am happy to hear that your health & Howard’s is as good as it is & hope God may bless you with good health. I intended to write you a long letter to-day, but it rained hard until noon & threatens to rain again. For three days it has been raining almost constantly, & it has become very muddy & unpleasant.1 To-morrow we will move a few miles nearer Washington & get ready for our Review on Wednesday.

Sister Hannah & Bro. Wes & family were to be here to-day, but the rain has prevented them. Sister Hannah expects to return home soon after the Review. Bro. Charlie [Culver] is expected here to-morrow.

We have a miserable camp here with no facilities for fixing up. We are all impatient for the time to arrive when we shall start homeward. We have learned nothing since our arrival here. I will try & go to Washington on Tuesday [the 23d] & get what blanks & papers I need to settle up my accounts. I think it very probable we will be mustered out at Springfield or Pontiac though it may possibly be done here.

Our Review on Wednesday will be very tedious & wearisome, but we hope ‘twil be the last. We recd. notice that all troops whose time expires by Octr. 1st next will be sent off as soon after the Review as possible, though we may be delayed for want of sufficient transportation. I have but little idea of the route we will take, but think it probable we will go on the Baltimore & Ohio rail road.

This has been a dull Sabbath: The rain has kept us confined in our little tents all day; I hope it will clear up soon so we can get around. I have not been in Alexandria yet; we are about 4 or 5 miles distant. I saw the dome of the Capitol at Washington from the summit of a neighboring hill day before yesterday evening.

I saw Allen Fellows to-day, he is quite well, also Crist [Yetter], Nate [Hill], & all the boys. The mail is making up, & I must close. As I cannot tell when we will leave here, I hope to hear from you often. The letter recd. today is the only one recd. since we left Raleigh. Letters should not be more than 5 days coming through. I wrote to you from Richmond & also from Burke’s Station where Bro. Wes is on duty. Remember me kindly to all our friends. Kiss Howard for me. Hoping to see you safe & well, I remain,

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

P.S. Your letter recd. to-day contained 6 postage stamps. Please accept my thanks. I have now a large supply on hand.

J. F. C.

  1. The regimental historian reported that on the 21st, “the rain continued to pour down in torrents. . . . We had the greatest trouble in preparing our meals, got wet to the skin, and had to remain in the tents until more favorable weather commenced.” Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, pp. 257-59.
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