Head Qurs., 1st Brig., 1st Div., 11th A.C.
Wauhatchie, Tenn., April 15th 1864
My Dear Wife
I recd. three letters since I last wrote: two yesterday and one to-day, mailed, respectively, Apr. 7th, 9th & 11th.1 I am very happy to hear from you so frequently & am sorry that I have not written more regularly. I will try and answer all of your letters to-night if I am not interrupted.
We received information of the consolidation of the 11th & 12th Corps; the order announcing it will appear to-morrow, I presume. We are 1st Brig., 3rd Div., 20th A.C. Genl. Ward commands the Brigade, & Genl. Butterfield the Division.2 As a matter of course, the present Brigade Commander [Col. Benjamin Harrison] and Staff will be sent back to their Regts., so that in a few days at farthest, I will be with Co. “A” again. It is not known what changes will be made, as the Staff of Genl. Butterfield will be selected from this Division.
Col. Harrison was called to Corps Hd. Qurs. this evening to give counsel in the selection of Staff Officers. He asked me if I desired a position, but I had not thought of it and deferred giving an answer at present. There are very few positions that I prefer over my position in the Company, especially with my present prospects of promotion [to Captain]. Nothing has yet been learned concerning the promotions in the Regts. There must be something wrong, but where we cannot tell. We will soon hear the decision be it what it may. We regret very much the change from Harrison to Ward’s command, but time will rectify all things.3
Col. Harrison has just informed me that he has recommended me as A.D.C. on the Division Staff (Maj. Genl. Butterfield’s).4 I do not know that I should refuse if I were selected, but I feel as if I would prefer staying with the Company. Staff duty costs much more, & I feel the necessity of Saving until our home is paid for. It has cost me nearly all I made in two months to keep me three, & that is a very heavy tax. There are many advantages it is true, and I presume more honor, but not more pleasure and much more responsibility. Besides I have the impression that Genl. Butterfield is inclined to be a little fast, and fear my qualifications would not come up to his standard.
I was at the Company this evening. All are well. The boys seem very glad at the prospect of my returning.
I am sorry to hear of so much sickness in Pontiac. I hope to hear soon of Bro. Johnson’s recovery.5 Mrs. Shellenbarger is a widow. I recd. a letter yesterday from Mrs. Minton, a married sister of Joe’s; she has besides a Brother in the Army of the Ohio at Knoxville and another sister, the one who wrote the letter sent you. Mr. Paige has not yet returned.
I bought a pair of shirts of Capt. Hoskins thinking you might not have an opportunity to send any very soon, & I was much in need of them. The socks will be very acceptable, as those I have are much worn.
You say “Mrs. Culver is beginning to make a little progress in her present study,” but I do not know what the study is. I am very happy that your headaches disapper so readily. Hoskins said nothing “of our circumstances,” what could he say?6 I hope Bro. Sammy may soon get to the Battery; it will be much more pleasant for him. I would have written to him but expected him along almost daily.
I fear you will not be able to get Fleming to settle. If I thought it would do any [good], I would write to him.
I am happy to hear that Sis. enjoys life so well & hope it may continue so. Remember me kindly to her. I hope your Sabbath School class may prove interesting. I am sorry, however, to hear that Bro. Fisher has left.7 What has become of his shop? Is the Boyer Estate settled up yet?
I was surprised to hear of Bob Edgington’s ill health.8 He has been around all the time and looks well and hearty, and I never heard that he was sick. Harry McDowell can very easily get an order returning him to his Regt. if he will report his desire to Col. Case. I am certainly surprised to hear of his treatment of Miss Thayer and cannot understand it.9 I supposed he was more gallant and gentlemanly.
Our review came off yesterday but was not as good as those we had at Nashville which you saw.10 I was much pleased with the appearance of Maj. Genl. Thomas; he is quite an old man and very pleasant looking.11
The balance of the staff [Harrison's] have been discussing their prospects under the new organization, and I have been writing at intervals until I have occupied nearly 4 hours in producing this letter. I fear you will find it disconnected and uninteresting. Continue to write often. I am very happy to hear from you so often. It is five minutes past 12 o’clock, & I must go to bed. I will send this letter by Mr. Amos Clark who is going home on furlough to-morrow.12
May God in his infinite Mercy bless you with health and bestow upon you the richest of his Grace. Remember me to all. Accept the love and affection with a kiss from
Your Affect. Husband
J. F. Culver
Direct as before until I can safely notify you of the change [of address].
- Mary Culver’s letters of April 7, 9, and 11 are missing from the Culver Collection.
- General Thomas’ order announcing consolidation of the XI and XII Corps and organization of the XX Corps was dated April 14, 1864. Maj. Gen. Daniel Butterfield, before assuming command of the Third Division, had served as chief of staff to Generals Hooker and George G. Meade. He had accompanied Hooker to the west. General Thomas on April 8 had suggested to General Sherman that Butterfield be assigned a division in Hooker’s corps. Today, Butterfield is best remembered as composer of the bugle call “Taps”. Brigaded with the 129th Illinois in General Ward’s 1st Brigade would be the 70th Indiana, 79th Ohio, and the 102d and 105th Illinois Infantry Regiments. O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXII, pt. III, pp. 292, 364; Warner, Generals in Blue, pp. 62-63.
- A number of soldiers in the brigade had even stronger opinions regarding General Ward. Lt. Charles H. Cox of the 70th Indiana had written on July 22, 1863, “Genl. Ward has gone to Nashville and will probably go home on a furlough (if he can get one) which I hope he can and will go home and slay, it would be for the ‘good of the service’ if he should. He is the ranking Brigadier in this Dept., but by his incompetency, has been continually kept in the rear. Confound such a General as Ward!” “The Civil War Letters of Charles Harding Cox,” edited by Lorma Luter Sylvester, Indiana Magazine of History, Vol. LXVIII, No. 1, p. 62.
- A.D.C. is the abbreviation for aide-de-camp.
- Morris Johnson had moved in 1859 to Livingston County from Virginia. He and his wife, Minerva Ellir Johnson, were the parents of two children. Johnson was engaged in merchandising. History of Livingston County, p. 637.
- This is a reference to Mrs. Culver being five months pregnant.
- It has been impossible to further identify Bro. Fisher.
- Twenty-eight-year-old Robert P. Edgington was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as 1st lieutenant of Company C, 129th Illinois Infantry. Lieutenant Edgington was placed on detached duty on Nov. 14, 1864, as quartermaster of the Third Division Hospital, XX Corps. He was mustered out near Washington, D.C., June 8, 1865. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
- Lt. Harry McDowell, who had returned to Illinois on recruiting detail, had jilted Emma Thayer, a local belle.
- Private Grunert reported, “At 8 o’clock the brigade marched to the parade ground and soon after General Thomas appeared. Generals Hooker, Ward, Butterfield, &c. were present. The parade was one of the finest we had ever witnessed.” According to Private Dunham, “there was something like eight thousand soldiers present,” and it was a grand review. Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, p. 50; Through the South with a Union Soldier, p. 115.
- General Thomas at 47 was prematurely gray which made him appear much older than his years.
- Amos Clark, a 39-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company G, 129th Illinois Infantry. Private Clark was granted a 30-day furlough on April 16, 1864. He rejoined the regiment in January 1865 and was mustered out near Washington, D.C., June 8, 1865. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.