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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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I was most agreeably surprised to meet Bro. Wes. coming after me with a horse

Joseph Culver Letter, May 19, 1865, Page 1

Burke’s Station, Va.
May 19th 1865
My Dear Wife

As I was trudging along yesterday evening longing for camp, I was most agreeably surprised to meet Bro. Wes. [Culver] coming after me with a horse & permission for me to leave the column.1 I mounted & we came to this place, where I found Sister Hannah, Mary, Willie & the baby.2 All very glad to see me. We have but 7 miles more to camp.

The column left at 5 o’clock this morning, & I presume are at the place by this time. I will start in a few minutes. I hope to hear from you this evening or to-morrow. We are all very weary but will be recruited up in a few days.

I wish you could be here at the Review next week.3 I will write as soon as we get into camp. Bro. Wes & family are all well, so are all at Mother’s. It rained very hard last night & is cold this morning. I must close for the present with love to all. May God bless you.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Wesley Culver was one of J.F.C.’s younger brothers, and he was currently stationed near Fairfax Station. Wesley had been mustered into service on Nov. 22, 1862, as assistant surgeon of the 56th Pennsylvania. On Feb. 26, 1863, he was medically discharged, because of a “dropsical leg” occasioned by an 18-foot fall from a tree at the family home which fractured several small ankle bones. By Oct. 27, 1864, his injury having healed, Wesley reentered service as assistant surgeon of the 202d Pennsylvania Infantry. March 1865 found him on detached duty, near Burke’s Station, with Companies D and I of his regiment. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
  2. Wesley was felled by “consumption” in March, and his wife Mary had come down from Carlisle to help nurse him, bringing with her their two sons, five-year-old Willie and Charlie who had been born in December 1864.
  3. It had been announced on May 18 by Army headquarters that there would be “a review with marching salute, of the Army of the Potomac, the Army of the Tennessee, the Army of Georgia, and General Sheridan’s cavalry” on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 23d and 24th. On the 23d would be reviewed the Army of the Potomac and Sheridan’s cavalry and on the following day, General Sherman’s two armies. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. Ill, p. 526.
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It seems a long time since I have heard from home

Joseph Culver Letter, May 18, 1865, Page 1Office Chief of Artillery
District of Middle Tennessee.
Nashville, Tenn. May 18th 1865.
Dear Sister Mollie:

It seems a long time since I have heard from home. I assure you I would like to hear from you semi-occationally at least. You must not think I have lost all feelings of interest in my friends at home. I love my sisters and brother and father as well as I ever did.

There is more need of my getting letters from my sisters at home now while in Nashville, than there is generally when I am away from home, because I have no “adopted sisters” here. I don’t call on my “singing bird” any more. Perhaps you don’t know who I mean it’s the girl from Michigan whom I mentioned in a letter to you a few weeks ago. Before I was aware of the fact I had conceived a very tender regard for her and to prevent its growth I am obliged to forgo the pleasure of her company. I have made two short calls within the last half month and they will be less frequent in future. This is greater self denial than I am accustomed to exercising. If she was pious I would not hesitate- I do not hesitate now, but I mean that I would act promptly contrary to my present course. I shall wait for her and if, in the course of events she becomes a member of the Christian fold before her affections are won by another, I shall request the privalege of folding her in my arms and of taking upon my self the responsibility of a family. You see, Mollie, my matrimonious prospects though very bright are not immediate. I wish you knew this girl.

I am acquainted with a number of southern girls, but I don’t ask rebel women to be my sisters, I dont think enough of them for that. though they are willing to smile graciously on the boys in blue. And as for marrying one of them, “that proposition”, as Pres. Johnston said about Sherman’s peace negotiation, “is not debatable”

Even if I did like them as a class and if there were no other objection to them than that they were rebels or had been rebels- no amount or kind of inducement could cause me to so insult the good, loyal, true girls of the north who have stood firmly by us and the country during all this struggle. A few Northern soldiers have been soft headed or mean enough to mary rebel women, but they are very few who have so disgraced themselves, and I hope they will remain in the south, we don’t want them North.

I have not heard from Frank or Leander or Tom since last you wrote me. My health has not been so good lately- have lost twenty pounds in a month. Write often.

With love & a Kiss I remain
Ever Yours
Johnie

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We start at 11 A.M. for Alexandria

Joseph Culver Letter, May 11, 1865, Page 1

Head Qurs., Co. “A”, 129th Ills.
Near Richmond, Va., May 11th 1865
My Dear Wife

We start at 11 A.M. for Alexandria. We recd. no mail here & will not until we get through. We were saved the trying ordeal of a Review yesterday by the timely arrival of our good friend Genl. Sherman. The men are much rejoiced as the route advertised by Genl. Halleck would have been most tedious.1

I was in Richmond yesterday. Saw Libby Prison & Castle Thunder & rode through the greater portion of the city.2 I have not time to give you a lengthy description this morning. The half of the business portion of the city is in ruins by fire. It has been quite a pretty place. I rode out to the camp of the 39th Ills. and took dinner with Lace, the Leader of the Band.3 All the boys were over here, & I did not see them until on my return home. I met Charlie McGregor, Addie Wilson, & Jones.4 They are all well; Charlie looks very well. I had not opportunity to talk with them, but we will see them to-day as we pass through the city.

We were cheered a few moments ago by the news that a mail had arrived, but it proved to be a very small one—only two letters for my Company & none for me. We must be content to wait until we reach Alexandria.

I have a negro [freedman] for Bro. Utley on trial. If he proves to be worth anything, I will try & take him through; if not, I will drop him at Alexandria.

All the boys are in good health. We will be about 7 or 8 days on the way. The papers speak of a Grand Review of all the Armies at Alexandria, the 20th inst. I must close & pack up. We hope to be at home early in June.

May Our Father in Heaven bless us with life & health. Kiss Howard for Papa. Remember me kindly to all. I shall look anxiously for late news at Alexandria as it will only require 4 or 5 days for mail to reach us there from home.

Good Bye, God bless you,
Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. On May 8 orders were issued by Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, commanding the Military Division of the James, that the Army of Georgia would pass through Richmond on the 10th. It was to cross the James on the upper pontoon bridge at the foot of 17th Street, and pass through the city by way of 17th, Cary, 21st, Main, 13th, Capitol, Grace, and Adams Streets, to Brook Avenue. The XIV Corps was to have the lead, and the troops would be reviewed by General Halleck from a stand at the courthouse near Capitol Square. General Sherman, who had left his “army group” at Raleigh on April 28, rejoined it near Manchester on the 9th. His first order on arrival was to cancel the review. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 437-39, 446.
  2. Libby Prison and Castle Thunder were notorious prisons, where the Confederates held Union prisoners of war.
  3. The 39th Illinois was assigned to the 1st Brigade, First Division, XXIV Corps, Army of the James. Philip M. Lace of Pontiac on Oct. 11, 1861, was mustered in at Chicago as leader of the regimental band, 39th Illinois Infantry. He was mustered out on June 4, 1862, at Washington, D.C. Lace was reenlisted in the regiment on Jan. 12, 1864, at Joliet, Ill., as a private in Company H, in May he was detached as leader of the regimental band, and on Sept. 23 he was promoted to fife major. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
  4. Charles A. McGregor, a 22-year-old clerk, was mustered into service at Chicago on Feb. 22, 1864, as a private in Company C, 39th Illinois Infantry, and on March 22 was detailed to the regimental band. James A. Wilson, an 18-year-old clerk, was mustered into service at Chicago on March 15, 1864, as a private in Company C, 39th Illinois Infantry. Private Wilson was detailed to the regimental band seven days later. Henry T. Jones of Cook County was mustered into service at Chicago on Oct. 11, 1861, as a fifer in Company C, 39th Illinois Infantry. On Nov. 1, 1861 he was appointed principal musician, and on June 13, 1862 he was discharged at Washington, D.C. Twenty months later, on February 29, 1864, Jones reenlisted in the regiment as a private in Company C and was detailed to the regimental band. Ibid.
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We expect to start on our march to Washington in the morning

Joseph Culver Letter, April 29, 1865, Page 1

Hd. Qurs. Co. “A” 129th Reg. Ills. Vol. Infty.
Raleigh, N.C., April 29th 1865
My Dear Wife

We expect to start on our march to Washington in the morning at 5 o’clock, & though the last mail went out for the Corps, yet I will try & mail this in the 23d Corps which is to remain here for the present.1 It is raining to-night & bids fair to be a wet day to-morrow. I was in hope that we would rest until Monday morning [May 1], but, though we do not see it, doubtless the necessity exists for our immediate departure.

We are in good health & all ready for this our last campaign. The cannon have been booming at intervals of 30 minutes throughout the day, & all Officers of the Army assume the badge of mourning for 6 months. We have not yet learned the particulars of the negotiations. Many vague rumors are afloat, but we must wait until we get through to the north for more definite information.

Chris [Yetter] has not been well for a couple of days, but I think it is only a slight cold. Nate [Hill] has had headache for two days. Allen Fellows in playing with Billy Perry this evening received a severe cut in his hand from a knife Perry was whetting.2 His hand is doing quite well to-night, & I think will be well in a few days. I saw Bro. John Lee this evening at Church. We had a good meeting.

We were inspected & mustered to-day; only once more, & we hope to be done. Every day & every hour of the day, you may hear the boys talking of “Home Sweet Home.” I have been so busily engaged with papers that I could not enter into their enjoyment as much as I would like.

By the time this reaches you, we will be doubtless at Richmond, Va., or beyond it. I hope to receive several letters from you there. I would like very much if our house could be vacated so that we might go immediately to housekeeping on my return, yet I can give no definite idea of the time we will reach home. If convenient for Mr. Mathis, ask him to leave by the 1st of June.

It is getting quite windy, & the light will not last much longer, so I will close. Remember me kindly to all our friends. Tell Maggie Gutherie that I did not get time to answer her letter here. Kiss Howard for me. May the richest of Heaven’s blessings rest upon you & preserve us for future enjoyment in this life. With much love, I remain, Ever,

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. General Grant, on the 29th, wired Washington that four corps would march from Raleigh to Alexandria, passing near Richmond. General Mower, during the day, informed his XX Corps that they would “commence the march to-morrow.” The First Division would take the lead, followed by the Second and Third. Mower hoped the march would be so regulated that the corps would be across the Neuse when it halted for the night. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 345, 348.
  2. William W. Perry, a 20-year-old drayman, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois Infantry. Private Perry was detailed as regimental ambulance driver on Dec. 2, 1862, and did not rejoin the company until May 5, 1864. On Aug. 28, 1864, he was detailed for duty in the regimental medical department, where he remained until mustered out on June 8, 1865, near Washington, D.C. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.

We marched from Holly Springs to this place to-day

Joseph Culver Letter, April 28, 1865, Page 1

Head Qurs. Co. “A”, 129th Ills. Vols.
Raleigh, N. C, April 28th 1865
My Dear Wife

We marched from Holly Springs to this place to-day and are making preparations for our coming Campaign. We will leave here on Sunday or Monday morning next, “Homeward bound.” The last mail leaves at 11 o’clock to-morrow, the last opportunity to send letters from this place & the last we will have until we reach Richmond, Va.

Our present destination is supposed to be Alexandria (near Washington) though we may turn up somewhere else. We have 15 days’ supplies & have orders to average 15 miles per day which will take us fully to Richmond by the route designated for us.1

We had a mail both yesterday and to-day, but I recd. no letters from you. I recd. one to-day from Maggie Guthrie of the 10th inst.2 Your last was the 15th. The war is over, & I doubt not fills the hearts of the people with joy.3 I cannot express my own feelings. If God spares our lives, we hope to be in a few weeks quietly at our homes. We are very restless, & the days seem long that keep us from our loved ones.

I have been suffering for the last few hours from severe headache, but it will all be gone I hope by morning. I cannot say how soon you may look for us. We will doubtless be delayed at Alexandria a couple of weeks & possibly longer. I must try and get home to attend court the first Monday in June, & we may all possibly be there by that time.

The Campaign before us is a severe one. We sent to the rear to-day all that were not in good marching trim, of my Company, Haley, DeLong, Noyes, & Cook.4 They may reach home several weeks before us. All the rest of the Company are in good health. I cannot write much to-night but will try & add a few lines in the morning. Perhaps my head will feel better. Good night. May Holy Angels guard you & Our Father in Heaven keep & bless you.

Saturday morning, Apr. 29th

I arose this morning in the enjoyment of excellent health. We recd. the order of march this morning & will be in Richmond by the 12th or 14th of May.5 We will have no mail facilities until we reach there. We will leave here either to-morrow or Monday. Joy fills every heart, yet there has been no demonstrations. A few more days hard marching, & we will be at Home. I must close as I am busy on the muster rolls & must complete them by noon. Let us thank God for all His mercies. Remember me to all. Kiss Howard for Papa.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. General Sherman, on the 27th, notified his generals that the Army of the Ohio would remain in the Department of North Carolina, while the Armies of the Tennessee and Georgia would march to Richmond. The Army of the Tennessee would travel via Louisburg, Warrenton, Lawrenceville, and Petersburg, while General Slocum would route his Army of Georgia through Oxford, Boydton, and Nottaway Court-House; roads to the west of those followed by Howard’s army. The Armies of Georgia and the Tennessee would, before leaving Raleigh, turn in the contents of their ordnance trains, and use the wagons for extra forage and rations. The columns would “be conducted slowly and in the best order, and will aim to be at Richmond ready to resume the march by the middle of May.” On the 28th the commander of the XX Corps, General Mower, notified the troops that hostilities had ceased, and they would be marched at once via Richmond to Washington “to be mustered out of service and return to their homes.” While en route there would be no foraging upon the country and private property would be respected. O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 323-25, 341.
  2. Maggie Gutherie was the 17-year-old daughter of George and Sarah Gutherie. Her father was a prosperous Pontiac Township farmer. Eighth Census, Livingston County, State of Illinois, NA.
  3. In their afternoon meeting at Bennett’s on April 26, General Johnston had agreed to surrender all the troops under his command on these terms: (a) all acts of war on their part to cease; (b) all arms and public property to be deposited at Greensboro, and delivered to a United States ordnance officer; (c) all officers and men to give their “individual obligation in writing not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until released from this obligation;” (d) the officers to retain their side-arms, “private horses and baggage;” and (e) this done, all officers and enlisted men “to be permitted to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by the United States authorities so long as they observe their obligation and the laws in force where they may reside.” O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 313, 321.
  4. John E. Haley, a 23-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois Infantry. Private Haley was mustered out with the regiment near Washington, on June 8, 1865. Joseph G. Noyes, a 28-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois Infantry. He was assigned to a Nashville convalescent camp from Jan. 30, 1864, until June, and in April 1865 was confined to the Third Division hospital, XX Corps. Private Noyes was mustered out on June 8, 1865, near Washington, D. C. Charles Cook, a 42-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois Infantry. Private Cook was captured by Rebel partisans on April 26, 1863, at Richland, Tenn. Exchanged, he rejoined the company at Gallatin, Tenn., on June 17, 1863. He was hospitalized in Atlanta at the beginning of the “March to the Sea.” Rejoining the regiment in the spring of 1865, Cook was mustered out on June 8, 1865, near Washington, D. C. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
  5. The troops were cautioned that upon leaving Raleigh, “the march will be continued from day-to-day until our destination is reached or until orders are given from these or higher headquarters to halt.” The XX Corps divisions would “habitually march and encamp from three to five miles apart.” The commander of the lead division would post guards to look after the security of all buildings and private property along the route. These guards would be relieved by the succeeding divisions as they passed. O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 341-42.
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I closed up my last letter on Sunday night to go foraging

Joseph Culver Letter, April 26, 1865, Page 1

Hd. Qurs., Co. “A”, 129th Ills.
In the fields near Holly Springs, N.C.
April 26th 1865
My Dear Wife

I closed up my last letter on Sunday night [the 23d] to go foraging. We left camp at 6 o’clock & moved in the direction of Cape Fear River. The country is much finer than any we have passed through lately. When we were 23 miles from the city, we recd. orders to return to camp immediately as our corps was to march early next morning.1 It was then 4 o’clock. We fed the train & started back, arriving in camp about 2 o’clock yesterday morning after 46 miles travel. We had 4 officers & 200 men of the Regt.

Early yesterday morning we broke camp & marched to this place. It is 13 miles from Raleigh & near Holly Springs. I have not seen the Springs yet. We will remain in camp to-day, but how much longer, I do not know.2

The rumors are so numerous & so vague that we have no idea of the condition of affairs. Genl. Grant is in Raleigh. We hear one hour that Johnson has surrendered which is discredited the next. Our movement in such haste rather implies an effort to intercept him if he attempts to turn our flank. We are marching light prepared for fight & are on half rations for 30 days. The boys are out foraging to-day to make up the deficiency.3 There has been a rumor afloat for the last two days that Genl. Sherman is relieved for halting at Raleigh & capitulating with Johnson instead of pressing forward. It will be a sad hour for this Army if it prove true.4

We met a great many of Lee’s army on their way home while we were out foraging Monday. I begin to think we have accomplished much more than we ever anticipated in this war, i.e., the subjugation of the South. Their spirit is certainly broken.

We are all in good health. This is a splendid country much resembling Northern Georgia. Large fine oak timber. It is a relief from the pine forests that have lined our march all the way through from Atlanta.

I recd. your letters of the 14th & 15th on my return Tuesday morning. I am happy to hear that your health is improving. Your letter of the 15th is the first intelligence I have recd. of Leander’s [Utley] success in his suit. Is he satisfied with the amount or does he value the mare at more; if so, find out the amount & I will pay it.

Father’s estate was settled April 1st, & the money should reach you by the 15th or 20th, yet it might be delayed a couple of weeks longer. Bro. John Miller will doubtless inform you when he pays over the money.5 If we stay here a few days & get fixed up a little, I will write again. Remember me kindly to our friends. Kiss Howard for me. May Our Father in Heaven bless you. Good Bye.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. General Grant, who hand carried the message from the government that the agreement Sherman had negotiated with Johnston and Breckinridge was unacceptable, had reached Raleigh on the morning of the 24th. Word was immediately sent by Sherman to Johnston, notifying him that “the truce or suspension of hostilities agreed to between us will in forty-eight hours cease after this is received at your lines.” Sherman at the same time notified his army commanders of the situation and alerted them to have their troops ready to resume the offensive at noon on the 26th. The movement against the foe would be governed by “the plan laid down in Special Field Order, No. 55, of date of April 14, 1865.” To facilitate operations, the army commanders on the 25th would marshal their corps ready to cross the truce line at the time indicated. O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 208-09, 293, 295.
  2. The XX Corps, with the First Division in the lead, had marched at 7 A.M. to Jones’ Cross-Roads. This was on the road to Avens’ Ferry, where it was to cross the Cape Fear River at noon on the 26th. Ibid., pp. 297-98.
  3. On the evening of the 25th, Sherman had received a message from General Johnston, announcing receipt of Sherman’s dispatch of the 24th, reading “I am instructed to limit my operations to your [Johnston’s] immediate command and not to attempt civil negotiations, I, therefore, demand the surrender of your army on the same terms as were given General Lee at Appomattox.” It and a dispatch received the next morning indicated that Johnston was agreeable to an agreement for surrender on the terms drawn up by Sherman on the 18th for “disbanding this army, and a further armistice and conference to arrange these terms.” Sherman accordingly agreed to return to the Bennett House at noon on the 26th for another meeting with Johnston. This resulted in orders for the army commanders to suspend their advance across the truce line and for the troops to remain in camp until receipt of further orders. Ibid., pp. 294, 303-306.
  4. Although General Grant did not do so, he was under orders to supersede Sherman in command. Grant did not have the heart to tell his friend this, nor of the instructions from the War Department directing the troops in the South not to obey Sherman’s orders. Barrett, Sherman ‘s March through the Carolinas, pp. 267-68.
  5. For additional information about John Miller, see J.F.C.’s letter of February 10, 1865.

I commenced to write about an hour before the mail left

Joseph Culver Letter, April 23, 1865, Page 1

Head Quarters Co. “A” 129th Ills. Vols.
Raleigh N.C., April 23rd 1865
My Dear Wife

I commenced to write about an hour before the mail left to-day, but Harry McDowell came in with the New York Herald containing an account of the Assassination & death of President Lincoln, and I laid the letter aside to read the particulars. It is now too late for to-day’s mail. The mail has not come in yet. I anticipate a good long letter from you; I have recd. none since yours of the 9th.

This has been a beautiful day and very pleasant. The first sound that greeted my ear on awaking this morning was the sweet warbling of a bird. I heard several sing very sweetly this morning. During the few years of the war, the birds have been very scarce in the neighborhood of the Army, at least, & to hear them again is a great treat.

Bro. John Lee has been sitting here for the last 30 minutes talking. He is in good health & recd. a letter from home yesterday of the 12th inst. I laid aside my letter to converse with him. I am not certain that I shall accomplish much in the way of writing until after church to-night as there are so many around. Alva Garner & James Maxwell are here,1 & there is a constant crowd around, talking of going home; but then the wind is so high that if it continues it will be impossible to keep a candle burning to-night.

It seems as if the war was over.2 Everything bears the impress of the Holy Sabbath. We had an excellent meeting this morning. Genl. Class at 9-1/2 & preaching at 10-1/2. Our Brig. Church numbers 195 members, ten joined to-day. The ordnance [sic] of baptism was administered this afternoon; I was not out. Our night meetings continue to be very interesting; there were five at the Alter [sic] last night & some conversions every day during the week.

The news of the death of the President is now established beyond doubt, and the developments implicate the ‘”Knights of the Golden Circle.”3 I am not surprised. Everyone here when the rumor first reached us exclaimed that it was the work of the Copperheads. We have spent three years in honorable warfare; this event foreshadows what we must anticipate at our “Homes.” It will be much more difficult to meet successfuly, & many innocent will doubtless suffer with the guilty. But the issue must be met, & the Army is preparing for it. Genl. Sherman’s order indicates the line of policy to be pursued.4 The order proclaiming Peace has been delayed beyond our anticipations, owing no doubt to the change of the Government and the additional time required to define the policies to be adopted.5

I was interrupted by the return of Alva Garner & James McCabe.6 They remained for supper, & I had no opportunity to write before Church as I was notified that I must preach if the Chaplain of the 70th Ind. did not come, & as it was late & quite cool, I thought I would postpone writing until morning, but I have just been notified to be ready to start on a Forage Expedition at 6-1/2 A.M. I must close my letter to-night late as it is (10-1/2).

Your letter of March 12th directed to Charleston, S.C. has reached me this evening. All the questions I believe have been previously answered save one, & that is that it is Clymer who wishes to join our Conference. He is to be married in June or July. I recd. a note from Lou Fellows through Allen this evening, dated the 9th inst., the same date of your last letter recd. She was expecting you to pay her a visit.

I have no late news from Carlisle. I hope to find mail here for me on my return. We go with two days’ rations. Bart, Allen, & Burton got up last night from Charleston.7 All our friends here are in good health. I must close for to-night. Remember me in love to all our friends. Kiss Howard for “Papa”. Write very often. I hope soon to be “Home” if it be God’s will. May His richest blessings rest upon you. Good Bye.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. It has been impossible to further identify James Maxwell.
  2. At 10 A.M. on the 22d, Generals Sherman and Slocum had reviewed the XX Corps. Two hours before, the troops, leaving their knapsacks in camp, had formed in the streets west of Fayetteville Street. The Third Division, preceded by the Second Division, had marched past the reviewing stand at the Market House on Fayetteville Street. As the troops tramped by, in light marching order, the bands played familiar airs. O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 268-69; Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, pp. 238-39.
  3. The theory that the assassination of President Lincoln and attempts on the lives of Vice-President Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward was part of a conspiracy involving Confederate leaders and Knights of the Golden Circle had been fostered by Secretary of War Stanton.
  4. On April 17 General Sherman, in announcing the President’s assassination, had informed his soldiers, “We have met every phase which the war has assumed, and must now be prepared for it in its last and worst shape, that of assassins and guerrillas; but woe unto the people who seek to expend their wild passions in such a manner, for there is but one dread.” O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, p. 239.
  5. Secretary of War Stanton, on April 21, notified General Grant that President Johnson had disapproved the memorandum of agreement between Generals Sherman and Johnston. Grant would relay this news to General Sherman and direct him “to resume hostilities at the earliest moment.” Ibid., p. 263.
  6. James J. McCabe of Pontiac, an 18-year-old, was mustered into service at Joliet, Ill., as a private in Company D, 20th Illinois Infantry, on June 13, 1861. He was promoted corporal on April 25, 1863, and was wounded at Raymond, Miss., May 12, 1863, and captured and paroled 12 days later. He reenlisted at Big Black Bridge, Miss., as a veteran volunteer on Jan. 5, 1864. Corporal McCabe was wounded a second time at Kennesaw Mountain on June 27, 1864, and was promoted to sergeant on Oct. 31, 1864. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
  7. Robert Burton, a 30-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois Infantry. Hospitalized at Bowling Green, Ky., on Dec. 30, 1862, Private Burton was medically discharged on Nov. 1, 1863, and reenlisted as a private in Company A in Chicago on Oct. 12, 1864. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.