About Colleen Theisen

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

I recd. three letters since I last wrote: two yesterday and one to-day

Joseph Culver Letter, April 15, 1864, Page 1

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].

  1. Mary Culver’s letters of April 7, 9, and 11 are missing from the Culver Collection.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. A.D.C. is the abbreviation for aide-de-camp.
  5. 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.
  6. This is a reference to Mrs. Culver being five months pregnant.
  7. It has been impossible to further identify Bro. Fisher.
  8. 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.
  9. Lt. Harry McDowell, who had returned to Illinois on recruiting detail, had jilted Emma Thayer, a local belle.
  10. 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.
  11. General Thomas at 47 was prematurely gray which made him appear much older than his years.
  12. 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.
Posted in Uncategorized

I did not have the pleasure of hearing from you to-day as I expected

Joseph Culver Letter, April 13, 1864, Page 1

Head. Qurs., 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 11th A.C.
Wauhatchie, Tenn., April 13th 1864
My Dear Wife

I did not have the pleasure of hearing from you to-day as I expected, nor did I write last night as I promised. I felt very confident yesterday morning of getting an opportunity to visit Lookout Point but was disappointed.

My time was occupied in getting the yard fixed up. I planted cedar all around the yard; it looks more like a fancy garden now than anything else. We have four good comfortable houses with a gravel walk along the front for a pavement and a gravel walk to the road. We have also built a fence around our yard with pine and cedar around the border and on both sides of the walks, with an arch over the gate.

Co. “A” have just completed one of the finest Arches I ever saw. I cannot fully describe it. It is after the gothic style, with one principal and four smaller entrances. It is about 20 feet high. The center is full of strange devices, on one side is the mall and wedge, the weapons of Abe Lincoln; on the other side, a bundle of sticks, a symbol of strength. Over the center piece, the letter “A” made of mountain moss, and on each side:


129 Regt.

Ills. A


Just above the word Regt. is another gothic structure, which I cannot describe. The design was made by Alf. [Huetson], & he has promised to make a sketch of it for me.

Genl. Hooker inspected the Camps to-day, with Genl. Ward & Col. Harrison. All say it is the finest Structure of the kind they ever saw. The boys are very proud of it. I was over this evening; all are well.

Maj. Genl. [George H.] Thomas will review our Division to-morrow.1 Great preparations are being made. We expect to make a good impression and will try hard to.

My health is very good. I have been working around the Head Qurs. all day to-day & feel a little tired to-night, yet I could spend a few hours talking with you if you were here to sit on my lap to-night. I can think of a great deal to say that would appear foolish on paper perhaps. There is no news. Nothing has been heard concerning promotions in the Regt. yet; at least, I have heard nothing. I wish very much you would see our place now; everything seems so pleasant.

Last night the Band of the 79th Ohio serenaded us; it was delicious. They also sang several airs. I hear one of the members of our Band playing on an old horn out at the Band Quarters. It sounds very sweet. We are expecting our instruments every day. I hear that the party that went North for them, sent to New-York for them & went home to wait for them. It would have been an excellent chance for me. As their order was unlimited, they have been away about 23 days already. But I hope to get home, if God Spares my life, to stay by and by; until then let us ask God for patience. May he bless you with health and happiness. I often muse thinking over our life from our first acquaintance. Has it not been very happy even amid our sorrows? May “Our Father in Heaven” continue his blessings to us.

I intended to write to Mother [Murphy] to-night, but it has got very late & I must be up very early. I detailed 50 men to clean off the Review ground, & they will report before I can get up unless I get to bed soon. It is now nearly 11 o’clock.

Tell me if you are happy. My heart yearns to-night for communion with you. Tell me all your troubles; do not fear to trouble me, I will try and cheer you. I often long for an opportunity to contribute to your happiness and comfort. Rest assured that you have my heart’s best affections.

Next to God and my Country, I love my wife. Do you not know it? If I thought you did not, I would not say so, and yet I know you love to hear it. In you is centered all my desire of life, and I believe to secure your happiness is my highest Ambition outside of duty, and I believe you feel it so. Kiss Mother for me; I will certainly write to her soon. Remember me kindly to all. May Holy angels guard thee to-night, and may “Our Father in Heaven” keep you.

Your Affectionate Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. General Hooker’s newly constituted XX Corps belonged to General Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland.
Posted in Uncategorized

Your letter had been torn open by some one

Joseph Culver Letter, April 12, 1864, Page 1

Head Qurs., 1st Brig., 1st Div., 11th A.C.
Wauhatchie, Tenn., April 12th 1864
My Dear Wife

Yours of April 2nd came to hand yesterday, also one from Mother [Murphy].1 I am very happy to learn of your good health. Your letter had been torn open by some one. Tell Mother I will write to her very soon.

I expect an opportunity to visit Chattanooga and Point Lookout to-day, so that I can only write a line or two. I understand that some member of Co. “E” goes home on furlough to-day, & I wish to send this with him.

I will have a long letter to write soon, giving you a description of my visit. Do not allow yourself to feel uneasy for me when the wind blows for I am in a very comfortable house. We are all well and getting along well. I look for another letter from you this morning. Kiss Mother for me and Remember me kindly to all. May God bless you and make you happy.

Your Affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. The subject letters are missing from the Culver Collection.
Posted in Uncategorized

The train did not get in until just before noon, but it brought me no letter

Joseph Culver Letter, April 10, 1864, Page 1

Head Quarters, 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 11th Army Corps
Wauhatchie, Tenn., April 10th 1864
My Dear Wife

I delayed writing last night hoping to hear from you by this morning’s mail. The train did not get in until just before noon, but it brought me no letter. I felt so much disappointed that I did not attempt to write before the mail went North.

I recd. the New York Observer and Ledger for which I am much obliged. I wrote to Mr. Remick last night. My health is good. I am sorry to learn in your letters of March 30th & 31st, the last I received, that you were again contending with the blues.1 I hope, however, you succeeded in speedily dispelling them.

You must have been mistaken in Capt. Hoskins’ Commission as no news of that kind has yet reached us; besides his appointment could not be made until Flynn’s commission arrives here and he is mustered, making a vacancy in the next in rank.2 I have given myself very little trouble about the matter, though I think still that Hoskins will receive the promotion.

The weather to-day has been April like—both sunshine and clouds; it sprinkled rain once or twice but not much. Rev. Mr. Ruter of Chicago (Universalist) preached in the camp of the 102th Ills. I did not go to hear him; I saw a great many going from some of the Regts.

The 11th & 12th Corps have been consolidated and now form the 20th Army Corps, commd. by Genl. Hooker; Genl. Howard, who commanded our Corps, has been assigned to the 4th A.C.3 No orders have been yet received announcing the change, but Genl. Howard started for Loudon yesterday to assume command. We regret his loss very much.

I saw Chris [Yetter] to-day. He said he would write to you making an explanation of his last letter. I advised him to do so immediately as I thought you did not understand him. Nate [Hill] has been on picket for two days and has not yet returned. I expected during the week to talk to the Company to-day, but the boys were all on Picket. I have received no letters lately. I will try and write a letter to Sis to-night and will also add more to this if I am not disturbed. For the present, I hope God will bless you.

April 10th, 11 o’clock night

Dearest—I have been out riding this evening, visiting the Picket Lines & feel much refreshed. It was a great change to get from close confinement out amid nature. Everything is green, fresh and beautiful. Desolate as the Country [is], yet nature succeeds in wearing a Smile.

Shortly after I returned, Chris Yetter called in, and after conversing with him about an hour, I walked over to the Company. I did not get back until nearly ten o’clock & found the officers here discussing the war. All have gone to bed now, & I have sat down to finish my letter, as I shall have no time to-morrow before the mail closes. I feel thankful to God to-night for all his mercies and also feel encouraged to apply myself diligently to the performance of every duty. I commenced a letter to Sis at dark, but was interrupted, & it is doubtful whether it gets finished, and yet I feel it is my duty to write something to her.

Allen Fellows sent me a piece of maple sugar this evening and sent word that he would tell me about it the first time he saw me. Yetter wrote a letter to you which he handed me to read, but he took it back to modify it somewhat. We have no further news to-night. I am hoping anxiously to hear from you by to-morrow’s mail. May our Father in Heaven bless you. Give my love to Mother [Murphy] and Maggie and Remember me kindly to all our friends. I think I will add a few lines to Sis’s letter and enclose it to you. Please hand it to her after you read it. Be of good cheer and trust still in God who is able to keep us. Give me a particular account of the state of your health. I have felt a vague presentment to-day that you are not well; I know not why. Pray for me. Write often. Good night.

Your Affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

Please enclose a few stamps. I find it very difficult to get them here. I am very thankful for those already received. I hope we may be paid off soon. I fear you are short of funds.

  1. Mary Culver’s letters of March 30 and 31 are missing from the Culver Collection.
  2. Andrew Cropsey, the regiment’s lieutenant colonel, had resigned his commission on Feb. 27, 1864, and had returned to Illinois. It was May 1 before Maj. Thomas H. Flynn of Winchester was promoted to fill the billet vacated by Cropsey, and June 28 before Captain Hoskins was commissioned major. Some of the soldiers preferred Captain Perry of Company C to be promoted to major rather than Captain Hoskins. Through the South with a Union Soldier, p. 113.
  3. General Howard on April 8 issued a general order formally taking leave of the XI Corps. O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXII, pt. III, p. 303.
Posted in Uncategorized

I expect a letter in the morning but will not delay writing

Joseph Culver Letter, April 6, 1864, Page 1

Head Quarters, 1st Brigade, 1st Div., 11th A.C.
Wauhatchie, April 6th 1864
My Dear Wife

Yours of March 26th 1864 came to hand two days ago, but the one I recd. by Capt. Hoskins was three days later, Mch. 29th.1 I looked for a letter to-day, but it did not come. I expect it in the morning but will not delay writing for fear I may not have an opportunity before the mail goes out.

Unless you can get someone to collect the amount due from Fleming, there is but little prospect of your ever getting it.2 It would not be policy for you to attempt to approach him if he is so constantly drunk. Can Remick do nothing with him?

I have not seen Chris [Yetter] since I recd. your letter. I read both letters. I told him I thought you would not understand him, but he felt so sure that you would “only think it was him” that I consented to let it go. He is more deeply interested than he wishes to make known, & he wished to surprise you at guessing so near the truth.

I recd. a very good letter from Joe Shellenbarger’s sister to-day.3 It was dated the same day I telegraphed to them & was sent before my dispatch reached them. I sympathize with them. They wrote so affectionately of him that the affliction will be deep and lasting. May God comfort their hearts.

I recd. a letter from Bro. Wes [Culver] to-day.4 He tries to explain Sister Beccie’s letter. Mother was not at home. I will send you his letter when I get time to answer it. I do not fully understand what school exhibition you speak of and who had charge of it.

My health is very good. I moved into the new house yesterday evening. It is very pleasant for office purposes; we have six desks and tables in it, all occupied so that there is but little room left. Ben Thompson, Henry Polk, the two Pembertons, Billy Sheets, and Charlie Peck built it. Ira Ong helped a few days.5 The boys are now planting Pine trees and making gravel walks.6 The weather has been very pleasant to-day.

We received information unofficially this evening that the 11th & 12th Army Corps will be consolidated and form the 1st Army Corps to be commanded by Genl. Hooker.7 Another rumor says that as soon as the balance of the troops come up, we will advance by way of Knoxville on Richmond.8 This last is most probably unfounded & unreliable. The former is probably correct.

Everything is quiet here. A soldier’s wife of the 102th Ills. arrived here to-day on the cars. I did not see her but heard of her arrival. There are some of the soldier’s wives of the Eastern Regts. here. I saw one or two in the neighborhood of Genl. Howard’s Hd. Qrs. I cannot imagine how they stay here, but almost everything is possible now-a-days.

It has drawn near midnight. Dr. Reagan has been here for the last hour.9 I let him read Miss Shellenbarger’s letter, & our conversation has been directed by it to religion. He was very much interested in Joe Shellenbarger & done all for him that could be done. It is said still water runs deep, so it proves in his case. He was always so quiet & seemed to be moved by nothing, but to-night I was permitted to look into his heart & I find it full of love and sympathy. He was called away to attend a patient but requested another opportunity to talk about heartfelt religion. I feel very much benefited by his company. He is a very learned man & is our Brigade Surgeon.

May God bless you, my Dear Wife, and keep you in health and strength. Late as it is, I think it my duty to answer Joe’s sister’s letter, so good night. May Heaven’s blessings rest upon you.

Your Affect. Husband
J. F. Culver
I almost signed my official signature.

  1. Mary Culver’s letter of March 26 is missing from the Culver Collection.
  2. Fleming’s debt to J.F.C. dated to before his muster into service on Sept. 8, 1862.
  3. Delia Shellenbarger of Covington, Ill., had written J.F.C. on March 31, the day her brother died. Delia thanked J.F.C. for his letters of the 24th, 26th, and 27th, and expressed regret to learn of her brother’s illness. “How thankful we are,” she wrote, “that he has friends there to take care of him. Oh! that he were near that we might take care of him. But God wills it otherwise and we must submit. You say he may get well, if he does get better, we would like so much to have him brought home. Can you? Will you? do all in your power to have him get a furlough?” Delia Shellenbarger to J.F.C, March 31, 1864, Culver Collection.
  4. The subject letter from Wes Culver is missing from the Culver Collection.
  5. James Pemberton, a 23-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois. Private Pemberton was killed in action at Averysboro, N.C., March 16, 1865. William H. Sheets, a 20-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois. Private Sheets was slightly wounded in the back at Resaca, May 15, 1864, and was mustered out with the regiment on June 8, 1865, near Washington, D.C. Ira Ong, a 28-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois, and mustered out on June 8, 1865, near Washington, D.C. Benjamin Thompson, a 31-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois. Thompson was promoted to corporal on May 9, 1863, and to sergeant on March 1, 1865. He was mustered out with the regiment on June 8, 1865, near Washington, D.C. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
  6. Like other Civil War soldiers, the men of the 129th Illinois beautified their camps. Private Grunert reported that on April 6 “some decorations were added to the camp of Company D.” Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, p. 50.
  7. On April 4, 1864, the War Department issued G.O. 144 consolidating the XI and XII Corps, and designating the new unit the XX Corps. Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker would lead the XX Corps; Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard, former commander of the XI Corps, would believe Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger as leader of the IV Corps; and Maj. Gen. Henry Slocum, commander of the XII Corps, would report to Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman for reassignment. O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXII, pt. III, p. 258.
  8. There was no substance to the rumor that the “army group” being massed by General Sherman in and around Chattanooga would advance on Richmond, Va., by way of East Tennessee and Knoxville. When the spring campaign opened, Sherman’s “army group” would advance into northwest Georgia—its mission to be the destruction of the Confederate Army of Tennessee.
  9. Amos W. Ragan was mustered into federal service as surgeon of the 70th Indiana Infantry on Aug. 11, 1862. On Jan. 12, 1864, Ragan was detailed as brigade surgeon of the 1st Brigade, First Division, XI Corps, and when the XI and XII Corps were consolidated, he was appointed brigade surgeon, 1st Brigade, Third Division, XX Corps. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
Posted in Uncategorized

Your letter of 29th March came to hand this morning

Joseph Culver Letter, April 3, 1864, Page 1

Head Quarters, 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 11th Army Corps
Wauhatchie, Tenn., Sunday, April 3rd 1864
My Dear Wife

Your letter of 29th March came to hand this morning.1 I am very happy to hear that you are well. This day opened very beautiful. I was on my way to the Company when I recd. your letter, & have just returned. I intended to delay writing until this evening, but I have an opportunity to send it by a man going home on furlough. I haste to write before the train goes north.

I found the Company all well. I did not see Chris [Yetter] or Nate [Hill] but heard they were well. There is still considerable uneasiness about the promotion to major. Nothing definite is yet known.

I cannot understand why Cox is making inquiries about his policy.2 I will write to him, however, and also to the Insurance Company. It occurs to my mind that the policy on our house may have expired. I think it runs for three years from May, 1862, but it is barely possible that it is for only two years. I wish you would make inquiry. The policy is in John Dehner’s hands, and is assigned to Dehner and Russell.3

I recd. a letter from [Lieutenant] Mitchell yesterday; he is improving slowly but will not be able to come up for some time yet. My health is very good. I recd. a letter from Bro. Johnie yesterday & will write to him to-day.4 I have his letter. I am glad to hear from Bro. Sammy, & will inform Bro. Johnie.5 Sis will have returned by the time this letter reaches you. Give her my hearty congratulations; I may possibly get time to write to her to-day.

A private of Co. “E” of our Regt. named Hildreth, went home on furlough yesterday.6 I did not know he was going until just before the train started, or I would have sent a letter by him. He promised to call and see you & bring such things as I want. I need badly about a dozen prs. cotton socks & two shirts. Get the longest shirts you can. I think Henry [Greenebaum] will give you some good ones. I will enclose a note to him. If the man does not come, you can send them by first opportunity.

Give my love to all. I am very happy that you write so often. I will write again, possibly this afternoon. May our Father in Heaven keep you in perfect health and make you happy. Give my love to Mother and Maggie.

Your Affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Mary Culver’s letter of March 29 is missing from the Culver Collection.
  2. David Cox was a 47-year-old Pontiac Township farmer. In 1860 he was living with his wife, Gracie, and their six children, and valued his real estate at $6,000 and his personal estate at $600. Eighth Census, Livingston County, State of Illinois, NA.
  3. John Dehner, a Pontiac merchant, was born in Germany in 1808. In 1860 he was living with his wife, Jane, and valued his real estate at $16,000 and his personal estate at $12,000. Ibid.
  4. Sergt. John Murphy, whose unit was camped at Loudon, Tennessee, had written, “I have been anxious to hear from you on Sammy’s account. I vainly hoped to hear of his whereabouts through you. I can get nothing definite about him. About a month ago he was in Springfield. We have received the descriptive rolls of some 14 or 15 recruits and only three of them arrived at the Battery. Some of them have been a month and a half on the road and one young men . . . died in Indiana on his way to our company. I wish Sammy could get here. It is two-fold harder and more unpleasant for a new soldier to be knocking around in barracks than to go at once into the field.” Sergeant Murphy reported that all was quiet in East Tennessee, and the battery was “preparing with all possible dispatch for the Spring Campaign. We are temporarily in the Dept. of the Ohio, and the only Battery in this department that is equipped for marching and as a consequence if there is a movement made soon in this section of country, we will be called out. I hope that we may have from 30 to 60 days longer in which to prepare. It is quite difficult to get the necessary equipment here. We are pretty well supplied with horses.” John Murphy to J.F.C., March 22, 1864, Culver Collection.
  5. Pvt. Sammy Murphy had written J.F.C. from Camp Yates, Springfield, Ill., on March 22. Sammy explained that he would have written sooner, but he “expected to leave here soon and thought I’d wait and write when I got to another place. They have sent away the Inft. and Cav. recruits and I think the Art. will leave soon, but I have thought so for some time. I am the only one for Battery ‘M’ that is here, and I would rather be with it than here. “The weather has been cold here for a few days past, but it is getting warmer now, and begins to look like spring. Camp Yates is situated one mile west of Springfield. It is a pretty nice place for a camp, and we have pretty good water. The Governor’s mansion is just a little ways from camp.” Sam Murphy to J.F.C, March 22, 1864, Culver Collection.
  6. Joshua T. Hildreth, a 30-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8. 1862, as a private in Company E, 129th Illinois. He was mustered out near Washington, D.C., on June 8, 1865. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
Posted in Uncategorized

I thought while I had a few spare moments I would write to you

Joseph Culver Letter, April 1, 1864, Page 1Covington 1 April 1864
Lieut J.F. Culver.
Dear Sir

I thought while I had a few spare moments I would write to you. I had a letter almost written to you but it was so mixed up that I thought you could not understand any thing I wrote. I dont know how this will be maybe a little better & maybe worse, but I will send it anyhow and have to beg your pardon for writing such an one. It is noon and my Pupils have all gone to dinner but one and he is makeing such a racket I can hardly write, so please pardon mistakes and poor writing I am teaching just one mile east of Covington, a small summer school….

My Sister Mrs. Minton has written to you and I guess gives you all the particulars, so I will not say any thing only that I was sick when my brothers remains came and was just able to go to the cemetry. I cannot realize yet that he is gone never more to return. It is all like a strange dream, Alas! there is too much reality in it. I will miss him Oh! so much. He was always so kind to me. I was his pet when small and his favorite when older. When I was but nine & Joe. 12, I took very ill with the Typhoid fever, afraid I would die. He was working in a brick yard about 1 1/2 miles from town and he would carry brick all day and then as soon as he had his work done would walk home to see me, shortly after that he left home to work in Clark Co. about evry 4 or 6 weeks he would come home to see us. I dont think he ever came home without bringing me a present of some kind. All his letters were written and directed to me.

I can think of my dear brother sick, wounded, or suffering in a hospital; but not dead, Oh! no not dead. I cannot help but think he will soon be at home. He is at home now. He is in a better home than we could give him. When I think of my brother being gone, I think he has gone away and will send for me to come to him as he very often did when he was working away from home. I will have to close for the present as the children are gathering in. Adieu.

Evening. School is now dismissed and I am alone. How pleasant to sit down in a quiet room after being on my feet almost all day and hearing almost evry kind of noise at recess and noon that a child can make. But you know all about it so I will say no more. And you are acquainted in Ohio are you? When this cruel war is over and you return home I hope you will come to Ohio to see your friends and then you must not forget Cov__. We feel like we are acquainted with you, and indeed we wish you to class us among your friends, You have been a friend to my brother and his friends are ours. He frequently spoke of you in his letters home. He said there were not many boys blest with as good officers as he had. My other brother in the army (John) has a very good Capt., I think. I know nothing about his other officers. I have the same acquaintance with Capt. Johnson that I have with you. We have corresponded some times but have never met. He is also a married man and I think must have a very good wife if all be true he says.

I supose you know I have a brother in California has been gone six years. What a shock my brothers death will be to him. He was always so proud of Joe. Joe was very fond of reading and that pleased Henry. Morning. I had to stop as it was getting late. Now I will write untill school time. Yesterday evening when I came home two letters were waiting for me, one from Nashville the other from Dayton. My sister asked me who the one from Nashville was from. Before thinking I said “from Joe, of course.” I cannot think it possible that he is dead, yet it is so, I will not murmer, It was God’s will. In a very – very short time I will see him. Ah what a happy meeting…….

You said truly, I have other ties in Heaven. I have a father and sister there, I was but 4 weeks old when my Father died and my sister went a long time before my Father. I do not know what it is to have a Father, that is an earthly Father. I sometimes think I would be the happiest girl in the world if I but had a Father to love me. I have such a good mother though, and brothers and a sister…… I had two loved cousins to die with the milk sickeness last fall. They were so good and so pretty. The oldest (a girl) was 11 yrs. the other (a boy) 9 years. Danny died at 6 in the morning and Jennie at 7, just one hour apart. They was both buried together, A prettyer sight I never saw, beautiful yet sad. I loved them dearly. They were always so bright and happy……. Your wish is granted. Our Photos. are yours. We could not refuse you if we would, you have been so kind. Now I have a Boon to ask. I have your Photo, my brother sent me two of yours. I would like so much to have your Wife’s Photo, also your little boys if you have any to spare. I want to get an Album and want them to put in it. Joe. was going to buy me one but never did. He has sent me several Photos of the boys in his Co N. Hill, C. Yetter C. Scanlan A. Hueston F. Hueston H. Polk J. Mc Dermot and several others with no names written on He also sent me the Co. [Record?], I have your Photo. in it, and would like Capt. Hoskins and Lieut Smiths. I recd. a letter from Josephus Ullery but from no others. I would like to hear from all. All soldiers are my brothers, I think I have other brothers in the 129th Co. A. if not my brother Joe. I hope he is there yet in the minds of his brother soldiers.

Several young ladies made two wreaths of evergreen and tied them with crape and put on his coffin, one dropped off at the Cemetry, and Eld. Ellis (our minister) picked it up and laid it on the grave and made some very touching remarks He is so good, and kind, He has two sons in the army, one in the 3 [-7th?] Ind. Co. D. I dont remember what Marshall is in, Charlie is quiet, sober & very thoughtful, Marshall and Joe. could never like each other, I fear I tire you, I forget myself and think I am writing to one of my brothers. They allways like long letters.

Please pardon mistakes and poor writing. Think of us as friends, Please give my respects to all brothers friends. I will write to Lieut Smith in a few days.

Ever Your Friend
Delia Shellenbarger.

Posted in Uncategorized

We are very sorry to hear of my brothers sickness, but hope to hear soon of his recovery

Joseph Culver Letter, March 31, 1864, Page 1Covington March 31st 1864.
Lieut. J.F. Culver.
Dear Sir.

We recd. your kind letters this evening little suspecting what the contents was. They was dated respectfuly 24th, 26th & 27th. also two from Lieut. Smith dated 25th & 27th. We are very sorry to hear of my brothers sickness, but hope to hear soon of his recovery. How thankful we are that he has friends there to take care of him. Oh! that he was near that we might take care of him. But God wills it otherwise and we must submit. You say he may get well, if he does get better we would like so much to have him brought home. Can you? will you? do all in your power to have him get a furlough? One of our neighbor boys of the 61st O.V.I. had the same disease and was brought home and is now almost recovered his former health. I think if he could but be at home he would recover……. When Joe left home my Mother told him she was afraid he could not stand the long, hard marches. He said he did not expect to come home as he left it, (if he ever did get home.) Joe. has always been a good boy at home and as far as I can hear, evry place else he went.

He was my only play mate when we were small. I being almost three years younger than him. It is hard but I will try to say “Thy will not mine Oh! Lord be done.” Please write evry day and let us know how Joe. is getting. We will be so anxious to hear. See that he has evry thing that is necessary to make him comfortable cost what it will. if you can get it. Joe has money here on interest that we can get at any time. Get things and pay for them and send us the bill and we will pay you back. I think [Sephus?] Ullery will do the best he can. When my brother is able to talk talk to him. He is unconverted. Oh! that he were a Christian. Please ask him (if he is no better) if he would sooner be sent home if he should die. It is Mothers wish that he should. We still hope for the best. I will close.

Take good care of him and God will bless you. A mothers blessings and sisters prayers will go with you. Pray for us that we may be able to bear the worst. Pleas pardon this broken letter, for I hardly know what I’m writing.

I am as ever,
Joe’s Sister
Delia A. Shellenbarger.

Please read this other letter to Joe if he is not able to read it himself and oblige

Posted in Uncategorized

It was my intention to write you a long letter last night, but my tent smoked so that I could not keep a fire

Joseph Culver Letter, March 30, 1864, Page 1

Head Quarters, 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 11th Army Corps
Wauhatchie, Tenn., March 30th 1864
My Dear Wife

Your letter of the 22nd inst. came to hand this morning.1 It was my intention to write you a long letter last night, but my tent smoked so that I could not keep a fire in it. I went in the early part of the evening to see Joe Shellenbarger; I found him getting better.2 He is so much better this morning that I feel confident of his recovery. Afterward I went to see Capt. Hoskins & had a long talk with him about the sights he saw at Pontiac.

When I got back to my Quarters it was midnight & several papers awaiting me, so I went to bed without writing. We will be so very busy for the next week that I cannot promise you any very lengthy letters. I feel provoked that I did not write for some things that I need very much and have no opportunity of getting down here. I want some socks badly. If you get another chance, send me at least a dozen pairs of cotton socks.

I have not heard from Bro. Johnie; I can’t see why. To-morrow evening Sis is to be married. I will try and bear it in mind if I am not too busy.

I judge the hour to be about 3 o’clock, as the train goes North about 4 or 5. Chris [Yetter] has been sick for a few days but not seriously; he was walking around this morning.

I am glad to hear of the “extremely interesting, substantially, unfashionably &c.”3 You can give them my hearty congratulations. I would like to hear of the progress Mrs. Culver is making in the same direction. Capt. Hoskins says you are looking well. I do not know whether [Lt.] Smith hears from his wife or not; I never asked him & have not heard.

I told you that your idea of working in Strevell’s store was distasteful to me.4 I presume that it is not very much more so than any other pursuit in which you might engage; for, under the circumstances, I earnestly hope you will not bind yourself to any employment. I must confess, however, to some unpleasant recollections in connection with your suggestion.

My health is excellent. The weather is still very cold, not more so than it is in Illinois, I presume. I have been trying to gather all the news from Hoskins, much relates to strangers & is not so interesting.

Send me a couple pounds of fine cut chewing to-bacco if you get a chance. Some of Dehner’s is preferable. I will write to Thomas Hill as soon as I can get time.5 The mail is about to close. Alf [Huetson] just recd. Ledger No. 5 in which Bee and Ishmael have opened a Bee-hive. He seems much pleased. Alf is becoming quite famous in his new profession [topographical engineer]. His prospects for promotion are quite flattering. I believe he is the best Engineer in the Department, & he will soon reap the reward of his industry and perserverance. Every body not mentioned is well.

Write to me often and long letters.

May God bless you and make you supremely happy. Give my love to all & accept my heart’s best and warmest affections for yourself.

Very affectly.,
Your Husband,
J. F. Culver

  1. Mary Culver’s letter of March 22 is missing from the Culver Collection.
  2. This was a rally before a fatal relapse. Private Shellenbarger died the next day, March 31, 1864. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
  3. This phrase refers to the marriage of a Livingston County couple with whom the Culvers were acquainted.
  4. Jason W. Strevell owned a general store and had hired Mary Culver as a part-time clerk.
  5. For additional information on Thomas Hill, see J.F.C.’s letter of February 21, 1864.
Posted in Uncategorized

I have spent the evening thus far very pleasantly, and it seemed more like old times

Joseph Culver Letter, March 27, 1864, Letter 2, Page 1

Head Qurs., 1st Brig., 1st Div., 11th A.C.
Wauhatchie, Tenn., March 27th 1864
My Dear Wife

I have spent the evening thus far very pleasantly, and it seemed more like old times than usual. If you had been one of our number, I think I could have easily imagined us all at home once more.

Shortly after dark Col. Harrison called Alf. Huetson, Bradbury (my clerk) & myself into his house to sing.1 He selected out of the “Golden Shower” those pieces with which he was familiar, & we all sang with him. The first piece was one “There is sweet rest in Heaven.” I could not enumerate all, but most of them were very intimately associated with recollections of the past. We have been thus employed for over three hours. It was very pleasant for me, and I hope also profitable.

I visited the Company this afternoon & found all well, and also spent a half hour with Joe Shellenbarger. The Dr. thinks him a very little better, but he is still very dangerously ill. I would have liked very much to have talked with him, but the Dr. forbid it. We still hope earnestly for his recovery.

I did not see Chris [Yetter], but he is well. Henry Polk was over to see me this evening.2 He says his Mother called on Mr. Lyon to see if the order had been paid, &, when she found it had not been, she directed him to pay it when the order was presented.

I have enclosed a photograph of Park Pemberton which he handed me to-day.3

I recd. a letter from Joe Z. Culver, formerly of the 10th Penna. Vols., and now a 2nd Lieut. of the 39th U. S. Cold. Troops.4 He says the folks at home are rather opposed to his position; if they are of the same persuasion as Sister Beccie [Pague], I have no doubt they are.

The mail got here to-day shortly after dinner but brought no letter from you. I read a letter this evening written by Mrs. Hyndman to Mrs. [James] Gaff giving a detailed account of the meetings in Pontiac.5 They seem to have been very successful.

I did not get to church to-day, nor can I expect to have very many opportunities for going while I am in the office alone. I did not write either to the Sabbath School or to Sis. as I intended to do to-day. I have a slight headache to-night, caused, I presume, in part by singing so much. The day was so fine, & I have been so closely confined ever since we arrived here that I could not resist the temptation of sitting out of doors and consequently neglected my writing. I sat down once to write to Sis., & some business matters interrupted me. It is very doubtful whether if I delay it to-night I shall have an opportunity before next Sabbath; I will study over it while I am writing to you. I have also a letter unanswered from Sarah Williams recd. on the march.

You asked me once to whom I wished to send your likeness. Joe [Culver] has written for one, and I should be pleased if you would write to him and enclose one. I will enclose his address.

The Chicago Times you sent came to hand day before yesterday. I have read the N.Y. Ledger up to No. 4. The story is making a very interesting change. The boys have concluded that Ishmael & Claudia will yet make a match.

I ran across one of my Sabbath School scholars to-day. He has been in the regiment for over two months, & I never saw him to know him before. His name is James Funk.6 Did you know him? He says he tried to speak to me once on the march, but I did not stop. I presume I was busy.

I have enclosed the last letter I recd. from Sister Jennie [Cheston]. Write to me often. I have not been able to write every day but never omit more than one day, & sometimes I write two. I hope for a good long one. I have concluded not to mail any other letters to-night, as it is quite late, & I wish to get rid of this headache before morning. May our Heavenly Father bless you. Give my love to Mother and Maggie, and remember me kindly to all our friends. Neither Mother or Maggie have answered my last letters. Why don’t they write? I earnestly hope you are enjoying good health. Let us pray for each other. I have enjoyed much of the presence of God to-day, & I feel that this has been a good day for me. I hope you have been richly with the presence of our God. May we in his good Providence soon be permitted to mingle our voices together in praise and supplication, sweet rest and peaceful slumbers. May holy angels guard thee.

Good night,
Your Affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. William H. Bradbury, a 33-year-old lawyer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company B, 129th Illinois. He was mustered out on June 8, 1865, near Washington, D.C. Ibid.
  2. Henry P. Polk, a 21-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois. Private Polk, while on a foraging expedition near Averysboro, N.C., on March 15, 1865, was captured and paroled by the Confederates. He was mustered out of service at Springfield, Illinois, June 11, 1865. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
  3. Allson P. Pemberton, a 20-year-old farmer, enlisted as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois Infantry on Sept. 19, 1862. Private Pemberton was wounded in the right arm at New Hope Church, Ga., May 28, 1864, and hospitalized at Murfreesboro, Tenn. that summer. He rejoined the unit in September and was mustered out near Washington, D.C, June 8, 1865. Ibid.
  4. Twenty-one-year-old Joseph Z. Culver was mustered into federal service at Pittsburgh, Pa., for three years as a private in Company D, 10th Pennsylvania Reserves, on Sept. 11, 1862. He was honorably discharged on Feb. 28, 1864, to accept a commission as 2d lieutenant in the 39th U.S. Colored Troops. Culver was mustered in as 2d lieutenant. Company C, 39th U.S.C.T., at Baltimore on Feb. 29, 1864. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant on Sept. 13, 1864, and transferred to Company K. Ibid.
  5. Mrs. Hyndman of Pontiac had described in her letter the revivals being held by the local churches.
  6. James R. Funk, an 18-year-old student, was recruited into service on Dec. 17, 1863, at Springfield, Ill., as a private in Company C, 129th Illinois. Private Funk was hospitalized at Chattanooga from May 23, 1864, until mid-September. He was mustered out with the regiment near Washington, D.C, June 8, 1865. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
Posted in Uncategorized