About Colleen Theisen

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

I feel anxious about you and hope you keep right well

Joseph Culver Letter, August 20, 1864, Letter 2, Page 1My Dear Mary,

Your letter was received a day or two before we left home and as it was commencement week and I had a house full of visitors I could not reply before we left. We were gone six weeks and moving about so constantly that I did not have any time to write then, so you must please pardon the delay. I feel anxious about you and hope you keep right well- We had a very pleasant vacation so far. There has been a great deal of commotion & excitement herebut we escaped it There are but few houses in town which has carpet on the floors, all are sent off. There is a rumor again afloat of a return of the raiders yet I hope it is not correct I am so sick of it all. The burning of Chambersburg just 30 miles above fills us with much more dread. I often wish I was farther north- We are all fairly well my baby is rather more troublesome than usual particularly at night which makes me feel weary He still [grows?] and says papa & mamma quite distinctly I still have plenty of nourishment for him and hope he will live I try to leave him in God’s hands He will do all things well.

Mrs. Green who was visiting next door when you were here and who thought so much of your little angel boy was here this week again she said she felt so badly to hear of his death it affected her so much as if she had a claim on him She says she never loved a child as she did him I do hope it will be Gods will to give you another one to fill the void. Anna Good was in this week she looks quite motherly she expects to be confined in Oct.

Mollie (Wes’s wife) is progressing too but I do not know her time. She will not admit it and I should not be suprised she was in her sixth month [Bessie?] has not named her boy yet I dont know what she is waiting on The friends are all well or were a day or two ago I want to visit among them all next week if I can. The farms are to be sold on Thursday of next week . Mr [Penny?] of California a brother of James’ wife was here this week. He gave us the the particulars of James death He was very unwilling to die and hoped to get well until a half hour before he died. I want to write some in Harrys letter to Joe so you must please pardon brevity Write very soon or if you are not able get some one to tell us how you get along I pray that all may be well You are in Gods hands in much love I am

Ever your sister
Jennie

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I just finished a letter to Frank and having some time to spare I thought I might drop you a line

Joseph Culver Letter, August 20, 1864, Page 1Carlisle Aug 20th 1864
Dear Mary,

I just finished a letter to Frank and having some time to spare I thought I might drop you a line. A year ago you were with us and though you remained but a short time yet long enough to endear you to us and lead us to feel that you were indeed our sister. I wish it had been possible for you to have paid us another visit this Fall with Frank, but God has ordered it otherwise and we must with cheerfulness submit. I hope you are right well and are enabled to commit your husband fully into the hands of God, and with sweet, childlike faith are trusting Him with your future. I do not think it possible to be happy unless we have unwavering faith in God. I know you must at times feel sad even while resting all on God, especially when you hear of another attack at Atlanta. I rejoice that you know the place of refuge, “the blood bought mercy seat”, I do hope & pray that all may be well and that all your loved ones may be returned to you in safety.

It has been very dry and our little graves have suffered, we had them filled up and sodded around the sides and planted flowers on the top but every flower had died, we also sowed the lot with grass seed but not a spire came up. As soon as it rains I will sow it again with grass seed and plant a rose bush on each grave. I think of having it enclosed for the present with a neat wooden railing. Our little ones are angels now and possibly are sent on Missions of Mercy to us, let us thank God that we have such strong ties to bind us to our home above and strive to be ever ready to join them there.

I think you need not build on a visit from Mother and Hanna this Fall, it was simply talk. If the war is successfully closed which I hope it soon may be, we hope to pay you a visit, but when we will have to leave to be decided in the future. Jennie is right well and will finish this letter. Marvin has two teeth and two more will soon be through, with the exception of fretfulness caused by this he is right well. My health is very good. We expect to open School on the 1st of September if the Rebels do not pay us another visit. Now sister be as happy as you can, dont afflict yourself with what may possibly happen in the future, but thank God for the past and take courage. May the peace of God fill your Soul,

Your Brother
Harry. C.C.

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It is just one week since I recd. a letter from you and just at this time it has seemed almost a month

Joseph Culver Letter, August 18, 1864, Page 1

Head Quarters Co. “A” 129th Regt., Ills. Vols.
In the Field Near Atlanta, Georgia
August 18th 1864
My Dear Wife

It is just one week since I recd. a letter from you and just at this time it has seemed almost a month. Our communication has been interrupted, but we are informed that our mail came to-night and we will receive it in the morning. Hoping also that mail may go North to-morrow, I have been induced to write to-night.

We are enjoying most excellent health for which we have great reason to be thankful, and all the troops are in good spirits. We have had two weeks rest & feel like some new men, as we have for the past week been very comfortably situated. All we could desire might be a little

more liberty, for, being continually on the front line and directly under fire from the Enemy’s forts and sharpshooters, we are compelled to keep close under cover. The loss in our Regt. since Sunday has been very slight; I think not exceeding four or five wounded. In the Brigade several have been killed and wounded, but, taking into consideration our close proximity to the Enemy’s fortifications, it seems miraculous that our loss has not been greater. Capt. Allen of the 105th Ills. had his right arm fractured last night by a musket ball. I do not recollect whether you were acquainted with him or not. Lt. Smith is getting along much better than he anticipated but would have been much better off at home for another month at least. He was on picket two days ago and was none the worse for it, he says. Lt. Burton was here yesterday; he says Bro. John is well and has been mustered as Lt. They have not heard from Bro. Sammy yet, but I presume he has written home ere this. Cris. is writing to Mrs. Hill to-night. All the Company are well.

Alf was up to see us last night; he is growing so large and fleshy that you would scarcely know him. He has just completed a very fine set of Maps of the Country from Chickamauga here for the War Department. He is rising rapidly and becoming quite famous. I hoped to get some more sketches for you, but he has been too busy for the past three weeks.

Genl. Sherman played off a rather serious joke upon the Johnies last night. Orders were given for the whole left wing of our Army to be ready to fall back to the river last night. Early in the day a Brigade was sent out to march over a hill in the rear of the 4th Corps, &, returning through a ravine, they kept moving over the hill in full view of the Enemy toward the left & returning until Johnie seemed convinced that we were evacuating. Shortly after dark, all the caissons of the Artillery and trains were sent out toward the river, and, to all appearances, the whole Army was in motion. The Enemy, who had been very happy and cheering all afternoon, commenced massing their forces in front of us intending doubtless to demolish the whole Yankee Army in their retreat, but about midnight the right of the 14th and all of the 23rd Corps moved out, took possession of the Macon Rail-Road, and fortified before “Johnie” found out how badly he was fooled and without the loss of a man to us.

At about 3 o’clock this morning, the skirmishers and forts on our front and left opened, but no reply was made until almost daylight when almost all the Artillery on our line opened & kept a steady fire till noon. The fort directly in our front is very much injured. Hood moved his Army again to our right and has been charging all afternoon endeavoring to regain the rail-road. We have heard the artillery & musketry, though 5 or 6 miles distant, and, judging from the sound, there must have been [a] terrific battle there. We hear indirectly to-night that our Army still holds its position and that the slaughter of the Enemy has been terrible.

Still other news reach[es] us of Genl. Kilpatrick who was not captured as supposed. Our Pontoon train left here last night to assist him to cross the river, and, more glorious still, the advance of Genl. Smith’s Army is coming up. If all of this news be true, we are most favorably situated. We cannot expect the Enemy to fall back without one more desperate effort to break our lines, but unless surprised we feel fully able to hold them in check. We feel very sanguine of success, but God alone can foreknow the result.

Last night was most beautiful. The moon was shining brightly, and everything in nature seemed happy and evidenced the highest praise to Our Creator. I was very forcibly reminded of those days of quiet and unalloyed happiness we enjoyed “3 years ago.” There was very little firing in the skirmish line, and in imagination I could readily trace back through the past few years and fancy myself at “the Old House at Home” with Mary “by my side,” and, when the illusion was dispelled, I tried by singing the songs we so often sang together to continue the “spell.” “Beautiful Star,” “Mother Dear, Oh, pray for me,” &c. We lay at arms until a late hour as we heard the enemy moving and anticipated an attack. I have not often indulged in such “fancy dreams,” for invariably the booming of the cannon or the roll of musketry would arouse me from my reveries and present the realities of the present.

I hope God is dealing most kindly with you. My hopes, which have been so strangely bright all through this Campaign, are still unchanged, that “God who doeth all things well” and who has been so bounteous in blessings to us is still caring for you. Let our hearts praise him. But I must close for to-night with a hope of hearing from you early in the morning.

Give my love to Mother and Maggie & Remember me kindly to all our friends. May Our Father in Heaven sustain you in all your trials and your fondest anticipation be realized. To Him we will commit ourselves, trusting that he will keep us by Grace Divine through life and bring us to “Sweet rest in Heaven” through Christ.

Your affectionate Husband
J. F. Culver

P.S. The tobacco you sent is the best I have had since I left home. Please accept my thanks.

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God in his Infinite mercy has spared my life to enjoy the light of another Holy Sabbath

Joseph Culver Letter, August 14, 1864, Page 1

Head Qrs Co. “A” 129th Regt. Ills. Vols.
In the Field Near Atlanta Georgia
August 14th 1864
My Dear Wife

God in his Infinite mercy has spared my life to enjoy the [light?] of another Holy Sabbath, a day which has appeared more beautiful than any I have Enjoyed for a long time to add to this I have every reason to believe he has blessed you with health and comfort. Let us praise him for all his loving kindness toward us. This morning opened up very beautiful though it is excessively warm. The pickets succeeded in effecting a bargain with the Enemy last night that there would be no firing along the line of our Brigade last night and today and the bargain has been well observed – some balls still reach us from the left of [illegible] on our right but it is comparatively quiet & I most earnestly hope it may continue so. It is only a Quarter past nine oclock & no one but God can tell what a day may bring forth. About Six oclock this morning I went about one mile to the [illegible] to get some papers out of the Regt. wagon. After I was beyond the [illegible] of the picket [illegible] I heard some little birds singing very sweetly the first but one Exception I have heard for a long time. The day [seemed?] so Quiet and Holy that I could almost imagine [illegible] home how pleasant it would be this morning to [illegible] the Lord and hear the children [sing?] to mingle with the Congregation and hear the word expounded and the peace and quiet of the day spent in [profitable?] Conversation and reading. [illegible]

I feel this morning that the task is a [illegible] I always feel so well rewarded that I am [illegible] I can trust only to God for the result and do the best I can. Lieut Smith is getting along very well though he will not be fit for duty for some time. I sent Henry Park over to see Bro. John yesterday and he came by {[Corpl. Hodges?] and [name] also by the Illinois Hospital [illegible] Ullery and [name]. Bro. John is well. He has not heard from Bro. [name] for some time but was expecting daily to hear from him. I sent him the letter from mother and the handkercheifs also a couple of your letters. [Albertson?] is well but very busy upon a map for the War Department [illegible] country through which we have passed. Josephus Ullery and [name] are both much better and will probably be up with the Company in a few days. Some of the [illegible] are [pairing?] up and the enemy [illegible]

Some of the [Forts?] have kept a constant [illegible] of Shelling over Atlanta for the past week. Deserters say that it is impossible in the city to keep out of the way of them except by burrowing in the ground. Many [illegible] children have been killed and wounded. It seems almost barbarous to allow them to remain in the city after it having been [illegible] by our army for nearly three weeks. I heard this morning that Gen. Sherman [illegible] them yesterday to remove all non-combatants out [illegible] destroy it. Every [regiment?] has been moved to [illegible]

Brigade. Our Pickets have been disposed to do less [illegible] Good use of this opportunity. At Marietta [illegible] we pushed on in advance of our fortification and close to [illegible] had them at disadvantage and they were very willing to [play quits?]. [illegible] comes and goes daily now. I recd. neither letters or papers yesterday but expect some to day. How I wish I could spend this day with you. May our Father in heaven comfort and bless you and increase your strength as the time of your trial approaches. I thought your letters would interest Bro. John [illegible] or I would not have sent them. You need not feel any uneasiness about them for in those I sent there was nothing improper for them to know. There are a few that are exclusively my own. Those I have retained or destroyed [illegible] a great deal about religion lately [illegible] letters to the Sabbath school. I hope most earnestly that God will [illegible] of all the men in the Company to love and [illegible]

Six deserters came in to the left of our line last night. They estimate the enemy force at [illegible] 55. to 60,000. Let us praise God for all his benefits. I am rejoiced that you [illegible] encouraged. May the richest of Heaven’s blessings rest upon you I shall [anticipate?] the promised “Good news” Give my love to mother and [illegible]

I will try and write to mother to-day I need not again assure you of my love and affection for you. Committing all to the hand [illegible]

I remain as Ever
Your affect. Husband
J.F. Culver

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It has rained a great deal for a few days past making it very uncomfortable

Joseph Culver Letter, August 9, 1864, Page 1

Head qrs Co “A” 129th Regt Ills. Vols
In the Field Near Atlanta Ga
August 9th 1864
My dear Wife

I wrote but a short note yesterday because I was busy on the muster and [pay rolls?] of the Company & was anxious to get them completed but it rained so much that I did not accomplish much. I just got fairly started this morning when it commenced raining again. It has rained a great deal for a few days past making it very uncomfortable in the [trenches?]. We are so close to the enemy here that I feel compelled to keep in the [trenches?] most of the time. I recd. your letter of the 31″ July yesterday [evening?]. I am most happy to learn of your good health. Truly God has been most merciful to us [May?] His mercies be continued my heart is truly greatful. I just heard from Bro. [illegible] who was over this morning. He is well but has not heard from Bro. [illegible] yet. It is raining so hard that I must lay aside my letter

[illegible]

Hospital this morning to look after [Josephus?] Ullery and Wm [name]. Ullery is quite [weak?] & [name?] has some bad sores [illegible] Neither of them are considered [illegible] All the rest of the Company are very well My own health is excellent I shall rejoice at the ‘Good news from Us” [this month or next?] if our Father only blesses you with good [illegible] continues to rain. Large numbers of [illegible] are arriving It is difficult to tell definitely the [illegible] cannot leave the front line to [illegible] is so very unreliable. Some of the boys say the saw [illegible]

doubt but that the Enemy are being largely reinforced by [Kroly?] Smiths and Forrests armies There will doubtless yet be a terrible battle for the possession of Atlanta. If the Enemy will come out and attack us I apprehend but little trouble but should we be compelled to assault these works around Atlanta God above knows the results We recd. by yesterdays papers the news of the failure of Grants assault upon Petersburg The losses are very light if truly estimated. The Rebs have suffered [it terribly?] in all their assaults upon us that the boys [illegible] dread an effort of that kind yet should it be deemed necessary none will hesitate. There have been several hard battles on the extreme right of our army within the last few days but we have not learned the result. We feel sure however that had any disaster resulted we would not be laying so quietly here. As there are troops here that could readily be spared were they needed. I hope to hear from you soon. May our Father in [Heaven?] bless you Kiss Mother and Maggie for [illegible] the children remembered me kindly [illegible] pray that God may [illegible]

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I hasten to write knowing that you may be anxious to hear and a letter unexpected always gives pleasure

Joseph Culver Letter, August 6, 1864, Page 1

Head Qurs. Co. “A” 129th Regt. Ills. Vols.
In the Field near Atlanta, Ga. August 6th 1864
My Dear Wife

Yours of July 28th came to hand this morning. I am very happy to learn that you still enjoy good health. I wrote to you by yesterday’s mail and was not aware that a mail would go out until a moment ago, yet I hasten to write knowing that you may be anxious to hear and a letter unexpected always gives pleasure.

My health is very good and I have been blessed with all needful blessings for which all thanks and praise to our kind and loving Father.

The first train crossed the [Chattahoochie] river and run down near us yesterday evening.1 The sound of the whistle was very cheering. As a result, fresh soft bread was issued to the Brigade this morning. A team was also sent back toward the river to procure green corn for issue to the troops.

All the Company are well. Nate Hill has been on picket to-day & Chris [Yetter] has been writing all day to someone. I recd. to-day one copy of the Chicago Tri-Weekly, 2 of the N.Y. Tribune, & 1 copy of the [Pontiac] Sentinel, besides a large package of the Christian Farmer so we have had a plentiful supply of reading matter.

The weather has been very pleasant. The Rebs made a charge yesterday all around our line but did not succeed in even starting our pickets. We have made every preparation to receive them that a Yankee can invent, & they are welcome to try our lines at any time now.2

The loss in our Brig. yesterday was two killed. One of them left his post and was wandering out in front of the line when a Reb. picket shot him, severely wounding him. A comrade, in endeavoring to help him, was instantly killed. The wounded man died last night. Both were of the 105th Ills.3

Major Hoskins is here in the Company & well. I saw to-day Capt. Reed, Jim Morrow, Harry McDowell and many others of your acquaintances, all well. The news in the papers are good. Give my love to all. May the blessings of our Father still attend you and His Grace richly abound in your heart.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. The Confederates, on abandoning their positions along the Chattahoochie in the second week of July, had destroyed the railroad bridge. Sherman’s Pioneers rebuilt the bridge, and with locomotives now able to proceed south of the river, the task of supplying the “army group” had been simplified. The soldiers knew this, and received the first locomotive with “tremendous cheers.” Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, p. 92.
  2. On the 6th the Confederates had repulsed a lunge by the Army of the Ohio toward the Atlanta & West Point Railroad. Along the fronts of the XVI, XVII, and XX Corps, Rebel skirmishers advanced and occupied the attention of Union pickets. This was to prevent General Sherman from withdrawing additional troops from his center and left, to bolster his right in its fight to sever the Atlanta & West Point Railroad.  O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXVIII, pt. V, pp. 391-92, 404.
  3. The killed were William Morrison and Seela Simpson of Company E, 105th Illinois. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
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I sent a letter day before yesterday by the Chaplain Cotton

Joseph Culver Letter, August 5, 1864, Page 1

Head Qurs. Co. “A” 129th Regt. Ills. Vols. Infty.
In the Field Near Atlanta, Ga.
August 5th 1864
My Dear Wife

I recd. yours of the 27th yesterday and was very happy to learn that your health continues good. I sent a letter day before yesterday by the Chaplain [Cotton], but, as he intends going by the way of Middleport, it may be several days before he reaches Pontiac. He will give a full history of events.

My health continues good. We advanced our lines last night, and are now occupying trenches from 200 to 500 yards nearer the city than before.1 There was hard fighting on the extreme right yesterday evening; the 14th & 23d Corps were ordered to take possession of the rail-road between East Point and Atlanta.2 Rumor says that they succeeded.3 Should it be true, the last rail-road communication of the Enemy with Dixie is in our possession. At East Point, the rail-road branches, one leading to Macon, the other to Montgomery. The rumor comes to us so well authenticated that I am constrained to believe it. The Rebs will now be compelled to fight or evacuate as they cannot supply their Army long in Atlanta.4 May God give us Victory.

I wrote to Mother [Culver] this morning urging her to visit Pontiac, and asking her to fix the time so that I might try to meet her there. I also wrote to Harry & Jennie [Cheston] yesterday. I have not seen or heard from Bros. John or Sammy yet.

I recd. a letter from Miss Shellenberger requesting me to write an obituary notice of her brother. All the boys are enjoying good health, and though they have been working hard for the past two days & nights, they are in good spirits. Harry McDowell was sick for several days but is much better now. His health has not been good since his return [from Illinois], though he has managed to keep with the Regt. I should not be surprised if he resigned, and would not think it proper for him to attempt another campaign like the present unless his health should materially improve.

You can tell Miss Emma Thayer that I usually call him “Harry” & not “Billy” though I can readily change if she desires it. Remember me kindly to her and Miss Emma McGregor.

I heard that Abbie Remick expects to be married this fall when Milt. Lyons returns.5 I am not sure that “Hardtack, &c.” would be very acceptable at a festival, but I can assure all that it is very acceptable here.

I have not indulged in an ice cream since you left Gallatin, but I have no doubt I could do full justice to one. Perhaps I may give you sufficient evidence this fall.

I hope your anticipations of coming events may be realized.6 May our Father in Heaven sustain you. I shall be content with the result if your life and health be preserved.

I recd. a letter from Lt. Smith two days ago; he says our property is in good condition. I will write a short letter to him to-day.

I have quite a “rustic seat” this morning, constructed by cutting a seat in the side of a trench & using the surface of the ground for a table. It is very comfortable and has all the advantages of a cushioned arm chair. The trench is about 3-1/2 feet under ground, & my seat is cushioned with green leaves. I shall spend a greater portion of the day in writing if I am not interrupted.

It has been my intention to write a detailed account of the battle of the 20th July [Peachtree Creek] to the S. School, but I have not had time. I enjoy the [Chicago] Tribune very much & shall try and continue the subscription. I will write to Lt. Smith requesting him to bring me a pair of boots, tin cup & plate, and the articles of clothing you are making. I shall be glad if you are able to get the shirts made as they are far preferable to those purchased in the stores.

We are very comfortably situated at present & hope to be settled down in Atlanta before another week. Give my love to Mother [Murphy] and Maggie. The kiss was very acceptable but lacks vitality. Tell Mother I am very much obliged for her kind expressions of Love. I hope she will promptly inform me of the state of your health, should you be unable for a time. Remember me kindly to all our friends. May our Father in Heaven bless and sustain you and continue his Mercies to us.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Colonel Harrison reported that on the 4th, the brigade “built and occupied an advance line of works.” During the day there had been heavy fire along the opposing picket lines. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXVIII, pt. II, p. 349; Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, p. 92.
  2. Efforts by Sherman’s right (the Army of the Ohio and the XIV Corps) to secure a lodgment on the railroad connecting Atlanta with East Point were checkmated by the Confederates. In the fighting on August 4, the Federals had 26 killed and wounded, and no advantage gained. On the following day, Union operations were described as a “complete failure or worse.” O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXVIII, pt. V, pp. 364, 388.
  3. There was no truth to this rumor.
  4. J.F.C.’s estimate of the situation was correct. Following the battle of Jonesboro on August 31 and September 1, which placed the Federals astride the Macon & Western Railroad, the Rebels evacuated Atlanta.
  5. D. Milton Lyons of Livingston County was born in Clinton County, Ohio, in 1841, the son of Mr. and Mrs. William B. Lyons. He moved to Pontiac with his parents in 1852, and entered Lombard University at Galesburg in 1858. Lyons enlisted in Company D, 20th Illinois Infantry. When discharged after expiration of this three-month term, he recruited Company F, 138th Illinois Infantry, which he commanded as captain until October 1864. Lyons married Abbie J. Remick on Oct. 25, 1865. History of Livingston County, p. 640.
  6. This is a reference to the impending birth of the Culvers’ second child.
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I am again in Clevd and will for at least two months

Joseph Culver Letter, August 4, 1864, Page 1[West?] Clevd Ohio Aug 4th 64
Dear Sister Mary

Your last was duly recd. and was very welcom Last Friday I recd. a letter from [name?] and Mother. And day before one from John They were well.

I am again in Clevd and will for at least [two?] months I am here because Mr [Snow?] has [sent me here?] to get and bring out a new [tug?] he is having built [here?] I do not expect to have her done before the [first?] of Oct. You may expect to be pestered with more letters [illegible] us. that I [illegible] in on them.

[illegible]

Bro Murphy
West Clevd Ohio
No 62 Clinton St

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I intended to write to you on Sabbath but was put on duty in the skirmish line

Joseph Culver Letter, August 30, 1864, Letter 2, Page 1

Head Qur. Co “A” 129th Regt Ills Vols
In the Field Near Atlanta Ga
August 3″ 1864
M.E. S. School
Pontiac Ill.
Dear Friends

I intended to write to you on Sabbath but was put on duty in the skirmish line on saturday Evening & was not relieved until late on Sunday Evening. during the past two weeks we have been so constantly moving that I have had no oportunity. As the chaplain starts for Home to-day I cannot Expect to write anything that he will not tell you much better than I can write it. I almost Envy him the pleasure he will Enjoy in seeing all your bright faces and hearing you sing those sweet songs so familiar and so intimately associated with the past. But I will live in hope that my turn will come yet And that God in His Infinite Mercy will grant me the privelege of Uniting my voice with yours in songs of praise to His most Excellent name. I have been blessed all these long weary months with Excellent health and amid all the dangers of the way through which I have been led I have Escaped unharmed. I have often thought that it was in Answer to the prayers of many kind friends that God has been so abundant in blessings to me. Our Countrys Cause in this Department is still gradually yet surely prospering. I hope you are all praying most Earnestly for Gods assistance that this war may speedily End and that the cause of Our Father may prosper.

We moved yesterday from one position on the Extreme right of the Army to the centre & we are now occupying trenches within one mile of Atlanta. The sharpshooters of the Enemy have wounded some of the men shooting from the top of the houses in the city. I heard just now that Levi Dell of Co “G” and two others of the Regt whose names I have not learned were wounded just now. The health of the Regt is good. Those of your friends wounded in our late battles are getting along well and we hope for their speedy recovery. I have many things to say to you but I must close for this time. May Our Father in Heaven bless all your Efforts to do good. Strive to please the Savior and he will bless your labor to be good and do good and you will be happy

Your affect. Friend
J.F. Culver

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Chaplain Cotton starts for home to-day

Joseph Culver Letter, August 3, 1864, Page 1

Head Qurs. Co. “A” 129th Regt. Ills. Vols.
In the Field near Atlanta, Ga., August 3rd 1864
My Dear Wife

Chaplain Cotton starts for home to-day1 & I hope to have an opportunity to send this by him. He recd. his resignation accepted yesterday. I have almost wished a few times that I was going with him but the campaign is not closed yet, and I must wait patiently. We moved from our position on the extreme right to the right of our Corps last night.

We are now within a mile of the city in the trenches built by the 14th Corps yesterday.2 My health is very good. The Chaplain will have much to tell everybody when he gets home, & from him you will learn all the news. His health has been very poor for a long time. In my letter of day before yesterday I acknowledged the receipt of the handkerchiefs. The Chicago Tri Weekly is coming regularly; I shall try and continue the subscription if we get paid off in time.

Tell [Marcellus] Collins if he will continue the “Sentinel,” I will send him the money as soon after pay-day as possible. I will enclose a note to him or send it separate by the Chaplain if he comes up.

Everything is progressing favorably here though slow, yet surely we are gaining ground. All the boys are well and in good spirits. The weather was quite cool yesterday but is very warm today.

Several letters were recd. yesterday of as late date as the 25th. I shall therefore confidently expect one by next mail. I would like very much to have written to the S. School, but did not have time on [the] Sabbath as I was on duty all day.

The right of our army is swinging around & will soon hold all the railroads to & from the city.3 There is a hill between our trenches & the city that hides it from view. It is said to be visible from the Fort on our left.

I have not seen or heard of Bros. John or Sammy for a week or more; as we are several miles nearer each other, I may have an opportunity to hear from them soon. God has still been with and abundantly blessed us. We have had no [prayer] meeting for almost two weeks as we have been moving around most of the time. Sergt. Gaff wished to know yesterday what I would contribute yearly to make Pontiac a station again. I could not tell him as I feel very anxious to complete the payments on our house. I have never learned yet whether Thos. Hill paid the $100 in his hands on my notes. Though I cannot be as liberal as I wish, yet I will try and assist the Church & Sabbath School. We will not probably receive pay until the close of the Campaign. When that will be, no one, save God, knows. All the news recd. by the papers yesterday was good. The Army of the Potomac is again in motion, & we hope to hear a glorious account from them soon. I recd. a letter from Harry & Jennie [Cheston] yesterday. Jennie says she will write to you as soon as she gets home. They are visiting at his Father’s. Marion (their baby, I suppose) was not well. The last news they had from Mother [Culver] all were very well at Home. Gaff has been posted about the state of affairs at home & pretended yesterday to have known it all the time. I think, however, he has been fooled & don’t like to admit it.

I am very happy to know that your health continues so good & pray that God may continue to bless you & sustain you in your trial. Let us praise Him for the many manifestations of His Love and Mercy. Give my love to Mother and Maggie and remember me kindly to all our friends. May the richest of Heaven’s blessings rest upon you.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

P.S. I am out of stamps.

  1. Chaplain Cotton had resigned from the service and was returning to Pontiac, Illinois. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
  2. On July 24 the brigade had advanced its lines about 40 rods. Next morning men of the 129th Illinois were compelled to take cover behind their earthworks, as Confederate cannon hammered their positions. During the afternoon, enemy sharpshooters were active. On the 26th the bluecoats strengthened their works. Sharpshooters continued to bang away, killing one and wounding a number in Harrison’s brigade. After dark the division was relieved by Geary’s and placed in reserve. The Confederates on the 28th again advanced out of the Atlanta defenses and assailed the Army of the Tennessee, which Sherman had shifted from his left to his right. Ward’s division during the afternoon was ordered to reinforce the Army of the Tennessee. After the troops had marched about one and one-half miles to their right, Ward received orders to have them return to their camps, as the battle of Ezra Church had ended in the repulse of the Confederates. During the day General Hooker, who was very popular with the men, at his request was relieved as commander of the XX Corps and started north. The senior division commander, Brig. Gen. Alpheus S. Williams, became interim corps commander. On the 29th Ward’s division again moved out, marching to the army’s extreme right to support a forced reconnaissance down the Lick Skillet road, a mile west of the Alms House, by Davis’ XIV Corps division. The line of march passed Ezra Church battlefield, and many Confederate dead and wounded were seen. The reconnaissance was made without any fighting, and the division camped for the night in a large field, about one mile in advance of the Army of the Tennessee. Next day, the 30th, Davis’ division moved farther to the southwest and took position. Ward’s formed to the right and rear of Davis’ people. Earthworks were thrown up, but no Confederates were seen. Ward’s troops held their ground on the 31st and August 1, as Davis’ columns felt their way cautiously toward the Atlanta & West Point Railroad. On the 2d Ward’s division was relieved by the Army of the Ohio and marched northeast, rejoining the XX Corps near the Western & Atlantic Railroad. Next morning, the 3d, Harrison’s brigade advanced and relieved a XIV Corps brigade. The brigade’s left rested on the railroad, with the enemy works 800 yards to the front. O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXVIII, pt. II, pp. 329, 349; Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, pp. 88-92.
  3. The Army of the Ohio, on the 3d, supported by the XIV Corps, forced its way across the north fork of Utoy Creek. Before the Federals could exploit this success and reach the Atlanta & West Point Railroad, General Hood’s troops occupied and fortified a position covering East Point and the railroad. Cox, Atlanta, pp. 190-93.
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