About Colleen Theisen

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

Another day has passed without any word from you

Joseph Culver Letter, May 29, 1865, Page 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your affectionate Husband
J. F. Culver

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

Joseph Culver Letter, May 28, 1865, Page 1

Sunday morning,
May 28th 1865
My Dear Wife

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

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

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

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I have been sadly disappointed in receiving no letters this week

Joseph Culver Letter, May 27, 1865, Page 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

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

Joseph Culver Letter, May 23, 1865, Page 1

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

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

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

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

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

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

Joseph Culver Letter, May 23, 1865, Page 1

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

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

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

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

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

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

Joseph Culver Letter, May 21, 1865, Page 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

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

J. F. C.

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