Charleston, S.C. March 7th 1865
My Dear Wife
Almost two weeks have elapsed and we are still in Charleston, with no better prospect of getting to our commands than when I last wrote. I am looking for some word from you by next mail. How long we may remain here, I am unable to determine.
My health has been excellent for which I have every reason to be thankful. We have been spending our time reading such books as we could get from the houses in the neighborhood and making a tour through the city each day seeking information of Sherman’s whereabouts. We recd. a small mail from New York on Saturday [the 4th] consisting of papers chiefly, the latest being of date the 23rd February. There is nothing new, and the place is as dull as you can possibly imagine.
I was at church on Sabbath morning and afternoon. The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was administered after the morning Service, & Col. Merrill & myself were partakers. I felt very much blessed. The congregations were not large, yet they seemed kindly disposed toward us.
The weather for the past few days has been very pleasant, and the gardens are being cultivated. There are peas, beans, onions &c. up in our garden, yet we do not anticipate remaining long enough to receive the benefit of them.
Schools have been opened for the negroes, and the streets are thronged with them about school hours. They seem to enjoy it very much.
We have been making good use of our piano and have a concert every day. Some new music would be very acceptable, however; we have repeated all we can remember so often that we are getting tired of them. I have just finished reading the 2nd volumn of “Queechy” & must hunt up something new to-morrow. The only excitement we have is an occasional fire. We had quite a large one last Sunday evening down town, three unoccupied buildings were burned.
The streets of Charleston are becoming quite lively. Stores are being opened up in those portions that have been vacated for the past two years on account of our shells. They are also patching up their houses where the shells in many places have entered. The city is garrisoned almost entirely by negro troops. I have heard of no disturbance thus far. I have not been on the streets at night, and do not know whether the city is lighted up or not. The part we occupy is very quiet and two blocks from the business portion of the city. The citizens are flocking to the Provost Marshall’s Office to take the oath [of allegiance]. They cannot open a store or get a letter out of the office without showing their papers having taken the oath. It seems rather hard but it will undoubtedly do good.
We are still getting along very comfortably here, though we cannot wholly escape the “Blues.” We might be in a much worse condition, however. My Leave of Absence will expire in 13 days more, & then I will be in the same boat with the rest. I feel sorry that I did not spend another month in Pontiac regardless of Public Opinion; but I doubt not all will yet be well.
Dr. Bennett had a conversation with a Rebel Surgeon to-day who told him that he thought there would be no fighting. Yet it looks very probable that there will be a battle somewhere before the war ends. Many here are of the opinion that they [the Confederates] will evacuate Petersburg & Richmond & retreat in the direction of Lynchburg. I hope no more fighting will be necessary, yet cannot realize so happy a termination of the war.
Burk is upstairs playing “Home Sweet Home,” & I can almost imagine myself there at times. I dare not think too much of it for fear of the Blues. I have neither seen or heard anything worthy of note.
This is my fifth letter from Charleston. How happy I would be to hear from you & Howard to-night. Remember me in love to all the friends. I must try & write to the boys soon. I fear I am very, very lazy; don’t you think so? I have written but two letters, except to you, since I am here — one to Mother and one to the [Pontiac] “Sentinel,” but I will try & do better.
May Our Father bless and make you happy. Col. Merrill & Dr. Bennett insist on my reading my letter, so that they may gather items for a letter home. They offer three cents in money & a sentence each to fill out the sheet, but I could not accept such a proposition. There is sufficient evidence of nothing to write about. Write often. Direct to the Regt. Good night.
Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver