I scarcely expected a letter before the arrival of Maples

Joseph Culver Letter, December 18, 1862, Page 1

Mitchellsville, Tenn., Dec. 18th 1862

Dear Wife

I received yours of the 7th & 8th this morning, rather unexpectedly, as I scarcely expected a letter before the arrival of Maples. I am happy & thankful that you all enjoy such good health.

I can readily inform you what I was doing on the Sunday you were writing as you wondered.1 About 4 oclock in the morning [of the 7th] we started & marched about 14 miles halting about 1 o’clock P.M., pitched our tents, & arranged for the night. I was quite sick & as I have already told you, I returned to this place on Monday [the 8th].2 I am most happy to say I am quite well now.

I have quite a good opinion of Rev. Pearce as a preacher & man & am very glad you like him. I do not know Mr. Pollard.3 I feel sorry my letter to the S.S.U. Prayermeeting had not arrived in time, as I hoped it would. I am also glad the Schools have united in their celebration of Christmas.4 If I can get time, I shall write a letter as my contribution to the tree, but cannot promise definitely.

I cannot express the joy I feel that you manifest so much zeal for the Sabbath School. I feared that losing so many it might lag in interest & lose its numbers. I scarcely dared hope that under the circumstances you would feel interested. I do not pretend & I hope have no desire in my heart to even make a suggestion directing your actions. But my love & zeal for the prosperity of the School for which I have labored so hard & hoped for so much are a sufficient reason for the gratitude I feel.5

I expect that boy of ours will grow beyond all bounds if he keeps on; he must be quite large.6 I hope your health may not be impaired carrying & caring for him.

I should be full as happy to have you here as you possibly could be, & if I thought it practicable at all, I would urge you to come, but I dare not do it. The risk is too great.

I heard of the marriage of Mr. Foote a few days ago but scarcely credit it. I hope he may be happy & prosperous. If I had his address, I would write to him.7 You seem to think that your letters do not reach me. I think I have received all. Sometimes they come by way of Nashville, & are thus delayed but invariably reach me.

I was appointed to-day upon the Board of Survey for this post, which will occupy my time probably for several weeks.8 The nature of the business coming before us will give it much the nature of a court of inquiry. Our business will be to inquire into the loyalty of those persons asking indemnification from the government. The advantage will be that all our business will be in a comfortable room, a comfort I will relish very much.

I have never received Mr. Saul’s letter; I fear it is lost. Josiah Wood of Pontiac is lying dangerously ill.9 I think he will die but may recover. We are all doing well. Lieut. Smith is expecting his wife soon. A letter from Maples to-day informs us that he will not start before the 22nd. Mrs. Blackburn & Mrs. Fitch of Fairbury will arrive here to-morrow.10 Give my love to all & now committing you to the hands of Providence for the present, Farewell.

Your Affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Mary Culver had written on the 7th, “I have thought much of you today and often wondered where you were and what you were doing.” Mary Culver to J.F.C., Dec. 7, 1862, Culver Collection. []
  2. The march described by J.F.C. was that of Hoskins’ battalion from Mitchellville to the Drakes Creek stockade, and the distance covered was about 8, not 14, miles. As Culver had explained in his letter of the 12th, he was suffering from jaundice. []
  3. Mary Culver had informed her husband that the Reverend Pearce had preached the funeral sermon for Mr. and Mrs. James H. Herbert’s child. It had been a good sermon, and she had liked “him much better than Mr. Pollard though he is far inferior in looks and others in the church do not like him.” Mary Culver to J.F.C, Dec. 7, 1862, Culver Collection. Herbert was a 49-year-old Pontiac saloon keeper. In 1860 he and his wife were living with their four children. Eighth Census, Livingston County, State of Illinois, NA. []
  4. According to Mary Culver, the Presbyterian and Methodist Sunday schools had united and would have one big Christmas tree. Mary Culver to J.F.C, Dec. 7, 1862, Culver Collection. []
  5. Mary Culver had written, “I have thought lately Dear Frank and it struck me very forceably today that perhaps the reason I was not permitted to go away from here this winter was that God wanted me to work here and do what I could to make good your place [in the Sunday school].” Ibid. []
  6. Their son, born Sept. 21, weighed in December between 16 and 17 pounds. Ibid. []
  7. Mary Culver had met Morgan Foote on the street, and he had shown her a photograph of his wife, “a nice looking woman about 38 years old.” They had been married in Wisconsin and would soon go there to live. Ibid. []
  8. Colonel Smith, on Dec. 18, issued a special order assigning three of his officers—Maj. Andrew J. Cropsey, Capt. John B. Perry, and Lt. Joseph F. Culver—to a board of survey to “examine and audit the claims of loyal citizens in this vicinity against the United States Government.” SO 12, Dec. 18, 1862, Letter Books, 129th Illinois, NA. []
  9. Josiah Wood, a 21-year-old Pontiac blacksmith, was mustered into service on Sept. 8,
    1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois Infantry. He was hospitalized in December
    in the regimental hospital at Mitchellville and died at Fountain Head, Tenn., Jan. 7, 1863,
    of typhoid fever. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA. []
  10. Benjamin F. Fitch, a 34-year-old Livingston County farmer, was mustered into
    service on Sept. 8, 1862, as 2d lieutenant of Company E, 129th Illinois Infantry. He was
    promoted to 1st lieutenant on April 17, 1863, and was mustered out at Washington, D.C.,
    June 8, 1865. John F. Blackburn, a 26-year-old Fairbury druggist, was mustered into
    service as 1st lieutenant of Company E, 129th Illinois Infantry, on Sept. 8, 1862. He
    resigned his commission on Feb. 25, 1863, having received a certificate of disability signed
    by the regimental surgeon. On Sept. 5, 1863, Blackburn was elected regimental sutler.
    Ibid. []

About Colleen Theisen

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