Hd. Qrs. 129th Ills. Vol.
Gallatin, Tenn., Aug. 14th 1863
My Dear Wife
Yours of the 6th & 9th Inst. came to hand this evening.1 I am very happy to hear that there is a fair prospect of your speedy recovery to health. If you should start early in next week for Carlisle, my letter may not reach you.2
I am sorry to hear that Mother [Murphy] has not yet concluded to go with you.3 I should like very much to have her go. Tell her I think it very probable I shall be in Carlisle in three or four weeks, & if she remains in New York or goes to Pontiac I shall not probably have an opportunity of seeing her. I could get a leave of absence now without doubt, but I gave my chance to Lt. Smith to-night.4 Col. Cropsey gave me the assurance to-day that I should go,5 but Mrs. Smith is beyond the hope of recovery & will not probably live more than a few days. Lt. Smith wants to bury her at home, & my going would prevent him. I can therefore cheerfully wait, & if no circumstances transpire to materially change the state of affairs here, my chances will be equally good on his return, & I feel that it is but justice to do so. The time furnished, however, will not give me an opportunity to go any out of my way, as only 15 days are granted.
I hope if you can content yourself & be happy, you will remain in Carlisle 5 or 6 weeks at least. If you cannot, I should be sorry to have you stay, & I will come to you wherever you are.
I surely never recd. any of your letters stating that Mother [Murphy] was with you. The letter you refer to says that Thomas was unwilling to return without you but Mother is not mentioned.
I cannot deliver your message to Alf. Huetson.6 He is at home, & I presume supremely happy.
You continue to write, “We shall wean Frankie next week.” I hope, my Dear Wife, you will not delay until your own health is sacrificed. I want to hear of your speedy recovery. I am happy to hear that Frankie is growing so rapidly in size, & I hope also in good qualities. I am afraid from the vast changes you find in your old home during your absence, that all the assistance I might be able to render you will be of no avail, as so many changes in my old home have taken place that you would not recognize it as the same place.7
I accept all the kisses in letter no. 1, and now for no. 2, You will be under the necessity of writing every day & sometimes twice a day to “catch up with me.” I have been writing every day lately. I am much obliged for the correction; I now recollect both Miss Root & Miss Reed, it was not my intention to give you pain for mentioning the noble self-sacrifice you made, & you will forgive me for repeating that whatever internal struggle you had, you never intimated anything to me. Let us praise God for your victory over yourself. I cannot see that any retraction of my former assertions are necessary, & I love you all the more for all your fortitude. None but God knew whether I would be with you in your severest trial as a wife, yet he ordered all so well that I hope I may never cease to feel grateful.
I shall be careful to eat none but ripe fruit and plenty of it. We have apples & peaches in abundance. Oh, how I wish I could send you some.
I should fully appreciate those kisses you wish to kiss & feel myself fully competent to return them with good interest. I perceive by your letter you have not yet decided whether I shall furnish a dress or receive a neck-tie, but as usual you expect soon to know. I should have no hesitancy in promising two dresses, believing that even possibility is in my favor.
Five days have elapsed since the date of your last letter, & Frankie by this time has almost learned to gain a living by eating. Write to me very soon, I shall feel very anxious to hear the result. I am happy for the assurance that you will not attempt to conceal from me the worst if at any time either of you should be sick.
I greatly fear I shall never have an opportunity to deliver your message of love to Mrs. Smith. She is unable to speak & in great pain. I spent about an hour with her this morning in company with Col. Cropsey. She was very happy & ready to die. God has bountifully blessed her. This evening she is much worse, several Drs. held a consultation in her case & have decided that she will die. I scarcely expect to see her again alive. King’s whole family have been very kind, & the girls sit up almost every night.8
Bill Russell & Scott McDowell arrived this evening. Bill is enjoying good health. He brought me a letter from Abbie [Remick] which I have enclosed to you. They report all our friends well. Mrs. McDowell is at Magnolia, Ills., with her mother counselling with a physician.9 Trudy is no better, & I fear will never be much better in this world. I saw a picture of their baby. It looks very healthy & quite pretty.
Many changes have taken place in Pontiac, but generally for the better. I am led to believe from Bill’s talk that he has been trifling with Miss Turner. If I knew her, I could determine. I hope most earnestly it is not so, for I heartily despise anything of the kind. Henry Greenebaum sent me a pint of unadulterated English Brandy, sealed up, with the request that it should not be opened until I took sick. I hope to be able to carry it back to Pontiac with me, don’t you? You have as yet made no mention of the letter I wrote in answer to Sarah’s letter; is it possible that it, too, is lost?
Lt. McKnight is no better but is in a very critical condition. We hope for his recovery. The rest of our sick are rapidly improving. Plattenburg has not yet returned to duty but will very soon. I believe he is quite well again but is still resting. The duties have not been very heavy here this week, but this office [the Adjutant's] is very confining. Scott McDowell will remain here for some time, I do not know how long.
I have written quite a long letter & must close, else I shall have nothing to write to-morrow. I do not believe you will be able to keep up with me but do all you can. Write very often, your letters make me happy. If mine are equally as interesting, I shall take pleasure in multiplying them. Give my love to Mother & all our friends. I hope to hear of Mother in Carlisle. You can draw on Remick at any time for $75. I shall be compelled to get a little back if pay-day is delayed. Kiss Frankie for me (Kiss) (Mary) (Frankie) (Mother) May God in Mercy bless you, for which I shall ever pray.
Your Affect. Husband
J. F. Culver
- Mary Culver’s letter of Aug. 9 is missing from the Culver Collection. [↩]
- Mary Culver had written, “My health continues to improve and if nothing happens to prevent, I will go to Carlisle week after next.” Mary Culver to J.F.C., Aug. 6, 1863, Culver Collection. [↩]
- Mother Murphy did not plan to go to Carlisle, as she had not finished her visit in New Hartford. Ibid. [↩]
- On Aug. 20, 1863, Lt. John W. Smith was granted a ten-day leave, with permission to return to Illinois. Regimental Papers, 129th Illinois, NA. [↩]
- With Colonel Case on a 15-day furlough, Colonel Cropsey commanded the regiment. Ibid. [↩]
- Mary Culver had directed her husband to tell Alf “to prepare Frankie’s bed and be sure and have it large enough, he is growing amazingly, a few feet longer than his own will do.” Mary Culver to J.F.C., Aug. 6, 1863, Culver Collection. [↩]
- Mary Culver had complained, “I have been so poorly since I have been here, I have walked no where; and it does not seem as if I had seen many things that was once familiar, everything is so changed, it does not look like the place I used to know as New Hartford.” Ibid. [↩]
- Mrs. Smith occupied a room in Gallatin at the Kings’, where Mrs. Culver had stayed during her visit. [↩]
- Mary T. McDowell was the 26-year-old wife of J. Scott McDowell, a Fairbury farmer. Eighth Census, Livingston County, State of Illinois, NA. [↩]