I greatly fear the shock will be too great for Father to bear

Joseph Culver Letter, June 27, 1863, Letter 2, Page 1

Head Quarters, Co. “A”, 129th Ills.
Gallatin, Tenn., June 27th 1863

Dear Mary

I have been on duty to-day & am to-night. I see by the papers this evening that Carlisle is in possession of the Rebels,1 & I greatly fear the shock will be too great for Father to bear.2 I feel very anxious to hear from home which at present is impossible.

The invasion need not interfere with your visit to New York.3 &, as soon as the way is open, you can go from there to Carlisle if you can make up your mind to go there at all. Do not let the loss of your trunks interfere with your arrangements if they should not be found in time, as I presume you can easily replenish your wardrobe in Pontiac. I telegraphed to Louisville & received information that the trunks were not in the Depot there. I have also written to Jeffersonville & will write to Indianapolis & Chicago. Tell me where you lost track of them.

I hope you will not worry about them. I have no papers that are of sufficient importance as to cause you any uneasiness; while I feel quite sure that they will be found. I feel happy that you have got home safe, & I hope you will soon feel fresh & blooming as ever.

While up-town [Gallatin] to-day I called at Kings. The family are all well. I did not see any one but Mrs. King, Maggie & Marion.4 The latter looks rather worse than when you left & is quite sick.

I shall try if I have time to-morrow & write to the S. Schools. I hope to hear soon from you about the condition of ours. I hope Sister Maggie has sufficiently recovered as to be able to get around.5 Give her my love & a kiss also [for] little Mary.6

I wonder if Frankie has forgotten me yet. I should like to see him. Will it become necessary to wean him soon? What did Mother [Mrs. Murphy] say of your case? When does she expect to start East? Tell me all the news. Tell Abba Remick I directed the letter I wrote to her & Lida to Evanston.

I thought as your last letter was so long on the way I should receive another to-day. Don’t forget your resolution to write every day. You see I am doing well as this is the second letter today.

I often think now of many things I might have spoken of while you were here, but while you were here I thought so little of Pontiac that I forgot to ask you all I wanted to know. Now that you are there, my mind is with you all the time.

What is the condition of the Churches there? Do not forget to remind Bro. Fisher of the renewal of my license.7 Oh, how I would like to be with you to-morrow; we would go to S. School & Church. I seem to live old times over again, & the recollection of the last year with you makes me very happy. May God bless you.

I lament my inability to render your stay with me here more comfortable. No opportunities to get away from the dull camp, [so] your life must have been most intolerable. You do not know how often I felt grieved over the condition of affairs, of the time I had to leave you at Richland all alone, & often was absent for days, & all the time you alone.

Dear Mary, if God spares my life to return, I will strive to make your life very happy that you may forget your grievances in this land of Dixie. May God give us a long & happy reunion. I hope you will pray for me. I think of it almost every night when I go to bed, & I love to feel that my wife has prayed for me.

Kiss Frankie for me. I wish I could give you the kiss to give him. Write soon & often. May God keep your heart pure as he ever has & make you supremely happy & keep us all under his kind protecting care for continual usefulness in this life & the full enjoyment of a “Home in Heaven.”

Good night.

Your Affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. In the first week of May 1863, General Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia had defeated the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville. To capitalize on this success. General Lee in the second week of June put his columns in motion toward Pennsylvania. Lee’s II Corps, sweeping up the Shenandoah Valley, defeated the Federals at Winchester on June 14-15, crossed the Potomac at Williamsport, and, advancing by way of Chambersburg, entered Carlisle on June 27. Wilbur S. Nye, Here Come the Rebels (Baton Rouge, 1965), pp. 301-310. []
  2. Joseph Culver, J.F.C.’s father, was 72 years old. He was a retired farmer, living in Carlisle’s East Ward, and in 1860 valued his real estate at $25,000 and his personal property at $5,000. Eighth Census, Cumberland County, State of Pennsylvania, NA. []
  3. Mary Culver’s New York State goal was New Hartford, in Oneida County, several hundred miles northeast of Lee’s invasion route. []
  4. Maggie (Margarette) and Marion were two of the children of Charles and Mary King. Eighth Census, Sumner County, State of Tennessee, NA. []
  5. Maggie Utley had recently given birth to a son. Culver, “Robert Murphy and Some of His Descendants,” p. 99. []
  6. Mary was the Utleys’ one-year-old daughter. Ibid. []
  7. Bro. Fisher may have been Samuel Fisher, a 53-year-old resident of Pontiac Township. A widower, Fisher in 1860 was living with his three children. Eighth Census, Livingston County, State of Illinois, NA. []

About Colleen Theisen

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