It is just one week since your last letter arrived

Joseph Culver Letter, February 19, 1864, Page 1

Head Qrs., 1st Brig., 1st Div., 11th A.C.
Nashville Febry. 19th 1864
My Dear Wife

I recd. no letter to-day; it is just one week since your last arrived. I cannot divine the reason. [Pvt. Joseph] Allen recd. a letter from Lou, dated the 14th, in which she says you are well.1

You wrote in one of your letters for me to send a [black] servant for Mrs. Remick and one for Maggie [Utley]. I would be happy to comply if it were possible, but every negro captured in Kentucky is sold into Slavery.2 None are allowed to cross the Ohio River. The only way is to get a permit to take your servants home with you, as Dr. Johns did, & then go up the river to Cairo.3 I cannot take time to go by water, & therefore will not be able to take them with me.

I am unable to tell how soon I may be ready to start home, or whether it is certain or not. I have succeeded well in my own Regt., but some of the others are slow.4

My health is good. If I could only hear from you, but I feel fearful that your health may not be good. I have recd. no letter from any source since I last wrote. I wrote to Bro. Charlie [Culver], Johnie [Murphy], & Scott McDowell last night. I have not been able to sleep for the cold for several nights.5 Mrs. Harrison will be here to-morrow. How I wish you were here, but wishing is in vain. Give my love to Mother & Maggie. May God bless & keep you. Good night.

  1. Lou Allen was the wife of Pvt. Joseph Allen of Company A, 129th Illinois Infantry. Eighth Census, Livingston County, State of Illinois, NA. []
  2. Thousands of blacks freed by President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, dated January 1, 1863, had refugeed to the Nashville area and were living in camps in and around the city. According to terms of the Emancipation, Union slave states—including Kentucky, all of Tennessee, and sections of Virginia and Louisiana—had been excluded from its provisions. Slave owners, legal residents of these states or regions, could identify and claim the return of their blacks. Randall, Civil War & Reconstruction, pp. 490-498. []
  3. Dr. Harvey S. Johns’ resignation as surgeon of the 129th Illinois had been accepted January 19, 1864. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA. []
  4. J.F.C.’s reference is to the collection of funds from the troops to purchase instruments for the brigade band. []
  5. Private Grunert noted in his diary for February 18, “intensely cold weather today.” On February 17, Private Dunham had written his mother, “We are having splendid wether heare now but rather cool. People are plowing.” Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, p. 44; Through the South with a Union Soldier, p. 104. []

About Colleen Theisen

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