As a leisure moment offers opportunity, I cannot better reconcile myself to wait for your letters than by writing

Joseph Culver Letter, December 11, 1862, Page 1

Mitchellsville, Tenn. – Dec. 11th 1862

Dear Wife

As a leisure moment offers opportunity, I cannot better reconcile myself to wait for your letters than by writing. I recollect in Abbott’s life of Josephine, he gives many sketches from Napoleon’s letters, while she was his wife, stating that so great was his attachment to her that scarce a day passed, while on the march or battlefield, but what a courier was dispatched with some missive of love.1 I am happy therefore that the disposition to love & manifest it is not only displayed in greatness, for then I could not be a partaker of its bliss.

I wrote quite a lengthy letter to Friend Russell to-night, which I hope will elicit an answer.2 I had the pleasure of enjoying a real Pontiac dinner day before yesterday [with] Mess No. 2 of Company G, & I was tempted to wish that the distance were not quite so great & expressage so far beyond reason that I might elicit a similar favor of my friends. But I could scarcely deem it practical.3

Christmas & New Year’s are approaching. I wish you all a merry time & all the comforts & blessings this life can give.

I believe I forgot in my letter of yesterday to mention that I recd. a letter from Sister Jennie & Bro. Charley on Saturday.4 All at home are well. Jennie says you have not answered her letter yet. Mother [Culver] promised to write soon. Sister [Hannah] is preparing to go to Harrisburg to teach, & Chas. McGregor was well & flourishing.5 She also informs me of the very sudden death of Mrs. Postlethwaithe (Mary’s mother) while on a visit.6 Bro. Wes is Assistant Surgeon in the 56th Regt. Penna. Vols. & is stationed near Washington, D. C.7 I believe that is all the news.

My health is quite good; I am gaining rapidly. I presume Maples & Mrs. Smith will be here by to-morrow evening. Many besides myself are looking anxiously for their arrival.

Lucian Perry got as far as Louisville, but I believe failed to get a pass through & could not come any farther.8 The Orders are very Strict, yet almost any business man may succeed. Quite a number go through on the road every day.9

Nothing new has occurred since I last wrote. All is going on well. Bro. Cotton & myself are bunking together for a few nights. We have a large comfortable fire on the hearth & are quite pleasantly situated. The floor get[s] rather hard sometimes before morning,but it is as good as we could wish under the circumstances. I shall expect to hear from you to-morrow night. Give my love to all. Write soon. For the present — Good night. May God protect and bless you.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. John S. Abbott (1805-1877) was a prolific American writer, best known for his many biographies. His History of Josephine was published in New York City in 1851. []
  2. William L. Russell was born in Ohio in 1821, and in 1860 he was sheriff of Livingston County. A widower in the latter year, he boarded and roomed in Pontiac with Rufus and Elizabeth Babcock. Eighth Census, Livingston County, State of Illinois, NA. []
  3. Company G, one of five Livingston County companies, was commanded by Capt. Henry B. Reed of Pontiac. []
  4. J.F.C.’s letter to his wife of Dec. 10, 1862 is missing. Jennie Culver Cheston and Charles Culver were the writer’s younger sister and brother. Jennie was 22 and Charles 15. In 1860 both were living with their mother and father in dwelling 597, the East Ward, Carlisle, Pa. Eighth Census, Cumberland County, State of Pennsylvania, NA. []
  5. Charles McGregor was a student at Carlisle’s Dickinson College. In 1860 the Ohio-born McGregor was living in Pontiac with his mother, Mary J. McGregor, a school teacher. Eighth Census, Livingston County, State of Illinois, NA; History of Livingston County, pp. 642-643. []
  6. It has been impossible to further identify Mrs. Postlethwaite. []
  7. W. Wesley Culver had been mustered into service in November 1862, as assistant surgeon of the 56th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA. []
  8. Lucien B. Perry, born in Virginia in 1836, was the son of Dr. James M. and Hannah Perry. In 1860 he clerked in a Pontiac store, and he was en route to visit his brother, Pvt. W. W. Perry of Company A. Eighth Census, Livingston County, State of Illinois, NA. []
  9. In a futile effort to control illegal trading with the enemy, General Rosecrans on Nov. 27 issued a general order providing that: (a) all army sutlers must report to their regiments and not make any sales to any persons except those connected with the army; (b) no sutler could ship boots, shoes, or clothing to his regiment, unless he first secured a certificate from the regimental commander; (c) no persons, except sutlers, would be permitted to follow the army and establish themselves within its lines; (d) in towns or cities within the army’s lines, no person would be allowed to sell goods unless he was a resident trader, with a permit signed by the provost marshal attesting to his loyalty and fidelity; and (e) any person or persons found shopping, selling, or attempting to sell goods in violation of these orders would be arrested and their goods confiscated. But where large profits could be made by trading with the enemy, many ways were found to evade regulations. Consumer goods were smuggled through the Union lines to be bartered for cotton which commanded premium prices in the North. O. R., Ser. I. Vol. XX, pt. II, pp. 104-105. []

About Colleen Theisen

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

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