Just as I was preparing to go to church I received orders to go on a Scout

Joseph Culver Letter, June 22, 1863, Page 1

Head Qurs., Co. “A”, 129th Ills. Vol. Infty.
Gallatin, Tenn., June 22nd 1863

Dear Mary

I delayed writing all day Saturday [the 20th] thinking that on Sunday I would write you a long letter, but just as I was preparing to go to church I received orders to go on a Scout. I was in the saddle all day & thus had no opportunity to write. This morning I am detailed as Judge Advocate on a Board of Commission which meets at 9 o’clock.1 My health is good. Your shawl & a letter from Maggie [Utley] arrived on Thursday, so I presume I heard the news of the birth of the great heir before you did.2 They say he looks like Frankie, so he must be a wonderful boy. You will please give my hearty congratulations & a kiss to Maggie. (I wonder if she gets a new dress.)

I will send your shawl this morning by Mr. J. F. Earnhart.3 He stops at Chenoa but will send it along immediately.4

I gave Mrs. King part of the cake sent by Mr. Byrne.5 I have not seen the girls since you left, but the whole family are well.

[General] Morgan has been near Gallatin with a large force for a few days.6 It is hard to tell whether he will attack the Town or not. He is anxious to save his friends in it & knows we will burn it up.

We are all enjoying good health. I feel somewhat lonely but you know that is scarcely admissable in a Soldier’s life, so I am compelled to overcome it. I wished to write to the Liv[ingston] Co. S. S. Union yesterday, but failed the same as I did in writing to you. I thought of several matters of business on Saturday but cannot call them to mind this morning.

The weather is beautiful & not so warm as it was last week. We hear every day that we will march soon but know nothing definite. I have no word from Bro. Johnie yet.7 I am waiting anxiously to hear from you.

Mrs. Smith has been sick ever since you left & talks of going home.8 Lou [Allen] is well & talks also of going home.9 Mrs. Folks has gone.10 There is considerable danger, & I feel very much more like fighting since Frankie & you are out of harm’s way. I can shoot up Town if necessary, you don’t know how easy.

I had an opportunity to go to Louisville on duty the next day after you left, so if you had been one day later I should have gone with you. But I must close.

I heard of the body of Luther Vandoren.11 It floated down the river on Thursday last, but there being no boats the citizens would not venture in. We may possibly recover it at an Island some ten miles below where we spent yesterday.

The mail has gone, & I must go to the Depot. Give my love to all, remember me to the S. S. I will write soon again. Write to

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. The “Board of Commission” referred to was the one to which J.F.C. had been appointed on Dec. 18, 1862. It was charged with examining and auditing claims of loyal citizens against the United States. Regimental Papers, 129th Illinois, NA. []
  2. A second child, their first son, had been born to Leander and Margaret Utley. Culver, “Robert Murphy and Some of His Descendants,” p. 99. []
  3. James F. Earnhart, a 29-year-old gunsmith, had been mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company E, 129th Illinois. He was detailed as regimental gunsmith and called Fairbury his home. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA. []
  4. Chenoa is in Livingston County, about 10 miles southwest of Pontiac. []
  5. Mrs. Mary King was the 35-year-old wife of Charles B. King, the Gallatin undertaker, from whom Mary Culver had rented a room during her four-month visit. It has been impossible to further identify Mr. Byrne. []
  6. Brig. Gen. John H. Morgan with 3,000 to 4,000 horse-soldiers was camped near Alexandria, reportedly getting ready for a dash on Carthage or to raid into Kentucky. Alexandria was 35 miles southeast of Gallatin. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIII, pt. II, pp. 440-441. []
  7. Brother John Murphy, a quartermaster sergeant in Company M, 1st Illinois Light Artillery, was stationed at Triune, Tenn., 20 miles southeast of Nashville. []
  8. Mrs. Margaret Smith was the 27-year-old wife of Lt. John W. Smith of Company A. She had traveled from Pontiac in February for a visit with her husband, which had been prolonged by illness. []
  9. Lou Allen of Newton was the wife of Pvt. Joseph Allen of Company A. Eighth Census, Livingston County, State of Illinois, NA. []
  10. Mrs. Elmira Folks of Pontiac was the 19-year-old wife of Sgt. Richard D. Folks of Company G. Ibid. []
  11. Pvt. Luther Vandoren had drowned in the Cumberland River, near Gallatin, on June 10. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA. []

About Colleen Theisen

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

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