On my return from Stevenson last night, I found your letter of the 11th

Joseph Culver Letter, October 19, 1863, Page 1

Head. Qrs. Co. “A” 129th Ills. Vol. Infty.
Nashville, Tenn., Octr. 19th 1863

My Dear Wife

On my return from Stevenson last night, I found your letter of the 11th, one from Sister Lizzie [Zug], one from Bro. Wes [Culver] & Bro. Johnie [Murphy], & this morning recd. yours of the 12th.1 I am very happy to learn that there is some hope of Frankie.

Bro. Wes gave me a history of his disease from which I conclude that it will take great care and attention to save him. A slight cold will prove fatal, & this is a season of the year in which colds are very easily contracted. I see but little prospect of his safe removal before Spring, &, though the trial for you will be severe and the sacrifice great, yet it will save our child. His lungs are very seriously affected and without the greatest care will remain defective for life.

I know, my dear wife, that your trials have been & will be severe; yet doubt not God has some wise purpose in view. I am very thankful for your kind sympathy in my behalf & always feel assured that whatever may befall me, one loving heart at least beats in harmony with my own. I looked forward with much pleasure to your Stay with me, yet to save Frankie I can forego that pleasure & trust to God for his blessings.

I should be happy to act upon Bro. Wes’ suggestions & get a leave of Absence if it were among the possibilities. Perhaps by and by it will succeed, we will live in hope.

My health is very good. My trip to Stevenson was very pleasant. I had the passenger train & was only absent two days. I met Capt. West of Genl. Smith’s staff,2 who was in Carlisle at the time the Rebels were throwing shells into the town. He says that it was him who cut those fine shade trees down in front of Judge Hepbrun’s, Martin’s Hotel, and Judge Watts’.3 They were cut down to barricade the street.

I heard of quite a number of my old acquaintances in the service in the Potomac Army. General Knipe was formerly a shoemaker in Harrisburg;4 I knew him but not intimately. He commands a Brigade in the 11th Corps.

I hope Father’s health may continue to improve. Bro. Wes does not speak very hopefully of his case. I will try and answer Sister Lizzie’s letter to-day or at least very soon.

I sent several papers to Bro. Johnie by Captain West & will answer his letter the first opportunity. There is a gentleman going to the front on Wednesday with whom I think I can send the money. I do not like to risk it by mail, as they are very uncertain & irregular. I also sent Bro. Johnie your two letters of the 8th & 9th, which I happened to have in my pocket.

You ask what overcoat I sent for. It was my black one. I intended to get a cape & military buttons put on it & wear it, but I do not think I will go to the trouble now. My boots came in a box sent to Company “C” on Friday evening.

We all live together again & have ever since we came to Nashville. I boarded for several weeks, but we are now messing. It is the only way we can get our meals regularly & get rations to take with us when on duty. The hours for meals at a boarding house are regular & very often we could not go.

I will enclose Bro. Johnie’s letter. The weather is very pleasant to-day but has been cold and very wet for a long time. The waters are high. The news from our front are cheering.5 The papers anticipate a raid into Maryland again, but it looks very improbable.6 I hope the Call for 300,000 will be promptly answered.7

I am grieved to learn of Sophie Emmet’s sad fate.8 She was a very intimate friend of mine long ago & was a very fine girl.

I informed you that I had written to Sister Maggie [Utley] for the package [containing the will] in my drawer. I requested [Lt.] Smith to ask his wife to give Mother [Murphy] one of my pictures, as she has two. The health is generally good. Sergt. Godfrey was sick for a short time but is almost well again.9 Capt. Culver of the 105th Ills. was in to see me this morning and has promised me his photograph.10 I will send it to you when I receive it. I do not recollect whether you met him or not in Gallatin. He was there on General Paine’s Staff, but is now a Captain in the 105th Ills.

I must try and write to Wes to-day as he expects to leave so soon. Kiss Frankie for me. I earnestly hope he may speedily regain health and Strength. Should Father’s health improve, as I hope it will, Mother & Sister Hannah will be able to assist you in caring for him. I presume you all anticipate accessions to Jennie’s family. Sister Lizzie informs me that they all love you very much. I am truly happy, & I believe they will try to make your Stay pleasant.

Mother [Murphy] is very anxious to have you home, & I know she must be lonely, but the condition of society in Pontiac is such that I fear you would not enjoy yourself there. You can better judge of that, however, than I. The drum is beating for 12 o’clock roll call. I will have to hasten to write two letters before 2 o’clock drill. Give my love to all the family & remember me kindly to all our friends. Tell Charlie [Culver] to write, &, if he has any fears about the cost of a postage stamp, give him one.

May the blessings of Heaven rest upon you & Frankie. I feel that God will continue his goodness to us. Continue to write as often as convenient.


Your Affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. All the letters referred to are missing from the Culver Collection except the one from Sister Lizzie Zug. []
  2. Capt. P.C.F. West of the U.S. Coast Survey was on the staff of Brig. Gen. William F. “Baldy” Smith, the Army of the Cumberland’s chief engineer. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXI, pt. I, p. 78. []
  3. Martin’s Hotel was better known as the Farmer’s Hotel. Judges F. Watts and Samuel Hepburn owned lots on opposite sides of East High Street, between Bedford and Hanover Streets. []
  4. Brig. Gen. Joseph F. Knipe commanded the 1st Brigade, First Division, XII Corps. Knipe’s brigade until October 22, when it was ordered to Bridgeport, was stationed at Decherd. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXI, pt. I, p. 696. []
  5. On October 16 the Departments of the Ohio, the Cumberland, and the Tennessee were consolidated and constituted “The Military Division of the Mississippi,” to which command Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was assigned. By the same order General Rosecrans was sacked and General Thomas named to lead the Army of the Cumberland.
    General Hooker’s two corps were still at Stevenson and guarding the railroad between Bridgeport and Wartrace. General Sherman with his four divisions had left Corinth, and by the 21st his advance guard had reached Tuscumbia, Ala., on its march east. Grant on taking command had ordered Thomas “to hold Chattanooga at all hazard,” and Thomas had replied, “I will hold the town till we starve.” Ibid., p. 666; Cist, Army of the Cumberland, pp. 233-234. []
  6. General Lee on October 9 had crossed the Rapidan with two corps. His goal was to flank Meade’s Army of the Potomac out of its position north of Culpepper. The Confederates were successful, but when they sought to intercept Meade’s columns, as they retired up the Orange & Alexandria Railroad on the 14th, one of Lee’s corps was mauled at Bristoe Station. Lee then abandoned his limited offensive and retired behind the Rappahannock. Douglas S. Freeman, R. E. Lee, 4 vols. (New York, 1935), Vol. III, pp. 171-185. []
  7. President Lincoln on Saturday, October 17, had issued a proclamation calling for 300,000 additional volunteers for the Union armies. Long, Civil War, Day by Day, p. 423. []
  8. It has been impossible to further identify Sophia Emmet. []
  9. William H. Godfrey, a 35-year-old carpenter, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a corporal in Company A, 129th Illinois, and was promoted 1st sergeant of his company on January 20, 1863. 1st Sergeant Godfrey was mustered out on June 8, 1865, near Washington, D.C. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA. []
  10. Charles C. Culver of Sandwich, Illinois, had been mustered into service on September 2, 1862, as 2d lieutenant of Company H, 105th Illinois Infantry, and promoted to 1st lieutenant on December 30, 1862. He was promoted to captain and transferred to Company C, August 3, 1863. The 105th Illinois had been stationed at Gallatin from Feb. 1, 1863 to June 1, 1863, when it had been transferred to Lavergne. The regiment had been ordered to Nashville on Aug. 19, 1863. Adjutant General’s Report, State of Illinois, Vol. V, pp. 670-679. []

About Colleen Theisen

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