The condition of the roads and your few opportunities are sufficient reasons for your letters not reaching me sooner

Joseph Culver Letter, April 2, 1865, Page 1[google-map-v3 width=”400″ height=”300″ zoom=”12″ maptype=”hybrid” mapalign=”right” directionhint=”false” language=”default” poweredby=”false” maptypecontrol=”false” pancontrol=”false” zoomcontrol=”true” scalecontrol=”false” streetviewcontrol=”false” scrollwheelcontrol=”false”  addmarkermashupbubble=”false” addmarkerlist=”35.385965; -77.996854{}1-default.png” bubbleautopan=”true” showbike=”false” showtraffic=”false” showpanoramio=”false”]

Goldsboro, N C. April 2nd 1865
My Dear Wife

I recd. by to-day’s mail yours of the 16th inst. & was very happy to learn that you are well. Letters were recd. two days ago from Pontiac of as late date as the 21st, one from Mrs. Fellows, but she made no mention of you & I presume had not seen you.1 The condition of the roads and your few opportunities are sufficient reasons for your letters not reaching me sooner and perhaps are the reasons why mine are so long on the way.

The day has been very pleasant, & the night is beautiful. I preached in the 79th Ohio last night & to-night in our own. We had a good meeting. We will hold meetings every evening throughout this week. Four arose for prayers to-night. Pray for us. As I never recd. any account of the meetings after I left, there must be some letters that did not reach me.

I will try and write to Maggie [Utley] before we leave here but dare not promise positively. Tell her I will do the best I can. I thought I should write several letters to-day, but I was very tired & thought it best to rest in order to be ready for the morrow.

I was glad to hear that Howard is growing so rapidly as it is a sure indication of good health, yet I know he must be a great burden to you. I wish I could assist you to take care of him this summer, but, if God spares me, I will try & assist you more than when I was last at home. I feel very sorry when I think how little I done to make you happy while I was at home. You have not told me whether you expected to be able to visit Penna. next fall or not.

Alva Garner and Josephus Ullery took supper with us this evening. Both are well. I was at the hospital to see Mark Stephens yesterday; he is getting along very well & expects to go home on furlough shortly.

The Chaplain preached the funeral sermon of those who have fallen since the Regt. left Atlanta.2 All the detachments of Sherman’s Army from Chattanooga and along the coast are expected here in a few days. The Army will be made as effective as possible, and be prepared for the strongest opposition the Rebs. can muster.3 We have had all kinds of rumors to-day, the wildest being that Peace was declared & the Army ordered north.4 Our latest news is the New York Herald of the 27th containing a short account of Grant’s last battle.5 The prospects look flattering but not enough to dispel our anticipations of a severe campaign.

I have not yet written to the Sabbath School. I may try to to-night if I am not too late in closing this. Alf Huetson was here to-day. He inquired very particularly about you & wished to be kindly remembered. I will inclose a little shell that was picked up in “Fort Fisher” by an Officer of the 23rd Corps.

Among the numerous grape vines this evening, was one that our Corps was going to Washington to relieve Hancock’s Veteran Corps.6 Sherman has returned, & we are ordered to be ready to move by the 10th inst. which will be one week from to-morrow.7

Our camp is very nicely fixed up with pine trees lining both sides of all the streets. The boys have built comfortable houses and was there any prospect of remaining here long enough to justify it, we could make this camp very beautiful.8 We have good water in abundance which is a great blessing.

Some of the members of our Regt. captured on this last raid have been exchanged and are on furlough home. We hope to hear from Henry Polk soon.9 I have not yet written to his parents hoping to see or hear from him each day.

I hear trains whistling for the last hour. The rail-road is complete from Wilmington to this place giving us two avenues of communication with the coast.10

I see by the New York papers of the 27th inst. that both Wilmington and Charleston are soon to be made “Ports of Entry” which is certain evidence of the determination of the government to garrison and hold them. They will be garrisoned, doubtless, with colored troops while all the others will be sent to the front.11 There is one Division of Colored Troops here, but I have not learned where they are stationed.12 The Regt. of which Jos. Z. Culver is adgt. is in the Division;13 I would like to see him.

I sent ten dollars in a letter I sent by Wm. F. Sailor to be mailed at Chicago, Ills. Chris [Yetter] asked me just now whether you had forgiven him for the letter he wrote to you over a year ago; he says you have never written to him since. I had forgotten all about it but have an indistinct recollection of the affair.

We have just recd. orders to be ready to go on a forage expedition at 6-1/2 A.M. to-morrow. The whole Regt. is ordered out, &, as we will probably have a hard day’s march, I cannot write any more letters and must close this one soon. I hope there will be some letters awaiting me on my return. How cheering it will be.

I am glad you are contented, & I hope God will make you happy. I spent your birthday [March 17] in Charleston. Had I thought of it, I would certainly have written, but I have been very thoughtless lately. I know not why.

Remember me kindly to all our friends. Give my love to Maggie & family. What is Bro. John’s address? How I wonder how you are enjoying yourself to-night & where you are. I can imagine both Howard & you in bed sound asleep. May Our Father kindly watch over you & preserve you. Kiss Howard for me. I will write soon after my return. I do not know how long we will be absent but probably not over one day. Accept a kiss. With much love, I remain,

Your affect. Husband

  1. Mrs. Fellows was the wife of J. Allen Fellows, the regimental hospital steward. []
  2. Abel H. Scott had succeeded Thomas Cotton as chaplain of the 129th Illinois. Scott, a 37-year-old minister, had been mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a sergeant in Company F, 129th Illinois Infantry. He was promoted to sergeant major on March 7, 1863, and was commissioned 2d lieutenant of Company F on June 11, 1863. Lieutenant Scott was wounded at Resaca on May 15, 1864, and did not rejoin the regiment until July 13. He resigned his commission in December to accept appointment as regimental chaplain. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA. []
  3. General Sherman in the last week of March had reorganized his army into the Army of the Tennessee commanded by General Howard and the Army of Georgia led by General Slocum. The XX Corps, to which the 129th Illinois belonged, was a part of the Army of Georgia. Also reporting to Sherman was General Schofield’s Army of the Ohio. When Sherman’s “army group” resumed its advance, the railroads leading from Kinston and Wilmington to Goldsboro would be abandoned. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 75,80-1. []
  4. There was no truth to the peace rumor. []
  5. Units of General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia on March 25 had assailed Union positions east of Petersburg held by the IX Corps, Army of the Potomac. Fort Stedman was stormed by the Rebels, but they were unable to exploit this success. Counterattacking Federals soon recovered Fort Stedman, and the Confederates, having suffered heavy losses, were driven back into their Petersburg defenses. Humphreys, The Virginia Campaign of ’65, pp. 316-20. []
  6. Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock, plagued by his Gettysburg wound, in the autumn of 1864 had been called to Washington to recruit a “Veteran Reserve Corps.” His efforts met with slight success, and on February 27, 1865, he was placed in command of the Department of West Virginia. Consequently, there was no truth to this rumor. Warner, Generals in Blue, p. 204. []
  7. The report that Sherman’s “army group” was to be ready to resume the advance on April 10 was correct. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, p. 65. []
  8. A soldier of the regiment had written on March 23, “We have been fixing up some log shanties to stay in, four of us in a shantie.” The regimental historian recorded on the 28th a good many of the cabins, which were started on the 25th, “were done while others are approaching completion.” Through the South with a Union Soldier, p. 167; Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, pp. 224-25. []
  9. Henry Polk had been paroled at Aikens Landing, Va., on March 26, 1865, and ordered to Benton Barracks, Mo. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA. []
  10. It was April 5 before the first through train reached Goldsboro from Wilmington. []
  11. J.F.C. was only partially correct in his assumption that Charleston and Wilmington would be garrisoned by black units. The 1st Separate Brigade charged with occupation of Charleston on April 30, 1865, included four black commands among its 16 units. No black commands were currently attached to Brig. Gen. Joseph R. Hawley’s District of Wilmington, O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, p. 362. []
  12. One of the three divisions constituting the X Corps, Army of the Ohio, consisted of U.S. Colored Troops. The X Corps was camped in and around Faison’s Depot, 20 miles south of Goldsboro, on the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad. Ibid., p. 50. []
  13. Joseph Z. Culver was mustered into service on Feb. 29, 1864, at Baltimore, Md., as 2d lieutenant of Company K, 39th U.S. Colored Troops. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant on Sept. 13, 1864, and assigned to duty as regimental adjutant. Adjutant Culver was wounded on Feb. 12, 1865, but soon rejoined his command. 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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