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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  CAS TOPICS  |  The Longbranch (Moderators: Marshal Halloway, Silver Creek Slim, Camille Eonich)  |  Topic: A Letter From The Civil War 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: A Letter From The Civil War  (Read 1571 times)
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« on: December 18, 2015, 06:51:00 am »

A friend of mine is tracing his roots and finds he has a relative that wrote many letters during the Civil War. Here is an example with an interesting mention of the Henry Rifle:

Camp 4th Minn Vols
Allatoona, GA
Nov 8th, 1864
Dear Wife, A.M.
As this is likely to be the last opportunity I shall have of writing to you
for some time to come I send you a few lines to keep you posted as long as I
can about our movements.
Today the last mail comes down and tomorrow the last one goes north,
as the R.R. between Chattanooga & Atlanta is to be evacuated, and all the
rolling stock sent north. The Major of our Regt. sent us word this morning
to write any letters today to go north as there would be no chance after
today for we would move south and the road would be evacuated. I donít
know where we are going to: report says 1/2 dozen different places. It is
certain we canít go to all of them. You must make what money you have do
you for a time or until I can send you some. I donít know how soon that will
be. The veterans are getting two months pay now, but the recruits donít get
any now. I donít know but what we are just as well off, for there is so much
risk in sending by mail and the express is given up now that went from here
to Owatonna Minn. If I had my pay now I would not know what to do with
it. I certainly would not want to carry it, and I should hate to risk it by mail
just now. If we move towards the coast, we may not get paid for a long
time. Perhaps not for a year. Mr. Davis does not get his discharge till the
23rd of Dec. He was mustered into the US service 3 years ago the 2nd of
Nov, but the Regt was not mustered till the 23 of Dec, and he has to serve
till then. The vols that came after that will have to stay till their 3 years is
up or until 3 years from the date of enlistment - that is the non veterans.
The veterans have now about a year in on their new 3 years.
It is quite rainy here now. Last night it rained some and today it is
We will have to do our own cooking now for our cook has turned in
everything of his coking utensils.
Our orderly Sergt George Barnd has been promoted Lieut, and Manson
Lyle has been promoted orderly. Capt Morrell will resign and go home.
My health is as good now as I could wish. I have a good appetite and am
getting just as fat as a hog. the health of our Co is better now than it has
been. A good many have had the jaundice. I did not sign for any clothing
except a pair of shoes. I was sorry that I did not sign for an overcoat, but
now I find those that did wish they had not, for it is a heavy thing and
makes more load than they want to carry. I want to bring one home with
me. They cost about $12 and are just the thing for Minn winters. The
gloves and hat my father will get for me in Milwaukee.
I would like to know who it was that said I need not have gone and
would never come back, that you had better sell off now - you enlighten me
on the subject. I know of no one who would say that, unless it was Mr. St.
John, and as for him, I have made up my mind that his patriotism is
worth about as much to the country as three copper cents would be to a
hungry soldier in a deserted desert town !!!!
We have a company cook and he cooks for all of us, and we all set down
to a long table out of doors, fixed with a cover over it to keep off the sun
Each man has a tin plate, a tin cup and knife fork spoon.
Since my bunk mate was wounded I have slept alone but would very
much like another, for the nights are getting quite cold and one blanket is
not enough.
When I am on guard I have to sleep on the ground. I spread my gun
blanket on the ground and my woolen one over me, and my cartridge box
for a pillow. I find it no trouble to sleep quite soundly.
Ever since the battle, the sound of musketry has been in my ears, and in
the night the slightest sound resembles the rattle of musketry. Everything
looks like making a move before long in some direction, but where or when
I do not know. If I should bet killed or wounded in battle some of my
comrades will write to you and send my things all except my clothes which
will be sold here and the money sent to you. About my pay, bounty,
pension etc, you would have to write to Oscar Malmnos Adjutant Genl of
the State at St. Paul. He would attend to such business for you. The shoes I
drew at Fort Snelling I have had to get mended already. It is so stony and
gravelly here that shoes cut right out.
This northern Georgia is the poorest country I ever saw. Would not take
as a gift as much of it as I could walk over in a day. I was out with about
fifty more of our Regt as escort for a forage train. We marched about ten
miles and back, riding part of the time. For miles and miles the road was so
stony that you could not set your foot down unless you set it on a stone.
When we arrived at our destination I, with some more, was sent out to
guard while the remains were in the corn loading up. I got some chestnuts
and got back to camp about sun down tired and hungry. My sources of
amusement are varied. I read what newspapers I can get hold of and once
in a while borrow a novel from some of the rest of the Co. I sing a good
deal. There are some good singers in our Co. I provided myself with a
small singing book on my way down called the Choralist and many a
lonesome hour has it made pleasant for us.
I have got to write to Jackís folks today to let them know of his death. I
wrote to Deverners immediately requesting them to do so but it seems they
have not yet, for a letter came for him yesterday from home dated Oct 17th
and they did not know anything about it. I have just finished a letter to
Jackís sister, she lives in Wayne, Erie Co., PA. All his folks live near there.
The packages of hops you speak of has not come yet. The pieces you sent
are both pretty especially the purple. They and your picture will often
remind me of home. I went to hear Mr. Savage preach this morning. His
text was 1st Samuel chapter and verse. He showed how a nation ought to
trust in God in times of war. He showed how we, as a nation, were
becoming more humble and how the end of this would probably be in a few
months. He spoke of the effects of prayer and how the righteous would be
preserved in danger when the wicked would be destroyed. He spoke of
Godís many mercies and how grateful we aught to be for them. And how
the prayers of a pious wife or sister would be effectual on preserving the
loved ones in battle. Pray for me Celinda, for I trust that through your
prayers I shall be brought safely to meet you again. Pray for our Country,
for I believe the time will soon come when peace will once more prevail
throughout the length and breadth of our fair land. I feel grateful unto him
who its my God, my strength, and my redeemer for having preserved you
both in health thus far, and think that he will still continue unto you the
same blessing. The trees here have got on them different colors and being
mixed with evergreens they look very pretty.
I think you have managed things very well so far and I guess I will let
you keep on.
I must now stop writing and go on dress parade, and finish tomorrow.
Monday morning: It takes me about a week to write a decent letter and
yet not so decent after all. For I have to piece on piece after piece until
completed. I sit down to write and scarily get commenced when I am called
to duty of some kind. Last night I was on camp guard and had to stand
guard over the Major. That is I was on guard by his tent to wake him up if
any attack was made on the pickets. I feel very well this morning and hope
this will find you and the boy enjoying the same blessing.
Our Co., those that came down when I did, complain a good deal of
diarrhea. Some have the jaundice. Out of seven that bunk in our cabin, they
have all had the diarrhea but me and another one I have gained all the time
since I have been here and getting quite fat. When the rebs charged on our
posts here they cheered for McLellan, and yet there was about 100 men
voted for him in our Regt. Any man that would vote for him is just as much
of a traitor as the Rebs in arms. At the election here a week ago last
Saturday, when the McLellan voters would come, they would sneak up and
look as though they were going to steal sheep. Our company all voted union
except four.
I donít hear anything more about leaving and possibly we may stay here
this winter. I have no particular desire to leave for it is healthy here and we
have got fixed up here for winter quite comfortably. If we leave we will
most likely have some marching to do and that I dread you know. I put on
my knapsack and carried it about an hour a day or so ago and it made me
lame all over. I made up my mind that mind was heavy enough just as it is
without a lot more clothes. And all I carry besides my equipment is a
change of drawers and such, single blanket & gun blanket, and writing
materials. While some of them have drawn for all a soldier can, which is
load enough for a pack mule and the result will be they will throw them
away on the march. Now I was fortunate in drawing a good pair of pants
some of them have worn through already, but mine are sound as yet. My
socks have got holes in them. I have got some yarn but I donít know how to
darn them and I am just placed where I will have to learn to let my toes
stick out. I guess I will go at them the first leisure time. I have never told
you yet that I have got a substitute for a wife along with me. It is not a
female exactly, though many soldiers who have carried them through a
campaign would not part with them for many times their cost. Rain or
dampness does not affect it. When rolled up it is only1-3/4 inches in
diameter and can be easily carried in the coat pocket. It contains a tray
with inkstand, envelopes, pens, holder etc. Also a folio with two jackets
blotting pad to write upon, checker board and pencil, paper scissors,
thimble, buttons, polisher, white and black thread silk, yarn, pins, various
sizes of needles, comb, tooth brush, tooth pick, court plaster and weighs
only ten ounces. I bought it on my way down here for $2 and could triple
my money on it any time here, but think so much of it that I wonít part with
it. Now I must close for this time with much love to you & baby.
I remain your affectionate husband,
Shearwin Clow
I am reading a book now called the Mysteries of the Lottery and Policy
Details of New York, by New Bunttine (?).
Our Regt. has signed for a new kind of gun the Henry rifle. A sixteen
sooting gun and a first rate thing. Some of the 93rd ? had them in our late
battle. The Rebs did not know what to make of them. They said a man just
kept turing a charge and they just kept up a stream of fire. The sixteen
loads are all put in at once and each separate cartridge is loaded by simply
raising and lowering a small crank near the butt of the gun. There its no
cartridge to bite off, no caps to carry, and no bayonet. All these are great
advantages over the Springfield rifles that we have now. I have got some
washing to do today so now I must draw my letter to a close.
With much love to you and the boy, I remain your affectionate husband,
Shearwin Clow

Roy B
South of Boston
SASS #93544
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« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2015, 10:50:15 am »

Other than bad mouthing Georgia, that was a really cool letter.  Thanks for posting it.
Green River Powell aka RonC
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Posts: 250

« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2016, 10:48:09 pm »

That was very fascinating to read. It's the real deal, life as a Civil War soldier!

Thank you,

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