On This Day in
Civil War History...

December 22, 1863

Hd. qrs. 11th Corps
Lookout Valley

My dear Mother

I often write you hurried and I fear very unsatisfactory letters. I keep my own conscience clear by reasoning that if I waited for suitable opportunities always I would not write so frequently and that perhaps it is preferable to have poor letters often rather than have better ones much more seldom.

This afternoon I hope to have leisure to fill my long sheet – a confiscated sheet, by the way, from the office of the “Athens Post” – a Rebel newspaper formerly published at Athens where we spent several pleasant days in East Tennessee. We captured the Editor also and Otis is making the attempt to exchange him for our friend A. D. Richardson Correspondent of the N.Y. Tribune now in Libbey Prison Richmond if alive – captured in trying to run past Vicksburg last Summer.

It is a cloudy day and will probably end in rain. It is I suppose about time for the rainy season. We are fast getting ready for it. The men are at work making “the General” a new log house. They are also making new mess quarters for our little family. We have taken in Col. Hayes now so we have now six members. Colored people accumulated wonderfully in our recent campaign into East Tennessee and we have two colored women (and one of them has two children) in the service of our mess. One is cook – the other – a girl of 16 or 17 – is waitress.

Speaking of mess – I will enumerate the articles of food for dinner today (as far as I remember) that you my know how luxuriantly we fare – notwithstanding the dryness of this Country and the fact that the troops have only 3/4 rations. Continue reading

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December 21, 1863

Adjutant’s Office 20th Maine, Camp at Rappahannock’s Station

Dear Brother:

I am very much disappointed at not receiving a letter from you and so do as I am being done by I should not write you tonight – but will “Do good for evil,” but as my letters fail to interest you, as I am interested by yours, I shall fail to comply with the command after all. [...]

Holman Melcher to his brother, Nathaniel Melcher [Holman Melcher Papers]

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December 20, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps, Lookout Valley

My dear Dellie,

I was sorry to learn by a letter from Ella that your health is so poor – and your own letters some of them alluded to the cause for it. If your health is not good and studying makes it worse (as it usually does) I am sure it is better that you suspend awhile – even one season. Perhaps if you remained at home reading a little generally and “choring” about with the diet and care mother could give you, you might get well and rugged by Spring and renew your studies with fresh vigor.

You know I suspended a year after leaving College and many young men find it necessary to do the same. Health first then you can look to studying, earning money or anything you choose – but without health our frail machines are useless and indeed might about as well be destroyed as to get out of “running order”.

I sent my last to you from Cleveland – adding a brief Postcript there. Two days after we reached our old camp here – last Thursday afternoon. Next day it became cold and for two nights water has frozen 1⁄2 inch thick in our water-pail. Continue reading

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December 19, 1863

Mayfield

My dear Sister,

Received your letter of ______ on 11th inst. in which you say you intend coming to California, and it appears you have made up your mind to that effect and all before asking my opinion on the subject at all. You wish me to tell you what you had better purchase before leaving. I can tell you in a few words nothing at all. In the first place it will be a great trouble to you in having much baggage, and for every pound over 50lb of baggage you have to pay .10c freight. There is but a very little difference  in the price of clothing in this country than the State of Maine, and that is what you refer to I presume, when you speak of purchases. Of course I need not speak to you of your passage [...] If you buy your ticket then and come you will get it about $50 cheaper. I think it sails once in about three weeks or a month. You will be twenty four days coming and find it exceedingly warm crossing the [illegible], but if you cross in the night keep as free from the damp air as possible, and eat little or more of the great quantity of fruit which will be offered for sail and very cheap.

Now, have you already procured a situation to teach in San Francisco? If not you will find it a very difficult thing to do so you had better be sure and get it before you start. Who have you got to intercede for you? Write and let me know all. Don’t put dependence in me getting you a place. Mind you can’t run home and for nothing when you get out here.

This is indeed one of the most delightful climates in the whole world, yet San Francisco is the very worst place of all.

Your Affectionate Bro, Charley

Charles McArthur to his sister, Catharine McArthur [McArthur Family Papers]

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December 18, 1863

Rain last night troubled us not.  Made preparations for inspection at 2 ½ o’clock today.  Overcast today.  A very beautiful sunset tonight.  Ancient or Modern Painters can in no way equal the splendor of Nature’s beauty when she adorns herself in Her most brilliant, and attractive colors.  Not much accomplished today.  Tent no nearer done than in the morning.  Dirty, and lousy, too, as one needs expect such weather as this.  Mud plenty.  Guerillas reported to have torn up several miles of railroad, and burnt a bridge last night or today.

Diary of Edwin Emery [Edwin Emery Diaries and Memoir] 

 

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December 17, 1863

Hd. qrs. 11th Corps Lookout Valley

My dear brother

You will smile at my two story pink sheet [the letter is written on long pink paper]. It is some paper captured and confiscated from a Rebel newspaper Printing office – “The Athens Post”. We were glad enough to get back to our old camp and valley yesterday. Troops marched by way of the base and over a portion of the nose of Lookout Mountain – in coming from Chattanooga here. The night before we were at Tyner’s Station on the Knoxville & Chattanooga R.R. and the night and day before that were at
Cleveland. Thence I sent a letter to you adding a brief P.S. in pencil the morning it left. Now I shall take pleasure in answering the two letters from you which Col. Hiram Hayes brought me there, thus agreeably celebrating the event of his first joining the Corps.

It was the first mail since leaving the north end of Mission Ridge – where when the fight of Sherman in which one of our Brigades was engaged and in which I lament to add poor brave McAloon (formerly of our staff but at that time commanding his Regt.) was mortally wounded. When darkness had closed the fighting that day (Wednesday 25th Nov.) we were chased by a mail. A letter from you mailed the 16th Nov then reached me. From that time no mail nor newspaper save one till last Monday at Cleveland nearly three (3) weeks. Besides the brief letter enclosing Everetts oration at Gettysburg another Nov 29th & 30th when you had them of the battle. You were right in supposing our “Trains would not follow in the rapid pursit of the enemy”. My letters will have informed you how we even swung off from our base completely and still managed to supply our troops and to get on as comfortably almost as ever. Continue reading

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December 16, 1863

Continued to work on our tent.  Got it so as to move in to it tonight.  Purchased boards of Mr. Woods.  Cold and chilly foreboding storm.  Medicine of the Dr. Last night and this morning operated well.

Diary of Edwin Emery [Edwin Emery Diaries and Memoir] 

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December 15, 1863

Worked on our tent today.  Got the body up.  Very fine day.

Diary of Edwin Emery [Edwin Emery Diaries and Memoir] 

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December 14, 1863

Adjutant’s Office 20th Maine Vols, Camp at Rappahannock’s Station, Va.

Dear Brother:

I have enjoyed a luxury this evening in the receipt of your note “No 43) it is with the greatest satisfaction that I have read it – and not only satisfaction but I have received much benefit from it. Your letters always good this is very good – and I am thankful that I have correspondence with those who have an  interest in my spiritual wellness. [...]

Holman Melcher to his brother, Nathaniel Melcher [Holman Melcher Papers]

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December 13, 1863

Hd. qrs 11th Corps
Charleston (on the Hiwassee) Tenn.

My dear brother

If Capt Stinson had not just upset my little pocket ink-stand I should have written you a tremendously long letter upon this stupendous sheet. The paper was captured from the office of the Athens Post – a flourishing Rebel paper publication as its name indicates – of the town 14 miles above here. I believe I did not write you but I wrote mother a brief letter from there. It is the County-town of McMinn Co. There are many warm union citizens – men, women and children there. Sherman caught the Editor of the Athens Post running away into the mountains, trying to get off toward North Carolina or Georgia. He was originally from New Jersey but told Sherman he was a Secessionist. So Sherman says he shall advise his banishment to the Coast of Africa since that is the only place where Secession can be allowed. Some old copies of the Athens Post show that the Editor was a rank Rebel. He had some pretty daughters and Gilbreth (Lieut.) who boarded there had most vivacious discussions with them to use a mild term.

You perceive we are wending our way back. The Rebels, while we were gone, got at and destroyed this Charleston R.R. Bridge which we spent a whole night in repairing on our way up. So we had to rebuild it – taking another day and night’s work. Continue reading

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