December 26, 1863

West Point

Dear William,

I received your letter of the 18th inst. You asked me to write as soon as I got my box. The box got here today, it contained a turkey cake, apples, etc. also a dressing gown which fits me exactly and is a very nice one. Christmas we had a very good dinner of turkey, etc., at the Mess Hall.[…]

The standing for Nov. is made out. I came out in Philosophy 58, Chemistry 67, in Drawing I had no standing made out. I did not draw any for November.  I have not been well for a few months past. I was taken with a lame ankle, it swelled up and was very painful, there did not seem to be any cause for it. The Doctor called it the rheumatism. I went to the Hospital on 29th Oct. and was there little over three weeks. I was out about a week when I got worse and had to go back again, stayed there over a week, got better and came out for good 8th December. I have not done Military duty since but think I shall be able to return to duty in a few days.[…]

I was sorry you was not promoted to Major but perhaps there will be another chance soon. […] I should like to have you write as often as is convenient.

Malcolm McArthur to his brother, William McArthur [McArthur Family Papers]

December 19, 1863


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]

December 6, 1863

12 6My Dear Mother:

I have received Father’s letter in which were enclosed, copied by you, those beautiful lines of the Dean of Canterbury –

“One fragment of the blessed Word,
Into the Spirit burned,
As better than the whole, half burned,
And by our interest turned.

Yes, the discipline of our Heaven by Father is best, but at times how hard it seems. We shrink from trials, and disappointment is bitter to us. Yet, how it purifies; and how glad it makes the spirit, when, leaning on them, we walk strongly through all.

I have also recd a long interesting letter from Catherine which in a few days, perhaps, I will try to answer.[…]

I am quite comfortably situated in every respect.

William McArthur to his mother, Sarah Prince Miltimore McArthur [McArthur Family Papers]

November 29, 1863

West Point

Dear Father,

I received your letter for the 22d. inst., you complained of my short letters. I think we are about even on that item. I write so often once a week. I can not make out a very long letter.

I have written a letter to Mother which I will send in this mail. I spoke to her about a Christmas box. I hope you all will think favorably of the plan. There is only a month to get it ready.

I hope you will excuse my short letter this time since I have written another long one home.

Your Affectionate Son,

Malcolm McArthur

Malcolm McArthur to his father, Arthur McArthur [McArthur Family Papers]

November 27, 1863


My Dear Brother,

Father has written you this mail, but the letter is sealed, so I must send a separate envelope. I wrote you some time since, but I fear you did not receive the letter, for I did not put on the outside the name of the county. I wrote in regards to my going to California. I was finally decided to go, so you may expect me soon. I shall try to get an opportunity to teach. What do you think of it? I should wait to hear from you, if it did not take eight weeks. So it is I think I had best go without. I shall want a good boarding place secured before I arrive so that I can go immediately to it. Everything will be very new to me, but I can in a little while, I guess, learn their manners and customs. I wish I knew exactly what things to purchase so that I should not have to pay so high for them there.

I should rather teach Drawing than anything else, but most anything I should be willing to teach. […]

Charles McArthur to hist brother, Malcolm McArthur [McArthur Family Papers]

November 22, 1863

West Point

Dear Father,

I received your letter of the 15th. inst. mailed on 17th. on Thursday, with an interesting letter from Mother enclosed. I wish she would write oftener if she can find time. I will answer her letter soon.

How I wish I could be with you at Thanksgiving. This will be the third Thanksgiving I have spent at West Point. I hope I shall spend the fourth here and the fifth I hope to spend with you in Limington. This will be the first Thanksgiving we ever had here. We shall have no extra dinner, the only difference is no Academic duties and Church in the forenoon.

I want a good dinner and I can not get it with out money you know. Can you let me have some? I should like to have about three dollars ($3.00). I owe Tolman, my roommate, a dollar that I borrowed before going on Furlough which I should like to pay, and besides something to eat. Thanksgiving I want quite a number of little things which I can get at the Sutlers. If you can let me have it, I wish you would send it as soon as possible. I think  I need this money or I certainly would not ask for it.

As soon as I get time I will send my demerits for September.

Your Affectionate Son
Malcolm McArthur

Malcolm McArthur to his father, Arthur McArthur [McArthur Family Papers]

November 20, 1863

Mayfield Santa Clara Co., Cal.

Dear Brother William,

Surprised doubtless you will be at receiving an epistle from you long absent Brother Charles. Yet I am determined to remind you that your prodigal brother yet exists and in the far off God Forsaken State of California, and a country pedagogue in the rural little village of Mayfield, where he pursues the “even tenor of his way.” […] I am begining  to come to the conclusion that I have so honed mine so as to turn out to be nothing but a “bounty school teacher – Bah! It realy  disgusts me. I grow richer and sicker of my business every day although I am getting very good wages. $811 per month. I am happy to hear of the prosperity that attends you and Malley. […]

I have been in California now over three years.  I have had a good many “ups and downs.” It would consume many sheets of paper for me to give you even a very slight sketch of my adventures, and they are many. Some amusing and some  – not quite – so much so to me.  Suffice it to say I have a very good position as teacher at present but how long I shall remain I hardly know. I can retain the position as long as I wish, but I am  working for something more lucrative. In fact I have almost made up my mind to go into Mexico in the Spring. If I make certain arrangements I shall be off in about two months. I have a number of friends there in the mining business.  ––– My health is very good. The climate of California is excellent. I often meet Maine men here + a number of Bowdoin College Students. I was in San Francisco and met on one of the street cars a College class mate of mine. He has been here only three months – You have no idea what a fast country California is. By that I mean immoral. You can have no conception of it. […]

Your affectionate Bro. C. S. McArthur

Charles McArthur to his brother, William McArthur [McArthur Family Papers]

November 16, 1863

West Point

Dear Father,

I received your letter of 8th inst. with a short letter from Mother enclosed.

I am sorry you feel so bad about my demerits. I did not get into any bad habits but was unfortunate. When I can find the time I will copy them off and send them to you and then you can judge for yourself.

There is nothing new.

Your Affectionate Son,
Malcolm McArthur

Malcolm McArthur to his father, Arthur McArthur [McArthur Family Papers]

November 14, 1863

Dear Malley,

It is Saturday evening, and there is little leisure, and will devote it to you. I suppose you will like to hear how we have been getting along since you left home. Cathrine [sic] went to Portland twice to see Dr Fitch, he gave her medicine, told her eat beef and ride, and keep out of doors as much as possible, for a while she was better and grew worse, one night was very sick, I went in for Mrs Clark, and got Mr Clark to go for Dr Livett, that was there three weeks last Thursday. He thought her very sick. He advised not to go out, she has not been out since, and is a great deal better. I feel quite encouraged now, think if she is carefull  she will get quite well. […]

How are you getting along at West Point? That interests me and all of us. Try will all of your might, to do your very best, the happiness that you will confer in your friends, by so doing, will amply repay you, so, don’t let your ambition flag, or get discouraged, at the difficulties. I should like to have you write to me, how you like your new studies, if they are interesting, or if you find them very hard. Anything about yourself is exceedingly interesting to me. Do you have the same room mate? Do you take lessons in dancing? In riding? Is you [sic] time agreeably spent, as it was last year? Please write me one good long letter. Do you look back upon your vacation with pleasure? I regret that I did not make it more interesting, and pleasant, about home, so that you could feel truly, ‘there is no place like home.’ Now my dear son, I do hope you will try to do your very best in your studies, in your conduct that you can look back upon your life at West Point with pleasure. […]

Sarah Prince Miltimore McArthur to her son, Malcolm McArthur [McArthur Family Papers]

November 9, 1863


Dear Malley,

I want you to write me a good long letter, let me know how you are getting along with your studies, are they very hard; I see by the report your rank is not so high as last year, I want you to try with all your might to do your very best- don’t  relax your effort in the least. I want you to take a high stand in every respect in murrals [sic] and religion, as well as in intellectual and scientific culture. I wish you would write me a good long letter once in a while. I will answer all your questions, and write all the news.

With Love,

Sarah Prince Miltimore McArthur to her son, Malcolm McArthur [McArthur Family Papers]