Thursday, October 21, 2004

Civil War: Hugh McLaurin, 1861


Dated December 19, 1861, Headquarters Camp Lovell.

Mc Laurin enlisted on May 16, 1862 at New Hanover County as a Private. He mustered into Company "G", NC 3rd Cavalry. Although there is no record of whether this soldier survived the war, the records do reflect that he was detached on July 30, 1862 at Wilmington, NC. The record also reflects that he was in the Quartermaster Department thru 2/28/64.

McLaurin writes to his mother of the "fine time" he is having, the boots he exchanged for shoes, and the puppy he wants her to keep for him until he comes home. Little did he know that the puppy would be five years old before he would return home—indeed, if he ever did.

The letter writes in part:

"I take the present opportunity of writing you a few lines to let you know how I am and how I am getting along. I am well at present and I have fine times here. We have plenty of tough beef and flour to eat and I think we have splendid officers too. They are friendly and kind to us and they play and joke with us. And they trot us through about five hours every day…. Ma, don’t let anybody have my puppy before I come back.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Wallce & Florence "The Circle", 1885

"Did you go to Grant’s funeral? They had quite a time here. They fired the cannon over to the fort all afternoon, and all the bells in the town tolled for about two hours…."Florence, August 9, 1885

Two letters taken from the archive of "The Circle" family. Both letters are dated August 9, 1885, one day following Grant’s funeral. They are written from "out West"--Junction City, Kansas.

The letters are from a brother and sister, Wallace and Florence, to their Father and Mother and siblings and consist of a lengthy six pages, measuring 8" x 10". These manuscripts come from a group of letters from one family who called themselves collectively, "The Circle". This family wrote prolifically and also had a newsletter distributed called the "O" or the "Circular"--a fascinating family archive.


Both letters are delightful--filled with news to their family and the report on the death of General Grant. Wallace, down on his luck, reports that everyone in Kansas "is a liar."

"Junction City--August 9, 1885-->

Dear Father, Mother, Brothers and Sister--

… "We received mother’s letter last Wednesday, was very glad to hear from you. We are all well. It is still as hot as we can stand. It tried to rain last night, but didn’t rain enough to do any good."
Did you go to Grant’s funeral? They had quite a time here. They fired the cannon over to the fort all afternoon, and all the bells in the town tolled for about two hours. A good many business houses were draped very nice. I didn’t go down town, but Wallace told me about it. They had a procession of the band, five Companies and G.A.R. men. The sermon was preached in the opera house…."

Ed was down a week ago, came down Thursday and stayed until Monday. He was out to Brown’s of course nearly all the time. He and Alma came in Saturday afternoon—came here and got Ethel and then went out to Vean’s. When they came back, I got in with them and rode down town with them to order some things for supper. Ed has a nice covered buggy. The darkeys were celebrating their freedom! The park was full as well as the streets. There is a colored family living in the second house from us. There is a young lady in the family that has hair as red as flannel. She looks odd, I tell you!

[excerpt only]

"Junction City—8/9/’85

Dear Father, Mother, Sister and Brothers--

We rec. letter from mother last week and was glad to hear from you. Also feel better to hear that the lightening struck on the other side of the road. I suppose before this you have seen the letter to Father Coultas, or you heard from him. I have had steady work with Potter taking care of his horses. That is I had 15 head to feed hay and mixed feed, clean out all the stables, water, and tend to two diseased horses & c. & c. Well his nephew came along the other day. He has worked for him before and knew just how to please him. So, you see, he gave me the bounce. That makes the third slip I have had since I came to Kansas, and it is spoken of as the best place in the world for a poor man, but that is all a lie, but it is nothing for a person in Kansans to lie. I believe I am getting that way myself. I can’t believe myself at all as I would sooner lie than not and that is the way with all in Kansas, except, Florence [author of letter above], and she is too honest to live out here. So I am thinking very seriously of coming back before she [Florence] is spoiled…. [excerpt only]

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Annie Curley, 1864, Connecticut

Below I have quoted a few excerpts of each letter.

The first quoted letter, dated May 20, is beautifully written by an intelligent, educated, young lady named, Annie Curley. Her poetic prose is a stark contrast to the horrors of Civil War. It appears that she has a romantic interest in Woodward. He has noted in manuscript the word "Forever" below the Patriotic Letter Head and the word "Union". This is a great letter and I am fairly certain that it originates in Stratford, Connecticut as the City of Stratford and Orange is referenced.

Sunday Evening May 20

Friend Woodward

Seated in Aunt Betsy’s parlor. I am endeavoring to awake my sleeping thoughts in order to comply with her requests which is to write to you.

I am spending a few weeks here. We arrived in Stratford at 10 o’clock, Wednesday night. Aunt Betsy drove over to where we were—only three short hours on the road. Nevertheless, the ride for the last four or five hours was exceedingly delightful—the beautiful moon rose and shone with unclouded splendor bathing in silver light, the lovely hills and dales—the delicious fragrance of the apple blossoms and musical songs of the mosquitoes, were highly gratifying to the respective senses.

When we got home, we found the house well secured for the night and Uncle William, seizing the opportunity during Aunt Betsy’s absence, had fallen into the arms of Morpheus, but after calling loudly several times, the fair Goddess was compelled to relax her embrace, and after a few moments, the poor fellow emerged from the house looking very much like Mr. Slipper Slopper, a person I have read of in the juvenile story of Master Fox.

I think that Stratford is the most quiet little village on the globe. Even the birds seem to catch the spirit of the people. They do not sing here as they do at home. Your Orange friends were all usually well when I left them. Grassy Hill is not robed in white as I think it was when you left there, but has donned her more becoming green.

The view from the hill at this season of the year is truly enchanting. Sometimes, early in the morning the mist that arises during the night gives the valley an appearance of a large lake studded with innumerable islands—such is not to be enjoyed but for a few moments, for as the sun rises, it dispels the mist and the lovely scene vanishes. The air is impregnated with the sweet perfume of the apple blossoms and early spring flowers, and the trees seems to inhale with the song of birds.

A few weeks ago, I spent the day to [sic] Miss Emily—she inqiures about you, and the shellframe. While there I took one lesson in painting, when I am at home at some future time, I shall send you some specimens of my skip in drawing. I don’t know, Woodward, as I ought to have written you. I am afraid you will grow old too fast. Even now a silver thread may be shining in your raven hair, caused by attending to so many lady correspondents. But don’t despair. This morning as I took up the paper, I noticed nearly a whole column occupied in recommending Clark’s Hair Restoration, and I beg of you, if bad comes to worse to resort to it, and perhaps it will restore your hair to its former beauty.

The other evening Mrs. Sarah Dikeman came up here and after sitting a few moments, drew from her pocket an ambrotype, and handing to Aunt Betsy asked her if she knew who that man was. She rolled up her eyes and said, ‘Why it’s Woodward.’ Words cannot express how much your picture is thought of by the owners.

My hand trembles so that I cannot write fit to be seen. Henry made a very short visit here the other day. I was so pleased to see him that I ran to the door and k------ [kissed] him. Well I don’t like to tell what I did do to him. Yours and so forth…Annie Curley"

The letters are dated May 20 and October 23, respectively. The year is not referenced, but I believe they are circa 1864 or 1865.

Letters & Postcards on E-Bay