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Near Frederick ~ September 11th, 1862: Dear Parents

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Categories: Jamie & Parents, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I have some notes from my grandmother I plan on posting soon regarding some of the things I had questions about, but in the interest of just keeping this blog going I’ll probably start posting more letters with minimal commentary. One important note though – Robert is James’s brother.

Also, I’m going to try to restrain myself from editing and adding punctuation or fixing spelling errors. Of course I say this now, right after I’ve transcribed one of James’s only legible letters. As you can see, he took special care to write in neat handwriting with passable spelling when writing to his parents. Apparently he was a little more concerned about the impression his letter would leave on them than he was with the impression Katie would get from his insane sprawling handwriting and cramped side-note-ridden margins.

#7 Dear Parents - Sep 11, 1862 Page One

#7 Dear Parents - Sep 11, 1862 Page Two #7 Dear Parents - Sep 11, 1862 Page Three

In Maryland                        September 11, 1862

Not knowing where we are I cannot tell you the name of the place

My dear parents                                                            Thursday night by candle-light

I now take this opportunity to let you know how we get along I am well except some rheumatism in my right leg and shoulders Horace to is well except a blister on his heel, we left our encampment in Leesboro this morning at 7 oclock marched 15 miles to this place got here at half past 4 oclock PM it was a hard march it rained most all the time the road was rough and my leg was a little sore Horace & Mr. Twiss and myself lagged on behind although we kept up with them we are near Frederick where Jackson is but that does not scare me we march again in the morning do not know what direction it matters not. it raines  now but we have got out shelter tents, I went over to a farm house and got some straw to sleep on so we are comfortable Sargent Macarty, Mr. Twiss Horace, Corporal Peckham are in one tent together sergeant is writing to his wife I to you and my wife & friends I left Robert in Virginia I supose he is well I do not stand in need of anything but should like to see you all and Katie for a short time but would not leave my country for I think it is my duty to do what I can. We have Prayer meetings as often as we can thank the Lord. I should have wrote to you before but did not have time we we have to march and drill most all the time but will write as often as I can you must do the same. I have not heard from home since I left Hartford should like to hear first rate expect to every day I cannot write half as much as I should like to must draw this to a close for tonight for it is time for roll call then the light is put out will write more in the morning if I can so good bye once and all for tonight Mr. Twiss sends his respects to my friends Katie knows him Horace sends his love also he will not write this time good night tell father to take care of himself                                                                        with love

September 12                        Lebanon Chourch

Dear Mother, Damaskus, Montgomery Country md

Friday night we moved on 15 miles from where we was last night got to this place at 5 oclock along march and a hard one. I had the rheumatism pretty hard this morning when we left at 7 oclock I walked a little ways then had to fall out they took me into the ambalance carried me about 2 miles then I walked the rest of the way Horace has got very sore feet he could not keep up in the ranks but we hobbled along behind we are very tired. Charles Parker & Perry Woodford and your James has just been over to a house to get some supper we got two cups of tea some fried ham potatoes hoecakes for 25 centers apiece we are 10 miles from Frederick City they have been fighting to day. Burnside and Jackson we can hear every big gun that is fired it sounds ugly. Good news a carrier had just come from Frederick the news is Burnside had whiped Jackson and taken back Frederick city good we will be there tomorrow if nothing happens I must close this for this time I am tired and lame and sore and will write no more it is 8 oclock at night tomorrow we expect to fight or next day

Well good bye

from your ever loving son James

love to all

write soon

Direct as before

Company I 16 Reg CT Vol Washington DC

from James WP

please write to me

by gorris please write to Horace

James

 

Jamie was younger than I am now when writing this letter, yet he complains of rheumatism. I guess we’d all be complaining of rheumatism if we had to march 15 miles every damn day.

 

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Hartford ~ December 1st, 1861: The End of the World and Other Trivial Matters

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Categories: Jamie & Katie, Tags: , , , , , , ,

NOTE: These letters have A LOT of misspellings and grammatical errors, sometimes to the point where it almost reads as if English were not Jamie’s first language. This makes the editor in me want to tear my hair out and practically rewrite everything, but I’ve decided to make a compromise – I will write it out so that it at least mostly makes sense, and I will correct the spelling mistakes that I absolutely can’t stand to leave in, but I’ll leave most of it as is. That means that some of this might sound really weird. You can refer to the original letters if you want to see what I mean (that is, if you can even read his handwriting). He also rarely uses punctuation, so I’ve taken the liberty of throwing in a few periods and commas where they are sorely needed.

 

Hartford - Dec 1st, 1861 Envelope Hartford - Dec 1st, 1861 Page One Hartford - Dec 1st, 1861 Page Two

Hartford December 1st, 1861

Sunday Eve

My dear wife,

I feel lonesome to night without you. I think it will enliven my ideas a little to write you a few words to let you know that I am well. Hope this will find you well and enjoying yourself.

I arrived in Hartford at five O’clock Friday morning and got up to aunt Chas half past five in time to call them up. There was a bed and sleep had no thought of my coming so early. I went to work at leven O’lock. It rained all day Fri & Saturday and this after noon. I went to meeting this morning to the Methodist Church. This after noon Jane & Win came up here. Stayed two or three hours. She said you told her a lie, you told her you did not know when you would be married. I told her you did not know yourself this evening. Uncle Horrace & I went down to central hall to [hear] Elder Himes preach the Millerrite. He said the world was coming to an end in 1867 & 1868 without fail. So you must prepare yourself for that event without fail. I do not know how much longer I shall have work. He has not spoke of turning me up yet. I hope he won’t. This winter – I must draw this to a close for it is late and I am writing to Robert to night too. So good night.

 

My dear wife

From your loving Jamie

Monday Eve

Dear Katie

I am going to put this letter and one for Robert into the post office this evening. I thought I would tell you what I have been doing to day. I have been putting down base and laying floor & sealing up stairs & jointing in windows. Sash [?] when I was going back from dinner I saw Albert Smith on Walnut St. Shook hands with him. He was going up to Frank’s had been up here two or three days good by I must close and go to the post office.

Excuse all mistakes bad writing I am in [hurry] for the union. Good by with love and kiss.

James

 

So what we have here is a fairly ordinary letter from James Wallace Peckham, or Jamie, to Katie Greenfield whom he had only just married less than a month before on November 7th. Jamie was 20 at the time (if the birth date I have for him is correct) and Katie was 19. I’m guessing that the whole thing about Jane and Win claiming that Katie lied about knowing when she would be married is about her failing to inform them about it before it actually happened, but I can look into that. Another thing I need to ask about again is how Katie came to be called Katie, since her real name was Ezrena Aurelia Greenfield, a name that was passed down to my great grandmother. I know one of the adults in her life disapproved of her having such a stuffy name and then dubbed her Katie, which stuck for the rest of her life, but I can’t remember who that was.

I personally can’t tell whether Jamie was being sarcastic when talking about the end of the world, but I certainly hope so, and it seems that he must be including that bit in his letter as a joke since he just goes on to talk about more practical matters like if he’s going to be able to get work over the winter. According to my grandmother though, he was supposedly pretty gullible, so who knows.

This letter is a good introduction to Jamie and Katie’s story, as it illustrates his financial situation which you’ll soon see was an important factor when he decided to enlist, and it shows us a little of what their relationship was like. Uncle Horrace will come to play an important role in the events to follow as well.