|View single post by Johan Steele|
|Posted: Tue Jan 9th, 2007 10:19 pm||
Life NRA,SUVCW # 48,Legion 352
Letter of Samuel Emery Adams; Lt Col
Pay Department, U.S. ARMY
St Louis, Missouri 22 May 1863
My Beloved Wife:
The other day I sent you a note informing you of my return enclosed in a little box of cheap, but fashionable jewelry. I have been absent for a long time, and on my arrival found a pack of mail matter, and,—last but not least a, a number of very excellent letters written by your kind hand, breathing forth constancy and love for your husband.
It soothes the labors of my life and brings you nearer to me to read these tokens of affection, and I only wish I could see you and my little boy in proper person. But this great pleasure must be forgone—for the present, until the fates decide “the good time” may come, which I fervently hope will be before long.
I was ordered to Rolla to pay of General Herron’s Army of the Frontier, but when I arrived, I received a telegraphic dispatch from Major Brown ordering me to pay off the army of the South West. Three Paymasters with considerable over a million dollars left Rolla with an escort of 120 cavalry armed to the teeth. We passed over a very mountainous and rugged country infested with bushwackers but they made no attack upon us.
We heard of them that day, of their murders and robbery, and saw those, who had all their goods taken, but our force they thought too strong, and we arrived in safety at Waynesville. The next day we passed over mountains, forded rivers, the whole route being through immense forests.
People who came into towns, which are military posts are obliged to get “protection papers” to allow them to go out and in unmolested. Unless they did so, they would be arrested, and put into guard houses by the pickets and patrol.
The bushwackers call the leaves their “protection papers”, so that they can shoot upon our trains of quartermaster, commissary, forage and hospital stores and if pursued, get away without loss. The season is very favorable for them, for the foliage is very dense in that country. We arrived at Lebanon without any mishap. The next day we started for Springfield, and encamped near and at Mr. Bufords. WE had our pickets out every night and a guard before the house. Through that night, the following day we arrived at Springfield without any attack.
Our escort however on return the next day had several men , who straggled behind, shot. The rebel bushwackers stripped them of their clothing, and threw their bodies into a millpond. We afterwards learned that on that very night we were encamped at Bufords, 150 rebels encamped only five miles distant, and neither knew of the other. Had they known of our whereabouts,and felt so disposed, they could easily have gobbled us up.
From Springfield I went to Forsyth, a village enjoying very superior natural advantages. It is situated on the bands of the White River, whose water is clear as a crystal, and pure as Heaven’s dew, surrounded by high hills decorated with cedars, sycamores, cotton wood, and various other kinds growing luxuriantly. The silver stream comes down a green and beautiful valley, and before the war, there was a very pretty village with a hotel, court house, stores, etc. Now they are occupied for soldiers barracks with broken windows, everything going to decay and destruction. Not a single inhabitant lives there except soldiers. The hotel is used for a hospital for the red flag waves over it. While here orders came to evacuate the place, and I presume the rebels by this time have laid it to ashes.
I have seen hundreds of families from Arkansas with their little stack of poor household goods piled into an old lumber wagon with women and children to top out the load, making their way to Illinois from rebeldom. They have left their little homes on which in many cases they have expended years of hard labor, and on their way to our lines, the bushwackers have always taken away their oxen and good horses, clothes, money and everything of any use, leaving the refugees to make their way with a yoke of little steers, or unbroken colts. And such instances of squalid poverty and nudity you never beheld.
I tell you, my wife, people remote from borders know nothing of the sufferings and miseries of this war. I have passed many places, where there is now left only a blackenedpile of chimney stacks, which places presented to the eye beautiful houses, outbuildings, white fences, peach, pear, plum, and apple orchards, and gardens and groves beautiful with flowers, trees, shrubbery only a few months ago.
It is sad to contemplate the many houses once delightful and happy now desolate and gone.
I have seen families living in corn cribs, and old log sheds now trying to prepare their breakfast, plain and scanty, and rain pouring in upon their hatless, shoeless and almost bare bodies from every side. Six months ago they were opulent.
From Forsyth I went back to Springfield, and from there to Greenfield, from here to Marshfield, thence to Lebanon, where I made my last payment and then came home, that is to this place. It is for the principal part a rough, hard country, fit only for grazing purposes, and land on which to banish rebels.
The guerillas frequently go to the houses of union people, shoot the men, ravish the women, steal everything available, burn the houses, and send the inmates into the thoroughfares of the world absolutely poverty stricken.
I am fixing up my accounts now, and expect to be here a week or two longer, when orders will probably issue for me to go out again into the field. Am in hopes for the future that our labors will be less severe, for there has been an influx of new paymasters in this Department.
Two or three have come from Minnesota, and if we are so numerous by and by that some be mustered out, and I should be one of them, in the language of the poet,--
I’ll have no less days,
To sing God’s praise,
Than when I first began.
I have sent you May and June no’s of the Lady’s book: also $18 worth of postal currency, and in a day or two, I’ll send Mde Demorests Quarterly and two pieces of music, just out, and if you see fit, you can let Hattie Brown learn them and play and sing them for you. They are all the rage now.
I will say for myself that I enjoy fair health, and in a few days will send you my photograph, as I have got to have some taken to satisfy my friends in this country. Joe Hilliard has sent me his, and wants mine. I will send you his letter after I answer it, and picture taken. If I can not come home this summer, I shall try and make arrangements for you, my boy and Rosa to come down here, and spend the winter. I think you would like to spend one winter in this city. You had convert those drafts into “Green Backs” by signing your name on the back, and by letting the parties have them as I have written.
I will look over you letters now and take up items to which to reply in their course.
May 24th Sabbath Morn It is a bright and beautiful day, and how I do wish I could see my treasures, -- sit down in our porch with my wife and baby boy. But it can not be now, and I imagine that you are today again writing me, as is your custom many miles above me on the banks of this very same great “Father of Waters.”
Now I will reply to some of your inquiries: Major Brown is not a Mason. My clerk goes with me when I am ordered into the field. I usually dress in uniform, at least partly so.
I shall have a new clerk I hope after the first of next month. I have written to Jimmie Southgate of Rockford, who from his knowledge of banking and correctness in figures will do much better than Scherzer, and besides he will not run after rebel women. Jim is a Mason. You need not say anything about the change, for it is not made yet, and I do not know that John can come. I shall get a sewing machine as soon as I know whether I am transferred to Minnesota, or remain here for the winter. I am going to buy the best in a mahogany case worth about $90, which you can keep as long as you live.
There are no papers Whatever in relation to Mr. Barrington. I entered 160 acres of land and when he pays me seventy five dollars and expenses of making out a deed for you and me to sign, we deed him 80 acres. That is the way the matter between him and me stands. All right about Calvin Blanchard renting the Phil Smith house. If they want to paper it, they can do so at their own expense. I do not feel able to incur any more on the premises. I think you had better use the postal currency for your “pin money”. I sent it to you for that purpose. Have you received $18 I remitted to you a day or so ago? And the other things I mentioned in a former part of this letter? You can say to Mr. Fenderson that I made no charge against Mr. Baxter whatever. He owes me nothing.
I was amused at the little excitement in our town growing out of the election of Gallow, Spaulding, etc. Well, I suppose there must be something to disturb the monotony of that quiet little place, or it would die out.
I regret to learn of the deaths of Mrs. Williams and child. Those little children left know not what they have lost, a mothers love; and I pity him from the bottom of my heart. What can he do, but weep! She was an admirable woman, and the family relations were always very happy and peaceful I believe.
I am glad “Doc” Mulvey has married again and I hope he has a good wife, who will look after his little family. With all his peculiarities, he had many very excellent traits of character, -- a much better man and more skillful physician than he had credit for. I wish him many long years of prosperity and happiness. Do you know to what place he has moved?
I am glad you hired “Mat” Wenk and hope you will do so often until you get things to suit you. Have just received a letter from Harvey. I presume the settlement was satisfactory.
Please send Harvey that note against Bert Burkes and I will give him directions in my next what to do with it. You did not write what size shoe Rosa wore. Please do so in your next, and I will send you a little box of goods by steamboat to St. Paul.
The reason why I wrote to Henry Brasie about money was he might need some to get the horse shod with or something of that kind. I do not expect to pay any bill if he uses my horse, buggy, and harness. And I hope he will take good care of them all. At any rate I don’t worry about them at all. I presume I shall sell them by and by.
I would be glad to come home, you may be assured, if it is possible by and by, and I shall try to rig some sort of purchase to effect it, still I have no great hopes, as the War Department does not grant a furlough to us, unless we are dead.
Major Gibson informs me that his wife has gone to Wisconsin, -- Hendson is the place I think. She is probably the lady Bert Barker’s wife saw. Mrs. Gibson is from Maine originally, and an acquaintance or relative of Mr. Jameson, who resides at Elk River, I told the Major to write her that if she should take a trip to Elk River, she must go up and stay a day or so with you. And I hope she will do so, as you can get much information from her about St. Louis, and in regard to a paymaster’s duties. I think you would like her. She gave me her husband’s shoulder straps, as he had no further use for them, being out of service, and I had none.
If I get a furlough, it would not be for more than twenty days most likely. I wish you were here to go to the theatre with me, eat ice cream with strawberries and to loaf about the city, when I am here. I would have some enjoyment then. I do not see any earthly use of our being separated so much and were it not I feared the effect of the hot weather on little Henry, I would have you pack your trunks at once and come down here to stay till fall, even if I went to Minnesota to stay another winter. I hope you and our little boy enjoy good health. Do not ever worry about me, if you don’t hear from me when I am absent. For I shall always write you when I go off any distance. May God bless you, my dear wife and boy.
Ever truly thine,