April 15 Larkinsville, Alabama
August 16 Camped near to Atlanta, Georgia
Dec 24 Clerling, Tennessee
April the 15, 1864
After almost losing the presence of mind and dreaming about you
and waiting last night till the mail train came in this morning
at 1 o'clock I was so fortunate as to receive 2 letters from them
sweet hands of yours which has released my mind in the highest
degree. I received them about 2 o'clock this morning. I lit my
candle and commenced to write in my weak way and manner. Your letters
was dated April the 4 and April the 6. Your letters has found me
in the veriest best of health and in the presence of mind again.
I was so glad to hear that you was well. I do not know what to
do hardly. I would like to write you a interesting letter but I
don't believe I can. My mind is with you so much that I can't keep
it on this paper enough to make it interesting to you but I will
do the best I can.
The war news seems to be dull at this time and I think it is becoming
like a cow's tail. It is going down hill. I do think it will play
out this fall. I think the head leaders had made all the money
that they want and when they do that I think the war will close.
You stated in your letter that James came home on a furlough.
Tell me what [--unreadable--] he belongs to and the regiment and
where is his camp. You have never told me what regiment he was
in or where he was stationed at. Tell James I would like to see
him very much and thank him for his compliments and I return the
same to him. Tell James I would not mind to soldier if I could
get furloughs like him and Dock, but I don't begrudge any enjoyment
that they can get while living a soldier. It is a hard life to
live to make the very best of it. I hope the boys may live to see
this cruel rebellion put down. I know I have seen enough of it.
I have left a dear loving wife and two little babies to fight for
one of the best governments that ever was erected by mortal man
and today the Stars and Stripes is waving over the Southern Confederacy
with the exception of a few lite holes and I trust we will be in
possession of them soon. I have done my duty in trying to put this
rebellion down. If I never get home I want to be a honor to my
dear wife and children. I never will disgrace them. I rather die
than to do the like as some. I have put myself up as a target for
the rebels but thank God they have never reached me yet and I sometimes
think among the number that is living I will be one that will get
home. I crave the sight of seeing you my dear and those little
babies that God will permit me to do so.
I shall have to write a little more to Jim. He has esteemed me
very highly in his own estimation in regard of fighting for our
country. Well, it is fight or die and if it was not for you, dear,
I believe I had as leave die. Still I love my relatives and those
that I know is true to me. I have forgot all about Margret House.
Is it Thomas House's wife? Oh, dear, I have just made out the name.
It is Marge Hase. Well tell poor Marge and William that through
the hardships of a soldier life I still remain and would like to
see them and talk of old times. Tell Marge I thank her for such
kind words. Kind words never shall die with me whilst living on
earth. Tell Marge and William to write to me and all that desires.
Trust in my welfare, dear, the boys call me their chaplain of
our regiment. I would like to be such if I was good enough. I believe
I told you I got a letter from Mary Gillmore. Dear you must not
think hard of me getting letters from those two girls. They came
very unexpected and you must not think hard. There is a good deal
of sickness in the state of Illinois. I heard the smallpox was
in Bloomington very bad. Dear I want to be very careful. Stick
close to Papa and Mother. There is so much trailing now by the
soldiers that there is a great chance to catch all kinds of disease
so one inch in time will save 9.
Tell my James and your Frank that must not think hard of me not
writing to them because I am on duty every third day and I must
write to you if the war continues or if the plow stops. I understand
that you was going into the tobacco business again. Well, dear,
I want you to stop it. You have enough to do without doing such
work. You have 2 babies to take care of and yourself and that is
We have been at this place three months and the probability is
that we will stay three months more. When we first landed here
we took a little scout of about 30 miles in all. We first marched
to the Tennessee River and there through our pontoons bridge across
and routed the rebels on the other side and went out about 20 miles
and burned everything and took all of the provisions that we could
get and came back. The pontoons bridge is still there and it is
left for all that wants to desert the rebel army and citizens to
cross and if you believe me they average 100 hundred a day for
a month and the average is now 50 a day. It is a sight to see them
still this is nothing to what I have seen. I will tell you another
cute trick that we done. It is merely a sketch.
When we first started out last fall at one place on the Tennessee
River I don't recollect the name now, but perhaps you have read
of it where we marched to the river and laid all day and about
dark the order came for us to run the blockade with our pontoons
[--unreadable--] at 12 o'clock that night. Well the rebels was
on the other side of the river and us on this side. The rebels
had three batteries planted along the riverside in full view of
us. You may know the feeling of the boys some swore that they would
not go. Anyhow 2 o'clock came and we fell into line and marched
to a certain place to the river. We crawled to our boats and started
down the river and 4 miles then started across on the rebel side.
We passed all of the batteries and they never knew it. They could
have killed everyone of us if they had known it. I took 15 prisoners
that night myself and the most of them was asleep, but some of
them was wide awake. The next day the way they fought us on Mission
Ridge but they could not stand to smell [--unreadable--] what I
have wrote is nothing to what I could tell you.
Dear it is 11 o'clock and I must close. I have been reading your
letters and writing this ever since 2 o'clock this morning and
if the sheet was large enough I would write on so I will close
on another piece.
Dear I often sing your favorite song. My favorite song is this:
Through cold and rain I often went through sorrow and distress.
It is the one Frank used to sing. I could enjoy myself under the
circumstance if I could hear of those at home living in peace.
So dear I will have to close. I have to go and picket tonight.
Write often as you can and I will do the same. Take good care of
yourself and the babies. Raise them as near right as you can dear
and if I never should meet you, my dear beloved wife and sweet
children any more on this earth, I will try to meet you in that
land of rest.
Dear Mother remember me in your prayers when it goes will with
you and you my dear wife the same. I also ask this favor of Sister
Jane. So farewell my dear for the present.
August the 16, 1864
Camped near to Atlanta, Georgia
My dear, I just received your kind and welcome letter dated August
the 6 and I was glad to hear from you. I also received one a few
days ago and have answered it and sent you ten dollars in it. I
have nothing of importance to write, still I could make it interesting
to you. My mind is at home too much to write a interesting letter.
I merely write to let you know how I am getting along. Dear, my
health never was so good in all the days of my life. The boys in
my company is all sick nearly but the harder times I see it seems
the better health I enjoy. God has blessed me in every respect.
Ma, I feel thankful for His goodness and kindness and tender mercies
that He has shown towards me in almost you might say in the very
joys of death.
Dear, I am very sorry to hear of Papa and John and Frank having
to leave home. Poor Pa it seems there is no comfort for him any
more he is getting old. Him and Mother and now have to leave his
dear little family and sweet home. It is too bad dear. It grieves
my heart to hear of such news. Such news makes me feel like deserting
the army and coming to you but, dear, as I said in the other letter,
I will advise you to go back to Illinois if you can go with [--unreadable--]
but Mother is with you her mind is always right. Dear, I am uneasy
and I can't help it. There is you poor distressed women at home
exposed to the trouble in the north by the low life devils. I wish
we had all such in our front. I can shoot such with better grace
then I could eat if I was hungry and I have made a great of the
devils kiss the ground in the last three months.
Dear, I am so glad you have such a nice patch of cotton. Well,
I am glad dear if I was at home with you what nice comforts we
could have but maybe I will have that pleasure in a few months
more. Dear you said Mother was spinning cotton to make your own
[--unreadable--]. Well I am afraid you and mother will work too
hard as Papa is gone but I guess he is at home every once and awhile.
You stated that crops was short with the exception of wheat. Well
save everything it may be scarce.
Dear tell me where Dock and James is. Give the boys my well wishes.
Dear I have had the chance to write oftener since I have been at
this place than any other time on this campaign and the probability
is that we will remain here some time. We are laying in full view
of the Johnnys. Our rifle points is about 2 hundred yards apart
and the Johnnys is coming into our lines every day. Sometimes 20
and 50 and just as they can get away.
Dear you sent a big letter but not much reading. I have got a
good supply of paper and envelopes. You can send me a few stamps
at a time. I got one that you sent so my dear I will bring my letter
to a close hoping this will find you enjoying the best of health.
As it leaves me give Mother and Net and Jane and all of my inquiring
friends my respect.
I would give the world to be with you and more enjoy the pleasure
of this life as we once enjoyed. May God add His blessing and save
you, my dear, and those who have put their trust in Him. Dear,
I often get to singing and the boys will gather around me and me
to sing for hours at a time. They call me their chaplain. I have
my testament in my pocket. I read a chapter every day. I read the
Good Book and think of you yet I am a sinner in the sight of God.
I will finish on another piece of paper.
Note: No other part of this letter was found
December the 24, 1854
My dear beloved companion, through many well directed changes
of providence I once more have this glorious privilege of writing
to you once more to let you know that I am still in the land of
the living and blessed with good health. It has been a long time
since I have heard a word from you. The last letter I received
from you was dated September the 2 and one August the 21. I have
those two letters yet I often read those 2 letters to remembrance
of you. I still have your likeness reading your letters and looking
at your likeness is all the comfort I have in the last five months.
Oh, my dear, I want to hear from you the worst way. I sometimes
think I never will get to hear from you again still I should live
in hopes if I die in despair. The visit to Illinois done me a heap
of good but not half as much as if I had got to seen you and my
little babies. I want to see my mother of one more than anyone
on earth except you. I want to see Papa, too.
I never shall forget their kindness that they have shown towards
me whilst in their presence and whilst absent from them. I never
can pay the debt I owe to them whilst here I am in the sunny South
trying to help to put this cruel rebellion down there taking care
of my little family. I should love them as father and mother and
do thank God I have a respectful father and mother yet they have
never written me a line since I have been in the Army but as they
are old I can look over them. I reckon Papa and Mother thinks they
have enough to do to take care of you, dear, and our little children.
Well, I reckon that is the case. I do not hear much more news.
General Thurman [--could be Sherman--] is still moving on having
great success without much fighting. The most fighting I hear is
with the bush whackers. They seem to be doing all the fighting
at this time. There was two men killed last night 2 miles from
this city by the bush whackers. They was citizens that was killed.
My dear, I want you to give me all the news that you can when
you get this letter I am afraid to hear from you all. Afraid that
your father's house is burnt and you all destroyed. I want you
and Papa to send me word whether it will be safe for me to come
there when my time is out, but that will be some months yet. My
time will be out the 6 day of August and that will be nearly 8
months and then I will soldier with you the rest of my days. That
is what is the matter. I do not know when I can get to my regiment
but I rather think it will be some time. Therefore, I shall not
be able to draw any money until I can get to the regiment. My dear
I am very sorry that I can't send you some money but I will have
to do without myself. But, dear, let us do the best we can and
wish for the better. As for my part I can do without any money
but I want you to have it but what I can't make up to you now,
I can after awhile.
I went out about 15 miles this week a foraging. I got 12 chickens
and 2 hogs so I shall live pretty well as long as they last. The
weather has been very disagreeable here this winter. So far a lot
of rain and some snow. It is raining today. Now I must write a
letter for my children.
My dear if you have sent me letters to the regiment I will not
get them until I go to my command. And if you have sent me your
likeness I will not get it either so you must tell me in your next
letter if you have sent those. I would write to my captain to send
my letters to me that you sent to the regiment if you have sent
any but there is never communications to Thurman [--Sherman?--]
at all. I sent you a letter yesterday. Today is Sunday and I have
been waiting all day. I would have got letters from you before
this time but Old [--unreadable--] was on the railroad between
Chattanooga and Nashville but the 15 of this month he got routed
with a heavy loss so none of my letters I guess will go to you
My dear I wish I could enjoy Christmas with you all but can't
this year but if I and you should live to see next Christmas we
will be together I trust. My dear I often think of the happy hours
and days that we used to spend together and Oh to God that day
may come again. I often think when we was once so happy and free
but now I am banished from the presence of a kind and loving companion.
It grieves me still I must be contented and live in hopes if I
die in despair I want to see all of my friends and relatives. I
want to see my sweet little babies but above all I want to see
you my dear beloved Levica the best and goodness. I love you better
than the things of this world. I would sacrifice everything in
this war for your comfort and happiness and if it was your request
I would sacrifice my life if it would make you happy.
A few words for my little babies and I will close. Tell little
Jimmy to kiss his Ma for me and little Hattie for me and Grandpa
and Grandmother. Tell little Jimmy to sleep at Ma's feet and hug
them in his arms and keep them warm this cold winter and I will
bring him a little pair of boots and a nice little knife and hat.
Tell my sweet little girl Ma I will bring her a nice little cloak
and a hood and some nice beads and a pair of little shoes. And
now, Ma, I want you to kiss little James and Hattie in remembrance
of me and I'll bring you several of the nicest presents that can
be had. Among them will be a silk dress so dear I reckon I have
written enough at this time. Give my love and respect to all inquiring
friends if there should be any and my best love and respect to
you dear. I have plenty of paper you need not send me any. I can
get all I want.
Dear, I commenced this letter several days ago and this is Christmas
Eve. I must tell you a little more and then I will close. The 20
of this month there was a man hung for murdering. He was a bush
whacker. I saw him hang. It was a hard scene. I have seen men die.
Every man but that was the hardest.
The boys is all at a party and I am alone. There was a very nice
young lady call to my office this evening and invited me to a dance
but politely thanked the lady for her kindness. I asked her if
she did not think I was a married man and the reply she said perhaps
your wife is dead. I told her I would not take her word for it.
Dear I will finish the story in the next letter and I will write
tomorrow for my Christmas feast.
[ Note: I am the great-granddaughter of William Samuel
Craig. These letters from the Civil War were in the
possession of his grandson, Jerry Craig, and they were loaned
to me during a visit to his home in Norborne, Missouri. All of
these letters were difficult to "translate" from the
decorative script-writing; some have areas of blanks which were
impossible to decipher. Each letter retains some of its
original spelling and grammar; some punctuation has been added
for clarity; paragraphs have been created for easier reading.
Where a word or phrase could not be read, "[--unreadable--]" is
inserted; some words, such as places and names, may have "[Sherman]" immediately