1864: John to Mattie

This letter was written by a Union soldier named John to his “dearest Mattie” but I don’t believe they were married. There is no envelope to aid in the identification of the correspondents and with one exception in the reference to a friend, all others are mentioned only by their first names. Writing from the Chattahoochie River in Georgia, it’s pretty clear that John is serving in Sherman’s army making their way across George. He indicates that his term of service will expire in November 1864 but he does not mention his regiment. My hunch is that he was from Ohio and served in an Ohio Regiment.


Chattahoochie River, Ga.
July 15th 1864

Dearest Mattie,

I will endeavor to write you a few lines this morning to inform you that I am well and I sincerely hope that when they reach you they may find you enjoying the nest of health. I have not received a letter from you since Monday. It was written on the 3rd of July. I am anxiously looking for the letter you promised to write to me to tell me how you spent the 4th of July. I am in hopes dear you had a pleasanter time on that day than I did for I can tell you that it was the lonesomest Fourth of July I ever spent except a year ago and that was the time I came so near starving.

I saw Will Wheeler ¹ yesterday. He was well. His regiment went back to Marietta this morning where they will remain for some time — probably for some months. We have been here now for over a week but how long we will remain here we cannot say but I do not expect that we will remain long.

Dear Mattie, I have not had a chance to get the box from Chattanooga yet but am in hopes I may in a few days. I gave Will an order for it last night and it is probable that he may get to go to Chattanooga and if he does, we will get it.

Dear, this is Friday and I would like very much to be at home so I could spend next Sunday with you. It appears like the nearer our time is up the more anxious I am to get home. It is not very long now before our time is up but it appears like a long time yet. It is expected that we will get to come home now in about three months and a few days, and if we do I will get to come home before we are mustered out of service. We will not be mustered out before the 21st of November but expect to come home about the first of that month.

I wish, dear, that our time was out now for it will be so late in the fall when our term expires that there will be nothing going on at all. This is the lonesomest place I ever saw. There is nothing but woods & flies. I have never seen the like of flies in my life. They near about eat a person up.

Tell Sam I have never heard from him since I wrote to him last. I don’t reckon he has taken my talking in earnest and joined the hundred days service. I hope that Jessie (young Jessie, I mean) has been converted by this time and is no longer a copperhead for I do not like to see my friends turn copperheads.

Well, dear, I think I have written enough for this time so I will close for the present. You must write often and send me that photograph you was speaking of for I have never received them you sent yet. No more at present but remain, dear Mattie, your truly devoted and affectionate, — John

¹ Long shot — but possibly Capt. William Wheeler of Co. D, 92nd Ohio Infantry. On June 19 and 20, 1864, the 92nd Ohio took an active part in forcing the Confederates from the valley near Kennesaw Mountain. On July 3, the regiment pursued the enemy through Marietta, Ga., forcing him from a position near that place, and taking an active part later in compelling him to abandon all territory north of the Chattahoochee River.


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