1862-3: Charles Wade Stickney to Sister Carrie

These letters were written by Charles Wade Stickney (1844-1904) of Battery B, First Illinois Light Artillery (Taylor’s Chicago Battery). He served from 7 August 1862 to 6 July 1865. Charles was detached from the Battery in 1863 to serve as a clerk to the Adjutant General at Sherman’s Headquarters — a position he held until discharged.

Charles was the son of John Charles Stickney (1813-1851) and Abby Ann Clifford (1815-Aft1862). Charles’ father was killed by a runaway horse at the age of 38. Charles’ mother was a sister of Gov. J. H. Clifford of Massachusetts. After the war, Charles was employed by the law-publishing house of the Littles in Albany, New York. In 1868, he married Miss Little, daughter of one of the proprietors. He returned to Chicago not long afterwards to start a publishing business of his own. After his wife divorced him and his business was consumed by the great fire of Chicago, he prepared for, attended, and graduated from Harvard University. After teaching school for a time, he took a course in assaying and mineralogy at Lehigh University and then engaged in prospecting and mining in Colorado. In 1898 he was admitted to practice as a lawyer in Idaho. He died at Mountain View near San Jose, California in 1904.

Charles wrote the letters to his sister, Caroline (“Carrie”) Stickney (1841-18xx).


[Memphis, Tennessee]
Sunday, November 2nd 1862

My dear sister Carrie,

I could not send the letter to Mother by the first mail so I write you now. I shall write to you & Mother every five days while in Memphis. I thank you very much for your attention to my comfort. There is an arrangement made here which I think will ensure the safe transport of letters and packages to & from Memphis & the North — that is, gunboats will run up & down the river between here & Cairo three times a week & steamboats leaving these points at the same times will have their protection.

I will look at my diary & see what of interest or otherwise is there. For the last week our squad has been engaged in the building of a brick dining room. we took the army wagons & levying upon a brick kiln did forthwith abstract therefore several loads of brick & using clay for mortar made a long room & stretched our gun tarpaulins over it for a roof. I’ll try my hand at engineering:



If the perspective is a little crooked, please excuse me. Indeed, it’s the fault of the pen & ink. Yesterday I made a fireplace & chimney in my tent & a floor to my half of it. N. B. There is only two in my tent. The other members of the squad have made houses out of boards & brick but it is so hard to borrow tools & get nails that I have not thought it worthwhile to leave the tent.

Yesterday & & fifty others went down street to get our photography taken. The whole battery is to be taken in groups of five making about thirty pictures, all to be put on into one frame & I will send mine to you & Mother by express. It sit with [Robert J.] Hunt, [Horace] Reed, [Abel] Onsey, & [Samuel F.] Wentworth. ¹

I was greatly mistaken in Horace Reed’s character & since I have known him, I like him very much. He has a great love for ladies society but is not at all soft as I supposed he was. Perhaps he has a little too much love for dress & position but otherwise he is very agreeable.

Bob Hunt is a whole souled fellow, full of mirth & wit & drollery & yet no buffoon. He can be full of fun one moment & perfectly serious the next. Mirth seem to ooze out of him all the time from an inexhaustible fountain. He & Horace Reed are chums & fast friends. Onsey is a driver. Wentworth is a very pleasant fellow in the drawing room but down here he is out of his element & rather inclined to be sore headed.

Major Ezra B. Taylor

Friday we were mustered for pay & shall probably get our money by the 15th.

This morning we were inspected by our Major Ezra B. Taylor formerly Captain of this battery.

Dinner is called. Thanks without number for the cake & butter you have sent me. I am ever your loving brother, — Charlie

Miss Carrie Stickney, Chicago, Illinois
Box 1234

This group of five men in Battery B, 1st Illinois Light Artillery is of another group (not including Stickney) but was taken in Memphis (November 1862) and shows the uniform of the Illinois artillerists.

¹ USAHEC (Carlisle) has the photograph described in this letter in its collection. RG98S-CWP63.52 — “Group of 5 Men of Battery B, 1st Regt., Ill. Vol. Lt. Arty. The men are in uniform and are identified as: Pvt. Samuel T. Wentworth, Pvt. Abel Dusey [Onsey], Pvt. Horace Reed, Pvt. Charles W. Stickney, and Pvt. Robert J. Hunt. They are posing in front of a backdrop.”


In camp opposite Vicksburg
Sunday, February 22nd 1863

My dear Carrie,

It would have done your heart good to have heard the grand patriotic concert performed this morning by our national gunboats upstream in honor of the memory of the immortal Washington. The rebels across the stream were silent. Whether they disclaim the revolutionary hero as the father of their country or whether they are short of gunpowder, I can’t say. Probably they have no ammunition or surplus spirits to spare.

I received by our mail carrier this morning two letters from you & two from Mother which I shall proceed to answer in the order of their dates — one open before me of January 29. You had just received mine from Napoleon, Arkansas. That drummer boy that Clif sent the tea by had a “good thing” inasmuch as I never have seen him & don’t know him or his whereabouts.

I often turn to my pocket testament to read but seldom read much. I believe more in active than in professed religion.

I don’t like your allusions to not meeting in this world and your always taking the chance of death into all your calculations. You haven’t any right to doubt that God will let you live to a good old age and preserve all of us to the same end. It isn’t a natural state of mind for young persons like you & I who have just entered upon life to think of leaving it. You should have more independent “spunk.” Amuse yourself with two or three flirtations & you’ll get rid of such old womanly anticipations.

Here’s your letter of February 11th which is more lively & sensible. Don’t let anything at school or elsewhere annoy you. I don’t — and I getting fat. A certain doctor says that the things that make most people sick are fretting & stuffing and I think he’s about right. Do you make anything by your gymnastic class. Id Mr. Wiley in Chicago now? What’s his “biz?”

Since Lieut. Roberts came down, we call him “Luxuries” because he ate up my bread & butter. I’m sorry I didn’t get the entities. We are hard pushed for reading matter. Please send me a Tribune once a week or so if convenient. I’m proud of the compliment paid to my poetical sister by a call from Emerson.

Is you hair so very beautiful as to excite remark? You have enclosed a letter from dear Joe. He has a fine mind I can see by his mode of expressing himself. I wish I could have had his advantages of improvement. As it is, I shall have to content myself with a monopoly of the business faculty of the family. There old girl! I have answered your letters very scrupulously; a long job but pleasant withal.

Our darky cook this morning fell into a pet this morning about something and made it a pretext for leaving us and going over to the officers. So we must cook for ourselves for awhile. But I’m glad on the whole that he has gone for the boys spoiled him by over indulgence.

We expect to get paid off soon and then I’ll send up some money. But don’t let Mother go back to housekeeping nor spend any more money on a sinking hull — the old house, I mean. Please Carrie, do dissuade her from it. I should ten times prefer her staying where she is altho’ it costed twice the amount — at any rate until we get back from the war. We shall be mustered out a year from next July unless the war is ended before that time.

Our Army Corps passed resolutions this morning upholding the President and against an armistice, proposed by secessionists at the North which are to be forwarded to our Legislature. I must go out to get my supper but will answer Mother’s letters before I send this.

I am your ever-loving brother, — Charles

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