by William Samuel Craig
Envelope: Mrs. Levica Craig; Leroy McLean Co., Ill – Postmark: Cheney’s Grove, Ill
March the 13, 1862
Louisiana Youngpoint Vicksburg
My dear beloved wife once more I am permitted to write to you again after reading your kind letter that I just received the 13 of this month. I am well, fat, and fine. My health is good. I believe better at this time then it has been in the last 5 years but, my dear, there was a time this winter that I thought my time had come to die. I gave up all hopes of meeting with you and my sweet baby but thanks be to God I am well now.
Out of 950 men there is 400 left in this regiment though some of them has got their discharge. When they would die rolled them up in their blankets with everything they had without any coffin or any box.
I got your stamps. One of the envelopes stuck together and spoiled one. If you send me any more just send one. I have no way of taking care of them. If you will examine this paper it will satisfy you I think. I am sorry to have to write on such a sheet but I can’t keep it clean.
Yes, my dear, I have been in 2 battles and came out safe. If I haven’t seen the bear no one has. I told you that I would come home this March but the time is past. I will come when you’re not looking for me. You said that Dock and James was in that battle. I do not know there was a great many troops. It is call the Arcanespast [Arkansas Post]. There is where I was I left there the 2 day after the battle. I might have been within ten feet of them and would not have known it.
Read this then turn over. Tell Net that I wish that I could eat her sweet cakes or any of her kind of cooking. It has been a long time since I have eat a woman’s cooking or sit to a table or sleep in a bed. I am little particular yet. My dear I had rather eat your cooking then anyone else. Oh, I would like to see you if you have got to be so fat. Is my baby fat, too. I am glad that he is so good. I thought that he would be so much trouble after I left. Well, Ma, raise him right, don’t let anyone spoil him.
I know that it is apt to be done if I had not heard that Mother and Net was going to California I would haven’t cared if you going there but I am satisfied now you wanted to know what the Massipi [Mississippi?] quickstep was – now I tell you. It is the shits the squirts can you understand that.
Sammy Samples is dead. I suppose that you heard of it. You wanted me to write what I thought about you coming to Mo. I am now satisfied if your anything for your enjoyment and happiness the talk is that we will draw our money this week and tell me dear what I had better do with it had I better send it in a letter or bring it this fall or sooner if I can I am afraid to risk money these days but if you say for me to send it I will do it then we will have to run the risk tell me what to do then I will do it.
You have got my other letter by this time then I will answer it. Write often dear as you can.
To my loving wife.
October 5, 1862
Dear wife, I received your kind letter Oct the 2 and was glad to hear from you and the baby. My health is good and I hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same. My dear, you talk of lonesome times. You may think that I am not lonesome, too, but I am – among a thousand people. It is not like living with a loving companion. Still I am satisfied under the circumstances. My dear, let nothing grieve you. Cheer up, there is a time coming when you and I can sit together and enjoy the pleasure of life. May God bless you and preserve you through this unfriendly world.
I never have got but this letter you have [–unreadable–] it right now mind and back the rest like this one.
Mr. Grub is sick. If you can get anyone to go and get them things, let them do it but I may send word myself. I guess I will write to him today and see what he can do and he will do it or he can get George Craig to do it. Ben Desert has got his discharge this morning and has gone home. He was homesick only. You said Ben Kimer had come home. Tell me what for. I was sorry to hear that Bud was sick. Tell all of them that I send love to them all and received a portion yourself.
Now, my dear, answer this just as soon as you get it and let me hear from you. Now kiss my sweet little James. Bless him old fat cheeks. I kiss him and old ma everyday. Everybody says him is the prettiest in camp. Ma, don’t let run away if he can stand up by a chair it won’t be long till him will run off. Direct your letter this below:
Mr. William Craig
in the care of L. W. Bishop
Ill. Volunteers Co.F
Oct. the 8, 1862 – Macon Co., Decautur
Dear Wife, I received your kind letter the very day that it was mailed and was glad to hear from you and the baby. I am very sorry that his hears is sore yet. Take good care of him dear, and yourself, too. My health is good. I have gained 12 lbs [–unreadable–] since I have been in camp. You may guess then that I am doing well. I am very sorry to hear that they are all sick at mother. Well, my dear, I don’t want you to expose yourself and get down sick.
I give you money to live on and don’t expose yourself as long as it will last. Live, my dear, on the money that I give you. I want you to drink good coffee. I want you to write whether you drink it or not. I have received two letters from you only and this is the 8 of Oct. I want you to answer my letters punctually and if you can’t write, get someone to write a few lines for you.
Now we have drawn out arms and 21 dollars in money and I have sent twenty dollars by Abraham Stonesbury to Mr. Grub. I told him to give it to you or leave it with Grub also a [–unreadable–] bag and a pen knife for my baby. I have got five dollars yet and the other two I have paid out for cooking. I pay one dollar a month and that is the last that I am going to pay though I had rather pay it then to cook but to save a dollar for you, it is better.
Take good care of yourself dear and the baby. Just as soon as I can I will have my likeness taken and send to you. That is the reason that I kept five dollars. You ought to see us now, dear, it is the prettiest sight that you ever saw. All in their uniform. Some of the men say that they wish that they were single. Some said that they don’t think anything about home, spends their money foolishly gambling, but I thank God it makes me proud to get a dollar to send to my dear wife and baby. Now, my dear, how you’re getting along and what you have to eat. I want you to drink good coffee and have what your appetite craves now. Dear remember what I have told you. I wrote to George Craig about them things. I must close.
December the 14, 1862, Memphis, Tenn.
Dear Wife, I am happy to inform you that I am once more permitted through the silent pen to communicate to you a few lines in answer to your kind letter that I just received. I thought [–unreadable–] you my dear had forgotten me but dear I think different now I just received three this Sabbath morning you had better [–unreadable–] I was glad to hear from you and my sweet baby and was still gladder that you was going to have another one. I hope that it will be a girl. My dear, nature will work things all right if you had not intended that it would not have been so let nothing grieve you.
My dear did you get them letters that I got and from Mo. and sent to you. You never said anything about them. You should say something about such as that I took pains to read them to [–unreadable–] fold them up for the happiness and enjoyment that you might possess of reading them at your leisure. I also got a letter from Brother John the same time you said [–unreadable–] I must come home for Christmas. I could [–unreadable–] come then it would come out of my wages. I got the stamps. I have got 30 no [–unreadable–] have been on a long march of 200 miles [–unreadable–] just landed yesterday. We run price [–unreadable–] 5 miles. I shall not write much about the war. There is [–unreadable–] so much that I can think of that it [–unreadable–]the times in something else. [–unreadable–] think the war will close soon [–unreadable–] the army is making a grand move now [–unreadable–] everything is doing it best I think we will come home this spring for good [–unreadable–] as for my part I want a discharge when I go home then I won’t have to leave you again dear any more.
The hardest time that I ever saw was when we left Decator women and children stood on the side of the streets crying and shaking hands with us. Such a [–unreadable–] time never was none I shook hands with [–unreadable–] I know that day.
Is old Nance got well [–unreadable–] thought that John Karr had bought [–unreadable–] the colt. It was my understanding that [–unreadable–] you know that he said he would [–unreadable–] 30 dollars for it when that money of [–unreadable–]mples is due you must collect it. You said that it done you so much good to hear from me. It don’t do you as much good as it does me. I never slept any last night I know so prayed to hear from you. You must not expect many letters from me my dear for I am going from place to place all time we will make Memphis our headquarters but war could afford a length of time now we are ordered to Vicksburg so that is the way that I am situated.
I will give you as many letters dear as I can. I want you to write bigger one your three is not as big as this one you had better stay there till I come then I will get all of our money out that Bob owes us then we can go to Missouri next fall. Those stamps is a great present. I can get ten cents a piece for them but I won’t sell them I have got as many as I want for the present. Have you got anything to eat have you killed your hog. Save me the jawl.
Levica Craig William Craig to so now I must close for the present. I still remain [–unreadable–] loving husband until death. May God bless and save my loving wife and that sweet baby. Is my [–unreadable–] to the best that you can direct your [–unreadable–] like you have been doing this caome straight through.
[Editor’s 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 following. If you’d like to read more about my experience discovering William Samuel Craig, be sure to read the Go Inside Magazine article, Civil War Ancestors, in our History section. — Joyce Kohl]]