by William Samuel Craig
Envelope: Miss Levica Craig
Carroll Co., MO.
Soldier’s Letter – W. E. Crissey
Act Adjt 116th ILL [–unreadable–]
June the 9, 1863
My dear loving one, this day once more I have the privilege of writing to you. This day nine months ago I bid you farewell. It was the hour of midnight the time has passed away and I am still blessed with good health. It will not be nine months more till I am with you, dear, I hope. I have spent many a lonesome hour since that time. It is a good schooling one that I never will forget. Still I am not dissatisfied of the army if it was not for you, my dear, and them two little babies. You are on my mind both day and night and I can’t help it neither do I try. This 9 months is worth thousand dollars to me. I would not take that for it. Still I am exposed to every kind of weather but I have got used to it and hard living but if the good Lord spares me a little longer I will you on or before [–unreadable–].
It has been raining all day till now. It will do us good. It has been very dry in the last two months and warm. I have seen warmer weather here then I ever saw in Mo or Ill either and this is only June.
I am still cooking for the officers. They say that I can cook as good as a woman but I tell them that is not so. I tell them that I have one in Mo. that can beat the world and, dear, I can prove it by John Green and others.
I am looking for a letter from you, dear, every minute then I will be so glad that is what cheers me up. It does me good to know that I have a decent and respectful woman to write to that is more than everyone can say. It has been a long time since I have seen a woman till yesterday and was General Hogue’s wife. She was shaking hands with us and give us all the [–unreadable–]. She has done a great deal for the sick soldiers. She said that she is intending to send us potatoes and dried fruit.
She was a old woman and it done me good to talk with her. I was singing when she approached me. She gave me her hand and said that she was glad to see me enjoying myself so well. She wanted me to sing “Roll Around the Flag Boys.” You have heard me sing it, dear, then she asked me if I had any family. I told her I had as good a woman and two little babies as the world could produce. I pulled out your likeness and showed it to her. She said God bless the soldier’s family and bless him, too. She asked me where you lived. I told her in Mo. It done me good to look at her. She was dressed like you used to be. She was about your size and make but never was as pretty. I sung two songs for her then she left us.
I have been here nearly four weeks and have only got three letters from you but I may get one today. I am looking for one every minute. I hope that I will get one before I close this. If I have good luck I will send you some more money in the next letter but I must know whether that got through safe that I have sent. One time I sent 5 dollars another 20 another 5 more in all it was 30 dollars I believe. Let me know as soon as you get this then I will send some more.
Dear send me some stamps if you can one or two. I have to pay five cents for them if I can get any. This letter cost ten cents and every one that I send to you here lately. Paper and envelopes is high too but I got a bottle of ink that will last me a [–unreadable–]. I gave twenty-five cents for a very small bottle that I used to pay 5 cents for. It will last me till I come home if you and I am spared to see that day.
I still have your likeness and I kiss it sometimes a hundred times a day. I would have mine taken if I could and send to you but dear there is no chance in the world now. I should have it done sometime ago. I have got to be so dirty and ugly that you would not want to see me now. A few more words then I will close for the present and that is this if you have any business to attend to get Father to instruct you. If you have any business to do, get him to do it for you. If he satisfies you, it will me. Let him get the pay from House either in money or stock the same with Frank. What little that I have left behind is to do you good my dear and them little children. It is all that I can do to send the money that I draw to you. I will do that as long as I live. You wanted me to write to House about them notes. My dear it is as much as I can do to write to you. Papa will do these for you.
So farewell my loving wife and babies. Write soon.
William Craig to my pretty lovely one the best that ever was born and best. May God bless her make her happy in this world and the world to come.
Envelope: Miss Levica Craig
Milespoint, Carroll Co., Mo.
June the 23, 1863
In the rear of Vicksburg, Miss.
My dear loving wife, I have the privilege of writing to you once more. I have been very sick with the sick headache I used to have it at home. It don’t last long and now I have got two boils under my arm each one they will get pretty sore I think but you know that they are not dangerous. My health is good every other way and I do hope that these few lines may find you well.
My dear there has been 3 mails and none for me. I have been uneasy afraid that there is something wrong. I have sent you three letters in the last 2 weeks and this is the fourth one. I am nearly crazy about you. There is another mail come today, but nothing for me but I shall write one, my dear, til I get one from you if the good Lord spares me.
I have nothing of interest to write but merely to let you know that I was still in the land of the living and have the pleasure of writing to one of the best women in the world. It is all the pleasure that I have in this world is writing to you and reading your letters. I think of the sweet day that we used to spend together to ourselves and, oh my dear, you and my little children could be so happy together. My dear when I have the sick headache I think of them sweet hands that binds my head with a handkerchief and that sweet life that preserve the [–unreadable–]. Oh may God bless my sweet little family. I want to see my girl and boy but you first my dear. I would not give you for all even if I had to spend my days in the service it is a pleasure and a glorious pleasure to write to such a one every man can’t say that and tell the truth. This is all that I can do if for you is to send my money to you. I have $40 dollars to send just as soon as I get word from that I have send. Let me know, dear, all about it. We will be paid off in next month again then I will send it to you.
Dear, I want you to have your likeness taken and the two children. Have it taken on a plate and send it to me. But if you have it done do soon I am coming home this fall if I live but I feel like I would give anything to see my little family all together. That is what I crave and all that I crave in this world. Still I feel as I have friends and true ones. Your kind parents has seemed to be true to me and a great many that is too tedious to mention. Tell Papa to write how the army is going in Missouri. Whether men has become civilized or not is there any danger.
I can hear of them fighting a little sometimes. It makes me very uneasy sometimes to hear of such but is like everything else a person must not believe anything that he hears and only half that he sees. This rebellion will be the ruination of thousands of men. They have become hardened to everything. Neither cares for God nor man and I among the rest but I still feel for my fellow man. I have not forgotten the kind words and sweet invitation that has been offered to me even from my loving wife. Still I have become hardened more than ever I did in my life. Still I am a believer of everything that is good. A man can show a respect towards his friends and family while in the army. Still he will get so weary that he cares for nothing.
Now there is no game that you can mention be what is going on all the time. It is so surprising to see men when they draw their money sit right down and lose it all when I know that they have families at their homes that needs all that they can get but it is not the case with me. God knows that I love my family. It is a great pleasure to me to help you, my dear, while in the army if it be so little. I feel as Father and Mother will take good care of you.
My dear, it is dark and raining and I must fill this sheet full tonight. It is more pleasure to sit sit here and write to you then to eat, still you know that I love to eat. It will take me til 12 o’clock to finish this. I was up till 12 last night. The last letter that you wrote me was wrote in May the 2. That has been some time ago. Dear, I want you to do better than that. Has Jane and Frank forsaken me or not. I hope not. They can only do this for me and that is this. Write to me. I think my friends if there be any ought to write more than they do. I am as you might say, faithless, destitute of a kind companion. Also destitute of relation, destitute of the enjoyment that I used to enjoy with my friends at home. If you one and all has any love or respect now is the time to show it. I mean all I know that my love still extends towards you as well and better then it used to be, still it always was great enough.
I have not had any word from Illinois that is from Mother for about a week. I wrote to you that I got a letter from mother. Poor Bud has quit writing. He wrote several pieces and put them in Suse’s letter but never said anything about July. If I had such a woman I would cut my throat. I would not be a soldier in the field even. I would not want Papa to know that I had such a bering not hardly to be call a bering. It makes me mad to think how she sinned you when you was so good and kind to her but I give her a good one when you wrote to me about how she done. Before writing to Bob Simples and John Wood I am in better business. I don’t want to see them either in this world and the world to come. I have more love and respect for you. My dear, tell Father that I wish that he would go this fall and take a look at the country and bring my horses and get that money from Semples and everything that I have got there. I will pay his expenses. It shall not cost him a cent. Dear, I must very your patience this time. This letter is very badly wrote and composed.
I had a chat with the rebels the other night. I will give you a history of their living. They have only beef and cornbread and no salt. They said that was so. And some has eat mule meat. One barrel of salt is worth 100 dollars. They said a common pair of shoes is from 15 to 20 dollars. If that ain’t hard times I don’t know nothing about it. Everything in proportion they are coming to our lines as fast as they can get away.
Mother got my overcoat at home but forgot to mention it til now. Old James Ranskites and Ike Fooler is about 6 miles from here. I know more in that regiment then I know in this. I have not seen any of them yet. Did you know Mose Worker. He got shot through the head yesterday morning but is still living. I just have got news that they are drafting in Illinois.
So now I must close for the present as this will very your patience. It is badly composed. My mind runs faster than I can write. I will send you a lock of my hair in remembrance of me. My dear, take good care of yourself and the children. Save your money but don’t want for nothing that will do you good. So fare thee well until death. From your loving husband.
This is a sign and love to thee and in return remember me.
Direct as you have been doing.
I just got my hair cut off this morning and thought I would send you a lock.
Envelope: To Levica Craig
Postmarked: Memphis, Tenn
Soldier’s letter – W. E. C. Adgt 116 Ills Vols
July the 11, 1863
My dear loving wife, it is once more that I have the privilege of writing to you to let you know that I am well hoping this may find you and them little babies enjoying the same.
We left Vicksburg on the 5 of July and now we are within one mile of Jackson, Mississippi. I think that we will stop here for awhile. We have been marching seven days.
Tell Jane that I got her letter the third day after we left Vicksburg and I have not had time to write to her but will just as soon as I can. I was very glad to hear from Jane and Frank and them all.
Dear, I got the babies hair. It is might pretty. I would give the world to see you and them little babies and if God spares me I think that I will this fall. I got a letter from you my dear on the 4 of this month but have not had time to answer it though I wrote a few lines before I left but not as much as I wanted to write. The downfall of Vicksburg is a good thing we took thirty thousand of prisoners that is of enlisted soldiers besides a great many conscribes.
My, dear, I shall endeavor to write if it is but few lines. The last letter was merely to let you know that I was still living. I got a letter from Julie and Susan on the 4 it will be some time before I can write to them. I got a letter from brother John the same day that I got Jane’s. Tell Jane to write one. It does me as much good to get a letter from her as it does me to get one from my sisters. Here is some postage stamps that I will send you to look at. Tell Papa that the milk tale is true. I won’t write a lie if I know it. I am so far away it don’t do me any good to write a lie. So, my dear, the milk tale is true. I won’t write anything but the truth to you now. Here I have plenty to write without writing a lie. The [–unreadable–] holding light over three pints.
Now, my dear, I must close. When I sit down here I did not think I could write as much as I have as we was ordered to be in readiness at any minute to move forward, but I thought I would write if it was but one word. I put the stamp on my letter and [–unreadable–] it before I commenced writing. So now my dear, I will close at the present hoping this may find you well as it leaves me so farewell my loving wife and dear children.
Take good care of yourself, my dear, til I come home.
[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]