by William Samuel Craig
March the 8, 1863
My dear, I just received your kind and welcome letter that you wrote in the month of February the 19. It has been a long time coming the last letter before this I got it in February the 10 so you may know how often I hear from you. Still dear, I guess you do the best that you can and if you do that I shall not think hard. You should know that I have a poor chance to write still it is my delight to write to you dear as often as I can.
Dear your likeness is not come yet but I rather think that it is at Sterican now. The post master sent me a few lines and said that there was a letter there for me and for me to forward him six cents and he would forward the letter. It may be your likeness. I hope it is.
Dear, I have nothing of importance to write about the war at this time. Still I may before I get this large sheet filled. I have learned that the southern soldiers is deserting by regiments. They are coming in here every day both naked and starved. There was two that I talk with today and they are just from the rebel army and they say that it takes one half of the southern soldiers to guard the rest to keep them from deserting their army so if that be the case it won’t last long. I heard that they was a whole regiment that just came inside of our lines and said they was done fighting. If the head leaders could see those poor children and women both starved and naked they would certainly bring it to a close in some shape.
I would like to have the pleasure of shooting the head leaders of both parties still I will submit to the laws but I never will sell myself for 13 dollars a month. Still I am satisfied under the circumstance. Still soldiering is no place for man that has a dear little family. I would not mind it if I was single still there is no fun [–unreadable–] to make the best of it.
Dear, I got a letter from Mother today and one from Lizzie Neuland. You must not think hard of me getting a letter from the girls. I will send it to you in the next letter. If I don’t forget it. I would send it this time but I expect this big sheet is enough to send in one envelope. Sister Susandes [–Susan–] and Mother and the rest of the family seems to be in a great deal of trouble about poor John and me. I want you to write as often as you can and cheer them as much as possible. As for myself I have shouldered so much that I can’t cheer any more.
The weather is nice and pleasant here. Oh, Dear, I wish that I could help Mother and Papa make garden. As for you, you don’t know much about that kind of work. Tell Mother to plant plenty of parsnips. I would like to have some of your tobacco, but I don’t want you to raise any more. It is enough for you to take care of yourself and the babies.
Tell my boy to sleep at his Ma’s feet and to kiss Ma and Harriet every morning for me. Oh, I would give the world to see you, my dear, and the children and I think I must before long. If we should have to live apart 50 years and I knew that you was living the whole 50 years, I never would get weaned from you. You’re just as fresh in my mind tonight as the day I left your sweet face and more so from the fact I never knew of being absent from a kind loving wife before.
Dear, I would like to see the best in the world and I do hope the day is coming when we will be permitted to meet on this earth and enjoy each other’s presence as we have in days that are past and gone. I am glad I have a loving wife to write to. I wrote last night till midnight and I will finish this morning.
I am glad that you got them rings. Your postage stamps came safe. My dear, you seem to be very well satisfied with your little home. Well, I am glad of that still it is doing us no good at this time but I hope it will in the future. When I hear of you being satisfied and having good health it cheers me so much. God has favored both of us since we have been absent apart and I do hope that we will be permitted to meet each other once more on this earth.
So I will close for the present hoping this may find you enjoying the best of health as it leaves me. I never had better health in my life. Dear write often as you can. We will stay here at this place during the summer I think. Give my respect to all inquiring friends if there be any and my best love and respect to remain with you. I had to read your letter to the boys and they said it was a good letter. The boys said that they did not know how I come to get such a good looking woman as I did. I told them it took that kine to suit me. So farewell.
April the 17, 1863
Dear Wife, It is once more that I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well and I hope that these few lines may find you and that sweet baby well. I just received your kind letter today that you wrote April the 17 [–date may be 11–] and was glad that you had not forgot me.
Dear, I never was so fleshy in my life. I weigh 145 pounds. My pants won’t meet by 4 inches. The boys says that I am in the family way. But dear, I still live rough and look rough. I have not shaved since I left you. My beard comes down to the third button on my shirt. You would not give me a kiss if you could see me but I would kiss you and Mother and Jane, Net, and all the rest. This is 4 letters that I have wrote to you and have not got but this one. I dream about you often. I got your likeness and letter the [–unreadable] of March [–unreadable–]. Dear I kiss it a thousand times. It even done the boys good to look at it.
Dear, the graybacks and greenbacks will take this country. I would like to send you seventy dollars of the greenbacks and will express it to you in a short time just as soon as the express office is opened.
I am very sorry to hear about the deaths of those of our kindred, but that is what we have to all do. It is much better to die at home then in the army. Tell Jane the Lord giveth and the Lord can taketh away and blessed be the name of the Lord. I know the loss of a child must be very great to endure. It surprised me when I read the letter. I [–unreadable–] to take my troubles to myself. My trouble’s you, my dear wife and sister knows nothing about. Here I am in a distant land surrounded by the enemies and exposed to every disease though Thank God that I keep well when thousands and thousands is died and gone to rest.
I want to live to see my dear little family and more I have studied about them and dreamt about them and cried to think what a loving companion I [–unreadable–] and a sweet baby. My whole prayer is Oh, that I may live to get home and may God bless them and preserve them is though [–unreadable–] they need [–unreadable–]. Tell Jane there is a treasure made up in heaven for all that is faithful. Those little children is now at rest and we are still left behind. There is a way in which we can meet them by living Christian, to read the Bible. Though I have not seen a Bible nor heard a sermon since I left home.
Dear, I don’t drink or play cards or gamble in any such ways. I buy me a pie sometimes. It cost me 25 cents. Captain Bishop has [–unreadable–] and gone home. He was perfect useless man as I ever saw. He was not in our battle the 11 of March I was in a [–unreadable–] one and liked to been taken prisoner. Our regiment and 2 others if it had not been for the gun boats we would have been prisoners today. There was eight thousand against us. There was only 3000 of us but we made them take water then we camped on the same ground that they was on. The boys think that we will be at home to harvest. I think that we will be at home this fall. There is a great many deserters. They are bringing them in the [–unreadable–] and drafting. I hope that will take Bob and John [–unreadable–]wood but John has gone to Indianna but had to leave for training to barber [–unreadable–]. He gave the rebel a gun for him to [–unreadable–] so the gentleman had to leave.
Sister Mary has lost one of her children. I do not know which one of her children. I suppose that they had a big time in Chaney’s Grove about rebellion. I hope that it will take them all and it will.
My dear I want you to write often every two weeks and oftener if you can and if you can’t write get Mother for you. My dear loving companion I must close for the present and now dear write often. It is all the satisfaction that I have in the army is reading your letters. I have to kiss your likeness every day. I could get a furlough but it would cost me so much to come to see you I think I had better save my money for you. I think that I can come home this fall and stay. Now my dear, take good care of yourself and write often so I will close for the present. I shall send you seventy dollars in a few days.
William Craig to a loving wife.
Editor’s Note – The following is an addition to the letter. Obviously, for his mother.
Mother, I have not yet forgot you. I never shall forget your goodness and kindness. I don’t write to you as I should but, Mother, my mind is on my little family so that I don’t [–unreadable] half the letter that I get. Mother I want to see you very bad and Net I want you to say something. Mother I have asked you for many a favor and you have granted them to me and now, Mother, I must ask one more and that is this – take good care of Levica till I come home. I don’t like to hear of you going to California.
Editor’s Note – This portion was written by turning the sheet upside down and then writing the following line:
My pen is very bad and a bad place to write.
April the 22, 1863
It is once more that I have the privilege of writing to you one more. I have had more time to write to you here for the last week then I have had for some time but dear I write as often as I can. I am well and I hope that these few lines may find you and that sweet baby enjoying the same blessing.
I have sent you 50 dollars. Just started it today will send it to Carrollton. I wrote several letters here lately I have not got but one in the last seven weeks. I won’t write much this time but merely to let you know that I am well. I got a letter from home yesterday. George Craig. He stated in his letter that there was going to be trouble in Illinois. They are going to fight the draft. Bud [–unreadable–] that Ill. could raise 600,000 of men to fight for the south. [–the rest of this section unreadable–]
July said that she wanted to see you and that sweet baby. July Craig said so. I don’t want you to write to George Craig wife. I sent her a good lesson that I think that will do her for some time. Mother says that she miss you. John Karr says the same. Now my dear, don’t forget to write to me. Write to me then if you have time write to them. I have no stamps they can’t be had or got here. I have to get my letters [–unreadable–] so I will close for the present hoping that these few lines may find you and that sweet baby well. Tell all of my friends to write if there be any tell me all about the connection where they are and what they are doing.
I have to go and drill now. It is a sight and [–unreadable–] in return remember me I have been writing all the day long for the boys have forgot your chance I may get a letter from you this evening they say that the mail boat is come. Write soon as you get this. Tell Mother and Net to write and Jane, Frank and all of them.
[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]]