by William Samuel Craig

September the 8, 1863 – home, home, Lord

Camp Sherman, Miss.

My dear and beloved wife, it is through the hands of providence that I have this privilege of writing to you and more in order to let you know I am getting along. I am still in the land of the living blessed with a reasonable portion of health. At this time my health has been very poor till now and, my dear, I hope these few lines may find you enjoying the very best of health and all of the connection.

My dear, I dreamt of you and them babies last night and I thought that you was mad at me and said that I should not kiss Harriet. I know that will not be the case dear. I must write my dreams or I can’t say much. I should always fill up the sheet with something.

I have been looking for a furlough for several days and it has not come yet and I do not know whether it ever will come or not. That is unknown to me. My furlough is sent into headquarters. I may get it and I may not. I can’t tell, dear, much about it. My captain says I shall go and see my family.

We have a new captain. His name is [–unreadable–]ickles Jessiman Company L 116 RG Ill. You can hereafter direct in his care. He has been our first lieutenant and is now our captain. He is a fine man. He said I had been such a good soldier that I should go and see my family.

I am told the crops is all ruined by the frost in Illinois. I saw a letter yesterday from Mo. stating that there was the best crops that ever was raised in the state of Mo. I am glad of that my dear hoping I may reap some of the benefits of it. Tell Papa to save plenty and some to spare. Notwithstanding I may never see that country but save plenty for you and my children. Still if God spares me, I will see you all if I have to desert. It is ten months today since I parted with you, my dear, at the hour of midnight. I never shall forget the grasp of that sweet hand of yours and the sweet kiss off that [–unreadable–] beautiful cheek of yours. Oh, that we may be [–unreadable–] permitted to meet again in the land of the living with our friends and children. It would be the happiest hour I ever spent on earth if I could meet with my dear wife and children and father and mother, sisters, and brother, and all my social friends once more.

My dear don’t let me deceive you at all. When you see me coming then it is time to look, but the probability is that I will come between this and Christmas. I want a good pot of mush and milk and you get that up in a few minutes. I will come to Carrollton first. You can write one I want to hear from you the worst way. I have only got one letter from you since I cam to this place. Dear, when you direct your letter, direct in this way. William Craig, Vicksburg, Miss. Company F 116 Illinois Volunteers in the care of Captain Nicelas Jeschuand. The last letter I got from you was mailed at Carrollton July the 29 and it was 8 days coming so you may suppose I would like to hear from you.

My dear, we have been getting a great deal of good news about the war that is very favorable if the newspapers is true. They speak of peace more and more. Mobile is still falling by pieces [–unreadable–] Richmond is the same. Charleston is [–unreadable–] gone. Our log is floating over the rebels [–unreadable–]. We must gain those places and I think it will be done without our help. Our division commander will take charge of this post at Vicksburg. I think then we will stay there a long time. I think that is the talk now.

Well, dear, I reckon I have wrote enough for this time so I will close and dream of you again tonight hoping I may dream of you being in a good humor. It is now bedtime and I must crawl on my cane bed and rest. So, my dear, I will close by saying to you, take good care of yourself.

William Craig to My Loving Wife

October 13, 1863

My dear loving wife it is with pleasure and more that I have the privilege of writing to you and more I am still in the land of the living and I am well hoping this letter may find you enjoying the same. Dear, I just received your kind letter this evening which gave me great pleasure to hear that you was well such news always does me good. Your letter was dated September the 15 and this is October the 13.

A few days after I read that letter we started for Memphis and stayed there about a week and then we took the corps and come to Corinth about 100 miles from Memphis. We are moving about 3 miles from town. I don’t know how long we will stay here. We are [–unreadable–] the railroad leading from Memphis to Corinth. It is probably we will stay here during the winter but dear that is hard for me to tell.

I have wrote you several letters in the last week. I intend to fill this big sheet of paper. I always love to occupy my time in this way. It is the pleasure that I can take is when I can write to you dear you seem to think that I am dissatisfied it is the case. I am if I was a single man I had just as leave be in the service as anywhere else. Still soldiering is a hardship but it is you that calls my attention. It is you that I want to live with and be with.

I guess that you have got that letter that I wrote about getting a letter from James. I just received a letter from Sister Lis. She wrote me a good letter. She said that she was expecting that they would have war there any day. Bob never wrote a word. Neither do I want him I hope that I may never see him. I heard that he had sold his farm. Lis did not say anything about it. She said that they were going to Innand to see John Wood and Mary. Lis said Mary had a fine daughter. She did not say how old it was but she call it Lisabeth Samples that is a very appropriate name. Lis said that she was very lonesome after we left there. Lis did not treat us all together right but it was Bob’s fault. Poor Lis seems to have a hard time. She wrote me a good letter. I have a notion to send it to you and dear [–unreadable–] must I answer it or not you wanted to know what had become of Elick Hillman. He is still living but this spring he like to have died he has no health at all.

I am going to ask you some question and that is this. Tell me where Frank lives and Dick Rigill and who is living with your father. I have wrote this question some several times what has become Huss Keath and all of that family [–unreadable–] what has become of them. Give me the full history of that country as well as you can. Things that is old to you would be new to me. You seem to think war will close soon. Well I think it will, too, but there will be another hard fight and I learned that they are at it now at Chattanooga that is in Tennessee. Rasincrance [–Rosecran–] is fighting the rebels there big they had him surrounded but he fought his way out and is now holding them in their [–unreadable–] there has been thousand and thousand going to reinforce him. I heard that he said that he had all the reinforcements that he wanted. The rebels are calling their troops to that point. They have evacuated several valuable points in order to hold that point if we gone that place which I pray we will the southern confederacy will and must stop. We have a band of rebels here to whip and there was 250 hundred captured yesterday. They want to destroy this railroad to cut off Rosecran’s supplies but they can’t do that.

So now my dear I have wrote enough about the war. I guess I want you to have your likeness taken and the 2 little babies and send to me. I have that old one yet of yours it does me good to look at it. I would give the world to see you and two little babies. It is you my dear that call my attention. I want you to write every week and oftener if you can. I don’t get half as many letters from you as I should. Dear I still lives in hopes of getting to come home this winter on a furlough. I would like to be there about hog killing time so that you could roast a rib in the stove.

Dear my living is hard crackers and the oldest bacon that can be found and sometimes beef and coffee. Such living you know a person would get tired of. Can my little boy say Ma. Dear you don’t know what I would give to see them 2 babies. I don’t have any idea that I would know James at all. Oh, yes dear, I have seen James Tompson he said Lotta was living with his father. He said that he had never been at home since he left. He asked me about you and said that he would like to see you. Dear I have wrote enough this time so I will bring my letter to a close by saying give my best love and respect to any inquiring friends if there be and and receive a portion yourself. Write soon as you get this. So farewell my dear and belove wife and children.

From William Craig to Levica Craig

October 13, 1863

Direct to Memphis, Tennessee. I can send my money by express and tell me what to express it to.

October the 18, 1863

Juka Camp, Mississippi

Dear, I am on a march and have drawn some money and I will send it to you in two letters. It is twelve o’clock and we have to leave this place at once so I can’t write much. I will send you 60 dollars this time. Tell if it gets thru safe. We left Corinth three days ago. I do not know how much further that we are going. Dear, I am tolerable well except my head cold. I hope this may find you well.

William Craig

[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]