Monday, January 9, 2012

Civil War Mail


During the Civil War, a letter was the sole contact with loved ones.

150 years ago one soldier stated to his cousin: "I never thought so much of letters as I have since I have been here. The monotony of camp life would be almost intolerable were it not for these friendly letters."

Another private expressed a similar sentiment more dramatically: "The soldier looks upon a letter from home as a perfect God send—sent as it were, by some kind ministering Angel Spirit, to cheer his dark and weary hours."

Mail call took precedence over anything, including food. It was the only tonic for the chronic homesickness that plagued most men of blue and gray. In March 1863, a soldier told his wife that he "was almost down with histericks to hear from home," and later in the war, when a Minnesota private at last received a letter from his family, he confessed: "I can never remember of having been so glad before. I sat down and cried with joy and thankfulness."

This was the first time in American history that so large a percentage of the common folk had been pulled away from home. So they wrote tens of thousands of letters.

“I feel that our contry needs my help & I am willing to do all that I can & eaven give my life for your libertys & our beloved childs”
—Private David Walters to his wife, Rachel, September 29, 1862

“This is the fourth letter I have written you and I have received four from you and I would be glad to receive one every day or two if I could for I am always glad to hear from you.”
—Rachel J. Walters to her husband, October 7, 1862


Anonymous said...

It's always good to reminisce about a bygone era.

Grannybunny said...

If you can't be together personally, absolutely nothing beats a handwritten letter or card.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree, even though I served in the military in the 1980's and I lived for letters from home!

Robert said...

Thank you for posting this; efficient and accurate delivery of the mail is a noble task, especially in times of war and turmoil. The personal side of it is what I like best. I got to deliver a college diploma today. Technology in and of itself is not a bad thing, but we must think carefully about what we let go of in our pursuit of the newest, latest, fastest thing.