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Holmes Brigade, USV, Inc.
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Scott Kansas April 18th 1865
In as much as I cannot be with you to-night it gives me the next greatest pleasure to sit down and write to you. I think of you very often every day but for some reason you have scarcely been out of my mind during the entire day to-day. I have not had much to do to-day and when I am off duty the first thing I generally think of is Sarah and Lilly. More of you Sarah a great deal than Lilly for although I love Lilly very much as much as probably as any man loves his child yet you seem dearer to me than all else in the world. I dreamed about you last night and I was just certain until I awoke that you were lying on my arm with your head on my bosom as I lived. But I awoke and it was all a dream. And yet, although a dream the recollection of it and of the feelings of joy I experienced in the short moment of its duration I would not part with at any price.
My dear girl I am so glad we had those talks together and understood each other before I came away. Perhaps we might not have done so for months it may be years if we had not done them. I have felt so happy when I have thought about it and feel that we now fully understand and appreciate each other and what is more darling entirely love each other. Don't you recollect Pet that night I came up and took you in my lap to sit and we talked everything over and you told me you would like to sit in my lap and lay your head on my bosom but you were afraid to. Oh Sarah how bad I felt then and how many bitter recollections it has given me to think I had made my darling little wife afraid to lay her head on my shoulder. You have not been afraid to sit in my lap and lay your head on my shoulder since then have you Sis. How much it seemed like old times didn't it. When I come home I want you to kiss me twenty five times regularly every day besides extras. There now what do you say to that.
I know and feel Sarah that we were not as affectionate towards each other as we should have been and I think I was to blame. I can see it better now when I am away from you. But Sis, when we come to live together again if you will only kiss me and caress me more I know I shall do a great deal better. Some mornings I have gone down to the office feeling cross and blue and down hearted when I have given everything if you had only kissed me before Is started. But now as I sit here in my tent five hundred miles away from you trying to write you a letter I feel so happy that we parted loving each other and understanding each other as we ought to and I know my Pet you feel happy too.
I received your letter dated April 2nd at Paola. I did not hardly dare believe I should find one there. I broke it open and read it through right in the Post Office and Darling you may rest assured I was not only glad but very grateful to you for your good womanly letter. But I am going to scold you. Now listen. Dear Sis do write to me oftener. I have received but two letters from you during the whole time I have been gone. One at Milwaukee and one at Paola. Now Sarah can't you write once a week at least and if you would write twice a week I will be doubly thankful. I will answer them unless I am away on duty and then I know you will excuse me. But I will always make it up when I come back. I wrote you a few hurried lines at Paola which you have probably received by this time. And I presume you have received also the letter I wrote you at Warrensburg. I am glad Sarah you like to have me write to you and that you like my letters and I shall always write as good a letter to Sis as I can.
I commenced writing this letter late on the night of the 18th in my tent. Between eleven and twelve it commenced to blow and rain terribly and I was obliged to stop. Since that time it has rained every day and you cannot conceive how uncomfortable it has been. To-day the (22nd) it has not rained but it is still cold and muddy. Our camp is about a half a mile from the village and I have been here in the village all day and shall be here till to-morrow morning acting as officer of the day. So I have brought along your port folio and taken a room at the hotel as my quarters and shall finish my letter to Sis at my leisure. I have been quite sick to-day. I have taken cold sleeping on the damp ground and this afternoon I have had a chill and fever. But I feel better to-night.
I must give you some account of our journey from St. Louis to here. When we had been in Benton Barracks one day we got orders to go to Paola Kansas. We took the cars from St. Louis to Sedalia about one hundred & fifty miles and then marched from Sedalia to Paola about one hundred & ten miles and from Paola we were ordered about sixty miles more. So we have marched about one hundred and seventy miles. It was hard work for the boys. The weather was bad and as there were no bridges over the streams we were obliged to ford them. The boys got very tired and foot sore before we got here. I wrote you in a former letter that I had a horse to ride so I got along quite easy. The country from Sedalia here is all prairie with narrow belts of timber along the streams. In Missouri we marched for miles without seeing an inhabitants. The houses along the road were entirely deserted.
We camped on night in a little village called Harristown about as large as Waukan and there was not a person living in the village. The only living thing we saw that belonged there was a cat. The village had been inhabited by bushwhackers and the troops drove them all away. The houses were all still there except the doors & windows. In one house there had evidently been a desperate fight. We found several balls lodged in various places and in the front room there were three or four places marked with buckshot and smaller shot. The stairs were covered with blood and we could see where this blood had spurted on the walls and the marks of bloody hands on the door and window casing along the road. Many of the houses had been burned leaving the chimneys standing. In Missouri they build a large brick chimney at each end of the house on the outside and we could often see half a dozen of these chimneys standing alone and bare against the sky on the prairie. The few people we saw in Missouri were a most miserable ignorant race. It will be a blessing to the State that they were cleaned out to leave room for decent people.
Our little nest on the hill looked pleasant Sis when I contrasted it with the desolate cheerless country through which we passed. Eventually Missouri will be ? and thousands of cattle will be raised there. It is one of the finest grazing countries I ever saw. As soon as we struck the Kansas line we found the country quite thickly settled and that too with a race altogether different from these we saw in Missouri. We also found school houses and churches and barns these things that Missourians seem to have no idea of. We are now located at Fort Scott where we shall probably remain until we return home. Fort Scott has about two thousand inhabitants and has no particular importance except as a military post. Our camp is about half a mile from town. We live in tents, cook by out door fires and have plenty of dirt, smoke, mud and fresh air. I have invented a stove in my tent. I dug a hole two feet long and eighteen inches wide inside the tent and about a foot and half deep. I then dug a trench to the outside & made a little chimney. The hole inside is covered with a piece of sheet iron cutting a hole out of one end to make it draw. I[t] works pretty well I cooked my breakfast on it this morning and it warms the tent considerably.
Cady and Pugh and Rimball Bishop & Willie Reed and in fact all the boys from our neighborhood are well. How does Mrs. Cady and the rest of the women folks get along? Since I commenced writing I have received another letter from you dated the 9th inst. I hop you have got the letters I have written before this. I was so glad to get your letter. You wand me to write you long letters. I will always do so when I can but sis won't you do the same. I am glad to know you health is good and that Lill is well. How does she get along talking. How do things look in Wisconsin. Have you made any garden yet. How do the strawberries look. Has Mrs. David Willcoe got back yet. I do not want you to pay that note. I will send the money to Buck in a few days. That matter is all right enough. But there is another matter I wish you would see about for me. When I came away I took with me $100 belonging to Geo. Craft left with me by Mr. Arnold. I intended to get in Milwaukee for Crafts an interest bearing treasury note and send it home. I had already got one for him of a hundred dollars which I left in the safe. When I got to Milwaukee the Colonel and some other officers borrowed this money of me expecting to pay it back before we left the State. But our Regiment was hurried away here sooner by two weeks than we expected and they left me in the lurch. William has written me that Craft has come home and wants his money. I wish to Wm to pay it. If he has not done so please pay that for me and tell Mr. Arnold how the matter was. I lent over $200 which I shall get pretty soon which together with my pay I will send home except what I actually need to live on. Henry is well and at present acting as Quartermaster of the Regiment.
Now darling I have written you a pretty
long letter and I must close and yet I almost hate to because it seems almost like talking
to you when I sit down to write you. And
often when I am writing I stop to think as I have just now done where my dear little wife
is and what she is doing and how she is dressed and how she has got her hair combed and
whether she is well and wonder when I shall fold her in my arms again and so I dream away
a good many hours. You promised to write me
about what you were reading. Be sure you do
or I shall scold awfully. Write particularly
about you own health and Lill's. Give my
regards to Alf and Hattie & Saug. I will
write to Sanger as soon as I get fairly settled and now Sis when you get this please write
me a good long letter. Tell me about yourself
and Lill and recollect everything from you will be interesting to me. And now I must kiss you and Lill and bid you good
night - There Good night my own dear wife.
Direct to Fort Scott Kansas Put on Regt & Company as usual