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120th, 65th & 102nd Ohio Infantry

Item LTR-5942
February 4, 1863 John W. Beekman
Price: $225.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 4 pages written in period ink.

Young’s Point, LA
Near Vicksburg
February 4th 1863

My Dear Wife,

I have not been deterred from writing to you every week and sometimes more often with one exception. When I was on the battlefield at Vicksburg (or as some style it Chickasaw Bluff) when it was over one week because I was on the field night and day for seven days. And when I returned onboard of the boat. I was so sick for three days that I could not hold up my heard. But as soon as I could sit up, I wrote to you. Now why is it that you cannot spare the time to write me as often as once a week. But enough of this fault finding. Our Chaplain has gone home. You will recollect him. He took supper at our house with C. S. Sherman at the time of the fair. I wrote a letter to Frances and sent it by him and he said he would deliver it in person. And call and see you and give you a description of a soldier’s life in the Army of the Mississippi and I rather think you will come to my conclusion that there is not much time for play when we are on land. On water it is dull monotonous life with one continued sound of duty. Such as being present at roll call, daily inspection of arms, & etc.. I commenced this letter last evening and while writing learned that a large mail had arrived. And I thought I would wait until this evening and see if I did not get a letter from someone at Plymouth. But as usual, I was doomed to be disappointed and I believe I was the only one in our whole regiment that did not receive a letter. The pleasure of getting a letter from any of you is very great but the humiliation of mail after mail coming and no letters is still greater. You at home might think it is a trifling thing to go for a month without being remembered but could you be placed in the position of a soldier with a longing after friends far behind and then be neglected by those friends. You could then have some appreciation of the feelings that is experienced by myself and ever other soldier. I am on daily duty assignment and have only time to write in the evening occasionally. When I am not drawing maps or something else connected with my business or the business for which I am detailed. I gave a description in my letter to Francis of our camp. It has not improved any since I wrote her. If anything, it has grown worse, for it rains here now almost every day and night and we all long to get away from this place. Any other spot on the face of God’s green earth we all feel would be preferable to this place. Our regiment is decreasing daily from sickness and death. Hardly a morning rolls by but what we have from one to a dozen to bury and (what a farce). A favorite cat or dog would be interred with more decency than the soldier is. This morning I was on the Steamboat Omaha which is used as a hospital boat. And 31 dead men lay on the upper deck waiting their turns to be buried. A hope from 18 inches to two feet is dug owing to the nature of the ground and the dead dumped in without any ceremony and apparently that is the last thought that is given them. The whole thing looks to me to be inhuman. And I think I never can become used to that manner of burying the dead out of our sight.

My health is tolerable and good. I have an excellent appetite for salt port, bean soup, hard crackers and coffee, which is our daily bill of fare. With the exception of once a week fresh beef that is poor when it is killed. It would not make a shadow in the field. It is now going on seven months since I was mustered into the service of the United States and not one cent of pay. I sometimes think I am glad that we do not get any pay as we can’t spend the money. As we would spend if we had it for there are a good quantity of sutlers and plenty of the boats that have edibles to sell at 20 prices that a man would indulge in if he had money that he is much better without.

I send love and kisses to all and many very loving hugs for my black eyed curly head. Write soon.

Your affectionate Husband

J. W. Beekman