Dear dear husband,
Again I set me down to have an imaginary chat with you. Oh, how I wish I would know just how you are; I hope I shall hear from you again tomorrow.
I received yours of the 28th last night and was very glad to hear that you were better, but I am very anxious about you and I am very much afraid that I shall hear that you are worse. I can’t see how anyone as run-down and tired-out as you are can even have any chance to rest, or recruit, in such a place as you are in. I very much fear that you will be obliged to believe what I told you from the first of your talking on enlisting; that is, that your health wasn’t sufficiently good to go through with the hardships of a soldier’s life. I hope and pray that if you cannot be released from your duties that you may have strength to perform them.
I was very glad to hear that (feeling as you did) you were to have a little time to rest, a little respite from duty. If you feel that you are going to be sick, do try and get a furlough and come home; they say that they are going to be a little more indulgent as to granting furloughs than they have been. I hope so, I think it is shameful when a man has a good home to go to, when he is sick, and wouldn’t make them any expense, that he can’t be allowed to go to it.
Aunt Sarah says that Colonel Pardee says that when they are losing so many more by their crowded hospitals and not being half taken care of, than they would by their not returning to their duty, it is strange that they would not let them go home. He spoke of a major in the 10th who has died, his health was poor and they wouldn’t let him off [on furlough]. He finally did get home to die but he wouldn’t [have] if Col. Pardee hadn’t have exerted himself to the utmost to have them let him come [home]. I believe they don’t care how much the poor soldiers suffer, if they can only show their big, earthly power.
I think you must have felt pretty bad last Wednesday night if you craved whiskey so. Mark wrote that you said you would give 50 cents for a drink1. I am very thankful to hear that the boys are all so kind to you, God bless them.
Remember me to Mr. Paddock and Willis, tell them that they have my most heartfelt thanks for their kindness to you, and if they have no other reward, they may have the satisfaction of knowing that they helped to relieve the anxiety of one burdened heart (at least), and that they have my best wishes, and my prayers, that they may be carried safely through this war, and come back safe and sound to their dears ones at home. You don’t speak of Mr. Beckwith, how is he getting along? He didn’t look strong.
It seems to be quite quiet now for a few days as far as fighting goes, giving the rebels a chance I suppose, to rest and get their forces together. They won’t follow them up and whip them when they get a chance, afraid they shan’t make this war hold on long enough2. I hope you may be spared getting into battle at present, anyways. I hope you are not becoming anxious to get into such bloody business.
Sarah (Charles’ wife) took tea with us tonight. Ed Dwight’s wife called to say goodbye – they start in the morning3. Ed has told me that he can’t get the money, but he will send me a check as soon as he gets home. I hope he will, I have been up to the store today, called on Mark’s wife. She and baby are well, baby is running along; she is a smart baby. Mr. Butler is better, his reason is restored, they think he may get up again.
I went down to Uncle [unintelligible]’s last night. I tell you, it makes us women smart not to have a man to wait on us. You knew I didn’t think that I could go down there alone in the evening, but I wanted to see him, so down I went last night. He was almost sick, he said “remember me to Captain Dickerman”, don’t that sound grand?
This is a miserable letter, but somehow I wasn’t in a letter-writing mood tonight. I feel dull and stupid. I will try and do better some time [later]. I don’t know know what ails baby’s ears, she will come to me a good many times in a day and lay her head in my lap and take my finger and put it in her ear and want me to scratch it. Perhaps they ache.
I have never seen the time I would have given 50 cents or one cent for a drink of whiskey, I shall demand an explanation as soon as I see Mark. I guess he put me in his place, or else he thought that was a fine piece of composition with which to embellish his letter. ↩
In mid 1862, the federal army had suffered several defeats and as a result was stockpiling men in defensive positions outside of Washington in the expectation of an attack from the Confederate forces in Virginia under General Lee. Even when under intense pressure from political leaders who wanted immediate action, General McClellan, then commander of the federal Army of the Potomac, insisted that the troops under his command were too green to face the enemy and focused his energies on training and developing esprit de corps in his demoralized soldiers.
The expected offensive from Lee would never fabricate and McClellan would be ousted from command later that year because of his unwillingness to commit his men to battle, much to the chagrin of the soldiers who had grown to love the man who transformed a disorganized and depressed mob into an effective military force. ↩
Edward Dwight Dickerman grew up in Mount Carmel, but had moved to Jacksonville Illinois. Sometime before September of 1862, Edward returned to his birthplace to visit and in the process borrowed $50 from Cecil and Caroline. He was due to begin his return trip to Illinois on October 1st, the day after this letter was written. ↩