Transcription: Civil War Letters of Private David Coon (1824-1864)

Transcription: Civil War Letters of Private David Coon (1824-1864)

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Page 11…

Camp Randall, March 11th, 1864.

Dear Wife and Children:-

I rec’d your very welcome letter last night, and was very glad to hear from home. I am not very well, have had a very severe cold for a week or more and have had to get some medicine at the hospital. I am getting better but my cough is very bad in the night. There has been three taken out of our company to the hospital, and another had the measles that didn’t go. Our Captain has the mumps. We have not yet got our clothes and are beginning to need them pretty bad, especially shirts. The camp ground is very muddy. I suppose you must be having some snow about these days. We had a little here last night, which has nearly gone off to-day.

As to our fare, I have drawn a blanket, and if we had plenty of straw might sleep quite comfortable, but as it is it is not quite as comfortable as camping in the sugar bush. We have now plenty that I could eat if I was well and had a good appetite. It consists in bread, beef, port, potatoes three or four times a week, rice once or twice, beans the same, coffee, sugar, tea once in a while, etc.

About feed for the pigs I don’t know, I suppose you couldn’t get it short of Berlin. If Mr. Locke should go with that lumber you might send by him and get some. I haven’t got any money yet. If you should want some I expect you could borrow some of Mrs. Palen or Jim Snell’s wife, as I believe they have sent some home. I think Mr. Locke will want some potatoes if he takes that

 

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lumber. Perhaps Susan would like to have us winter the cow for nothing and give her back in the spring. I can’t see it in that light.

As for Luman, he is here, and as near as I can judge, is making money quite fast. He is cooking for the office boys, those who do the writing and business at headquarters. He draws the regular rations for all that eat there. No men are able to eat the amount of rations that they are entitled to, so they draw what they need and the balance they are entitled to in money, &c., which he takes and buys butter, flour, dried apples, milk, &c., and they have their regular pies, fried cakes, baked puddings, &c., and the men are satisfied so long as they get good living to give him all he can make over. Another thing, he has to draw and distribute traveling rations to soldiers leaving camp for the South, which consists in crackers and cheese, 1 ½ lbs. cheese to each and as many crackers as they can take in their haversacks. So in sending off a few hundred men he will perhaps have some barrels of crackers left. He keeps one or two men to help him, which he pays 50¢ a day extra. He sent home this week a barrel of lard, that is fried meat fat for shortening, that must have weighted 300 lbs.

About that cow, give yourself no trouble about it. When I get some money I shall offer them every cent she was worth when we get her, but not $20. They can take it or not, just as they can afford.

About my bounty matter, I tried to explain it to you in my last, and supposed you would understand it, try it again. When I first wrote to you I had an arrangement for $165 cash down, which

 

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as I tried to tell in the last, slipped up, and then I succeeded in securing the $200 one the first of April. Mr. Palen was here to-day. He is in a great taking to go home. I saw a letter she wrote him. She seems to feel pretty bad because he enlisted where he did. I think he missed it, and I guess he does.

Dwight Barnard enlisted with Gus Noyes to go in the 16th regiment but was rejected on examination. He then re-enlisted in our company, but when we came to muster in we had more than they would muster in one company, so some of the youngest and poorest looking were left out, he with the rest, to go into some other company, so he stayed around here without any home as it were, crowding into bunks with others as he could get a chance. Finally, he got sick and homesick and sick of soldiering. He bunked with me last night. He came to the conclusion that if he could get out of it and get home he would be satisfied with his experience at soldiering. So Mr. >ucky and I went at it to-day and got him re-examined and cleared. He expects to start home tomorrow and I think when he gets there he will have learned a lesson that will do him good.

Now, Herbert, I must trust to your judgment to take care of the cattle and things and do the best you can. Feed and comb the oxen, keep them upl so that they will be fit to do spring work. Perhaps Peter will want you to plow and drag for him, and I have thought perhaps you can pay the Danes some way to help you get that lot east finished clearing in time to sow to millet. If so you might leave those big oaks standing, but I must close.

Yours as ever.

 

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P. S.- Now, Emma, I want to say a few words to you. I do hope you will try and see how good a girl you can be, be guided by your mother’s counsel, remembering that she is older and has more knowledge and experience than you have and knows better what is for your good. I hope to be able to get home once more before leaving the state, and then I don’t expect to go home until discharged, and possibly never. Now may I not hope that my sorrow at parting with family and friends may not be increased by unfavorable reports from home, so that in after years you will not have to look back with sorrow and remorse for what could not then be mended. If I hear a good report of you it will be the best keepsake I could wish to remember you by, and if so I will send you a nice present for a keepsake. I wish you to write to me often.

Your affectionate father,

D. Coon.

P. S.- Sunday, 13th. I am rather better of my cold but quite hoarse and cough bad in the night. Quite a number of cases of measles in our Co. We got young Barnard off yesterday. I took up a collection of $3.25 towards paying his expenses home. I saw two fellows starting on a French yesterday (that is, absence without leave.) If they succeed you may know it before you get this, i.e., Palin and Sol Reynolds. Did Mr. Dunlap pay any money? I don’t know the nature of Thomas’s complaint. I know nothing about H. F.

 

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Camp Randall, March 16th, 1864.

Dear Wife:-

Since writing we have had a new accession to the beauties and pleasure of camp life. It is this: some of the boys have been home on French, and came back bringing fiddles with them, and now it is fiddle diddle continually, and now while I am writing by candle light, some are fiddling, some dancing, some are singing to the tune of Auld Lang Syne, and some are reading, and if I was to note down a few of the expressions that come to my ears it would be more shocking than interesting to you, so I forbear.

Now, amidst the uproar, in comes the Orderly with the mail and calls to order, and call the letters. The first is Wm. Lucky, next C. W. Vergin, and a few others, but none for me. Well, I wasn’t expecting any this time, but it will be my turn some other time. I have had but one from any source yet. Now I think I hear you say, “I wonder how you can compose your mind to write at all amid such confusion.” The secret is I am drilling, and if the noise should stop I should feel at a loss how to proceed, but if they shouldn’t shake the house so perhaps I could get along just as well.

Now, I would say that in our company there are some good companions. If it were not so I should be discouraged indeed. Last Sunday we had preaching in our barrack by one of our company, and then in the next by another member of the regiment, and again in evening, and Monday evening I attended a lecture by Miss Hobart, and we can go to meeting most any evening in the week, which is really refreshing, for we have most pleasant and interesting

 

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meetings. It is really affecting to hear men get up and tell of their companions at home, praying for them, and also foreigners, and even Indians get up and in broken English tell of their love for the Saviour. I saw a letter from Malinda to Luman last evening in which she said that Lewis had been baptized lately, and that Alonzo had written to Lewis to send him some dime novels, and that instead they had sent him some tracts and Sunday school papers.

Last Sunday there was a couple of ladies come into our barrack with one of their husbands a soldier. They had a baby with them. Should I be ashamed to say that it brought tears to my eyes to see it and think of the ones I left behind me. I am not. I had in my hands a little book, the temperance pledge, &c., with the names of the signers. The lady asked me if my names was in it, and I told her it was and showed it to her. She remarked that it was an awful comfort to the women to see their husbands’ names there. I hope it will not be so to you, for it seems to me it must be dreadful to be so awful comfortable.

Mr. Palin has just come in and interrupted, bringing your letter and paper, etc.

I am perplexed and know not what to say. I fear I could not get leave of absence on any pretext whatever, but will see tomorrow. I am sorry and much disappointed that Emma hasn’t got her shoes. Mr. Palin also brought the most abusive letter from Mr. Hornick that I ever saw. Mr. Palin says he was to leave money with Lydia Arm for her to get a pair of shoes for Emma and send them to her, but she had moved and hadn’t time to find her.

 

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My candle is down and I must close.

From your affectionate husband,

David Coon.

P. S.- March 17, Capitol. I have seen the Captain and Colonel and made every effort to get leave of absence to no purpose. I thought of going without leave, but Luman advised me not to do it, and if I did I could not take any rest while I was gone, and any man capable of writing such a letter as I received from Mr. Hornick last night wouldn’t be any too good to make me trouble if he had a chance, which he could do if I couldn’t show a proper pass. I will write to Lydia Arm to get a pair of shoes and send by the mail carrier. I hope she will get them Saturday. Now, may the Lord bless and protect you is the best I can do.

P. S.- I have not received any pay or bounty yet. I will send a little money. Write often if it is but little, and let me know how you get along. I hope to hear that the children are better. I am much better than when I last wrote. I think if you could box up about 50 lbs. or so of sugar, small cakes, and send here, I could sell it well and send back the money. If you should send any sugar, put on a card directed the same as you direct to me and put in a bottle of molasses well corked.

 

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Camp Randall, March 23d, 1864.

Dear Wife and Children:-

Yours of the 21st has just come to hand and I was very glad to hear from you again, as I had a good deal of anxiety on account of the children. I hope that Emma will soon be better. It will be quite a joke on Charley is that report is true. Mr. Dunlap did not know whether he would be able to pay any money down or not. I received a line from Mr. Clark and answered it, and also wrote Mr. Hornick and told him that when I got some money I would send $15 to you for him to pay for the cow, or if he would pay you $5.00 for wintering he could take the cow back. I don’t expect he will do either now don’t care, but at any rate don’t let him have the cow until you have the greenback, or you may tell him it is your cow and he can’t have her at all, but if he don’t pay and take her right away don’t let him have her. I am glad Emma got her shoes. They are French calf and cost 18/-.

We drew our clothes Saturday, and if you ever saw a little boy with his first pants with pockets in, you can guess how we felt and acted. I drew a woollen blanket and an India rubber one, a pair of pants, a dress coat, a blouse, 2 shirts, pair of drawers, 1 pair of shoes and 1 pair of socks. I drew a very nice coat and it fits very nice. Our caps we have not got yet. I took a French Monday afternoon and went to Rutland. It is about 16 miles. Stayed over night, came back early in morning, arrived about noon. Might just as well have stayed another day but didn’t like to run the risk. There has been three died out

 

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of our Company, two in hospital, and one home on a French, which makes it bad for his folks as he is considered a deserter and forfeits his bounty and all.

I can compare our camp to nothing but lots of swarms of bees, men leaving for Dixie most every day, and old regiments home on furlough. The 12th came in Monday morning looking pretty rough and hard, and to-day they marched out to the city looking like new men all dressed in new clothes.

I wrote you on 28th Feb., again March 2nd and 3d, do. 11th, do. 16th. The last one had a two dollar bill in. I wish when you write you would acknowledge each one you get so that I shall know if you get them. I had to write this with a pencil for want of ink. I send a little present for Flora. This seems to be the fifth one that I have written you but must stop.

Yours affectionately,

D. Coon

P. S.- 24th. It must be about a month since I left home. We have a drill now every day. I am detailed to carry water again to-day. We have to carry it about 80 rods; 4 of us carry it 24 hours. I haven’t had to stand guard yet. Herman went home yesterday. If you should hear that I cried like a baby to go home you needn’t believe it. Dwight Barnard, to pay Mr. Lucky and I for getting him out of his scrape, reported that we cried like babies because we couldn’t go with him. Mr. Lucky did try to get a furlough at that time but he says he didn’t cry. I hadn’t any thoughts of trying to go at that time, but I did think it

 

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was rather hard that I couldn’t go when the children were sick. I can’t make myself think yet that I shall have to leave the state without going home.

If you could get a little padlock (we used to have one) to put on that red trunk and fill it with sugar, &c. I wish I had the trunk here to put my things in. I think if you could send a 100 lbs. of small cakes I could sell them so as to send you back $25 or $30. If you do it pay the stage driver for bringing it to Berlin, and I will pay the balance of the way. Put my full name on my letters.


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