Letter sent and forwarded three times from Boston to Louiville, KY in 1861.
Jan the 15, 1863 , Columbus,Ky.
Dear Wife, it is with plesure that i take my pen in hand to let you
know that i am well at this time and hope you and Milton are also well.
i received your letter on the 1Oth or the 11 and was glad to hear from
you and my boy. you may depend on it youring and afectionate
letter found me in good health and spirits and still here . i have wrote
some four letters to you and Milton and got no answer to them and do
not know what to make of it but i guess you dent write very often to me
hould i got a letter from John White on day before yesterday
as you s • . . . . ·t big
and they were well the i will send it to you in this i write you a
letter on last January and will write once a week to you and Milton.
it rained here all day, on wendsay and night and_ then went to snowing_
and kept on untill friday night and then froze like the devil but it is
nice today. i want you to tell me what Reg John and Dave Cooper belongs
to so i will close by telling you to kiss my boy for me and give my
love to all. we have drawn no money yet and this is my last stamp. so
goodby for this time.
i showed the boys what Milt said and it made them laugh to kill
John A. Loveless
Letter to Catherine Loveless from husband John A. Loveless
Two cent stamp from 1863.
In July of 1863, it cost 3 cents to mail a 1/2 ounce letter. (Today it is 49 cents for the first ounce.) Prices dropped to 2 cents in October 1863 and then in July 1865 it went to 2 cents for 1 ounce where the price remained until Nov. 1917 when it went up to 3 cents. Union privates were paid $13 per month and were considered fortunate if they received their pay once every 4 months. The pay interval frequently was longer. http://www.civilwarhome.com/Pay.html Considering that John had to buy food with his own wages (referenced in later letters) and the infrequency of getting his salary (as mentioned in this letter) – spending money for stamps was likely a luxury.
During the Civil War, many families found themselves divided between North and South. Letters were their only form of communication… but in an effort to isolate the South even further, and with the South’s desire for independence, the US postal Service severed ties to the Confederates in June of 1861. Letters sent to the south were put into the dead letter file and returned to sender. Blockade runners would carry letters across the lines but it would take months for the letters to be recieved and Confederate stamps were not honored in the North.
Another issue with letters of the time was the continuous movement of troops. This made it especially difficult for letters from home to find their soldiers – as witnessed by John having written 4 letters to Catherine without receiving one in return. No doubt Catherine was writing as much as John was but her letters had a much more difficult time of finding their way.
There is much more fascinating information regarding mail and the Civil War era at http://postalmuseum.si.edu/letterwriting/lw04.html