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January 4, 1863

Columbus, Ky Jan the 4th, 1863

Dear wife it is with pleasure that i sit down once more to let you know

that i am well now and hope you the same and Milton to . i wrote you a

letter yesterday and one to Mother to and told you in that letter that

there was a likehood of our _____ staying here for some time but was

mistaken that time for we have Marching orders for Halena Arkansas. We

will start to Night or tomorrow on a Boat Jim Gaston and T J(?) Bill

here today and Jim Paterson to. no more at presant. direct your

letters to Cario Ill as before

yours truly

John Loveless

i will write as soon as i get there

write soon

John A. Loveless

Helena, Arkansas is about 220 miles away from Columbus KY where John was located.  In later letters, John reveals that the orders had been rescinded and he continued to stay at Fort Halleck in Kentucky.  It was likely a great turn of fortune for John.  The Battle of Helena was a huge battle, on July 4, 1863, between the Union held town, run by General Prentiss with 20,000 troops.  Over crowding of the town was an issue, with the men re-naming the town “Hell-in Arkansas”.  The battle was planned by Confederate General Theophilus Holmes to take pressure off of the Vicksburg Campaign which began in December 1862 and ended July 4, 1863 – the same day as the Battle of Helena.  Vicksburg Mississippi, about 175 miles to the south of Helena, was a fortress city that protected the last Confederate controlled portion of the Mississippi River.  Ultimately, the Battle of Helena resulted in 239 Union losses and 1614 Confederate deaths.  The Vicksburg Siege resulted in nearly equal losses between sides at 805/6 – but the Union side, starting with 77,000 troops, had 164 men missing or captured while the Confederate side, starting with only 33,000 troops, had 29,620.  Over 29,000 of the Confederate losses were surrendered on the last day of the siege.  Much more information can be found about the Vicksburg Siege here.

December 28, 1862


Columbus, Ky. Dec the 28, 1862

Dear Wife, it is with pleasure that i take my pen in hand to let you

know i am well at presant and hope you the same all only i have the

mumps but not bad at all. we are in Bebalelom(?) of the South. we are

in a fort called fort Hallach. the 33 is here now also the 35th and the

111 Ill also some of the Regulars. there is about 2000 men here now and

i dont know but more. it is so warm here that we go in our shirt sleeves

the most of the time. preston Reed and Carl Gaston was here today and

they are well. We expect to fight here before long. we are 20 miles

from Cario Ill. i like this state so far. We have some great sites down

this way. i will tell you Cannon balls that i cant lift,

they are so big. Brig. Gen Fish is in command here now the boys is all

well now but one. tell William and Elisia to rite to me and you to. i

am a going to write to your father this afternoon. give my best

respects to all and write soon.

yours truly

John A Loveless

ps Direct your letters to John A Loveless

Com G

40 Reg

Care of Capt Jenkins

Iowa vol

via Cario Ill

Fort Halleck (Hallack as John spelled it) is located along the Mississippi River 26 miles south of Cairo, Illinois.  You can see the google maps of the location at this link.   In September of 1861, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant obtained Cairo, Ill and Paducah KY.  When Grant tried to take the advantageous location of Columbus KY and Belmont, Missouri (on the other side of the Mississippi) he discovered that Confederate General Polk had already claimed the location in the summer of 1861 and named it Fort DeRussy.  The Confederates fortified and armed this fort extensively and it became the most extensively fortified location in the United States at that time.  During the summer of 1861, there were 19,000 men and 160 siege guns at the fort.  After learning that Polk intended to bring more soldiers to the fort, Grant developed a plan during the spring of 1862.  By March, 1862 Union forces occupied the fort and renamed it Fort Halleck.  The location and fort were turned into a state park for Kentucky, the Columbus-Belmont State Park, in the summer of 1931.  Many more details of the fort can be found on that site.

Brig. General Fisk (not Fish as in the letter) was in charge of the 33rd Missouri Infantry for the Union.  (His picture is at the top of this post.)  He was an abolitionist, leader in the temperance movement, and businessman who came west from New York to Michigan as part of the westward migration of the 1800’s.   After the war, he also went on to open the first free schools for both black and white children in the southern US by working through the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands after being appointed assistant commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau for Kentucky and Tennessee.   Fisk University, created in 1866, is a historically black college named in honor of General Fisk, who donated the Union Army barracks in Nashville, TN where classes were first held.  He then went on to run for President of the United States for the Prohibition Party in 1888 – he came in third.  

Dec 21, 1862

Dec 21, 1862

Poem on stationary on top of the following letter:


“At the dead of the night a sweet vision I saw,

And thrice o’er the morning I dreamt it again.

But sorrow return’d with the dawning of morn,

And the voice in my dreaming ear melted away.”

Columbus, Ky. Dec the 21, 1862

Dear Wife, it is with plesure that i take my pen in hand to let you

know that i am well and hope you the same. i got your letter yesterday

and was glad to hear from you. i got to C ___ on friday and came here

yesterday to Columbus Ky. in the great key hole of the South and expect

to fight here to within a few days. there is a lot of ns(?) here now i

will tell you there is a lot of Negroes here now and and ofull set they

are to i tell you now it is an oful Country here. there was one of

Richlens(?) men got two of his fingers Shot off to day through

carelessness of another boy.

Tell William and Elisia to rite to me soon. no more at presant i

believe. give my love to all of my friends and believe me truly yours

John A. Loveless

Direct your letters to John A. Loveless

Co G 40 Reg

I Iowa Vol

Cario Ill

Care of Capt Jenkins

Freed black men had tried to enlist into the Union Army early in the war but had been turned away due to a law of 1792 prohibiting blacks from bearing arms in the US Army.    In July 1862, the Second Confiscation Act was passed by the US Congress in which slaves owned by Confederate soldiers were freed (and then likely recruited to fight for the Union) but this was only applicable to Confederate areas that had already been occupied by the Union Army.  The first all black troupe, 1st Louisiana Native Guard, was comprised of freed black and creole men.  They had wanted to serve for the Confederacy but the Confederacy refused – claiming their service would hurt agriculture.   The first unit was organized by Union Maj. Gen Benjamin Butler in Sept. 1862.  President Lincoln did not issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation until Sept. 1862 – and it didn’t go into effect until January 1863.  After the January issuance, the former slaves were recruited in earnest for the colored regiments.  In May of 1863, the Bureau of Colored Troops was created to help manage the growing numbers of black soldiers.  All told, over 180,000 black men served in the Union Army, which accounted for 10% of the total Army soldiers.  Approximately 40,000 black soldiers died during the wary – and 30,000 of them died from disease.   This was likely due to the discriminatory treatment of medical practices and the assumption that black soldiers were immune to all tropical diseases.


Image of the soldier above is of Sgt. Major Christian Fleetwood, Medal of Honor recipient.  Picture is in the public domain and was found on the Wikipedia site for United States Colored Troops.  

Thanksgiving in the Early 1900’s


Back in the time when Edna was young, in the time when her cookbook was being thought of and compiled, Thanksgiving was apparently different.  I learned of this today when I saw an article on NPR’s Facebook feed.  It rather surprised me.  Upon thinking about it, I think it is because it is easy to assume that things then were similar to things now.  When I knew Edna, we didn’t dress up in masks and I don’t recall her ever talking about such traditions.  And maybe she didn’t know of them – perhaps they didn’t make their way to the prairie of Eastern Kansas.  Whatever the case, it is rather fascinating to peer back in time, to a time when people you have loved were living… and see how different things were.  There’s more interesting reading on the topic.  Thanksgiving Maskers is one of them.  The Huffington Post has another interesting read and indicates that after the Macy’s parade started in 1924, the joviality of Thanksgiving moved slowly to the more raucous Halloween.  I personally think that a bit of light hearted fun instead of the all you can eat buffet and the Black Friday shopping anticipation might be more in keeping with being thankful.

And to my readers, have a lovely turkey stuffed Thanksgiving… And for those of you who are following, a new Civil War letter will appear soon!

Nov 10, 1862

Nov 10, 1862

Camp Pope, Iowa City Iowa, Nov the 10, 1862
Dear Wife, it is with pleasure that i take my pen in hand to let you
know that i am well and hope your the same. i got your letter on the
2nd(?) and was glad to hear from you and home and my little boy. tell
him i want to see him bad. i got a letter from Elisia and will send
_____ _____YOU ____ i send this by ____ ____Flan __ Y _____ and Couts has
got the measels but are a geting better now. We are organized now and
have drawn part of our ____ we have got very good oficers in our
Regiment you spoke about haveing a pair of mittens for me. i would like
to have them very much. we will be m_____d in this week and draw part
of our money i expect you ____ ____ to send you the directions to find
that Star(?) it is four miles below Warrens mill in the other side of
Skunk(?) River and a mile and 1/2 from it at Jeferson Camells(?) that
_____ of Jim Parke due the first of next month. i am as healthy as a
Jack Ass all the time i expect to come home before i live here
So no more at presant i believe. give my best respects to all. kiss my
boy for me. write as soon as you get this
yours truly
John A. Loveless
to his wife Catherine M. Loveless
good by for this time

Disease was a major factor in the Civil War. According to newly calculated figures of the number of deaths between both sides during the war, approximately 750,000 soldiers died during the war. (Reference from the New York Times article of 2012.)  Of those, 2/3 of the deaths were directly tied to disease.  Of those, 11,000 died from complications of measles.    Total, there were 3 million men who fought in the war.  Total percent of the American population that died is about 2.5%.  If an equivalent percentage of Americans died from a war today, we would loose 7,850,000 people today.

Oct 26, 1862

Camp Pope Iowa City Iowa, Oct the 26th, 1862

Dear Wife it is with pleasure that i take my pen in hand to let you

know that  I am well and hope you same and the rest of the folks. We

been here two weeks last Wensday and have drawn our blankets and expect

to organize next week. i have wrote two letters to you before and

received no answer as yet and know not what to make of it as yet there

has been but little deserting, (the rest of this letter is missing )

Direct your letter to John A. Loveless

Camp Pope Iowa City, Iowa

Care of Capt Jenkins

A great deal is known about the supplies issued to soldiers on the Union side.  This link provides a very good description of items provided.  Of particular interest is the fact that the first mass produced shoes that were specific for left and right feet were made for the Union soldiers.  Also, during the winter, the soldiers would nail small iron horse shoes to the heels to help provide traction in the snow and rocks and to make the shoes last longer as they were made entirely of leather.

Oct. 6, 1862

John Lovless 3

John A. Loveless volunteered 25 August, 1862
40 Reg. Co G
Capt. Thomas Jenkins
Coln John A. Garet

The following poem is on top of stationary used.

Forever float that standard sheet,
Where breathes the foe but falls before us
With Freedom ‘ s soil beneath our feet,
And Freedom ‘ s banner waving o’er us

Camp Pope
Oct the 6th, 1862
Iowa City, Iowa
Dear Wife we got here yesterday at three oclock on yesterday an have a
pretty place to Camp on. Our oficers and men are all here and a good
appearance they make to. i am very well satisfied with my place here.
we are in the 4th reg. the 28 is here to with us. you _____ write to me
as you get this.
No More At presant so good by for this time.
direct your letters to John A. Loveless
Camp Pope
Iowa City, Iowa
Care Of
Capt Jenkins
Yours truly
John A. Loveless

Camp Pope is in Iowa City, Iowa. It was a 28 acre training camp (one of two in Iowa) and between August and December 1862, three infantry regiments each spent one month at the camp. Reportedly, within weeks of the 3rd regiment leaving in mid-December, the barracks were moved by local farmers to their farms. There is now a marker on a large boulder marking the location of the old training facility.

Loveless Family Civil War Letter Project

Recently, I was going through papers at my moms in Kansas. A couple of big boxes full of old papers and pictures and stuff that tied my past all together… though it was not organized and I did now know what it might contain.  My entire childhood, I was under the impression that my family had recently arrived in this country and had no idea that any branch was here during the Civil War.  And for the most part, I was correct (I think)… But my maternal great grandmother, Gram, was not very chatty about the past and to be honest, as a teenager, I didn’t think to ask those sorts of questions.  And it is in Grams papers (the same Gram as of the cookbook series) that I found the old Civil War letters.  In the 1990’s, a family member on a branch from that side had borrowed the letters and typed them all up… the letters are still residing with an unknown family member at this time.  However, Gram (and now my mother) had 3 letters… I scanned and compiled the old typed letters into current Word formatting, typed the original letters into a Word document and put them all together.

The Civil War Letter Project is one of history, timing and endurance.  The first letter that we have is dated Oct. 6, 1862.   I intend to post a letter on each date that he wrote a letter home to his wife, Catherine.

John and Catherine are my 3x great grandparents.  John Loveless was born in March of 1837.  Catherine M. Sherman Loveless was born in June of 1837.    John and Catherine married at the age of 20 and 19  on April 29, 1857.  Alice was born on March 11, 1858 (that’s 11 months if you’re curious).  Milton Leonard Loveless was born Dec. 13, 1859.   The confrontations of the Civil War began on April 12, 1861.  Alice died at age 4 years in a kitchen fire while her parents were out doing chores on March 31, 1862 – she was found behind the door to the kitchen.   John enlisted in the Union Army in 1862.

These letters are not edited for content, spelling or grammar.  There are blanks where the words were not able to be deciphered and I am sure that some names or places are misspelled.  If you happen to know the correct version, please send me an email.  These letters are also between a man and his wife.  It was no doubt scary and lonely… And people are people are people.  Despite my visions of people of times gone by being much more prim and proper, these are letters between a lonely husband and his wife.  There is adult content original to the letters.  I have not edited any of that.  I personally am happy that it is in the letters – it is authentic and oh so very real.

PLEASE respect our family and our legacy.  DO NOT REPRODUCE these letters in any form at all whatesoever.  Amen.  They are the sole property of the Loveless family descendants.  

If you are a descendant of John and Catherine and would like a copy of the letters, please email me through this blog.  Please provide proof of relatedness.  I am very much looking forward to exchanging copies of other letters and pictures with other long lost family.  I have a fair number of pictures from this era, though the editing and organization of said items is a work in progress.

If you are a school teacher and would like to use the material in your classroom, please send me an email.  My old high school English teacher and the school History teacher are already working together to turn these letters into part of their curriculum.  I’m sure that they would be interested in chatting with you, too.

If you would like to keep up with the letters, please sign up to receive email updates on the sidebar to the right (way at the bottom).  The letters will arrive on the blog  much as they did for John and Catherine – unannounced.  In the early days, the letters are not as close together… toward the end of what we have, there are more.  There are letters dating for approximately one year.  I will include as much historical context as I can.  And for the original letters that my mother has, the scans of the originals will also be included.  They are beautifully written if not difficult to read.

Please enjoy my family history and listen closely as the ghosts whisper in your ears…

Blog Pattern Digital Organizing – using Pepperplate

Have you ever heard of Pepperplate?  It’s a free program/app for your phone and computer that is used to organize recipes and then to create meal plans.  I started using it and it’s great – not that I’m meal planning more but it’s an easy way to organize all of those recipes I find on recipe sites and blogs.  And you can drag pictures of the food into the pop-up window so that you can see what you might want to make, too.  As a visual person, this is great!

The best part about it is after I import a recipe into it – then I can print it out onto a page without the rest of the blog or website stuff printing too – I just get the recipe all nice and neat.  And then it can be added to my binder of recipes cause I like cooking from paper more than my computer.  And, with the cell phone app, if I see something on sale at the grocery store I can look through my recipes in the program and know exactly what  else I need to make this great English Fruit Cake beyond bananas!

See, the top picture is what the page looks like to normal print, the second is what it looks like in Pepperplate.  Nice!

pp 1

pp 2

After looking for a pattern for a pretty chevron afghan pattern (I’ve been wanting a pattern for a large chevron, not the little ripples from the 70’s) and reading a comment by another reader asking for a way to print it with just the pattern printing… it occurred to me.  Pepperplate!

pp 3

Yup – you can use the recipe site to organize all of your blog finds of patterns!

(And this is a great large chevron – she says they are about 8 inches wide!  So, click on the picture to get to the original blog pattern!  And yes, I’m hoping to get one of these made for my living room!)

There are a few tricks… and I’m happy to share as I think this might change how I organize all of the patterns I save for use at some point in the future. And at this point – I have enough patterns saved on my computer to make one every week for like – forever.

The first step is of course to get a Pepperplate account and install the bookmarklet on your toolbar of your web browser.  The program is free and easy!  Then, put the app on your smart phone.  I’ll assume that you can figure this out and if not, their help section is pretty useful.

How to Use Pepperplate for Patterns (or recipes)

  • Highlight and drag.  You can use your mouse to highlight text and then click and drag it into the Pepperplate window.  Do this for the title, ingredients/materials and directions.
  • Click and drag the picture.  If you click and drag on a picture in a blog, most of the time it will drag into the picture square on the first page of the Pepperplate window.  Sometimes this doesn’t work, so I think click on the image and save it to my computer.  Then, after I have the pattern/recipe saved I can go into it on the Pepperplate main page and edit it and upload the picture from my computer.  Not sure why this happens but it does and is easy to fix.
  • Edit on the Pepperplate main page.  Go to the main page of the Pepperplate site and edit your recipe/pattern.  You can fix stuff up and most importantly – add categories to it.  There is a trick in that – type the section you want, like “crochet” but to populate the category, add a coma after the word.  It will then go into the field.  This will allow you to search by afghan, sweater, potholder, casserole, dinner… whatever.  MUCH easier to do this when starting your collection than after you have 100 recipes in it.  Trust me.
  • Adding dimensions.  In the “yield” box put the size of the finished project.
  • Add the URL to the original website to the “description” box under the title in the edit mode. This will help in going back to the site to check comments or for updates – plus to find whatever other amazing new patterns/recipes the site might have now!
  • Print from the Pepperplate site.  After you’ve imported your pattern into the program, edited it to clean things up to what you need, now you can print!  It’s a nice clean print and isn’t cluttered with extraneous stuff from the original website that you didn’t want anyways.
  • Cell phone access.  The best part of this hack?  Just like with recipes, if you install the app onto your smart phone, now you’ll have your pattern collection with you at the craft store! Which means you’ll no longer wonder how many skeins of yarn you need, you can review your private notes for a pattern while at the store.  It’s easy.  It’s free.  It’s a great hack.


Normal Boring Day

It is days like today, when I am caught up in my very normal, mundane daily activities, when routine and kids and chores are all that I think about, it is days like today that I am thankful. Thankful to have a normal boring day. Thankful to have a friend to go with me to thrift stores just to see what hidden treasures they might contain. Thankful beyond words for my mischievous and beautiful baby who is already keeping me on my toes at only 12 months old. Thankful that my 5 year old is adjusting so incredibly well to the vastness of kindergarten despite all of my fears and trepidations (and hers) for all these many years.

I am thankful because it is in this normality that peace settles in and one can move beyond the day and live in the now.

I am thankful for this day because on this day, this very particular day, that normal has not always been my experience. The first year, everyone remembered. The second year – and perhaps it is only my own myopic perceptions, but it seems as if those of us in this exclusive club fear to mention it, even amongst ourselves.

I have had other traumatic events in my life, as nearly everyone has. Those life defining events that you remember the date of from year to year. For myself, it was the death of my most beloved dog, Carbon. He was a puppy that I got while a Peace Corps Volunteer – we grew up together in a sense. He was my soul mate, my best friend, the “Best Dog” in my wedding. And 8 years later, the loss of him still takes my breath away. The first years after his passing, I always remembered, always grieved. And then, as time went on, I began to live that day as normal, forgetting its significance in the history of my life. And then I would grieve even more fiercely for having forgotten him, as if that somehow indicated my lack of love for him. Reaching that point took years and I am sure that some therapist would say that it is a good sign of my healing. To me, it is another loss of one of the few things that I have left of him.

So today, it took me rather by surprise that my day went as planned, normal, routine, boring. A state of which I had longed for as much as I have ever yearned for excitement. That it was not until an hour after the time of the event that it occurred to me. I did send a text to another club member hoping that she was OK today. But, from the many people that I know, I saw nothing on their Facebook posts indicating the date. The only people that seem to remember, and are willing to talk about it, are the news media. They talk about recovery, or lack there of, of dead trees and missing houses. Of the state park and the fun run to raise money to replant the trees.

They don’t mention the exhaustion, the weariness of soul from the never ending task of rising from these ashes to reach that ephemeral state of “recovery”. The knee buckling gratitude to strangers with a debt to people unknown that can never be repaid. They fail to mention the joys of the mundane. The anxiety of potential repeat loss. The deep instinctual knowledge that the odds don’t always play in your favor; that at some point, you will be the 0.05% of people affected, no matter which god you honor. The understanding that it really isn’t the loss of “stuff” that is so traumatic but rather the effort to return to and find… normal.

Our house isn’t totally done, we have much yard work to do, tree stumps to take out, grass to plant. Our vista is full of blackened skeletons of the true “Lost Pines” and of small green spires of the future growing from the ashes of their parents in the form of baby pine trees. We cannot forget simply because the mere act of looking out of our windows reminds us every day. But it seems that we can reach the much despised phrase of “new normal” – despite how far we have left to go both in a physical landscape of our property and in the psychological acceptance of our hearts.

Strength comes from hardship, of trials and trauma. We are stronger people because of today – both this day 2 years ago and because of where we are right now. It is an anniversary of endurance and honor and it is as much a part of me as my beloved dog.

So I will say it aloud. Today is the day that the nations worst wildfire ever started*. Today is the day that our lives changed. Today is the day… and we are just fine.


* (by financial losses per capita in the county – 3rd worst in general)