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January 29, 1863

Columbus Ky, Jan the 29, 1863

Dear wife, it is with great plesure that

i now sit down to write you a few lines to let you know that i am well

and hope you the same. your letter of the 22 is received A few minutes

ago and rite glad i was to hear from you and Milton and to here that

you was well and glad to here that you had got your trunk to. i got a

letter from John White and have sent it to you. the old man Targets

folks is well. I am glad to here that you enjoy your self very well.

the postage stamps you sent me came in good ____ to me now for i did

not have one to write a letter with. David Coats is sick again and is a

going to be discharged and so is Bob patten(?) also Uncle have not

drawn any money yet and i am a sufering for the want of it. i have not

had a chew of Tobacco for two weeks and am almost crazy for it. i can

not get any of it that is oweing to me and I have none to buy paper

with and have but one more sheet and then must quit writeing. i was

glad to here that your Father had sent you some money. you must tell

Milton that i was glad to here that he was a good boy. i will send him

a vest pin in this letter and he must take care of it. you must excuse

me for not writeing more this time for i have been out on picket duty

all Night and just come in more now. write as soon as you get this

and i remain

Yours till Death

your Afectionate Husband

John A. Loveless

to his wife

Catherine Loveless

January 25, 1863

Columbus, Ky. Jan the 25, 1863

Dear Wife, it is with pleasure that now sit down to write you a few

lines to let you know that I am well at presant and still ere at

Columbus yet and hope you and Milton are enjoying the best of health

and spirits., for i am in the best of health and spirits and am geting

fat again fast. When i last wrote to you we expected to leave here

within a few hours but did not go for our order was recalled and we did

not go. but the thirty third did go down the River on that night.

John Targart got a letter from home on yesterday and they were well.

Dan Coats is geting fat again fast. Dave Speer is well also is Jim

Thrasher the rest of the boys and Regament is generaly well but

young , he has gone to the genaral Hospital with the feaver at

Mound City: you know who i mean i guess i mean that young, that ____ of

from that Fort girl now you know who i mean. we do not drill much now

but stand guard about one day in five and that is about all we do for a

liveing and press(?) things to eat into the service. there was a squad

of our men went out a few days ago and brought in a two year old heifer

to eat and a niger to boot. We live very well here for ours(?) i think

for you know that i would always live when(where?) i could and you may

but that we make the south fork over to our __ We have just been out to

get a suply and got some-the boys is in good life and spirits and in a

high glee for a fight but i dont think we will get it soon i we will

stay here all winter now we have not drawn any money yet and god knows

when we will for i dont for the pay master of this Department has

gambled away some $250,000 dollars of the Soldiers money and that is

the last of it now. you wanted me to send you some money but you see

how it is with me for money. so i shall not make no promise now to you

than to send it to you as soon as i get it.

We have got good huts to stay in. they will hold six men in them very

comfotably and there is tow forts here at this place and we are in Fort

Hablach(?) the Fort is about three acres big rite on top of a very high

bluff rite on a big bend of the River. the town is m ___ ou on to

Bottom and we are above there(them?) about 100 hundred feet. i wrote a

letter to Mother and Albert the other day and one to your Father also

but have got any answer yet but be a looking for one every day. i have

not received any letter from in a good while but do not know what is

the matter but sopose you do. i want you to write to me once a week if

not oftener, but once a week you must now. bare this in mind for my

sake any how i have sent you four letters to you before this one and be

a going to send this to night. i want you to tell my boy to be a good

one to and mind his Mother for me and i want you to kiss him for me

every morning noon and Night and tell him to kiss you for me and i want

you to tell John and Faney(?) to be sure to write to me and Elisia and

William to write soon for i am lonesome here and i want you to send me

some postage stamps in a letter for i have had all of mine stolen from

me and my pocket Book with it. i have only two left.

no more at presant

write soon and oblige

yours truly

from your Afectionate


John A. Loveless

to his wife

Catherine M. Loveless

January 15, 1863

File:Louisville Kentucky 1861 cover+3c.jpg

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.

write soon

i showed the boys what Milt said and it made them laugh to kill

Yours truly

John A. Loveless

Letter to Catherine Loveless from husband John A. Loveless

File:Stamp US 1863 2c.jpg

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.  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

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!