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Tag Archives: Civil War

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.

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.  

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…