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Civil War Letters of

John Hughes

December, 1862

Contributed by Tom Caulley

Houston, Mo.
Dec. the 4th, 1862

Dear Wife and Children it is with the greatest of pleasure I take my pen in hand to answer your letter which I received yesterday. It gave me great comfort to hear from you and the children and to hear that you was all well. I am in very good health at this time and have been since we left Rolla with the exception on a little spell of the flu which I had as we went to Hartsvill. I was taken sick in the march but they soon cured me. I hope this may find you all well and enjoy thing the blessing of a peaceful home and peace of mind.

I hope you will excuse me for not writing sooner. I have been left behind the regement and had not a chance to [write] any letter neither could I get any letters from you. The regement left Hartsvill about two weeks ago and the hospital was left behind and we never got up til yeaterday evening. We are now at the house where we was one month ago. I guess you will be glad to learn we are getting back towards home. Athough I can not tell you what this backward movement means but it means something. It is the general opinion we will be in St. Louis in a short time. You may look for to hear from me as soon as I get to understand where we are going and if we do get to St. Louis I will try very hard to get home. There is but little doubt that we will go there. Watch the post office close and if I don't get off I want you to come and see me, and I hope you will not be dissapointed again.

I was very sorry you got dissapointed and I hope you will not think it was my faul or I did not know we was going to leave Salem til nearly nigh day before we started. If I had knew it that morning I could have saved you that trouble. I never got my gloves and envelopes til yesterday. The lieutenant is at Salem yet but he sent the things to me. When I got here yesterday I got a letter from you and one from Carollne and one from Edney. Tell the girls to excuse me for not answering their letters now as paper is very scarce. Will write as soon as we get to Rolla and tell them all about it.

I guess you have heard about the rebels attacking and burning our wagons near Hartsvill. They attacked the train just as they drive up to camp in the evening. They killed five of the Illinois and wounded several others and killed 12 or 15 mules and took off all the mules, about 120 in number, and burnt the whole train of wagons, 25 in number. They took the men all prisioners and parolled them and let them go. There was about 15 hundred of the rebels and only about 80 of our men. Our men killed one of the rebels and wounded several others. I come by and saw the battle ground. I saw the burnt wagons and the dead mules. I also saw where the dead rebel was laid. He was not buried more than 6 inches deep. The boys took sticks and dug down til we could see his clothing. He had clothing just like ours. I also saw our boys that was wounded and one wounded rebel. And the rebel Doctor is as nice a looking man as I ever saw and they say he is very kind to our wounded men and always dressed their wounds first. We took up our men that was killed and brought them along with us but I guess the hogs will eat the rebels as soon as they get done with the dead mules.

The battle was about 10 miles this side of Hartsvill. The rebels was firing on our pickets that night at Hartsvill but did not kill anybody but shot one man in the hand. When I heard the pickett firing I thought we would have some fun soon but it was a mistake. There was none of our regement in the scrape but some some sick as we went out. We had to leave 3 of our sick men back at Hartsvill and George Bryant (Bryan) was left there to nurse them. The Belleview boys is all well and very anxious to get back to St. Louis.

I think we will be at St.Louis about next pay day which is New Years day. I think I can send you money enough to do you some good. I will draw about $60. I want you to try to make out with what you have til payday and if we are at St. Louis and you want anything that you can not get, let me know and I will send it to you or come and get it yourself.

It is not worthwhile for me to tell you that I am at the hospital as you have heard it. Oh yes I will tell you about the crackers. You wanted to know whether I had got done eating crackers or not. Well I have not eat many since I wrote that letter. I get warm biscuts and beefsteak and linken coffee, tea and molasses rice, hominy, chocolate and almost anything I want to eat. I will drink coffe for you with pleasue if you will a pint of milk for me.

You seem to think that my pen had got to spelling better but you are mistaken. There is no telling what it would spell if I did not hold it and pronounce for it. This is a queer pen of mine and getting very hard to do anything with.

I will stop it. I will now close my letter. You say you want me to stay with the hospital which I expect to do as long as I can please the doctor. I (am) far much better here than in the regement I belive the doctor is very satisfied but my Captain don't want to give me up. But he can't help it. You may rest content I am doing very well here. I would like mighty to get home. That would please me better than anything else. Now I want you to write me as soon as you get this and give my thanks to the friends for gathering the corn. Love to all. Farewell my dear wife and children

John C. Hughes

Houston, Mo.
December the 10th, 1862,

My dear Wife and Children it is with great pleasure that I set down to answer your letter of the 28 ultimo which I received yesterday. I was very glad to hear from you and to hear you was all getting along well. I thank the Lord that he has thus far blessed you with necessary comfort of life and I also thank the Lord that I am still alive and well. My health is very good since I got well from the flu and I earnestly hope this letter will find you all well and in good spirits and blessed with peace of mind and the comforts of life. God bless you all.

How bad do I want to see you but wanting is all. yet I hope it will not be very long till I will get to see you. We are at Houston but is thought we will go to St. Louis in a few days but I cannot say for certain that we will as we have not got marching orders yet. But if we go there I will write to you and let you know. I guess if we go there we will stay there till after New Years and I guess we will get our pay then. If we do I will send you some money enough to do you all winter. I will draw sixty dollars next pay day. I would try to get some money now but it is only 20 days
till we will draw and if I had money I would be afraid to try and send it from here. If we go to St. Louis I will try very hard to get a furlo about New Years, but there will be so many wanting to go home that it will be a hard matter to get off. If I do not get a furlo and we stay there long, I would be glad if you would come and see me but I do not know how you can as you are out of money and I can't send you any until after New Years. And then I would be afraid that you would be too late again and get disappionted. I will write more about it when I find out whether we are certain to go to St. Louis or not. Watch the Post Office. You may expect to hear more about it soon.

I wrote you a letter a few days ago and gave you the particulars about the Rebels taking the train between here and Hartsvill so it is not worthwhile to give it again. I was at Hartsvill at the time and saw the ruins as I came on. I stayed there nearly 2 weeks after the regiment left. George Bryant (Bryan) is still there with 3 sick men. There are about 4 thousand men here now and we are looking for another regiment today to take our place in the brigade. It is the general opinion that the war will soon be over and will all get to go home. If peace is not made soon there will be harder fighting than has ever heard of. I hope they will quit for I think there has been men enough killed unless they was better prepared to die than most of the soldiers is.

When we first started out our regiment was tollerably moral and we had prayer meeting frequently and I could hear preaching every few days but now we hear hardly anything but foul talking and swearing. I have heard men swear over dying men and even mock and cuss them after they was dead. And I feel to praise the Lord that I have been kept from falling in with any such wickedness. The more of it I see the more I like serving the Lord. It is an awful thing to hear a man swearing on his dying bed and to think he has to go to the bar of God with all his sins hanging on him. Oh, may the Lord save me from all such wickedness. Please pray for me that the Lord may shield me from all the snares and temptations of a soldier's life. Thanks be to God for the hope of one day getting to a better world than this for there is nothing here but troubles and temptations and disappointments.

Harriet, I want you not to spend too much of your time studying and fretting about me being gone from home but pray that if should I never get home to see you and the children that I may get to a better home. And that you and the children may be able to join me in that happy land where we will never part. Where all is peace and joy.

Now I want you to call in the children and read this to them: Boys, it has been the will of the Lord that your father has been taken away from home to fight for our homes and it may be that I will never get back to see you. So I want you to be good boys and mind what your mother say to you, and if I never see you again I want you to remember that I am trying to get to Heaven and I want you all to come there. Frank, you must be a good boy and take good care of the stock this winter and try and keep Charley in good order. I want to plow him next spring. And Billy must take care of the calves and feed Johnney's pretty little pigs, and Johnney must play with Valentine and kiss Maw for me and Maw must kiss Valentine. I want you to learn your books, and Frank must learn Johnny to take good care of Old Ring. Write to me wether the hogs is getting fat or not and if you can not sell the mare and colt you had better wean the colt. Do the best you can and if you need anything write to me and I will try to help you. Write soo and direct to Rolla til further notice. Give my love to all my friends and accept a full portion for yourself. I remain your loving husband until death. Pray for me. Farewell

John C. Hughes to Hariet Hughes

Benton Baracks
December the 21st.

Dear Wife I have set down to write you a few lines to let you know that I am still in the land of the living and enjoying good health. I earnestly hope that this letter may find you all well. I have not heard from you since the 28th of last month. I fear there is something wrong. I wrote you a few lines day before yesterday while we was at Rolla. We left Rolla yesterday morning and got to Benton Baracks about 12 o'clock last night. We had quite a pleasant ride if it had not been quite so cool. I was very much dissapointed when I got to Rolla for I had expected to get 2 or 3 letters from you but I was mistaken.

I tell you I was very glad to see St. Louis again. I cannot tell you what we have been ordered here for nor can I say how long we will stay here or where we go when we leave here. But it is the opinion that we will go down the river. I was very much surprised to find Oliver (Hughes) and Jo (Joseph Kirkpatrick) here. I saw Oliver this morning. He is well. Jo is on guard at the city today so I have not saw him yet. I will quit my letter til morning as supper is ready.

7 o'clock at night.

I again sit to write. Since I quit writing this evening there has been a very large regiment of Iowa troops come into the Baracks.

I wish you would try and write as soon as possible. I think 20 days is a long time between letters but perhaps I have wearied your patience with my frequent and long letters. If so I ask pardon and if you have been hindered by anything else I am sorry but I can't help it. I hope you will write every week if not oftener. God bless you. How I want to see you. The nearer I get to home the worse I want to get home and if I had money to pay my way on the cars I would try to get a furlo this week, but I have not the money. I will wait til after New Years. I think we will all get our pay then and if we do I will try for a furlo and if I don't get it I may take one. If you had any way to get here I would like to see you but I suppose you are like myself, out of money to come on. You could not find the way through the city without first writing me what day you was coming and then be sure to come on that day as I would have to meet you at the depot unless you can find somebody coming up that will see you safe through the city if you knew where to get on the street cars it would only cost 15ยข which is the only way to get here.

As I have to be up til midnight I will write you another good long letter whether it amounts to much or not. I am stil in the hospital and will stay here as long as I can. We have about 12 sick now and several that are trying to get sick. We have measles in the regiment which is giving us considersble work but the remady is to give them what cold water they want to drink and keep them from taking cold. We have lost about 40 men out of our regiment since we left here and there is about that many deserted and there is several that will have to be discharged on account of sickness. So our regiment will fall short of the required number.

I still continue to write but it is hard work to get my pen to spell right and if it should get off the track I don't want you to blame me with it. If I could see you I could tell you all about it. There is so many things that I might write but it would be too tedious to read all of it. I wrote to you twice while I was at Houston the last time and I got one letter from you and 2 from the girls. Tell the girls that I will try to do better next time and tell Father and Mother howdy for me. Tell them that I would like to see them if I had tha chance. Tell Mit that I Will see Jo tomorrow. Tell the children that I want to see them very bad and that I will come home as soon as I can. Please eat a quart of milk and a pone of cornbread for me and I will drink all the linken coffee that I can for you, but I generally drink so much for myself that I haven't room for much for you. I have quit eating crackers so that there is no danger of me cracking. Pshaw strong strange indeed. I must try and stop it and get my letter to close. I hope you will forget my foolery. I told you in the beggining that I had not much to write so you see it don't amount to much. I want you to write aw soon as you get this and let me know how you are getting along. Let me know wether you have got the hogs killed or not and how you and the children gets along with the stock. As it getting late I will quit until morning.

December the 22nd.

Dearest wife. It is with a heavy heart that I open my letter this morning to inform' you that we have to leave and go south. We are to leave this evening for Helany or Memphis. I had hoped to get to see you soon but all at once my hopes is blasted. The prospect of getting home is as dim as when I was at Hartsvill. God bless you all. Good bye Please pray for me.

Write soon and direct to
John C. Hughes,
33 Mo. Vol
In the field Via St. Louis
Give my love to all. So Fare you well
and if forever still fare you well.

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