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1863 February 7: “There is no news of importance except that the Negro soldier Bill has passed the House of Representatives”

February 7, 2013

On February 2, 1863, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Negro Soldiers Bill, a Bill to Raise Additional Soldiers for the Service of the Government.”  The bill had been introduced by Thaddeus Stevens.  Edwin Levings mentions it in this letter and says that “If not vetoed in the Senate, we are all right.” The original letter is in the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO), in the University Archives and Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Camp of the Twelfth Reg’t.
Feb 7th 1863.

Dear Parents;

                         Yours of the 26th ult came to hand two days ago.  We hear from you weekly, but it seems you hear from us monthly only and are not a little puzzled to know where we are.  No letters, you say, since the 2nd!  I can not understand the reason of this — We have written once or twice every week since leaving Miss.—now, I’ll write every third day.  We moved yesterday 5 or 6 miles west of Collierville to relieve another Regt. that is going to leave,—are not far from GermantownIt snowed to the depth of two inches the other day.  Yesterday morning it was colder than it has been any day this winter.  By what I learn I think we are having the hardest winter, and the most disagreeable, I know.

Kelsy¹ arrived here on the 4th with one recruit for the Comp’y.  All were glad to have him return and we had a good time and kept him busy answering questions all day.  Those mittens were timely, and thanks to you for them.  They are nice and warm.  We think of you often and would like to see you very much.  Were we at home, we should not be contented, while the war lasts, for if the country is not saved, all is lost, including home.  Our health is still unimpaired and it must be to you a source of satisfaction, and gratitude to the kind Providence that watches over us, to know we are well, and that always.

There is no news of importance except that the Negro soldier Bill has passed the House of Representatives.  If not vetoed in the Senate, we are all right.  Nothing, that I can learn, from Vicksburgh [sic].  Confidence of its fall is strong.  The blow will soon fall on the rebels and if we are successful, the rebellion in Miss. Valley is used up.  The Copperheads² will have to hang their heads.  Gov. Robinson³ of Ky. is a genuine Copperhead.  I read his message the other day.  Woe to his head if he don’t get away from before the Emancipation Car. and stop whining.  Woe to those other Copperheads up North if we soldiers ever get home, the detestable, whimppering [sic] puppies.  I would like to choke one of them.  I saw a letter yesterday from one them,—a young College bred Copperhead,—now at Prescott.  We thought he was some pumpkins—I would like first rate to get a letter from such a fellow for the sake of answering it.  Don’t you know of any such?  But what of this young college graduate.  O he was very patriotic—the English language was not vast enough for his expression—he utterly exhausted the vocabulary of big words—Really I thought the Eng. language would break down.  He wanted us to be brave and stand up to the rack, but he he [sic] would not have entered the army for any consideration, even, complimented himself on his good judgment in not enlisting.  I will further say this young man is studying law & that his spelling book he neglected.  But enough of this.

I will mention here what I did in my last,—that we expressed $50 to the Prescott B[ank] for you, the other day.—Dickinson writes often to the Comp’y & his letters contain such a great deal of slander about Mr. Wilcox.  He is down on Dr. Davis, Short, and every body else not as bad as himself.  I don’t credit his stories.  He says Mr. Wilcox is on his last legs as a teacher.  I say he is on his last legs as a man.4

Write soon & direct as before.

Yours affectionately,
Edwin

1.  Wallace Kelsey was a sergeant in Company A and had been back home recruiting.
2.  Copperhead was a derogatory term for anti-war Democrats, some of whom felt that the Civil War was a mistake, some who supported slavery, and others who were worried about the power of the federal government.
3.  James Fisher Robinson (1800-1882) was the 22nd governor of Kentucky. As governor, he drew criticism from the administration of President Abraham Lincoln for opposing the Emancipation Proclamation.
4.  This may refer to Mumford J. Dickinson, who lived in Hudson; he will not enlist in Company D of the 2nd Cavalry until December 24, 1863. Edward M. Wilcox, who lived in River Falls, will join Company K of the 30th Infantry on October 3, 1863. Edwin Levings had been a school teacher before enlisting, so would have known Wilcox.

Edwin and Homer Levings letter of February 7, 1863, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Edwin Levings letter of February 7, 1863, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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