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1863 December 2: General Grant “is truly the great general of the age”

December 2, 2013

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 at Clear Creek
Miss.  Dec 2nd, 1863.

My Dear Cousins,

                             Your welcome letters of Oct. 30th were received at Natchez on the 17th ult.  I intended answering sooner, but was prevented by the brigade moving up to Vicksburg and from there out to our present encampment 10 miles from Vicksburg and near Black River.  We had built us comfortable, commodious barracks in the hope of wintering in Natchez ;  and leaving them was like being turned out of doors into the cold.  Had there been a prospect of active duty for us, the boys would not mind the change ;  but as it is, we are shoved out here “away from everybody and everything” as the boys say, with nothing to do but picket duty.In a word, we are here to check, with other troops, rebel operations on Black River and to guard the passes between the Black & and [sic] the Yazoo Rivers.  As regards myself, it is immaterial where I serve out the remainder of my service, provided I am well, — there are but eleven months more, anyway.  Time will not hang heavy on me, I can fill it up with usefulness to Uncle Sam as an humble soldier, and I can use it, too, for self-improvement.  Disappointments will come, and it is better to cheerfully acquiesce, and make the most of the opportunities, when they come along, then there will be no regrets.

O! Dear Cousins!  You do not know how glad your letters made us, telling us Hattie and Lottie had gone up to River Falls to live with Father and Mother, and your Uncle Oliver.  You say, Emma, “Did you know we had given one of our sisters to you?”  I thank you much for saying so and thank you more for the gift.  You knew we had no sister to love or care for us, and you have gladdened our hearts by the gift of one who is to act henceforth as our sister.  We have written them both.  I hope they will find happy homes and many warm friends.  We knew of the proposal, but did not mention it in our last, as we knew not whether you had received Father’s letter.  Father wrote Nov 1st that they arrived the evening previous.  Both Father and Mother are much rejoiced at their coming, and say if their boys were at home they would be perfectly happy.

I am glad to hear you propose going to school this winter.  It will be a fine chance.  Really, I should be happy to call in some evening, as you say.  Success to you, and many a pleasant hour.  Will you let us know what studies you pursue and how you progress.  How I wish I were situated to study more than I do.  Books are not very light to carry and my stock is necessarily small.  We did not see Mr. Ferguson on his return trip, but rec’d a note from him, stating he had “seen you, were well” & that “we could not write you too often.”  We have written him.  We are acquainted with Rice and Ferguson only from your place.  We saw a young man named Rice, of Ferguson’s Co, at Jackson last summer, but did not become acquainted.  I should judge Mr. Ferguson to be a fine young man.¹  I have not seen J. Rice lately.  [paragraph break added]

We lately had a box of nice things from home, boots, clothing, butter, dried fruit, papers & other niceties.  The boys gathered around apparently as much pleased as though they were sent to them ;  and all thought Mother’s butter pretty nice.

There is official news in camp to-day that Gen. Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] has gained another great victory at Chattanooga ;  that he has taken between 5 and 10,000 prisoners, and 40 cannon, forcing Bragg [Braxton Bragg] back on to Atlanta & scattering his forces badly.  I hope it is true.  If Gen. Grant has done that, he is truly the great general of the age.  The feats of Napoleon will fade in comparison.  The rebellion is fast collapsing, and it does not seem probably, now that its friends, the Copperheads, have failed to come to the rescue them that it will survive during another summer.  I hope, Dear Cousins, you will write very soon & good long letters.  You must pardon this poor affair which hardly deserves the name of letter & I will try & do better next time.  Please accept with warm wishes from Your Cousin

E. D. Levings

1.  There was a David H. Ferguson, a Joseph Ferguson, and an Arthur H. Rice in Company C of the 118th Illinois Infantry, which is the regiment Ed mentioned in his July 24, 1863, letter where he talks about meeting Ferguson.

Edwin Levings letter of December 2, 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 December 2, 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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