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1864 January 7: “When the government is doing its utmost to crush [the rebellion] and calls for our help for a few months longer, ought we to disregard that voice?”

January 7, 2014

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.

Natchez Miss. Jan. 7th, 1864.

Ever Dear Parents,

                                       We have had no letter from you for a week and are quite anxious to hear from you.  I hardly know how to express on paper what I want to say to you and wish I could see you, though but for one hour.  This letter, I expect, will excite in you some regret, particular[l]y, if you are in receipt of our late letters; but I hope it will produce as much pleasure, and that before you finish reading it, you will be able to say—well and good.  Now to the subject.  We have both re-inlisted [sic] as Veterans.  We had had no such intention, as we before told you;  but after a careful reconsideration of the matter, in which we were not influenced by excitement, we concluded it was better for us and yourselves and our County to reenter the service and stay till this rebellion was crushed.  We should have gladly consulted with you about it, could we have done so.  You are disappointed, I know.  We well know—what you had long hoped-for and expected.  You had fondly thought that at the expiration of our 3 years we were coming home to stay; you had counted the months.  You had thought of nice plans, and much happiness we would all have when again reunited.  We knew it all better than I can write it.  We had reckoned on it with as much pleasure as you had; and when reflecting whether to re-inlist [sic], all these enjoyments came up before our minds and we hated to leave you and them again for life in the army.  We would rather have served out our time and quite, but duty to the Country seemed to require our services longer.  It was a great sacrifice for us to give up home, fiends, privileges again, & it was is a great sacrifice for you, but I ask you with all the affection of my heart for you, is the sacrifice too great.  I know you will say, It is not.  Our Country is worth all it costs.  We had but 10 months more to serve and did not like to desert the field when as many were going to remain, and when the rebellion is so near ended.  Many have gone into the Veteran service and have made greater sacrifices.  Should we hang back, well, healthy, & young as we are, our relations so favorable?  Were  we at home next winter we should have to stand the draft.  If the war was not ended we should be uneasy & want to be in the army.  [paragraph break added]

I can not see how the rebellion can last 2 years longer.  Have we not every reason to be encouraged, and to continue the struggle?  Do not facts to show that this rebellion can not survive that length of time?  When the government is doing its utmost to crush it and calls for our help for a few months longer, ought we to disregard that voice?  It has never deceived us, and the prospect is brighter than ever and points to a sure and speedy success.  Let us review the progress we have made.  2 years ago the rebel armies had full swing in Mo., the invasion of Ky. had not been made.  In 4 months we had driven them from these states, through Middle and Western Tenn. and occupied their strongholds.  We confidently thought the war could not last 18 months.  We found out our mistake.  We can not miscalculate now.  We know their strength.  Their means of warfare are nearly gone.  Look at the desperate straits they are in.  See their dismay.  Their boasted confederacy is crushed in on all sides.  Their resources are fast decreasing and how can they fight much longer.  When their remaining territory, on which they depend for supplies, is in our possession it is physically impossible for them to fight.  The fighting, I think, must be over before the close of 1864.  Gen. Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] is getting his supplies into Chattanooga, and when all is ready, the final move in that direction will be made, and under the terrible blows there inflicted, and elsewhere, down will go this wicked rebellion and haughty confederacy.

No this reorganization of the armies is going to prove a great victory over the rebels.  They are endeavoring to reap consolation from this fact: viz: that the time of most of our troops would expire next spring.  They expect to put old, disciplined troops against new.  They think we would rather go home than fight them longer; but we are going to come the Yankee on them.  When they see that they have got to fight the old troops they will turn in despair.

By reinlisting [sic] now, we gain 10 months on the 3 years.  We get the $402.00 bounty in addition to our monthly wages, which are likely to be increased, an effort to that effect now being made by Congress; also, the old bounty, $100.  An order from McPherson [James B. McPherson] has come stating the paymaster is to pay us in a few day.  I forgot to say we receive pay for all the clothing we have not drawn on the last year of first two months of the 3[rd] year of first enlistment.  When paid we shall get the old bounty $100., $60. of the new, a premium of $2.00, one month’s pay $13. and two months pay due us on first enlistment, $26.00 which foots up to $201.00, or $402.00 for both of us.  If we both serve 2 years only we would receive during that time $1428.00.  If the pay of soldiers is raised it would be more.  Besides we are all coming home soon, – start for Wis. In 10 or 12 days at most – are to be absent 4 months, unless emergencies require our return sooner, and are to have 60 days  furlough – a fact – from Madison.  Now have we done wisely, or not?

Jan. 8th – Yours of Dec 21 is just received, in which you refer to the Capt’s¹ visit.  Well you can pay your taxes now and not feel it.  Glad to help you in any way we can.  Now, we are coming home, so look out the window about the 15 next month for two Veteran volunteers.  Write soon & direct Co A. 12th Wis. Veteran Volunteers via Cairo.

Yours with love,
. . . . . . . . . . . .Edwin

Dale, back, Libby and Williams did not reinlist [sic].²

1.  Orrin T. Maxson; our post on December 18, from the December 12th Prescott Journal said that Capt. Maxson had  arrived home that morning (the 12th). He obviously brought some money home from Ed and Homer to give to their parents.
2.  Wilber P. Dale, Warren Libbey, and Ira A. Williams.

Edwin Levings letter (right) of January 7, 1864, 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 (right) of January 7, 1864, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Great Aunt Gert permalink
    January 7, 2014 4:59 pm

    Ira A. Williams is my great-great-great-grandpa; if I remember rightly. Peter Close, Son of James Reuben Close, grandson of Kenneth Carter Close, great-grandson of Reuben W. Close, great-great grandson of Soloman T. Close who married Sarah Willams, great-great-great grandson of Ira Willams, which I believe is the same man mentioned in this post.  

  2. January 7, 2014 5:13 pm

    If you have any information on him, we can make a page for him.

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