1864 October 24: “If I can’t vote for the man of my choice then I will go for the next best man”
The original letter is in the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University Archives and Area Research Center.
Camp 4th Wisc Cavalry
Baton Rouge, La Oct 24th 1864
I will just scribble a little and then go to bed, and tomorrow morning if I can beg, borrow or steal a postage stamp I will send the scribblings to you. [paragraph break added]
We have not been paid yet and there is no prospect of getting any money, that I can see. By George! it is hard to live always without money. It seems as though poverty was destined to tramel [sic: trammel] my whole life. Since my first rembrance [sic] it has pointed its lean finger at me night and day. The Gov[ernment] owes me five hundred dollars and I can’t get a [cent]¹. Isn’t it villainous. Now don’t think from this that I want you to send me any money, for I don’t. I learned to live without it before I was very big. Still it is none the less disagreeable for that.
The boys are busy trying to fix something that will be comfortable to live in, for winter. The nights are getting quite cold, and chilly rains are quite frequent. I have to go on picket about once in three days. A member of the officers are sick and several are absent on furlough, so the rest of us have more to do. In a few days I shall have to make out the Muster & Pay role for the months of Sept. & Oct. That is an unmerciful job and I dread it. Then at the end of the month, there are innumerable returns to make and it is very hard to work for me to get keep good natured over all of them. Tomorrow I am going to get some brick, and Charly Knowles is going to build me a fire place. It will make my tent more comfortable. It is easy enough to fix up anything, but the trouble is you may have to move and leave it the next day. [paragraph break added]
I suppose you are having hot times over the coming election. The boys say but little, but watch the papers closely. McClellan [George B. McClellan] will get some boys in this regiment. There is a Dutch company that will go for him nearly every man. There will be one or two votes in this company. I think I shall vote for Abraham. [Abraham Lincoln] If I can’t vote for the man of my choice then I will go for the next best man. [paragraph break added]
Charly is in Regt. Hospit[al] but not dangerously ill. Henry is on scout, has been gone two days. Expect them in to night. Whitefield is not very well. Troubled some with Fever & Ague. That institution prevails quite extensively just now. [paragraph break added]
I see by the papers that Charly Randall is married. Why didn’t the confounded fool wait until the war was over. Seems to me times are to [sic] hard to support females. They are too expensive an article for me. Don’t let this discourage you in any way. I only refer to the military men. I expect to marry when the war is over if my woman don’t throw off on me, and I guess she will.
Rossie has first set his Bugle to sounding. I suppose he thinks I’ll go to bed but I won’t. I will however stop this document and let you rest, so break ranks.
1. The actual word is very difficult to make out. It may or may not be “cent,” but cent makes sense in the context of the sentence.