1865 May 27: Edwin Levings on the End of the War—“The work is done, and is it not well done?”
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. The original letter is rather faint, so the copy below has been darkened so that it is readable.
Crystal Springs D. C. May 27th 1865.
My Dear Parents ;
We had the pleasure of reading your letter of the 20th inst last evening ; and it really seems clever to be in receipt of news from home in a single week’s time. — I have taken my pen to answer, as you doubtless expect to be kept posted as to our prospects for coming home, &c. As yet there is but one order from the War Department mustering out and discharging troops, and that applies to those only whose terms of service expire prior to Oct 7th, 1865. Our impatience to know the purpose of the War Dept concerning us has been great, and is yet, but we are becoming contented to wait till it shall be their pleasure to inform us. Among so many classes of troop[s] to be discharged there are many minute matters to be looked after, requiring much time. But if they will simply pay and discharge us, I will abide their time, be it weeks or months. I presume we shall be served in the order of our enlistments. — There is an order this morning stopping the muster-out of any more troops in the District, and it is said we shall proceed as organizations to our respective States there to complete the work. There are good reasons for it. The boys, many of them, behave rather badly, and there is no doubt that if paid off here and let loose, many would lose all their money, and many never get home. [paragraph break added]
By the way, the Western boys do not hitch very well with the Potomac chaps. Washington is in more danger to-day than when defended by the [?] troops. I do not mean to say our soldiers are deficient in good morals generally, but simply to say that in the presence of so many troops of all characters the elements of evil are strongr [sic], and that society is much disturbed.
I have not been down town yet. I mean to do so as soon as possible. As it is I am on duty two hours in every eighteen ; and we are camped 4 miles North of the town. Ellsworth¹ was over here to see us yesterday. He looks well. His Div. moves camp to-day over to Alexandria. We mean to go and see him ; also Dwight and wife who live there. The Sanitary Commission is here bestowing its donations to the troops. We have received some good clothing and some eatables from it.
Well, Kirby Smith has at last come to terms, so I guess we will not go to Texas nor Mexico. The work is done, and is it not well done? I hope that no many days will elapse ere we can meet you at home. Write to us often, and do not look for us till you hear of our arrival in Madison.
Yours affectionately —
Edwin D. Levings
[On the back is a short letter from Homer]
Dear Father & Mother
It has been some time since I have written any and I have nothing to write now, but I will try and say a few words to let you know that I have not lost all regard for you. I went over to see Jut and Elsworth¹ [sic] the other day, they have both been to see us. You wanted to know what we thought about selling the mare and colt. I think you could sell them if you have not already, and the money would do you more good than they would. There is an order not to muster out any more men. The troops are to be sent to their States and all moustered [sic] to-gether. I hope they will pay us off before sending us home, if they do not the soldiers will be apt to forage a little, for they can not live without eating. Our living has been verry [sic] poor since we came to Washington. But I must bring this to a close.
Yours Truly, Homer.
1. Edwin’s and Homer’s cousin, Ellsworth Burnett, captain of Company F, 37th Wisconsin Infantry.