A Likeness on a Plate

These letters are sweet and melancholy and I was touched when in his first letter home, during his Civil War service, my Great Great Grandfather William McCormick asked his dear wife “Lottie” to send “hers and the children’s likenesses on one plate.”  I wondered was he asking for a photo of all 3 of them?  I brought this up when I saw my father a year or so later and wondered if he had ever received an answer to this request.

My father and I knew of a tin type of William in his uniform that had been passed down through the family and also of another one of his son, John Bechtel McCormick, as a child, but we could recollect no others. With a prayer in my heart we went up to look through the trunk of old photos and there it was, “hers and the children’s likenesses all on one plate.”

I cried, she had sent it to him and somehow that photo made it home to her and then somehow over all these years, to us.  Knowing what happened at the end of this story has played a part in shaping the person I am now and who my children will become.

Camp Cumberland Ford – March 30, 1862

Dear Wife (to Charlotte),

I received yours of the 23rd and was glad to hear from you. We have moved back on the north side of the river, two miles from where our last camp was, we moved yesterday.

I have been sick for a few days, I have a very bad cough which hurts me very much. If I do not get better soon, I shall have to go to the Hospital at Basbinsville Bart. I think I will get along very well if I get no back set.

I also received a letter from your brother William today. You say that I never said anything about that nine month scare of yours, well I thought I did. I think if you look over your letters from me, you will find that I did say something. At any rate I burned the letter according to your directions.

I wrote you in my last about our advance on the Rebels fortifications. We were compelled to fall back to this point where we will remain until we are reinforced, which will be some time yet.

I would like you to let me know if Esq. Peppards has done anything with that Mellhnich affair or not. Let me know just how things stand and I will be better satisfied.

You had better pay Jos. Miller the balance of rent on his house and I want you to draw your proportion of money that will be coming to you from the Relief Fund.

William wrote to me that he was going to move to the East of Fredericksburg on the first of April and he also said Johny was at fathers and he appeared to enjoy himself very much.

In writing to me always send an envelope and sheet of paper enclosed in your envelope as paper cannot be had here nor can we get envelopes. So you see, if you want to hear from me regular, you will have to comply with my request.

I received a half dollars worth of stamps in the letter I received last week from you. Direct all your letters as you did this last and they will come through all safe. My love to all of the friends and to Johny and Clary. Pa sends a kiss and to Ma his hearts fond affection. I must close for this time. Write soon, I remain your husband ever,

William McCormick

P.S. If you can get a package of envelopes and one quire of letter paper and send it by mail to me at a cost of twenty or thirty cents, do so and it will last a couple of months. We have to pay five cents for a single envelope and five cents a sheet for paper here. Yours, WMC

(In honor of those who shaped me, and in conjunction with the 2012 Republican National Convention which I am fortunate enough to be able to attend, each evening I will post a blog about my convention experiences, and each morning I will post a personal family document or historical story which will help you understand what makes me tick.  If you read all the historical posts, the last day, I promise you, you will feel the gratitude I do for our patriots who sacrificed their lives and fortunes for our freedoms.)

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