As I read these stories I balk at how committed they were for the cause of freedom, friends died, homes lost, fortunes gone, relationships severed and still they went on for a great cause. As an heir to these freedoms I feel embarrassed to complain about a day putting up campaign signs, or making calls in a phone bank.
For a few days I have been telling you the story of William and Charlotte McCormick, my Great Great Grandparents, through the letters William wrote to Charlotte while he served in the Civil War.
But what I haven’t mentioned is that when my father brought me these Civil War letters, there was a larger, more expansive set of letters from two other Ohio soldiers. These letters written to my Great Great Grandmother Rachel Cary from her brother William Cary and his friend Jacob B. Pinkerton, who married Rachel when he came back from the war.
Cary and Pinkerton both served in the 120th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Cary is an eloquent introspective writer and Pinkerton is more detailed and personable, of course, he is in love with Rachel.
In the letter I posted today, you can imagine William’s frustration and emotional agony as he writes “I have had no letter from you in five weeks.”
As I read the “Cary and Pinkerton” letters, this was explained … JB Pinkerton wrote on January 16th, 1863:
“I am so glad you write often so that I can expect a letter from you every mail we get, for we do not get a mail every day, and not every mail that is started reaches us. The Rebels captured our mail a few weeks ago and got quite a lot of our letters. I suppose they got the stamps and letters containing them which you said you sent to Will and I, for we never got them nor the papers of which you speak.
The Rebel Prisoners we took here boast of having a good time reading our letters but these impudent scamps that stay here will capture no more letters for a while at least for they are all on their way up the Mississippi as prisoners of war.”
Camp Two Miles In Rear of Vicksburg – May 28th, 1863
I again write to you amid Roar of Cannon. I am not any better in health but I hope this will find you and the little ones well.
This is the tenth day before Vicksburg. They may hold out a week longer but we will capture all of them for our lines are strong and they cannot get out and the provisions must be getting very low.
I bought a box of tobacco and got a teamster to haul it through for me and I have made just forty dollars on it by selling it out by the plug, the soldiers will pay most any price for tobacco when they are out. I have been buying and selling as the opportunity offered and I have just seventy dollars in money now and have twenty two dollars lent out to some of the boys which I will get next pay day.
There is a Mr. Dorland of Ashland County here at this time, he will start home in two weeks and I will send you sixty five dollars by him and he will leave it in the bank at Wooster for you. It will be published in the paper I think, and then you can tell when to go after it.
Let me know in your next letter if you received that $20 I sent you by Mr. Kaufman or not. I received a letter today from Mr. Jim Rodgers who appeared to be considerable interested in my affairs which I have answered in a manly way.
We have captured up to this time eighty pieces of Field Artillery and about twelve thousand stand of small arms and have taken upward of eleven thousand Prisoners.
The Rebel loss in the different battles we have had lately is about twelve thousand in killed and wounded and our loss I don’t think is quite so much say ten thousand.
Oh the Horrors of this blood was to see the dead and dying – to see wounded after laying one day and night on the field with a wound in the arm or leg which if cared for sooner would of saved their lives, but after laying in the hot sun become all blowed with maggots rolling all over the wound since many such sights are to be seen. Oh how many poor boys have lost a leg or an arm and many more their lives. If God spares me to get home, I shall try to live to his Honor & Glory and lead a consistent life.
Just let one go into our Hospitals to see the dismembered limbs and hear the groans and see the tears of suffering roll down the pale cheeks of our heroic boys who are suffering all this for our country. I have become so immune to it that it does not effect me like it did at first.
Give my love to all the friends and may our Father in Heaven preserve us all to meet again is my prayer. A kiss to Lottie, Johny and Clary, Good by, write soon, I have had no letter from you for five weeks, my undying love to you dear wife.
(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.)