Civil War Letters

The faded nearly 150 year old letters were transcribed by Mary Ellen Wexler,
a direct descendent of Robert and Elizabeth Harvey.

These Civil War letters, from the archives of the Wells County Historical Society, were exchanged between Jacob Richey Harvey and his wife Elizabeth in 1865. Jacob Harvey was born on April 27, 1830 in Union Co., Indiana and moved to Wells County in the early 1830s with his parents, Robert and Elizabeth Richey Harvey, who were among Wells County's first settlers. Jacob's wife, Elizabeth (Miller), was the first white child born in Wells County on November 15, 1834. They were married on September 20, 1855 and lived near the present town of Murray, Indiana.

Jacob Harvey served as a private, drafted 13 Oct 1864 and discharged 20 July 1865, at Louisville, KY. He was a member of Company B 53d Regiment, Indiana Volunteers, serving with the First Brigade, 4th Division, 17th Army Corps. Other war records show him to be 34 in October, 1864, when he was drafted into the 53rd. Dark complection, blue eyes, black hair, height 5'10.5", and a farmer.

As with other Civil War letters, these letters are transcribed with all spelling and punctuation as it was in the original. (^ indicates stop and start of insert in space between lines.) These letters are so indicative of the lack of real importance in spelling in these times. Often in the same letter a word is spelled differently each time it is written, there seems to be no such thing as a small “s,” capital letters are not necessary in starting a sentence, etc. These are not totally uneducated people, either. Where it is apparent a sentence breaks, it has been set on the next line. [ ]s denote typist’s notes. (M.E.W.)


March the 8th/65

5 Miles in front of Kingston N.C.


My Dear companion

It is with pleasure that I have the privolige once more to rite you a few lines to let you no that this morning finds me able for my Rations, and hoping that this will find you all injoying the great Blessing of health. We left Newborne on the 3rd marched 12 Miles in 5 hours camped and built fires and [one whole line unreadable as it is in fold area.] on us all day.

Our advance came up with the Rebs on the 6th and opend out on them drove them back. On the 7th we crost the Gum Swamp and cannonading comenced at 11 AM and --- kept up till after dark then ceased till after Breakfast this morning

But they have comenced again ^about^ 3 Miles on our rite, from the sound we being on the extreme left in a South east direction from Kingston

We are building Breast works in the front of us


Jacob was not able to complete the letter started on March 8. Now on March 11, he resumed writing to his wife, Elizabeth:


March 11th / 65

My Dear Wife. I once more am permted through the blessing of God to Seat my Self in order to let you no that I am in reasonable health & hoping that this will find you all well

we have been Fighting for 3 days and yesterday the Rebs charged on us. It comenced about 11 AM and lasted little over an hours. It was a despert time. they Charge Several times on our Senter once on our left rite where our Regt was, but ^they^ was they repulsed with heavy loss


Galyean [Samuel H. in same company with Jacob] and I was on the Piket line ^about 1/3 of a mile in front^ when^ they made the charge

Galyean being close to the Researve, and I being at the extreme rite of our Company. they turned the left of our line of Skermishers, and then me in Rear of our company

So me and 8 others had to run through a Swamp and in front of their fire for about 40 rods, we heard plenty of Bulets around us. We had got about halfway when a Reb on horse halted us

I brought my piece down ^to my^ and Face demanded him to Dismount which he did in an instant

I gave him over to ^the^ Corporal that was in comand of us, and we marched him to our lines on double quick

[Scratched out words] we turned him and horse over to the capt then got behind our breastworks

I never expected to hear Such a rore of artilery and Musketry as there was hear

they apeared raven mad and as Soon they fell back on our left, our boys jumped on the breast work and Sent up a lusty Cheer, and 150 of them Rebs came to us, gave them Selves up, the Rebs heard us Cheering and thought that it was their men, and charged our center 3 times with con considerable loss. Galyean gave them several rounds while falling back to the works. Him and Weaver is all rite

Firing ceased about 4 PM and all has been quiet up to this it being about 3 PM

our loss I think is lite, our Men has been gathering up the dead & Wounded all Morning

The Rebs has fell back to their works across the River Nuse [?]. We took prisners that Sayed thay had just left Richmond

this is a beautiful day it being clear and warm


[Letter seems only partial.] M.E.W.



Goldsboro NorthCarolina

March th 26th / 65


My Dear Wife


I seat my Self this butifull Sabbath morning in order to answer your welcom letter which just came to hand baring date of the 9th of December which is the only letter that I have got from you Since we left home

you may judge how quick the invelope was broken after I got hold of it

I allso received one from M.J. Harvey and one from Brother John that was riten on the 9th January. I was truly glad to hear from home once more and to hear that you and the children was well. We came to our Regt. yesterday after being shifted from one detachment to an other for over 5 months. there was 127 of us came in at the same time

the Regt is about 800 strong. The old Boys are all Strangers to us, but I think we will be better Satisfied with them than where we was when in Eastern Regt

I must inform you that the 101st came to us last Thursday and Weaver Galyean and I took Supper with Ike Lee and Adam

we had an old chat with them

thay all look harty

Adam is flesher than I ever Saw him

The Same Eavening they came here they Sent out a forageing party and the Rebs caught a few of them

Frank Nans [?] was among the ones captured

they Saw him taken

We got to see old Billy Sherman at last

we have a force here that can go allmost any where in the U.S

I understand that old Wells Co is geting pretty near cleaned out of those Southern Sympathisers

If we could of had some of them here in fron of kinston the time we fought the Rebs at Wises cross Roads they would of changed there tune and taken up the armor and helped us. one man Sayed that he would never fire a gun at the Rebs, but he forgot himself when they came in Site, and he fought like a Tiger. but I do hope that these cowardly Scamps will never Show there faces again. I have to laughf at the old Soldiers when they talk of those fellows running from the Draft. they say, when they get home ^to Wells Co^ that they will run the institution them Selves


Sherman gave the Soldiers a speech yesterday which was I understand good

he as much as Sayed he calculated to Disbanden the best army in the U.S in the inside of four Months


You stated that you have had Some good Meatings this Winter. I am truly glad to hear that ^the^ church is Still alive and that you can injoy that privolige

you allso rote concerning that fodder It did not come in time for me to give you any instruction

I think that you done pretty with the hogs. I am glad to hear that Lewis Grove got a sub

he done well by so doing

I want you to rite Soon for we have comunication ^now^by Rail Road to the Sea coast and your letters will come rite through

So Direct to

Co A 53rd Regt

Co B 53d Regt Ind Vols

1st Brigade 4th Division

17th Army Corps

Via Newberne N.C


So no more But Remaining your Husband J. R Harvey


I will rite to Mary soon as I get time

She Stated in her letter that Mary Jane had brought up the full amount of that old acount. Simon told me when we thrashed last fall to let Danil Settle his Note on the old thrashing, and I done So

the note caled for $13.70 cts with 86 cts intrist which made $14.56

[on margin ] but a part of that was settled on my thrashing. I think my Book will Show the corect amount


[I am beginning to see that the “s” is the same whether meant to be capital or not, so from hence forth I will write it as I think it should be, tho perhaps not exactly as written. Also, the lack of punctuation seems to be partly from writing with speed and partly perhaps from seeing many dots on the copies and not being able to determine if a period is there or not. Often a comma or a period looks the same – a slash. I also think some of the times he writes “FIEW,” it may be that the is an extra flourish after the “F” rather than an “i.” I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to write during a war and then to have the fragile papers survive for 139 years and still remain mostly readable is fantastic!] M.E.W.




April the 7th 1865

Goldsboro N. C.


My Dear Companion. I Seat my Self once more in order to drop you a few lines in answer to your kind and welcom letter that was dated March the 20th – it came to me on the 4th of April. I was truly glad to hear from you and So lately – I allmost felt like a new man, when I heard that you and the children was well

I allso received one from william, ^that was dated March 21st^, one from John and one from Mary, all at the Same time. I received one if your letters ^day before yesterday that was Directed to Dalton Geo(?). Those old letters begin to come up


We got Glorous noose yesterday the Oficall report of the capture Richmond was read to each Regt Seperatly and you aught of heard the prolonged cheering that went up from all over the camps. I Supose you have heard all the particulars before this time

There is a thousand rumors through camp at this time concerning peace

I verly believe that the time is not very far distant that peace will ^be^ made and those of us that are alive can return home to injoy the Society of our loved ones. Lib I would rather talk with you one hour than rite a dozen leters

When I get to thinking about you and the children, And, ^the^, lonesome hours ^that you^ have to pass throug, the time Seemes to pass verry Slow, And then when I look on the past and See that prety near one half of my time is out, The time does not Seem So long, If I am ^only^ blessed with good health the balance of my time will Soon pass, but I am inhopes that we will all get home before our year is up. My Sincere prares are that God will bless you while you are passing through those lonesome hours. I trust that we will See injoy Each others Society again but if not let us live So that we will meet in a better world than this were we can Sing paises to God and the Lam for ever

You Stated that you had Some pretty good metings, and and you wished that I was there to go with you that Evening to hear James Adkison preach, but that is out of the question for me at the present. I have just received a letter from Lewis Grove that was dated March the 28th which gave me great Satisfaction to hear that you was all well. We expect to march from this place next Monday in 3 colems in the direction of Rally N.C. our Suply train has been laoding for three days for that purpose. I ? rote ^to^ you afiew days ago and also rote one to Lewis So I have nothing of importance to rite at the present

I am in usual health and hoping that thil will find you all injoying the same great blessing. Take good care of your Self and children


I Sent you one of my blankets

Let me know whether you got it

I allso sent you a pair of glovs while at cincinati but they was poor things.


Tell Willy to be a good boy and mind Mother o

O how I would like to See them little fellows

I send my best respects to all inquiring friends if


Rite Soon and often

So no more at present but remaining your husband J. R. Harvey


Elizabeth Harvey


Direct to

Co. B 53th Regt Ind

17th army ^vols^ Corpa

Goldsboro N.C.

PS your letter come rite through now

I have received 8 11 letter in the last 3 weeks, 5 of them from you


The following letter was written by Elizabeth Harvey to her husband Jacob in the Northern Army:

[As with the other Civil War letters, this is typed with all spelling and punctuation as it was in the original. (^ indicates stop and start of insert in space between lines.) These letters are so indicative of the lack of real importance in spelling in these times. Often in the same letter a word is spelled differently each time it is written, there seems to be no such thing as a small “s,” capital letters are not necessary in starting a sentence, etc. These are not totally uneducated people, either. Where I think a sentence breaks, I have set it on the next line. [ ]s denote typist’s notes.] M.E.W.


Murray Wells Co Ind

April the 23th 1865


Dear Husband

It is with pleasure that I seat my self down this sabath morning to anseer your kind and welcom letter which came to hand berin date March the [unsure -- 30th ?]

I was truly glad to here from you agan

wee are all well but edy [Jacob Edwin, their infant son]

hee ant very well

he is cutin teeth agan

you said that you recened [reckoned]

hee was ruin [running] every where he can

gose where hee pleeses and tries to talk

hee cals you ever day

will [older child, William Sylvester - my ggf] Is as harty as a little pig and says that hee would give a hundre do to see you again

the time seems long to us but I hope that It will soon will soo soon come when you can com home again

you said that days seemed like months to you

they seem like years to mee but ihope and trust the good lord will protect you and bring you out safe throu your tro---ls and triles

th conection Is all well except mother

shee is very porley at this time with the cold

shee was here last week and went to martha [Martha Jane, Jacob's older sister, married to a Jeffries] and shee is there now

mary S [??] went to see her to day

It is cold anuf to snow

It snowed yesterday till the grond was white

It is warm one day and th next It is snowen

enof of this

Joseph Grove [Jacob's first cousin once removed] has sowen the feel d be tween the house and the line in oats and that lot for mother

hee sod too acers down in the old feeld in flax ceed and is agonto put therest in corn

I got Joseph and dan dewit [Dewitt - Martha Jane's second husband] to set them apel trees out and I set them little preech trees out along the fenc

wee took our potatoes out and they was narley half roten

they frose this winter

I hant sold the wheat yet it is down

some thinks that it will come up agan

John [??] did not dooas you bid him with it

hee mint sold it when it was agood price but hee is like the rest

it is ahard mater to get any thing don here

I want you to tell mee what to doo with that hay stack by the stable

I have anuf to ceep old fly on without it

the wheet crops look bad

there wont bee more than the seed on the orchard

I cant tell any thing what wheat Is worth

evry thing is com down

coff fee is worth 150 cts lb [?] and tee the same

calico 25 and muslin 40 cts and everything acordingly

I must tell you tha Frank mans [or Nans] has got home

hee got home dabfore yesterday

I must tak another sheet

[The letter stops here and the rest was probably lost before it made it into the hands of the Wells CountyHistorical Society.] M.E.W.


April the 30th / 65

11 miles North East of

Raliegh N.C.


Dear Wife I once more Seat my Self to drop you a fiew lines to let you no that I am in reasonable health And hoping that this will find you and the children injoying the great blessing of health. we left our camp yesterday at 8 AM and marched about 16 miles. went into pitched our tents at about 4 PM with orders to lay in camp till Monday morning then we would march again towards Richmond Virgina

I understand that they have gave us till the 15th of may to make our trip to Richmond

if So we can go through without over dooing our Selves, it is finerly Supposed that we will have to march through from hear to Washington City

If that be the case we will have a pretty long march of it

So we will not get to Washington till the last of may or the first of june and then more than likely will lay there some three or four weeks and pass Grand Review. So I think that if my life is spare^d^ that I will get home Some time in July

But if we are Sent to Indianapolis to be discharged we will get home a little Sooner

A great many of the boys are set up about going to See the white house before they go home

For my part I care but little about Seeing it for if we Stop there we will have to put on more Stile than a he monkey just to gratify a fiew officers and you no that don’t Suit me

I note to you a fiew days a go and to you that Daniel had come to us. he is well and harty So I have nothing of importance to rite at this time So I will close by telling you to keep riting to me for the letters follow us

we get them on a march as well as in camp. So rite once a week any how


Direct to Co B 53d Regt Ind Vols

1st Brigade 4th Division

17th army corps

Raliegh NC

So no more but remaining your husband truly Jacob R Harvey

To Elizaabeth Harvey



I understand that John and Lewis Grove has bought a reeper

tell them that I want them to make their calculations to cut what little I have my wheat and Rye if I have any worth whille. I understand that my wheat looks very [?] bad

S---- more but render my best respects to all my inquiring friends if I have any

J R Harvey


Please let . . . [more writing around edge of paper that was not photocopied properly] M.E.W.




The following letter was written in 1862, three years earlier than the preceding letters. It was sent to Jacob and Elizabeth from Jacob and Mary Rohr. Mary was Jacob Harvey's sister.


[This letter is written on note paper with a standing lady with flag - 5.5 x 8.5” This is typed exactly as found, with little punctuation and with spelling and capitalization left as written. I have taken the liberty of placing sentences on separate lines for easier reading.] M.E.W


.Wednesday March the 26th AD 1862


Dear brother & sister

it is with pleasure that we improve the present time to let you know that we are all well with the exception of bad colds & we hope these few lines will find you all injoying the great blessing of good health. we received your kind letter of Feb the 8th & was glad to hear from you

the reson we did not write sooner was because the boys had left Birds point & was expecting a battle & we did not want to write till we heard how it went

we received a letter from them ^last^ Monday baring date March the 14th

they was well & the battle at New Madrid was over

the boys saw the shells bursting in the air & heard the mighty cannon roar

the battle lasted all day

the union armey is victorious

the rebels evacuated after night as they have been doing for some time past

they boys saw Wm. Jeffries thare

they say he looks harty & has not been sick since he has been in the armey

they saw Allen Miller also & several others of their aquaintence from Indiana

we mite tell you more about the battl at new madrid but before this comes to you probbebly you will get the acount of it in the papers which will be easyer red than our scribbling

tell sister Martha that her son Wm. Was in the same Camp with Robert & silas the last we heard from them

we would be glad if they could keep to gather & be company for each other

we do not know whare the boys will move next

the whole western division is now moving

may God speed the time when rebelion may bee put down & our Northern boys be permited to return home before the heat of summer. we would rather risk our boys in battle than in the extreme south in summer

now we will try to give you a little history of our March which we confess will be a little difacult

how ever we will do the best we can

if we tell you anything hard to believe remember we tell you more than we think

March the 1st storming snowing blowing

2nd yet storming

the lains (?) are all filled up morer than full. Third it seames harder than ever if posable

fourth the snow is from two to ten feet deep

if such a snow would fall in indiana this time in the year you would all float down the wabash

fifth this morning is [many words unreadable as they are in fold of paper] drifts

the snow is piled in waves & hills & hikes[?] & hollows & looks more like what we call rocks & towers in the clouds than any thing we can think of

you would think the wind blowing all the time the trees would be cleer of snow but evry tree & lim is nearly wated down

it is a curious sight indeed & all most unreasonable

perhaps you can not believe it but remember what we told you in the start

the 6th this morning the snow has nearly all fallen from the trees & it looks like it was going to be good wether

the nice wether continues till th 12th then we had another snow storm which continued nearly three days but now the snow is leaving fast but not with rain as it does in Ind

people here generly have thare wheat all soed in March but this year we do not think thare can be any seedind don in march

our Conection here are all well as far as we know

the contry is helthy

we want you to write & tell us all about Mother & how she is getting along

also about Dow & John & all of our relations

we want to know the prices etc, etc

we can not tell you the prices here fore we have none.

No more but but remain the sam

Jacob & Mary Rohr to Jacob R & Elizabeth Harvey

Write soon

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