Letters have always been a way for people to communicate, and during the long and brutal Civil War it was the only way for soldiers to keep in touch with their families and loved ones.

The following are complete transcriptions of letters, poems, and envelopes found in the Library of Congress. The letters and envelopes can be located in the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs.

Letter from Private R. Cecil Johnson of 8th Georgia Infantry Regiment and South Carolina Hampton Legion Cavalry Battalion

rcecil

Photo of Private R. Cecil Johnson of 8th Georgia Infantry Regiment and South Carolina Hampton Legion Cavalry Battalion in uniform. Photo credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Letter from R. Cecil Johnson, Atlanta, to C. Smith Johnson, which describes a shipment of goods, likely to his wife. The letter was sent in 1861.

Feb 23d

Yesterday I shipped to you by R.R. one box of peach stones containing about three bushels. Marked C.S. Johnson Beaufort S.C. Cane and Lafayette and Co. Charleston. All I have sent I marked this way, all of which go by express except the peach stones. The following freight is now due to you. 1 pig. 1 box grafts, 1 box peach stones. The 2 bundles trees. I put the peach stones in earth as you directed. It took a man nearly a day to pick them out, much of the wet sand adhering to them. On which you have to pay freight. Why did you not order them sent to you two months ago? Or at least at the time you ordered them put in sand. I intended to plant mine in December but could not on account of the rains. I did not put them in earth because I thought that the frequent rains kept them moist enough. I planted about two weeks ago. I was planting apple seeds this morning but was run into the house after getting wet to my skin. I hope you have planted the magnolia seed. A word in regard to the newspaper letter. You told me in the letter that I might show it to the editors if I liked which was almost a half request to do so. I showed them the part related to Beaufort and they copied it word for word adding a sentence as a winding ref. I hope this will excuse me from being “a devil of a fellow.” I would be very glad if you would write one for publication, giving an account of the military preparations in your neighborhood. I saw our president a few days ago. There was a turnout of the military, firing cannons. He made us a short and excellent speech. Is this dog, Jack, worth a cent?. How does Ben like the salt water [?]? My love to all.

Your aff. [?]

R. C. Johnson

P.S. I think you had better send me what money you have for me while communication believes us is safe and uninterrupted.

rcecil-letter1 Letter from R. Cecil Johnson, Atlanta, to C. Smith Johnson. Photo credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Letter from Sergeant Cornelius V. Moore to Henry Moore

A short letter that also contains a sketch of everyday life for these men. The exact date of this letter is unknown, but the post mark on the envelope suggests that it was written in early August.

vmoore

Photo of Sergeant Cornelius V. Moore of Company B, 100th New York Volunteers, a sergeant of 39th Illinois Regiment, a corporal of 106th New York Volunteers, and a private of the 11th Vermont Regiment holding bayoneted musket. Photo credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

I will send that Rebel dollars as soon as I get one. They was 2 Rebel deserters was in are tent they only had a 5 dollars Rebel bill and he wanted that. I will send one soon.

I don’t know what to say now I will rite more next time. Ed send his love.

From your

Truely

Brother

C.V. Moore

If Ed has time he will write to mother.

This sketch is of Ed cooking apple fritters.

mooreletterLetter from Cornelius V. Moore to Henry Moore. Photo credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

mooreletterenvelope

Envelope from Cornelius V. Moore to Henry A. Moore, 191 West Street, New York City, N.Y., care of Mr. Geo. Gwyer, postmarked Richmond, Virginia. Photo credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Now To The Field Again I’ll Go

A poem by William P. Haberlin

Now to the field again I’ll go,

for the Union to defend.

Until Jeff Davis is made to know

his kingdom is about to end.

And now if I would not live,

to hear freeman shout for joy.

This miniature to you I give,

in memory of a soldier boy.

poe

Photo of poem by William R. Haberlin. Photo credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

 

Decorative Envelopes

Printing of decorative envelopes began in the mid 1850’s, just as the north-south division started taking place. Most envelopes were 3 x 5″ in size, and were printed in almost all major cities; New York and Boston were the largest producers of the envelopes. Envelopes were colored by hand, printed, engraved, or embossed.

Steven Boyd, a historian at University of Texas, San Antonio, explained to National Geographic; “over 10,000 Union designs were printed – “You could buy a hundred different designs in a single packet for one dollar”.  The decorative envelopes are now considered patriotic propaganda, and are very popular among collectors. The envelopes can also be a valuable resource for historians and genealogists in providing residential information on the people of the era.

 

mccoy-envelopePhoto credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Civil War envelope showing a weeping woman being comforted by a soldier.

Addressed to Mrs. Nancy McCoy, Duncannon, Perry County, Pennsylvania; postmarked Louisville, Ky., Feb. 2, 1863

hagginsenvelopePhoto credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Civil War envelope showing George Washington standing at Mount Vernon and angel with American flag, bearing message “The banner of glofy”.

Addressed to Mr. S.H. Haggy, Etna, Licking Co., Ohio

ellsworth-envelopePhoto credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Civil War envelope showing portrait of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth with quotation “He who noteth even the fall of a sparrow will have some purpose even in the fate of one like me”.

Addressed to Mrs. Louisa I. Winters, Crillertown [?], Lancaster Co., Pa. Postmarked Harrisburgh, Pa.

nh-envelopePhoto credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Civil War envelope showing woman holding flag with message “For the Union” and USS New Hampshire.

Addressed to Mrs. Elizabeth D. Stebbings, Waterloo, Seneca County, N.Y.

 

mcclellean-envelopePhoto credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Civil War envelope showing portrait of Major General George B. McClellan inset in medallion decorated with eagle and American flags.

Addressed to Mr. John Stiles, Linden, Genesee Co., N.Y.; postmarked at Batavia, N.Y.

miss-envelope
Photo credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Civil War envelope showing Columbia with American flag, laurel wreath, eagle, and cannon with message “Liberty and Union”.

Addressed to Annis G. Ames, Temple Mills, Franklin Co., Maine.; postmarked Ship Island, Miss.

Bibliography

“Letter from R. Cecil Johnson, Atlanta, to C. Smith Johnson.” Library of Congress. 2010. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2012648291/.

“Letter from Cornelius V. Moore to Henry Moore.” Library of Congress. 2010. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2012648287/.

“Envelope from Cornelius V. Moore to Henry A. Moore, 191 West Street, New York City, N.Y., care of Mr. Geo. Gwyer, postmarked Richmond, Virginia.” Library of Congress. 2010. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2012648288/.

“Sergeant Cornelius V. Moore of Company B, 100th New York Volunteers, a sergeant of 39th Illinois Regiment, a corporal of 106th New York Volunteers, and a private of the 11th Vermont Regiment holding bayoneted musket.” Library of Congress. 2010. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2011647756/.

Haberlin, William R. “Now to the field again I’ll go …” Library of Congress. 2011. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2011645319/.

Greenwood, Veronique. “Civil War Envelopes Are Works of Art—And Propaganda.” National Geographic. December 10, 2015. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/12/151210-civil-war-envelopes-art-propaganda-artifacts/.

“Civil War Envelopes.” American Antiquarian Society. 2016. http://www.americanantiquarian.org/cwenvelopes.htm.

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