Archive | Love LettersRSS feed for this section

The Missouri History Museum Archives has many collections that provide first-hand accounts of the Civil War. One such collection is the James E. Love Papers. James enlisted with a Union regiment in St. Louis in May 1861. When his regiment left St. Louis in June 1861, James started writing letters home to his fiancée Eliza Mary “Molly” Wilson. James continued to write these letters throughout his entire Civil War service. We believe this collection is unique because it documents not only one man’s experiences during the war, but also the great love story of James and Molly.
22, March 2013

Civil War Love Letters: March 22, 1863

In this letter, James writes of issues both military and personal. He mentions that there are still plenty of young men in St. Louis, but fewer young men in the South, which leads to a discussion of deserters and conscription. By early 1863, the United States government realized that, after almost two years of war, they needed more troops, and fewer men were volunteering for duty. To solve this problem, Congress passed the Enrollment Act, also known as the Conscription Act, on March 3, 1863. Read more »

7, March 2013

Civil War Love Letters: March 7, 1863

At the end of February, James celebrated President George Washington’s Birthday and the arrival of four companies of his regiment, the 8th Kansas Infantry. In May 1862, five companies of the regiment, including James’s Company K, left Kansas and marched to Tennessee to join the fight, leaving five other companies from the regiment in Kansas. In February 1863, four of these companies were ordered to leave Kansas and join the rest of the regiment in Nashville. This order angered many of the men because they had enlisted as Home Guard for the state of Kansas. Read more »

22, February 2013

Civil War Love Letters: February 22, 1863

In this letter, James addresses both war news and a death in his family. In late 1862 and early 1863, Union general Ulysses S. Grant made several attempts to move farther south down the Mississippi River and take control of Vicksburg, Mississippi. On a personal note, James responds to Molly’s sad news of the death of James’s cousin, Anne Jane Forsyth. She and her sisters Elizabeth and Mina were the daughters of John Forsyth and James’s aunt, Eliza Steel Forsyth. Read more »

15, February 2013

Civil War Love Letters: February 15, 1863

James remained on provost duty in Nashville, Tennessee, where his main complaint was the constant rain. In other parts of the state and region the main problem was the guerrilla warfare of Confederate officers John Hunt Morgan, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Joseph Wheeler, and their troops. These men led many raids into Tennessee and Kentucky with the goal of disrupting supply and communication lines by destroying wagons, railroad tracks, and telegraph lines, and capturing transports and gunboats. Read more »

8, February 2013

Civil War Love Letters: February 8, 1863

In this letter, James briefly mentions war news, a recent issue of Harper’s Weekly, and the sad story of an officer from an Ohio regiment. In war news, James mentioned a second attack on Fort Donelson. A year earlier, in February 1862, Union naval and military forces captured Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River in Tennessee. In the second attack, on February 3, also known as the Battle of Dover, 4,000 Confederate troops repeatedly charged the fortifications, but were repulsed by the 800 Union men stationed at the fort, commanded by Colonel Abner C. Harding. Read more »

1, February 2013

Civil War Love Letters: February 1–2, 1863

In most of this letter, James expresses his feelings about his relationship with Molly and their future plans. However, he briefly mentions some war news. At the end of January, not far from where James was camped in Nashville, a Confederate force of 900 men, with several pieces of artillery, established a position on the Cumberland River at Palmyra, Tennessee, hoping to disrupt Union shipping on the river. James refers to an incident of the Confederates firing on Union boats, but the attempted disruption failed. Read more »

25, January 2013

Civil War Love Letters: January 25, 1863

Hd. Qts. 8th Ks Vols
Nashville Tenn
Jany 25th 1863

My Dearest Molly

It is again Sunday afternoon, and I have got the blues. Whats to be done, a one sided argument, or a one sided conversation soon drags. I like to argue you know and also to talk, but I want just now to be contradicted or something of that kind in order to infuse a little life into me. Wont you kindly do it for me? Read more »

22, January 2013

Civil War Love Letters: January 22, 1863

Hd. Qts. 8th Ks. Vols.
Nashville Tenn.
Jany 22d 1863

My Dearest Molly

I wrote on Sunday as usual but there was such a dearth of news, I did not send it off. I waited for a letter, for a paper, for the Sutler, none came. Also for a photograph I had taken last week. I enclose it. I think of having some others taken in a different style. When I do so, I will send you another, and also supply some of the other folks. Read more »

18, January 2013

Civil War Love Letters: January 18, 1863

While James endured the changing weather conditions in Nashville, he heard news of the burning of several Union boats. On January 13, 1863, a group of drunken rebel guerrillas from Confederate major general Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry brigade stopped Union boats on the Cumberland River at Harpeth Shoals, 30 miles from Nashville. The rebels took possession of the steamer Hastings, which was carrying over 200 wounded men to Louisville. When the rebels boarded the boat, they robbed the soldiers and passengers, even stealing blankets, medicine, and clothing from the wounded soldiers. Read more »

16, January 2013

Following in James Love’s Footsteps: The Battle of Stones River in Tennessee

As part of my research for the Civil War Love Letters series I decided to travel to the three battlefields where James was present during his time in the war. I spent a week driving from one battlefield to another, many times driving through the same areas where James marched 150 years ago. I planned the trip for the same time of year as two of James’s battle experiences, so aside from the highways, cars, and buildings, the landscape of trees in full fall foliage covering the hills and valleys of Kentucky and Tennessee looked much the same as they did in his time. Read more »