These four letters were written by Pvt. Samuel Wiley Myers (1843-1884) of Co. F, 49th Illinois Infantry of Centralia, Marion county, Illinois. Samuel was the son of John Myers (1822-1886) and Margaret Jones (1821-1877), both natives of Kentucky.
Samuel was recruited into the 49th Illinois Infantry on 12 March 1864 and was mustered out on 9 September 1865. Samuel was most likely with his regiment at the Battle of Nashville in December 1864 after which the regiment went on garrison duty in Paducah.
Samuel married Minerva Ellen Myers (1853-1894) in De Witt, Illinois, in 16 August 1872.
See also—1864: Samuel W. Myers to John Myers
[Note: The letters of February 13th and February 21st 1865 are published here courtesy of Cory Armantrout.]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
February 1, 1865
Dear Father and Mother,
It is with pleasure that I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well.
Well, I received your kind letter this morning and was glad to hear that you was well. I also received a letter that was wrote to me when I was at Nashville dated December the 25th. That was a Christmas day. You spoke about it being so muddy then. It was as muddy at Nashville as I ever saw it in Illinois.
Well, Mother, I think that I am improving faster in my writing than I would if I was at home a going to school.
I recon that you have heard of the death of Uncle Jonas Griffith. ¹ He got drowned at DeValls Bluff [Arkansas], I believe was the place.
I have nothing of importance to write at this time. Oh yes, I will tell you of the explosion. There was a steamboat blowed up the other day and killed 36 of the Ninth Indiana Battery boys and they was buried in soldier style and I’ll tell you it was nice. ²
Well, I guess I had better stop for this time. I guess we won’t get pay now until March. I guess I will get about three hundred and thirty dollars. I want to send about 200 and 50 dollars home when I draw it. I get that much. I shall stop for this time. So write soon.
From S. W. Myers
To John Myers and family.
¹ Enlistment papers indicate that Jonas Boone Griffith (1811-1864) was born about 1811 in Jackson county, Tennessee. Jonas married Priscilla Jones on 16 September 1841 in Marion county, Illinois. Daughter Margaret Adeline was probably born in Marion county in 1842. Civil War enlistment papers for their eldest son, Thomas Paris, states that he was born at Salem, Marion county, Illinois in 1844. Son William Robert, perhaps named for his recently deceased grandfather, William Jones, was born in Wayne county, Illinois in 1847. Their youngest child, Samuel Jonas Boone Griffith, was born in Wayne county in 1849.
Jonas enlisted as a private on 15 September 1861 in Co. I of the 48th Illinois Infantry, and was soon joined in the ranks by his son, “Paris T.” Griffith. Thomas was shot in the thigh at the Battle of Shiloh, then lost his arm at Black River, Mississippi. He was discharged on 20 November 1862. His father, Jonas, was discharged from the unit a few weeks later for “continuous medical disability”, having slipped in mud while gathering fire wood, tearing ligaments in his knee.
Jonas returned to Wayne county following his discharge, and filed for a disability pension for the “War of 1861.” That claim was denied on the basis that his injuries would eventually heal. He filed an appeal in Clay county, but did not appear on the scheduled date. Instead, he had re-enlisted in Co. K, 61st Illinois Infantry on 3 December 1863. Company records show that he was missing as of 25 December 1864, and that he had drowned while crossing the White River in Arkansas. Pension records indicate that Priscilla’s application for a widow’s pension was filed on 15 March 1865.
² Pvt. Myers is referring to the explosion of the steamer Eclipse on the Tennessee river which occurred on 27 January 1865 near Johnsonville, 115 miles from Paducah, Kentucky. The steamer was on the way from Eastport to Paducah when she burst her boiler and killed a number of its passengers. Newspaper reports of fatalities varied from 10 to 150. Only 10 of the 70 officers and men in the 9th Indiana Battery escaped the explosion unhurt.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
February 3, 1865
Dear Father and Mother,
It is with great pleasure that I take my pen in hand to inform you of my health. I am well at present and hope that when this comes to hand, it may find you in the same health. Well, I received your kind letter this morning dated the 30th of January and was glad to hear from you and hear that you was well but sorry to hear of so many deaths.
You said that Pap was coming down here if I could get a furlough. I guess I can’t get to come home this winter. I would like to come home if I could but I guess I can’t. If he comes, I want him to bring me a lot of things.
You wanted to know whether the river was blocked. No, it is not. There is a boat comes up every day now. Well, I guess I will stop. So write soon.
S. W. Myers to John Myers
Well, Martha, I will write you a few lines in answer to yours which I received this morning. Well, I have nothing much to write at this time. I will send Alice a little present. It is the picture of Old Abe Lincoln and I want you to send me a present when Father comes. I would rather he would wait till we get paid off. I guess we will get pay in March and then he could take my money home. So no more at present but write soon and often.
S. W. Myers to Martha
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
February 13, 1865
Dear father and mother,
I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well at present and hope when these few lines come to hand, they will find you all well. Well, I received your kind letter this evening and was glad to hear from you but sorry to hear that Martha was so poorly. But I hope that she will soon be well again. Well I have nothing much to write at the present time—only to let you know that I am well.
Well, if I had some money I would try and get a leave of absence and come home but I guess it is doubtful. So I guess I shall stop for this time. So no more at present but write soon and often.
— Samuel W. Myers
To John Myers and family. Hoping to hear from you soon.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
February 21, 1865
Dear Father and Mother,
It is with pleasure that I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well at present and hope when these few lines comes to hand they will find you in the same health. I wish you would write to me for I have had no letter from you since week before last and I think the time long when I don’t get a letter from you every week. Well, I have nothing much to write at this time—only to let you know that I was well.
Well, I guess that we will get paid off the first of next month. So I shall stop for this time so no more at present but write soon and often.
— Samuel W. Myers
To John Myers and family. Write soon.