This letter was written by 28 year-old, Canadian-born, Zephram Lariviére [or Larvier] (1835-1863) to his wife Priscilla Waters (1841-1914). The couple lived in Clarington, Orleans county, New York and had two little girls—Phylena (b. 1859) and Laura (b. 1862) by August 1862 when Zephram enlisted in Co. D, 151st New York Volunteer Infantry. “The regiment was not a military achievement, it knew nothing of war, drill, or even the necessary discipline which perfects such organizations, but behind the man was an impulse to be a good soldier who should give his life if necessary, for the maintenance of a great principle.” [Chronicles of the 151st Regiment, p. 16, compiled by Helena A. Howell]
Zephram wrote this letter from the camp of the 151st New York near Sulfur Springs, Va., on August 23, 1863. He lectures his wife about taking care of her health. Less than two months later, Zephram would be dead—a victim of Typhoid Fever. His death was given as 17 October 1863.
After Zephram’s death, Priscilla remarried to George Regis (1849-1917) and resided in Ionia county, Michigan.
Near Sulphur Springs, Virginia
August 23rd 1863
I have just received that good letter of yours of August 18th & read it with much pleasure & am very glad to hear that you and the children are in good health but sorry to hear that you are working for other folks. Now Priscilla, I am going to ask a favor of you and that is not to do so any more. Soon you will make yourself sick and have a doctor and it will cost a great deal more to pay him that you can earn in all summer. You are asking me to be very careful of my health but you are not careful yourself. I will make you a present of $5 dollars if you will not work out any more but take good care of the children. I will send you 5 dollars in each letter now for some time and I think you can get along without working out.
I was taken with dysentery last Thursday and by Friday I got so weak I had to go to the hospital where I am now. I am getting better and think I will be able to go to work again by the time you get this. I have some pain in my chest & am dizzy at times. There is a good many sick in the regiment and some dying off. I think it is from marching so hard in such hot weather. You must not be alarmed about me for God watches over all and will do all things well.
How I would like to have been there & went with you after berries but be of good cheer, wife. I think I will be there to go with you next year. We hear good news every day and if things go on as well till winter, I don’t think the Rebs will fight much more.
I have had a plenty of good blackberries to eat here but they are all gone now. Al has been detailed as watchman with me and we are together again. He is well and received a letter from Laura last night. He sends his best wishes to them and you. Dan Wolfrom ¹ has got a furlough and will be at home by the time you get this and if you get your likeness taken, it will be a good chance to send it if he will bring it.
Our Captain [Isaac Hallock] came to the regiment yesterday. He has been away 2 months sick. I want you to answer this soon as you get it so I can tell whether to send anymore money and send me 1 or 2 stamps in each letter for awhile. When you write next tell me all about the trees and bees and everything. I will write soon again so good day. Love & kisses for you & the children & respects to all the neighbors. — Zephram
Monday noon. I am about the same except my head which is better and my dysentery is not quite so bad.
¹ Daniel D. Wolfrom, —Age, 24 years. Enlisted, August 30, 1862, at Barre, to serve three years; mustered in as corporal, Co. D, October 22, 1802; discharged for disability, October 25, 1863, at Washington, D. C.