1865: Samuel Clark Marshall to Cousin Nettie

Headstone of Sgt. Marshall

This letter was written by Samuel Clark Marshall (1840-1894), the son of William Marshall (1799-1842) and Catherine Huffman (1801-1867). William Marshall carried on a prosperous country store in Cortsville, Clark county, Ohio. He made a living from transporting wool from Ohio to eastern markets and bringing back merchandise from Philadelphia to sell in his store.

Samuel served in Co. B, 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (OVC), rising in rank from private to sergeant, during the Civil War. He was honorably discharged after three years service. He later took a position as a government employee in Nashville, Tennessee, where he married Emma Magrane. In 1886, Samuel was appointed Government agent in the Navajo Agency, Ft. Defiance, Arizona. He died in Boston in 1894.

Samuel wrote the letter to his cousin “Nettie” (otherwise unidentified) with whom he apparently carried on an extensive correspondence throughout the war but with whom he had never met. We know only that she described herself as being, “On the sunny side of thirty-five and on the shady side of sixteen.”


Government Printing Office
Quartermaster’s Department
Nashville, Tennessee
September 1, 1865

My Dear Cousin Nettie,

Your good kind letter of August 14th was received in due time and as ever it is with pleasure I take my seat to reply. I do not think hard of you for allowing my letter to go so long unanswered. My letters are so dull and uninteresting, my only wonder is that you answer atall. But in the future, you need not wait so long before writing because you think I do not care to hear from you. Now who in the works told you any such a mistaken idea. You know I like your letters and am always glad to hear from my cousin Nettie.

My excuse for not answering yours sooner is this. It occurred to me you thought my letters were coming too often and by your waiting so long it was the best kind of an indication that I should not be so fast but wait a few weeks. Well, cousin Nettie, we will not quarrel about such a trifle, “and your will, not mine, be done” and whenever you grow tired of receiving letters from me, do not hesitate a moment in telling me because it is the least of thoughts to force anything upon you which is disagreeable and hateful to you.

Will was rejoiced a few days ago on account of receiving a letter from “Lizzie Robinson.” He had long since given up the hope of hearing from her again.

So cousin Nettie does not think the girls are all deceitful? Well maybe they are not. I do not know very much about it one way or the other, but a young lady posted me on the subject and she ought to know, don’t you think?

Since I wrote you before, I have had quite a trip. Went as far south as Macon, Georgia. Passed through “Ackworth.” Wonder if I thought of an advertisement once sent from there while passing the place (shouldn’t wonder if I did and then thought of the dozens of letters sent in answer to it, and of Cousin Nettie whose letter of all was my choice.) I sometimes think how strange it is that we are so well acquainted and yet have never met each other. Never mind. When we do run across each other, won’t we have fun pulling ears is “my fate” and oh, but won’t I give yours a good twist. But here it is—got clean off the subject.

Well, I stayed a few days in Macon and like the place the best of any town I have visited in the South. From there went to Milledgeville and then back by Nashville and I assure you, I was glad to get back once more. I was almost tired to death.

I attended a “Pic Nic” a few days since and had a splendid time. The young lady who could not go to a “pic nic” with me on the 4th of July on account of illness was on hand this time like a “thousand of brick” but alas! it was all up with me now. She started North to school last evening to be gone ten months. I tried hard to find an onion with which to rub my eyes in order that I could see her off in proper style, but bad [    ] to it, there was none to be found and consequently I did not shed as many tears as I might under more favorable circumstances.

Oh yes, you tell me your age in riddles. “On the sunny side of thirty-five and on the shady side of sixteen.” Well, thirty-five and sixteen makes forty-six. Can it be possible you are so youthful? But come now, “coz,” what is the use of joking? Please tell me right the next time you write. I guess you know my age but if you do not, I would not hesitate in telling if you wished to know.

I had a letter from Mother a few days since and she tells me of four or five couples near home who have been married and contemplate marriage, which is the same. Well, joy go with them is all I can say in their behalf. Now “Coz,” if you can excuse such a poor letter, do so, and if it is worth answering, I shall expect to hear from you soon. And do not say again you thought I would not care to hear from you.

With love, I am your Coz, — Sam Clark Marshall




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