1863: Edmond W. Eakin to Rev. George Washington Fairbanks

This letter was written by Sgt. Edmond W. Eakin (1835-1906) of Co. D, 125th Illinois Infantry. Edmond enlisted on 3 September 1862. At the time of enlistment he was described as standing 5’8″ tall, with dark hair and black eyes. He gave his birthplace as Wythe county, Virginia and his residence as Dallas, Vermillion county, Illinois. Edmond was married to Ellen Maria Fairbanks (1837-Aft1900).

Edmond remained with his regiment until he was seriously wounded at Kennesaw Mountain while on Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Edmond wrote the letter to his father-in-law, George Washington Fairbanks (1799-1864)—a member of the clergy in the Methodist Episcopal Church.


Nashville, Tennessee
August 9th 1863

Rev. G. W. Fairbank
Dear Father & Mother,

Through the merciful Providence of our Heavenly Father, I am in the enjoyment of good health. Our regiment and company as a general rule have good health at this time—better than at any time before. We have a pleasant situation at present and our duties are not very dangerous or laborious. In all, I think we have abundant reasons to be thankful that our situation is no worse.

One year ago tomorrow since I volunteered and although during the past eleven months I have endured some privations, undergone many exposures and hardships, and forfeited the comforts and blessings of home and fields, and all that to me (save my God and my country!) is worth living for. Yet my patriotism is in no wise abated on account of these privations nor my confidence weakened in our final triumph. It is true our success has not been as great as many hoped it would have been, yet we feel encouraged to believe the end is not very far distant.

It would afford me great pleasure to visit home and friends some time this fall but do not suppose I could get leave of absence at the present. I feel more anxious about coming on account of the failing condition of your health as I might in a short time be able to so some things that would add to the comfort of our families during the winter. Yet I cannot tell what I may be able to do. In all events, I trust your failing health may be restored and that you may live many years to enjoy the reward of your labor—both temporal and spiritual. For I assure you, dear Pa, that your failing strength has been the greatest source of solicitude with me since I have been in the army.

Elle’s letter of the 2nd August came to hand yesterday. Was glad to learn that you were all as well as what you were. Lieutenant Steven’s health has not been good for several months past and I think it is possible that he will not remain much longer in the service if I can get out. He has done but very little duty in the past six months and I don’t think he will do much soon. I will close this short letter hoping and trusting as ever in the mercy and goodness of God, to preserve us in sickness and in health, to be with us, and sustain us in life and death.

Yours affectionately, — E. W. Eakin

Dear Ella and Ma,

Received yours of the 2nd yesterday. One also from Rollin. Was glad to hear that you were all well [and] that my dear little Hattie had recovered from her cold. Rollin wrote me that Samuel had been very sick with Scarlet Fever but was better and they had strong hope of his recovery. I do hope he may; it would be so hard for them to lose him. Rollin said he was going to Dallas next day after he wrote so he will tell you about being at Tuseola to see about that land. It appears to be all right at present. I was disappointed that I did not get your article on the Dallas Copperheads. Hope it will come in your next. I wrote to you two or three days ago and will write soon again. What’s that you said about Bob W.  Well, I’m not surprised. I have had no chance to go and hunt for Mr. Payne but think I may get to go tomorrow. Love to you and Ma and all. Heaven bless you. Yours, — Edmund

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