This letter was written by James Touchstone (1821-1872) who served as the Regimental Quartermaster for the 6th Maryland Infantry during the Civil War. James enlisted as a 1st Lieutenant in August 1862 and remained with the regiment until 4 October 1864.
In the 1860 US Census, James Touchstone was enumerated in Port Deposit, Cecil county, Maryland where he worked as a blacksmith. He was married to Virginia A. Owens (1828-1905) in 1844 and had six children ranging in age from 15 to 1 years old residing in the household. The couple would eventually have twelve children, the youngest born in 1867.
After serving as the 6th Maryland’s Quartermaster, James returned to his 1857 residence at 48 S. Main Street in Port Deposit which was next door to his blacksmith shop (later the site of the Port Deposit Presbyterian Church built in 1902).
James addressed this letter to his son, James Monroe Touchstone (1846-1886).
Banks of Appomattox [River] near Petersburg, Va.
June 26th 1864
I have this day received yours of the 12th inst. I have looked for many long days for a letter and almost arrived at the conclusion that you had all forgotten me. I am not now persuaded that you have not neglected me very much. I think you should know that it is your duty to write me very often. There are four of you, to say nothing of Mother, who could each write once a week and you ought to do it. All the pleasure I have here is to receive letters from those I love at home and you mat well suppose that I feel sad when I am compelled to wait two or three weeks without a letter. I have written many letters lately and in some of them I have spoken pretty plainly on this subject. I wrote Laura the last letter—yesterday.
I am obliged for the information contained in your letter concerning certain conduct at our house of nights. I have written Cornelia on the subject and wish you would tell Mother that I want her to see the letter. I want this business stopped at once. Tell Mother this. I want no scandal about my house or family, and I will not have it. I do not wish our house to be kept open of nights for the reception of public or private parties during my absence. When I come home—which I hope will be next month—I do not wish to be told that any improprieties have been going on while I have been away. Tell dear “Mam” not to worry about this matter, but that she shall enforce obedience to my request in regard to the rules of the house. If certain parties wish to have their frolics, let them stay at their own homes if they have any. I want no new family acquaintances—especially males—while I am away. When I am home I can attend to these matters myself. I am away from dear Mother and all I love on Earth, suffering almost every hardship, and when I return I do not want to be told that any improprieties have taken place in my absence.
I wrote you a letter two or three days ago. Hope you have received it. Wrote also to Mother and Laura. Wrote three letters to Mother since crossing the James [River].
I have moved my quarters out of the dust. Am now on the river bank, 70 feet above the water. Last evening had a splendid bath. Many boats pass up and down. They go almost every ¼ hour. The little old Fairy came right along under our nose yesterday evening. I tell you it did me good to see her. It made me think of my dear old home.
We have had great fighting at Petersburg—terrible slaughter on both sides. We have not been able yet to drive the Rebs from their strongholds. They repulsed our forces with fearful slaughter on Friday and Saturday last—loss 8 to 10 thousand. ¹ Many of our men are getting sick. I am very well, thanks to the good Lord.
Kiss Mother and the “sweet pets” and give my love to all. I wrote to Aunt Cady yesterday. Bub Owens is better. He is in the hospital close by. Heard from him this moment.
From your affectionate father, — J. Touchstone
You may show Mother this letter. Tell her I send her a thousand kisses.
¹ A reference to the first assault on the Confederate works at Petersburg which failed to capture the city.