These sixteen letters were written by Lieutenant Colonel Clark Swett Edwards(1824-1903), the son of Enoch Edwards (1774-1863) and Abigail McLellan (1779-1843). He wrote the letters to his wife, Maria Antionette (Mason) Edwards (1828-1885).
In 1848, Edwards came to Bethel, Maine, and with Edward Eastman as partner, bought out the trading business of Kimball and Pattee. The store stood where the Ceylon Rowe once stood on the northwest corner of the Common. A year later they moved another building up in line with their store and that of John Harris and finished the three stores into a block under one roof. This string of buildings burned during the Civil War and was later rebuilt. Edwards sold out to Mason and built a store near the “foot of Vernon Street where he traded until 1858 when he sold out.” During these years he also built several houses in various parts of the Bethel Hill village and “in various ways contributed to the growth and prosperity of Bethel Hill”.
When the Civil War broke out, “Mr. Edwards took out recruiting papers and was chosen Captain of the first company organized under his call in the county.” His company, Bethel Rifle Guards, reported to Portland and became Company I, 5th Maine Volunteer Regiment. While the regiment was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, Edwards was promoted to become regimental commander with the rank of colonel. Later he was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General. Clark Edwards’ term of service ended in 1864 but the regiment went on to serve many major engagements including the Wilderness campaign and was in the siege of Petersburg. It was said of Edwards that he was “unflinching under fire, often led his men into action, and achieved a brilliant record for conspicuous bravery.”
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
August 9th 1861
I received your letter of August 6th and was very glad to hear from you and home. I just came in off guard duty. I left camp yesterday morning, came in at noon today. We had a nice time. Lived first rate while I was out. Yesterday my living consisted of green corn, apples, peaches, very nice bee’s honey, pears, watermelons, coffee, tea, milk, bread, butter, bacon, & lots of other things too numerous to mention. I laid outdoors. Never slept a wink for the night. John B. Walker and myself laid down together. John is better than he was when I last wrote you. I received a letter from Seth & Mary. They are well. They did not write much. I have been very well this month. I never have been better. I have a nice time out on picket guard. Still it is a little dangerous business.
Monroe is in our company as Eber. His business is to look after rowdyism and to stop the rows on the ground. No extra pay and the rank is the same as ever.
Have you seen to the taxes on that lance [?] in J. I wrote you might use the money that belong to Adams. It would be enough to pay the taxes. Write me how Aunt Cinda is and let John tell me that Lot is all broke up. How are you going to W & Fryeburg. I hope you will have a good time and get back safe. I am glad you have garden vegetables enough for you to eat. You write that Butie is sick. If he is not better, you write me soon about it. You write me that Nate is still up to S. Chop. I wrote you in my last letter that I thought she had better keep away from there. I do not think much of the place anyhow. I am sorry that Kate does not take hold and help you as you must have a very hard time. Tell her for me that she must be steady and take care of herself. I have not yet heard from Marshall. I think he is alive. I have not yet heard from Charley Freeman or the other boys but think they will yet turn up.
You wanted me to write you what I wanted you to send me in the box. I think you had better not send anything as you have not much to send and I can buy clothing here as cheap as there and as for victuals, it will not pay to send it so far. I shall try to go home on a furlough this fall sometime. Cannot tell when it will be. I expect that [Charley] Freeman and [Clement] Heath & [Stephen] Burbank has got home. They will tell hard things about our living. You need not worry about me, I get enough. Sometimes it is not so good as you have at home as nothing tastes good here. Write me what Freeman says about our living.
I have not got me any clothing yet but one pair shirts. Shall wait till I am paid off or till I go home before I get much of anything and they shall be cheap. I want to save something out of my pay. The Government is now owing me about two hundred dollars besides the Bill I sent in before of Washington. In all, it amounts to almost three hundred dollars. But you may not get that Bill till I go home and then I shall go to Augusta and see to it myself. If you receive this before you go to Fryeburg, you tell Seth I shall write him in a few days.
It is very hot here. I never saw any weather like it in Maine. This is a beautiful country. The crops are good. Peaches are nice but there is but few ripe yet. Apples are not as good as in Maine. I was in a peach orchard that bore four or five hundred bushels this year. Some of them were as large as teacups—twice as large as in New England.
I think I shall go to _____ before I leave the army for good.
One little circumstance I thought I would write you. It is this. In Company F, a lady by the name of [Albion R.] Stewart came from Lewiston here to see her husband. He stood in his camp door night before last and the first he knew of it, she stood before him. They told me he stood like a ghost for a minute and then she fell into his arms. There were but few dry eyes around the camp for a few minutes. She is here yet. The quartermaster gave up his tent to them and they have it yet. She left Lewiston alone and came on here without his knowing it.
The man is here after the letters and I will close. I will write again tomorrow. All is well at the camp now. No excitement at this time. Jimmey is well and send much love to you all. Give my best respects to Levi’s family. Tell them I will write them in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Love to all of you.
— C. S. Edwards
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
September 6th 1861
Yours of September 1st is at hand. Was glad to hear from you. In regard to the cough, I have one but not very bad. Do not cough only at night. When John comes back, send me some of that Johnworth that you know always helps me. My health was never better. I am as heavy as I ever was at this season of the year. I am glad you get the money from Augustie. I think it must have come in as good time as you were out but I have not got any from the government yet. Hope it will come this week. Think I can send home two hundred dollars if I get paid up to the first of September.
I think Dolley had better stay at Otisfield till I go home or still I know more than I do now about it. I shall not have that I said anything to Aunt C. about Isaac. I do not remember of saying anything to her but still I might. I am very glad you give so good an account of the children. Hope they will continue to do well. I am glad Kate is a going to school to Dr. True as I do not think much of the way they treated him. I hope he will have a large school. I am glad you and Agnes are getting along well.
In regard to the flag, I think you had better let Col. Houghton have the flags and the Zouaves if they want it as their muster will not come the same day if they have two. One regiment is in the Brigade with the New York 16th, 26th, & 27th under Col. Davies, Acting Brigadier General. He is a very smart man. As far as the Office of Treasury is, I do not think it pays much. About the same, I recon, as the Provost Marshall. But still I hold some money in my hands that I can make something on it.
In regard to Patte Bill, he is paid about right, I think. In regard to Horace, I think he is rather sick. I have not seen him [since] I wrote you last as I have been out in picket. Got into camp last night in the rain but feel well this morning. I shall go into town after dinner to see Horace. I am afraid he will never get well if he stays here. I will write you more about him when I get back from town.
In regard to clothes, I have enough, excepting a good suit which I shall have before I go home. As to our Heads Offices, they will all get drunk and that is enough about them. Col. [Mark H.] Dunnell was the only one that would not get drunk. David gets along well. I am glad that Mrs. Hammonds feels so well. Hope she will continue to.
In regard to the Tax, I think you had better have Charles send it as it would be more likely to go correct than from here. I think you had better see to it right away. In regard to that land at Albany, it is all right but it would not be safe to sell it or give a deed to it. If I go home this fall, I will see to it.
I wrote you about the scale. As for you living on the town, I do not want you to receive a cent on that way as long as I can get a cent. You write me you are a going a blackberrying. Write me how you make out. As for peaches, I wish you had some as nice as I see every day here. They are as large as large apples. They are not so small as the Massachusetts peaches.
I just came in from town. Morse is no better. He wants to go home on furlough, I think he has a fever now and I hope will soon get over it. But it looks a little hard for him to get able to go into camps again this fall. John, his brother, has been into town to write for him today so she must not find fault. Lt. John B. Walker, I expect, has got home before now. He will tell you all the news. Tell him to write me all the news, how he got home, & tell him the boys are as well as usual. Tell him Capt. [William A.] Tobie has not got his paper nor [Hamlin] Buckman nor Martin.
I must close as the mail man is waiting for the letter. tell Kate, Frank & Nelly to write me. Kiss them all for me. Tell Mason to be a good boy & father [will] fetch him home something.
Yours, — C. S. Edwards