1862-63: Margaret Scott to James Scott

These eight letters were written by Margaret (“Maggie”) Scott (1845-1935), the daughter of Irish immigrants Charles Scott (1804-1885) and Isabel Tennis (1804-1869). She wrote the letters to her brother, James Scott (1834-1912) who was the oldest of six children, including Frank (1836-1908), Robert (1839-1863), Isabell (1842-1927), Margaret (1845-1935), and Charles Wesley (1849-1882).

The Scott children were born in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, but moved with their parents to Wiota, Lafayette County, Wisconsin, in 1851, where they took up farming. James Scott enlisted as a private in Company B of the 23rd Wisconsin Infantry on August 11, 1862. He saw action during Sherman’s Yazoo Expedition, Chickasaw Bayou, and the capture of Fort Hindman in Arkansas. He was discharged on 3 April 1863 at Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana, with a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability. After leaving the service, he returned home to Wisconsin, where he married Louisa Jane Welty (1843-1914). The couple had five known children: Ada, Beatrice, Lloyd, Maggie, and Prudence. James Scott died in Wisconsin on June 7, 1912.



Wyota, [Wisconsin]
September 28, 1862

Dear Brother,

It is with much pleasure that I take my pen in hand to inform you that we are all well at present and I hope that these few lines may find you and the rest of the boys all well. We heard a report here that James Early was killed in one of the late battles but I was in Darlington yesterday with father & mother and we heard a man in Darlington say that he had a letter from the 23rd Regiment and said that Jim Early was only wounded. The three Agnew boys were wounded too and Capt. Whitman was only shot in the knee and Walt Steveson was shot in the hand and Fields in there arm. There was two or three others killed out of that company,

There is a call for more troops now. I did not hear how many was wanted. The Fayette Co. [   ] company started last Thursday for St. Paul, Minnesota.

You was wanting to know what regiment Frank Tennis was in. It is the 80th Ohio Regt., Co. D. Uncle says that Frank Tennis was sick in the hospital so we don’t know what hospital it is or whether he is in the regiment or hospital. We have had no letter from John Tennis for more than two or three months though Uncle says that he is one of the attendants in the hospital. They have moved the wounded from down South up to David Island within 15 miles of New York and that is the place where John Tennis is. We have not had any letter from Jim Early for a long time.

I got that picture you set me and I was real glad to get it. I think a good bit of it. I would like to have yours and Bob’s taken together on a tin plate and sent to me for I would think a good bit of it to have them together. That is a real good picture that you sent to mother and I tell you what, she thinks a good bit of it. We was all glad to get Bob’s picture too. That big picture that you sent mother we got all right and she returns her thanks to you for it.

I believe I must close for the present hoping that you will not forget to write us soon as this comes to hand. We got them papers that you sent to me and father. Mother sends her love to you all. I send my love to you all. Keep a big part to yourself. So goodbye. Excuse all mistakes.

Mother says that you must not forget to write.

— [Maggie Scott]




Wyota [Wisconsin]
October the 12th 1862

Dear Brother,

With pleasure I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines to let you know that we are all well at present, hoping this may find you the same. I received your letter of the 4th yesterday and one Wednesday.

It is quite pleasant here today but there was quite a hard freeze here last night and it has been raining all last week again. For the last two weeks there has been nothing but rain—rain night and day. But today is pleasant though rather cool. But if it don’t rain anymore for awhile, I shall be satisfied with cold weather. It has been rather poor weather for doing up the fall work. We have not got much of our done yet.

Father has not plowed any this fall and I don’t suppose he will for if the weather keeps good, the potatoes will have to be dug the first thing, and the buckwheat is to thrash yet if it ever gets dry enough. Father has not hired anyone to help him and I don’t know whether he will or not. Boys are very hard to get anymore. He did hire one of old John McCue’s boys for a month but he did not stay but four days. He started out of the field where he was cutting corn and did not say anything to Father. He came down to the house and told Wesley he was going home and that was the last of him. Why he went, we do not know unless he got homesick for he was very still. He never would say a word only when one would speak to him. He would answer and that was all.

There is no sign of the thrashing machine coming yet. I expect there will be nothing for to thrash when it does come for it has been so wet that the stocks are all growing.

Father has sold them three beef cattle. He got 58 dollars for the three. He has not sold any of the horses yet. I guess there is rather a poor show for selling any of the horses. I believe I have written all the news I can think of now.

You wanted to know how the drafting goes on. Well it goes on just as I expected. There is no drafting at all and there is not going to be any either, I don’t believe. There is no sign of it now at least though Dr. Monroe was examining the men at Darlington awhile ago. We have not got any letter from Jim Early yet but we heard that he was wounded pretty badly in the breast. I don’t suppose he is able to or he would write before this.

You wanted to know how we liked Lawrence [Flanigan’s] party. Well I should like to know how you heard we were there for we was not and we did not have the honor of an invitation but it would have been all the same if we had. All the folks around here were there but us and Mary Nicholson and Bill. He had the party the Saturday night before they started for the peak [Pike’s Peak] so when you write, let me know how you heard we were there. I suppose though some of the folks around wrote you the news but I should like to know who.

I think when you are writing to all the folks around some of you might write to some of Bayles, Mary Ann, or Susan, or some of them, I think they are always anxious to hear from you as anyone on the neighborhood.

I believe I have nothing more to write at present. We want you to write to this. I will close by sending my love to you. Yours truly, — Margaret Scott

to James Scott



Wyota [Wisconsin]
October the 20th 1862

Dear Brother,

With pleasure I take my pen in hand this morning to answer your letter which I received yesterday. We were sorry to hear that you left your old camp for we thought you would be safe while you stayed there. I have not much news to write to you today for I wrote you a letter last Sunday and have written every week since you went to Kentucky and there is nothing happens here that is worth writing. We have had very pleasant weather last week. The nights were rather cold but the days are quite pleasant. There has been no rain last week excepting a little shower one night but it did not amount to much but we have had enough of rain for awhile.

Last week we dug our potatoes and we had 50 bushels and I tell you what, my hands are somewhat the worse off, but I suppose there is no use in grumbling anything about it now it is done. There was a great many of them rotten but ours turned out better than any of the neighbors. I guess we will have enough eat now and a few to spare—that is, if our buckwheat turns out pretty well. We don’t depend much on our wheat for I don’t expect there will be more than seed. I expect we will have the machine the last of this week or the first of next. It is at [   ] now (Joe Ferguson’s). It is the only machine that could have got to come in here.

Uncle had a letter from John yesterday and the news was in it that Frank Tennis was dead. He died in the hospital and John is rather poorly too with his side. He is not able to do anything. We have not had any letter from Jim Early yet. We seen the account in the Madison paper that he was wounded severely in the breast. There has been no word from the Pike’s Peak folks since they left excepting one letter that [    ] has got from Margaret the Saturday after they left. They were then at Dubuque, I think. Sarah Mac must be a very interesting correspondent from what you wrote. Well, I believe I have nothing more to write today. Dinner is ready now and I wish you could have a piece if our pumpkin pie. I think you could dispose of it for I suppose you don’t get any such a thing now.

I will close this time by sending my love to you all.

Yours affectionately, — Margaret Scott

To James Scott

Dear Brother,

Being as Mag was writing, I thought I would write a few lines again although you did not answer my letter that I sent to Madison. But I suppose you have so many to write to that you do not have time. Mag and I are getting to be capital farmers. The way we can dig potatoes and shuck corn would astonish you soldiers. Doc Leach and Manda Spence went together to parts unknown so the folks say. I don’t know whether it is so or not but he has left anyway. John Van is home on a furlough. He will not get his commission. I saw quite a long letter of Duncan’s in the last Independent. It was a capital letter. And also one of Charley Ridgman. It did not amount to much though. I have no more to write now. I send my love to you all. From your sister, — Bell




Wyota, [Wisconsin]
October the 31st 1862

Dear Brother,

It is with pleasure I take my pen in hand tonight to answer your letter that I received yesterday. We were all very glad to hear from you for we did not get any last week. We are all well at present, hoping this may find you in good health. My hands are so sore and stiff, I can hardly write for we have been shucking corn for the last two or three days and it is awful hard on the hands. I will have a chance to send this to Gratiot tomorrow to be mailed so I thought I would write tonight. You must excuse this poor writing for I am doing the best I can.

We have not got very much of our corn shucked yet but if the weather keeps pleasant, it will not be very long to finish it. This week so far has been beautiful weather. The days are warm and pleasant but last week was very cold and windy and disagreeable and [___day] there was quite a snowstorm, It snowed about all forenoon and was dreadful cold. We expected to have the thrashing machine this week [but] was disappointed. The thrashing machine went home to shuck their corn. I expect we will have them next week. They thrashed McConnell and the two Boyles’ grain last week. When they come back, they will thrash Cambell’s first and then ours. We thrashed our buckwheat last week. We had 21 bushels. Wes and myself hauled it and father and old Patrick thrashed it. We have our potatoes, turnips, and cabbages in the cellar so if we had the corn in and the wheat thrashed, the worst of our work would be over for this fall. Our cabbage did not head very well and our turnips are small but there is quite a lot of them—as many as Wes will eat and more too.

Tonight is Hallow eve but is rather a dry one here. Wesley eat a few hazlenuts and has gone to bed now. I believe I have nothing more to write at present. We have not had a letter from Bob for two weeks. I think he might write oftener than he does. We have not had any letter from Jim Early yet since the battle. I guess he was wounded very badly or he would have written before this. I hope we will hear from him soon. I would like to know very much how he gets along.

I believe I must close my letter for I am tired. You must write as often as you can for we are always glad to hear from you. I will close by sending my love to your all. Yours truly, — Margaret Scott

to James Scott



Wyota [Wisconsin]
November the 13th 1862

Dear Brother,

I take my pen in hand again to write to you although I just sent one of yesterday (Wednesday) and I got one from you and Wesley got one and you wrote stating you got no letters from us. Well I am very sorry that you do not get any and you seemed to think that we did not write to you. I am sorry that you think so for there has not been one week passed we have written to you both—sometimes twice a week. And if you don’t get them, we can not help it. And you said that you got letters from other folks. Nancy says Frans gets her letters regular and I think it is very strange why you do not get any. And Mac’s folks say Asa does not get any of their letters until three or four weeks after they are written. If we had time to take our letters to Gratiot or Darlington, we would mail them there and see if you would get them any sooner but there is not time.

I have no news to write in this letter. I told you all the news in the one I sent yesterday—what little there was to tell. We have had rather cool weather here for the last two or three days. Father is at the thrashing machine today at Riley’s. He will not be going round for two or three days.

Goods are getting higher here every day. Muslin is 30 cents a yard and calico 20 and 25 cents. None can be got under twenty cents. 3½ lbs. of coffee for three dollar. We got a delano dress and calico dress apiece this fall and I suppose it is all we will get. We got new hoods this fall. That is about the amount of what we got.

Nicholson’s folks got a letter from Margaret yesterday. They were then at Fort Kearny. They get along rather slow. They say one of Larry Flanigan’s horses died there as they were crossing some river (I believe they did not name it) three miles wide. Larry’s team give out in the middle of it and they had to take everything out of the wagon and carry it to the shore. Long Jim Flanigan had a sack of sugar on his back and fell down in the river. The rest all had run to help him as he would have drowned which would have been a great loss to the world.

Well, I have nothing more to write now but if you don’t get letters regular, you must not think we do not write and you write anyhow if you don’t get letters.

Winnie is getting as wise as an old man. He will do anything you tell him. Well, I must close for I must take the letters to town this evening so they will go out tomorrow. From your sister, — Margaret



Wyota [Wisconsin]
November the 23rd 1862

Dear Brother,

With pleasure I take my pen in hand this morning to let you know that we are all well at present, hoping this may find you enjoying the same. I received a letter from you yesterday dated the 16th and one last Wednesday mailed at Frankfort. I think your regiment is fated to be a marching one from the way that you are kept going all the time.

Jim Mason’s company is up at Madison now. We heard that they had gone to Milwaukee but that was a false report. I think they have good times. There is no talk of them leaving the State yet.

I think it is rather hard when after marching all day to lay down on the ground at night and a stick of wood for a pillow. I should think it would make you wish you was at home. They was to draft here the 10th f this month but the 10th came but no drafting. They say now that there is none to be drafted in Lafayette County. Well I have not much to write today for there is nothing going on here that is worth writing .

Father had some men helping him to husk the corn yesterday. They got 8 loads brought in and there is about 3 or 4 to bring in yet. We have had a very pleasant fall here and it is a good thing for the folks generally were rather late with their work.

We have a Norwegian man here now chopping some cord wood. he has been here for over a week. I guess he is rather a poor chopper. Father gives him 50 cents a cord for 10 cord. His name is Arny Olson. School will commence here one week from tomorrow. Betsy McConnell is going to teach here, I believe. She get 14 dollars a month and boards herself.

We heard this morning that box was going to leave Darlington next Thursday and that Bob had wrote to the shoemaker in Darlington to make him a pair of boots to send in the box and Father pay for them and Father wants to know if you want any. If you do, to write and let him know if you thought it would be safe to send a pair by Express if there would be any other box going or any other chance. If this box goes Thursday, there would not be time to hear from you to send in the one. He wants you to send your measure or the number of inches for them. Je is going up to Darlington tomorrow with two pairs of socks to send in the box a pair for you and a pair for Bob. If he had heard about Bob sending for boots before today, he would have went up and had a pair made for you too but it is too late now.

Nancy went home last Tuesday. Charley West is very bad with the rheumatism again. Well, I have nothing more to write today excepting that we have got a little dog from Bayles the other day. Wesley calls him Sigel. So I will close by sending our love to you.

From your sister, — Margaret Scott




Wyota [Wisconsin]
December the 10th 1862

Dear Brother,

I have just finished washing the dishes and set down to answer your letter that I received today and I received one last Saturday but I did not answer that one for Wesley wrote to you that day so I thought I would not write then for there is not much news to write anyhow. I am going to school now. It commenced a week ago last Monday. Wesley went last week but he has not went any this week. He is not very well this week. his hip troubles him considerable. I like Bessie for a teacher first rate better than I thought I should. The school is larger this winter than I thought it would be. There is several came in from other districts. There is two of Charley Wilty’s children, Charley and Ella Barnes, Sidney Van Matre, and Ellen Stout—a girl that lives at Lamb’s, and George Cudy, a boy that lives at Lycan’s. Bill Nicholson is clerk of this district this year. He is very attentive to all the wants of he schoolhouse. He has everything done up just so. He is getting spry in his old age.

The weather is quite pleasant here this week. The snow has almost all melted off today and yesterday. It is very muddy on the roads now. There has not been much snow thus winter so far and I hope there won’t be much but I would rather have a little snow than so much mud.

Well I guess the draft did go off at last in this county. They drafted Saturday. I have not heard who was drafted in any of the towns excepting some in Gratiot, Chance More and Tom Cox, George Lynch, William Beck. I did not hear who the others were yet. They say that Thos. Cox will get clear. He says he won’t go for he post master or has something to do with the mail. There was nine to be drafted out of Gratiot.

Well there has been one wedding in the town since you left. L. E. Johnson and Amanda Cothern are married at last—or at least that is the report now, if it don’t turn out like Doc Leach and Manda Spence marriage. They went off to Chicago together and they report was they were married but in a few days Amanda was back home but Doc has never come back to Wiota yet. I guess he as not many friends around Wyota.

I think camp life agrees with you folks pretty well from what you write. Father got a letter from Frank today for the first. I think he has gained considerable in weight from what he wrote. Bob sent a few lines in Frank’s letter to Wes. It is the first we have had from him for over two weeks. I don’t know why he don’t write oftener than he does. We never get more than a letter in two or three weeks. He said in this letter that he was out of stamps. Well, seems you will never get that paper and postage stamps that Father sent to you. I should think that there would have been time for to get there when you wrote. We can’t get stamps here for anything but gold or silver or United States money at all. We haven’t got but two stamps in the house now but where we mail the letter we will get a few to send to you.

I got a letter from Mary Tennis about two weeks Aho. I guess she has taken another fit of writing. She spoke about writing to you and getting no answer. She seemed to be very anxious to hear from you. I have not answered her letter yet. I won’t be in any hurry about it neither. We have never had any letter from James Early yet. I suppose hr is not able to write if he is living at all. I would like very much to hear from him. They say that John Agnew has got o be Captain of that company, If that is so, I think John has got up pretty well.

Well, I guess I have nothing more to write at present. I am tired writing now. It is nine o’clock and that is bed time. I will close this time by sending our love to you all and hoping to hear from you often. So goodnight. From your sister, — Mag



Wyota [Wisconsin]
Sunday morning
January 25, 1863

Dear Brother,

With pleasure I take my pen in hand this morning to let you know that we are all well at present, hoping this may find you enjoying the same. I received two letters yesterday from you which you commenced at Memphis and finished at Gaster’s Landings and a piece in the letter Frank sent to Wes dated January 8th in which you were then laying at the mouth of the White river. Well, I think you are getting enough of boat riding anyhow and getting to see considerable of Dixie. Well, if a person could feel safe on such expeditions, it would be very pleasant, I should think, seeing so much. But when you don’t know how soon you my be in danger, I should think you would not enjoy it very much. I do think you had a very narrow escape from the Battle at Vicksburg. I think you were lucky to be so near and not be engaged. We thought you were in the battle until we got a letter a week ago yesterday which was the first we received since you left Memphis. Three weeks that we did not get any letters. Nancy or McConnell’s did not get any letters. Well, we answered the last we got from you. We did not write for a couple of weeks back for did not know whether you were on the boats. We did not know whether you would get them.

You wrote about having nice warm weather down there. Well, we have had a very warm winter here so far. No snow of any account. When it does snow a little, it thaws right off in a day or two so that it has been awful muddy all the time. But Monday night it snowed about three inches deep, commenced thawing Tuesday, and kept on thawing and Thursday night it rained all night & all day Friday, and took all the snow off again. It froze up Friday night and cleared up again. Today is a beautiful day for January. The sun is shining bright and warm but it getting dreadful muddy. This has been a good winter for stock. The colts and Deb have run out all winter.

Father got that money from Hudson the day he went up for it. I have not seen any of Jim’s folks for a long time. If the roads ever gets half way decent, I guess we will go up. We went up to meeting last Sunday to the stone meeting house as it was tolerable good walking. Betsy and Anna and Bell and I and had the pleasure of seeing a bride & groom—Mrs. Swank and George Dobbs were the happy pair. They were married the next day after old Mr. Van Matre was buried. Folks generally were considerably surprised at the match.

Wesley received a letter from John Van last Wednesday. They are still at Racine & no prospect of them leaving. He said that Dan Dipple was under arrest then for staying out all night without leave from the Colonel and it was supposed he would lose his office. George Whitman is home now. He has been home two or three weeks. I don’t know whether he is going back again or not. They say he is pretty lame. John Anderson is home. I guess he is discharged. I saw him at meeting last Sunday. His nose looks rather bad where he was shot.

Jim Early, I think, has had a hard time in the hospital. I suppose Bell wrote to you. about having a letter from him.

Well, I think John Haughhowant must certainly be sick of the bargain he made with Uncle Sam. Lizzie Welty got a letter from him a short time ago. He told a pretty hard story. Liz answered the letter. If Louisa heard of the correspondence, she would make a fuss. Liz said it was a very nice letter. Jane Welty requested me ask you why you never answered her letter. She never got an answer to the last letter she wrote you. She is coming to school now. Mr. Parkinson was visiting our school last Thursday. S. E. Johnson left Wiota last Monday for down south. He and Dean is going into cotton speculation.

Father says if you think it would be safe, he would send 5 dollars between you and Bob and if you think you would get it when you write, let us know. Well, I have no more today, I guess, so I will close by sending our love to you all. Write as often as you can. We have not had a letter from Bob for four weeks. He must not be able to write, I think, or he would write some oftener if he was.

No more at present. Yours truly, — Margaret Scott



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