1863-65: Cyrene H. Blakely to Celia (Leland) Blakely

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Cyrene H. Blakely (1837-1898), ca. 1863

These letters were written by Cyrene H. Blakely (1837-1898) who rose in rank from 2nd Lieutenant to Captain of Co. K, while serving in the 3rd Minnesota Infantry from November 1861 to June 1864. At that time, he was discharged from the 3rd Minnesota to accept a position as a commissioned officer of the U. S. Volunteers Commissary Department. He remained with the Commissary Department until October 1865, when he was mustered out as a Brevet Major.

Cyrene was the son of David B. Blakely (1804-1863) and Selena ____ (1805-1890) of Chicago, Illinois. Cyrene was married to Celia Rachel Leland (1843-1902) in March 1864. Celia was the daughter of Marshall W. Leland (1810-1877) and Julia Harriet Anson (1818-1873).

The commissary appointment turned out to be quite lucrative. He started sending home thousands of dollars periodically. In one letter he tells her how they are doing it: he has another guy who buys cattle at 3 cents per pound, then the government buys it for 5 cents. They split the profits. 

Following the war, Cyrene returned to Chicago and joined his brother David in starting the Daily Evening Post in 1865. He remained with that paper for four years and then started a publishing business in Chicago. He died in Chicago on 4 July 4 1898. Celia died in 1902, presumably in Rochester where she is interred.



Fort Heiman ¹ [Kentucky]
May 24, 1863
Sunday P. M.

My darling,

I was most agreeably surprised this morning upon awakening from my sleep to find a letter on the table from you, and a dear good one it was too, dearest, for the past fornight I have had but little to do and you have been in my thoughts continually. I think of you, darling, the whole time. How cruel that a few of the spare hours so unprofitably wasted at Fort Hernian could not be spent in the presence of my darling! Write to me as often as you can. I have but little else to do than write to my friends.

I take a ride every day upon your pony. It is getting to be a very wild animal, which I attribute to a want of exercise. I am as yet unsuccessful in my endeavors to make her stand the show of military parades. When once conquered, I think it will make a fine animal for such uses. I shall send it to you by David, if I do not return myself. (But how I do hope to be able to go back with him!) I shall hardly consent to your riding “Fanny” until I can be with you to assist and protect you from danger. She is by far too fond of her pranks for one unaccustomed to riding to manage.

It was my intention to send the horse to Father with instructions to give him to some farmer to keep until my return. But as your Father has kindly consented to keep it, I will have it sent direct to him. It must be rode every day or become almost entirely unmanageable. It is not ugly but playful.

To tell the truth, it is the identical horse upon which “Mollie’s” lover—the rebel Lieut. Aden rode, and endeavored to escape from our soldiers. ² His sister has been here and cried many times over the loss of her horse, but its former rider is an enemy to the government and it has fallen into my hands for my darling to ride.

Darling, I wish I could assist in preparing you for school. I know you have to work very hard. I shall allow nothing of the kind after our marriage. You may think I speak bluntly upon this subject. I shall always insist to be dictator. I hope never to have to ask you to work for me or for either of us, and, so long as I can earn daily bread for us without your working, so long must you refrain from it.

The mail last week was burned on the Illinois Central [Rail]Road. Receiving no letter from you on Friday, I concluded that my regular letter from you had “perished in the flames” and that I must wait awhile for another.

Until I return or have an opportunity to go to Paducah or Cairo, the enclosed melainotype must answer you. There is no life about the eyes or face somehow. As for the dress, take off the color and coat, and you will have the exact appearance of your Cyrene. But fifteen minutes during the day do I burden myself with a coat—during guard mounting.

I have a desire to go up the river on one of the gunboats as far as Florence, Alabama. If possible to get away while David is here, I shall go. The boats remain above about a week. It will be a pleasant trip for the hot weather and afford an opportunity that will never again occur of seeing the country. I have traveled on the Cumberland from its mouth to Nashville; on the Ohio from Louisville to its mouth; and a few miles from Alton to St. Louis and Cairo to Columbus on the Mississippi, below LaCross. I often wish that you were with me when traveling. I know you would enjoy it.

An “inspecting officer” visited and reviewed the troops at he post today. It was the first time the “3rd” was ever reviewed by an officer specially detailed for that duty. It was, I think, the finest military display I have seen in the army. The New York Militia, however, sometimes make more noise.

Again I am in luck. The Paymaster did not have funds sufficient on his first visit to pay all the troops here. He returned last week and paid the balance. As a special favor, he paid me to the 30th of April. The whole amount—$234.35—was sent home, being useless to me here.

I feel very little like writing today—the weather is so very hot. The heat makes both fingers and mind inactive.

Darling, I do love you, however. It is useless to conceal it longer. I love you only. Do you care?

I shall look for David and “deliverance” next week. As the time approaches, my heart fails, and I dare hardly hope with expectation of success. If the aff’t does come, I shall have cause to thank my brother as long as I live for his kindness.

May I kiss and hug and love when we meet? Oh, you’ll repent, I fear, after one meeting for what you’ve said. Mother says the healthiest women could not live long with me about to caress her of which there may be a large allowance for “stretching.” You see I can joke sometimes even upon serious subjects. Love me always. I will never disapprove it. Be a good girl as you always are and believe me your devoted, — Cyrene

¹ Fort Heiman was built on a high bluff on the west side of the Tennessee river in Calloway County, Kentucky, opposite Fort Henry. It was started by the Confederates but was unfinished when Fort Henry fell to Grant’s troops in 1862. Before federal troops abandoned it in 1863, they razed the fortifications so it could be of no use to Confederates. The 3rd Minnesota arrived at Fort Heiman on Saturday, March 14, 1863.

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Clinton Aden (1835-1888) when about age 20.

² The only “Lieut. Aden” I could find among Confederate rosters was Clinton Aden. Co. I, K, 10th Tennessee Cavalry (DeMoss’) who enlisted in April 1863, one month before his letter was written. A subsequent search on Ancestry.com revealed that Clinton Alonzo Aden (1835-1888) was from Paris, Henry county, Tennessee. He initially served as a Lieutenant in the 5th Tennessee Infantry but resigned to accept a 1st Lieutenant’s position in the 10th Tennessee Cavalry. He was married to Mary (“Mollie”) Fugua (1840-1881) in June 1865. The Fuqua family lived within about twenty miles of Fort Heiman. Before and after the war, Clinton Aden practiced law and eventually became a judge. It was Lt. Clinton Aden that was given the honor of delivering the battle flags captured at the Battle of Shiloh to Richmond. [Source: A History of the Henry County Command, by Lt. Edwin H. Rennolds] A diary kept by James Boardman of Co. B, 3rd Minnesota claims that nine rebel guerrillas were brought into camp on Tuesday, May 12th 1863. Maybe one of these was Lt. Clinton Aden. They escaped the following day, perhaps without their horses.

[Editor’s Note: This letter was written to Cyrene Blakely from Celia Leland.]


Rochester [Minnesota]
May 31st 1863
Sabbath Afternoon

My dearest Cyrene,

A few leisure moments are mine, before evening service, ad fearing another opportunity for addressing you may not be enjoyed for several days, I embrace this moment to assure you dear Cyrene, how very, very dear you are to me. I pray that very soon I may be permitted to clasp my arms around your neck, and call you my own darling Cyrene, and tell you how fondly I love you only, ever. Dearest, every hour of my life do I realize more perfectly the fact, that you are all—yes all, to me, the idol of my heart! Dearest, love your own affectionate Celia still, and remember how dearly I will love you, and that I will continue wholly devoted to you forever!

If you still desire and intend to purchase the farm of my father, I hope that you will so inform him and make arrangements for so doing immediately. Within three weeks, father has several times been offered more than $3,000 for the farm. But he will accept no offer until assured by you that you do not wish to purchase the property. Dearest, the longer I reflect upon this subject, the greater is my desire that you purchase this farm. I confidently believe that you can pay for it, Think at what a very low price you may purchase it, comparatively. It is a splendid opportunity for us to acquire a pleasant, a valuable home. In short, it appears to me to be the very best thing that can be done, all things considered.

Dear Cyrene, I can write no longer. Remember that I love you only, and with my whole heart. Cyrene is the dearest one of all others to me.

Our father, we commit ourselves and the dearest interests of our lives unto thee. In mercy, dear father, spare and restore us to each other in safety.

Please daring, accept this brief message and a kiss. From your own devoted Celia.

Written in great haste.


Addressed to Miss Celia R. Leland, Box 1334, Milwaukie, Wisconsin

Rochester, [Minnesota]
June 17, 1863
Wednesday P. M.

My own loved one,

In a very few moments, I shall leave Rochester. This step has been decided upon since noon. Every moment will be required to pack my trunks and I can only remember you with a word of love this afternoon.

Dearest, it is painful for me to communicate the intelligence to you just received from Brother David in relation to my future. He thinks the Gov. has left St. Paul and that without his influence, it will be impossible for me to receive the desired order placing me on duty at St. Paul. I shall not release my efforts, however, until after a trial with Sibley’s friends.

To offset this, I have his solemn assurance that, if ordered South, he will have my resignation put through the department.

In a day or two—immediately upon arriving at St. Paul—I will write to you and inform you of all prospects. Remember, dearest, that I think of and love you always. Darling, there is no person in the world whose affection I could cherish as deeply as I do yours. Ever am I mindful of the true worth—the pure character of the one who loves me; and dearest, I endeavor to make myself as worthy as I can be of that affection. I love you always dearly and only. Your devoted, — Cyrene

7 P. M. The stage was so full, darling, that I concluded not to go until morning. This evening, at mother’s special request, I shall visit for a few moments at Mr. Hurlbut’s after I have made a short call at your Mother’s. Your friends are all well. I went to the farm today but concluding that I must go to St. Paul immediately, accomplished nothing.

Mother is waiting for me. Darling, remember that I love you sincerely and often pray to God to protect you. Good night, my loved one. Be a good girl as you ever have been, dearest, and believe me your faithful & devoted, — Cyrene


Addressed to Miss Celia R. Leland, Box 1334, Milwaukie, Wisconsin

Saint Paul, [Minnesota]
June 22, [1863]
Monday P. M.

My beloved, my own,

For over two days I have been in this city and yet no word of love has been sent to you as promised in my last brief note written from Rochester on Wednesday evening. Believe me, dearest one, I have been too sick to write you even a word, and now, I am too feeble to attempt to guide my pen. Therefore, my ever beloved Celia, will you forgive me for what had the appearance perhaps of neglect?

Friday, Saturday and Sunday I was confined to the bed. So constant have been my thoughts with you, dearest, that I have not closed my eyes to sleep for forty-eight hours. Dr. Cross is here and has succeeded in driving off the fever, headache and backache, and a day or two more to regain my strength, and I shall be well again.

It is quite probable that I shall start for the Indian Expedition next week, reaching it 200 miles Northwest of here, by stage, at Ft. Abercrombie. But there is yet no certainty of anything connected with my military future.

Dearest one, I shall in all probability be entirely well within three days; then, when strength has returned, I will write you at length. Until then, dearest, excuse me with this effort.

Brother David is here with me. Lieut. Stearns stands near me. Dr. Cross, Mr. Ells, Mr. & Mrs. Mellen, and other Rochester people are here.

Darling, I love you dearly and long for your letters to commence again their regular visitations. It is nearly a fortnight since I left you since which time I have heard from you only through your mother.

Please direct your letters for me in care of D. Blakely, Secretary of State, St. Paul.

Goodbye, dearest one, for today. Love as ever, and believe me thine only, ever, — Cyrene



Saint Paul, Minnesota
June 23, 1863

My dearest one,

My strength is returning fast, and by tomorrow I shall call myself well again. I had a good, undisturbed rest last night, which refreshed me very much. Dearest, for the last fortnight I have not enjoyed one half the sleep that nature requires, Perhaps this will account in some measure for my illness.

The thought that your Cyrene will possibly be on the road to Fort Abercrombie before an answer to this letter can be received is very painful. Darling, I am compelled to communicate intelligence to you that I know will be unwelcome, but I cannot permit you to hope for that which I know will never be received.

Dearest, beyond a doubt, I shall be on my way to Abercrombie within a week as my order from Gen. Pope required reporting to Gen. Sibley about the 7th of July, when he will be encamped about seventy five miles west of Abercrombie. I could remain in St. Paul for the present, but learning that I were here, Gen. Pope would probably order me back to my regiment for not going on and reporting to Sibley. That wouldn’t be pleasant, would it darling? And the military authorities here being inferior in rank to General Sibley will not take the responsibility to order me to refrain here.

I received a letter yesterday from Maj. Gen. Dana, now at Philadelphia, stating that he would like to give me a position on his staff, if acceptable to me. Under any other circumstances, I would accept the place; but I have sacredly promised by beloved Celia that I would not go South again and the promise shall not be violated.

Celia, there is one feature of the military expedition that I do not like, and which I know will cause you a great deal of anxiety during my absence. After it leaves Abercrombie, there is to be no communication with it for two months, at the expiration of which time it will return.

I have often assured you, my darling, that there would be no danger. the more I think of it, the more convinced do I become that, instead of attacking a column of 2000 Infantry, 8 pieces artillery, and about 800 cavalry. The handful of savages will fall to the rear of the expedition and commit depredations upon the small frontier post garrisoned by a company or less of men, with a view to plunder solely. I am surprised to learn too that the people are all of the opinion that the expedition is a sham, gotten up for Duncombe solely. That was my belief and I have often so expressed myself before coming to St. Paul. Everyone here is of the same opinion.

Celia, to be compelled to go on this expedition before I can see, or even hear from you on the subject, is an infliction that I can scarcely bear. Twice today I have been to my room and packed my trunk with the intention of starting to Milwaukee to see you on the next boat. But upon reflection, that order, which says, “no officer shall visit Milwaukee without permission from the commanding general,” influenced me to remain, trusting that you would duly appreciate my intention. Dearest, would you not prefer to see me at the end of six months, with a good standing as an officer, than to greet me now, and again in a month, at Milwaukee, “for trial by court martial, for violation of orders. Yes, dearest, I know your sentiments on this subject. You would have me guard sacredly my character both as an officer and citizen, and shall do so as long as I live. The fact of my receiving no letters from you since I left Milwaukee—two weeks tomorrow—is the cause of much sorrow. I have two things to fear first, that you are sick, and secondly, that the P. O. direction given me is incorrect. Did you tell me to direct to P. O. Box 1334, dearest? That is the No. I have and I have so directed my epistles.

Darling, I will explain to you now why I deem it for the best for the present as well as future happiness of yourself and your Cyrene for me to go on the expedition. If I stay here this summer, there will be nothing for me to do (as I can now receive no appointments out of my regiment within at least two months) there will be a great hue & cry raised by politicians that I am detailed here to do nothing through the favoritism of the War Department. these same men will make a statement to the Secretary of War to this effect; and he will order me quicker to the bosom of the interesting Mr. C. C. Griggs for protection. Darling, I would have no chance to resign for the order would require me to report immediately, and I would not even dare to remain two or three days to see my friends. Neither of us desire to be so situated as to fear each mail that arrives will bring an order for me to join my regiment.

As for the future, if I go on the expedition, and return with it, there will be plenty to do, and Gen. Sibley will station me at St. Paul, where I can remain all winter, if thought best, by the time of my return too. David will probably have some position fr me that will be acceptable to you as well as myself.

If it is possible for me to remain in the army now without giving you continual uneasiness, it is my duty to do so. My duty to you, dearest, requires it. I have promised to provide for you a home, and to support you, after a brief time, during life. Darling, I can see now no business that I could establish myself in and earn that large amount that we shall actually require to start ourselves upon the farm. I was surprised after paying $600 upon the farm and David’s expenses to Washington and return (to have me assigned to this department) to learn that I had nothing left. On the first day of July, my affairs will be as follows: [herein follows details of investments and farm]

….Darling, I love you, and worship you. It pains me to break the intelligence conveyed in this letter. But I believe I shall be free from all danger, so far as Indians are concerned. The chances of life will be about the same, otherwise, upon the expedition that they would at St. Paul. I believe in my heart that Divine Providence has decreed that you and I should live to become man and wife. That desirable end will be accomplished, I believe, within a year, and we shall settle quietly and love each other sufficiently to make up for the trials endured now.

My letter is full already and I have not written half that I intended tomorrow. I will write again.

Dearest, if compelled to go without first hearing from you, I shall be unhappy. Please write by return mail directing my letter in care of D. Blakely.

Ever yours, — Cyrene


Addressed to Miss Celia R. Leland, Box 1334, Milwaukie, Wisconsin
Care of A. Granger Leland, Esq.

[International Hotel Stationery]
St. Paul, Minnesota
June 24, 1863
Wednesday P. M.

My best beloved,

All that is required to make Room No. 40, International Hotel, perfect in all particulars is the presence of my darling, and it is my fond hope—my daily prayer—that before another year rolls round, she will be present to enliven the drooping spirits, and render comfortable and happy the present occupant of the aforesaid Room No. 40. O, darling, I shall need so much of your love—kind caressing, such as only Celia can feelingly bestow upon her loving Cyrene! Darling, I trust you will never tire in this work, but that your love, with undeniable manifestations of the same, will increase as long as life lasts.

Dearest one, I am feeling badly again today for the want of a letter from you. Is it possible that none of my epistles have reached you? Why was it that I was so forgetful as not to ask you to write me very soon after my departure? Can I ever leave St. Paul without hearing from you? If compelled to do so, I can only pray that all is well and will result favorably to our happiness. It is almost heart-rending to think of going off so far for two months, without hearing from you. But darling, painful as it is, I believe it to be the best course that I can pursue. I do not doubt but that on my return, I shall find my beloved Celia with open arms and heart to receive me. You remember, dearest, using these words in one of your late letters: “Cherish these words of your devoted Celia forever, dearest, remember if you are ever imprisoned by the enemy, the pledge which I desire to give you at this hour, which pledge Celia will keep sacredly forever. I will love you, dearest Cyrene, only and devotedly the same as now, as long as I live!”

Darling, though I shall not be imprisoned by the enemy, I shall be deprived of your letters, as you will be of mine, for two months, and then will come the trial of hearts! Every day of my absence, Celia, I will pray to God to make me strong in heart—to preserve my loved one, and return us to each other the same loving ones as now! I live solely upon the heavenly hope that you will soon be my wife. If your love were taken from me, dearest one, I should certainly die of grief. I would not want to live a day. I have no fears for myself and as for my devoted Celia—any woman that can write as strong language as the above and feels it as she does, will love me the same one year from today, no matter whether she hears from me the coming two months or not.

Therefore, darling, I do not hesititate to do that which I believe will result in benefit to us. Celia, if our affection is not permanent enough to outlive this separation, it is not worth mentioning. Better by far if there are fears that it be tried.

It is unfortunate that I cannot visit you before I go. If you were at any other place in the world—the first town west of Milwaukie, or even outside the city limits, I could visit you without violation of orders. But the “city of Milwaukie” is shut out from the visits of all military gentlemen. ¹ Immediately upon my return, I will pay you a visit, if within the power of possibilities. If I cannot get there, I shall insist upon your visiting at your home that I might see you there. And here let me say that I hope you will make it a point to visit there at all hazards next fall. I will meet you and we can have a pleasant time—better by far than at Milwaukie. I spoke to your mother about it and she answered as though the matter rested with you wholly.

I am quite anxious to know what your determinations are generally about the future; whether you remain at Milwaukie until Spring, or return sooner to Rochester. The most selfish argument that I can bring to bear in favor of the latter is, that, if you are at Rochester, I can visit you often; if at Milwaukee, Gen. Pope will say that one visit during the winter will be sufficient. In the former case, I visit you as often as I please; in the latter as often as my superior officer pleases. There is some difference, you will observe.

Lieut. Stearns informs me that Lieu. Danils does not like me any too well. So too with the gentleman’s amiable sister. I learned from my mother and Mrs. Cunningham that she said when she heard I was in Rochester, she hoped I would not call there for my company ws always very disagreeable to her. I was glad to learn that she had changed her mind on that subject. I met her, with Dorleski and your brother Horace one evening. Wishing to see him, I walked home with them. The next evening I stepped into the house to get some articles of mine in Celia’s possession, remaining not over one half hour. These two were the only times I saw her during my visit at Rochester.

Darling, the consciousness of ever having committed an act that would in any manner render me unworthy the entire confidence and affection of my beloved Celia would make me the most unhappy person in the world. I believe, dearest, that no act of my life would bring sorrow to the heart of my noble Celia. It will ever be my aim to act thus honorably, that I may be the more worthy of your love! While I have never been a man of bad principles, I am becoming better every day. When I think of the inestimable gift bestowed upon me in the shape of your undivided love and confidence, I cannot do too much toward making myself as worthy of it as possible.

Celia, I do not say all this to boast—merely to assure you that I appreciate you and the love you feel for me. Few, very few young men in St. Paul but that take a little something to drink, play a game of billiards, or cards, or visit low places occasionally: none in the army hereabouts but that do it, save your Cyrene. Many, many times during the day do I refuse temptation. I shall always live thus—always be thus determined, with Celia’s devoted heart to beatt in unison with mine, and to tell me that I am good.

Dearest one, my love for you is so strong, that I can never be happy again until we are married. Let me beg of you not to think of putting it off longer than Spring. I will bear everything until then, when the long cherished prize must be mine! Happy day! Happy man! Darling—my wife! Right here by my side, on my knee, in my arms—everywhere with me! Happy, happy man. For today darling, good bye, and believe me your devoted, — Cyrene

I received a letter from Sergeant Major Hale on Monday. The regiment is at Haine’s Bluff, 11 miles north of Vicksburg. He says they do not expect to be in any engagement. He promised to communicate gossip about me, but failed to do so. Probably he has fallen in with the popular clamor. Nevertheless, I shall remember my promise to him and call on his brave little Sara, if I ever pass through Cannon Falls again.

Dearest, I shall have a large photograph taken for you tomorrow and sent by express to Milwaukee, care of your cousin. It will probably reach there about the first of July. I have looked about town for a ring for you. I can find nothing that suits in the small variety, I want one that you can wear every day—one that’s not showy—valuable, but modest. All the diamonds to be found are too flashy for continual wear. Therefore, to last for the present, and until I can visit Milwaukee, I will send with photograph a plain gold ring which, darling, I desire you to wear in remembrance of my love. If it does not fit your finger, a jeweler can easily change it. And now, my loved one, goodbye again. Oh for a kiss! I love you, dearest, only ever!

¹ Draft riots in Milwaukee in May 1863 resulted in military personnel being ordered not to enter the city for fear of further rioting.


Addressed to Miss Celia R. Leland, Box 1334, Milwaukie, Wisconsin

Headquarters of the Forces in Garrison
District of Minnesota, Department of the Northwest
Saint Paul, Minnesota
September 4, 1863
Friday P. M.

My loved one,

I start at five o’clock tomorrow morning to join the Indian Expedition with dispatches for General Sibley too important to trust to the mails. At last accounts, the expedition was a few miles this side of Abercrombie, moving steadily towards “civilization,” and are probably by this time near St. Cloud. At the the outside, I shall reach them on Sunday, traveling beyond St. Cloud with a private team. I shall reach here again by Tuesday night unless Gen. Sibley directs differently. No doubt he will desire me to return immediately with answers to the dispatches.

I am sorry that there are no late letters from you, I have watched—though in my last I believe I said I had given that up—but no word of love has come to pay me for my watchfulness. It is a long while for me between Friday and Saturday of the following week.

I am most happy to embrace this opportunity of stirring myself about for exercise. My provate business has nearly all been settled with the government since I came here, a job that I have disliked for a year to take hold of.

Darling, let me hear from you as often as you can conveniently. The perusal of your welcome missives affords hours and hours of happiness to your beloved Cyrene. I have heard nothing from home since my letter of Tuesday. As intimated, I sent the money to your Father. I must close.

Be a good girl always, love me with your whole heart, and believe me ever yours only, — Cyrene

I shall love you ever moment while absent as well as when I return.

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Gen. H. H. Sibley and his staff at St. Paul in 1863


Addressed to Miss Celia R. Leland, Box 1334, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

[International Hotel Stationery]
St. Paul, Minnesota
September 7, 1863
Monday eve.

My Darling,

The enclosed note explains to that which my hurting too sad to mention. Would that I had pursued my way a week ago and gone to the bedside of my dying father.

I leave tomorrow morning at nine o’clock by boat, and hope—in vain, tho’, I fear, to reach Rochester before death claims its victim.

I have just returned from the [Indian] Expedition, and, if not too sad, would urge the plea of weariness as an excuse for writing but a few words this evening.

My disappointment is great—that there is no word from my loved one waiting me. Please do not forget your devoted Cyrene entirely. I will write, dear one, from Rochester. My stay will probably not be over a week.

Good night, dear one. May God protect you and spare you to me as long as I live! From your loving, — Cyrene

[Enclosed letter]

Rochester, September 2, 1863

My dear Cie,

Contrary to our hopes and expectations, father is again very much worse, and the doctor thinks the chances are against his recovery. I myself think it exceedingly doubtful whether you will ever again see him alive, and perhaps, if the Colonel is willing you should come, it would be well for you to come down and spend a week with us. Father would desire to see you much. He is conscious of his state and has himself declared that he should never again get up. The main trouble now is his heart disease, which is likely to prove fatal any moment. In haste.

Yours in sadness, — David


Saint Paul, Minn.
October 4, 1863
Sunday A. M.

My beloved Celia,

The weather for the past three days has been decidedly wintry, and it is so cold this morning that I have concluded to remain inside and not attend church.

I dread the cold to come. My business will require many trips between this city and Fort Snelling and I doubt whether a road can be found within many miles upon which the cutting winds have a more unobstructed sweep. With a view of making myself as comfortable as possible upon these occasions, I have written to Chicago to have my fur coat left there last winter sent to me. It will be a useful article.

How is my darling this morning> Where is she and how engaged? Would that I could rap at your door at this moment and receive you in my embrace! No joy would be greater. I long for a kiss and to hear the gentle word of love direct from your lips.

I set $50 to your father yesterday, My expenses for the coming month will be very heavy as they were last month and I could spare no more. I am determined to pay him at least that amout out of my monthly salary, but I can see that it will often compel me to use economy where I have heretofore failed to. Only think what a debt I owe. It will require nearly four years to extinguish it, paying $50 per month without the interest, which this year will be $150 at least.

Brother David has nearly completed his building. It will, I think, be ready for occupancy within a month. I regret that I did not take hold with him and assist in building it. There will, however, be other chances next year. Perhaps your father will offer one.

He is thinking some of starting some mercantile business in Rochester. If so, I shall perhaps engage with him in it. I desire to leave the army in the spring; indeed, I have thought that you would demand it. This being the case, I shall of course settle in Rochester and we can devote much of our time to visiting at your home. For at least the first year of our married life, you can spend as much of that time as you desire with your mother. Why is it then that you cannot come to me now—live with and make me happy during the few intervening months? It was expected when you left home that you would not return until spring. As I understand from your father, you will be at home very soon, contrary to the original plans. I cannot see that your mother will be deprived of any moment of your presence by marrying me now, without perhaps it would be the few days you were expecting to remain at home in the spring previous to our marriage. If it is desired, I will by no means object to your visiting at home previous to my own arrival at that time. I will not be near to engage your time or attention and your mother can have you all to herself.

Do not say that you are not prepared. I will take you as you are and give you time to make your preparations afterwards. I am in earnest in this matter, dearest. If you desire to become mine this fall, there is no reason in the world why you cannot. I do not hesitate to say that if you will intimate such a desire to your mother, and give me permission to ask it, she will grant it. Your father will need no agreement. He will consent, I am satisfied, at any hour. I shall never see another happy moment until you are my wife. We love each other truly. Your education is finished. My business is sufficient to give you proper support. We have reached the age and why delay longer? O, dear one, do, do say that you will come to me now and heal this bleeding heart. For six long months I have patiently waited. Can you ask me to suffer longer? If there was any reason in the world why we could not be married immediately, I would not ask you to do so intil spring. If your mother wishes your company, she can have it next year all she likes. But come and make me happy at the very hour when you are needed and when I shall best know how to appreciate you. It will be a dull, long, unpleasant winter for me if obliged to live without you. We can have the advantage of a season at the “Capitol” this winter, where all is life and gaiety. Without you, I can enjoy none of the pleasures of life.

I am banished almost from the world because I have not my loved one to share its joys with me. Come to me, dear one, and you shall have books, music, riding, skating, and any amusements that you desire. My time shall be devoted to you every moment when it is not actually engaged officially, and it will not be thus engaged one hour out of twenty-four.

Consider the matter in all its bearings, dear one, and I am sure you cannot refuse. If you really desire to make me happy, you can never have a better time. It is impossible to tell you how lonely I shall be unless you are near.

Upon a bureau in my room, beneath the mirror, stands the failure of the one who is my life’s idol. I never enter my room without stopping to gaze upon that loving form. As it is the last object looked upon at night, so do my eyes first open upon it at morn; hours have I looked upon this dearly prized picture. No man ever suffered one half as much fair as I have within the past two months from your absence. Come and take the place of this picture. Let me worship you as I have it. Let me love you, kiss and caress, and hold you close in my embrace as I do this picture every day I live! Can you refuse my entreaties, dearest—oh, dearest of all!

I realize the struggle—the great effort that it will cause you to leave home. But if your heart is as full of love as it should be (and I never for a moment have thought otherwise) you will never regret it. Do not delay—it will make me miserable. Say that I may live for you this long, long winter, and I verily believe you will never regret it!

A peculiar loneliness has been experienced since my return to this city. True, I have lost a beloved parent, the thought of which grieves me many times daily. I can account for it in no other way than that I am thoroughly convinced that I am living alone when my loved one should be here to comfort me. What think you?

We are to have the draft in a few days. Then hurrah for fun! Stout men will tremble and weak ones shake! Stand from under, you that haven’t a broken bone, disjointed limb, or the “regular three hundred!” Your chance is coming to serve Uncle Sam in a new sphere!

The order making me Ordnance Officer will be issued tomorrow morning. It has been delayed to arrange some trifling preliminaries.

Write to me at the very earliest opportunity. Consider carefully y urgent solicitation to be married immediately. Let “arrangements for marriage” go. We can “manage” matters to our own liking afterwards. There will be nothing else to do this whole winter.

Dear one, you can little know the true extent of my affection for you until after you have lived with me. I am confident that you will never regret your choice of a husband and if you conclude to become mine this fall—as I pray you will. I am certain of my ability to make you happy this winter as indeed during your whole life. Then, oh, my loved one, and as you alone can and do, and may heaven bless you for it! Your devoted, — Cyrene

Addressed to Miss Celia R. Leland, Rochester, Olmsted county, Minnesota


Headquarters St. Paul, [Minnesota]
January 31, 1864
Sunday eve

My beloved Celia,

I trust that ‘ere this you have read my hastily prepared note entrusted to Sgt. Wright for delivery, and that all anxiety concerning my return trip is allayed. The ride, dear, though accomplished without serious accident, was a very tiresome one. The seep snow through which we floundered a fortnight previous, had been sufficiently softened by the thaw to let the horses hoofs at almost every step through to the ground. For miles, on the first day, we could not drive faster than a walk; but even at this slow pace we reached Cannon Falls, our stopping place, at seven in the evening. I retired at nine to think and dream, dearest of you; it was a sorrowful night for me; and but for your precious picture, which was folded to my bosom for the night, I should have been wretched enough.

The second morning we started a ½ past seven towards Hastings, hoping to find better roads that way but had not rode more than an hour before, very suddenly (Albert driving) and Mr. Blakely and the other baggage was nicely piled upon the side of the road. No injury, however, to man, beast, or baggage resulted, but a terrible trying of fatigue there was, I assure you. We found some bare ground afterwards, though not enough to compel us to walk. Arrived at Hastings at 10½. I met Langley, a determined bore, who would give me no peace until I went to see his wife.

We were on the road again at one, distance 20 miles from St. Paul. But the snow had quite disappeared and we walked much of the way. At about ½ past six in the evening, we “encountered” a little snow (distance from here two miles) and both got in to ride, the horses starting off at the top of their speeds but we were not permitted to enjoy more than a half-mile of the ride before whack! and flop! over went the sleigh, out goes Mr. Blakely again, turning this time a double somersault over Albert’s head and landing in—-in—–a mud puddle! I picked myself up as soon as my outrafed good nature would permit and took a view of things. “Well, well,” soliloquized ye big Blakely boy, “here’s a pretty kettle of fish; a long ways from home, dark as ‘a stack of blacks cats,’ baggage lying about in an inextricable state of confusion, wet as a drowned rate, cutter ‘tother’ side up, horses trying to run away, and things disarranged generally.” Ah! dear! it was too much for me. I was mad! I am afraid that if “fear of the Lord” had not been before me at that moment, and the love of my angelic Celia in my mind, I should have vented my wrath in the use of emphatic English. But dear, believe me, I didn’t swear—no, not one naughty word escaped from my lips.

After a moment’s survey of the scene (beautiful view—pitch dark), however, I wondered if you would laugh, if you could see my predicament, and so fully convinced did I become that you would, that I finally laughed outright myself! Couldn’t help it, dear. “Solemn” was the occasion; tried to smother my feelings,” but laugh was “bound to come,” and come it did!

We picked up our traps and started again on our journey, concluding that our hurry was all over, and that it would at least be safe to “go slow!” And more particularly was I convinced of this by the raining of large drops of water down the inside of my pants, reminding me of what in the excitement of the moment I had entirely failed to realize—namely that I reached the ground over Albert’s head, it was in the natural sitting posture!

Dear, it was a pretty hard scrape, but we managed to get here by seven o’clock and after drying ourselves and washing off some of the mud, we ate a very hearty supper. My friends were all glad to see me again, and much pleased with my account of the perilous adventure above narrated.

It was too late, dear, to write you that evening and get a letter in the mail so I concluded to wait until the next day when I would have more time and become rested. But Sgt. Wright started suddenly and I was obliged to send the brief note before referred to.

My business, dearest, is in the very best condition. Everything went just as well as I could wish and by Wednesday next all of the cavalry arms that I have will be issued, after which I shall have but little to do, but think of you!

Capt. Olin—indeed all of my friends, assure me that the General intends to order me on duty here very soon. I hope, dear, that he will. It will be very much pleasanter for us. I shall  make no enquiries about board at the Fort until the question is settled, though I shall have rooms prepared there is us next week so as to be ready for occupancy if desired. They will be repainted, a new floor put down, whitewashed, and papered. If we do not wish to occupy them, I can move my office into them. The expense of repairing will be nothing to me.

Three families are to leave the International [Hotel] this week, and it is quite possible that we may obtain a parlor for $60 per month. By being on duty here, my wages will be increased $33 per month, and I shall feel more able to pay the price that will be demanded for board.

Darling, as might be expected, I am quite lonely since my return, and look forward more anxiously than ever to our approaching marriage. Though the period is brief, as I look forward through six long weary weeks, I cannot help but sigh, and my hearts aches to call you my own now! My dearest, would that you were mine this evening! The ten days just passed at Rochester were the happiest ten days of my life! O how thankful  I am beloved one, that you are to be my devoted wife; that you are to be mine alone forever! Love my dearest with all your power. I shall cherish your affection stronger than life itself! It is my determination that you shall never regret having given me your pledge.

I shall labor increasingly to make you perfectly happy. Come to me then feeling that you will have the protection of one who will ever be kind and loving, and appreciate duly the many virtues of his beloved wife. There will be happiness for us such as but few experience; rare indeed do two persons love each other as we do. Ours is no match for convenience—we could not live apart, dear, without being perfectly miserable.

David arrived this evening. I have had no time to talk with him.

I attended a Masonic Funeral at Minneapolis this afternoon. There was a splendid display. I very much desire you to see the rich, gaudy regalia of the Knights of Templar. It is beautiful.

My whip [?], dear, is just as good as when you fixed it. I intended to buy a new one upon my arrival here but shall keep the old one now as long as it lasts.

I shall look for a letter from you on Tuesday morning, and hope you have written me this evening. Give much love to your mother and other relatives. Write soon, dear. Goodnight. Kiss me, darling.

From your devoted, — Cyrene


Addressed to Miss Celia R. Leland, Rochester, Olmsted county, Minnesota

Headquarters, District of Minnesota
Department of the Northwest
Saint Paul, Minnesota
February 7, 1864
Sunday P. M.

My loved one,

Your dear letter of January 31st last Sabbath was received on Thursday morning. Dear, I was very very happy to hear again from you. It seemed an age since any word had been received from you. Never doubt my beloved Celia for an instant the sincerity of my devotion. No woman was ever loved with more vehemency than you are and you too beloved one are perfectly devoted to me. I know the sacrifices that you are continually making for me and that must still farther be submitted to before we can be happy and contented.

Dear one, every day I look upon you in your quiet house, plying your needle upon some useful article, and thus hastily preparing yourself to come to me. Every night, long long before you retire, dear one, do I lie in bed and suffer, knowing that you are tired and sleepy from the exertions of the day but still refuse to lay down your work, lest the appointed day shall arrive and find you unprepared. O, dear one, how I do wish that you would labor moderately only and accomplish what you can by the time we desire to be married and let the rest go until your arrival here, when you shall have good seamstresses to do all of your sewing. It is painful for me to reflect upon these matters and doubly so since you have acknowledged in your very last kind letter that your health has been unusually poor for several weeks. During all my ten days visit with you, not one word was uttered to confirm me in the belief that you were feeble in health. I believed, my beloved one, that such was the case, but the excitement of my presence kept you up for the time, and when I left, your spirits drooped, and the fact again became apparent that your health was miserable.

O, I implore you, dearest, not to tax your strength so much as I know you have since you last arrived at home. It would be a bitter disappointment to me to be obliged to wait another month before being married. But dear one, I will do so if all this work must be accomplished before for I know that you are not strong enough to work a moment in the evening. It need not be necessary for you to have anything but a traveling dress, dear, when I go for you. All the rest of your sewing can be just as well performed after you get here as before, and mind, darling, that your Cyrene will never consent to your working this after you are his.

I do not desire to scold you, dearest, but rather to convince you by kind words that it is unwise this to apply yourself and that it will be apparently shown in the state of your health hereafter. Poor health is the worst affliction that can befall a human being. Over a hundred poor, pale, haggard, broken-down beings can be found at the International [Hotel] at any season of the year, and in winter it is in reality a dead house. When I look upon the pitiable objects and reflect upon your always feeble condition, it sends a thrill through me that is not easily forgotten.

Your studiousness and ambition and perseverance is really commendable. I am glad indeed to find you thus; but do not I implore you again, endanger your health by working so constantly. As strong and robust and healthy as I am, it would soon wear me out to work as late at night as you do. With moderate exercise, sewing a few hours, riding, walking, music, etc., your health will be as good as any woman’s in the world.

You cannot imagine my surprise yesterday morning upon learning that Sergeant Major [William Dinsmore] Hale had been very recently married. He met his bride (who lived at Cannon Falls) at Chicago a fortnight ago and took her to “Christ Church” where they gave their pledges for a lifetime. “Black-eyed Sallie” [Sarah Baker] will be no more known to the outside world but “Mrs. Hale,” —young, lovely, pure and devoted will grace the domicile of the Sergeant Major. “Tis well.” “Go, thou Blakely, and do likewise!”

Darling, I purchased a very fine buggy yesterday for our future use, paying the amount of cost down. we shall want it every day when business not actually prevents our riding. It was not an expensive one, but good enough for our present use.

Very soon, loved one, I shall see you again, and in the presence of the dearest friends repeat the vow so willingly given nearly a year ago. There will be no parting them for Celia will be my wife! No long, lonely evenings, no sleepless nights! You will indeed be mine—al, all mine, and that forever! O how I shall love you, blessed one, and labor for your happiness! There could be no greater blessing bestowed upon me in this world, dearest. I shall worship you, darling, and be as true and devoted every moment of my life as it is possible for a human being to be.

This evening I shall attend the Baptist Church very near here. It is said the best singing in the city can be heard there. You, dear one, will no doubt remain at home. I pray in good health to write to your loving Cyrene.

Brother Willie has been quite unwell for a day or two. The doctor however says he will be out tomorrow very much improved. He has a cold.

Give much love to your mother and kiss little Allie for me. Write often, loved one, for your letters are highly cherished. Good day and may our heavenly Father watch over you and protect you from danger always.

From your devoted, — Cyrene



Headquarters, Post of Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Monday P. M., August 29, 1864

My own loving wife,

Everything is now finally arranged. Willie arrived this morning and I leave at five—in three hours from this—for Memphis, on board the War Eagle. We have an agreeable stateroom, alone, and everything comfortable. Shall arrive at Memphis Wednesday night if nothing prevents. Will send a letter to you from Cairo.

I am in much better spirits today. Willie’s arrival makes it less lonely. We are both well.

Can give you no particulars of my course beyond Memphis. I have ascertained that there are 2,000 troops at St. Charles, so there will be no danger from small bands of guerrillas.

I enclose an extract from this morning’s paper that will give you some light about St. Charles.

Now, darling, I must close for today. Your husband worships you and will bring you again to his bosom the first moment possible. Love to all. Ever your loving & devoted, — Cyrene

P. S. Say to your mother that the trimming upon her bonnet is the very height of fashion. Direct to me hereafter, St. Charles, Arkansas, and on the lower corner say “on White River.”

Cyrus Blakely’s letter mailed from Cairo, Illinois, with a rare 12 cent stamp

Addressed to Mrs. Celia S. Blakely, Rochester, Olmstead county, Minnesota
Postmarked Cairo, Illinois

On board steamer “War Eagle”
On a sandbar 130 miles below St. Louis and 60 miles above Cairo
Tuesday Evening, August 30, 1864

My own loving wife:

When I indited my brief note of yesterday, I expected to have a letter written and posted at Cairo before this time; but your experience as well as my own has taught us that steamboat navigation is mighty uncertain business and you must therefore not be surprised to learn that we are fast on a “bar,” with prospects good for a rest at least until morning. We shall be perhaps a day late at Cairo & if not other “bars” invite our special attention, we shall probably arrive at Memphis on Thursday evening or following morning. Beyond there, as I stated yesterday, I can give you nothing definite concerning my movements, but imagine that I shall remain there a couple of days.

I hear the most encouraging news from St. Charles. Last evening I found a soldier upon the boat who has been there. He says the ground is very high—indeed, it is a tremendous bluff, splendidly defended by earthworks. A rebel battery once held the river there.

Since this letter was commenced, I have conversed with a gentleman who went up to St. Charles with the troop that are now there. The post has been occupied only about a month and he thinks there are four regiments and a battery there. This confirms the correspondence in the paper, which I sent yesterday. All the travel to Little Rock has to go up White River as the Arkansas is too low for navigation. Every boat lands at St. Charles and of course we shall get mails enough. There are two families there in one of which he says he saw some pretty young ladies. Oh, if it shall be that I can have my wife with me, what a happy man will I be!

Steamers freighted for Little Rock discharge at Duvall’s Bluff 80 miles above St. Charles. Thence the course is by rail. The 3rd Minnesota is stationed at Duvall’s Bluff; the 6th at Helena on the Mississippi 40 miles across the country from St. Charles, and Col. Baker at St. Louis told me he expected they would be ordered to St. Charles. Wouldn’t it be nice, darling, to have that regiment with so many of my old acquaintance close by me? There is a Rochester company in it—Hyatt, Chase, etc. If all these things turn out as there is a possibility that they may, I shall be finely fixed, and would ask for nothing better, unless it be that I could be ordered home. But that I shall not ask until at least the expiration of my three years enlistment.

I have not yet had time to give you much of an account of my journey to and through Chicago and indeed, I do not know that there was anything of interest connected with it. I passed through Milwaukee but did not stop. Oh dearest, how my heart did ache as I made through the streets to get a sight at the object of its love! I looked at every woman—and one particular one with your walk and some similarity in dress, I almost thought was you!

I remained in Chicago until Friday night. [Sister] Zoe ¹ pressed me so closely I could not refuse to stay even after I had started for the depot. He is a good brother, Celia, and I know you will like him. His family are well, as also Zoe’s folks. The pictures are all promised immediately. They had none whatever.

I learned of Zoe some curious facts concerning Sara. ² You know she is in a family way and expects to die. She has made her will and is in every way prepared for the event. My dear, I fear I shall lose my sister for is she has not life and ambition enough to attempt to live through her coming trouble, she cannot expect to. I wish she might go to Rochester to have her baby.

Zoe and Cornelia both asked me for pictures of you with the riding habit on. I had but three—one which was imperfect. That one, of course, I kept. Please dear one, can you spare another?

I have cried over the last picture you had taken at Whitney’s. My little wife looks poor and worn out, and what hurts me most—as much as I love her, she does not look me in the eye. Oh darling, on Sunday as I kissed and kissed your picture and fondled it, how cruel it did seem that it could not look up to me in answer to my many entreaties. It looks as though you were suffering because of my absence! I would not part with this picture for anything in the world; but dear, how much better it would have been if I had not taken it with me!

I sent you a work basket from Chicago. It was the best and latest style I could find. Does my little wife like it? I enclose the express receipt. I hope to see Hale at Columbus. I missed it in not going to Cairo by rail from St. Louis, thence to Columbus, and there await the arrival of the boat.

Darling Celia, you have a husband who knows no happiness save when within your arms. Money—ah, money. Nothing, nothing could keep me away from my wife save the stern necessities of war! Is it not cruel, dearest, that two hearts, living, loving, abiding in each other only and solely as we do, should not be permitted to beat side by side every moment? I always thought I was not easily moved to tears, but the last week has convinced me that I am but a woman. I have no control over my feelings. I trust that when I get to St. Charles and have my hands full of business, I shall be more contented that I was at St. Louis or am on board this vessel. I shall love you, blessed one, just as much; but my time will be occupied most of the day and I shall not be missing you so constantly.

Willie is as contented as can be. He sits near me reading a book! Ah, poor boy, he little knows what his brother suffers every moment—little knows what it is to part with a wife so loving, devoted and good as mine is! I trust he never will experience the bitter pangs that I do at this moment and have for the last fortnight. Yes dear, before I left you, for many days I smothered my grief lest the parting would be too much for you, and oh, would that I knew tonight that everything was right with my idolized wife! Was my darling sick, as we both so fondly hoped and prayed she would be? Was the parting with her husband too severe for her to endure? Has she recovered from her severe diarrhea? These and many, many other questions occur to my mind every moment. I try to think that my loved one will survive all the perils that threatened her a week ago. Again I say, would that I could be assured that you are well this evening.

I trust, dear one, that our separation is not to be for a great length of time. No effort of mine shall be left untried to bring about a meeting very soon. My little one, please do not tarry if I am able to send for you, but come at once for your own Cyrene’s heart is nearly breaking to have you with him!

And now, dear one, I will close for tonight. Write to me at once to St. Charles as before directed. I trust that a letter will reach me from you before many days.

Goodnight and may God bless you ever! Your own devoted, — Cyrene

P. S. The mosquitoes troubled me so last night I could not sleep. Tonight I shall use the little bag and dream. I hope, of the loved one who made it. — Cyrene

Wednesday Eve
50 Miles above Cairo

Dearest one:

You will observe that our progress today has been very trifling. We laid on the [sand] bar all night and until two o’clock this afternoon. We are now under headway with prospects for reaching Cairo in the night. The clerk of the boat does not know whether we shall remain there until morning or not. I hope so, for unless we do, we shall probably pass Columbus before morning.

This has been another lonely day. We have passed only one town—Cape Girardeau—on the Missouri side. After we reach Cairo, we stop only at military posts. The baggage of all travelers has to be inspected though I presume mine will not, being a government officer. The object is to prevent smuggling into rebeldom.

The American Express runs direct from Rochester to St. Charles; thus we shall have convenient facilities for transmitting little packages.

I shall endeavor to obtain my pay for August at Memphis. If I do, will send $100 to pay the note at Thompson’s Bank and some to you. I shall not want much money with me, you know.

The water in the White River is said to be clear as a crystal; but there is a large corral of government horses at Duvall’s Bluff and the nearby horses dying are thrown into the river, rendering it unfit for drinking purposes there. But my informant does not know whether the stench extends to St. Charles or not. If it does, there is a large bay in the rear of St. Charles which has the very clearest and best water. It abounds in magnificent fish. If my little wifey can come and enjoy the post with me, I may be tempted to try my hand at fishing, but hardly without.

My health continues excellent. Appetite has improved today and at dinner I ate a real old-fashioned meal. I have a bottle of Tinc. of Copsicum with me and I put a few drops in nearly all the water I drink. It takes away the effect of the impure water.

My dear, you can scarcely realize the great difference between the river water above and below St. Louis. We now drink Tincture of Mud, compounded with a very small proportion of ice.

Oh, how very, very anxious, I am to know whether you were sick last week, as well as to hear of the state of your health generally. It will be a long, long time before I shall hear from you, I fear.

We have landed at a town called Commerce, Mo., 40 miles above Cairo. It is now eight o’clock. There are some very bad bars yet to cross before we reach Cairo. I am in hopes we may not get there before light as I desire to see the place and post this letter with my own hands.

Dear one, I shall now bid you good night. Oh that I could plant the nightly “good night kiss” upon your cheek of the past five months! Oh, how I love you. How I worship you, my own darling beloved wife! Thank God that I have a good wife to love me, even though she is far, far away. We shall meet again at no distant day, let us pray.

And now good night once more. Remember me to all with much love. Ever your own loving husband. — Cyrene

¹ Zoe Blakely (1830-1910) was married to Charles Seymour (b. 1832), a grocery clerk in Chicago in the 1860s. The couple were married in the late 1850’s.

² Sarah A. Blakely (b. 1833 in Vermont) was married to James M. Hubbard (b. 1822) in 1854. Sarah bore one child, Genevieve Hubbard (b. 1864), and survived childbirth. She was enumerated with her husband in the 1880 US Census in Chicago.



Little Rock, Arkansas
Thursday P. M.
September 8, 1864

My own beloved Celia and devoted wife,

My fortunes are changeable; or my orders, rather, I should say. I cannot at present tell whether the post of Pine Bluff is preferable to St. Charles, but there are more troops at the former place than there were at the latter, and to it I am ordered for duty.

I saw the new moon on Friday or Saturday evening last over my right shoulder; and how quick did the thought flash across my mind that, with you, it is indicative of good luck. I prayed that your sign might prove true. And from present appearances, I think it will, so far as my stationed in concerned.

I dropped you a sheet note from St. Charles from which you learned that that post had been evacuated and of my intention to proceed to Duvall’s Bluff. I arrived there on Tuesday eve at 5, and, after a brief interview with Gen. Andrews, concluded to come on and report to Col. [S. C.] Benham, Chief Commissary [of Subsistence], in person.

I arrived here at nine in the evening, tired and homesick. Oh, darling, how I did suffer that night from loneliness! Again I repeat what I said in my St. Louis letter, I cannot live without you, oh blessed, dearest, loving one! My heart aches every moment of my life! Every thought, dearest wife, is of you! If you can come to me, perhaps I will remain in the army for awhile, but without you, I cannot live at all. Oh, that the war would end. I would give up country—everything—for my loving wife! You are everything to me; without you, my country would be worthless—my life a wretched one!

I learn that Pine Bluff is 90 miles below here on the Arkansas river. It is a strong post, well fortified by about 4,000 troops; among the number my old Regiment, the 3rd [Minnesota]. It is something of a town: many officers have their wives there. But the question is how they live. At Little Rock, I could get board for us—the very cheapest at $25 a week in a private family. At the hotel, $35 is the very smallest sum they will look at, and miserable board and convenience. Have had no potatoes since I have been there. There is no ice in town. Everything is so dear that many will hardly purchase.

But notwithstanding all this, I hope to be able to arrange matters at Pine Bluff so that I can have you with me; and if I cannot, I shall leave the service and return to you. Do not blame me for this declaration, dearest wife. I love you more than life itself. I care not for wealth or anything if I have got to be separated from you, dearest one, to obtain it. I cannot suffer long as I have since we parted. I would live in poverty all my days before I would be separated from my heart’s idol.

Oh dear one, as I lie upon my bed, how my heart aches to draw you to my bosom! Tell me that I may leave the army and return to my loving wife and be happy once more! Oh, dear one, this is the most trying period of my life! How cruel, cruel, to be obliged to live hundreds of miles from the one I so love, and to be denied for weeks at a time the privilege of hearing from her by mail! My precious wife, let us both pray that we may not be long separated. I cannot bear from you & fear for some days yet I suffer irrepressibly to know how your health is. If once assured that you are well, and that your monthly sickness occurred at the proper time, then I shall be more contented than I am at present. But until that time, there will not be a moment’s rest for your husband.

I have since I left Minnesota a great many friends. Among the worst important, Capt. Leonard, Col. Markham, and Capt. Daniels of Rochester, and Capt. Pratt of St. Paul. I lent Capt. Pratty $10 which he will send to you, as we could not tell where I should be when he might want to pay it. He is the husband of Mrs. Pratt, your acquaintance.

Capt. Daniels was sick in hospital at Memphis. No man was ever so glad to see another as he was to take hold of my hand. I pitied the poor man—sick hundreds of miles away from friends. But he had the best of care and was improving rapidly. I wrote to his father thinking he would be glad to learn from Milton.

The town of Little Rock is a hard place. I am glad I am not to stay here. On the night of my arrival, four stores were robbed and several citizens knocked down on the public streets. Lawlessness, crime, debauchery are everywhere to be seen. An officer asked me yesterday to drink. “No,” said I, “I do not drink.”

“Well,” was his reply. “You’ll get over that mighty soon. A man cannot live in this country without his regular toddy!” Thinks I, I will live without it until I have the most conducive evidence that it is necessary to preserve my health. And as I have lived without it many years, I do not think the time will ever come when I shall need it.

There is a theatre here—just the place for me. I shall never attend it.

Dear one, I cannot write anything really definite until I get to Pine Bluff. If I cannot take you there, please say that I may come home to you. Am I weak and chicken hearted? But I cannot help it, dearest wife. I love you beyond anything in the world; and cannot live without you are near me.

The cost of travel between Rochester and this place, and the great expense of living here, would no doubt eat up my salary. But I think I can see my way into money making. If so, perhaps we can afford to live here. But, if it is going to take all we earn to live, why not resign from the army and go home where we can enjoy some of the comforts of life even though we do not earn one half what we do now?

The fare from Rochester to Little Rock is $70, to which must be added about $15 for hotel bills, porterage, etc, But all this is nothing if I can make the money to pay it. I will have you with me if it costs $100 per day, or I will leave the army and go where you are!

Thursday evening, 8½ o’clock.

My own loved one, I love you this evening, dearest wife, more than I ever did in my life. You have a husband, beloved one, whose whole soul is wrapped up in his wife. I can never be happy unless you are by my side! Oh dearest, dearest one! What joy—what happiness, if I could only hold you in my lap for three hours, and then undress you and lay your cheek upon my arm for the night! O, dearest, how many, many hours of bliss have we spent locked in each others embrace, loving each other, and caressing each other to sleep! Hours and hours have my little one slept upon my arm. I pray that within a very short period, you may again repose in that place which God created for you; and when you do return, dear one, you will find that no person has ever intruded while you were absent. Darling, I am true to you. Never will your husband think of any woman for a moment but his own devoted wife. She is the best of wives. You have never refused to satisfy my desires even though your strength was insufficient to admit of it. Dear one, your own Cyrene appreciates all these sacrifices on the part of his wife. O, I am loved so much, and my wife is so good. I cannot live away from her!

Dear one, only twice since I left you have I had any desire to have intercourse. What a difference it makes being absent from you. I have no passions whatever now, though of course, just the moment I am with you again, so that you are close to me, just so soon will my strong passions return. Ain’t you glad, my little wife, that I am not hard now? I say this to you for I know you will want to know just how it is; and also feeling that such things written to my own Celia will never be known to others.

I have great anxiety concerning your monthly sickness. I was very careful, dear one, the last month, and almost certain that you were sick at the proper time; yet I desire to be assured before I can rest satisfied. Do not, dear one, fail to tell me in your answer to this letter, when you were sick. Please, dear, tell me whether, when you lie in your bed every morning, and think of your own Cyrene, and the pleasures of married life, you do not feel as though you would like to enjoy them with him again. If you do want pleasure with me, you must try and wait until we meet again; then we will satisfy ourselves again to our hearts content.

Dearest one, I am very sleepy and tired and must retire. I will finish my letter in the morning after I ascertain for a certainty the hour of departure from Little Rock.

Good night, my loving wife! It is my prayer that you are well tonight and that our Heavenly Father will protect you from danger until your own Cyrene can return to you. Again, good night darling. Ever your devoted, — Cyrene

Friday morning, 6½ o’clock. My precious one, I have got up from my bed to kiss you a good morning. Did my darling sleep well? Did she think of her beloved and absent husband until late in the night? O, dear one, we can never, never live apart! I…

Friday noon. My beloved wife. The boat does not leave today after all. Why it is delayed, I cannot tell. Will probably leave tomorrow.

As I lie about here, idle, my thoughts are continually with you. Oh dearest precious one, why, why is it that I cannot now go to my little wife and recline in her embrace and listen to her comforting words of love! Dearest, you will never know how much your Cyrene loves you. How thankful am I to my Maker for giving me such a true and devoted woman for a companion through life! Dear one, let us never, never separate again so long as our lives are spared. I love you dear one with my whole heart. More, oh much more than when I married you. I thought it was hard when I was kept away from you before our marriage, but my sufferings were no comparison to the present.

Dearest Celia, no man in the world is so blessed as I am. My darling wife is the best woman in the world. So kind and loving—perfectly devoted at all times to her husband. Truly dear, I do appreciate my own dear one. No person in the world knows her but me. Little do our friends know of the suffering we now bear, less can they appreciate our happiness when we are locked in each others embrace. Is there anything to be compared to your happiness when you sit upon your husband’s knee and receive his caresses? For me, there is nothing in the world like it. And darling, what indescribable pleasure to lay my bare skin next to yours. To put my hand ot my cheek to your soft, white bosom, and be assured that no man, woman, or child ever enjoyed such liberties! Darling, you have indeed opened your heart and soul and taken your husband into them. What ecstacy is it, dearest one, to lie by your side with your arm about my neck—our very bosoms bared to each other, and your tiny limbs entwined with mine. Oh, when I think of this, every night, am I not lonely? Does not my heart ache to return to the true and loving one who weeps daily for me? O, how happy we have been, dearest, most devoted one! How true do we love each other. Is not my little one satisfied that her choice of a husband was the right one? I know you have been happy, dearest. and you shall be again. If I ever return to you, I will endeavor ten times harder than ever to make you happy. I shall return to you with increased love: nothing in the world could increase my affection for you so much as this separation. I can see how happy I have been. How dear you are to me and what a treasure you are.

I could talk to you all day, dear one. I cannot drop my pen, dearest Celia—precious, devoted wife. It is like taking my life’s blood from me to have you away. The tears flow from my eyes like rain drops from the clouds every day of my life. O dear one, I do love you. I do idolize you. Please, dear one, think often of your absent husband. Remember that his heart is bleeding for you. You must not be kept from me for one moment beyond the time necessary to arrange either for your coming here or my resignation from the army.

We do not have mails here with any regularity. Generally they come as often as once a week. I hope, dear one, you will find time to write me three or four times a week and tell me all that occurs with you. You remember what I stated in reference to our correspondence before we parted. Tell me every little thing that occurs with you: and do not, dearest Celia, forget to tell me how dear I am to you. O, I do want you to love me, darling, with your whole heart. And you do, dear one, don”t you? Yes, I am the chosen one. No person in the world can receive a look or a word from you, best and most devoted one, but me! You are so good, Celia, to love me thus. Ever, ever, will I be a kind and loving husband. I cannot do too much or be too devoted to my noble wife. She loves me and appreciates all that I do for her. You are all that I could ask, dear Celia, and more than I have dared to hope for. How truly thankful am I to God for preserving you for me. How glad that I was not married years ago to one whom I can now see that I could not have been happy with. I verily believe, Celia, that no woman in this world could make me as happy as you do. I ask for nothing in this world but you; and you I must have.

How I do long to learn the condition of your health. If I could only know that you recovered from your painful diarrhea—that you were sick at the proper time, it would take a great burden from my hearty. But I fear it will be many days before I can hear from you. Dear one, I shall bear these sufferings the best I can. You know that I am not strong at heart. I want to be with those I love and be loved. Without my loved one, I am wretched.

The boat does not leave for Pine Bluff today. I am sorry for I greatly desire to go on duty. Time is worth everything to me now. I am more and more convinced every day that three is money to be made and it is too bad that I cannot improve the time while I am away from you.

The troops that came up to St. Charles with me are at Duvall’s Bluff. Part of them, I learn, will be here today. Rumor hath it that a portion will go to Pine Bluff. By the way, I have just learned that the commissary department there is a large brick building located in the pleasantest portion of the town. The building is large and plenty of room in it. Thus you see your sign in regard to the moon has proved a true one—at least so far.

Col. Benham this morning advised me not to bring you here. Still, I shall not abide by his advice. If you can live where I am, I shall send Willie to Cairo to meet you and bring you down. Thus you will have no trouble in getting through.

And now, dearest wife, good day. Your husband loves you sincerely. He is truly devoted, lives only to love his wife. My only ambition is to return to you. And my dear, I assure you that we shall meet before the expiration of many weeks.

Write to me often. Oh, if I could get just one letter to read everyday four or five times, how much consolation it would be. Direct as before, care of Lt. Col. S. C. Bonham, Chief Commissary Department of Arkansas, Little Rock.

For today, goodbye. I love you with my whole heart every moment of my life. From your own husband and devoted Cyrene



Pine Bluff, [Arkansas]
Sunday morning, September 18, 1864
9½ o’clock

My beloved Celia,

The boat does not go until noon, thus affording me an opportunity of writing you a letter; and blessed one, what joy it gives me. Darling, I am very, very lonely this morning. The tears will roll down my cheeks in spite of all my efforts to prevent them. Dearest, most loving one, why am I compelled to suffer thus? Why should I be obliged to live hundreds of miles away from my loved one in whose presence alone there is happiness? O, blessed one, my life is now a wretched one. Your own Cyrene suffers now more than he ever did before in his life. And dear one there will be no end to it as long as you are away from my side, there can be no no enjoyment. The tears roll down faster than ever as I reflect upon what is to be in the future: for you and I there is nothing but suffering to endure for many weeks—I fear months.

Can my loved one come to me? This is a terrible place: your only company would be your own Cyrene. You could have him a great portion of the time. We can obtain board, I have no doubt, but dear one, there are no delicacies to be obtained here—scarcely enough to keep one alive. There are no vegetables in the country. I have not tasted of a potato since I left Memphis. There will, however, after awhile, be sweet potatoes, and this is the only vegetable that can be obtained here. Everything else comes from the Commissary. From him we can obtain flour, salt meat, fresh meat, rice, hominy, coffee, tea, sugar, salt, pepper, pickles, soap, candles, and sometimes a little fish. This is all that we have to live on. Butter can be obtained most of the time from the country, and milk I think there is plenty of. Eggs, I think, cannot be obtained. The above are what can be found in a private family where we would have to pay for our board—probably $20 per week. Washing ten cents per piece—about $2 per eek more. This will be about $90 per month. My salary is $125. As for clothing, it cannot be obtained here. A calico dress costs $30 at least.

The fare from Rochester [Minnesota] is $85 and say it will cost you $100 to get here. Thus you can see how the figures stand. As for getting here, you would have the greatest difficulty. There is no danger but the accommodations for travelers are very meagre. You get along well enough until you reach Duvall’s Bluff. From there the railroad takes you to Little Rock. Perhaps you can come in a passenger car but probably you will have to take a freight car. The hotel accommodations at Little Rock are miserable. Still, you could get along.

I shall be happy, most happy to have you come (this based on the probability of my remaining here). It would eat up all my salary, but that is nothing. All I want in this world is my wife. I must have you every moment, Celia, and if you think the hardship too great to come here, I must got to you.

There is money to be made out of my business. There is lots of it and it would be a pity to lose the place. Still, if I cannot have you, what good is money? I would be willing to give David a round sum if he would have me stationed somewhere north of here where I could have you with me. If you see him, say so to him.

Darling, in your letter you speak of the loneliness you experience during my absence. Dear one, I know full well what your feelings were, I knew that my little wife would mourn for her absent husband, and how it has made my heart ache. From seven to light every night, blessed one, I think of you—love and pray for you. As you say, then it is that I suffer the most. Oh, how my heart does ache to grasp you to my bosom and breath those words of love in your ear which you have so often heard. And darling, since we parted, my affection has greatly strengthened. I have no friends—no associates. My leisure time is spent by myself thinking of you.

Dearest one, last night after I retired with your picture in my hand and your letter under my pillow, my thoughts turned to the days of our courtship. It seemed to me that those days were as a dream. It was not like the courtship of others. We met and naturally came to each other, as the magnet draws the needle. And every time we met we were dearer and came closer to each other. How natural it all was. How unbeknown to my own loving wife that she was forming such an attachment for me—that I was stealing her heart. Therefore, darling, do I prize your affection the more highly. It is natural. My little one came to me because her happiness required it. Oh, I am so happy when I think of the dear one, as I cry when I am lonely, so now do I cry for joy as I reflect upon the subject. Dear one, you are God’s brightest star. Believe your Cyrene, he thinks you are the noblest woman in the world. I believe that no other one could be mine. I never should have married only that you stole my heart. Thank you oh darling. I bless you for it.

And with such a loving, true, noble, devoted wife, can I be too attentive? Oh dear one, when you clasp your arms about your Cyrene again, he will tell you how much more he loves you than he ever did before and that he will endeavor harder than ever to make you a happy wife. And how glad that I have got a loving little wife—the very thought of whom will keep me from every temptation, even if I otherwise could forget myself.

Dearest, the morals of our army is wonderfully decreasing. Officers, men, everybody save now & then a man who stands out like an oasis in the desert gambles. Capt. Rockwood—the gentleman whose position I am temporarily occupying—is a confirmed gambler. And yet, the regulations of the army say that “no officer of the army entrusted with public money shall play at games of chance, under penalty of immediate dismissal from the service.” He has now $4100 which I expect to take from him: suppose in an excited moment he should stake and lose that amount? A man said  to me yesterday, “everybody plays cards here.” “Well, said I, “there is one officer in town who does not play cards, and that is the present Commissary of Subsistence.” How can men be so wicked, dearest? Oh, I should be afraid to sleep lest God should close my eyes forever. Your own Cyrene keeps his own company. I shall never ask a man to come to my room or my office to talk with me unless I know that he is a moral man, and very few of these will ever be invited to my quarters.

I am frequently disgusted with Willie. He is a boy and more trouble than assistance. He has never been in any position giving him authority and he does not know how to act. I have to watch him continually. It should not be thus. I want a reliable man to help me, but instead thereof, I have towatch him. On yesterday I told him he must call me “Captain: in the presence of people. He thought it was very hard to be obliged to call his brother anything but “Cie.” I did not explain that I had to assume and maintain a dignified position and that if he called me by that familiar title, of course others would. My little wife, never yet forget herself so far as to call me Cie! At home, with my brothers and sisters, I do not care. But with strangers and in the presence of those whose respect I am bound to command, do you blame me if I expect my brother to pay this trifling respect to me? If wrong, dear little wife, please tell me. Please also state the case to mother Blakely, and ask her if I am overbearing in this matter.

I neglected to say in the proper place that the Quartermaster of this post, Capt. Barnes, told me yesterday that he had sent for his wife and is expecting her soon. He took me to a building which he occupies, one-half of which he has furnished, and the other half generously offered to me, with the proposal that we should have a mess together (that is, himself and wife, and you and I). Of course, I could not accept the offer—first, as I may not stay here, and second, he is a stranger to me. He appears like a good man and yet may be a gambler. I will have nothing to do with any man whose standing I cannot be satisfied is correct and much less would I take my family to live with that of a gambler.

Darling, unless you can send a package to me by someone coming directly down, you need not for the present send. Certain treasury regulations require the obtaining of permission to receive a package by express, which I do not at present feel inclined to obtain.

Since I left you, I have read, “Very Hard Cash,” which I liked, and “The Wife’s Secret” by Ann S. Stephens—perfect trash. Shall send it to you the first opportunity. Am now going to read “Mysteries of Paris,” which Willie says is intensely interesting. Will send it to you.

Dear one, I have never seriously contemplated building near your father’s. The proposition was made only to obtain the opinion of yourself and friends. I shall pay for the farm first, and either improve the house and grounds as for our own occupancy, or invest any means I may have in business. It seems unfortunate that I should be compelled to remain in the army as a means of support for myself and wife. I know I can attend successfully to any business. But dear, your own Cyrene cannot expect to engage in any business requiring capital. Your mother has been kind to us always and shown an open heart. I have never been able to express fully my appreciation for all that she has done and is now doing for my little wife and myself. She is a good mother, darling. How fortunate that we have such noble women for mothers. The last present from your mother was truly a valuable one.

Then you are having our bedroom painted. That is good. Now put on paper and that which is good, even if you have to pay for it. Then, with our carpet, and glass, and toilette stand, etc., it seems to me you can be truly comfortable. If you desire, you can purchase a bedstead out of money that I shall send you. I prefer dark-colored, perhaps one like yours would be pretty. Have you had a little bookstand made? Could one not be arranged so as to protect the books from dust in sweeping?

Oh, how thankful I am that my own Celia, my loving devoted wife, is satisfied that she will not have to take the medicine provided at St. Paul. ¹ Dear one, sometimes as I have thought since we parted of the possibility of you not being sick, it has nearly driven me crazy. “If I could be with her,” my thoughts said, “it would not be so bad. But she is ignorant upon such matters and of course ask no one’s advice but her own loving Cyrene’s.” Such thoughts, Celia, were terrible. Darling, I could not consent to your having a child. The suffering, the care, the anguish of years would kill my loving wife. I married you to love all my life, and if you had a child, you could not love me half the time. Am I jealous? But dear one, you do not yet know my nature. I am all affection. My existence depends solely upon the love given me by my idolized wife.

It is right—it was God’s will—that we should be married. Does my little one still believe what she has so often said—that we were created for each other, and that we shall love each other truly and alone all our lives? Every day convinces me more and more that you are the only one in all the world that could make me happy.

And does my little wife miss her Cyrene from her embrace as she lies down at night to sleep and awakes in the morning? Oh, dear one, how I do long to clasp you in my arms every night. It is lonesome to lie without you. Tell me, loving wife, all about it. Confide in your Cyrene. Is he not to be trusted? Can you trust him more that you have already. All that was dear to you was surrendered to your husband and he tries to live worthy of every sacrifice his loving Celia can make. Tell me all that occurs. Every word shall be sacred in my bosom.

The messenger says no letters came for me in the boat today. I am not disappointed. I expected none. But by the next boat, there must be another loving epistle from my loved one. Let me beseech you to write often. Tell me all that transpires. Tell me your dreams, your thoughts, your feelings, your cares, your love, your everything. I have a sympathizing heart. This always open to the loving words of my wife.

In future letters, I shall give you an idea of my business. This morning I have written from 9½ to 12—long, long past church time. But can I pass my time more profitably? Give my love to all. Direct your letters to Little Rock as before. Write often and believe me your devoted and loving Cyrene.

¹ My interpretation of this statement is that Celia was regularly taking a birth control drug while she and Cyrene were together. These were marketed under a variety of discrete names.



Pine Bluff [Arkansas]
Tuesday, Evening, September 27, 1864
7¼ o’clock

My own devoted wife,

On last Wednesday evening I indited a hasty epistle and intended then to write another on Friday following but I have been deprived of the great pleasure of writing you, dearest, by unforseen obstacles.

It was six months ago on Friday morning last that we were married upon the evening before; how fixedly my thoughts were set upon that occasion and the months of happiness that have followed! And right here, before I forget it, and before it become too late in the season, let me say that I desire you to have some cartes de visits taken in your wedding dress. It could no be done at St. Paul as you had not the dress there, and now you have everything, as well as the time. True, they will not be as artistically taken as at Whitneys, but they will be precious to me–to your mother, to Mina, to all our friends. I implore, darling, the sacrifice this will cost you, for your darling husband: unless there be some sufficient reason for delay, let it be done at once. Everyday you are changing in your face. Let the pictures be as near my bride in resemblance as possible. If you have disposed of any of the articles worn upon that occasion, replace them as nearly as possible; the change, I know, will be but trifling.

Darling, on last Friday morning, instead of being permitted to devote my thoughts to the scenes and ones so dear as I desired, I was compelled to attend with the General upon the most revolting sight of my life, being nothing less than an execution! Oh!, dear one, I would have given anything to have been spared the pain of that dreadful occasion! I never before was a witness and pray that I may not again be to such a scene! A man, arrested upon the charge of being a spy was found guilty and condemned to die. ¹ The usage of war sets upon a spy the seal of death and that by hanging. The evidence in this case was the most conclusive. Upon his person was found an elaborate sketch of all our works at Pine Bluff with the number of troops, and, I believe, their relative positions. Having accomplished his designs, he took an officer’s horse standing in the street to escape but was caught before he got outside of the picket line. The evidence, thus, was conclusive. It was right that he should give up his life as a warning to others, else where is our security. But darling, your own Cyrene trusts that he may be spared the pain of witnessing again the taking away of a life in such a manner—it is terrible!

While witnessing the execution, I was obliged to sit in the sun upon horseback for over an hour. The sun, it seemed to me, was hotter than ever before, I was taken down sick at end, and remained sick through Saturday and Sunday. Willie, as I stated in my last, was sik with fever, and thus it was both of us down before we had been here a week. However, under the very recuperative influence of quinine, both of us got about on Monday (yesterday) and consider ourselves well again. The experience proves that Willie cannot live in this country at this season without quinine to keep off the fever and that I—strong, robust—must yield to the seething rays of an Arkansas sun. I shall profit by this experience.

Otherwise than as above stated, my health has been good. It is now excellent so far as I know. One has to use the greatest care here or sickness will surely come. Few—very few—escape the fever but it is now so late, I hope with care and the use of preventatives, to escape. One great source of sickness is the exposure to night air. This I escape entirely as well as sleeping upon the ground.

Saturday last, darling, the 24th, was the anniversary of the death of our Father. As I was compelled to lie upon my back and reflect upon the scenes of a year ago, was it strange that my eyes should fill with tears? Darling, I wanted you upon that occasion. How fervently did I pray that you might soon be restored to me!

Darling, it is half past eight—past my hour for retiring. I will not close this letter tonight as I have much to say but will finish it tomorrow morning. I hope that tomorrow will bring us a mail and letters from you! Oh, to be compelled to live without letters even, from my heart’s idol! Can I, can I, live thus?

Good night, my darling wife. I shall read a chapter and retire. Heaven protect you from the dangers of the night. From your loving, — Cyrene

Wednesday morning, 28th, 9 o’clock

My darling wife,

We have had during the night copious raims which will serve only to lay the dust on the streets, for strange as it may seem, rains do not raise the Arkansas River. In the centre of this place is the head of a large bayou, the waters of which run into Red River! Within twenty rods of the Arkansas, the refuse water runs in an opposite direction from its banks! Thus the river is raised only by heavy rains at the head waters of the river, and these come about New Years. So from this time until January, there will be no regular communication between Pine Bluff and the “outer world,”—water preventing, Two boats started from Little Rock in Friday and Saturday last, but both returned finding too much bottom to the river.

Darling, it is a great sacrifice to have to live away from you, but to be deprived also of the blessings of intercourse through the mail, is more than your Cyrene can bear.  For five weeks and over I have been deprived of your presence and but once during that long, long period, have I been permitted to hear from you! Oh Pet, I haven’t the strength to live thus. I haven;t the courage to attempt it! Celia, no person knows how I suffer every moment of my life for you to come to me. My anxiety, my grief, are far beyond my control. Dear one, my life and hopes, and all happiness, are centered in you. All else, I can spare. But you must be by my side with those gentle arms to encircle my neck—those sweet lips to assure me of the undying affection of your soul, and to seal all with thousands of loving kisses. Oh that I could command the language, my darling wife, to express the condition of my feelings! I know that words cannot faithfully describe the extent of my love for you! Only with your gentle form upon my knee, your arms about my neck, reclining in my embrace, and our lips sealed together can I convey the least impression of the unlimited extent of my devotion! How my heart swells with affection, with joy, pride, and thankfulness to God i nHeaven every time I think of the noble one who has given her life to make me happy! I believe, dearest one, that I truly appreciate you. I cannot be too kind and loving, and attentive to such a precious trust given to me through the direct will of our Heavenly Father!

O, I wish I could find words—master the language sufficiently to lay my heart open to you this morning! It swells and beats just as hard, Pet, and I have to rub my hand over it—it seems it would jump from its hiding place and go right to you. Oh Darling, that I could press you to my bosom now—to soothe the aching, bearing heart! Oh! never question your own husband’s affection—nor his constancy! He is firm—unswerving from the path of rectitude. Others may carouse and pass their time in degradation, but I devote my spare moments to my devoted wife. Darling, since I have been absent from you, I have taken some pains to observe the manner in which married men absent from their wives conduct themselves, and I must say that I have been greatly shocked. Men who, at home, possess standing in society—who homes are supposed to be unpolluted in any way, and whose loving wives weep daily for their return, are false beyond almost the possibility of belief! As I look down upon these men—high, some of them, in official position—many of them occupying a social position above my own at home—with pretensions to great morality and in some instance with standing in the church—I cannot but feel that I am better in the sight of God than such men! My wife, as God is my judge, I have never committed an act that I would not have you know and even witness. I live true to my vow as I would have my wife, not even in thought have I ever for an instant been false to the loved ones at home!

Darling, it gives me unbounded joy thus to assure you that you are always uppermost in my heart and thoughts. My wife appreciates the love and devotion of her own Cyrene, and will ever be true to and confiding in him.

Dearest one, I have already made some inquiries for board here, and on yesterday went to look at a room which we can have for $60 per month. But such a room and such board! Dearest, my heart sinks as I think of bringing you here. There is not a thing in the world to make it pleasant save the presence of your own Cyrene, but on the contrary, everything revolting to your nature and mine, are to be seen at every turn, any moment of the day. If I yield to despondency, is it strange? If I weep, does my little wifey think I am weak? Oh no, dear one, there is no chance for a single ray of sunlight to reach the darkened heart of your own husband. There is a constant miasma rising from the bayou of which I have spoken, instilling death into the system of every individual who has not the means of protecting himself carefully from its fatal effects, Quinine alone will preserve life in Pine Bluff, until after frost. I am told that after that, there is no danger to be apprehended, but rather, that the climate is healthy until Spring. Soldiers die here at a fearful rate. Burial parties are seen upon every street at every hour. The mortality is worse owing to the scarcity of medicine. I brought quinine with me or poor Willie might now be lying low with fever.

The soil here, too, is the meanest in the world, being red clay, and the streets are either so dusty as to cause strangulation or the water of sufficient depth of admit of drowning! (The latter remark supposed to be sarcastic!) There is of course no society. The females are all secessionists—vile and poisonous as the bite of an adder [snake]. How can a Northern man—an officer away from home, happiness, and comfort, battling for the rights of his country, have the patience to talk with such creatures! Yet our officers appear to be crazy after Southern women. They are homely, course, wicked, false-faced, slang-using things and should be detected by every man who loves his country. There are two at the home where I board, but my patience will admit of no more civility to them than a cool “good morning.”

To return to my subject. The man who keeps the house is a bachelor—a little dried up fellow who coat-tail is about four inches too short for him. You can imagine what kind of a man he is. His sister is “landlady” but she cannot cook—never made a piece of cake and cannot make do anything in the culinary line. Servants cannot be obtained that are good cooks. She has two girls who are willing to learn, if there was anyone to teach them. She says that everything in the world they are able to obtain for their table is bread and beef! But he saysa he has made arrangements with a gentleman whose mother has a farm to bring in butter, eggs, and potatoes. He means to buy a cow and with what he can purchase of me (commissary) he thinks he can set a respectable table. He thinks also that he knows of a good cook he can get.

As to the room, upon its floor are the remains of what was once a common carpet, a bedstead, upon which if the family have not the bedding to make us comfortable, I could place blankets, and make it equal to a mattress. The paper is coming off of the ceiling, but this I could have fixed. The stove pipe goes through and up the side of the house, there being no chimney. But this is tight and will afford no inconvenience. Washstand, dresser (bureau) bowl and pitcher, etc. He has a sofa lounge like ours that we can have and probably an armed rocking chair. There is a very large piazza back of the house upon which you could promenade and take such outdoor exercise as you desired. Thus, you perceive that we would be comfortable and that is all, in the house. The room and furniture, is not at all like the one we have occupied. Everything is Southernish—centuries behind the age. The lady of the house is about your age, somewhat intelligent, and as little tainted with Southern whining cants and other repulsive attainments as any woman I have seen. She would be quite willing ot have you anywhere in the house and could have anything cooked you might suggest, provided you would show the girl how to do it. The man has a barn and I doubt not would permit us to keep a horse there is desired. I might perhaps get one fr you to ride. The house is a one story frame—our room being on the ground floor. They have a parlor furnished in style equal to Mr. Green’s, which we can occupy at our pleasure.

You have thus a minute description of what has been recommended to me as “the best place in town to take my wife.” Is it not a deplorable place? Is not “civilized humanity” at a low ebb in Arkansas? Oh, how I detest the name and the state and the people.

Another consideration, and an important one, is the threatening aspect of military affairs here. This post is continually threatened with attack, but I do not think the enemy will ever venture. Large bodies of Northern troops are being moved into this Department with a view, I think, of bringing the war here away to a speedy close. This however is more conjecture with me being in possession of none of the facts.

As to the manner of getting her, you are already aware. I should go myself, or send Willie to DuVall’s Bluff for you which would be the first place where you would be apt to meet with difficulty.

Darling, it may be set down as a fixed fact, that you have got to come here, or I must go to some place where you can come. One of these, or I must leave the army, for I cannot live without you anymore than I can live without food.

I have been contemplating seriously leaving the army, and returning to Rochester, there to settle down. My three years will be up on the 26th of October next month, and with David’s assistance, I can successfully tender my resignation. Celia, you don’t know how sick and tired I am of strolling about the country here and there, like an itinerant organ-grinder, perfectly unsettled for more than one night at a time. Before I loved my Celia, it was different. But now I have a loving wife and every inducement in the world favors my own desires. It costs every cent we can save, when we have to move; as witness the great expense accompanying our breaking up at St. Paul. If we are settled upon our own place the little that we can save will be laid by permanently, accidents of course excepted, and the happiness, dear one, of living in our own house, or boarding with friends, and feeling that we have not got to tear up everything within the next few hours and move! Do you not feel as though you were of more importance in your own snug little room now that we own the furniture than you did before?

My plan of all others then is to leave the army. We could board at your mothers, or mine, until we could have our house in the farm fixed, when we would move into it. We shall have money enough with the crop, the sale of the 80 acres, and what I can raise besides, to pay off the debt. Then I would go to your Father and ask him to furnish the money to put our home in a condition to live in. First the house to be remodeled, and rebuilt. A small barn put up, fences put in shape, well fixed, remainder of the sixty acres broken and put under cultivation, and in short, everything put in comfortable condition. Then we would want a horse and buggy, our house furnished, etc., to do which will require a large sum, but not beyond my reach. The farm I would have worked by an employee as it always has been, the avails would more than pay our interests as it does now. Indeed, ewll cared for and prudently worked, I think the products of the farm upon long time would pay the debt. We are now paying interest on $1600 at 7 percent, amounting to $112 per year, and the present crop will net us at least $250, probably $300—thus extinguishing the original debt in the course of eight years.

I have had a notion, lately, I might get ordered North again—at least as far as Columbus, say; if I could, I would remain for awhile in the army until all danger of new drafts are over at least. There is money to be made in this business, and I know how to do it if David will go to Washington, and have me put on duty at some point where I can have you with me, I will pay him $200 for his expenses, or and give him a certain amount per month—say $100—so long as I remain in the army. If he cannot assist me, I shall ask him to help me out of my troubles and clear of the army.

Dearest, I trust your friends will not censure me for giving in this, my firm determination to leave the army this fall, unless we can be together. Money is a convenient article to have but darling, there is not money enough in this world to induce me to consent to remain away from you six months! No, I would not lead the wretched life I have for five weeks past, for  half year, for all the wealth the world possesses! I used to think that riches were necessary to obtain any degree of happiness in the world, but I have found that I was in error! The only source of happiness in this world is in the presence of my beautiful, loving wife! With your arms about my neck, breathing words of true love, nudging affection in my ear—there is happiness! You, blessed one, taught me that gold alone could not produce happiness to a loving heart. How thankful I am for the lesson!

Dearest, I have already written much more space than I at first intended, and said less. I hope you will not fail to let your friends, as well as mine, know that we must be together here or in the North. The thought of bringing my frail wife here is repulsive. If there were conveniences of life even, it would be different. It may be, however, that it would be beneficial to your health to spend the winter here. I should think it might, if there was an opportunity yp exercise in the open air—horseback and buggy riding, etc. There is some opportunity for the former, but there are no buggies here of any kind. A buggy is an article that cannot often be found in the South, outside of a large town.

In the course of a week or ten days, I hope to hear whether Capt. Rockwood is to return or not. If not, it will undoubtedly be the program of my superiors to keep me here and this would be followed by a positive resignation unless you think advisable to come here, or David thinks he can have me ordered North.

I am quite certain that I could give Horace a position worth about $75 per month. He would have charge of my bakery. Only think, darling, I bake and issue every morning to the soldiers here, 4100 loaves of warm bread! More than your mother bakes in many years!

Now dear one, for a while—goodbye. I hope to hear from you again soon. It is now over a fortnight since that one letter was received. Confide in your husband, loving one, for he alone can take all that you feel to his heart. I know you perfectly, Celia. Therefore, conceal nothing from me!

I hope to be able to send you some money very soon to pay the note and meet your expenses. This is so far from Rochester that it may be I cannot send the money in time to reach you before the note is due. If so, obtain the balance from your father if possible. Otherwise, call at the bank and tell Mr. Whitney I will send soon, and that all delays is the slow mails. I am very anxious to get out of debt as well as to send you more money. Your hussey will do the best he can, dear one, for his little wifey. I have received no pay for the present month, you know. Have spent all I saved from last pay and a little more. My $25 per month does not at present pay my board, but hope that I can make arrangements for a curtailment of expenses soon.

If it is deemed best for you to come here, I shall not wait to earn the money but will borrow it at once.

Give much love to all. Please visit my Mother as often as time will permit. So you practice upon your piano? How badly I do feel when I think that I have not the means for purchasing you an instrument. But darling, if Heaven smiles upon us, and we can settle down permanently, we can soon earn enough to purchase one.

Remember me with unbounded love to brother and mother, to father, Horace, and all the children. Write soon and believe me ever your loving and devoted husband, — Cyrene

P. S. In Sunday afternoon, though quite sick, O attended Episcopal services. Rev. Mr. [Ebenezer Steele] Peake, Chaplain 28th Wisconsin ² officiating. He belongs to Bishop Whipple’s diocese. There is a baptist church here, but a small society. A Chaplain of some regiment officiates. Now goodbye, dearest. Let me hear from you often. Three times a week, I wish you could write. Then when the mail comes, it will bring lots of letters!

Your own loving, — Cyrene

Darling again let me say that I am very anxious that you have the cartes de visite taken, in your wedding outfit, if possible. We would treasure them all our lives. — Cyrene

¹ The spy’s name was William Hicks (30th Arkansas Infantry). He was hung at 10 o’clock A. M. on 23 September 1864 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

² Born about 1830 in Andes, New York, Ebenezer Steele Peake attended the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Summit, Wisconsin and later married Mary Augusta Parker. He was from St. Cloud, Minnesota and served as chaplain of the 28th Wisconsin Regiment.



Pine Bluff [Arkansas]
Tuesday evening, October 4, 1864

My own beloved wife,

I sent you a short note last evening dated the 2nd. You will observe the error in the date.

A boat came today—still no letters. Ah [  ], it’s a severe trial for your own Cyrene. You have been so close to me since we were married, that to part with you even is an affliction that I can scarcely stand, but in addition, to be deprived of your letters—the only source of any happiness during our separation is a double affliction that I cannot bear, Over six weeks, dearest wife, have we been separated [and] one letter received, and that three weeks ago tonight! Oh, loved one, why is it that we are compelled to suffer? Pet dearest—most cherished wife—how my heart beats for you only and dearest one, this evening! Would that I could take you upon my knees tonight. I would never say I was tired! But my strength would hold you forever!

Dearest, I long to hear from you once more. If I could know of the condition of your health, what a relief it would be! But dearest, I am greatly in hopes that letters directed to Col. Benham’s care will come with regularity. Those directed to St. Charles will come some time, but it’s a long, long while!

Commissioners from Minnesota to take the vote of the soldiers of the 3rd Minnesota arrived here today as also a surgeon appointed by the Governor to look after our sick soldiers. The latter gave me a bottle of quinine. From the gentlemen I learned that David had returned to St. Paul from his eastern tour. Also that J. V. Daniels had been nominated for Senator and Lloyd Barber for Judge of the District Court.

I voted for Lincoln of course but, my wife, it was a struggle to do so. My conscience tells me that this war must go on until the rebellion is crushed; still how I do want peace that I may return to my wife’s loving embrace!

I learned also that the railroad is in running condition to Rochester [Minnesota]. The information was worth everything to me. Travel between Rochester and Winona is now nothing but pleasure. Pet, you can visit your friends in Winona without dreading a stage ride that mars all the pleasure you might otherwise experience.

I enclose the rattles of two rattlesnakes. This kind of animal is abundant here.

Dearest, I have been at work hard to day and cannot write long. I purchased three papers this morning paying twenty-five cents each—the price of all papers here—and must read them this evening.

I received a dispatch at noon today saying that another boat would be down tomorrow with a mail. I do hope that it will bring some word from my idolized wife!

Good night, dear one. Oh how I love you—worship you! Be true to your own loving husband and he hopes to return to you before many months elapse! Again, good night. Kiss me goodnight darling. Your own loving and devoted, — Cyrene

I hope to be able to send you money this week. — Cyrene

Screen Shot 2020-02-06 at 7.21.27 PM
The command & staff at Pine Bluff, 1864-65; Cyrene Blakely at left center.



Pine Bluff [Arkansas]
Sunday eve, October 9, 1864
7 P. M.

My own dearest Celia,

It is now nearly a week since your dearest letter was received and I have had no time to answer it fully until this evening. It is and will be an unusual thing for me to be driven with business as I have here for the past ten days. The cause is the very limited amount of subsistence stores on hand when I came here, and, the getting in a large supply. For the last ten days the soldiers here have been obliged to live on two-thirds rations, there being such a limited supply. On tomorrow I shall issue to them again, when they will retrieve all they can eat from an over-crowded warehouse. I have now in store enough provisions to last 5,000 men three months—quite a difference, pet, from what a found here. By prompt action in procuring supplies, I have won the praise of all troops at the post.

Dearest one, I have not been able to read your long, loving letter as many times as I desired within the past week. Still, I have perused it often and kissed it and the dear picture many, many times. Your own Cyrene loves you, dearest, and thanks you from the very bottom of his heart for this precious message. I am loved as no man ever was before! Of this, dearest wife, there is no question!

Darling, I wish I could assure you at this moment that I am safe—alive and well! O, my little one is anxious for me, yet I live to love her alone, as fondly as when we parted. Dearest, I am safe, I think, from danger here; the enemy is hovering about, but not in sufficient strength to attempt an attack. Our boats navigate the river between here and Little Rock without molestation. The telegraph wire connecting the same places is seldom interfered with; our pickets are not molested, our scouts hear of no force being within fifty miles of any size. At a place called Monticello, some fifty miles from here, there is I presume some 4,000 men. But they will not disturb Pine Bluff. Ten thousand men is the very smallest number that could make any impression on our works; and that force is not to be found within many miles of this. Therefore, my dear, I think you may rest assured that your own Cyrene will stand no danger of interference from the rebels.

My health is excellent. It never was better. Last night we had a frost and now there will be nothing to fear from fevers, so prevalent here during the summer. I think the danger of summer sickness is entirely [ ], and that with moderate care, I can preserve my health.

Dearest, since writing the above, I have again received your letters and desire to assure you in stronger terms that I am safe, so far as I know, from all danger. Do not, I beg of you, be over anxious for your own Cyrene. So far as our being attacked by any foe is concerned, I sleep perfectly sound, having no fears on that score. And least of all, could guerrilla parties do us any harm. I stay inside our fortifications continually. I never go out and thus I am not at all exposed. My little one will thus rest assured that I will not be injured or captured without the entire army here is captured. I am not liable to be taken prisoner like other officers. I am not exposed to the enemy’s fire, but am at all times with my stores, to be taken by the enemy only when the place falls and the whole army capitulates, and even then if there was a clause, I should endeavor to escape to Little Rock. Thus you see that there need be no fears. Your Cyrene speaks not thus to quiet the anxiety of his wife merely. Dearest, my words are truthful and I trust you will endeavor to calm your great anxiety as much as possible!

Dearest, I have often thought of asking you if you have written to your young lady friends east—their names I do not remember. You intended to do so, but I almost fear you have had too many little cares to permit it. As soon as you can, I hope you will remember them. You know now that your loving Cyrene is in the South, and when stationed for at least a time. You might give them as great an insight as possible into our future doings. State that we have a farm near town upon what we shall probably make a home, living there and transacting some kind of business in town. If Rochester grows as it seems to me it must now, I do not know why a daily paper will not thrive there, in which case I think it possible that I may go into the office again with David. This latter you know is merely one of my speculations, but it is not impossible that it may be fulfilled.

Dearest, in your letter you express the hope that Willie and his wife may never suffer the pain from separation that you and I do. They do not—he does not, at all events. Upon the same evening that I received your kind letter, he got his first one from Mella. It was read and placed in his pocket and I have never seen it since. I am always reading your dear messages when not busy, while I have never seen him take his letter from his pocket. He speaks often of his wife, but I know has not the loving feeling that I have, nor the depth of love. He loves her, no doubt, but dearest, they little know how to love as we do!

Willie met a gentleman at church today who claimed to be our cousin. His name is Fowler ¹ and he is a soldier in the 5th Kansas Cavalry. Please to tell mother. He says his father is cousin to our father and used to sing with him in Syracuse. He called here a few moments ago. I never heard of the family. I showed him Father’s picture and he recognized it. His family lives in Rockford, Illinois. Perhaps mother will know something of hem. He seems to be a Christian gentleman.

Darling, it is now seven weeks since we parted. I have as yet received no assurance that you are recovered in health. I trust your bad diarrhea is checked and here let me ask of you whenever you get sick, to send for a physician. You are apt to suffer rather than have a doctor consulted. Please, dear one, whenever you have a cold, or your system is out of order, do not hesitate, but consult at once Dr. Cross or some other good and kind man. Please, again, I say for your own Cyrene’s sake, do not delay of suffering from illness of any character!

I think I stated in a former letter that I stopped for an hour or so at Columbus on my way South, but did not see any of my many friends. I have written to Maj. Hall and expressed my regrets; also asking him for a picture of his lady to place in our album.

Dearest, there is no danger whatever here from the water we drink. There are plenty of wells and though the water is anything but good, it will not produce diarrhea.

You ask me when the term of my first three years enlistment will expire on the 26th of October. But last June, I was sworn into the service again on my commission from the President, which runs for an indefinite period—“during the will of the President.” So that now there is no limit to my enlistment. I can get only on the will of the President, who accepts my resignation, or directs, that I be mustered out

I have not seen Capt. Forbes since we parted at Winona. He went to a place named Warrenton, west of St. Louis. I would like to hear from his wife.

I am very glad you got the money sent from Memphis. Use all your desire, dear one. After awhile I hope to make something here. You will soon receive the $350 forwarded last week. In a day or two I shall send you another hundred. Have you ever heard of the $10 I lent Capt. Pratt?

I, too, dear one, have wept often because of your absence, thus depriving we of your goodnight kiss. O darling how lonely are my nights without your presence! Also, that we should ever have to suffer thus! Let us both pray that we may be restored to each other without a great delay, and that we may not be parted again for a single day!

Dearest, I do not desire you to work hard—not enough even to tire you. Our expenses are tripling and there is no reason why you should wash, or even iron, your clothes. I presume you could do the latter more to your satisfaction yourself, but I fear you will overtask yourself, or perhaps lame your wrist.

Dearest, I am obliged to close without fully considering your letter as I am becoming sleepy. The mail leaves soon too. I will send a letter by the next mail. On Tuesday we shall have another boat, which I trust will bring me three or four missing letters. I cannot afford to lose them, pet. They are precious—too dear to miss!

Goodnight dear. Oh that I could place your little cheek upon my army tonight and sleep with your heart beating close to mine! Oh, how I do love you! You are mine only forever! Goodnight. Ever your devoted, — Cyrene

¹ The 5th Kansas Cavalry had indeed been posted at Pine Bluff but I could find no one on the roster by the name of Fowler.



Pine Bluff [Arkansas]
October 13, [1864]
Thursday evening, 8 o’clock

My beloved wife,

Days and days roll on, but still no more letters! Oh Pet, sometimes it seems as though I could not bear up under this load of grief. Since my last, two boats and one mail have arrived. On Tuesday evening I confidently looked for a message from you in the mail, but dearest, I was disappointed. As I turned from the office to return to my room, a large tear dropped from my eye—my sorrow was greater than I had ever experienced before! Arriving at my room, I could not write you as I had intended. I yielded to despair! Pet, can we live thus? Does my little one hear from me? I pray to God that my letters do reach their destination and comfort the loving, lonely heart at home! Darling, I know nothing of what is transpiring with you. This is beyond endurance.

I enclose a dispatch received last evening from Col. Benham from which you will observe that I shall probably be kept here permanently so long as I remain in this department. It is my desire, therefore, that if David has done nothing to have me removed from here (and he has not unless you have seen and informed him of what I have written to you upon this subject) you come down here at once. This, I say is my heartfelt wish,; but, if it be your opinion that it is best to remain in Rochester, you can do so, I can make you comfortable here so far as a room is concerned, as I have before stated, and I can obtain a sort of a buggy for you to ride in occasionally. I can get bread, and flour, fresh and salt meat, and ilk, and I think some butter: that we could not have always. But the substantials of life I have the means of obtaining.

You will have no lady friends here probably, but in lieu thereof you can have your own husband the greater portion of every day. We can find books to read, and can talk, and love each other as much as we wish. Under such circumstances, would my little wifey be lonely and homesick?

Desarest, it is a long journey to this place—by rail to Milwaukee where you could stop a couple of days and see your friends. Then to Cairo by rail. Here you take the boat for Memphis. There change to the boat to DuVall’s Bluff. Thence by rail to Little Rock and by boat to Pine Bluff. I could meet you at DuVall’s Bluff and escort you over the most perplexing portion of the journey. If you do not like it when you get here, you can return after a month’s visit, or if your health will be likely to suffer, you can do likewise. You will be at liberty to return when you choose.

As for dangers of war, I thing everything is safe. If there should be and attack, I could remove you without trouble. The winter months are coming on and the rebel army cannot fight in winter. The information from the rebels about here is that their forces are all going to the Red River country, of course on account of the coming cold weather. Price has gone up into Missouri and, if he ever gets back at all, will steer clear of our forces in Arkansas and get to a warmer climate as speedily as possible. Under all circumstances, I am convinced we shall live here unmolested this winter if the war continues so long. I am greatly in hopes Grant will wind it up before spring, or that I shall be ordered away from here to a post nearer home.

If you come, you will need to bring lots of stockings and such things as wear out for you can buy nothing without paying its weight in gold. Thread, needles, a good strong pair of Balmorals, extra pair of cloth gaiters, etc. Your winter hat and riding hat will be sufficient with your furs and the large, long tippet (I can’t think of the name). Leave your light dresses so that they could be sent to you. Bring silk dresses, cloth traveling dress, plaid dress, and if possible the riding dress. If you remain in Milwaukee, while there you can have your trunk covered and do not fail to have your name printed on the canvas.

On the steamboat below Cairo the Treasury Agent may possibly want to examine your trunk. It will be all right if he does, but I will send you a note to use and I hope to avoid the embarrassment this will cost you.

As stated in the previous letters, I sent you recently $350 and will send by the next express $100 more. Thus you will have plenty of means. I think $200 will be sufficient to take with you. If you have anything left after fitting yourself out, deposit it with Chadbourn & Whitney and, as your money is interest paying notes, make them receive them as such to be so returned. A before suggested, I would keep the interest-paying notes I send and spend others.

I have plenty of clothing for myself unless it would be the vest and pants I have spoken of, and if convenient, you might purchase and bring with you a pair of slippers for me, size about 7½.

I can think if nothing more save some little instructions concerning the charges of cars and steamboats which I will give you in my next letter. I would be glad to have you call at my sisters in Chicago, but as she is a stranger to you, I presume it would be embarrassing.

It will be a bold undertaking for you to attempt the journey alone. Still I have confidence in your ability to come through to me without harm. Women do such things every day and that which any live woman can perform, can be done successfully by my own Celia!

Dearest, I shall look for you. write to me as soon as this letter is received and tell me the exact day of your starting that I may be at hand at DuVall’s Bluff. But in spite of all my wishes, I shall not blame you if, upon deliberation, you consider the undertaking too perilous to attempt. I know my little one desires to live by the side of her own Cyrene, and what is more, will suffer any inconvenience to obtain her natural biding place.

I received by the last mail a letter from Maj. Hall enclosing a picture of his wife which I send to you, Both are well, still at Columbus.

Dearest, I love you, oh words cannot tell how much! I awake in the night and cannot sleep because of the absence of my loving wife! Last night, for hours I tossed about in my bed, so lonely, so sorrowful—ohm what an aching heart your Cyrene has had for many, many weeks! Surely my little one cannot live longer without her own husband to love here, to pet her, and caress her! Come to me again, loved one, that I can hold you upon my knees and tell you how fondly you are loved! There will be no more loneliness, pet, no aching hearts for us, pet, after we meet again! Oh, dearest, that could only at this moment enclose you in my embrace! And yet it must be a month and over before i can expect you! Oh, is it not cruel?

Dearest, I must now close. There will be another boat tomorrow. If that does not bring me a letter, what shall I do?

Don’t you believe that we have got some fresh potatoes and are living like kings! They are about as large as walnuts.

Let your letters be written often. I verily believe they will reach me sometime. Goodnight. Oh for the kiss! Ever your own loving and devoted, — Cyrene


Pine Bluff [Arkansas]
October 28, 1864

Mu own loving wife,

But one mail has left here since my letter of the 18th instructing you in the manner of reaching this place. At the departure of that mail, I had no knowledge and hence I have not written. I trust, my dear, that if you ever see this letter, however, it will be right here in Pine Bluff—that you will have left Rochester before its arrival there.

I have not heard from you, dear one, yet; and but for your coming here so soon, I should be almost distracted. i know that you are with friends in reasonably good health, and that I need not feel over anxious for your safety. Thus, with the knowledge of your being with me so soon, I try to be in a measure contented.

I sent the express receipts to Mother in a letter going by this mail. If you have got the two packages, the receipts are worthless; if not, they must of course be kept. I have got more money to send but shall forward it to Mother.

I shall not make this letter lengthy as I have no idea that you will ever see it. I shall try and be in Little Rock about the last of November and at DuVall’s Bluff in time to meet you.

Come on, dearest, if you have not already started. Make no delay. if you have got the large package of money and not the other, do not wait. Leave an order with your Father to obtain it of the Express Company.

Say to your Father that I have the money to liquidate the debt on the farm if he can sell the 80 acres and will pay it any time.

Now good night! Come, come to your own Cyrene’s bosom! His arms are open wide to receive you and clasp you in his embrace! Can you live without him?

Love to all. Ever your own devoted, Cyrene



Little Rock, Arkansas
November 21, 1864
Monday Eve,

My own loving Celia,

I received at Pine Bluff on Friday evening last your very loving letter of October 30th; on Saturday I started for Little Rock, arriving the following evening and this morning obtained the box, loving one, containing so man little necessary articles, put up by your own dear hands—and best of all, two loving letters! One of these, dearest, is the missing letter dated October 15th and I am thus led to believe that all your letters addressed to me through Col. Benham have been received. I am thankful, oh so happy, to know that none of your precious letters, dearest, are now lost. They are the only source of happiness to me, my dearest wife; and I hope soon to hear that you have received my lettrs notifying you that I suffer no longer in this respect.

Dear one, you need never fear that your own husband attributes any failure in the receiving of your dear epistles to want of attention on your part. No, dear one. I think I have assured you in previous messages that I believed you wrote regularly. The fault was beyond your remedy or mine. But now it is all over, pet. Let us love each other and promise that though through the failures of the mails, or the accidents of war, we should receive no direct intelligence from each other, we will be true to our vow as long as God spares our lives! Thus did I think of my own loving Celia during the six long, long weeks that I received no letters from her. I knew my little one loved me if she lived! Never for one instant did I distrust you! My little one’s heart was in te right place, and I knew it! And dear one, I know it will be thus always! My confidence in my devoted wife has never for an instant been shaken, and dear one, it never can be!

Dearest, I have come to Little Rock to attend to business connected with my department and shall return probably on Wednesday or THursday. I think I shall send you by express tomorrow $2500 or near that amount. So you may look for it soon. I prefer that it is not known that you have it outside of our families.

Dearest, the slippers I shall use every night or I always did when by your side. I devote all my evenings to sending and thinking of you, and often I have wished for a pair of slippers. I will think of you, my dear pet, every time I put them on! The pants and vest I shall wear daily and the little articles of food that you have prepared for me so thoughtfully, I shall relish for a long time to come.

I rejoice that I am to receive a picture of you in the plaid dress, but I fear it will not show much if placed in the little round case.

Dearest, I have finished “Hide and Seek,” by Wilkie Collins, and nearly completed “The Woman in White,” (an excellent story) by same author. I have now on hand, “Roumola,” by George Elliott and “No Name,” by Collins; also the following ofd Dickens: “Oliver Twist,” “Martin Chuzzlewit,” “David Copperfield,” “Domby & Son,” “Nicholas Nickleby,” “Old Curiosity Shop,” etc. Darling, I am going to enjoy a rich treat and dearly do I wish that you could read these books with me! But I will preserve and send them to you, that you may read them as well as I.

Dear one, there will be a ail here tomorrow which I hope will bring me more letters from you. Letters went down to the Bluff for me on Saturday from you, which I shall not receive until I return, probably. I am still anxious to learn what [  ] you perceived after the receipt of my letter telling you to come down here. I shall write tomorrow to a friend at Duvall’s Bluff requesting him to watch every boat now for a fortnight or until I can hear something definite from you. If you come, oh darling, think of the happiness of meeting you again in a few day!

Dearest one, I am very tired tonight having traveled about the streets all day on business. My eyes too are weak—the light is too strong for them. Therefore I must close.

Before I leave here, I will try and write again/ Col. Benham who is absent expects his wife on every boat.

Dear one, good night now. I shall go directly to my room and my bed. Pet, oh, how I wish I could feel your little legs and bosoms close to me this cold night! I was cold last night and wanted you to lie in my arms! Soon–soon–Heaven grant that we may meet! Kiss  me goodnight!

Ever your own loving husband, — Cyrene

P. S. Does my little wifey sleep with her eyes open now?


Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Sunday, April 30, 1865

My own dear Celia,

This is one of those Sabbaths that I am too often lately obliged to meet with—my business requiring my constant presence at the office. On Friday I commenced receiving stores and have been engaged every moment since, and shall not finish at least until tomorrow night. Then, I shall have my warehouses full and hope to enjoy my Sabbaths quietly in my own room.

It was just seven days ago that we parted at Memphis. If God has protected you (Oh, I pray, dearest Celia, that you have received His careful protection as I have), you are no doubt today enjoying the society of your friends in Milwaukee, and as I judge, will leave there about Wednesday or Thursday for home. May you find all our friends well and prosperous.

On Sunday, as I stated in my last hasty note, after bidding you God speed, I went to my boat and found a lonely night. Monday was a lovely day and I enjoyed it hugely, so far as I could without your presence. I visited many of the stores in town and dis some purchasing. Among other things, two suits of citizens clothes, a soap dish, and a large magnificent cage for a pair of mocking birds, which I shall attend to without fail as soon as they can be caged.

I was sorry that I could not purchase a set of jewelry for you. I saw just the very things I wanted—a magnificent set of round, flat, gold, set with beautiful pearls, a bracelet of the very description I desired with the pearly setting in it. It was beautiful and I would have made the purchase but that I feared you would procure some nearly like it. Price $225.

I was delighted with the park that day. I saw droves of squirrels, every one tame enough to crawl into my hand. It was a beautiful sight. There was also a deer in the park. It would have been a  pleasant day with you to participate but without you, I was lonely.

Arriving here Wednesday morning after four days absence, I found everything in good condition. Capt. Camben had taken possession of my room, and requested permission to occupy it with me. Of course I could not refuse; indeed, I was glad to get him in with me as I thought probable someone would have to share my bed. He is very tidy and I think decidedly the nearest correct in his habits of any gentleman of the mess.

But darling, it was a great change from you, my own dearest one, to a man—a stranger! Oh, Pet, how my heart ached as I opened the door on my return—all desolation—no cheerfulness, no loving words, no little wife! Then, your oft repeated words came back and how it ached! I prayed God to keep you safely to assist in my determination to shun evil and to return us to each other’s presence again very, very soon! Oh! my dear wife, I do love only you so much! Heaven be thanked for giving me one so true and devoted and gentle and noble as my own Celia!

On Wednesday eve, the first of my return, I kept close to my room. Thursday eve I attended a magician’s harangue and was disgusted with him as well as myself for yielding to everyone’s coaxing. The other evenings I have not been out of my room though everyone else has been out of the house. Last eve, they went to a circus, but Mr. Haskell and I kept our own company.

Janie does pretty well but she requires constant watching. For instance, last night she filled the lamp and left the can in the middle of the floor, the stopper out, and two burned matches on the bureau. It was so different from the way I have found things when you were about that I was at first provoked. Then I sent for her and have her a talking to. O think she will not give me occasion to speak again on that point. Yesterday she wanted three dollars to buy shoes with. If course I shall give it to her. She will be an expense to me but if my room is thereby kept anywhere near as neat as you aways had it, I shall be paid, I assure you. Her dress fits very well. It’s a light calico.

The paymasters left on Friday. Their stay was long and pleasant.

My first washing came in on Yesterday. I told Janie not to touch it until I have time to look at it and see if the pieces are right. I shall have trouble in keeping the niggers about the house from taking my clothes. They help themselves to anything Cambem has—that is, towels, &c. I caught one taking a towel of mine yesterday and I think that “hands off” will be his motto hereafter with regard to his property.

Darling, I thin continually of the days of your journey and in my heart pray that you may reach our home in safety. When you are there, I shall feel more satisfied for it seems that once again under your mother’s charge, all will be well with you. Make your new clothing at once, for I shall take pride in your dressing equal to the best. We can afford it now. I have purchased liberally of clothing for myself and intend as soon as I can reach home that you shall dress extra well. Throw aside everything that you have heretofore worn except such things as we mentioned in our conversation. The old black hat, the dresses that you wore last summer, except one or two new ones, must all give place to better and new ones. I intended that you should buy a new bonnet (summer) in Milwaukee, but fear your means will be hardly sufficient. If you have not done so before receiving this, you can buy in Rochester or wait until you return to M.

If ever you want money, write at once. Never stint yourself in any respect. You know that I would [  ] myself o death if I thought you were wanting for anything. I shall send money from time to time but perhaps not more than you will want for your support. Use it as you desire, but I would like you to preserve an account of the amount.

Also please send an account of your expenses up to the time of your arrival home and the settlement with your father.

Now, dear one, I must close this hastily written letter. My time today is more than occupied with a pressure of business.

I love you with pure devotion. Celia, you are the light of my existence! I would not want to live if you were to die! Love me as you always love and as you alone can! Write often. Tell me everything that happens. If you meet with annoying incidents, tell me. If you see friends, tell me. If you visit, ride, walk, or do anything, tell me. I want to know all. Write to me often. Love me much. Give my love to all and believe me still the same loving and devoted husband that I have ever been. Your own, Cyrene


Addressed to Mrs. C. H. Blakely, Care M. W. Leland, Esq., Rochester, Olmsted County, Minnesota

Office Post Commissary of Subsistence
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
May 14, 1865
Sunday A. M.

My own dear one,

A boat leaves immediately to go down the river. It was my intention to have sent a long letter but it leaves sooner than I expected and I can only send this note. I shall write a long letter this afternoon which will go by next boat.

I received your letter of May 3 from Milwaukie on Friday A. M. before I was up. Oh, I was so glad to learn that you had arrived safely even at Milwaukie. I look anxiously for your next letter! Dearest, please do not delay! Your own Cyrene is onlely, homesick, unhappy! Please comfort him as you alone can!

For a few hours, goodbye! Kiss me! Oh, I love you with my whole heart, dearest!

Your own, — Cyrene




[Pine Bluf, Arkansas]
In my own dear room
One o’clock Sunday P. M.
May 21, 1865

My own dear wife,

Another week has passed and I have yet no tidings of your reaching home. For four long, long weeks I have been restless and unhappy, longing for the welcome intelligence of “safety at home.” But yesterday, your letter of the 10th informed me that on that day of you were still at Milwaukee and had been suffering from illness! O, my own dear one! Never have I been so bereaved—never have I suffered as since the receipt of your epistle! Sick, among strangers, and your own husband who loves you so ardently, so devotedly, far, far away! Darling, were it within my power, I would start upon the boat this moment landing at the levee to meet, and comfort, and love and caress you! O, dear one, how can I live without you! My heart sink in despair, as I reflect upon the prospect before us! They were never better than at this moment, still I fear it will be two or three months before we can meet. Pray that the time may be considerably less! I must go back to you–to your heart, your embrace, your pure unchangeable affection! O, love me, my own dear wife! [more expressions of love]

I confess my surprise when I found you still at Milwaukee. I am glad that you are having the dress made there, as you will be better prepared for an appearance at home. I do not like to have you return without one new garment. It would suit if all the dresses were to be made there.

Tomorrow will be my birthday, and I shall look for the slippers by the first boat. They will be beautiful, and your own husband will truly appreciate the gift of his devoted wife. I shall wear them everyday and they will be a perfect reminder of the devotedness, and affection, and thoughtfulness of the one I so sincerely love! You are so good, dearest pet! [more expressions of love]

Your dresses will all please me. Send me the photograph you speak of, and the one I love called for also. I want to know just how you look, my darling pet, with your new outfit.

[More expressions of love]

Gen. Edwards arrived on Saturday morning. So far as I have seen, I shall like him, but what he will do it is impossible to foresee, and what the future will bring forth is quite a matter of mystery. This morning there was a grand review of the troops, and Gen. Edwards assumed command immediately thereafter. I attended the review officially. The weather is almost oppressive, but I put a very wet handkerchief in my cap and did not suffer in the least. You may rely upon my taking proper care of myself in all respects.

This afternoon all have gone across the river to Mr. Benjamin’s. I believe they are to take dinner But I preferred to remain behind and love my own little wife! No doubt they will drink a great deal too and I knew if I remained away, I would drink nothing! We have had wine once since my last, but I did allow a drop to be poured into my glass.

I think Gen. C[urtis] and those who are in company with him (Ferris, Cambern, and Danforth) will leave about Wednesday next. It will be lonely for me, thereafter, but there will not be so much bustle, and temptation. I can well afford to suffer a little from the former if the latter will thereby be removed. Gen. Edwards appears to be very quiet, he is not the deboucher that Gen. C. is and under the new regime, I look for a better condition of morals.

Janie left for Chicago this morning. I shall miss the comfortable bed she has prepared for us nightly, and the clean room, and darned stockings, but I permitted her to go where I thought her condition would be improved.

A great change is taking place here in the ranks of the enemy. Nearly all of the guerrillas riving about the country have come in and surrendered. Last Sunday, in a personal difficulty with Capt. Mayberry, the great [  ] was shot dead. Since, all of his (the latter’s) men have surrendered themselves to Gen. Curtis, and on yesterday Capt. Maybery himself came in with his men and are to go to the Rock by the first boat and take the oath of allegiance. Thus, all of the guerrillas on the other side of the river have surrendered, and on this side many have sent in to ascertain the terms upon which they could deliver themselves up. Tomorrow the lines are to be opened, I understand, to everyone who desires to come in. I doubt the practicality of this, but presume the new general “knows his business.”

Yesterday, for dinner, we had new potatoes and beans. Peas we have had several times. We shall have beets in a few days. The season is far in advance of Minnesota.

Mr. E. W. Crocker, whom you may remember is a clerk in Blake’s store, found here a day or two since on a steamboat for Little Rock. He is a clerk. On his return, I shall offer him a clerkship in my office and press upon him to remain. He is a fine gentlemanm an old acquaintance, and friend of mine. The first time I ever called upon Miss D. be stated that I ought not to make the acquaintance. Time proved that I was a judge of the human character.

Mr. Haskell calls upon me evenings often. I never go out but remain close in my room thinking of my own absent, loving little wife. Last evening he called and stated his business to be a flea in Horace’s behalf. I had informed him (Mr. H) that I had about concluded to send Horace home; and he thought the policy to be the worst that could be pursued. His principle argument was that he would be just as wild at home as here, and no one of his friends could find it out; whereas, knowing it myself. I could talk to and by reason of his friendship, expect an influence. I have concluded to adopt his advice and see what I can do, and have therefore sent for Horace to come here this afternoon. I shall point out to him the error of his ways kindly, but in such a manner that he cannot fail to see them. I shall recall his mother’s devotion and example, and that of his sisters and picture that grief that would follow an exposure of his conduct. Mr. Haskell …

Sunday eve. I open this to say that an artillery company have just come from Shreveport, to surrender.  Kirby Smith surrendered on the 15th, thank Heaven, and I hope to go home the sooner!

Your own, — Cyrene

Cyrene H Blakely- Circa 1860s_3D Red Cyan Anaglyph
Cyrene H. Blakely, anaglyph courtesy of Paul Taylor. Red cyan glasses of the property density will enable the viewer to see Cyrene with a 3d effect without ghosting. Anyone that is a member of the Civil War Trust or Center for Civil War Photography would have the necessary red cyan glasses to view the 3D.

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