CIVIL WAR LETTERS
JOHN W. MATHENY
13 Aug 1863 - 1 Aug 1865


NOTE: This first letter was written by R. Watson and sent to James Matheny, John's father. It was collected with the John Matheny letters, and has been included here.

Letter #1

August 13th, 1863
Mr. James Metheny
Dear Sir
I sit down this fine afternoon to writ you a few lines. I am well and hop this will find you and famly all in good health. I got on from Narmma Baylor today for the first time for 6 months and one from Jesse Wesson (?) I got the news hear in a letter that John Wesley had gon in to the Army. if he has gon I would like to ask what Regt and Company he is in. We hav left Virginia. we ar now wher we can hav a far view of Charleston South Carolina. We often Receive Morter Shell from Fort Sumter Fort Wagoner Fort Johnson those Reble fortification. it is verry warm down her. we have no good wauter her to drink. we hav to drink such as your horse would Refuse. Well James as I will for ome time hav no chance of writing letters Back to the North I want you to tell My folks in Jay County wher I am and that I am well. Such as I would lik to writ to you I am not allow for to writ I will not writ any more untill the great Shugle (?) hear at Charleston is over if I am then a living I will writ home while I am a writing this letter I am seated under a larg Palmetto tree with my feet in the Sand up to my knees and my hat and Shirt off then I can not hardly keep from melting I would giv ten Dollars if I had a cool drink out of your well I hear send my Best Respects to William Greys folks when I hav the Privleg of writing agen I will writ them I want you to writ to me as Soon as you get this Direct your letter to Robt Watson Co B 13 Ind Vols Fosters Brigad Folys Iland near Charleston South carolina I now close my letter hoping to hav the privleg of writing to agen when you writ to Jay Co Please tell them wher I am and that we ar a living in the whit Sand in South Carolina
Robt Watsn to James Metheny
writ soon
if John is not gon he had Better stay at home for he is to young for a Soldier for a Soldier life is a hard one Charleston must soon fall or we must Soon leav this hot hole for the wauter that we hav to Drink is half Sault and it is so hot that a Person can almost Boil meat in the Sun I would lik to send you some sea shell home in a Box if I had a chanc shell of all kinds

no more
R Watson
August 13th 1863




Letter #2

Camp Shanks
august 23d, 1863

Dear father and mother. I take the opportunity of writing you a letter to let you know that I am as well as common and hope that when these few lines come to hand they may find you all well. This is sunday but it donít see much like it to me. we hoisted a big nice flag over our barix yesterday it is on top of the barix that you was in when I first found (?) you. I had to stand guard last night at the gate there where we parted. it rained thundered and lightned awful hard for about an hour it wet me plum through. I had to lay in my wet clothes till I like to a froze. I had no blanket so I had to lay on the bare floor but it ainít that bad often. if my colt aint too much bother to you keep it for me, if it is much trouble you may sell him. after we draw our bounty I intend to go before the board of examination to see if I can get a discharge. I am prety certain I can get one. I would like to a seen Charles when you first give him that pistol I bet he pretty near made stripes down his britches legs. I bought a package of paper yesterday, it had a little finger ring in it. I thought would please nancy to get it I will send it to her to rember me by. if she cant wearit let eva have it. I dreamed of being at home last night I seen Eva and mother as plain as if I had really a been there. I will quit and write a little to mother.

John .W. Matheny
To Jas Matheny
Write soon and often and lots at a time

Dear Mother I will write you a few lines. I know about how bad you feel about me. I want you fret as little about me as possible. I coming home as soon as I get my bounty and I will get my likeness and let you have it. It is about dinner time I will have to quit Write soon and write a little for mother




Letter #3

Hickman Station , Ky.
January 15th 64

Dear father and mother I take the present opportunity to let you know that I am well at present and hope that when these few lines come to hand they may find you enjoying the same blessing. I received your letter of the 4 and was glad to hear from you but no little surprised to hear of so many of the boys going to war. we got here day before yesterday from union city, ten-. and yesterday we was scouting all day. it has been the coldest down here that it been know for about 10 years. we are living on corn cakes that we have to eat without sifting or any salt in them. mixed up with water. I weigh 154 pounds the most I have weighed since last winter. but I think I fall away some if I dont get more to eat soon. You did not say any thing about the draft. I am glad you are not drafted. the general belief of the army as far as I know is that the war is about played out and I think it is my self. we have not been payed off yet. I dont know how soon we will be if we donít get it this month wont get it for the next (?) months. postage stamps are 5 cts apiece here and scarce at that I have got only 1 more and no money. I would like for you to send me about 50 cents worth of stamps if you will. I will have to quit for the want of room. write soon
John w. Matheny




Letter #4

Camp near Memphis Tenn
March 10, 64
Dear father and mother I take the present opportunity of writing you a few lines after so long a time to let you know that I have been sick for nearly 2 weeks but I am getting better slowly I expect you have all been uneasy about me I would have written sooner but I could not under the circumstances I tell you we have had only the hardest times for the last 3 months that I ever saw I expect you have heard about our fight before this time we fought 5 days and killed a great many and lost a good many ourselves. we did not try to take prisoners but rode up to them and shot them down like hogs it was the hardest cavalry fight that has been fought since the war broke out. they say we are going to the army of the patomac but I dont know how soon we will start. James Marquis is our chaplain but I never knew it till today he found out I was in the regiment and he come and hunted me up he was glad to see me we had a fine chat I had seen him lots of times but I did not know him. I would like to know how mother likes her new home and neighbors if you change your post office let me know so I will know where to write to next time I am getting so weak and tired I shall have to quit for this time tell Unkle george I want him to write write as soon as you get this for I want to hear from home the worst kind.

John W. Matheny
James Matheny

direct your letter to Camp grearson tenn




Letter #5

Benton Barracks, St. Louis, March 17, 1864

James Matheny
Dear father I take my pen in hand after so long a time to let you know that I am yet on the land and among the living and enjoying good health. the reason why I have not written sooner is because we started from camp the 1st of September after price who was making his way for Mo. we went within 25 miles of little rock then turned and went to cape girardeau on the Miss. river. there we took the path (?) for St. Louis. around there and embarked for Jefferson City. we landed there and camped for the night next day in persuit of the rebs and over took them the 22d of Oct. at a little town called Independence, 6 miles from the Kansas line. they had a stand there but was soon compelled to run the 18 _____(?) took 2 pieces of artillery. we followed the retreating rebs as fast as we could. skirmishing with their rear guards till we came to the big blue river where they had another stand but again was driven like wild men. we still followed till we got on large praire. we had them there just where we wanted them. sure they had to stop again and form themselves in line of _____(?) to save their wagon train. they placed their artillery in the ____(?) supported by one brigade under command of Maj. Geo R. Marmaduke. we came upon the keen pump threw our column into line on the run and charged down on them and took about 1000 prisoners and all their artillery except 1 piece. their guns was loaded and propped up ready for touching off before taking the wade. ___(?) ___(?) ___(?) drive it off the battlefield for us before they had time to dismount. we took the most of their train. 1200 stand of arms and 3(?) stand of colors. again they broke and run till they came to the Osage river where they was forced to stand again and take another licking. and so we went on to ____(?) run them out of the United States into Indian territory about 100 miles and after we crossed the arkansas river we fired on saluting ___(?)___(?) and then we turned back the road back. 6,000 men 7 (?) generals (several unreadable words) we got back here yesterday morning. we are going to Nashville in a few days I donít know what for or how long we will be there or anything about it. you will have to take this and make it do till I get a little more settled. tell mother to keep in good cheer my time is nearly half out. please write as soon as you get this. direct to Memphis Tenn. I would like to write soon to aunt polly and lidy but I cant for the ___(?) of paper. give my respects to all ___(?) friends.

John w. Matheny

James Matheny




Letter #6

Camp pickeren Tenn. apr. 22d, 1864

Dear father and mother I take the present opportunity of writing a few lines to let you know that I am well at present and hope that when these few lines come to hand they will find you enjoying the same blessing. I received your letter yesterday dated the 14th and was very glad to hear from you and to know that you was all well. ___(?)___(?) very sorry to hear of the death of dock pope. seems like loosing some ___(?). It is very windy today but warm ___(?) ___(?) for all that. the report is today that general Pope (?) is coming up the river with 20 thousand men if he dont fetch more men than that he cant touch one lick of this place. they can shell him 8 miles from the forte. we are scouting every day and bringing in prisoners. yesterday the darky soldiers fetched a garilly they was the proudest set of fellows I even seen. I am like you folks about writing I write so often I cant think of much to write today but I thought I would write while I had the chance for if we are attaked here I may not have the chance to write again for a month or 2 if I dont get shot. my paper is mighty poor I notice but it is the best I have got. it is 15 minutes past 12 oclock and I am as hungry as a bear I will have to quit writing and go and get my grub of sow belly bread beans and coffee you may think it would not be a very gay dinner for a wedding but we dont profess to have any thing extra at our hotel, 3 o clock and I have just been to the river and watered my horse. there is not much card playing among these boys as there was at Indianapolis but there is more swearing and stealing going on than I ever heard of. there is 3 or 4 dies every day in the forte. I believe I have wrote all the news that I know of that is worth writing I want you to write soon and as often as you can.

John w. Matheny
James Matheny
Direct to Camp pickeren Tenn.




Letter #7

Camp crisbeck Tenn. apr 24 1864

Dear aunt
I take the present opportunity to inform you that I am well at present and I hope that when these few lines come to hand they will find you enjoying the same blessing. It is so hot today that I can hardly navigate there was a big drop of sweat dropped off of my nose and fell on my paper. I have not much news to tell you today but I had nothing to do and I thought I write a little to let you know I have some respect for you yet. I am glad that we can have the privilege of hearing from each other when we cannot be in talking distance. there is no fighting going on that we can hear now except skirmishing. I guess we will go to chattanooga in may sometime I wanted to go ther before dock pope died but (several unreadable words) donít care much about it. there has been a circus showing here for the last week. last night th seels fell down and crippled and killed some of the boys they show again to night it about supper time and sweating so I guess I will quite writing by asking you to excuse my bad writing and answer soon and write a big letter next time. I still remain your
affectionate nephew
John. w. Matheny to
Mary Matheny




Letter #8

White Station Tenn June 11th 1864

Dear parents
I take the present opportunity of writing a few lines in haste to let you know that I am alive yet and enjoying good health I have not been out of the saddle much for the last 2 months I just got back to camp last night about 3 oíclock off a raid to Miss. we had one of the hardest little fights the 10th of this month that I ever heard of and got as completely whipped as ever any set of fellows since the war broke out. here is a slight estimate from the memphis paper that will tell you more of the particulars than I can. we was commanded by Gen. Sturgis we lost 16 pieces of artillery and 350 wagons instead of 100. our losses is much greater than the paper states the rebs was 40 thousand strong we are expecting another fight soon. I wrote you a letter when I was in the hospital but have received no answer yet. the order has just come to sadle every horse to go out. excuse these poor lines I must quit.

Write soon
John .W.
Matheny
James
Matheny




Letter #9

White Station June 19, 1864

Dear father and Mother
I once more take the opportunity of writing a few lines to let you know that I am well at present and hope that when these few lines comes to hand they may find you enjoying good health. it has been the hottest weather for a few days that I ever Saw but it is raining to day and is considerably cooler I wrote a letter to you last month when I was in the hospital but have received no answer as yet. Since that I have been in one of the hardest little fights that has been fought since the war begun, it was not such a very little one either when you come to sum it all up. our force was about 12 thousand cavalary infantry and artillery under command of brigadier general Sturgis. 5 or 6 thousand of which was Colored troops. the rebel force was said to be 40 thousand strong. about as hard a half days work as I ever done was fighting. colonel brown of our regiment was shot in the leg it would be useless for me to try to give you all the names of the wound in our regiment. I wrote a few lines to you as soon as we came back but my mind was so bothered that I could not write half that I wanted to. uncle jimmy marquis preached to a large assembly yesterday afternoon he preached a very good sermon. that letter you wrote to him he never got he was at home when the letter came and I had to go on a scout and it got wet in my pocket and spoilt. we have plenty of fruit of all kinds. there is the most peaches through here that I ever saw. corn is as high as my head wheat is nearly ready to cut. but you never seen a country tore up so in your life. corn is seven dollars a bushel and scarce at that butter sells from 65 cnts to $1 a pound and strong enough to bear up a man. eggs 45 to 50 cts a dozen, milk 20 cts a quart, everything else in proportion. General A. J. Smith has gone down into Miss. with a large force you will hear some good news from him soon I think. I got a letter from lidy gray some time ago but have not had time to answer it yet. tell her to not think hard of me for if she knew the riding I have to do she would be glad to get a letter as often as she does. I would like to write some to aunt polly but I have wrote all the news that I know in this. you will have to make a sort of a family concern of my letters for I have a poor chance to write what little I do. no more at present but write soon I want to hear from you the worst kind.
John W. Matheny
James Matheny
Direct as before




Letter #10

Camp white Station Tenn Aug 20/64
Dear father
I take the present opportunity of writing you a few lines in answer to yours. I received one from you this morning dated July the 28 a few days ago I got your likeness and the next day I got a letter of Aug. 6. I am very thankful to you for them pictures they look very natural. it has been very rainy the most of this month so far. General Smith is on an expidition down in Mississippe with about 7500 men he has just been cleaning things as he goes. our boys are with him. I started with them and was taken sick and came back I am well as ever now I hope that this will find you the same. Jesse Merical got back this morning He sayed Charles was on his head to come with him. he sayed he would a come if he could a stole some money of yours that he knew of. I am glad he did not come I would rather see him buried than to see him in the army it is no place for a boy like him. if he does go in the army he will wish him self dead a thousand times before he is in it long. tell him if he thinks any thing of me he will stay at home and be a good boy. it is time he would begin to see what is best for him. the army is anything else but a nice place but when a person is in it as long as I have been he will get use to it. there is only one thing I have against the draft and that is I am so fraid they will draft you I hope I may never see that day. there is not much news for a few days. last Sunday I went to uncle Jimmy Marquis tent and talked with him all forenoon he told me to tell you he was well and doing all he could for the boys we have meeting every Sunday but it is not such meetings as we have at home. I am still in hopes we will see a better time soon. I am sorry I never got them papers you sent me. I would like to have a good paper but it does not pay to send them unless they would come through. you wanted to know how I spent the fast day I spent on guard at the commissary. I would like to know what is the matter with aunt polly and lidy gray that they donít write any more. if they are mad I would like for them to write and let me know it. I would like to ask you if you did not have on my neck tie when you had your likeness taken if it was not mine it was a brother to it. I believe I have wrote all the news of importance. So I will bring my letters to a close by asking you to write soon.
John W. Matheny
Jas Matheny




Letters 11 to 20
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