Saturday, July 20, 2013


                                                Camp Owen, Randolph Co Va
                                                                        August 30  1861
              Dear Sister
I received your letter a day or two ago. I would have written sooner but I had no opportunity to do so for I was out with the Company on advanced picket guard so that I had no chance to write until I came in yesterday on account of a cold that I caught while out. When I got here and got my dinner an order was given for every one that could carry a gun should march back to the Company for they were advancing on the enemies pickets. Well I started with the rest of them (gun on shoulder) but had gone but two miles when we met them (our men )coming back with the news that one of our men was killed and two wounded but not fatally. I suppose that we will attack the enemy in a day or two. I do not think that the enemy have not got so many men in their camp as the papers say for we have four spies, one of them was in their camp and the others have seen into it and they say that there is not over 5 or 7 Regiments there and we have 8 Regiments to march in with. Now I will tell you some news that no one but Ma and Pa must hear for it is best not to tell it on my account. Harry Crist has been writing to the Captain with regard to getting into this Company in the place of a surgeon that has been discharged, Owen is his name, Pa knows. Jo Macy was at the Captain’s office last night when he told him that Harry could have the place if he would bring enough men along so that he could discharge some men that he mentioned and my name was among them. Now I expect that Harry will soon be getting some men for the Captain. Wrote to him this morning. Now tell Pa to do all he can to help Harry tell the people that there is not a man in this Company but what likes their Company officers (this is true). The Adjutant of our Regiment has resigned and gone home with two Lieutenants, and the Lieutenant Colonel they say is going to resign (I don’t know whether this is true or not) Frank Miller has been discharged. He will be home in a few days. I have not got the things you sent me, for the Captain has not got the box yet. I suppose that it will soon be here. The socks and yarn and thread, handkerchiefs and everything will come handy with me. You told me that if I should get hurt or taken prisoner that I should make arrangements to let you know it by telegraph (I have done so). The weather has been so bad that about one third of the men are on the sick list. I do not know how soon we will leave her but perhaps soon. The men were all glad to hear that the peace makers meeting was stopped.
We have 17 cannons here and are to have that many more. We have besides the cannons, 4 howitzers that are as good in a battle as a large cannon. I have got but half a paper yet from home. The others say that it is the same with them.
It is very dangerous to be out here from camp for several of our men have been shot while out. I have been out often after berries (of which there is an abundance) but I intend to stay in after this for it is positively dangerous for even our own men might shoot us each other thew mistake. Tell all them tories that they had better be careful for they might get shot. I know that such men will not be allowed to live in little Union (at least I hope so). I am well with the exception of a slight cold, which I will soon get over. There is not a Dr in the Regiment that is worth anything. If you send anything more send a box of Spaldings pills for they are good and every soldier should supply himself with them. The three month talk is still increasing here. All believe it but the Colonel and Captain Bennett and they pretend to not believe it. Some say the officers have no commission for longer than 3 months. This seems to be so for some officers are resigning without any reason. I have lost my testament but the Chaplain says he will have some here soon then I shall have one. I will put this letter in one of the envelopes that are already directed for I have no ink and pen handy and have no time to hunt for any. Write soon. Bless all for me. I get my picture taken as soon as I get an opportunity, which may happen soon if we should move from here we might get where there is an operator. Give my love to all. Excuse bad writing and spelling. Your affectionate brother
                                                 Luther Beaver


virgil xenophon said...

It takes a steady hand to write like that. I have some similiar-in-style surviving writings from my Father's Father who was a self-employed black-smith but also pin-striped cars which (especially in those days) took a VERY steady hand. Such penmanship today is a lost art--sort of like Myan or Egyptian heiroglyphics.

virgil xenophon said...

"Mayan" Yikes!

Buck said...

I enjoy these posts immensely, Curtis. And what Virgil said about the penmanship.

(Apropos o' nothing... the schools still taught penmanship when I was in grade school, and I never got anything higher than a C-.)

HMS Defiant said...

I once had a steady hand but I never had the penmanship. The nuns found me quite the disappointment. I had 3 hands back when I wrote longhand; round, slant left, slant right. None of them were elegant.

Anne Bonney said...

I was motivated to look up Spaldings Pills and found this article that was published on April 4, 1861 in the New York Times:

Do you think these are what Luther was referring to?

HMS Defiant said...

Why yes! That's amazing.