Letters Home

Shown here with the kind permission of, Ron Gater
Walter Gater was born in London, England to a poor family. the family migrated to New York where Walter being the oldest child of the family was required to do what he could towards the family's support.
In 1857, at the age of sixteen, he came with the family to Anamosa, Iowa. He lived here until enlisting in the Civil War. At that time he, with several Prarieburg boys, walked to the Sand Ridge school north of Marion, Iowa, to volunteer their services to their country, his adopted country.
After being mustered into the United States Army at Muscatine, and some little time for drill and other preparations, his regiment was placed on boats and sent down the Mississippi River.
While in the field and also while recuperating from his war wounds in a hospital near St. Louis, Mo., Walter Gater wrote letters home to his sweetheart, Susanna Reynolds. After the war, October 23, 1872, he and Susanna Reynolds were married.
Across Walter Gater's discharge papers are written the words of his commanding officer, "He was a true and brave soldier". He had enlisted in September of 1862 in Company G, 24th Iowa Volunteer Regiment and served until 1867, even though he was originally honorably discharged on April 28, 1864.

Helena Arkansas Nov 6th - 62

Miss Susan Reynolds

You may be surprised at having a letter from me but the high respect I always had toward you and the chance to here from home were I am happy to say can't be surpased for its beauty both in nature and its [m-dent] and pretty lakes prompts me to write my correspondence at present is very limited and should you favor one by answering this letter I should consider myself under everlasting obligation to you. You may not be surprised at a soldier writing when I tell you that in it is all ther enjoyment they have. They may dance sing play cards or run races but you will soon see them getting into their tent before [doing] everything else they will commence writing and will not stop till the drum beats for them to fall in for duty. This is the case with your humble servant. There is some thoughts of a very roaming disposition and suits them exactly. Now I am neither one thing or the other for where we have to march over a dusty road on a hot day and like the rich man cant get a drop of water to heal our parching tongues. I am [using] this [as] [an] illustration of our travel from [ ] [ ] for we are pened up in the boat fed on raw ham and hard biskets of wich I had plenty of it taking but a small allowance to do me. You will see they are going to make us savages as they calculate to forage on the enemy very soon from St. Louis to Helena the place we are now situated at. They kept us most of the time and the upper deck for the secesh [?] to make targets of. Notwithstanding we had a fair a chance at them should they make themselves as conspicuous as we were but as bad luck would have it they made themselves awful scarce and as a [ ] consequence we had no luck to exchange lead with them. We are now in the midst of Negroes and secesh [?]. The negro is very serviceable in some things for they know the county roads and byways to perfection and are a great help to us when we go out forageing. Furthermore they are very lazy [ ] hieght of perfection [ ] negro one thing with us soldiers we fufill the scripture. Seeing that we do not take granted for tomorrow but let tomorrow take care of itself. There is excess sheep and hogs belonging to the enemy which we confiscate at pleasure with what happiness we will turn our faces homeward. After the war is ended and peace will [be] sweet and we will be satisfied then that [ ] place like home. Fearing I may tax your patients with such foolish writing I will bring this scribbling to a close. Hopeing you will answer it and give me a chance of doing better next time I perscribe myself.

You sincear friend

Sunday Dec 14-1862 (Arkansas)

I received your very acceptable [letter] yesterday and am now answering it with much pleasure for this is no trouble for me to answer such letters as your last. It contributes greatly to the soldiers happiness to often hear from home and I have things called to mind that have past. The pleasant singing school or the local dance and the knowledge that our friends are ready to receive us makes home very sweet and times will be hailed with joy. When we are commanded to march in that direction but we dare not think of this yet but one thing we are certain of and that is we will come home in three years if we are alive. It was rather hard for Lemon if there was an officer after him. I don't blame the boy for going home even if he had to run away to get here for I am sure that if the girls thought as much of me as they do of him I would risk any life to see them once in a whole year. I suppose they were glad to see him for he writes to me saying he had a very pleasant time visiting. What can I write that will be interesting. Shall I tell you we live in tents five feet square in which five of us have to eat drink and sleep in. When we were mustered into the service there were some who were afraid they would not pass on account of bad teeth for fear they could not teare cartrige but the trouble was (if they had known beforehand) they would have crackers that would try the soundest jaw. It will be a merical [miracle] if we come home with a tooth in our heads if they feed us on them three years. We have just returned from an expedition to a place called Coldwater in Mississippi. Forty five miles from the river we accomplished what we were sent to do. Destroying three railroad bridges and tearing up thirty miles of track. This was done to cut off Prices retreat from Vicksburg. The latest account says that when Price discovered the trap knowing that Grant was close behind his lines that they were in danger of being all taken prisoners. He dispersed his whole army telling them to take care of themselves. After being there six days exposed to rain and snow we marched back through mud and water arriving here almost tired out. I am sorry to hear you have such hard times but live in hopes of the good time [in] coming days. Wait a little longer when the boys return they will be so well drilled in the manual of arms that they will be able to drive all the chintz bugs out of the state and after they have done that I expect they will be bound for some other state. Some of the boys have been very sick. Allen McQueen has been the sickest boy in camp but is now getting better. Allen Maloy and myself are about on the same terms. Each trying to outdo the other in seeing which can bark the loudest having a regular Arkansas cold. We have often heard the Arkansas Traveler in Iowa but have never seen him in his native state for as a general thing they [always] travel before we can get a sight on any of them. You say that Kate S---- is somewhere near Marion. She appears to form quite an attachment for that place. I wonder how she and Lemon agreed on politicks when he was home. Who wouldn't be a soldier, 50 cents a day, work or play and after living off the government three years we go home good for nothing being too lazy to eat pumpkin pie. This [is] all they can expect for we wont work until we are obliged to. I tell you the truth a soldier aint much account. I believe I will close this letter before I spoil any more pages. Hoping you will excuse my unpolished way of writing. Mistakes ya will have to excuse anyhow for I have not been very particular about them and consider that I would much sooner read letters then write them. Knowing this, write soon with all the news you know and I will answer all your letters with pleasure.

Sunday Evening Feb 1- 1863

I received your very interesting letter yesterday and I find much pleasure in answering it not that I can prove its the same to same to you but for the sake of getting another I will make the attempt. You say I must not think hard of you for not answering my letter sooner. I will not promise this for I have very good reasons to for you are so kind and understanding as to wish me toothless. I have a mind not to eat another cracker but I am afraid that would suit you just as well for then I certainly would come home dead but to tell the truth I will not gratify you in either case for I will soak my crackers for teeth sake and eat plenty of them for the sake of getting home alive so as to punish you for criticizing me for taking Kate to church. I think that you will agree with me that one mistake is not as bad as two and if I should make a mistake or if you please take a miss to church do you think it would better the case any by my taking them home again. I gess I will come to that spelling school if the Lord is willing but I am afraid he will not be. I am glad to hear of so many weddings for as misery likes company I am not alone in the world. I am contented with my lot considering this particular poor Webb who is certainly jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. I was surprised and sorry to hear of the death of Ham [?] Douglas but sickness and death are common occurences among us. Your letter brought the news of my mother's accident sooner than I got it from home. Since writing my last I have been on two excursions one up the Saint Francis River and one up the White River. In both cases nobody got hurt but some fat cattle on the bank of the river which our captain gave us leave to shoot. This was all the casualtys that happened on the route except the drownding of one of our men. Fifteen thousand of us sailed up the White River in the expectations of getting into a brush but we were disappointed the Rebels leaving on hearing of our approach. We stopped at Saint Charles where last year the gun boat at Mound City was fired into and exploded scalding most all the crew. Seventy five of them we buried here. We proceeded further up the river to a place called Donalds Bluff wich we found evakuated. Here we loaded on the boats two cannon some twelve in length and large enough for a man to crawl into. While here the weather was very cold. It froze enough to cary [carry] a horse. I mention this because we often hear people say it never freezes down South but I must say the weather is very warm in Winter here.While I write the sun is scorching my back and although we have enjoyed our house we still have as you say to go outdoors to turn around. Thank you for your kind wishes in hopeing with my friends that I will get home before three years from the time of my enlistment if alive. It is an old saying that the least a fool says the less he will expose himself. So I think I had better come to a close. It is a test for me to answer some letters but I must say yours is an exception. When you write tell me all the news hoping this will find yourself and folkes as well as I am. I will perscribe my self .

Your sincear friend

Be kind to Edward

Camp at Helena March 11, 1863

Dear Susy,

I received your very acceptable letter today just after returning from picket guard where the night before I passed such a delightful time in the pouring rain. What a time it was for ducks but as it happened there was no ducks there though I felt myself considerable like a goose. These you know are both water animals and so are we both water and dry land. Humans but down here in the sunny south and we have more rain then sunshine. You wish me to not mention anymore about that [considerate] wish of yours about my ivory, oh I beg your pardon I meant my teeth. I can not help laughing when I read it and you would not think that there was much danger of a toothless Yankee no an Englishman coming home at the end of three years if you could see cheekful rows of ivory. Do not suppose for a moment that I think hard of you for at most I thought you were in jest and the line that followed would have moved all thought of hard feeling where you wished or hoped that I would not have to stay here three long years. Now I have a favour to ask of you and that is that you will forgive me for mentioning this but here let me say I had nothing to forgive. I feel today in conciderable of a [sullen male] (I suppose you will here say that is nothing new for him). Have you heard of the late [mode] how singular it is you can write to me of life happiness and marrages [marriages] and all I have to tell you of is sickness and death. What a contrast but it is how the world is made up of just such contrasts. Allen McQueen died but a short time since. Samuel D Clark followed him within twelve hours making two from the small company who enlisted under McNary. There was 24 of us when we started. Now we have seven now who are fit for duty. There was five of us tented together as I wrote before and out of them I am the only one fit for duty. Joe Bond and Clark dead. Ed Ward sick in the hospital. John Kyle sick in the tent. Allen Maloy is very sick. I wish they were all as healthy as myself. I would not be writing this dull letter. There is a young man down here now who came down to take Allen McQueen home but he came too late. He is now writing from hear to there to see if they wish his body brought home but all we can do for our barracks is to take the best care of them when sick and bury them when dead. We are expected to keep up a cheerful countenance and take the world as it comes. A thousand thanks for that little preasent and [there were about five words on the crease of the letter where it was folded and they were not readable]. Let me ask you what the news is for I am very inquisitive. Do you ever see anything of Mary Sheldon. It strikes me that she has a young galiant in our company who corrisponds very frequently . How is little Mary Smith is she going to school like a good girl and finley [finally], how is Ed Douglas and Pshaw. I am always making blunders but excuse me wishing you all the happiness through your waking hours and pleasant dreams at night. I must conclude.

(Write very soon)

Big Sand Creek Mississippi May 9, 1863

Friend Susan

I received your charming little note on the 28th. It found me in anything but a settled situation we being on our march to Vicksburg but it came almost as nice as [ ] peace. For what would peace be without friends at home who would gladly welcome us back. It has been some time since I last wrote and you may be getting impatient to here from me again though I dare not flatter myself that such is the case. These here Yankee Generals do snake us around wonder---- and I should not wonder if they got somebody hurt yet. I was to a ball on the 1st of May near Fort Gibson, Mississipi. It was a free dance. The ticket cost nothing and for this reason they said that we must all attend. I should judge that there was at least 30,000 dancers present. It was got up on purpose for the benefit of Vicksburg. Half the dancers said they could dance better then we could and therefore contended that they had a right to the prize. We had been standing around the day before and had marched all that night on purpose to be on time. At daylight on the 1st the ball was opened by the other party who sounded one of the large brass instruments. We were ordered to get brakefast while the ball was going on. One of our boys had a two quart kettle of coffee and we poor hungry souls were smacking our lips in the anticipation of getting a treat when the cook made an awkward movement and upset the whole. It was awful. There was our only hope dashed to the earth. While this was going on the fiddling had commenced in earnest. The hoarse voice of our commander ordered us to fall in while we were wreaking our vengeance shingle nibbling away with all our might. (I say shingle I ment to say cracker but they are so much alike that I sometimes cant distinguish the difference.) We were soon led to the ball room. Each person carried his own music and when they all commenced we were all satisfied that it was loud enough for everyone. Every other second the big brass music would sound. We kept it up till sundown when the other side gave up that we were the best dancers but they soon let us know they could beat us at running and this time they put in practice. What they preached we did not follow for we were tired out and were quite willing to lay down and look at the moon for a while. We soon slept and had pleasant dreams of home. The watchful sentinel above kept watch. I would not write to you the horrid seens [scenes] I say that day. It is with the past the future will provide for its self. All we look to is the preasant. We have a gold old uncle Sam who furnishes us in clothes and grub and whenever he has a dance we are quite willing to attend. I expect you will read an account of it in the news papers. We are with in 25 miles of Vicksburg. I understand that the regiment that Lemon [Seamon?] is in came here today though I have not seen him. I am sorry to hear so much sickness at home. You think it dont make much difference you are mistaken for the soldier (if he is lazy) thinks of home more then anything else and its smiles and tears are his. When home is happy he is happy. When home is sad he is the same. You tell me that the wind blew when you wrote but let us both wish that little Mary will not have to go to school until she is forty. But instead of being a dutiful pupil she will be a teacher and guardian to some fair specimen of the opposite sex. When you write please write a large letter. All of the letters that I have had from you are short but very sweet. You know that a little sugar is sweet but that a good deal of sugar is sweeter.
So- Soft may ever be the pillow
Upon which rests a head so fair
Sweet the repose that there doth linger
Around a brow so free from care
Never may her heart be sad but with love and hope made glad.
Forgive my presumption

Thursday Evening Oct 15, 63


You see that I have laid a foundation for a large letter but don't expect one from me now. There is some promises I like to fullfil and writing this letter is one of them. The task of writing with me is a hard one at preasant but considering fair girl who the task is for it becomes easy and light. I have got the blues this evening owing to what I call very unpleasant news which I received today. I went to see the surgeon who wrote for the extension of my furlough and he had received an answer to the effect that I must report imeadately to Memphis or they will report me. I am awful [scared]. I shall take the [train] cars for Dubuque tomorrow and expect to get to Davenport tomorrow evening. I shall stop there if Uncle Sam is willing and if not I will go to Memphis. Aint you glad to get rid of me this easy if if it had not been so. I would have bothered you come this winter with my ugly preasence even though I should have to go home in the rain. Speaking of rain I like to see it patter against the window (Especaly Sunday evening). I would like very much to have seen you before I went off. I don't expect you believe it though I would like to make you. I have not sent the [circle drawing representing a ring} have I. Forgive me wont you please do. I hope your generour spirit will forgive this poor excuse for a letter. [ ] [ ] that I am writing with my game hand and remember that you my charmer are always uppermost in my thoughts. Don't answer this till I write you again.

Yours forever

Gayoso Hospital [Memphis] Sunday 8th

Dear Susy
I write you to let you know that I am in tarable good health though my shoulder is very painful. I think in all probability I shall make this my winter quarters not because I would have it as so but those in authority over me and I like an obediante child must obey. I have not received a letter from you yet though I look for one with an [eye] of faith. The splendor and pomp of the great city dont satisfy me. It is remarkable that I am not more contented having been brought up among brick and morter. The little time I have lived in the country has ruined me for city life no sir.
I like a little farm a horse a pig a cow and while the old lady is minding the dairy I go guide the plow. What a romantical gentlemen that must be who would prefer the country with the noisy cattle sweet cow yards slobbering calves and squaling swine who after you have given pearls to eat would turn again and rend you and then the beautiful sloughs where Billy Barlow will sometimes get stuck in the mud. From country [dance ?] , Dalrymples, and early frosts deliver us. O [Oh] the city with its beautiful gas lit street turning darkness into day where the ladies have nothing to do but paint there faces and look after the fashions, where you can go to church the theater [Cireuxe] every night of the week if you have the mind to and the money to, where the streets are leveled off smoothe on purpose for you to walk and any moment you get tired have only to lift your finger and a hansom coach is at your service. Dont you think this would be all very nice. How do you think of a city life. I have not touled you what I think about it [ ]. I was to the public square today and got a sprig of evergreen. It grows inside of an enclosure where stands statue of the old hero Jackson. This tree almost touched the marble pillow on wich he stands on one side of witch is written the Federal Union. It must be preserved, this [doctoring] daird agree with the inhabitance of Memphis and some rude cuss (excuse me) has taken a chisel and tried to wipe out federal and had comenced on union but by some means he got off in the heigth of his bloom and the words read as plane as ever, it is an old saying that hope is a good brakfast but a poor supper and I am going to brakfast of [fat] k--- feeling my coffin coming at the back door. Tell Bell to crack me a Hazel nut. I aint smart enough to crack any since when the Rebs cracked my shoulder blade. I believe the crack must have run into the skull. To blame them if my letters lack [lainmore ?]. [Pence ?] take good care of old tommy cat. You may give him plenty to eat an occasionaly let him jump up into your lap but dont stroke nor caress him for he shall get jelous. Give my best wishes to whoever you please. [Mifs] fortune excepted as keep all for your self an allow me to read an [o--d-ive ? or answer?] to this letter soon.

Never doubt

Walter Gater Ward C Gayoso Hospital

Memphis Sunday 25/63

Sweet Maid

Forgive the expression if it is a wrong one but now that I have written it I am not willing to rub it out. I have just had dinner and feeling tarable [terribly] well (considering the hard times and the American war). I had a good notion to write you a letter and not wishing to spoil the notion you have the effect. I am in Memphis a place that I hoped never to see again but luck is the iron ruler of war. They are not satisfied with setting a fellow up as a target but after he is hit with a estray piece of Secesh lead they jam him around and box his ears just as though he was nobody. If they keep on they will make me believe it. When I got to Davenport [Iowa] I went to headquarters to see what was to be done next and instead of receiving the mercy I expected I was told I must leave the next day for my present quarters. I got here last Friday just 10 days from the time I saw your beaming countnance. I am here now and they will have to keep me till I am much better or worse. This would be very well for a person who cared nothing for home but I am not of that stripe. I am not alone in trouble the cars [train cars?] are crouded with youths wearing a downcast look. They were not like me going to a comfortable hospital but they were going to stand the blunt of a camp life and horrors of the battle field.

Honor to the Brave!!!

I am now past 700 miles from home and I would give a quarter to be 700 miles nearer if I was not afraid that you would raise the bid to one half to have me 700 miles further off. Still you naughty girl. I am going to church this afternoon to hear the preacher and hear the Salem Oregon Sound. Aint I a good boy. Memphis is a hansom city full of hansom people but they are all Secesh and spoils it all. The Stars and Stripes were in several places in the city and the inhabitance apear to hate it as bad a William Tell did Geslers Cap. While I was in Dubuque I started a [drawing of a circle for a ring on page here] and was hoped at the time of having the pleasure of putting it on that sweet finger myself. If I had wings and could fly I would surely do so if it did not rain but alas I am nothing but a poor humane being with only two feet and could not walk more then three miles an hour to save my life though I beg pardon I might manage to get over the ground a little faster if you were along to hurry me up. Accept this as a slight token of my regard and may your peace happiness and pleasure be like unto it always bright and without ending. Write me all the news. I believe that I am entitled to a large letter from you this making the second one without an answer. If you can not read this don't take to a lawer [lawyer] for he would charge you a fortune for his trouble. Next time you must tell me what to write for you know that I would write anything you wished me to.

Write soon and often for your words are music to my waiting ear. Next to your pressance are the lines you write. My lonesome hours and my life to cheer.

Ward C Gayoso Hospital

St. Louis Dec 16/63

Friend Susan

Why don't you write. I have asked myself this question often and made out various answers all of wich did not suit me, and now that my patients has ceased to be a virtue I thought it would be best to write and get my information from the proper source, I think perhaps I have offented you with my letters perhaps I have said something very foolish (for this is quite natural for me). Perhaps I have gone beyond bounds and have been too forward with my speech. I can think of a thousand things and not have the right one. Enlighten my mind on this subject. and tell me whats the matter. I assure you Susan that my name is still Walter Gater. I am no mans servant neither am I anothers master.

If your vexed and think me shy Pray tell thee the reason why
If Ive made a bad mistake
Forgive me for natures sake
You know that to err it human
To forgive devine!

I am perswaided that you are blessed with large share of this good spirit. If it concerns you I will tell you that I am now in St. Louis enjoying all the rights of a private soldier surrounded by friends of his own stripe. Brother cripples at the countrys service. The sun still rises in the east and I am still a one handed gentlemen. I saw Seaman [?] at Memphis just before I left. I had a long chat with him. He is well posted in the news from home and I could tell him very little but he was already informed of by letter . He was not in very good health though in good hopes of the "Better time coming Boys". I hope this will find you well. Bell a smiling, your mothers eyes better, and all your true friends happy. I can answer for one them. I will conclude hopeing soon to hear from you.
From your patient correspondent

Ward E General Hospital
Benton Barracks
St. Louis

Jefferson Barracks March 5th, 1864

Friend Susan

I[don't] know how better to commence this letter than by appologizing for my long delay in not writing before. I hardley know how to excuse but by saying that I have intended to write before but time fast with me and when I come to look back I find that I have not written to you for over a month. You have not sent me a letter of reproff [reproof] as I did when I thought you so delinquent. I wish you had for I deserved it. I hope that there was nothing in that letter that offended you. I thought at the time you had given up the correspondence and when I got your letter I was [vexed] at my own impatients [impatience]. Hope you have not given up writing fore it [is] a great pleasure to hear from you. Since I last wrote I have been removed to Jefferson Barracks twelve miles south of St. Louis. During the time I have seen some trouble that is if a little pain can be called trouble. Otherwise I have had good health. My sangrine hopes will not be realized as I touled [told] your mother that I would be well in six months and here I am in about as bad a situation as then. Since then I have given up the idea of ever regaining my former strength. But I must not complain. I am not the worst off person in the wourld if this can be any satisfaction but when I look around and see what a condition our country is in I know not for the time that I have anything to complain of. I sometimes think that if all was as happy contentented as myself (as far as I am concerned) it would be a great blessing. If I was no well I would be on the field but as it is I would be more of a nusance than a help. We do not realize our condition. I have see so much of death on my right and left that I have hardley noticed it as any every day occurance. I hear of deaths and enlistments at home which all agree with the times for they are sorryful times indeed. I hope that in both cases they will consider the step they are about to take. I hear of dances and marrages wich I think are very much out of season for he who would now try to seek pleasure must be blinde to our troubles. The ward that I am now in is verry pleasant. It is a room about three hundred feet long and twenty wide. It has the appearance of a long alley with a row of cots on each side. Everything is kept very neat and from each window hangs a blinde striped off with the red white and blue and two American flags in the center. These were provided by the youg ladies union aid society of St. Louis. They appear to never tire of helping the soldiers and making them comfortable. God bless them. There [are] other Christian women who visit the ward frequently and are ever willing to direct dying soldier to the rest that remains for those who love God. Happy are they who believe this. I have just received a letter from Mrs. Nugent and from Seamon which I intend to answer at the earliest opportunity. Seamon did not finde things at home as he expected and I am not surprised. No one close for them in times of war and who can be happy while the lives of our dearest friends are in such danger. O' that this cruel war was over but what a scar it will leave after the wound has healed (the blood of wich is now running like a river). How many children will grow up who will not know the pleasure on earth of calling anyone by the endearing name of Father. I must conclude with my best wishes for your welfare.

Anamosa [Iowa] August 14, 1864

Miss Susan

I must acknollege that my actions appear very strange. I wish to excuse myself in a measure for my appearent blunt way of stoping to write and not stoping when in your neighborhood. I think that all things should be explained and I blame myself for not writing before but tis strange when a person friends but a short distance from themselves. They seldome correspond and thinking that I would see you I have been putting it off again & again. I have no doubt but what people think that I have a peculiar way of my own since I have been home, and possibly, I have. You must not blame me for it. You know the wourld changes and the people with it - I for one have met with a sevear change within the last two years. I am not alone in trouble there is many worse off than myself and are realy objects of pity. I was in hopes that I would recover but now tis foolish to think of such a thing and now I will have to make the best of bad luck. My object now shall be to see that none shall be troubled on my account. Now let me thank you for the many kinde and interesting letters you wrote me while in the army. I sincerely thank you for them. Feel glad to think that you contributed something to the encouragement and happiness of a Union Soldier and helped in putting down the rebelion for nothing puts life into our army so much as sweet letters from home. It is three months since I was discharged and it seemes as many years were. I well it would not take much coaxing to make me reenlist. I shall not feel right until the whole confederacy is taken and then we will feel lonesome when we think of our friends who are laid in southern graves. Poor Seamons was a hard fate. I cannot think of him with out sorrow - he was one of thousands. How we feel [ ] brought so near home to us. Poor boy his troubles ended may he rest in peace. He has gone for ever it seemes hardly possible. We are still left to battle with the wourld. We bury our dead today and go and renew the conflict till after continual victory and defeat our time comes to stop. We appear to have strife for few of us are want to die. I last saw Seamon twas at Memphis had supper [with] him. He was not well then but in good spirits and prospects of a furlough. He showed no two likenesses. One was Kates and the other I think was his sisters. I hope that Kate will be well suited some day, though I suppose she will. You did not believe her when she tould you that ring story. If so let me undeceive you and tell you that it is something of her own make up. I saw Web Fuller about two weeks ago. He was then going to his father in laws for some things having left his wife in Dubuque where he had a situation as teamster at $55 per month. I will now close hopeing you and your folks are well and prospering. I am your
Sincear Friend

Jefferson Barracks November 19th, 1864

Friend Susan

I am now at Jefferson Barracks and am writing to let you know that I am still alive and well and sincearly hope that you are enjoying the same blessing. I want a letter from you not that I deserve it or am entitled to one haveing I suppose long since lost all your esteem. I received one from you while at Dubuque. I was directed to Anamosa and forwarded to me. Many a time I was going to answer it but it seemed possible to get a chance being engaged from morning at five till ten at night and knowing you were at Manchester intended fetching you a letter myself but fate decrees it otherwise. I suppose you do not believe in fate. I shall soon believe in bad luck if I have much more of it though it is the honest truth I never courted miss fortune [misfortune]. I have blamed myself for not coming up in the country before I left for this place but I have got here by some means or other and I suppose no one is to blame but myself. I shall be satisfied to return when this war is over and be contented to stay but I think not before you want to know why I did not come and see you when I was around there. I must clear myself in this way and I think that I can find witnesses if necessary that I tell the truth. One thing I had business that called me home (miserable business that would interfere with pleasure) - how I hate it) and I intended to come again in a short time. Why Susan there is not one I would rather see than yourself in Linn County or whose society I so much desire. You must forgive me and tell me so in your letter wich I shall be very impatient to wait for because I want to write again. You must not be mean because I have but forget and forgive and I promise to do better in the future. I expect to repent at leasure for not doing as I should have done. I cant tell you how long I shall stay here but for a few months anyway.

Better late than never
Is the saying still
You must not harbor anger
Forgive I know you will
Your Sincear Friend

1999 - Ronald C. Gater : All rights reserved.