Civil War Love Letters: July 1–4, 1862
While James’s regiment was in Humboldt, Tennessee, they repeatedly received orders to go to Corinth, Mississippi, but the orders were later revoked. During this time, 160 members of the company got sick from eating bad fruit. Finally, on July 3, the regiment took the train to Corinth. While James and his company moved from Tennessee to Mississippi, they received news of the war from other parts of the country, especially regarding the activities of Major General George B. McClellan in Virginia. Beginning in March 1862, McClellan commanded his Union forces in the Peninsula Campaign, a failed attempt to capture the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia. This campaign culminated in the Seven Days Battles, a series of six battles between McClellan’s Army of the Potomac and Confederate forces led by Robert E. Lee. The battles, which all took place in the area around Richmond, were fought between June 25 and July 1, 1862. In the end, McClellan, who lost 16,000 men, had to retreat from Richmond.
July 1st 1862
My Dear Molly
I have been anxious to write every day since I wrote last, but each day found the wish vain. I wrote the last letter under difficulties in a crowd & I was so dissatisfied with it when finished I would have torn it up, but I did not see any chance of writing another, & so I sent it. I do not know what success I may have to day for I sit in the sun, on the platform of the depot, with 500 men marching up & down & I must needs assist in the conversation of the passers by occasionally.
We have had rather a stirring time since. Day after I wrote I started for Humboldt, but had a sudden attack of the "cholera" & had to stop half way. It tried me severely for about 10 hours, but by Friday (Two days) I was all right & started again. When I got to camp, I spent a day in writing & mustering the men for pay - next day we struck camp packed up & waited for the cars to go to "Corinth" - ere night that order was countermanded, & we pitched our Tents - next day orders came to go north to "Union City" & from thence to "Vicksburgh" - during the day rumors of "McClellan’s" defeat leaked along the wires & it was said we were ordered to Richmond but this is all contradicted & we lay at the depot, for fresh orders - all night. Today it is said we go to "Corinth" but nothing is certain, except that we have not found our place in the programme yet, & are seated on the ruins of our camp, arms in hand waiting on Providence or "Halleck"
All this w'd not seem worth putting on paper, but it has made us such a deal of work & excitement, that I could not have written a coherent letter even if I could have found the time. I am not quite "en rapport" even yet but the will is present if I am a little "bothered". I believe I mentioned that I received your missing letter on my return here, but none of the papers sent have come to hand. I would not send more than two or three until there is more safety. I get the Democrat & Republican but in the I.L.N. in this wilderness of literature, there is too much temptation for safety at present. I am in good condition again able to fulfill all my duties here & as strong as ever. I had eaten heartily of some fine ripe plums both at dinner & at supper (cooked) & lay all the blame to them, though perhaps a little bilious before
We shall be glad when we join the grand army & get a little settled - as our present erratic movements are more tiresome than marching
I hope to hear from you soon, letter mails come safe, & did come regularly until the last three days. I suppose it is not known at Cairo or Columbus where to send them, in consequence of so many contradictory orders that is only temporary however & so I long for one of your cherished epistles, as the parched traveller does for water in the desert -
"Morn, noon & night
Where e' er I may be
Fondly I'm dreaming
Ever of Thee"
I fear from causes afore said your patience may be tried ere you get this but as the distance increases over such uncertain lines of travel as these railroads we have been building, we must expect delay in transit
I wish to hear that you look as bright as ever, that you get strong & weighty & that you let not your bright eyes tell tales of ought but happiness
Do so my Dear Eliza and you love me, just throw fretting & fine sewing to the winds for a season. You know I looked long for perfection. You wont let me say I found it, but if I choose to think so, pray do so much to encourage me in the delusion
And now what about the 4th - it is at hand but I fear a dull time unless we get to "Corinth" in the meantime - when we might have a review & some salutes from the artillery. I hope you may have a happy time, as it will be all over ere you see this scrawl. I believe you are to have a procession of some kind & then to the country. I had a little pleasure last night. I went with a Capt Kidd to visit some "secesh" young Ladies - F. F. V's to whom he had extended protection, (or rather to their father & his property). The Ladies tried to be very agreeable & were so, though I could see evidences of constraint occasionally. We remained nearly three hours & had music from a fine piano most the time. They sang well too, & I got them to sing all the secesh tunes - The Bony Blue Flag - Dixie &c - which they did with much vim & afterwards favored Capt. Kidd with the Red, White & Blue as a compromise - result we were invited to call again, & may do so if we remain. Their father Dr. Stillwell is well informed & agreeable, & not near so much infected with secesh doctrine as the Ladies
I hope for the sake of civilization & peace that all these rumors of McClellans defeat at Richmond are untrue, as if true it will prolong this war at least Three years (more than it w'd be otherwise & also get us into a row with England & France with nothing but ruin & destruction of life to look forward to all that time.
Our people with the knowledge of their strength now gained & such a long course of victories w'd not give up until desolation reigned, & so the only hope of speedy peace both North & South is in the South's being whipped there, which bids fair to be the last ditch
We have been capturing quantities of property belonging to the secesh army when here, in the shape of officers trunks, letters swords &c - also a large mail, which has given us great amusement in the reading - the spelling & sentiments are so rich - many of the letters too are to young men from their sisters & others at home, expressing Union sentiment, & requesting them to leave the secesh Army - & now I suppose I must write to Alex for the information of the community at large & close for the present so give my love to Sallie to your Mother, Aunt, Mrs. Roges &c &c & with much love to yourself
I am my Dearest Girl
James E. Love
10 Miles South of Corinth, Miss. 4th July 1862
My Dear Molly
We have been on the tramp in a scorching sun ever since until 10 oclock last night when we arrived here 90 miles south of where I commenced this letter. We did not halt at Corinth longer than an hour but kept on to the front. We rest here two or three days & then go Southeast again 40 miles more as I understand it to Rienzi - & there if Beauregard or Bragg allows us, I suppose we repose for the summer.
We are now camped on a fine high ridge in the piny woods, the air being perfumed & heavy with the dense vegetation.
We are now in the sunny South, most as far as we can go & it is past midsummer so it can not get much warmer. I stood the march quite as well as any man in the Regiment, & feel well today - but expect a quiet 4th - as there is nothing to be seen here & no whisky or Beer. I hope to see this off now at once & so with much love my ever dear Eliza
James E. Love
8th Kansas Vol
Care Genl R. B. Mitchell
Many happy returns
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