1864: William C. Evans to Sarah (Johnston) Evans

Headstone of William C. Evans

This letter was written by William C. Evans (1832-1903) to his wife, Sarah G. (Johnston) Evans (1822-1910) of Brookville, Jefferson county, Pennsylvania. William was the son of Jared B. Evans (1808-1891) and Jane McCreight (1811-1870).

In August 1863, William was drafted into Co. F, 82nd Pennsylvania Infantry. This letter was written in March 1864 while the regiment was assigned duty guarding Confederate prisoners at Johnson’s Island, Sandusky, Ohio from January until May, 1864. William was later transferred into Co. A on 4 September 1864.

Curiously, William mentions to his wife that he had written the President of the United States requesting a discharge from the service. He was still awaiting a response.


In Camp on Johnson’s Island
March 11, 1864

Dear wife & children,

I have this day sent to you by Express some nice stones, shells, and buckeyes that I have gathered up, I want you to take the pick out of them for ourselves & you may give the balance to Sophia. Enclosed please find five dollars, Thanks be to God, I am well as usual.

I have just been relieved from guard duty this morning. It rained when I was on post quite a nice shower last night from ½ past 1 to ½ 3 o’clock and I got quite wet. I then thought of home & my children all fast asleep.

I have wrote a letter to the President [stating] my situation and [asking] if he will grant me a discharge. I have not got any answer yet. You said in your last letter that Fanny Brady. You must tell her to write to me again. I am glad to hear that she received my letter. I would like if all my friends would write to me. They have more time than I have got to write so they must excuse me for not writing more than I do. Tell Martha if she wants me to write to her, she must set the example by writing first to me. I know that she has the time where I have not. Tell Brother Matson when you see him that I am still endeavoring by the Grace of God to be faithful. I want him to write to me as often as he can. Please tell Brother Andrews I want him & Brother Butler to write more letters to me & as often as they can spare the time for they are a great thing to cheer me up & they strengthen me spiritually.

I shall send you five dollars more when I get an answer from this. You did not tell me whether Harry Matson ¹ sold out his goods or not. When you see him, give my respects to his & his wife. Give my love to all the friends & neighbors. I wish you would get Mr. [Benjamin] McCreight to fence the lots for he could do all the work with his own team and have him to get some boards at T[homas] K. Litch’s for the Barr’s and I will pay all the expense he is at fixing up the fence and so forth. Nothing more at present. So I will kiss you goodbye. Tell the boys & Jessie ² that Pap sent them nice stones & buckeyes. God bless you all & save us all to everlasting life.

From your husband, — Wm. C. Evans

¹ Harrison (“Harry”) Matson (1827-1895) was a merchant in Brookville, Pennsylvania.

² Jessie S. Evans was William’s 6 year-old daughter.


Griff View All →

My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries.

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