These 19 letters were written by Cyrus D. Kendall (1837-1919) while serving in the 11th Missouri Volunteer Infantry. A biography for Cyrus indicates he was born and educated in Erie, Pennsylvania, the son of Cyrus and Lucy (Aubrey) Kendall. At the age of 17, he came to Kane and then Fayette county, Illinois. He taught school during the years 1851, 1859, and 1860. He then moved to Clay county and read law under William W. Bishop. He was admitted to practice but before receiving his diploma, he enlisted as a sergeant in Co. D, 11th Missouri Infantry, and rapidly rose to be 2d Lieutenant when he was transferred to Co. K. In 1864, he was commissioned captain of Co. K and afterward detached as Quartermaster on the staff of Gen. L. F. Hubbard. He was wounded at Corinth the night of 3 October 1862 and at Nashville on 16 December 1864.
Cyrus was married on 23 January 1862 to Catherine Rovilla Miller (1844-1876) in Clay county, Illinois. Rovilla (or “Villa”) was originally from Bellefontaine, Ohio — the daughter of Thompson Miller (1816-1843) and Abigail Sparks (1825-Aft1860). Villa’s siblings included her older sister Charlotte or “Lottie” (b. 1847), her younger brother Heber (b. 1851), and younger sister Emma (b. 1853).
Cyrus’ brother, Sgt. Frederick (“Fred”) P. Kendall (1835-1863), served in Co. H, 35th Illinois Infantry. Fred mustered in August 1861, indicating that he worked as a dageuerrian in Vandalia, Illinois, before enlisting. He was killed on 19 September 1863 at Chickamauga, Georgia. Another brother, John Kendall (b. 1839) also served in the 35th Illinois Regiment, but as a musician in Co. B. He survived the war.
The reader is referred to a fine book by Dennis W. Belcher on the 11th Missouri Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War — A History and Roster — published in 2011.
Readers are also referred to 1863: Anne E. (Davidson) West to Cyrus D. Kendall which explains who the “Ann” was frequently mentioned in these letters.
Point Pleasant, Missouri
March 29th 1862
Mrs. Rovilla Kendall, Louisville [Illinois]
My dear wife,
With great pleasure I acknowledge the receipt of your most welcome letter which came to hand this P. M. I was perfectly delighted with your letter and I could hardly read it for laughing I was so happy. Perhaps I looked or appeared foolish but I could not help it. Well for all I was just as happy I could be unless I could see you. Oh! Rovilla, I am almost dying to see you. How can I stand it for two or three months longer? It seems that can not but I suppose I can if I have to. But it will be almost death itself. But love, we will feast on love to our hearts content. What pleasure it will be to me to live by your smiles, to pass through life by your side, to protect and defend and love and cherish you, so long as I may be blessed with life. What pleasure it will be to me to watch over you.
Oh, dearest Rovilla, my heart fairly aches with love for you. It seems almost impossible for you to know how much I love you. I almost worship you, my dear wife. It can not be wrong for me to love one so pure and good as you are. I know that I am not deceived in you. I know you to be everything lovely that my imagination can picture and how thankful I ought to be for the first and pure love of a warm young heart like yours. I will try to be thankful. And I hope I may never be the cause of one shade of sorrow to that pure and confiding heart.
I would love you more if possible. My whole heart is yours and I know you will ask no more. I look forward to the future and my imagination is busy laying plain and marking my course of future life & through all my thoughts, you are ever present — appearing like an angel or guardian spirit that points out to me the way of happiness. In the busy hour of day you are constantly with me and when I lay down in my tent at night to sleep, my last thoughts are of you. And in my dreams, you visit me and oft in fancy have I pressed your warm, sweet lips to mine as in days that were real and not imaginary. But love, perhaps you will tire of love — or at least of my telling you so often of my love for you. But it is a great pleasure to me to tell you. I wish you could be here with me this evening. It is so pleasant. It has been warm today. It is now twilight & the bands of music belonging to the different regiments are playing — oh! so sweetly. If you were by my side, I would be almost happy.
Well, love, your letter found me well and enjoying myself as well as I can. Nothing of importance has occurred with me since I wrote you last so I have not much news to write. I suppose we will remain at Point Pleasant until Island No. 10 is taken which I hope will not be long. I want the war to hurry along for I want to come home to you. The Rebels are still on the opposite side of the river from us as I [see] they keep their flag floating all the time which annoys our boys considerable. The Stars & Stripes float on this side. We have about ten thousand men eight miles below us on the river; they have been fighting some today with the Rebel gunboats. All quiet tonight.
I was glad to hear of your good health & that of the family. I am obliged to you for those postage stamps & the paper though I did not need the paper as we have plenty of paper now but letter stamps we cannot get at all & I wish you would send me a dollars worth in your next letter if you can get them in Louisville. I would rather have the three cent stamps if you can get them.
Well, love, I have written everything I can think of and won’t you excuse me for this time. Give my love to your mother & Lottie. Tell Lottie to write me a great long letter and I will answer it. Rovilla, if we stay long at any place this summer, I want you to come & stay with me and make a visit. Will you come, love? I know you will, won’t you? Well, love, I must close now. Do not fail to write the same day you get this and write me a great long letter and I will love you Oh! so much. Give my best to William’s folks & tell them how I am getting along. Tell William [Bishop] to answer my letter &c. My best wishes to all my friends. My love to my dear wife, Villa. Address your letter the same as before. No more. Goodbye.
I am your affectionate husband, — C. D. Kendall
11th Mo. Vol. 2nd Brigade, 5th Division, Brigadier Gen. J[oseph] B. Plummer, Commanding.
Camp near Danville, Mississippi
June 8th 1862
Mrs. Rovilla Kendall
My dear wife Rovilla,
Once more I will try and write a few lines to you that you may know that I am still alive though I am not well. I was out in a heavy rainstorm a few days since and I caught a severe cold which laid me up for a few days. I have been in my tent for three days and during that time I have thought of you continually & how much good it would have done me could you have been here then with me. I am getting better & I think I will be able to be on duty tomorrow. The regiment is twenty-two miles from here. I was with the regiment when we pursued the Rebels from Corinth but I got sick and came back to recruit a little.
I am hardly able to write as you will see by my writing which is not of the best quality. So if I fail to write a long letter, I know you will pardon me. I have written often to you but it has been a long time since I was blessed with a letter from you. I suppose you have written often but as there is no certainty about the mails, but few of your letters reach me. I suppose my letters labor under the same obstacles.
Now love, you must now worry at all about me for I think I will be as well as ever in a very few days. I am here in my tent all alone today and I feel very lonely but I spend most of my time in thinking of you and the future. I am always thinking how much I will love you and how kind and good I will always be to you, my dear wife, if my life is spared to get home & your smiles and caresses will pay me a thousand times. I almost dying to see you and I must before long but will hope for the best.
The [35th Illinois] regiment that my two brothers belong to came to Corinth a few days ago and I have seen them several times since. They are well & both send their love and best wishes to their sister Rovilla. We have had some very warm weather. I have no news of importance. You have now the latest news by telegraph.
I will enclose a rose that I plucked in a Secesh garden between Corinth & Grand Junction. My hand trembles so I will close. Give my love to yours and William’s folks and tell them all to write. I will write again soon. Now my dear little love, please write soon.
Your ever true & faithful husband, — C. D. Kendall
I will give you my address:
Cyrus D. Kendall
11th Mo. Vol., Gen. [David] Stanley’s Division, Army of the Mississippi
Kendall wrote this letter to William Wallace Bishop (1835-1890), the husband of Isabella (“Belle”) Hubbel (McCabe) Bishop (1841-1917) — the cousin of Rovilla (Miller) Kendall.
October 24th 1862
W[illiam] W. Bishop. Esq., Louisville
Dear cousin William,
Yours of the 20th came to hand this morning & found me about as when I wrote you last. My leg is not well yet. ¹ I caught cold in the wound after it was nearly healed up. It became considerably inflamed & swollen & day before yesterday it broke out anew. It discharged quite freely and today it feels much better. If I do not take more cold in it, I think I will soon be well — at least of the wound. I am still afflicted with a bad cough.
You can’t think how glad I was to hear you say you would bring Rovilla down to see me. If you had been separated from Belle as long as I have from Rovilla, you would appreciate my feelings. As it is, you can not. If you fail to bring her down to see me, I never can forgive you. The soldier does not know one minute that he will be alive the next. I have lived through the battles so far but I may be killed in the next. I have a desire to see Rovilla before I go into another battle and as I know you to be my friend, I hope you will not delay one day after court, but come & bring her with you — also Belle, if you possibly can. We could have such a fine visit. It would seem like home.
I want Belle & Rovilla to see the army & also a glimpse of soldier’s life. I want you to write to me just as soon as you receive this and tell me just what day you will start so I can be ready for you. I want you to come and stay night in camp. I will have a nice tent & everything ready for you. If there were good accommodations down town, we would stop there but there are not. There are but two hotels in Corinth with very poor accommodations, $1.50 per day for board, & the houses are generally boarded with whores from all parts of the country. So you see they would not be very fit places for your wife or mine. But we are in a very pleasant place & I think the girls will like it first rate. Quite a number of the officers have sent for their wives & I think we will have a fine time while you are here. I shall look anxiously for you. Tell the girls not to spend too much time in fixing but come as they are. Bring what bed clothing you conveniently can for it is scarce here.
When you get to Cairo, I think you had better go on board the boat for Columbus without trying to get passes for you might fail to get passes. But go on the boat & you will not be interrupted. There are women coming to Corinth everyday. You will get into Corinth at 7 P. M. Let me know the day you will be here & I will be at the cars with an ambulance. Lieut. F[erdinand] D. Stephenson ² & Lady were here & stayed last night. I had a fine visit. Boys well. Rovilla still fails to write. No more. So once more I will say, don’t fail to come & come soon.
Yours as ever, — C. D. Kendall
¹ Kendall was wounded on 3 October 1862 in fighting at Corinth. Regiment records indicate that he was slightly wounded in the leg and shoulder.
² Lt. Ferdinand D. Stephenson served in Co. B, 48th Illinois Regiment.
Camp Seven Miles below Holly Springs
December 1st 1862
Mrs. Rovilla Kendall
My Dear Wife Villa,
Once more I will attempt to write you a short letter as it has been three days since I wrote you last. We have been marching for the last three days. We left camp at Davis Mills [Mississippi] on the morning of the 28th and camped within seven miles of Holly Springs. We passed through Holly Springs on the 29th. We did not get into camp until 2 o’clock the next morning. We were all very sleepy and tired. We have an army here of about fifty or sixty thousand men and nearly two thousand wagons. You can imagine what slow marching it must be for such a large army. The advance generally starts out at daylight in the morning and the rear does not get started till about dark. So you see it will have to march nearly all night to catch up.
Our advance came up with the Rebels yesterday and we had quite a skirmish with them. We took one piece of heavy artillery. The firing lasted nearly all day. No fighting yet this morning. I do not think we will march today. It rained very hard last night. My tent came very near blowing away as the wind blew very hard. It is quite cold and windy this morning.
Rovilla, I guess you will not object to my staying in the army a while longer as I am acting Quarter Master for the 11th and will not be exposed to the minié balls and bomb shells. I do not have to go into battle now so you need not fear for my life as I know you would if I had to go into battle. My health is still improving and I will soon be well. When you write, tell me if you are willing for me to soldier if I am not in danger of losing my life. There is something else that I want you to tell me about. I will leave you to guess what it is. Do not forget to tell me what you meant about the 25.00 dollars.
It has been some time since I had heard from you. I have received but one letter from you. Since I left you at Jackson, I have written six times. I expect to hear from you soon. Tell William [Bishop] that I am looking for an answer to my last. I have no more news of importance. I will write again soon. Do not fail to do the same. My address the same as before.
Give my love and best wishes to my folks. Tell Lottie to answer my letter. Villa, I have not been paid yet. You must get along the best you can. I will send you some money just as soon as I am paid off. As soon as we stop at some good place, you must come and see me. I had a sweet dream about you last night. Well, my little pet, you must excuse me this time and write soon & give me all the news.
Your affectionate husband, — C. D. Kendall
A. R. Q. M., 11th Mo. Vols.
Camp at Germantown, Tennessee
January 21st 1863
Mrs. Rovilla Kendall
My dear wife,
Having a few moments leisure, I will improve them in writing to you as I have not had an opportunity of writing to you since I wrote you last while at Davis Mills. We left there on the 7th of this month and marched to Corinth — a distance of eighty miles. Our march was a most disagreeable one as it rained most of the time. We arrived at Corinth on the 13th of January. We had the most disagreeable time then that we have had since we have been in the service. It commenced raining the night of the 13th and rained for two days without cessation. It them commenced snowing & continued so for two days. It was very cold & we suffered much as we were in tents and had no fire. I never wish to see Corinth again. It is the worst place I ever saw.
We left there on the 19th by railroad — the first time we ever had the pleasure of riding on the cars. It is about one hundred and twenty-five miles by railroad from Corinth to Germantown [Tennessee]. Germantown is fifteen miles from Memphis on the Memphis & Charlestown [Railroad]. Germantown is a very good place to stay at. I am boarding with one old gentleman. If we stay here very long — & I think we will — I will send for you. We will have a nice place to stay and you may stay with me as long as we stay here. How I wish I knew now whether we are going to stay here or not for our sutler is going home (he lives in Olney) tomorrow and he said he would bring you down with pleasure. I will send you some money by him. I was paid off for two months before I left Corinth. I would send you more but it will be all you will need till I am paid off again which the paymaster said would be in two or three weeks. I was owing some that I borrowed before you came down to see me and I had to pay up my debts.
I also want to send some to William [Bishop]. I am not going to keep much for myself for I do not intend to spend much money. If you come to see me, you will have to come to Memphis by the river, then you will be fifteen miles from Germantown. I will write to you again soon & let you know whether to come down or not. I will send you money enough to bring you.
Rovilla, do you remember that road that you & Mollie Stephenson took to get away from Ferd[inand] ¹ & I? Well, I was sitting on that side of the car when I came up the road & how fresh everything was in my memory of that day. That would be remembered if I was not to pass it again for fifty years. It seemed that I could almost see you again walking along the road & I even looked for your footprints in the road. Those that betrayed you before, they were gone. The rains had washed them away. How many pleasant thoughts crowded themselves in my brain. Oh! Pet, how I do long to see you again. You only can tell how happy I would be for you & I would be the happiest of the happy. I will hope to stay here for then I think you will come to stay with me for awhile. Won’t you, my little angel wife?
I have not received a letter of a later date than December 18th. I am very anxious to have you write though undoubtedly you have written but I have been moving about so much your letters have failed to reach [me]. I will hope to hear from you soon.
My health is good. All the boys from Louisville [Clay county, Illinois] are well. Pet, I have no more now of importance to write. I will send you $30 in this letter. Hoping you will be in good spirits when this reaches you & that I may have the pleasure of seeing your little angelic face soon, I remain your affectionate husband, — C. D. Kendall
P. S. Pet, do not fail to write very soon. — Cyrus
I will send the money by Express to Flora. You will have to send there for it. — Cyrus
¹ Lt. Ferdinand D. Stephenson served in Co. B, 48th Illinois Infantry.
Camp at Germantown, Tennessee
February 8th 1863
Mrs. Rovilla Kendall
My dear Wife,
I will write you a few lines this morning though perhaps you have before this time started to make me a visit. You of course received that money and the communication with it stating that Mr. Powers (our sutler) would come to Louisville for you & bring you down to make me a visit. He offered himself to do it but since he went home, I heard that he is not coming back. So on the 4th of this month I sent a telegraphic dispatch to you at Clay City in care of Simeon Bishop and Simeon was to take it to you.
It is now the 8th and if you received the dispatch, it is nearly time you were here. I am so anxious to see you. Days seem weeks. You can come alone as well as with company for Mrs. Lt. Green came down several days ago all alone and she told me that she had no trouble at all. You will not have to get a pass at Cairo but get on the first boat coming to Memphis and when you get to Memphis, you will find an omnibus at the levee. Tell the driver to take you to the Gayoso Hotel. I will try and meet you if I can get permission to go to Memphis. If I am not there, tell the landlord that you want to go to Germantown or the railroad and you will have no trouble on getting on the cars. Germantown is only fifteen miles from Memphis.
I do not think anyone will impose upon you for you are too well acquainted with the ways of the world to allow it. I would so far as will is concerned, trust you among thousands. But I do not think you will have any trouble. Mrs. Green says you will not. Noe Pet, if you have not started yet, do not fail to start the next day at farthest after you receive this. Hoping that I may have the pleasure of seeing your sweet face and hearing your kind face once again very soon, I remain your true and loving husband, — C. D. Kendall
P. S. Do not, Pet, fail to come soon. I shall look for you every day. — Cyrus
Camp near Young’s Point, La.
April 6th 1863
Mrs. Rovilla Kendall
My dear wife,
It seems a long time since I parted from you — longer perhaps on account of my not receiving any letters from you yet. Dear Pet, how I do long to get a letter from you and I can hardly account for the delay. I have written eight letters to you since you went home and I have not had the pleasure of receiving one yet.
It is a most lovely day and as it is Sunday, I feel very lonesome, I have been out riding this A. M. all alone & I spent most of the time thinking of you & wishing that I was at home that we might go walking. I have been thinking of the pleasant walks we have in days gone by.
In my last letter, I told you we were at camp near Helena [Arkansas] and that I had a very sore finger. We we are now at Young’s Point 15 miles above Vicksburg. We came down on the 1st of April. My finger has been so sore that I have not been able to write any until today and it is so bad yet I am afraid that I will not be able to write a very long letter. My health has been good & is so at this time.
Lieut. [Modesta J.] Green has been quite sick. The Col. has the small pox. He was taken today to the Small Pox Hospital. He is not very bad. All the boys from Louisville [Illinois] are well. The health of the regiment good generally. Lt. Green received a letter from Mrs. Green yesterday. She was well. She said she was going to write to you & scold you for not writing to me oftener. I expect you and her will write some loud letters to each other. You must save them & let Lt. Green see them. Lt. Green thinks you had better name the boy after him. What do you think, Dear Pet? I am nearly dead to see you. I dreamed of seeing you nearly every night since you went home but they are but dreams. Sometimes I love to dream & sometimes I am almost mad because dreams are not real.
Lt. Blue is still at Memphis. You know he was not well when his wife came down. Well he has got much worse. He is thought to be dangerously sick. If he gets well, perhaps it will leave him some sense.
We are going to [be] paid off in a few days for 4 months. I have a notion not to draw my money as I have no chance to send it home. I wish you had it and then you could buy that house and lot in Flora. I will try and send some money for your use before you need it. You must let me know how you are getting along taking piano lessons and everything else you can think of. You must not forget what you promised to tell me, will you Pet? You must excuse this blot.
Well, I must close. Please give my best wishes and love to Mother, Lottie, & Heber. O do not fail to write soon. Hoping my dear, dear wife to hear from you soon, I remain your affectionate husband, — C. D. Kendall
P. S. I can not tell you when Vicksburg will be taken. I do not think we are any nearer it than we were 4 months ago. I think all these passes & canals are great humbugs. That is the general opinion down here. I will write again soon. Yours, — Cyrus
P. S. I forgot to tell you that while coming down the river, some one went into my state room & stole my dress coat. I have not found it yet. — C. D. Kendall
Camp 11th Mo. Vol. near Young’s Point, La.
April 19th 1863
Mrs. Rovilla Kendall, Louisville
My dear wife,
As I have a few leisure moments this pleasant Sabbath morning, I will improve them in writing to you though it has been but two days since I wrote you a long letter and sent it to the Express Office by an officer in the 47th. He brought me the receipt for the money. The Express agent made a mistake in your address. He addressed you at Clay City instead of Flora although the package was marked Flora, Clay county, so if it does not get to Flora, you will be apt to find it at Clay City. In the letter I sent with the money, I told you what I wished you to do with it. I sent you $350.00. We received a large mail yesterday but there was no letter for me. I am so disappointed at not receiving more letters from you. I do not know how to account for it. Lieut. [Modesta J.] Green has recorded thirteen letters from Mrs. Green since she went home & I have received one from you. Pet, do you not think that is too bad. If Mrs. Green received that many more letters from Lt. Green than you have from me, I know how you would feel.
I can not imagine, Pet, how it is that I receive so few letters from you & others receive so many. It certainly is not because I do not write often for I write two or three letters every week. I can not think, Pet, that you have neglected to write to me. I will not think so, Pet. It seems to me that you might write every day as you have nothing to hinder you. All I want you to do this summer is to write to me and to take piano lessons. Do write to me often, dear Pet. If you could only know how much good it does me to receive letters from you, you never would let a day pass without writing. I will hope after this to receive letters from you, my dear little wife, at least once a week. I hope I will not be disappointed.
In my last I told you about the gunboats & steamboats running the blockade. Eight gunboats went by safe, then steamboats started. One was burned and got by. We had one man killed & three wounded on the gunboat Burton. It was a great success. I think will change the Rebel arrangements. I think Vicksburg will be evacuated before long if it is not already.
The weather warm & pleasant. We had a hard rain last night. The health of the regiment good. I am well again. The officers of the 11th have a dinner today on board the Steamer Lady Pike given by Col. [Andrew J.] Weber. We elected him colonel of the regiment & he gives us a dinner. We elected Captain [William S.] Stewart Lt. Col., which may give me a promotion also. I am going up to Milliken’s Bend this evening to see Curtis Bishop. ¹ I saw a lieutenant from the 8th this morning that is acquainted with Curtis. He said Curtis was well. Please tell William [Bishop]. Tell him also that I answered his last letter & am looking for a reply.
All the boys from Louisville [Illinois] are well. No more at present. My love & best wishes to all your folks. Tell Lottie to answer my letter. Now my dear Villa, I will hope to hear from you soon.
Your true and loving husband, — C. D. Kendall
¹ Probably Curtis W. Bishop of Co. G, 10th Missouri Infantry.
Camp at Haynes’ Bluff
June 8th 1863
Mrs. Rovilla Kendall, Louisville
Once more I will improve an opportunity of writing you for I know you must be very anxious to hear from me as it has been several days since I have had an opportunity for writing. You will remember that when I wrote to you last I was at Young’s Point.. I went back to Hayne’s Bluff and found the regiment under marching orders. I did not have time to write you another letter so I wrote on the outside of the one I had written at Young’s Point and told you that we were ordered away & I could not tell when I would have a chance to write again. We are back again to Haynes’ Bluff after a very hard march of sixty-five miles [Mechanicsburg, Mississippi Expedition]. We went out to look for Gen. Jo. Johns[t]on who is hanging around our rear waiting for an opportunity to make a dash into our rear. We have had the warmest weather this last week that I ever saw. Quite a number of the men died from the excessive heat and many others are perfectly helpless. I most certainly hope we may go on no more marches while the warm weather lasts.
It is very warm this morning & we will have another hot day. I wish I could be at home with you today, dear Pet. I would be so happy. It seems so long since I saw you. When I woke up this morning, I was so tired and felt so bad, I would have given anything in the world to have been at home with you. I am nearly worn out with fatigue and exposure. Our brigade is not fit for duty as it has been on the march constantly since we left Young’s Point on the 2nd of May. The men are worn completely out. I never saw them look so bad.
Our regiment is very small now as our loss was very heavy at Vicksburg and we have a good many at the hospital. I think our regiment will be consolidated with some other regiment before long. When it is half, the officers will be mustered out. Then, dear Pet, if I can get mustered out, I will & come home to you & I will hope that we may be allowed the pleasure of each others presence so long as we live that we may never be parted again for I am most miserable when I am away from you. Vicksburg is not taken yet though the Rebs must be nearly starved out.
In my last letter I gave you all the news & I asked you a great many questions that you must be seen and answer. I have not heard whether you have received that money or not. I am very anxious to hear about it. I expect you have written to me about it and the letters have not reached me. I was glad to hear that you had concluded to take piano lessons & I will expect you to amuse me when I come home. I am not going to write much more this time, but I will write again soon. My health is good but I am worked down. Do not fail to write soon & be sure and write a long letter & give me all the news. Lottie has not answered my letter yet & if she does not, I will pay her up for it when I come home. Please give my love to her & mother & Heber & Cousin Belle & Uncle Nelson’s folks. I will not write any more this time.
Your affectionate & faithful husband, — C. D. Kendall
Camp at Young’s Point, La.
June 15th 1863
Mrs. Rovilla Kendall, Louisville
Your most welcome letter bearing the date the 3rd of this month came to hand this evening and finds me well and very glad to hear that you are well also but very sorry to hear that you are so dissatisfied and so anxious to get away from Louisville. In your letter you said if I loved you I would not ask you to stay there until I came home. Then Rovilla, if I should say that, I would rather you would wait until I come home you would say that I did not love you, after loving you so long and dearly, after doing everything in my power to make you happy, after using every means in my power to prove to you that I love you more than your wildest fancy could imagine — you would say that? I do not love you for what you said, Villa. You certainly did not for it would take ten thousand times more than that to prove to me that you do not love me. If I could think so for a moment, it would kill me.
You say I will not come home so long as I can stay away. Pet, perhaps you did not think how those words would make my heart ache or you never would have written them. It is poor cheer for the weary soldier to be told by one that he would die for at any moment that he would not come home to her so long as he could stay away. Those words were thoughtlessly written for I can not make myself believe that my little Pet wife has so little confidence in me. There is one who can read my heart & He knows how passionately, how fondly, I love you. He knows also that I would give worlds were they mine to give to be with you. War is a stern reality and I as well as thousands of others have to bow to its iron rule. You know, Pet, that I can’t go home when I please without laying myself liable to be cashiered & dismissed [from] the service in disgrace. I fear you would not give me a very warm welcome were I to desert & come home. I have a hard task to perform — one that tries me sorely.
Last winter you asked me to let you go to school. I gave my consent willingly as you know but you concluded not to go. I was willing for you to go to school this summer if you wanted to go. You did not want to go to school but you wanted to take piano lessons. I also wanted you to take piano lessons for I thought it would be some amusement to you & would help to pass away time. Besides, I wanted you to learn to play the piano. Now you want to go to Ohio and stay until I come home. What shall I say? If I say i do not wish you to go, according to your letter, you will say I do lot love you. If I say go, I will say what I think is not for the best.
I will say, dear Pet, that I would rather you would not go until I come home for several reasons. 1st, I do not want you any farther from me than you are now. 2nd, if I can’t get to come home this fall, I want you to come and see me. 3rd, I have written to John Davis to buy that house and lot and I told him that you had $400 that we could pay down which would pay for the house all but $100 which I can send anytime. Now Pet, would you rather spend that money for a house and lot that we may have a nice little home to live in, or would you rather go to Ohio. I think you would rather have the house. I am saving all the money I can for I know we will need it. I have spent for board and clothes & everything else $39.40 since you went away. Clothing is very high here but I am not going to buy much more that I do not need. I sent $350 & William paid you $60 which will make $410. If John buys the house for us, you can pay the $400 & if you need any money for yourself, let me know & I will send it by express. If John does not buy it, keep the money until I come in the fall and then I will buy a house myself.
I hope, dear Pet, that you will conclude that it is not for the best for you to go to Ohio now and that I love you dearly as ever though I have not said that I am willing for you to go. I hope you will go on taking piano lessons & when I come home to stay, we will go to Ohio together & make a visit. You said if I was not willing for you to go, you never would ask me again. I shall not wait for you to ask me for I will ask you and I guess you will go, will you not, Pet? I expect you will scold Cy some when you read this but if Cy was there to take your dear little body in his arms and kiss them sweet little lips, I do not think you would be angry very long, would you dear Pet? Your letter that you sent to Flora, I have not yet received. I wrote you a great long letter yesterday and I have very little news to write tonight. I will try and write to you everyday while I have an opportunity.
I have asked you something in several of my last letters (you know what I mean) and you have never given me an answer yet. Is it not unkind, dear Pet, to take no notice of it? I hope you will answer in your next.
It is past 11 o’clock at night and I must close. I will try and dream tonight that you will forgive me for not giving my consent for you to go to Ohio. Will you forgive me, dear, dear Pet? I hope you will write to me very soon in which you will forgive me and give me all the news. Tell me all what you are doing and what you are going to do, My love to all. In this I send Brave Boys.
From your husband that loves you as truly and devotedly as ever woman was loved by man. — C. D. Kendall
Camp at Young’s Point, La.
June 26th 1863
Mrs. Rovilla Kendall, Louisville
Dear dear wife,
Why is it that I do not get a letter from you? It seems so long since I received one. It makes me feel so lonesome and bad to have a mail come and no letters for me. The last letter I received from you was dated the 5th of this month. I have written six or eight since I received it. Dear Pet, I am so anxious to hear from you. Capt. [Modesta J.] Green has received five letters from Mrs. Green since I received one. I think it very curious that I do not get your letters. Someone must take them from the office. If they are taken out and the ones that take them could only know how much pleasure they deprive me of, they would not taken anymore. We received quite a large mail this evening. Capt. Green received two letters from Mrs. Green. I almost envied him his pleasure.
I have no news to write this evening, Pet, for I wrote you a great long letter day before yesterday and I sent my picture the same day. As soon as you can, I wish you would have yours taken and send to me. It has been rumored here today that Port Hudson is captured with eight thousand prisoners. It is very probable for it needs confirmation. We blew up several of the Rebel forts today. I have not the least doubt of Vicksburg being in our possession in a very few days. We will get not far from 25,000 prisoners with the capture of Vicksburg. I hope and pray that it may end soon for I am nearly dying to see you, dear Villa.
Daniel Dewitt has been quite sick for several days. He received two letters from home tonight. Dr. [Melancthon] Fish is quite sick also. He is thinking of resigning on account of his health. The health of the regiment is not very good though I keep well. Capt. [William S.] Stewart is well also. Lt. Engledon has been sick but is getting well again.
The weather is very war,. Today has been the warmest day we have had this summer. I am going over the river tomorrow for the purpose of seeing the paymaster about paying our regiment. I expect to return tomorrow. As I am writing, I hear an occasional shot from the mortar boats. They are about 4 miles below this place. You may expect to hear before many days of the capture of Vicksburg.
I have no more news to write but I will write again soon. I will try and write three times each week at least. I wish I could get one letter a week, dear Pet, from you. I will hope to receive one very soon. Please write a great long letter. Tell me about everything and everybody. My love to all. Goodbye.
Your true and faithful husband, — C. D. Kendall
Camp 11th Regt. Mo. Vol. Infantry
Near Black River
October 1st 1863
Mrs. Rovilla C. Kendall, Flora, Illinois
My dear wife,
Though I am far from you this evening, I am thinking of you and longing to behold your sweet face again. I wish to live to come home if it is the will of our heavenly father who has been most kind to us orphan children. I feel thankful that He has entrusted to my care one of his rarest jewels and He will hold me a strict account of my stewardship. If He lets me live to a good old age, I will spend it in being thankful to Him and loving and protecting the one whose happiness He has placed in my hands. My future looks bright. Life never seemed so dear — so sweet — and why is it? Can’t you guess, sweet Villa? It is because God has given me a dear, kind companion — one that is all virtue, all kindness, all sympathy, and love for me — yes, for me. I can hardly make myself realize sometimes that I am the possessor of so much virtue & love. If it is a sin to love anything mortal, then I am a great sinner for my love for you in akin to worship. If I was with you this evening, Villa, I would take you in my arms as in days gone by & tell you again and again of my undying love for you, kind Villa. You can imagine how much happiness I promise myself when I come home. I can imagine how kind and thoughtful you will always be and I know you will make me most happy, will you not sweet Villa?
My health is still good and I am in good spirits. I hope you will keep your spirits up also & the time will soon pass away. I wrote you a long letter yesterday. It is quite chilly today but the weather is moderating. I have received no letter from you later than the 16th.
There has been several boats burned lately on the river and I think our mail has been burned. We have had no paper since the 19th of September. We are all anxiety to hear the particulars of Gen. Rosecrans’ fight. I fear my brothers are either killed or wounded.
Villa, I want you to take that note that John Davis gave me for that money and go to John and have him put a seal on the note. I did not know it was necessary until since I left home. A seal will cost twenty or thirty cents & John must put the initials of his name on the seal. Do not forget it, Villa, for the note is not good without the seal. Be careful and not lose the note. Let me know as soon as you get it fixed.
Well, Villa, it is after Tattoo & I must close. I will write again soon. My kind wishes to all our folks. Hoping to hear from you soon, I am — as ever — your faithful husband, — C. D. Kendall
Camp 11th Mo. Vols. Infantry
Near Black River
October 7th 1863
Mrs. Rovilla C. Kendall
My dear wife,
After a delay of four days since I wrote you last, I will try and write you another letter that you may know where I am, how I get along, and how much I often think of you. In the first place, I am well. My health was never better than at this time and with the exception of a gloomy thought occasionally, I am in fine spirits. When I think of the possibility of being separated from you until next July, I get very gloomy & low spirited for it is a painful thought. The human heart can endure a great deal but there is a point beyond which it cannot go. Everyday makes me more anxious to see you and it proves to me that though when we were first married I loved you fondly & truly, I love you ten times more now — if it were possible. So long as either of us live, you will be my first — my only love — the pride of my life and the dearest and truest friend I have on earth. I know you would cling to me though all others forsook me. All you ask is my love & you have it all, my dear wife. My heart will never beat for any but you and I know that your heart — with all its love — is mine, is it not Villa? I am happy in the thought & though we are forced to remain so far from each other, will spend our time thinking of & loving each other and look anxiously forward to that time when we can mutually embrace each other with the knowledge that only death can separate us. Let us then, sweet Villa, be as cheerful as we can. I will console myself thinking of the love & kindness you will bestow upon me when I return and I will study how I can best repay you love and kindness & what I can do to make you most happy. I feel that there is a great deal of happiness in store for us. Let us leave it all with the Great Ruler of the Universe. He doeth all things well.
Villa, I should have written to you last night but I was out on picket guard. It rained quite hard & I was out all night but I did not get any wet as I had a rubber blanket. It has been quite pleasant today & I think the rain is over. We have had some very cold nights and tonight will be colder perhaps than any night we have had yet. I sleep very warm and comfortable every night but I always think of you when I go to bed and wish I was with you for I fear those little feet will be very cold many a night this winter if you sleep alone. You must always warm them before you go to bed like you did at Germantown. Now do not forget, will you?
I have received no letter from you since the one you sent by Lt. [John] Cowperthwait. I know you have written but the letters have failed to reach me. I am getting very anxious to hear but I will be as patient as possible. I have written about fifteen letters to you since I left home. If you do not receive letters, do not think it is because I do not write for dear Villa, I will write often.
I think we will remain here all winter and I am glad of it for I am tired of hard marching. We have no late news from Gen. Rosecrans & I am very anxious to hear from my brothers. I heard from Ann a few days since. I wrote you about it in my last. I also wrote you about that note I took from John Davis for that $190.00 & for fear you will not receive my letter, I will write again. I want you to take the note and go to John & have him put a stamp on the note & put the initials of his name on the stamp as the note is not good without the stamp. You will have to pay for the stamp. It will cost 25 or 30 cents. Let me know as soon as you have fixed it.
Well, Villa, you will have to tell the girls that Captain [William S.] Stewart is married & they need not waste their precious love upon him. Villa, he married one day & started back to Vicksburg the next day. Don’t you think he acted very foolish? He does not love his wife half as well as I do you or he could not have been so cruel. And I don’t think his wife loves him as well as you do me or she would have kept him longer, don’t you think so, my sweet Villa? I know you do, if you don’t say so.
Well Villa, I think I have given you all the news so I will bring this long letter to a close. Do not fail to write soon & don’t forget about the note. I hope I may have the pleasure of receiving a letter from you soon. My love to all, as ever. I am as ever your affectionate husband, — C. D. Kendall
[to] Mrs. C. D. Kendall, Flora, Clay county, Illinois
[from] C. D. Kendall, 11th Mo. Infantry, 2nd Brigade, [James M] Tuttle’s Division, Vicksburg, Mississippi
P. S. Enclosed you will find one of Captain’s wedding cards. Yours, — Cyrus
Camp 11th Mo. Vol. Infantry
Near Black River, Mississippi
October 23rd 1863
Mrs. Lt. C. D. Kendall, Flora, Illinois
My dear wife,
Your dear letter of the 12th ult. came to hand yesterday and found me enjoying good health and in fine spirits though the sad news of my dear brother was most painful. Poor boy, he may be ‘ere this numbered with the brave, the heroic dead. But there is one great comfort if he is dead, he has given his life in a good cause. It is sweet to die for ones country — especially the land of the free. The memory of the brave & noble dead will ever be treasured in the hearts of every lover of freedom & their names will be handed down from generation to generation as worthy the honor and adoration of an enlightened & free people. I fear [brother] Frederick will either loose his leg or his life. I shall be most anxious until I hear how he is getting along.
I received a letter from [my brother] John the same day I received yours but he knew but very little more about [our brother] Frederick than you wrote. He [John] was well and in as good spirits as could be expected. An old friend of mine by the name of [Collins P.] Jones who was a captain in the 35th [Illinois] was killed by a musket ball in the first day’s fight [20 September 1863]. Poor fellow — he has given his life for his country which is all he can do. None can do more. How many brave men will yield up their lives for their country? But the object to be obtained is worthy the sacrifice. I expect, dear Villa, you will say sooner let the country be divided than that my husband be killed. I know, dear Villa, how dearly you love me & how willingly you would sacrifice everything for my sake and I know that should I be taken from you, you would be most miserable. I feel it all, Villa, & it makes my heart ache to be with you. Nevertheless, there is a pleasant thought stealing across my mind occasionally. I would not have you think, Villa, that my thoughts are all gloomy ones for they are not. When I think of my dear wife, my dear home, my bright future if my life is spared to get home, I am most happy. There is one dearer to me than life who figures in all my dreams of future happiness and who will be my light, my life, my guardian angel, so long as I am allowed the exquisite pleasure of tarrying upon this earth, & when this life is over, we will hope to meet in a better world where sorrow never comes & where we will part no more — no never.
I went down to Vicksburg yesterday to see Simon & we went to the theatre. There was a little actress that Simon thought looked very much like Billie. I told him that she she was very pretty but not half as pretty as my Villa. In one of the plays, a plan was gotten up to ruin the character of the wife of a Prince who was absent in the war. After a time, the Prince was on his way home to meet his dear wife whom he had not seem for a long time. The persons that were trying to ruin the Princess went out to meet him & they all united in telling the Prince that his wife was unfaithful to him, & they said that they had seen a certain young man leaving her chamber early in the morning. The Prince was greatly enraged. He drew his sword and would have slain them had they not gotten out of his way. He said the united testimony of all on earth could not make him think for a moment that his Princess was unfaithful. My confidence in you, my sweet Villa, is as unbounded as was the confidence of the Prince in his Princess. She proved herself innocent and he punished her accusers. What a pity it is that all husbands and wives have not that confidence. Well Simon & I had a good visit. He sends his kind wishes to you all. I came home this P. M.
Lieut. [John] Cowperthwait received a letter from his wife yesterday, He said she gave him quite a scolding for not writing as often as I do. She said you had received four letters while she received one. I write often, Villa, & I nearly always write long letters. You do not write as long letters as I do. Your last was so short and you forgot to tell me anything of what I asked you to. Do not forget, Villa, to answer my questions for they are about matters that interest us both. I am speaking now of business. As to another matter of which you know all & I nothing, I shall ask no questions for I should not expect answers if I did, notwithstanding your promise for I remember last summer how silently you treated all my questions in that subject. In your next, tell me how you are getting along, whether you need any money, & whether you have everything that you need to make you comfortable.
You say you have a very nice pet kitten & that it sleeps with you. Well, I have no objection to your petting the kitten & sleeping with it also if it pleases you, but when I come home, I guess you will have to dispense with the kitten for it will be as much as you will want to do to pet me & I know there will not be room for all then in our bed. I think Mr. kitten will have to look somewhere else for a bedfellow. What do you think about it?
Well, it is after taps & is getting rather cold for writing so I will beg leave to bring my letter to a close and I will go to bed and I think I will dream that I am at home — that I can hear the kitten moving around because I will not let him sleep with us. Well, as I said, it will be a cold night & the kitten will be cold but I can’t help it. No more. My love to all. Hoping to see or hear from you soon, I am as ever your true and affectionate husband, — C. D. Kendall
Camp near Memphis, Tennessee
May 6th 1864
Mrs. Rovilla C. Kendall
My dear wife,
This morning finds me well and very anxious to hear from you. It is now nearly two weeks since I left home & I have not yet received a letter from you. This is the 6th letter I have written to you since I left home. I wrote you from Cairo the evening of the 2nd. We left there the next day and arrived at Memphis yesterday in the forenoon. We came out to camp yesterday evening. We have no tents yet so we have to sleep out of doors. The weather is warm & pleasant. The grass is fresh & green and the trees are covered with full grown leaves. Oh! it is so pleasant here. I wish you could be here to enjoy it with me. Th climate here is nearly three weeks ahead of Illinois. We had a very pleasant time coming down the river. We came on a new boat — one of the finest on the river.
There are but few troops at Memphis now as they have gone out after Forrest. No news from this expedition yet. We are to remain here until our division comes up the river. After that, I can’t say what we will do. It is the talk now that General [Joseph] Mower will take command at Memphis with 6,000 men & if he does, we will be very apt to stay near Memphis this summer.
There is no news from down the river. We had a little scare last night. The pickets got to firing a little about one o’clock in the morning & we thought the Rebels were going to try & come in. We fell out in line but they made no further demonstration.
I have not yet received my commission but I expect it in a few days. I will write you again tomorrow. I am very anxious to see you & I can’t say what I may ask of you if we stay here this summer. Please write soon & tell me everything that I would like to hear. I dreamed if you last night, dear Villa, & you can only imagine how happy I was with you by my side and you gave me such sweet kisses. I hope you may visit my dreams every night for they are always sweet visits. Give my love to all and do not fail to write soon. Hoping that I may hear from you soon & that this may find you well and happy, I am as ever your affectionate & faithful husband until death, — C. D. Kendall
P. S. My address [is]:
C. D. Kendall
11th Mo. Infantry, 2nd Brigade
1st Division, 16th Army Corps
Enclosed please find a rose. My love for you is as sweet & & pure as the rose, — Cyrus
Camp near Memphis, Tennessee
June 1st 1864
Mrs. Rovilla C. Kendall, Flora, Illinois
My own sweet wife,
Again I avail myself of an opportunity of writing to you and you know I do not let an opportunity pass often, I do not always have important military news to communicate but knowing how anxious you are always to hear from me, I will write often though news is scarce. You say my letters are a great comfort to you and that you would nearly die were it not for them, I am content & very thankful, dear Villa, that my letters are so highly prized by that dear one who has made my married life such a happy one. I am under obligations that can never be fully canceled — a life of love and devotion to your every wish will be my whole aim and still I can never overpay your love and true affection for me.
My last letter was written on the 30th of May so you see tonight is my night to write. You’re getting behind again Villa, for your last received was dated on the 25th. I think it high time I had another letter, don’t you Villa. This is my third letter since yours was received.
Well Villa, this evening finds us in another camp. We moved camp today. We are now on the railroad about half a mile from Memphis. Oh! our camp is such a nice one. We are in a nice little grove that is surrounded by a fence and the grove adjoins the residence of one of the big bugs of Memphis. The family were awful mad when we moved into the grove. I went down in town this P. M. with Lt. [Edwin] Applegate. I have not been in the city before for a week. It rained quite hard when we were coming out to camp and we got pretty wet. We had on our linen coats which were very little protection from the rain. This evening Capt. [Modesta J.] Green & I went walking. We always talk about you & Mrs. Green while we are walking, each thinking his own wife the best. Don’t I know my little wife is the best woman living. I think so anyhow & it is right I should. Oh! I am so proud of my sweet little wife. I look at your photograph two or three times every day. It looks so sweet.
Maj. [Eli] Bowyer said something about you and you can’t guess what it is. Well he said you made a mistake when you married me for you are too good a looking woman for me. I think you are the prettiest & sweetest little woman I ever saw but I don’t believe you thought I was not good enough for you. If you had, I don’t believe you wold love me as dearly as you do. Neither would you have risked your happiness in my keeping/ I can say this, dear Villa, that I feel sometimes that I am not worthy so good a wife but I will try to make myself worthy & I hope to succeed.
An expedition left here today for some point East. We do not know where the expedition is going. Nearly all the troops about Memphis went. We are left behind and we are not very sorry for you know we have done a great deal of hard duty & there are some regiments that have done comparatively little. We have received no mail for two days nor northern papers. We are very anxious to hear from Sherman & Grant for if both are successful this summer, this war will come to an end very soon. May the end come soon.
I received a letter from Capt. [William S.] Stewart yesterday. He is at his mothers in Indiana but is soon going to St. Louis to live. He & lady asked to be remembered to Mrs. Kendall. I have not yet received my commission. It was lost. Our Col. [William L.] Barnum has written for another. We have not yet been paid. I have nothing more of importance. Please write soon & write me a great long letter. My health is first rate. I sincerely hope you will keep well. My love to mother, Lottie, & Heber. Keep Heber going to school. No more.
From your affectionate & faithful husband, — C. D. Kendall
On board steamer Palestine
January 7, 1865
Mrs. Villa C. Kendall
My dear wife,
This morning finds me not very well as I have caught a very bad cold and my head ached so last night I could hardly sleep, but though I did not sleep all night, I dreamed of my absent and dearly loved wife. I thought I was at home and to stay. In fancy, I saw you working about the house and you were doing all in your power to make me love my home. I thought I was very happy with you in our little home for your cheerful, sweet presence made everything look cheerful and I was so thankful that God had given me such a treasure. And in fancy I resolved to use every energy of my life to make you happy. I feel, Villa, that I will be successful for where there is true love, there will be happiness.
Dear Villa, I will love you always and I know I will be loved in return. I promise myself a great deal of happiness in the future with my sweet little wife.
Well, Villa, we will leave Nashville today so I will try and send this letter through by the railroad as it will reach you by the time we reach the Ohio River. I wrote you on the 4th. Your last was dated 17th December. I suppose I will find quite a number of letters from you. I will write again as we go down the river and I will continue to write as often as I can. I hope you will do the same. Do not direct your letters via Nashville as they will now have to go up the Tennessee River.
Direct them via Cairo, Illinois, 11th Mo. Infantry, 16th A. C.
Remember me to Lottie and excuse me for this time. Believe me as ever your faithful & loving husband, — Cyrus
January 18th 1865
Mrs. C. D. Kendall,
Well, Villa, another day is passed and with its cares, joys and sorrows. Oh! the past — the never forgotten past. How many, many hopes thou hast buried and how many joys thou hast seen tasted but now they likewise are buried in the past. How many pleasant thoughts linger round thee and would I could say that the past for me has no unpleasant thought, I have regrets & many of them, miss-spent time deeds of sin — hours worse than thrown away & never to be recovered. I form resolutions today and brake them tomorrow. How fast this short life is slipping away and with what recklessness we squander it. “Of all things we are, of time the most prodigal. And time is the stuff that life is made of and as we are not sure of a moment we should not throw away an hour.” It would be wicked to wish to live our lives over again but I think I would have fewer regrets could I live over again my past life. Our happiness upon this earth as well as the world to come depends entirely upon ourselves. We can make our lives happy if we shoose. Let us try. I need your kind and sweet advice and I know you are ready at all times to give it me.
Well, Villa, this evening does not find me well. I am still affected with pains in my head and I do not rest well at night. I have some fever and I am not sure but that I had a chill. I have been taking quinine since yesterday, I think I will soon be well again. You know it is not usual for me to be sick long at a time. I have been very busy today with my papers. You know I have a great deal to do. I have work enough to keep me busy for two weeks and I feel very little like doing anything. We have dress parade every evening. I wish you could come out some evening and see us perform as you used to at Germantown.
I was over at brigade headquarters tonight & saw Capt. [William W.] Cleland. He said he would not be surprised to see you and Mrs. Cleland down here. I told I would be surprised to see you and that I did not think you would take such a step as that without first consulting me.
There is talk of a paymaster coming soon to pay us and if we are paid, I will do my best to get a leave. You must not be too certain that I can come for everything, you know, is uncertain in war. But believe me, Villa dear, when I say I will come if I possibly can.
I wrote you a long letter on the 16th and 17th giving you all the news. I wrote to Capt. [William S.] Stewart to send you a half bushel of cranberries if there were in the market or could beg it. I have no more news of importance. The weather is very fair.
Maj. Given [?] is well. Villa, you need not fear that I will tell anyone of your condition. I could not do such a thing though I believe Mrs. Cleland has hinted something about it to the captain. Well Villa, my little angel wife, will you excuse me for a night. My head aches so bad. My warm regards to Lottie & tell her that I expect her to take good care of my wife. She will be remembered. I am as ever your faithful husband who loves you most dearly, — Cyrus
January 30th 1865
Mrs. C. D. Kendall, Flora, Illinois
My own dear Villa,
This is Monday evening and again I find myself engaged in the pleasant task of writing to you. Yesterday was a beautiful day and the adjutant and myself took a ride on horseback. We had a very nice ride and we enjoyed it very much. In the evening we had brigade dress parade and Gen’l. [John] McArthur and staff came out to see us. The parade went off very nicely and the General complimented us on our appearance. The day passed very pleasantly and could I have been with my little wife Villa, I should have been very happy. I slept very sweetly last night and I dreamed nearly all night about you. I dreamed we were walking on the railroad and you was hanging on my arm ss in old times so long ago. You have not forgotten? How I long for the return of those dear happy hours. We will be so happy then, will we not Villa? We will take our pleasant walks just as we used to before we were married. It is my earnest wish and desire to please my little wife and anything I can do to please her, I will not consider a hardship but a great pleasure.
I know how common it is for men to try so hard to please their wives before they are married and after they are married, the least effort is a hardship. Such is the case when husbands do not love their wives. But if they love them, it is a pleasure to please them. I find it a source of great pleasure, Villa, in being able to please you. I know how dear to the woman that loves all the words of love spoken by the object of her affections. I know how dearly you love me, Villa, and I feel that let me be as good to you as is possible for a husband to be to his wife. Still I will not be entirely worthy the pure and trusting love of your loving heart. I will try to be worthy of you and my heart with all its love is yours and forever. I will not tell you in words how dear — how very dear — you are to me but I will try by a life of devotion, by an earnest desire to make you most happy, to assure you that my heart beats with love for my dear wife only. Never doubt me, Villa, and you will never be deceived.
You know me, Villa, by this time & I think I have proven my love and faithfulness. I am stronger in my love for you than ever before. There is nothing that could tempt me to brake my faith with my dear young wife. And Villa, man oh so faithless. Scarcely a day that I do not see man’s falsity — his deception — his neglect — & insult to his absent wife. I have less faith every day in man. But my faith in woman is great. My wife could not be faithless to me and it seems to me that I would suffer death before dishonoring my wife.
Well, Villa, I have a sore eye. Do you remember what a sore eye I had in Memphis when you was with me? Well my eye is sore like it was then though not quite as bad. I hope it will get no worse for it is very painful.
Capt. [William W.] Cleland came over this evening and he said he would bet that you & Mrs. Cleland were coming here as we have received no letters for so long. I told him that Villa would not come unless I sent for her. Cleland is nearly crazy to see his wife. You can guess why for I don’t think it possible for him to love a woman for her merits. I hope he will always treat her kindly. But Villa, perhaps I am selfish in this matter. It seems to me that no man can love his wife as dearly as I do mine nor is any man’s wife so pure and good as mine. If I am selfish in tthis, I am in the wrong but so far as my wife, being most pure and virtuous, I know I am in the right.
W[alton] Finch just came into my tent to see what I was doing. He had just been writing to his wife. Oh! he loves his wife much. I know he does love her for his actions prove it. He is not yearning after every woman in the country and he is faithful to the honor of his wife. Would that every husband was the same. I think so much of the adjutant. He is temperate too and does not play cards or smoke. I think his wife ought to love him a great deal for he is a good husband, I will bet.
Well, Villa, it is getting quite late and as my eye is quite sore, I think you will excuse me. Your last was dated January 3rd. I am getting used to doing without letters but it nearly makes me sick. I will still hope to hear from you soon & to hear of your good health. Dr. [Melancthon] Fish, [Dr. Thomas] Hawley, Lt. [Edwin] Applegate, [Walton] Finch, & [Modesta] Green wish to be remembered. My regards to sister Lottie. I am as ever your loving and faithful husband, — Cyrus
P. S. There are rumors here that our army is going to Grant or Sherman. There are other rumors but none of importance.
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.