Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Jennie Reed, September 7, 1862

In this letter from September 7, 1862, Samuel Reed writes to his wife stating that he may be home for a visit within three weeks if the field work continues at the present rate of eleven miles per week. He expresses surprise at the fact that the army "from Kansas had retreated from Arkansas" and requests information as to the war's progress in "Virginia and elsewhere." Reed states that most business not pertaining to the army seems to have been suspended, and worries that someone "more ambitious than patriotic" may be able to influence the Union army and assume control of the government as a military dictator.

Dearest Jennie

Another week has passed and no letter from you has been recvd. No person has visited us from the land of Post Offices the past week but I am looking daily for Mr. Thielsen and letters by him.

The past week has been quite wet and unpleasant. Today is clear and I hope we shall have no more rain until we get through to Chariton. Last week we locuted eleven miles the best week's work we have done yet and at that rate three weeks will finish the field work. Then for home and home friends as fast as I can travel.

It seems a very long time since I have heard from you. Every day that pass without receiving a letter from you now seems long indeed.

The all absorbing topic of this part of the state is the war. In every little town is one or more companies organized and drilling for the war expecting daily to be called to march to the field of active operations. I have not seen any late papers and know nothing of what has been done since I left Ottumwa and feel very anxious to learn what has been done of late in Virginia and elsewhere. I should think that Mrs. Elwood would very much dislike to have Gavin enter the servis [sic] . I am stopping over Sunday with a wealthy farmer by the name of Macon he has two sons in the army and a very large crop of corn to harvest and says he shall have to turn in his cattle as it is imposable [sic] to get help to pick it.

All business except pertaining to the army seems to be suspended or nearly so. How long can this state of affairs last and we remain a nation of free and indipendent [sic] people evidently not long. Some one [sic] more ambitious than patriotic may so work upon the immense army in the field as to turn them against our government and a military dictator will then esily assume the intire [sic] controll [sic] . It seems as though nothing but war and bloodshed can be talked or thought of in these times of trouble.

How long is Mr. Gilbert to be absent I wish he had come to Iowa with me a trip of this kind would do him more good than any thing els [sic] he could do and besides the [present] improovement [sic] he would learn much of the ways of frontier life that can't be learned in towns or travels.

Mr. Ainsworth has not visited me yet. I looked for him today but he did not come I suppose when a day of rest occurs he like myself feels like improving it by staying at home. I would like very much this evening if posable [sic] to be with you and the dear children but must content myself by writing a very poor substitute. The last letter I recvd from you little Mary was not quite well. I trust ere this she is as well as usual again. I was surprised to hear that the army from Kansas had retreated from Arkansas. The last I heard from there three or four weeks ago all was quiet and no signs of any further trouble in that quarter.

Cousin Adda I suppose is still in Mo I was glad to hear from sister Anna and will write to her as soon as I can but may not before I get home.

I have been very ecinomical [sic] from necessity since starting on this survey there is no place to spend money if I had a disposition to do so. When in Burlington I bought a starch linen coat and a pair of moleskin pants all cost me four dollars. The coat is as good as new the pants are worn out and I am wearing those I brought from home. My good coat has not been out of my trunk only to be aired since leaving Burlington and probably will not until I get back there again unless I shall go to church in Chariton.

Now Jennie I must close hoping to receive one or more letters from you tomorrow or next day. Good night and may our Father in Heaven bless you all.

Yours Affectionately
Samuel B. Reed

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Jennie Reed
  • Extent: 4 pages
  • Citation: Yale University Library, Manuscripts and Archives, Samuel Reed Family Papers, Box 2, Folder 28
  • Date: September 7, 1862