Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Jennie Reed, March 22, 1863

In this letter from March 22, 1863, Samuel Reed writes to his wife noting that the government has procured control of all steamboats on the Mississippi River. He believes many will be lost once they are sent up small rivers and the water levels fall, and laments that railroads cannot "be conveniently taken south to help whip the rebels." Reed also complains about the rise in prices and the fact that work on the western road cannot be commenced until the next season as two of the railroad's largest investors have gone to Europe before examining the work estimates. He closes with remarks about how difficult it is to be parted from loved ones for so long and "with such small pay."

Dearest Jennie

Notwithstanding cousin's letter that you would not write to me the past week I have looked anxiously for a letter from you and did not give up the hope of recieving [sic] one until the mail came in this morning. Then I was really disappointed in not hearing from you. It will be imposable [sic] now for me to leave here until after the present month's business is settled up which I shall do as soon as I can after the 1st of April.

I had a very pleasant conversation yesterday on the cars with Bishop Lee he was going to Mt. Pleasant to hold conformation [sic] , and will be in Burlington for the same purpose on Easter Sunday. He says that Mr. [Gifford] has risgned [sic] his charge of Trinity Church in Muscatine and still returns his place in the army. Mr. Henry has joined the sons of temperance and the bishop thinks (hopes at least) that he will drink no more. For his family's sake I say amen! Mr. Brannum I am informed is to all human appearances hopelessly ruined by the use of rum. How sad to see men of promace [sic] and in the vigor of manhood so lost to all claims that a loving wife and society have upon them that the strong temptation to drink to excess cannot be withstood.

I have been watching for a boat to go down and see Marion but none comes I shall go down on horseback tomorrow and hope to find her much better than when the letter was written to Joliet. I wish it was in my power to heal all the infirmities of the human race and bind up the broken harted [sic] .

Mr. Barrows preached a very interesting discourse this morning. I shall go to church this evening again. How muddy it is all over the county almost imposable [sic] to get through the deep mire and clay. There has been nothing but rain rain for several days past. The sun shines out today and I got a peep of the new moon last night and if the old sign don't fail we shall have a dry month from this time. I hope all signs won't fail this time. The government has pressed into its servis [sic] all the steemboats [sic] that used to run on the open Mississippi only one little one left that I know of and that I understand will be taken as soon as she reaches Saint Louis. Rail Roads [sic] can't be conveniently taken south to help whip the rebels. I have no doubt but the government will loose [sic] a large number of boats by sending them up the small rivers and the water will fall and they will be abandoned because they can't be brought back to the Mississippi that I presume will be the fate of most of the Yazoo fleet.

How very dear every thing [sic] in the clothing line is I inquire the price of some canton flanel [sic] drawers and what do you think such as I used to get for 75 cents now would cost me two dollars. Every thing [sic] els [sic] in proportion.

I don't believe that the company will do any thing [sic] on the western road this season. Two of the men living in Boston that was expected to furnish most of the money I learn have recently gone to Europe and will not see the estimates that Mr. Thielsen has taken east for their exammation [sic] and nothing will be done until they return.

I hope another week will not pass without hearing from you dear Jennie. Has Chs drawn away all the hay and corn yet? I don't know how he could do it if the roads have been as bad as in Iowa. I have not heard one word from Martha since my return from Joliet. What was the result of the eclesiastical [sic] trial in Joliet? Was the bishop down to attend the trial? And has the civil trial of Mr. Lawrence been decided in Chicago yet? I have seen nothing of it in the papers. But I don't read them much.

It is almost dark and I must soon close this letter. I don't know what to do if the work on the road is not resumed this season this being from loved ones all the time is very hard and with such small pay. If I could get as good a situation and be near home or where I could get home Saturday nights I would be satisfied for the present. What think you?

Remember me to kindly to all. Kiss little Anne and Mary for me. I hope they are both well.

Yours Affectionately
Saml 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 29
  • Date: March 22, 1863