Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Jennie Reed, January 4, 1864

In this letter from January 4, 1864, Samuel Reed writes to his wife explaining the reasons he was unable to return home to Joliet, Illinois for Christmas as he had expected. He describes his work clearing and repairing sections of track to both the west and east of Burlington, Iowa after a train had derailed on each section, one as a result of a bridge having been burned.

Dearest Jennie

I know you have looked long and anxiously for me. Now for the reasons why I have not been home. About the middle of the month I made all my arrangements to be at home Christmas Eve but unfortunately made a mistake of one week in my calculations and to my surprise spent Christmas out in the county coming in Christmas night in time to go to bed at eleven o'clock at twelve I was notified that a bridge about 60 miles west had been burned and the westward bound train had gome [sic] down the break with thirteen cars in the ditch. I immediately started for the wreck and worked with all the men available until Tuesday P.M. and just as the last spikes were being driven a mesenger [sic] came with news that another train was off the track ten miles east. I started at once and with great exertion and much suffering on act of the Jan 4 /64 cold & storm. Succeeded in clearing & repairing the track Thursday noon. At three P.M. started for Burlington and the first night only made twenty five miles on act of the snow drifts. All of next day in the snow without much progress and about 12 o'clock Friday night reached Burlington worn and weary but not frozen as many were. Saturday and Sunday I remained in my room resting from and recuperating from the very hard labor since Christmas night. The road is now clear and trains running regular west but no prospect of the eastern road being opened for some days yet. As soon as I can with safty [sic] start I shall leave for home but I don't like to go with the certainty of being caught in the snow and detained on the road. I may go by way of Davenport and call on Mr. Henry.

I will come as soon as posable [sic] .

Love to all.
Saml B. Reed

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Jennie Reed
  • Extent: 2 pages
  • Citation: Yale University Library, Manuscripts and Archives, Samuel Reed Family Papers, Box 2, Folder 31
  • Date: January 4, 1864