1865: Israel Garman to Sarah A. Garman

These three letters were written by Israel Garman (1833-1869) of Turbett, Juniata county, PA, who served in Co. E, 101st Pennsylvania Infantry from 10 March 1865 until 25 June 1865 (3 months, 16 days). He wrote all of the letters to his wife, Sarah.

Israel was the son of John Garman (1792-1855) and Barbara Martin (1792-1858). Israel died of consumption in June 1869.

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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE

Camp Curtin [Harrisburg, Pennsylvania]
March 18, 1865

My Dear Beloved Wife,

I am still in Camp Curtin and I [am] looking with much anxiety for a letter from home. I am getting uneasy. I tried my best to get home but I could not get off yet. If I had known and had kept my citizen clothes, I could [have] got a french furlough. The captain thought after we got organized we might get home yet but if I don’t get home, don’t be uneasy about me. I [am] getting along well. And also it is reported that there is not many men to be drafted and also reported that the drafted men is to have $400. But I had a paper this morning and I seen it had not pass[ed] yet. But I think it may pass off some that effect. But everyone is glad that they have enlisted because it is to be drafted.

I like soldiering very well but if [I] wasn’t subjected to the draft, nobody would[have] got me here and no money would fetch me here. But though I had nothing to content [me] at home, I would like it first rate. I am a little troubled just now but if I get to hear from home, I think it will ease me.

David Patterson, he says he likes it first rate and most all of them from Juniata county. They are cheerful and cutting up. But I wish my time was out. But it gets around and if it is God’s will, I return home safe. My dear beloved wife, trust and believe I will surely be back. I have no fear and it is a good sign for the war not to last long. Gold is coming down so fast and that is a sure sign. Not a year ago, gold was near three dollars where it is now not much over a dollar and a half. Yesterday it was as low as a dollar and fifty-nine cents.

And now, if you write, let me know how Armstrong and Nancy is getting along and how Colly’s eye is and the colt and that foot and how much clover seed that made. And if you know something about the draft and if you please, buy a silk handkerchief and make three little bags out of muslin that hold between a pint and quart. Each one has to carry their own coffee, sugar, salt &c. and get a large envelope and put it in and send it to me.

And also let me know whether you got them clothes and whether Samuel Buck got that money I sent. And also I don’t know how soon we will leave here and neither where we go. We have some choice. Some is in favor to go to North Carolina and some to West Virginia. And also the [Susquehanna] river is very high. It looks like an ocean and they say houses and parts of bridges went down the river.

And I am well yet a present and hope this will find you enjoying the same great pleasure. I will close for this time by asking you to answer as soon as possible. I will write often while I am here. After er get removed from here, I don’t know whether I can. No more.

Your most affectionate husband, — Israel Garman


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO

Morehead City, [North Carolina]
May 29, 1865

My Dear Beloved Wife,

I am sorry that I can’t state to you when I can come home but I think we have to stay a while yet. At least we are now in Morehead City. It is just about a place as Roanoke Island—a desolate, barren, sand bank. There is a railroad run straight from here to New Bern that make it seem a little like home and this town is only a few houses except a great many government buildings and large buildings. There is a great many government mules and horses and other stock.

And further, I will state about our route to here. We left on Friday last and arrived here on Sunday evening. It is one hundred and forty miles [from] Roanoke Island to New Bern. We come from Roanoke Island in a boat what is [called] the Pilot Boy and also a strange thing happen[ed]. There was a Ohio soldier on the boat that had deserted from the army and run, and [then] thought he would return to his regiment—that’s what he said and told some of the soldiers on the boat and he appeared to be a little out of his mind and I suppose troubles. I understand some[one] made him believe that they would shoot him [as a deserter] when [they] come to New Bern. He was sitting and cried in the boat and pulled off his shoes and washed his feet. And when he had washed his feet, he jumped out into the river just as we had entered the Neuse river and drown[ed] himself.

We come one hundred and forty miles on the boat. We came over the Pamlico Sound and forty miles in the Neuse river to New Bern and from New Bern to Morehead City we came on railroad about 40 miles. The whole distance [was] about 180 miles. We are about between 550 or 600 miles from home.

I had commenced to write [this] yesterday evening and they detailed me to load cars. Oh my dear beloved wife and family, I wish I was with you again. If I had known, I would not [have] left you. I have it easy here and not much to do and most of the time nothing. Our ration is scarce but this while we enough to eat and here we can buy bread and by spending a little, I can liver very [well]. Can’t have easier times than I do now but I am not contented. It seems to me I ought to be at home and if I was so, that we would be needed and knowed it was no going home. We would be all satisfied. But I hope to God it not be long and to God we will see each other again.

There is now a report that is said to be a fact that orders here in the Provost Marshal’s Office for us to leave this place and if so, it’s sure enough for home. There is no other place needed. The soldiers are to be mustered except negroes [and] regulars. I hope we may be on the way home. Write again. I still thank God that I am still able to state to you that I still enjoy good health and hope to God I may continue so and hope you will enjoy the same great pleasure. And I hope God will be with you all and protect you.

And also I will give you a description of New Bern. It is quite a pleasant place and large town properly. I think it is about two to three miles long and a large machine shop in it. And the streets all are planted with large shade trees. I do not know what they call them trees. They look like Elm. But the town is old-looking and some houses half rotten stings [?] and Black full of negroes. But all the country I seen I wouldn’t give a Black tobacco for it. It is nearly all water and swamp—all level. There is no hills or mountains.

The whole regiment is here together yet and in general well and most all wishing to go home. They think the war is over and ought to let them after their business and it is about three thousand or more here and we don’t drill anymore. The men that is here is to guard work, load cars, and so on. They are going to ship off all government property to Raleigh, the capitol of this state.

I send a few small seas shells in letter. I try and send a small box of sea shells if I can get some yet. I have some [but] I can’t get to the sea shore. There is a small bay between here and the sea shore also Beaufort is just across the [bay] from here. We see it. It is a nice place.

I will close for this time. I will soon [write] again. Please answer soon as possible again.

Your most affectionate husband, — Israel Garman


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE

New Bern [North Carolina]
June 10, 1865

My Dear Beloved Wife,

I received your welcome letter yesterday morning just after I was done writing a letter. I have not much to write this time. I am sorry to state to you that I was quite sick but I am a great deal better. I had pain in my side and in my shoulder by spells. I had good appetite till yesterday. My appetite wasn’t so good. I had kind spells of pain since before we left Morehead City. It is nothing but a cold.

At Morehead City, me and Patterson slept together and he pulled the blanket from me a couple times and I got quite cold. There is always a very cold dew here in the after part of the night and I think I caught cold but I think I [will] soon be better again. I feel quite good just now. I had to report to the [doctor] this morning. I kept very good health until a few [days] ago. I hope in the name of Almighty God that He will give me my good health again and also hope to God this will find you all well.

I will state little about this country. The people say the land is very poor but it is no wonder they won’t plow their land and nothing put on it. There is one field of corn here that averages over five feet high and some about eight feet high and are some planting corn yet. And a great many don’t plow their corn ground.

About coming home, I can’t tell any more than I told in the last letter. We are laying here and they say we are to be mustered out. I hope to God we will. We are no use here. I will close for this time. Please answer soon again. Direct to Co. E, 101st Regiment P. V., Washington D. C., In care of Capt. C. McClellan

Your most affectionate husband, — Israel Garman

 

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