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Letters from the front

Sunday, May 03, 1998

Pvt. Archibald Rowand's letters back home weren't always about war and danger. Often, they dealt with the everyday matters of life. Here are some excerpts:

Weston, W.Va., Sept. 25, 1862

You did not tell me the name of my sister. Haven't you named it yet? Don't give it any old granny of a name; either call it Mary, Emma or Laura, as all three will sound pretty. (They named his sister Kate.)

New Creek, W.Va., Nov. 23, 1862

I have had hopes all along of spending Christmas at home, but have given up in despair; as Old Abe has said nothing about giving furloughs.

Frank and Arthur: Dear Brothers: It has been some time since I have seen you. I write you a few lines to know how you are getting along. Are you going to school regular? I hope so. You must never fight anymore, as I will do all the fighting for the family. You must write to me, as I would like to hear from you. I sign myself to you all as, Archie.

Winchester, Va., Jan. 12, 1863

Winchester must have been a very pretty place before the war. It has a market house that would shame Pittsburg or Allegheny and town clock; there is some splendid residences here; nearly all of the people are Secesh [meaning secessionist]. At Gen. Milroy's headquarters, there is a U.S. flag hung out, where the pretty Secesh ladies would come along the street and see the flag, they would turn up their pretty noses and cross the street going up on the other side. They would not walk under the Yankee rag. The Genl., hearing of it, had one put up on the other side just opposite so the pretty dears will have to go around the square or walk under the Yankee rag; neither seems very pleasant to them.

Winchester, Va., June 3, 1863

I received a letter from my friend from Wheeling today, telling me "my Mollie" was to be married in two or three weeks, and to a preacher, at that. "Bully for Mollie."

Finley Hospital, Washington City, D.C., Oct. 15, 1863

I was sent here being unable for duty, much against my own will. I have a slight attack of fever noways dangerous, as I am able to set up. I have a large carbuncle on the inner part of my thigh. I rode for two days with it in great agony. I thought I could stand the pain, but soon found out it was too much for me.

I have just had my dinner consisting of Tea, Chicken soup, one potato, slice of ham, two slices of toast, bread one inch thick, my favorite thickness, so you see I have plenty to eat.

I would like very much if you would send me one pair of suspenders, 2 pocket handkerchiefs by return mail if possible; if you have any spare change put some in one of the pocket handkerchiefs and don't tell anybody.

Martinsburg, W.Va., Nov. 15, 1864

Mother, what ever become of Nancy Reed and the Georges? I wrote to Nancy so often and never got any answer, that I have been thinking that she has ceased to exist. Mother, I wish you would send me some underclothes; I want two woolen shirts, like the ones you made me before; two pairs of thick woolen socks and two cotton.

I have not been paid off yet. I am in hopes of receiving my pay in the next ten days; when I will send you some of the extract of Abraham.

P.S. I have just given a darky one dollar for a tub half full of warm water. I am going to have a bath. I am a little afraid of taking cold, as it has been some time since I had one. I have some idea of bringing a horse home with me, ask Father if I can get a good price for one in Pittsburg.

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