May 18, 1863

May the 18th 63

Dear Sarah,

I take the present opportunity to rite a few lines to you hoping they will finde you and Leisa and all the rest of the friends well as I am happy to day that I am well and dooing the best I can. The rest of the boys are all well but Israel Moore. He has the cronic direa. The doctor says he would send him to the Hospitalle but he is afraid he would die if he was to but I am in hope he will get well in a few days.

We are still laying in camp near Murpheesboro. The days are really warm and the nites rather cold. I received your cinde letter last Saturday. I can’t se how it is that our letters are so long going to you when yours come to me in 2 days. You said you wished I could se our sweet little girl. I can assure you thier is nothing that would give mee more pleasure that to see you and hir. I often se you both in my dreams and o how happy I feald. But when I awake and finde myself quite up in my day house, I wish it wasn’t mee but I hope and pray that the time is not far distant when this wicked rebellion shall be put down. You wanted to know what I thought about the war closing I can’t tell much about it some times I think it will be over in a short time and there again I can’t se the stopping place but their will be an end to it some time sooner or later that surtain The soldier ar as a general thing in good spirits and are determined to put down this rebellion or die in the attempt.

We have ben in the survus over 8 months but it doesn’t seam as tho it had ben moore than half that long to me but not so with you. I know for you have nothing to attract your attention while on the other hand we have some thing to draw our attention. But I shall have to close for this time still hoping to remain your loving Husband and father

Wm Foprder to Sarah and Melisa Forder
Rite soon and often.

Note: Israel E Moore mustered in on September 13, 1862 and died in Murpheesboro on July 6, 1863. It appears that Mr. Moore did not recover.

May 11, 1863

May the 11th 63

This is Monday morning. I thought I had rote anuf this time but I feald so good over the good news that I must tell you. The news reached hear last nite a bout 7 o’clock that we had Richmond and of all the cheering and yelling I ever heard it took place at that time. It went around the lines like the roling waves of the see. It made very loyal hart bound with joy. The word was braut to the preacher while he was preaching last nite. He stoped short and says the stars and stripes are waving over Richmond and you better believe their went forth to the skies and meity chear.

We all feald as thoe the war can’t last mutch longer. My prayer to God is that the time has come that this war shall close. This is a beautful morning every thing looks chearing to the to the loyal.

I must close for this time. I want you to rite a great big long letter. Yours forever

Wm Forder
G Hubbard

Note: This bit of news is somewhat surprising and may be a false or incorrect report to the men. According to all historical accounts I can find, the Confederate Capital of Richmond was not taken by the Union Army (even on a temporary basis) until 1865. During this general period of time, the only happenings of note within the city is an event referred to as the “Richmond Bread Riot”. On April 3, 1863 the women of Richmond marched on Governor Letcher’s office to demand action on the massive overcrowding, inflation and other issues plaguing the city.  They were turned away and this resulted in a full two days of rioting throughout the city.

A perceived victory in Richmond could have been confused with the capture of Fredricksburg during the Second Battle of Fredericksburg, also in Virginia, which ultimately would be part of the bigger yet doomed Chancellorsville Campaign.

May 10, 1863

May the 10th 1863

Dear Father and Mother and Sisters and Brothers

I take the present opportunity to rite a few lines to you hoping they will finde you all well as I am thankful to say that I am enjoying the best of health. The boys are all well and in fine spirits. The health was never better than it is at this and the boys are all in fine spirits. Alto the news are rather discuriging from Hookers arma at this time but I am in hopes they will come out all rite yet. I think if they are successful the war can’t last meutch longer at the least I hope not. We are still laying in camp near Murpheesboro but their is no telling how long we will stay hear if we should go out on a scout and you shouldent hear from me for a week or 2. You must not be uneasy about us for I would rather be out scouting around than laying hear in camp. Some think because a man is in the arma he is as good as dead but I don’t think so. I feald just as safe heare as I would at home and if I had nobody but my self to care for I should be very well contented. But as it is I hope it will not be long untill I can return to those I love.

I am going to send Siles letter. I don’t want you to get any ways excited about it. Just consider the source and let it rest untill I get back and I think I can straten things out a little. It seams to rather stick the old fellow that I thanked you for what you had done and didn’t thank him. I generally try to thank thoes whome thanks are due. If I hadn’t thought you deserved thanking I shouldn’t have do so but what you done the very best you could for it was to your intrust to do so but let the old jent slide. He will get his pay some of thoes days. I will have to close for this time. Hopeing to remain your loving and tru friend and suninlaw

Wm Forder to G & C Hubbard and Children and friends

Note: “Hooker’s Arma” refers to Major General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Hooker who at this time had command of the Army of the Potomac. He was best known for a major defeat at Chancellorsville which was a battle fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863 which is likely the news that William found discouraging. May 3red of that battle was considered the second bloodiest day of the civil war.

May 2, 1863

May the 2th 1863

Dear father and mother Sisters and Brothers

I take the preasent opportunity to rite you a few lines to in answer to your cind letter that I received day before yesterday. I was very glad to hear from you and to hear that you was all well and doing well and I hope when this comes to hand it will find you still enjoying that great blessing as I am happy to say that I am enjoying the very best of health at this time and the health is very good in the arma at this time and the arma is in good spirits. A great many think the war can’t last mutch longer but it is hard telling when or whare it will stop but I can assure you of one thing the soliders as a general thime are willing to fight untill this rebellion is put down. If it takes 10 years, all that appears to bother them is the copperheads at home but I don’t think their is mutch danger of thier ammounting to mutch. You speak of the hard times thier and the high prices. I know it is very bad but it is nothing in comparison to what the people have to suffer down hear for when the rebs go to a union mans house they take every thing he has and when our men go to a rebs house they take everything he has and when our men got to a rebs house they take everything he has, so you se it is freely hard when the country is striped of every thing but I think that is the best way to do is to starve them out.

Well I will close for this time hoping to remain your loving suninlaw while life that last.

Wm Forder to G & C Hubbard

Well Julia it seams that you have ben sick but I hope you will be well when this comes to hand. You must chear up and not go to getting sick. Jim is fat and sasey and the rest of the boys are all well. It ma be that you and Sarah will not hear from us again very soon for they talk of going out on a 30 days scout. So if you don’t hear from us you will know what is the reason so good by for this time

Yours truly Wm Forder to Julia Hubbard

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I want all of you to rite as often as you can.

May 1, 1863

May the 1th 1863

Dear Sarah,

Threw the goodness of god I am purmitted to rite you a nother letter witch I hope will finde you and all the rest of the friends well as I am thankful to say that I am enjoying as good health at this time as I have for several years. I know that you will think their is some thing to matter that I didn’t riter last weeak. I will now tell you the reasons. I told you in my last letter that we ware going out on a 6 days scout but as it happened it tured out to be a 10 days scout. We started out on the 20 and got back on the 30. We went out a bout 40 milds. We had a good time. We first went to MacMinville and took 200 prisners and burned the town and then went Leiberty and took a few more prisners and burnt a part of the town. We went from their to Alicande got some more prisionrs. Thier our calvra and mounted infantry went to Lebinon.
I haven’t heard what they done thier but there was between 3 and 4 hundred prisners braut in and where there was 50 familys mooved in with us, I think, and mabee more that many any how.
Well anuf of that you wanted to know how I liked my shirts. I like them first rate. I could have sold them for 3 dollars a peace but I would not take twice befor them for they are so much better than the wolen shirts. I have got everything you have sent me all rite. I got a letter from Jsade Booher yesterday. He wants to know if I will sell queen. He thinks it would be for the best. He thinks the money on in trust will be better than the mare. I am going to tell him to set hir and loan the money and send you the note for I know she will be a bother to him. I will send Sils last letter so you can se what he has to say. I rote to him to send me the note and

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You neednt to let Sile know that I sent all his letters to you.

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If I get time I will rite to your pah tomorrow tell all the friends to rite

Notes: The letter appears to be incomplete and ends here.  With regards to the raids, it’s worth noting that during the Civil War, it was common for the soldiers, after raiding a small town that the unit did not have the man power to hold, to evacuate the residents and burn the property after stripping it of anything useful. This way, the enemy would not be able to avail themselves of anything useful as well.

April 19, 1863

April the 19th 1863

Dear Sarah,

It is with great pleasure that I seat my self this lovely sabath day to rite a few lines to you in answer to your very cinde letter that I received a few minits a go. It was rote on the 15th. I was very glad to hear that you ware all well. I am well at this time and so are the rest of the boys and I hope when this comes to hand it may finde you enjoying the same great blessing. You did not say weather you had got the money I sent or not. We got paid agan some 3 weeks ago and I put a 10 dollar bill in a letter for you at the first of weak before last and the first of last weak I put 2 5 dollar bills in a nother letter which would make 20 dollars that I haven’t heard from yet. I have a little more to send but I will wait until I rite again before I send it. We are to start out in the morning on a 6 days scout so that it will be Saturday evening before we return but I would rather beout a scouting around than laying in camp for we have ben laying hear to long that I am bored of the place. We have had a nice time lately. The weather has ben nice and we have a plenty to eat and not much to doo.
I believe I will put a cupple of dollars in this letter and risk it. I want you to be sur to let me know wheather you get the money or not. You wanted to know if we got any eggs hear. The suthars bring them hear and sell them for 5 cents a piece or 60 cents a dozen. I shall have to close for this time hoping to remain your loving husband while life that last.
Wm. Forder to SA Forder and all the friends. Rite as often as you can.

The upside down passages were odd at first but on examination, they flow next to each other from page one to 4 to make a coherent message. Strung together, with a “-” where the line moved from page 1 to four, the message ultimately reads:

I would like to rite – to to your pah but I
haven’t time. Now tell – him I will rite to him the
next time. Tell all – the friends to write

April 14, 1863

Tuesday April the 14th 63

Dear Sarah,

I seat my self this morning to rite a few lines to you hoping they will finde you and our little girl and all the rest of the friends well as I am thankful to say that I am well at this time and so is the rest of the boys. I rote you a letter last Saturday and told you that we expected to go out on a scout but but we didn’t go. I told you in that if we didn’t go I would rite again the first of this weeak and you know I always try to fulfill my promises. I put a finger ring in my last letter for you that I made out of a shell that I got out of the Cumberlain River last fall. I don’t know wheather you will get it or not but I thought I would risk it. You must let mee know wether you get it or not.
I started 10 dollars in a letter to you the first of last week and I am a going to put 10 in this one. You must let me know as soon as you can weather you get it all rite or not.
It seams that I can’t think of any thing to rite this morning but I think if I was at home this morning with you I could talk a little. I guess I will close for this time and rite a little to Emily. So good by for this hoping to remian your loving husband
Wm Forder to S.A. Forder and friends rite soon.

Well Emily you said some time ago if I did not hury and come home you would be married befor I got their. Now I think you had better wait untill the soldiers get back because I am prety surtain you would rather have a solider than a coward. But I will have to close so good by rite and tell me all about it and and let me know who is to be my brother-in-law be shure to rite

Wm Froder to Emily P Hubbard

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William Forder Emily Hubbard

April 11, 1863

April the 11th 63

Dear Sarah,

I seat myself this after noon to rite a few lines to you in answer to your cinde letter of the 5th wich came to hand day before yester day. I was very glad to hear that you ware all well and I hope thoes few lines ma finde you still enjoying that great blessing as I am happy to say that I am enjoying good health at this time. We are still in our old camp yet. Their is a romer a in camp that we are going out on a scout to morrow and if we do go we mea begon several days. So I thought I had better rite to day so that you would be sure to get a letter next weeak. But if we don’t go I will rite again the first of the weeak.
It cinder bores mee the way Sil Hiatt is a dooing but I have trust that it is best to take things coolly. So I seat down yesterday and rote him a torable deasant letter and asked him to send me an account of the settlement before him and {Illegible} and I told him after he had sent the account and saw how they stood if there was any thing coming to him I would send it to him or have it sent for I wanted that note and the note I must have.
Now this is acting the hipacrit for mee to rite him a friendly letter and it goes against the grit to do so but you know as well as I do it is no use trying to force him to do any thing. So I think the best way is to be as easy as possible untill we get clear of him.
I rote Issac Booher a letter last March. I forgot to say that his letter was in yours that I got day before yesterday. It hasn’t rained any hear for over a weaks. It is getting very dirty. I should have to close for this time. Hoping to remain your loving husband
Wm Forder
Ciss our little girl for me. Rite as often as you can

 

Notes:  “Tand Sudisil” would be the closest literal transcription of two words that appear in the text in the section marked illegible.  I have no idea what the actual text was, though the writing was mostly clear.  When attempting to transcribe these two words, both Alysia and I even went as far as tracing over the words in an attempt to ferret out the actual text but the technique did not work in this case.  I speculate that there is a name indicated here.

A family history on the Booher family indicates that a Jacob Booher settled in Darlington, Indiana and had a younger brother named Issac who lived in Virginia.  It’s likely that William met him through Jacob.  

April 5, 1863

April the 5th 1863

Dear Sarah,

I seat myself this beautiful Sabbath evening to rite a few lines to you in answer to your very cinde letter that came to hand to day witch was dated April the 2th . I was glad to hear that you ware all well and I hope when thoes few lines come to hand they may finde you and all the rest of the folks still enjoying that greatest of blessings as I am very thankful to say that I am enjoying as good helth at this time as I have since I came in the searvice. The weather has been quite cold for last 5 days but to day the sun is shining as clear and was as thoe it were May. When I say it has ben cold I don’t mean it has ben freezing for it hasn’t froze any for some time. We are still leying whar we ware when I last rote in side the breast works and I haven’t any idear how long we will stay hear.

I will now tell you that we have got pay again for 2 months witch was 26 doll. I am going to put 10 dollars in this letter for you and when I hear from it I will send some more. You said you did not get are a letter last week. I rite a letter to you every week and I want you to do the same. You said Pap wanted mee to se Jim as he rote he ws sick. He was hear to day and one of my old schoomates Heimel Sulivan.

Jim said he hadn’t ben very well for some time but he is well now.

O Sarah. How hapy I should be if I could be at home this evening to enjoy the sweet society of my dear little family and friends and I trust it will not be long untill I can enjoy that great pleasure. I shal have to close for this time hoping to remain your loving Husband.

Wm Forder to his loving wife SA Forder and all the friends.

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Be sure to rite often.

The Copperhead Movement

In up coming letters, you will start to hear William discuss the local “Copperheads”  The Copperheads or “Peace Democrats” were northern sympathizers to the confederates.  They were defined by being anti-war, pro-slavery, and very vocal about their stance.  Historians note that many Copperheads focused on political activities such as organizing anti-war political rallies, opposing pro-war and abolitionist candidates, and fighting against the draft.  Some Copperheads attempted to talk Union soldiers into deserting.  There were also indications that some Copperheads had been planning to assist with the escape of Confederate prisoners and sometimes served as paid informants to Confederate agents.  A series of trials in 1864 accused prominent Copperheads of treason.

The majority of Copperheads were in the southern Midwest in southern Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana which is likely why they feature so frequently in letters between William and his family in Darlington, Indiana.  Demographically, members of the Copperhead movement consisted of former Southerners who had moved north of the Ohio River, the poor, and merchants whose businesses were suffering due to loss of business down south.  The group also consisted of many German and Irish Catholics from mill town and mining communities.

There remains a fair amount of debate among historians on the effect of the Copperhead movement on the war as well as the extent of their loyalty to the Union and the depth of their racist views.