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
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.
April the 5th 1863
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.
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.
Dear Father and Mother
I don’t know wether I can think of any thing to rite or not as I have rote about all I can think of but it makes no difference wo I rite to. You all get to se what I rite. I am always very glad to hear from any of you.
I can’t think of anything els to rite so I will give you a short discription of the country. Hear it may be interesting to you. Murpheesboro has ben a prety smart town but like all the rest of the Southern towns they are going to ruin. In the place of improving farm 4 to 5 miles and in some places father around merfreesboro the land is level and torable good. Where ever the land is level it is inclined to be rather smampy and for that reason the roads are all graded but in agreat many places the roads are ruined. There has been so much wagoning done. I believe about one half of the timber in this state is sedar. Nearly all the rails are made of sedar. I have saw hundreds of acres of sedar so thick a man could not ride threw it and again I have saw acres in a body that could se nothing but rack. The farmers turn thier attention generaly to the groth of cotten but thier will be but very little of any thing raised this season for the men are nearly all gon both white and black. I shall have to close for the time hoping to remain your loving sun and brother.
Wm Forder to G & C Hubbard and all the rest.
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Be sure to rite whenever you can and tell me all the news
March the 8th, 1863
I again seat myself to rite a few lines to you in answer to your cinde letter that came to hand yesterday. I was very glad to get such a large letter or letters I might say for it was from you and your pap. It and the shirt was mailed the 5 and I got them the 7. The shirt came rite a long with the letter. I got the minitures and the socks all rite but I told you about that in my other letters. I sent 5 dollars in my last letter and and I want you to let me know as soon as you can wether you get it or not. I rote it the 4th of the month.
We are still laying in our old camp yet but I can’t tell how long we will stay hear for. Sunday as it is thier is heavy firing going on West of town and it can’t be over 7 or 8 milds from the way it sounds. There is scouting partys out all the time and they they are running in to prowling bnds of rebs every once in a while. They say they was a party of our men atacked yesterday by 4 regiments of negros but the negros got baddly whiped thank fortune.
This is in the afternoon and every thing is quiet. The firing that was heard this morning has ceased. I have just come from a buring. There is a fare fellow has to take his leap of death every few days by sicness but that is nothing in compareason to the deaths carried by powder and lead. It is aweful to ce how this country is being strewed with graves. You can’t go any place hardly but what you can se graves fore fellows. They are sleeping their long sleep and I am a fraid their is but very few of them prepared to met thier god for this is the awefulest place for wickedness I ever saw. It seams like they think they can’t be a soldier unless they can sware, play cards, drink whiskey allthoe Their are some are captains. Thank god the trepassing part of our croud from our Neighborhood are all dooing as well as can be expected under existing circumstances. I will now tell you that I am well and all the rest of the boys except G Sands and Jim has ben to ce him to today and he is getting some better but he is not able to set up yet. I hope this will finde you all well. Ciss our little girl for me. I will have to quit for this time. Rite home soon and often.
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I hope to remain true and loving husband while life shal last. Wm Forder to SA Forder
February the 26th 1863
Dear Father and Mother and Brothers and Sister
I take the preasant opportunity to rite a few lines to you hoping they will find you all well as I am thankful to say that I am well. I am always very glad to hear from you and it would do me a heap more good to se you all but I am willing to wate with patance for the sake of our beloved country. I know that I could not be satesfide at home while the simpesithers are are cutting up so I don’t want to come home until I can stay for I don’t think I could stand it to part with my dear family and friends again. I hope it will not be long untill this thing will be settled. I wish all the northern simpesithers ware in a fite with a nuff powder under them to blow them to heaven and I had a orders to touch it off. I hope that will have more sense than to make it necessary for an army to pass threw our beloved state for it is awful to se the destruction of property where an army goes. The farming is all destroyed for 2 or 3 milds around Murfreesboro and from hear to Nashville within site of the road there is a great many large farms that thier ain’t hardly a rail left or any timber left to make rails. We are still laying in camp near Murfreesboro and I haven’t any I dear how long we will lay hear but I hope we will stay untill the wether settles. We have had a heep of rain and lately it has rained for 36 ours and it is still raining rite along.
I told Sarah that I would send hir a little money but I haven’t had any chance to sende it yet. If I don’t get a chance to send it before long I will sende it in a letter but I will let you know when I send it and how I sent it. I will have to close for this time.
Hoping to remain your loving Sun and Brother
Wm Forder to GS Hubbard and children
Rote as often as you can. Rite rite rite
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I forgot to say that Jim McMullen is well fat and sasey
February 1th 1863
I take the present opportunity to rite a few lines to you hoping they will finde you and our little girll and all the rest of the friends well as I am thankful to say that I am torable well. I have a bad cold at this time but that doesn’t amount to any thing. We are at time leying in our old camp yet. The wether is warm the most of the time but it was rather rany fide. We haven’t had scarcly any snow this winter. I haven’t saw any ice over 1 inch thick this winter.
I never was at such a loss for something to rite as I am at this time. We have ben leying here so long that every thing has becom old. O Sarah, I do wish that this war would play out so that I could come home so that I could tell to you with my mout what I now have to rite. It seams to me it can’t last mutch longer. Their is bound to be lots of desertions after we get paid but I don’t think I shal ever come to that. I think to much of you and my friends to bring this disgrace. This niger question is a going to make bad work in our army I am afraid.
You wanted to know wether I eat any horse meet or not. I did but I did not know it untill after I had eat it for I had a plenty of crackers to eat so that their was no danger of my starving but their was lots of the boys that was glad to eat horse meat or anything else that they could get. Turn over if you plez
Well Sarah, you have ben wanting to send me something. I will tell you what you may send me. That is a checked shirt and if it comes all rite you may send me a nother so that I will have 2. But don’t try to send but 1 at a time. Now I must close. Try and be a good girl and don’t forget to pray for me that I may prove faith to you and our god out that it ma not be long untill I should be able to return to you. Yours truly
Wm Forder to his loving wife Sarah Forder.
Note: The use of the word “niger” is quite offensive in modern vernacular, however back in 1863 this was the polite term to describe an individual of African decent. To remain true to the transcriptions, I am required to leave the text exactly as written.
January the 30th 1863
Dear Wife and Friends
I take the preasant opportunity to rite a few lines to you in answer to your cinde letters that came to hande yesterday. I was glad to hear from you and to hear that you and our little girl is all and all the rest of the friends ware well. It came threw in a hurry. It was mailed on the 24th and I got it on the 29th. I had thought I would not rite for a day or to but as you sent the material for a letter, I thought I would fill it out while I had a chance for the chat is that we are going to leave hear before long but I don’t know whare we will go to.
The wether had ben a little cold for a few days but it is clear and pleasant to day. I received 2 letters this morning. 1 from Uncle Billey and Albert and one from Ira Hiatt. Uncle Billey said they was all well and that times was prety good. He said money was plenty and Ira said his paw had made a greate trade. He has trade old lock for a 6 shooter and a shot gun. That looks war like don’t it but I ken he ain’t dangerous. I rote to him the other day and told him I wanted him to pay my sate with the money he got for that hay and told him the reason I had not rote to him before was that I did not feald very well toward him since I know of that mistreatment of riting he got up for you to sign. I also told him I intended for him to pay himself out of the corn for his trubble but I thought I had try rather deep. I expect he will rare up behind but I don’t care of he does.
I will now say that I am well and all the rest of the boys. Jim Mc got a letter from home this morning and he got a pare of socks but he don’t know who sent them tho postage on them was 9 cents. I also got a letter from Melaine this morning. She said she had got a letter from you. You had aught to se what she said about me to hear hir tell it I am one of the best men in the world wich is a grand mistake. I only wish I was as good as I should be for I know that I am a pore unworthy crecher of the dust.
I will now close by saying I want you to rite as often as you can. I know it is a hard trile for you for you have nothing to draw your attention like I have but I hope the war will soon be over so that we can all come home. So fare well for this time. From your loving husband
William Forder to his loving wife Sarah Forder
Dear Father and Mother and Brothers and Sisters,
I will name your names if I can’t doo any meare just to let you know that I haven’t forgotten you. I often think of you and hope it will not belong untill I can come home and have a good time with you. Give my respects to all the friends and except the same from your loving sun and brother
Wm Forder to G & C Hubbard
Don’t forget to rite so fare well. Rite rite rite
Note: Ira Hiatt was the son of Silas Hiatt, born 1850, died 1915.
Albert undoubtedly refers to his brother, Albert Forder. He was born in 1842 and enlisted in Company D, Indiana 38th Infantry on September 18th, 1861 at the age of 18. He died of Typhoid Fever on April 1, 1862.
At this time we are unsure as to who Uncle Billy or Melaine are.
After this battle the battery remained in the vicinity of Murfreesboro until the forward movement against Tullahoma was commenced.
December 21st Sunday Evening.
All is well but Betts. He is very sick yet he has the fever.
Dear Father and Mother,
I embrace the preasant opportunity to rite a few lines to you hoping they will finde you all well and doing well as I am thankful to say that I am well and Jim is able for duty again. I received your and Sarah’s letter day before yesterday. I am always very glad to her from any of you. We are still laying in our old camp yet and I think we will still lay hear untill the river rises. It looks a good deal like rain this eavning. We haven’t had any very cold wether yet. The ground has ben froze a little for some time but not over 7 1/2 inches at any time. We have lost a great many men at the Fredricksburg fite. I am a fraid it is a bad go on us but you know as mutch about that as I do. It seams that I have riten every thing I can think of at this time as you will se what I have riten to Sarah. I hope it will not be long untill I will be able to return home and then we will talk our trubbls and triles over. Rite soon and often.
I hope to remain your loving son-in-law,
Wm Forder to G and C Hubbard
Note: Francis M. Betts of Darlington mustered in on September 3, 1862 and was discharged on an unknown date in 1863.