[Civil War]. Two Union Soldiers' Letters. Two war-dated le...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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Description[Civil War]. Two Union Soldiers' Letters. Two war-dated letters from two Union soldiers, Eugene B. Payne and John E. Cates. The first letter is a Eugene B. Payne Autograph Letter Signed. Four pages of a bifolium, 4.75" x 8", "Springfield Barracks"; April 23, 1861. Written to his future wife, Adelia Wright, the letter details Payne's enlistment and his fears of being crippled for life and the effect it would have on their relationship. It reads, in part:
"Love Dear Love bear up – be strong & trust in God that we shall surely meet again. I have volunteered. I am now a United States soldier. Oh I could not resister Dear Delia. My country called. The Gov of our state issued his proclamation – the excitement grew more & more intense...I got up a company & put them under two Zouaves in Chicago, two of the best drilled men in the United States. We have an election this afternoon I will have the unanimous vote of the whole company for 2nd Lieutenant...I have enlisted for only three months – Delia. I shall return to you to love you ten times the more (I cant see how that is possible)...I will return De Dearest De, & when I do, we shall be married, I feel it, but if De I should return a cripple, a poor pitiful cripple, I say to you, I will not compel you to marry me but twould break my heart Dearest to release you – to give you up even then...I know you would not – I have more confidence in your strong womanly loving heart ever to dream of such a thing you have said you love me better than your own life. I believe you De. But my dear girl I have sworn one thing, if I do return a cripple it shall never be by a shot in the back. I shall never dare meet you as a returned coward..." The Waukegan Zouaves that Payne helped assemble ultimately got disbanded after one month, with many of the men reenlisting for three years to form Company C of the 37th Illinois. Payne was elected Captain and went on to fight at the battles of Pea Ridge, Prairie Grove, and the Siege of Vicksburg. In 1865 he was brevetted Brigadier General. He married Adelia in 1862 and the couple had three children.
The second letter is a John E. Cates Autograph Letter Signed. Four pages of a bifolium, 7" x 9", Bridgeport, Tennessee; December 5, 1863. Written to a Miss Elizabeth Hamlett, regarding the battle of Chattanooga. The letter has multiple spelling and grammatical errors throughout and reads in part:
"...I have not saw any of the boys in the co for over a month. I left Chattanooga the second day of the fight, and have not bin able to obtain any thing definet from the regt or go since the fight. I heard however that their was but five or six killed in the regt but few wounded. Lieutenant Liter of our co I understand was wounded and gon home. I am verry ancious to hear from the boys...We have bin verry scant of rations all the time and sometimes out intierly for two and three days at a time. I have not had anything for three days till this evening except coffee only what I could beg...I was in sight of the fight nearly two days and one knight. I could see them plain the knight they fought on lookout mountain, but I have no doubt but you have saw an account of all the partikular maneuvering so I will just say that I am glad that we so successfully win the day. I will inform you however that I had the sadisfaction of seeing a good many of the prisoners and talking with some of them. I saw in one squad 2700 and the nest day four hundred making 3,300 that drawed rations at Kelleys Ferry in two days. Some of them was verry sassy and others verry friendly and sociable and fool of jokes. One said to me that if we wanted to kill old Jeffs men just give me all they could eat and they would kill themselves..."
Condition: Both letters have mail folds with light edge and fold toning. There is minor foxing to both, more so on the December 5, 1863 letter. Both very legible.
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