“And now I am going to tell you what I think about soldiering”

Sheldon-No Time for ProofreadingFrom my ancestor, Sheldon S. Appleby—the letter that began my hunt earlier this week for information about a Civil War ancestor I didn’t know I had.

Suffolk, V.A.
Feb. 6th 1863

Dear Father and Mother,

I take pen in hand to write you a few lines and let you know that I am well. I received yours of the 22 Jan. and was very sorry to hear tha Father was so sick and I hope you will soon recover. it must be very bad and there is not one to do the chores or any thing. I wish that I was there to help you but that can not be yet awhile. I tell you I am geting to be a prety solid sort of a boy and weigh 185 evry day of the week and could do a heap of work if I had a chance. And now I am going to tell you what I think about soldiering. That is my present situation. I am here in Verginia and enoug to eat and enoug to sleep on and enoug to wear and payday we had enough to drink. We have good enoug quarters for any body and just enough to do to keep us from Prefumry [?]. We have plenty of time to tell stories, sing songs, dance blackyard scufle, play cards and lofer round and smoke, chew, and read. Well I can do all this pretty midling well and they all call me a wild felow. I talk the most of the time and make what fun I can. I don’t have to worke and enjoy my self prety well but then it seems to me tossing away a mans existence to no purpose. The time pases away one day with another and yet I do not acomplish any thing. The nearer a man is to a fool the beter he can enjoy soldiering and I am getting to enjoying it pretty well but if I did not know enough to read or write I think I could enjoy it beter. But I have said enough in this line and so I will stop. Wallace and me have bin out to a house and eat our supers and just returned and rains out dores and a very dreary night. There is some snow on the ground. I had a little sutler bill to pay that I did not expect to have to pay. It was $17 and so I could not send quite so much home. I send you $20.00 dolar bill in a leter some time a go and have expressed $40.00 to you directed to Friendship. I have not got the receipt but you can get it without it. I sent it by Lieut. [J.S.] Hunt and have not got the receipt yet. I will send it when I get it. I have sent $60 in all and you can hire somebody to work for you with it. I donot want you to lay the money up for me but ouse it to your own advantage and as you think best.

Good night
S.S. Appleby

I haint got time to read this over and you must excuse the mistakes as usual.

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6 Responses to “And now I am going to tell you what I think about soldiering”

  1. David Corbett says:

    Interesting soldier opinion.

  2. Dave Powell says:

    I love stuff like this. Nice hint of speech patterns in his writing. What do you suppose he meant by “just enough to do to keep us from Prefumry”?

    • I don’t know, to be honest. It’s the one word in the entire letter I couldn’t puzzle out. I thought it might be a misspelled version of “infirmary,” but the first letter doesn’t match his “I’s”. I’ll send you a photo of the word in case you have an epiphanies.

  3. Wow. Love the honesty in the letter. I have to wonder what his mother thought when she read about his “wild fellow” reputation?

  4. Rob Wilson says:

    What a gift to you to receive this letter, as you discover you have a Civil War ancestor AND receive a photo of he and his family after the war. I hope you can do some more research and uncover the photocopy’s source of origin… Some distant relative maybe? The letter offers great insight into 19th Century speech and some of the realities of the boredom of winter camp.

    Good luck in your research!

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