Methodist Minister Writes Daughter During the Civil War

A captain in the Union Army, the minister tells of long hours and little news of the fighting during the Civil War.

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This letter, written during the Civil War, is from a fourth cousin of mine who was a Methodist minister, and was made a captain in the Union Army. He was later killed in action.

Camp Near Lexington, Kentucky  

Nov. 6, 1862 

Dear Daughter, 

I have been thinking for some time about answering your letter. It was received and contents noted in due time. 

I am in pretty good health. My throat is a little sore from cold and talking so much. 

We will drill five hours each day, Sunday excepted, spend one hour at guard mounting and one hour at Dress or evening Parade so you see that I put in Seven hours at work. One hour is spent in eating breakfast, dinner and supper, reports take up another hour, making in all on the part of the officers nine hours per day. But so little time is given to spend in idleness even if we were disposed to do so. Today there are three Captains and one Lieutenant put under arrest and their swords taken away from them. Capts. Lapham, Williams and Hays. I do not remember the Lieut. They were arrested for disobeying a general order which requires all commissioned officers to report themselves in person at the Regimental Headquarters every morning at five and a half o'clock. Lieut. Bridgewater was placed under Guard for four hours for suffering one man to break ranks while marching. I believe that nearly every officer of the Regiment has been, or should be, arrested. 

So far I have gotten along without much difficulty. We have a pretty jolly set of men down here, about thirty thousand in all, I believe. There is little of interest in our midst. 

I believe so far as I can learn that there is not fighting going on, all though of this you know better than I. We get but little news out here, sometimes we don't see a paper for ten days, and sometimes we see them every day. I believe on the whole we are gaining ground all the time. Our Armies seem to be gradually moving forward toward the enemy and the enemy retreating the meanwhile. If you ask when this war will cease and harmony prevail again, I answer when the Nation repents in dust and ashes, then the thing will cease, and not until then. 

My prayer is that the day may hasten when all will fall down and earnestly repent of all their sins individually and Nationally, but as to when the Nation will see the folly of their course, I cannot say. But one thing is certain, I can see no other way of safety before me by which I can gain a home in Heaven, and therefore I feel a holy resolve to travel in that way. The best way and easiest to get along through this world is the path of duty, and as an intelligent man I want to go in that way. Daughter, you must be religious and make your way to Heaven. 

Old Father Hymer on the Rushville circuit is dead and gone to Heaven. 

Just now I learn that the Rebels have taken Nashville, Tennessee.  

As Ever, (Father's Name) 

Mrs. B.B. Ekstrum
Kansas City, Missouri

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.