Letter Written During the Civil War Heavy With Longing

Union soldier writes to his wife in West Liberty, Iowa, on a quiet day during the Civil War.

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The following is from one of many letters written by Matthia Wilson, a Union soldier during the Civil War, to his wife, Ruth Mosher Wilson, in West Liberty, Iowa.

Camp Near Black River Oct. 4, 1863 

My dear wife, 

This is a beautiful Sabbath day and I thought I would spend part of it writing to thee. I received thy letter of the eighteenth last evening. I think one of thy letters has been miscarried. The last one that I received before last evening was written on the sixth. That was a long time to me without hearing from thee, my own loving companion. 

How heavily the time passes when we are expecting to get a letter from the loved one and are disappointed. Days appear almost as long as weeks did when we were living so happily together. I often think of those days and wonder if we will live to see as happy days again. 

I expect we will have to move again soon. I expect we will be moving back toward Vicksburg. The guerrillas are getting bold. They shot a Lieutenant of our Division last Thursday night while on picket, and Joseph Alger came very near being taken prisoner yesterday. He was about one mile and a half from camp and four Rebels came very near catching him. 

I am enjoying pretty good health now. I was very glad to hear that thee and our little ones was well. Please excuse this short letter as I have a piece of poetry that I want to copy and send to thee that I think is much better than anything I could write. 

I am perfectly satisfied with the way thee is managing our affairs. I am very near out of pocket handkerchiefs. 

As ever, Thy loving husband Matt Wilson 

Lena Ruth Hampton
Palisade, Colorado



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.