Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Dear Husband" - Civil War Letter from Cynthia F. Stewart to her Husband James E. Stewart

Envelope, postmarked Catlettsburg, April 14 (1862) 
Cynthia F. Stewart, daughter of Lewis Mayo, one of the leading men in the Big Sandy Valley at the time, wrote the following letter to her husband James E. Stewart while he was a prisoner of war at Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio. He was arrested at his home in Johnson County, KY, on January 24, 1862, by Col. James A. Garfield and charged with "giving aid and succor to rebels."
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Catlettsburg Ky Apr. 10th/62

Mr James E Stewart.
Dear husband from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh on last evening I received three letters from you one of the third one the fourth and one of the fifth from which I learn that you are out of prison on parole and is now in Columbus well I am truly glad to hear that but I feel as though before you get this that you will be back in prison again but hope for the better I dont (sic) see why it is that they wont (sic) let you come to Catlettsburg as Gen. Garfield was willing for your parole to extend to this place why is it that they want to keep you I cannot tell for you havent (sic) done any thing (sic) and you being released would not injury (sic) the Government any had I not got those letters yesterday evening from you I should now of been

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on my way to of seen you had everything ready to start on the Boston this morning but seeing that you opposed me in coming I declined the idea now if you want me to come say so for I want to see you and if you cant (sic) come to see me and want me to see you I will come although it would be an undertaking for me to go with my babe as it is a weakly little thing. You asked me about those notes whether or not I had collected on any on them or not no I have not tell me if sheriff Ward dont (sic) owe you some I thought that he was one of the men that you told me owed you and I asked him about it and he said that he did not owe you a cent and so it is we cant (sic) collect anything but if you are permitted to stay out of prison you shall not lack for money for you shall have that when what you have given out and so you must

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write me often and tell me all about it Mr Stewart write to Mr George Brown he is a particular friend of yours he has worked manfully in your behalf he says you shall not want for anything that he can do he lives in this place. Short lives here. Tell me if you let Robertson & Spears have money to come home on. Rice has not got home yet looked for him last evening on the Boston but did not come hope he will be here soon still hope I will hear something more favorably towards your release. Imagine how I felt when I heared that your parole did not extend to this place for I really had a hope that you would be released and would be on the Boston last evening but such is life I have to submit Jimmie is well he is a very pleasant babe wish you could see him I am shure (sic) you would love him he is all that keeps me alive

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on this earth I some time (sic) feel like that I would be glad to die but then I look at our dear little boy and think what would become of him if you and I both should be taken from him if either has to be I hope it will be me not you but I must stop I fear you have become wearied already hope you will write quite often this is from one that loves you above all things on earth who builds all of her hope on you and with out (sic) which will fall all no more farewell farewell

Cynthia F. Stewart

Research Notes
- Cynthia F. Stewart wrote the letter from Catlettsburg, possibly during a visit to Stewart's parents who were living in town.
- Boston refers to the steamboat "Boston" which was making regular trips between Catlettsburg and Cincinnati.
- Jimmie was Cynthia and James E. Stewart's son James Lewis Stewart who was born in 1861. In 1884, James Lewis Stewart graduated with a Bachelors of Law from the Ann Arbor Law School, University of Michigan. During the closing ceremony, he was exposed to cold which turned into pneumonia. He returned to Louisa and died at the home of his parents on July 18, 1884, at the age of 23 years.
- Mr. George Brown refers to George Newman Brown, the oldest son and seventh child of Richard and Frances Brown. He was educated at Marshall Academy, Virginia, and Augusta College, Kentucky. After his return from college in 1840, he soon began to study law in the office of Judge James M. Rice, of Louisa, Kentucky, and was admitted to the bar October 18, 1844. He practiced in Pike and the adjacent counties in Kentucky for sixteen years, during which time he was elected county attorney four times and represented Floyd, Pike and Johnson counties in the state legislature in 1849-50. In 1860, Brown moved to Catlettsburg and formed a law partnership with Judge Rice, which continued for several years. During the Civil war period he was a non-combatant, although his sympathies were with the South. (A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians, Vol. 3, by E. Polk Johnson, pp. 1365/66)
- Rice refers to Judge James M. Rice.

Additional information about James E. Stewart

A sincere thank you goes to Andrea Parsley who made this letter available.

Images and transcript © 2012 by Marlitta H. Perkins. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the article as well as the images without express written notice is strictly prohibited.