T. C. Duncan Letter to Emma Osborne 1860s



Thomas Cation Duncan was a private in Company A of the 1st Regiment of Wisconsin Cavalry Volunteers from September 1861 to October 1863 when he was discharged for a disability.  Sometime during that period he wrote this letter to Emma Osborne, his future wife.  The first page(s) is missing.  The best part for me is the artwork on the reverse, especially the one he titled “home.”

thomas to emma envthomas to emma p1

The [reg?] is not quite so badly used up as I at first supposed.  They are in the chase of those [?] who so wickedly attempted to destroy them but still we have nothing definite or reliable in this out of the way hermetical place with so irregular a mail we feel as if we were out of the world.  It is only by letters and old papers that we know that the world is going on as usual.  I tell you what it comes hard for a literary man who has been used to see a daily paper each day of publication.  This is my fix.  

Maybe we do not live well now if we don’t whose fault is it.  I will just describe some of our dinners.  Bread yes real bread, beef or mutton or if these are scarce we kill a pig.  Soups.  Genuine vegitable [sic] soup potatoes.  peaches with sugar, as the cows do not come up regular we have to go without cream.  apple sauce molasses.  Water and the rest of the fillings as salt pepper etc.  I think we do well.  On the other side of this sheet you observe scenes sketched by the special artist of Co A. Prof T. C. Duncan  this will afford some amusement to the hopeful.  More anon.  Thomas

PS.  I help cook my old [?] [?].  My respects to all [?] is M. L. teaching school in Boys district.  Mary Lyman.  T.
[on the left side] Excuse the short note if you call it short.
[on the right side] Keep your minds calm about my welfare.
thomas to emma p2
At the top of the drawing:  Conceal these as you would most anything using my old books for instance.

This was difficult for me to transcribe.   I kept the spelling, punctuation, and capitalizations as I saw them.
The PS is almost without meaning! The drawings on the reverse include Ripon College (which might explain the reference to teaching), home, and cavalry scenes.

thomas to emma env rev

Albert Washburn to Erista Osborne

From Camp Douglas near Chicago, Illinois, Albert Washburn wrote a letter to Emma Osborne, who must have been a friend because he addresses her as ‘Em’ – rather casual for the day.  And the letter was written sometime between October 1861 when he joined the 55th Illinois Infantry Regiment, Company G, and 15 January 1862 when he died of diphtheria.  He was just shy of his 20th birthday.
washburn p1

I’ve built this story from clues in the letter.  Known:  It was written by A. Washburn to Em and mentions Erista (and kept with other letters to Emma and Erista Osborne).  Known:  he’s in a company with a Capt. J. Clay.  Known:  In the 55th Illinois Infantry, Co. G, there is an Albert Washburn and a Capt. Joseph Clay.
washburn p2
washburn p3
washburn p4

The Em he’s writing to is Emma Osborne, who in 1866 will marry Thomas C. Duncan of Chicago.  Erista is her younger sister.  I put Erista’s name in the title of this post erroneously – it should have been Emma.

Albert Washburn’s grave can be seen here.