1864-65: Gustavus Gould to Family

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A post-war picture of Gustavus Gould

These eleven letters were written by Gustavus Gould (1843-1910), the son of Joseph Gould (1812-1901) and Lucinda Sanders (1821-1910) of Montpelier, Washington county, Vermont.

Gustavus accepted a bounty and mustered into Co. E, 17th Vermont Infantry on 24 February 1864. He mustered out of the regiment on 14 July 1865. After the war he returned to Montpelier, married Mary H. Adams (1848-1917), and resumed a career as a carpenter and as a farmer. The family never understood why he committed suicide in 1910. He was found hanging by a hitching rope from a rafter in his barn.

TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE

City Point, Va.
December 18th [1864]

Dear Father,

I take this opportunity to write a few lines to you to let you know where I am. I am here in the guard house. They have sent me here as a deserter. I don’t see how they can make out desertion against me for you know that I was arrested before my furlough was out and was right there at home. I left Fair Haven [on] December 13th. I received your letter that day, dated November 28th. That is all the letter I have received since I left home.

I don’t think of anymore this time so I must close by wishing you good health and prosperity. This from your son, — Gustavus Gould

Please write soon as possible. Direct to City Point, Va. Guard House No. 1 in care of Provost Marshal


aacivgoul94
Addressed to Mr. Joseph Gould, Montpelier, Vermont

TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO

In Fort Davis, Va.
January 16, 1865

Dear Brother Jerome,

Tis with pleasure that I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and wish you the same. I suppose you are a going to school this winter. I hope you will go steady and be a good boy and learn all you can so you can write letters to me. Rome, I have got the neatest knife you ever see. I founded it. It [has] an ivory handle and six blades. I can’t stop to write any more this time so I must close. Goodnight. Please write, — Gustavus Gould

Dear Mother, I must write you a few lines this evening to let you know that I am well and hope these lines will find you the same. I suppose you and father have worried yourselves a great deal about me and I don’t wonder at it for I had a hard road to travel but never mind that. Trouble is all over with now so I hope you won’t worry anymore for I am alright now and I shall come home again sometime. Perhaps the time will not be long before I shall be there.

You say you have your teeth taken out. I am glad you have. I guess I shan’t hardly know you when I get home.

I suppose it is first rate sleighing up there. I should like to be there to enjoy it first rate. We haven’t had any snow here yet nor but very little rain. It is the greatest winter that I ever experienced.

I don’t think of anymore this time so I will close by wishing you goodnight. This from your son, — Gustavus Gould

Please write soon as you receive this.

Well, Uncle Billy, I must write a few lines to you. You say you have been in the hen speculation pretty heavy. I think if you can make 2 dollars a day, that you had better follow it up. I want you should save a couple of good ones against I get home so Elisa and I can have another stew. Tell little Elsie to be a good girl and I will fetch her something when I come home. It is getting late and I must close.

So goodbye for this time. This from your brother, –Gustavus Gould


aagoulet1

TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Addressed to Mr. Joseph Gould, Montpelier, Vermont

Camp near Petersburg, Va.
February 12th 1865

Dear Friends at home,

I take my pen this morning to inform you that I am well and hope you are all the same. I received your kind letter this morning. I am glad to hear from you so often. We moved here yesterday morning. We have moved about two miles to the left of where we was. The order came about 1 o’clock that night for us to pack up and be ready to march at any moment. We got ready and started about 3 o’clock in the morning. We moved in the night so as to conceal it from the Rebs. The whole Army of the Potomac is on the move now. We found very good quarters here. They are good log huts. We was busy all day yesterday repairing them, Four of us tent together—Frank Taylor and two other fellows tent with me. This is a good place but I don’t know as we shall stay here long. Our duty is not near so hard as it was in the fort.

Tip has gone to the hospital. I think he will get his discharge. I hope he will for he has got a very bad foot indeed. You say O. H. Smith is a going to look into that case. I want you should have him put it through if there is any chance and I don’t see why there ain’t chance enough.

Well I don’t think of much more this time so I must close by wishing you all good day.

Please accept this from your son, — Gustavus Gould

I found that dollar and 15 cents in the letter alright. Tell little Romme and Elsia that I am much obliged for that little sum they sent me. Tell them I will make them a nice present when I come home.

Camp near Petersburg
February 12th 1865

Dear Brother,

I will write a few lines to you to let you know that I am well and hope these few lines will find you the same. You wanted I should write if I would buy you a knife when I come home. I will buy you as nice a knife as I can find if you will be a good boy. I suppose you  are a speculating in hens as much as ever. You must get so you can buy you a fat cow and go to butchering. When I come home I guess I will go in with you partnership. Then we will roll a large wheel.

You wrote that you had been buying you a lamb. How do you make it with him? You must write all about your trades. I like to hear about your trades. I have got to go on picket tonight so I must close by wishing you good health and prosperity.

Accept this from your brother, — Gustavus Gould

Please write soon as you get this.


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR

Camp in front of Petersburg [Va.]
February 15th 1865

Dear Father,

As I have a few leisure moments I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope these few lines find you the same. Well, there ain’t much news to write this time. Everything is quiet on the lines now.

Father, I should like to have you buy me a watch and send me if you can get hold of one handy. I have sold mine. I got a good price for it. I sold it for fifty-six dollars. I shall get my pay next payday. That will be soon. If you can get one for 15 or 20 dollars, I can sell it here for 40 or 50 dollars.

John Gould might have a good watch. I thin you can trade with him and I will send you the money when we are paid. That will be soon, I think. I presume you could buy a good-looking watch to Montpelier if you had the money to spare but I suppose you have not.

You need not put yourself out about it at all but if you can get one handy, I should like it. Rosil Nichols is coming home on a furlough and you can send it by him if you can trade for one to suit you. If you buy, buy as cheap as you can.

This is all I can write his time. Goodbye.

Please write soon and accept this from your son, — Gustavus Gould


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE

Camp near Petersburg, Va.
February 23rd 1865

Dear friends at home,

I take this opportunity to pen a few lines to you to let you know that I am well and hope you are all the same.

I have not received any letter from you since February 13th. It was dated February 8th. But I expect one every day.

They say that Charleston is taken with a heavy loss on the Reb’s side. They talk up peace pretty strong out here but I think there will be a hard campaign this summer than ever was fought. They are a fighting now on both sides of us—to the right and left we hear heavy cannonading most every day.

I can’t stop to write anymore this time so I will close. Goodbye. Please write soon as you get this. — Gustavus Gould


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX

Camp near Petersburg, Va.
March 2nd 1865

Dear Friends at home,

I take this opportunity to write a few lines to you to let you know that I am well and hope  these few lines will find you all the same. I received your kind letter this morning and was glad to hear that you are all alive and well. I was sorry to hear that it is so sickly and to hear of so many deaths. I hope you all will be spared and prosper till I can return home. I hope that will be soon.

The Rebs are deserting very fast now-a-day. I see squads of them that come in most every day. They desert from the picket line. 48 came in the other morning. They says they can’t stand it much longer.

We was paid yesterday here but I did not get a damned cent. I have got money enough. The boys was owing me enough so I can get along first rate as far as that is concerned but that ain’t the thing of it. The regiment was paid four months pay—that would be 64 dollars. They stopped 30 dollars of my pay on the payrolls. I was sent here as a deserter [and] my pay was stopped while I was under arrest so of course they was only two months pay earning to me. The Adjutant told me that he would fix it so I should get the other 2 months pay next time we was paid but they will stop 30 dollars for charges of arrest. I don’t care a damn about that but that provost marshal will catch hell sometime if I live. If Smith is a going to do anything about it, I wish you would let me know in your next letter.

You say you sent me some tobacco by Sergeant Benson. He has not got here yet. I can’t stop to write anymore this time so I must close by wishing you all good health and prosperity.

Please accept this and write soon, — Gustavus Gould


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVEN

Camp near Petersburg, Va.
March 9th 1865

Dear Father,

I thought I would write you a few lines this morning to let you know that I am well. I received your kind letter this morning and was glad to hear that you and the rest of the family was well. I got the letter and that paper. Everything was alright. There ain’t much news to write this time. Everything is quiet here now. We are under marching orders. Expect to move soon. We have been ordered to pack up and be ready to move at a moment’s notice a number of times so we had to lay on our arms all night but we don’t go yet.

Four men deserted from our regiment this week. The Rebs are deserting over here fast. Frank Hoget and Wilder have got here.

I don’t think of anymore this time so I must close. Good morning, kind father. Accept this from your son and write often, — Gustavus Gould


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHT

Camp near Petersburg, Virginia
March 13th 1865

Dear Father,

I now seat myself to answer your kind letter and to let you know that I am well and hope these few lines will find you all enjoying the same blessing.

We had a hard accident happen here in our regiment last night. When we went out on dress parade, one of the boys took his gun—as he supposed—but he made a mistake and took another man’s gun that was loaded. When the dress parade was over, we came back to our company streets as usual [when] this fellow commenced fooling with his gun. He put a cap on his gun and aimed it at this fellow’s head and fired. The ball struck him on the top of his head and came out on the back part of his head. He fell instantly and did not live but a few moments. The fellow that done it will be court-martialed and severely punished for it and perhaps fined.

There ain’t much more news to write this time. Everything is going in about the same as usual. I will close by wishing you good health and prosperity.

Please accept this from your son, — Gustavus Gould

To his beloved father Joseph Gould

Father, you said you would like a little money. I will enclose five dollars in the letter for you. I would send you more but I didn’t get paid a cent but I have got a little money. I will send you five dollars. That will help you a little.


aacagold91

TRANSCRIPTION LETTER NINE

Camp near Petersburg, Va.
March 17th 1865

Dear Brother,

I now seat myself here in this damned Virginia muddle shanty to answer your kind letter. I received your letter this morning and was glad to hear that you was well once more. The sergeant brought it to me this morning before I was up. I opened the letter and read it. I see that that you are still in the hen trade. I hope that you will keep on and make all you can. I want you should have some good fat ones when I come home for I think I shall have a pretty good appetite.

You wanted to know where Tip is. I had a letter from him this week. He is at City Point Hospital about fifteen miles from here. He says his foot is not any better yet. He says three of his toes are stiff and that the doctors think that his foot will always trouble him.

I don’t think of much more this time so I must close. Excuse all mistakes and accept this from your brother, — Gustavus Gould

I will slip in 25 cents in this letter for you, Uncle Billy. Perhaps it will come in handy in some of your hen trades. Goodbye for this time.

Camp near Petersburg, Va.
March 17th 1865

Dear little brother Romme,

I must write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope these few lines will find you the same. Well Romme, how do you get along this spring? I suppose your school has finished now and you have nothing to do—only to sport and enjoy yourself just as I used to do. I must tell you that you are enjoying yourself better now than you ever will again. You must be a good boy and help your father and mother all you can.

Tell father that I just had a good drink of whiskey. That is something that I had not had for some time before. The Lieutenant sent Tom Cole (that is the fellow that I tipped over you know) after a canteen of whiskey. He got the whiskey and fetched it up to my tent and we took a good drink, then filled it up with water.

I guess this will do for this time so I will close. Goodbye Romme. Please write soon. This from your brother, — Gustavus Gould

I will send you 25 cents. You can buy something with it that you want. When I get paid off, I will send you all a good present.

Tell little Elsie to be a good girl and mind her mother. I often think of her. Tell Elsie when I come home I will give her a good shaking. Tell little Elsie here is 25 cents. I will send her to buy some candy. Think of me when you eat it.


aacagold95

TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TEN

Camp in the field
City Point, Va.
April 23rd 1865

Dear father,

I take this opportunity to write a few lines to let you know where I am and that I am well. I received your letter of the 4th tonight and was glad to hear from you and hear that you was well. I have not had but two letters from you for 30 days and them came both at one time besides this one. You say you sent me them stamps in two letters but I have not received either of them yet. Perhaps they will come around after awhile.

Well we have had a pretty hard march. We started from Burksville last Thursday morning about daylight, marched from daylight till dark everyday. Today is Sunday. We marched about 80 miles in 4 days. We got here about 3 o’clock today. We have camped here for the night. I expect we shall take the boat and go to Washington. That is the report. It is getting dark and I must close till morning.

April 24th—I will try and finish my letter this morning. I am well and feel first rate this morning. after the march I was pretty tired. Last night the order has come for us to take the transport at 2 o’clock today and go to Washington. The whole Corps is a going there. When we get there, I don’t know what will be done. A good many think we are a going home on discharged furloughs and some think we go South to Texas or some other place but none of us know where we shall go. I don’t think it would be strange if we should come home but I shan’t be disappointed. Let them go where they will.

The weather has been favorable for us since we started. It is very warm and pleasant here this morning. I expect to have a pretty rough old time on the boat but I guess we can stand it. You wanted to know about Richard Dodge and Charley Nichols. They are all right. Both of them are here this morning. Rich says that he and I will go a fishing again when we get home. I don’t think of much more this morning so I must close soon.

Tell Tip I send my best respects to him and when I get home I will call and see him. Tell him I want he should have a good drink of brandy for me. Well, I will close for this time. Goodbye. Please write soon as you get this. From your son, — Gustavus Gould

Dear Mother,

I will try and write you a few lines this morning to let you know that I am well and hope these few lines will find you enjoying the same blessing. You wanted I should send my picture to you. I will do so if it is a possible thing to get it taken. We shall start for Washington today and perhaps we shall have a chance to get it taken. Tell Wilbur he must excuse me for not writing to him this time for I hadn’t time. I must pack up my things ready to start so I will close. Goodbye for this time. Write soon.

— Gustavis Gould

Walis [Wallace] Dodge was up here last night. He says tell the folks he is all right and sends his best respects to them all.


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ELEVEN

Camp in the field
Alexandria, Va.
April 29th 1865

Kind Father,

I take this opportunity to let you know that I am well and hope these few lines will find you the same.

We arrived here yesterday. We had a very good time on the boat coming from City Point here. We was two nights and one day on the boat.

I received your letters of the 21st and 23rd yesterday. We are getting good news here today. If it is true, I shall be at home before long. The paper states that the army is to be discharged as soon as possible. The 1st Division of the 9th Corps is at Washington and they are mustering them out as fast as possible. The 2nd Division comes next—that is ours. I need not write anymore about it for you will see it in the papers. We don’t have anything to do here except to eat and keep ourselves clean. I think we shall be mustered out before long. I thin kI shall be at home to go to the 4th of July at any rate.

We was mustered today for pay. They have made a hell of a mistake about my pay and if they don’t find out, I shall come out pretty well. I saw the pay rolls and they hadn’t got anything charged to me excepting what I was paid at Burlington. There is $240 dollars due me on the pay rolls bounty which ought to be 160. They they hadn’t got any monthly pay charged to me. If they don’t find it out, I shall get a pretty good haul. I am acquitted of desertion and 32 dollars stopped to pay expenses of arrest.

Tip is here with us now. Tell Luke that I send my best respects to him and that I will be at home to go to the 4th with him. We are within 9 miles of Washington and expect to go there everyday and get mustered out. That will be a big day for us.

I don’t think of any more this time so I will close by wishing you good luck and prosperity.

— Gustavus Gould

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1 Comment

  1. I own one of the letters! its neat as a Vermonter to see what people from my area went through during the war

    Like

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