1863: Hiram B. Matthew to his Elmira (Collier) Matthew

This letter was written by Hiram B. Matthew (1830-1898), the son of Thomas Matthew (1801-1881) and Melinda Case (1805-1852) of Washington County, Indiana. Hiram was married to Elmira Collier (1838-1898) in April 1855. Hiram was a miller in Washington County when he enlisted in Co. A, 66th Indiana Infantry in August 1862.

Hiram wrote the letter from Pulaski, Tennessee, where the 66th Indiana Infantry spent the winter of 1863-64. The following spring they marched to Chattanooga and united with Sherman’s army in the Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea.


Pulaski, Tennessee
December 29th 1863

Dear Wife,

Today finds me scribbling you again in answer to your letter that I got last night which was wrote the 22nd. I was very glad indeed to hear from you but sorry to hear that poor Newton ¹ has such a hard time with his ear but I fear there can’t be anything done for it. This leaves me with most of the rest in good health. You said in your letter you wanted to know what had become of Eaph. ² Well he is sitting right by my side while I am writing and is well—only he has got the sore finger now. He has been on the gain now ever since we left [   ] till a few days ago he was sent back to the company. It wasn’t because he wasn’t good teamster but because they have got Niggers to drive all the teams.

You said in your letter that I said that I was going to be at home against Christmas but I can’t remember of every saying any such thing. I believe I did say that we would like to be there and I say yet that I would like to have been there and I can’ tell anything about when I will be there, but you may rest assured that I will be there when ever the opportunity is offered.

But then I reckon it will be a long time now before I can come home to stay for I have joined the Veteran Service and am going into it if I can get into it but then a good many says that our regiment can’t get into it for they haven’t been out long enough yet and I don’t think if we do we will tend to stay any longer than we would anyhow for we have got about 20 months to stay yet in service and I can’t think that the war can possibly last longer than that. And if it does, there will still be soldiers needed and by that time I will be pretty well drilled and a very good soldier. And if the war should happen to end anyways soon, it will make it pay very well.

You have been enquiring several times about Lewis Shroyer [?] and he was at camp just a little while ago and is in very good health. He says he don’t get any letters from home out here. He says he has wrote a good many letters. If they haven’t heard from him yet and they want to write to him they can just write too just the same as you do. That is, direct the letters the same.

Well now, I will tell something about how we spent our Christmas here. We started to Columbia again the day before Christmas and on that day we was on the road, some of us riding and some of us marching and we all got out and walked right through the town of Columbia and we seen a good many very good-looking women and they was pretty well dressed and looked rather the best of any that I have seen since I have been in Dixie. And we went on to the station and loaded our wagons and started back and that is about the way we spent our Christmas. I didn’t say any difference in it and any other day. We had a very rough trip—about as rough a trip as we have ever had for it rained nearly all the time and was cold and muddy. But then I got through and feel as well as I did before I started.

But my paper is about full and I will have to quit now by asking you to write often. From your affectionate husband, — Hiram Matthew to Elmira Matthew

¹ Henry Newton Matthew (1858-1944) was Hiram’s oldest living child.

² Ephraim Collier (1839-1919) was Hiram’s brother-in-law. He served in Co. A, 66th Indiana Infantry with Hiram.


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