Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

November 15th, 1865.—Of course, I have always known that it is the custom in the South for girls, when they put up their hair and put on long dresses, to be addressed by gentlemen, not related, by the title of “Miss.” I knew this but I never thought of this formality coming my way. This morning, when I appeared on the street, in a sweeping train, etc., etc., and met my dear old friend, Mr. Mariano Papy, I was really shocked to have him bow formally and address little me as “Miss Susie.” He then went on to pay some graceful compliments, which is just a way he has, but I could not help protesting against the change. Mr. Papy was Grandpa’s private secretary and was living at Live Oak, when I was born. He has carried me in his arms in baby days and sung me to sleep. I meet him nearly every time I am in town and he has never called me anything but “Susie.”

I called on Mrs. Papy before leaving town and confided my hurt feelings to her, this is what she said:

“Our little girl should not have grown up if she feels this way; there is nothing else to be done; you have and always will have, a warm corner, all your own, in Mr. Papy’s heart, but, my dear child, conventionalities must be observed as the good of society demands it.”

Perhaps she is right but I do hope Mr. Blake will not feel called upon to follow suit. When I told Father and Mother about Mr. Papy, Mother said it was all as it should be and father laughed and said, “We must all pay the penalty of mature age.”

I do not believe my family will ever think of me as anything but a baby.

November 8th, 1865.—Well, the contents of the various boxes have been inspected and proven to be satisfactory. Sister Mart has a lovely dress of Marie Louise silk, beautifully made and the filmy laces look just like a bride. All my things are beautiful, I have congress gaiters to match every dress, laces of various kinds and I am the proud possessor of a dozen pairs of “Jouvains” kid gloves. I just love kid gloves ! Mother took each pair from the box and put my initials inside and when I asked what that was for, she said it was to keep me from giving them away. Miss Stevenson has made me a hat, which she sent out on the wagon. It is pretty and the next time I go to town I shall wear what Brother Amos calls my “young lady togs.”

November 7th, 1865.—Boxes from Smallwood & Earle have arrived in Tallahassee. Uncle Arvah, too, has gotten back home and I am on the qui vive for a sight of my new belongings. The wagon went to town this morning to bring the boxes out. Sister Mart is more excited over this event than I am, for some of her wedding clothes, her trousseau, or a part of it, is contained therein.

October 31st, 1865.—All this time I have dressed as a school girl. In the time of war we did not make any effort to follow fashion, just so we had a dress, it really mattered very little to what age it properly belonged. If it was suitable and becoming, so much the better, but no one offered criticism of another’s dress; we simply wore what we could get. Now it seems to be different;

I am actually grown up, though they say I do not look it, and now that Sister Mart is to be married in December, I shall be “Miss Bradford” and must dress accordingly.

Father ordered some things from New York and Mother has had some dresses with trains made for me,, and Uncle Arvah will select a cloak and bring with him, when he comes, bringing his winter stock of goods. Of course I felt somewhat elated over these new possessions but I do not know if I like the idea of giving up my free and happy childhood.

October 15,1865.

The people receive the rebels better than we expected, but the reason is that they believe Johnson[1] is going to put them in their old masters’ power again, and they feel that they must conciliate or be crushed. They no longer pray for the President — our President, as they used to call Lincoln — in the church. They keep an ominous silence and are very sad and troubled.

However, one of the best and most powerful of the old rebels returned awhile ago, and has been living in his old home on sufferance. His people all went to tell him “huddy,” and he was convinced of their toleration. So he told them he should get back his land and wanted to know how many would be willing to work for him for wages. They said none. “Why,” he said, “had n’t you as lief work for me as for these Yankees?” “No, sir,” they answered through their foreman; “even if you pay as well, sir, we had rather work for the Yankees who have been our friends.”

On the mainland it is so dangerous for a negro to go about, especially with the United States Uniform on, that orders are out that no more will be allowed to go to recover their families and bring them here as they have been doing. Some of the happiest reunions have come under our observation. But now people well-to-do here have to leave wives, old mothers, and children (sold away) to starve on the mainland, when they are anxious to bring them here and provide for them. It is not true that the negro soldiers do not behave well. Here, at least, they have always been patterns, as every commander of the post will testify. These stories about them are manufactured for a purpose.

[1] President Andrew Johnson.

Ringgold Barracks, Texas,
September 10, 1865.

My Dear Sister L. :—

I have no letter to answer since my last, but I have a little time to spare to-day, being Sunday, and will devote it to you by writing.

I try to imagine what you are doing just now, and what is the change in the looks of the place since I was there. I presume that just about this time of day you are sitting in one of the slips in that “Podunk” or “Chachunk” (what do you call it?) “meetin’ house,” listening intently to the logical instructions of some “Elder Boanerges” and wishing between times that you had your big brother up there again to show him to those who were not sufficiently impressed by your first exhibition. Ah, well! You can’t get him there to-day. Let me see. It is nearly the middle of September. We have been making garden. Our cucumbers are up and doing nicely—so are several other plants. You, I suppose, are just getting through harvesting. Charlie’s barns are full to overflowing. The cows come up at night so full they lie down with a grunt, and all the country round shows the fullness and beauty of the early autumn. I have not learned to tell the season here. July and August have passed never so quickly, so coolly, so pleasantly before. Most of my time is spent in my office and, instead of the excessive heat being troublesome in the southern climate, I have never suffered so little from heat in New York. There is all the time a breeze, and the thick walls of my adobe house shut out all the heat of the sun.

I say the time has passed pleasantly. One reason is that I have had little time to think of unpleasant things, and another, I suppose, is that I am somewhat pleased with the power and influence of my new position. Except the commanding general, there is no one here so much looked up to by the citizens as “El Quartelmaestro,” and then my business suits me. General Steele, Inspector General, has been inspecting my train, shops, storehouses, etc., to-day, and he compliments me highly on their appearance. From down the river I hear the same thing. “I like to consign a boat to a live quartermaster,” says the quartermaster at Brownsville, “but how do you manage to unload your boats so quickly?” I do it by keeping things moving. I set seventy-five men with an officer in charge at work as soon as a boat is tied up, and when the load is off her papers are ready and she starts back. There is a pleasure in hard work when you see the results. That makes all the difference in the world. The way I punish an unruly teamster is to make him dig a big hole and then fill it up, dig it out and fill it up the second time, and that is enough for any man. It fixes them.

I should not write such a letter to everyone. It sounds a little like self-praise, but between us there need be no reserve. I tell you all because I know you like to know just what I am doing.

By the way, have I told you that I have at last dropped the “A” and my “pay handle” is “R. Q. M.” of the Eighth? Burrows got his appointment in August and I stepped into his shoes at once. Rank from August 5th.

The prospect for getting out of the service very soon is not very good. As things are shaping I do not much think I shall try till after Congress meets. Wilson Camp has sent in his resignation and he will go out sure. The medical board that examines all officers pronounced him disqualified to perform his duties, by reason of physical disability contracted in the line of his duty. It is a big joke, for he is physically the ablest man in the regiment. Can stand more hardship than the whole medical board together, but he said “the doctors ought to know,” and sent in his resignation on those grounds. I suppose I might do the same thing, but I do not care to do it.

The paymaster has paid us a visit and some greenbacks. I received $577.63 for four months.

Well, I will bid you good-bye, hoping to hear from you soon and as often as you can find time to write. Love to Charlie and all the good folks. Shall I bring home a doll trom Mexico for your baby?

I enclose a missive I received the other day. Perhaps you can read it. It refers to a mule.

Adios, hermana mia,

Colonel Lyon’s Letters.


Green Lake, Texas, Sept. 8, 1865.—I have only a moment in which to write. The Adjutant had to come back to get his papers corrected—he was very sick on the way back, but is better. He arrived here yesterday morning. Captain Knilans got paid in New Orleans and sent me $50 to enable me to get out of this. I sent immediately to Victoria to get an order from General Stanley to muster out now. I expect it tonight. If I get it shall start in two or three days, and hope to be home by October 1st, perhaps a little before. If I do not get it I must stay my time out. If you do not get a letter for a week after you get this you may infer that I am en route home. The Adjutant leaves this morning for New Orleans, where he will wait for me. Captain Kingman goes with me.


Soon after September 8, 1865, the date of the last of the above letters, the regiment received orders to march to Victoria, and at once moved to that place. As the term of the judicial office to which my husband had been elected was to commence so soon after that time, he felt that it was necessary for him to return to Wisconsin as soon as possible to make preparations for his new duties. He therefore forwarded to the proper officer his resignation as Colonel, which was promptly accepted. He then returned to Wisconsin, reaching Madison about the first of October. Owing to the resignation of his predecessor before the end of his term of office, his judicial duties commenced on the first day of December, 1865, and from that time forward were constant and exacting.

Later an order was received that the regiment return to Wisconsin, to be mustered out of service. It reached Madison the latter part of December, when it was mustered out and the men joyfully returned to their homes and the peaceful pursuits of civil life.

Colonel Lyon’s Letters.


Green Lake, Texas., Sept . 5,1865.—The days drag along slowly enough, but I keep myself in as patient a frame of mind as possible. Coarse food, poorly cooked, and very poor water, is enough to use up almost anybody; so the sick list is very large. Fully one-third are reported sick—none seem to be dangerously so. In other respects our condition is improving. We get better rations and have received clothing.

We are terribly troubled with mosquitoes. They come in myriads and early in the evening drive us under our mosquito-bars.

The weather is generally very hot. Altogether our situation is not pleasant here and I am anxious for the time to come when I can leave. I ride nearly every afternoon to a farm house between two and three miles from here for a drink of water out of a cistern. It is a great luxury. The country is infested with robbers between here and Victoria.

I have sent my last $10 to New Orleans for quinine. It is the only thing to break up the fevers, and it is so long since the regiment was paid that there is no money in the regiment, and while mine lasted it was common property, and a man would be a heathen to not send for the medicine if he had any money. I really needed it myself for comforts, but it may save life.

I sit here in this pestilential country, surrounded with more discomforts and in more real danger than I have been in for a long time, and wait as patently as I can. I should have been glad to have crossed the Gulf before the equinoctial storms, but that seems out of the question now. No signs of being mustered out, or any movement, at present. I command the brigade and Beatty the division.

September 1, 1865.

I am just contemplating taking a salary. The Committee have written to me about it again, and it will end, I suppose, by my doing it, though it will alter the aspect of things to me and drive me away, I think. Besides, I have now got the credit for being a volunteer, all over the country, and to sneak in for a salary seems too bad. I have had a very great deal of worry over it. If I could only afford to live without, I am sure it would be best policy, as well as best pleasure, to do it. But can I? … I suppose I must take for granted my inability to do without it, and so take the salary, for by all that I know of my means, this is the case.

Will[1] has had a very unpopular measure to carry — having the roads mended by voluntary labor, but the negroes turn out very well. He has most trouble with the white proprietors, who refuse to help, though they use the roads most. But through it all there is the best of feeling between the people and Will, and the respectable whites, Mr. Soule, etc., think a great deal of Will.

We hear reports and rumors that make us quake. It is that Beaufort and Hilton Head are to be closed as Government depots; that General Gillmore and General Saxton are going to live at Charleston; and this place is to be left alone in its glory. Misery! Already we have to send to Hilton Head for all our commissary stores — that is, for all we eat, except the little we can buy of the people, for there is no abatement in prices yet here, and we have to pay even at Ruggles’ twenty-five cents per pound for the coarsest of brown sugar, and the same for brown washing-soap. We teachers were to have the privilege of purchasing at the Commissary, and then the Commissary is removed so far we can’t get at it.

“Secesh” are coming back thick. One — Dr. Clarence Tripp — has half of Will’s house, another takes Dr. Hunting’s place, and lives on Ladies Island, flourishing on Government horses and saddles, for which he made a requisition on Will that Will was obliged to answer. They are crawlingly civil as yet, but will soon feel their oats.

[1] Miss Towne’s brother.

Colonel Lyon’s Letters.


Green Lake, Texas, Fri., Sept. 1, 1865.—Yesterday we were moving camp about two miles to better ground, and I had to muster the regiment, all of which made a lively day’s work. The health of the regiment is bad. Fully one-third of the men are unfit for duty. The sickness would not be severe, but we have no medicine, and the men get worse and worse for want of treatment. One died in Company F today, an Indian; and we shall lose several more. The officers on the sick list are Captains Kingman and Patchin, Lieutenants Cheney and Beckwith and Colonel Kummel. The latter has applied for a leave of absence and if he gets it will start for home soon. Captain Kingman will be mustered out as soon as he is able to travel. Captain Parker has also sent in his resignation.

We have a clean, pleasant camp on the bank of the lake, on the bare prairie, not a tree about us. The weather is hot, but we get a breeze every afternoon which makes us comfortable. Mosquitoes are reasonably plentiful and very large and energetic. I find my bar a perfect protection. We get no light on our future destiny, but rather expect to go up the country, at least as far as Victoria. That place is 22 miles from here. I have pretty much given up the hope of being able to take the regiment home with me, which I assure you is a sore disappointment to me.