Hamilton’s Letters

Memphis [Tennessee]
April 8th 1864

Dear Callie,

I wrote a letter to you about ten days ago and the next day I received one from you. The weather is delightful and we have little sun-showers most every day. The Rebels are only a few miles from town and we expect an attack every night. Night before last the militia were out all night and last night after I had gone to bed an order was went me to be at the office all night to help to take care of the papers in case of an attack. We had the horses all harnessed and ready for a “skedaddle” to the river to take a steamboat. I do not believe [Nathan Bedford] Forrest will try to take this place. [Benjamin Henry] Grierson has not enough men to harm him.

Tomorrow I expect to take a steamboat and go down the river about 700 miles to the mouth of Red River and if we can go up that river, we will proceed to Alexandria where Gen’l [Nathaniel] Banks’ army is (also Capt. Welch). If we cannot get up, we will go to New Orleans. I am going to take charge of a load of hay and get the receipts for the same. It will take about two weeks to make the trip and I will travel about fifteen hundred miles and then if I can only see New Orleans I will see what I have long been waiting for — a sight at Lake Ponchartrain and the Crescent City.

Today I received a letter from Father and he tells me Will has the pony in town to ride. He told me some time ago that it was expensive keeping him and I told him he should sell him after you saw him. But he wrote back that they can not part with him & did not want to sell him but thought they did not want to keep him. I am glad I was mistaken.

Patriotic ladies at the 1864 Albany Bazaar -- a fund-raiser to relieve

Patriotic ladies at the 1864 Albany Bazaar — a fund-raiser to relieve “the sufferings of the poor and the afflicted.”

I would like very much to have seen the Albany Bazaar as it was so grand. I wish you would send me some of those young ladies pictures to look at. I also want to see your photograph. If I had any money, I would send you some to pay for getting them taken, but I am dead broke and not been able to save a cent for several months. I am going to be more economical in future as I am ashamed of being so extravagent.

I am glad Gen’l Grant has been appointed Lieut. General as we need a good head to the army. I have not seen Marties photographs yet. It is a good thing our stock has raised so much as it will help us along quite nicely. It is getting dark and I must go to supper. Hoping no accident may keep me from returning to find a letter from you, I remain your affectionate brother, — Hamp

Nashville [Tennessee]
November 5th 1864

Dear Father,

I have been expecting a letter from home for several days but so far have not been gratified. The last letter I wrote you I said I would send you the money to buy the railroad stock but I was only paid for the month October and after paying for board for last as well as this month and sundries like washing and attendance on room, I have very little left. Besides, in coming out, I drew some from Rock [Smith] as we spent a day and a half in Cincinnati and a day against our will in Louisville. This week I expect the salary for November and then I can spare it easily. If you can raise the amount and buy, I will send it on as soon as possible.

Outer Federal Defensive Line near Nashville, December 1864

Outer Federal Defensive Line near Nashville, December 1864

The Rebs have thrown up works as if to besiege this city and seem to be waiting for reinforcements. This morning there was some fighting on the left and I hear we lost two guns but afterwards recaptured them and one other. I rode out to the lines today and saw some officers I knew in Memphis. Capt. Reed ¹ took me on a high hill where his battery was planted behind hastily constructecd earthworks and showed me our skirmishers in front about a half a mile and on enquiring I found that was all the troops between us and the rebs. By going up a little higher, I had a good view of the Johnnies themselves, and for my edification, he aimed his cannon and pitched three shells among them to show me how he could make them scatter, as he said. They seemed to come to the conclusion they had seen enough of the State House which they evidently were looking at as they were opposite a ravine or valley.

I thought that for my edification the Rebs might reply, and as my horse was about half a mile back, I cast a great many glances that way to be sure which direction to “skedaddle.” I saw the smoke of their campfires off to the left. While I now write — though after 7 PM — the cannon still roar on the left of our line. An artillery duel has been going on since yesterday morning, but the majority is from us to prevent them planting batteries. General Hocker with 20,000 men is expected tonight.

Gen. Darius Couch

Gen. Darius Couch — a “pleasant, agreeable man [who] recognized my name.” — H.A.

Today I was introduced to General [Darius] Couch by Capt. [Asher R.] Eddy. He is a very pleasant, agreeable man and recognized my name. We had quite a long conversation. The officer who has charge of the drafting Department of the Military Railroads, says in the course of a short time — perhaps ten days — he can give me a situation as a draftsman at from $125 to $299 per month. I would like to go, but would dislike so much to leave Capt. Eddy who I think will give me $125 this month.

I have nothing to do at present so I visit the State House and look all through it. I have been on the dome and had a fine view. The masonry of the house is fine but I do not admire the shape or proportions of it.

Write soon as a letter is so acceptable in these excitable times. We wake at the fire of the cannon, write by it, and go to sleep with it. My love to all.

I remain, yours truly, — Hamilton Alricks, Jr.

Captain read an order (that was captured) issued by the Rebel Gen’l S[tephen] D. Lee thanking the Rebs for bravery at Franklin and saying, “We will soon have Nashville and all its stores.”

¹ Probably Capt. Joseph R. Reed, 2nd Battery, Iowa Light Artillery.

The State Capitol at Nashville (1864)

The State Capitol at Nashville (1864)

Nashville, Tennessee
December 27, 1864

Dear Father,

I have not received a letter from you for about three weeks. I cannot understand why it is. I have no doubt you write and the only way I can account for it is by the road being destroyed between here and Louisville. But then that only remains so for a few days.

The road has been out for most a week this time, but the first train north will go tomorrow morning and I go in it to Cincinnati to draw money by draft for Capt. [Francis J.] Crilly. It is the nice sum of $927,000.00. I will have an iron safe to place it in, and a guard and special car on my return. When I arrive at Cincinnati I will write and send you that money for railroad stock. About four weeks ago, I wrote to Mary about something important to be attended to. I have never received any word in regard to it. Will you please find out if she attended to what I requested her to, and let me know. Christmas passed off quietly and rainingly.

My love and a Merry New Year to all.

I remain, yours truly, — Hamilton Alricks

P. S. Tell me what kind of Holidays they had in Harrisburg. Some of the mail trains were burned and I suppose some of your letters on the road down here. Send my slippers by Rock Smith. Also hair grease in my room. — Hamp

I have not heard from home since long before the Battle and you must tell me what you think of my war correspondence.

Nashville [Tennessee]
January 3, 1865

Dear Father,

I arrived here safely with all the money last night. I found nine letters for me — two from you, one of which on first opening it I supposed had been in the mail car the guerrillas burnt some time ago. You state my letters do not come regularly. I suppose the mail was not carried while the guerrillas were burning the bridges and hovering around the line of road.

I had a very pleasant time in Cincinnati. The weather was much preferable to that here, and then the difference in the condition of the streets and pavements was a sufficient cause for being satisfied with a few days change. While there I wrote to you enclosing a draft for $75. Did you receive it?

On the road up, a captain — quite a young man — a military conductor — after taking my ticket, walked out on the platform and was climbing to the side of the baggage car when he was struck and dreadfully mashed by an old car lying on the side of the track. I think he must have soon died.

Before I started and in coming back, I suffered with neuralgia in my face and side of head. I stop the pain by boiling water in a tin pail, stretching a piece of cloth over the top and holding the part affected over it so the steam heats it thoroughly. I forgot to say in any of my former letters what a beautiful country it is about three or four miles southwest of this place, where the battle was fought. The country is rolling land, with fine hills, beautiful valleys and splendid roads, and it reminds me of the Lebanon Valley scenery.

Captain [Asher R.] Eddy has come to Cincinnati to attend a Court Martial [this section of the letter cut out]. I have heard nothing more in regard to him being ordered to Little Rock. I received an invitation to Rock Smith wedding. I suppose he will be here by the tenth of this month. When we arrived here, Captain Eddy promised to raise our wages for the month of December, but being relieved, he transferred us with an increase (five of us). On signing the Roll for that month, I found I was the only one not reduced in salary. I now get $125 — not much for this town, however. We like Capt. [Francis J.] Crilly very well. I would not be surprised if he was sent to Savannah as he came here to join Sherman.

I see no prospect of getting a substitute here but made arrangements with a surgeon of a negro regiment who will do his best for me and charge [sentence excised]…than it costs him.  Since we spoke of it, he has been ordered to Savannah and I intended to talk it over on the cars as he expected to go along with me to Cincinnati but could not get his baggage aboard. He promised to write me. He will have a better chance there than here.

My love to all. Yours affectionately, — Hamp

P. S. The pay car that was to be sent for us we met on the road when we came down.

Nashville [Tennessee]
January 18th 1865

Dear Father,

I received yours of the 9th several days ago and one without a date, but postmarked 15th today. I have been kept too busy to write much lately and now have to write this in my room after night, I expect to be on the levee (about three fourths of a mile from here) by seven tomorrow morning — that is, if I can get awake as we have had so much dark and cloudy weather since I have been here that I have gotten in to the lazy habit of sleeping until after eight o’clock though the weather is delightful at present and has been for more than a week, with good prospects of it continuing so for the rest of the winter.

This country is hard on the horses — the limestone sticking up in the streets — worse than in the vicinity of Carlisle. I have lamed two horses within a short time by their heels getting bruised but hope they will soon be over it as they are fine carriage horses that Capt. [Asher R.] Eddy brought from Memphis which I suppose accounts for their feet being so tender as there are no stones in that part of the country.

My neuralgia has entirely gone and I hope for ever. I have had no time to try and get a substitute but as soon as the Surgeon I spoke of who went to Savannah writes me so I will know his directions I will find from him my prospects for one from that direction.

I had an opportunity of going down this river to the mouth and then up to Louisville on business but I had not time and postponed it and now think I will send someone else, though I should like to visit the Elders at Clarksville.

I have great trouble with the men I hire as it is hard to get reliable men. I often wish I could keep a situation open for some of my friends at home, but I hired a man on Monday (to take the place of one who went off on Saturday as his family were sick) and left on Tuesday, and as we depend on them for the account of stores received, it cannot. under the circumstances, be very correct. I found a friend today that used to be in Memphis when I first went there who I am going to employ tomorrow at $100 per month, and by accident they found I had another clerk — a good penman — so they take him into the office and I must find another at $45.

This town is full of deserters, bounty jumpers, and men of that class who apply for situations for the purpose of robbing. The other night our office was robbed of a big chest bound with iron, and containing an iron letter press which they doubtless thought was money. This was done when we have a watchman inside and a guard without. We keep guards at the doors through the day to prevent the crowds daily besieging  the office for money favors, transportation contracts, & cout [?]. One side of the building looks like the polls on election day; men getting paid off for a couple of months back. When you take into consideration that the rolls have to be made out in duplicate for about ten thousand men and they must all sign or put their marks on, get a check, have it entered on the cash book, and then go to the cashier for the money, you can know it is an immense job. Our office is divided off into eight different rooms for the different classes of business, all of which have their clerks assigned to them. Rock Smith intended bringing his wife down here but when he got to Cincinnati he was offered a situation which he accepted but I have not heard who with but suppose Captain [Asher R.] Eddy who is entitled to one clerk.

Give my love to all. Write soon and tell Callie to send a letter.

Yours truly — Hamilton Alricks, Jr.

P. S. Excuse the blots as my room has not got the best facilities for writing in it. The town is not as crowded as formerly. I think Memphis will be the big depot.

Nashville, Tennessee
April 20th 1865

Dear Father,

I have not received any letters from home since my return. Yesterday we had a grand procession here. Some estimate the number in line at 60,000. Capt. [Francis J.] Crilly requested the clerks to parade. I was out and I suppose marching in the sun brought on diarrhea again, though I feel better this evening.

This morning I heard there is to be a large expedition to start from Little Rock, Arkansas in the course of a couple of months for Texas. I do hope Capt. [Asher R.] Eddy or Capt. [Francis J.] Crilly will go and I can accompany them for some of our clerks know all of that part of the country throughly.

I saw the following Generals in procession yesterday — [George H.] Thomas, [Lovell] Rousseau, [John Franklin] Miller, [William Jackson] Palmer, [James Lowry] Donaldson, [Zealous Bates] Tower, and [William Denison] Whipple.

If you have not sent my box by Express, I have some more things to add besides what I sent word to Callie so I enclose a list of articles I wish sent. You can keep an account of the expenses and I will pay it.

The river is again up high and the city is overflowed to within a few feet of the former rise. Give my love to all and write me soon. I hear Capt. [Francis J.] Crilly is going home to Philadelphia in a few days.

Yours Most Truly — Hamilton Alricks Jr

P. S. My appetite is what the doctor calls a depraved condition. I feel like eating all kinds of trash. When I come home I have about six teeth to be plugged, filled, pulled and filed. Respectfully, — H. A.

John Elliott is a Mustering Officer at Louisville.

Nashville [Tennessee]
April 25th [1864]

Dear Father,

I received yours of the 20th today. It seems too provoking after writing so many letters home to hear that they have not been received. I wrote the day before I went off, also on the day then from Memphis, the day after I returned, and this makes the fourth since I have been back — one was to Callie. The last one contained a list of things I wanted sent out in a Box by Express. If the list has not come to hand, please let me know. I need the coat very much and wanted it at once. I sent Callie a description of a neck tie I wish her to make me as they are very expensive here and she could make one in a few minutes — called “Butterfly neck-tie” [drawing].

The water in the river is falling rapidly. The trees and fields look green and the weather is warm. I wrote you a long description of my trip, about Mr. Elder, of the scenery, and all that was interesting. The boat stopped for a few minutes at Clarksville and I did not get to see Mr. Elder though I learned a great deal about him. The Government has possession of the majority of his property, collecting rent for fifteen of his houses in the centre of town. He was a very strong rebel at the beginning of the war but has taken the oath some time ago. If I get down there, I will ask him if he has any receipts for the wood taken from his land. If he has, I think he can get the money if it happened since he took the oath. Tell me the dates of the letters received so I will know if the important ones reach you.

Tell Mr. Glover I want a light blouse a little longer in the arms than my last coat and cut in the style.

My health is much better and I do not expect to get home until summer. Give my love to all. I remain, yours most truly, — Hamilton Alricks

P. S. I wrote to Aunt Kitty today.

Nashville, Tennessee
May 16th, 1865

Dear Father,

Yesterday I rec[eive]d your letter of the 11th inst. Fortunately my box was not on the Express train that was robbed near Cincinnati and I have the articles O.K.

The weather has been quite hot for the last few days. We have been enjoying ourselves on strawberries the last few weeks though they are quite high priced.

The town is filled with Rebel soldiers returning from the South. A more ragged, dirty, miserable-looking set would be hard to find. They seem pleased to be at liberty to return to their homes and consider the war at an end. One I saw was a young man I knew in Memphis. He had been captured about two years ago by the Rebs on a train going to Chattanooga. After being kept in prison at Americus, Georgia he escaped but was recaptured and forced into their ranks. He says some of the country people think the Yankees are fighting with the French and that the North and South are at peace again.

I suppose Harrisburg will look quite dull, so many officers and soldiers leaving. I will try and write to Aunt Spangler today. Give my respects to all the family and friends. Write soon.

Yours most truly — Hamilton Alricks, Jr.

Nashville [Tennessee]
May 25th, 1865

Dear Father,

Though railroad communications with the North have been restored, I have not received a letter from home yet, but hope by tonight to be the recipient of one.

Rebels continue to pour through here in large numbers. The other day a Kentucky Brigade — Jeff Davis’ Body Guard arrived. They all had the specie that Jeff divided among them and they paid for all they got, dollar for dollar, so the town has quite a lot on hand. I have handled large quantities of it but so far have been unable to procure any to keep as a memento of the divided spoils of the rebellion. The majority of the coin is of Mexican dollars that have the appearance of never having been circulation. The American dollars, halves, and quarters are of the same appearance though of the date of 1859. The question is, where did Jeff get the Mexican money as the government had done away with that coin some time before the war. Did it come from Mexico for his use or not? I will try and procure some.

Nothing of much interest has occurred. Today is wet and disagreeable, with but little business in our line being done. Capt. [Francis J.] Crilly has not returned yet.

I would like to hear from Cally occasionally and she might send a photograph of herself or Martie, if any on hand. Much love to all the family.

I remain yours, most truly –Hamilton Alricks, Jr.

Has any person heard from Rock Smith lately? Our healths are good.

Nashville, [Tennessee]
June 17th 1865

Dear Father,

Though I have not heard from you for a week, I write now not knowing when I shall have time again to write. Capt. [Francis J.] Crilly receiving no more stores, did not need any GW Agents, so he placed me in charge of Room No. 5 where men come to sign the pay rolls. I have to oversee the work, examine “Power of Attorney” and countersign the check for their money. I also have charge of the pay car — a magnificently furnished car with kitchen, dining room, sleeping room and office in it. It is used to pay the men along the roads.

About day after tomorrow I leave with it for Chattanooga, Knoxville, Stevenson, Decatur, Huntsville and other points along the military railroads in the South and perhaps over to Johnsonville on the Tennessee River, expecting to return in from twenty-five to thirty days. The roads being good and the people very friendly, I expect to have a pleasant trip. Seven others and a train guard accompany me. I relieve a Mr. Thatcher [who] returns to New York. I would not miss the trip for a great deal and only wish you were along to see the fine country and great battlefields as well as the curiosities like the caves and peaks of Lookout Mountain and rivers like the Stone River and Lu Lah Lake. The road to Clarksville is about completed and then the car may go down there when I shall see Mr. Elder.

Yesterday was the warmest day of the season but the fine rains of today cooled the air. We are all well. The company Jim Boyd is in expects to leave today for Texas.

Write often as your letters will be forwarded to me as I telegraph to the office from all stopping places.

Much love to all, I remain yours, most truly — Hamilton Alricks, Jr.

I will write as often as possible of all incidents of the trip.

Stevenson, Alabama
June 26, [1865]

Dear Father,

Yesterday I received yours of the 18th inst. We left Nashville the 21st. Up to this date have expended $30,000 and paid some 600 men. I have no good opportunity of writing as when the cars stop I am busy and when they are going cannot write. We leave for Chattanooga in about ten minutes.

This is a beautiful Country. We [are] now in sight of the Tennessee River and the Sand Mountains. The Railroads in this country seem to follow the shape of the surface of the ground and not have long grades like we have East. The sight we had just coming over the Cumberland Mountains was grand.

10 A.M. Bridgeport

We just now crossed the Tennessee River twice. Blackberries are so thick, we got tired of them.

June 27th 1865

Here we are in front of Old Lookout [Mountain] whose top we expect to be on this afternoon, if we get time. I received orders to proceed to Knoxville and suppose we can go this afternoon. All well. Much love to all.

Yours most truly — H. Alricks
Write often

Nashville [Tennessee]
July 10th [1865]

Dear Father

I received a letter from you yesterday but when written you had not received my long letter giving an account of the trip. I expect to start for Athens in a few minutes and as soon as we return, start at once for Johnsonville on the Tennessee River.

If you should see me you would laugh at my “octoroonish” appearance as I have what the boys at home used to call the “yaller janders” [jaundice], and I am the color of a maple or oak table. My eyes are of a golden hue. One of the clerks persuaded me to go to a homeopathic physician and I think he is curing me. I have not been sick in bed a day from it.

The weather has been extremely hot, though just now it is raining hard.

Write often. My love to all.

Yours most truly — Hamilton Alricks

Nashville, Tennessee
August 1st 1865

Dear Father,

A few days ago I received your letter in which you seemed to think it advisable for me to start home at once. I would like to do so, but business is so brisk that I am unable to get off and then the captain expects me to help pay off the great number of rolls on hand and I think I will have to make the pay car trip before leaving. Then again it is necessary to give ten days notice. If the car does not start before the 15th, I shall. I wish I could be home to show Miss Boggs around.

Today the sun has been extremely warm. It is reported — and I think it probable — that the Railroad Department is ordered to be turned over either to the company or state. Men are being discharged at the rate of about fifty per day. I want to get to Clarksville if the railroad is opened or the river not too low.

I feel quite well now and there does not seem to be much sickness about. Give my love to all

Yours most truly, — H. Alricks Jr.

Nashville, Tennessee
August 8th 1865

Dear Father,

I have been expecting a letter from home for some days but have been disappointed to date.

On the 5th I sent in my resignation to take effect on the 15th but have not yet received any answer. I hoped to get to Clarksville this week but the clerk who signs checks in my absence is away. Orders have arrived for the Railroad Department to be transferred to the Civil Authorities and the office can not continue long. If I had company I think I would go home by way of Augusta and Savannah, taking a steamer at the latter place. If my resignation is accepted I will go to Clarksville on the 15th or 16th. Capt. [Morris D.] Wickersham of Lancaster is Chief Asst. Quartermaster of the Department of Tennessee and if I choose to go to Augusta, he could give me a situation, but the weather is too warm. I am not acquainted with him, but with Mr. Song — a clerk in this office. Their family lived formerly in Baltimore and he knows the Alricks’ there. They now reside in Carlisle. His father is an officer in the Navy and has been for years. His brother is secretary to the President and this one here took the President’s family to Washington a short time ago. He is nephew of Major Gen’l [James Lowry] Donaldson. Chief Quartermaster of the whole Department commanded by [Gen. George H.] Thomas. He says if I ever wish any situation under the Government, write him.

The mosquitoes here are very numerous and I think have learned army tactics — as far as concentration is concerned any how.

We are all enjoying good health and look a little gloomy at the prospects for us all sepapating. My room mate has been with me or in the same office since December 1862.

My love to all. Yours most truly , — H. Alricks, Jr.