These two letters were written by George W. Minick (1838-1917) of Canton, Fulton county, Illinois, who enlisted in August 1862 to serve three years in Co. K, 103rd Illinois Infantry. He mustered out of the service on 21 June 1865.
George was the son of Samuel Minick (1817-1895) and Mary Ann Yount (1821-1902). He married Margaret E. Bivans (1850-1936) in March 1869. In the 1860 U. S. Census, George was enumerated in the household of his Uncle Abraham Burkholder Hassler (1821-1905) and his Aunt Catherine (Minick) Hassler (1824-18xx) of Farmington, Fulton county, Illinois. His occupation was given as “carpenter.” Also residing in the Hassler household were Abraham and Catherine’s children: William Henry (1848-1928); Jane Catherine (1850-1925); Sarah Ann (1853-1924); and Laura Ellen (b. 1860).
He wrote the letters to his nieces, Jane and Sarah Ann Hassler.
[Note: surnames variously spelled Minick/Minnick and Hosler/Hossler/Hassler]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Addressed to Miss Jane C. Hassler, Canton, Fulton county, Illinois
February 15th 1863
My Dear Nieces,
It is with pleasure at this time — and for the first time too — of writing to you a few lines to let you know that I am in the enjoyment of good health and I hope that this will find your Father 7 Mother, brother & sisters & grandmother, uncle and everyone enjoying the same blessing. There is not a day passes over my head but what I think of you all and would like to be there to get some of your apples & pies of which would taste very good to me at this present time for all that we get now to eat does not amount to much at present. Although they say that we draw full rations I don’t believe we do. I that I had for breakfast this morning was one hard cracker and a tin cup of coffee which I made myself — and that without sugar — and no meat, and what meat we do get is not hardly worth eating. There is many a time that I throw it right in the fire.
Jane, with this letter you will find a book that I picked up here and it is a very nice book too. I could not carry it very well without spoiling it and I thought that I would send it to you to keep and take care of and read it too. And another thing I will put in [is] a pair of red shoe strings which was in my boots that I got and I will send them to Ann for to put in her shoes. I have nothing at present to send to Bill or Laura or Charley. I will try and have something sometime.
I think that you will see me before long — that is, my picture. I will have it taken and send it with cousin Bob for your Uncle Will. Well, Jane, it is now noon and the boys have just eaten their dinner and mine too. And what do you think it was? Now mind there is only three to eat and we had each a piece of sow belly about the size of a half dollar (excuse that one word if you please for that it what the boys call it) and the coffee we could not drink at all. The reason was because the water that it was made of was got out of a mud hole. We have Niggers to cook and they are too lazy to go out and get good water. Now Jane, you know what we had to eat. Don’t you think we will fatten up very fast?
I will stop here now for I must give your Father & Mother at few lines. Nothing more at present but remain your most affectionate uncle, — George W. Minick
To Jane C. Hassler, Sarah Ann Hassler, Lous E. Hassler, William H. Hassler, & Charley Hassler, [of] Canton [Illinois]
Father & Mother,
I”ve] written a few lines [to] the children which will please them, I think. Mr. Jerry Veron arrived here on yesterday and he was very gladly received by the boys for he had something for most every one. I received two letters and Will’s picture and some paper and postage stamps too which all came through safe. The writing paper came in good time for I did not have the first bit nor did not have any money to get any with. I received 7 dollars with those letters which is a welcome guest indeed. I think I will stand a chance to get something good to eat now.
I am beginning to think if this government cannot give us more to eat, it is not worth bearing the hardships that we have to bear. I always thought that the government provided well for the soldiers in [the] field and still think so but there is one thing our grub has to go through too many hands and to tell the whole story, we are cheated out of it by the quartermasters. We have not received the first cent of our pay yet. There is a report in camp that our regiment will go to Springfield, Illinois. Whether it is so or not, I don’t know. ¹
Cousin Robert is about the same as he was. He will soon be home. I was very sorry to hear about Mother being unwell. I [hope] she will soon get well again. Nothing more but remain your affectionate brother, — G. W. Minick
This half sheet of paper is part of Will’s letter. This will make a big letter. Write soon. Smith Vansickle is well. Jake [Jacob] Gibson is well. My love to you all. Things don’t go on now here at present to suit me. They will have to go better if they want me to stay. This is not saying that I will desert for I am as much for the Union and the Constitution as any man — but not for the Nigger. I find out that I cannot send this book by mail; it makes too big a bulk. I will wait till Robert goes home.
¹ Another member of the 103rd Illinois reported the same rumor in his diary on 18 February 1863: “The prominent rumor today, and one in which there seems to be considerable stock taken, is that Governor Yates has obtained authority from the general government to have several regiments from Grant’s army returned to Illinois, as a kind of public police. That is, to repress copperheadism, enforce the collection of the taxes, etc.” [Army Life of an Illinois Soldier: Including a Day by Day Record of Sherman’s March to the Sea, by Charles Wright Willis, page 156.]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Camp near Goldsboro, North Carolina
April 5th 1865
Miss Jane & Ann Hassler
My dear nieces,
It is with pleasure that I take my pen to write you a few lines to let you know I am well and my health is very good and has been almost ever since I left home and I hope these few lines may find you all enjoying the same blessing.
I have been traveling around a great deal since I left home on the cars and on the water. I like traveling but not as a soldier for there is not much pleasure in traveling where we have to be crowded all the time which is the case with soldiers. I have got to be a private in the first rank since I came to the company for when I was in the Provisional Division, ¹ I was orderly sergeant of Company F, Second Battalion, Second Brigade of the Provisional Division of the Army of the Tennessee.
Well, I have not as much to do here as I had in that company for I had 72 men to see after. I did not have any gun when I was there but since I came to Co. K, I had to take a gun and since we have been in camp, we have to have company drill in the forenoon and battalion drill in the afternoon. The regiment all goes out and drills together and then we have dress parade about sundown. So you see we have pretty good exercise but it is pretty warm here. The peach trees have all been in bloom for three weeks back and in a few days more everything will be clothed in green.
I don’t know how long we will stay in this camp but if reports be true, we will move out about the 10th of this month. The ambulance train has been turned over to the 23rd Corps — all but a few — and also the division teams but a few. I don’t know what kind of a move that is. I did hear it said that this brigade would not have any more fighting to do. I hope it is so, It will suit me very well for I do not like to very well.
Jane, I want you to try and write me a letter for you can write just as good as I have seen. Some writing that was sent home, I can read it. Write and let me know how Uncle, Aunt, Mother, Cousin Tillie, Aunt Jane, & Uncle Will is by this time. And tell Uncle Will he must write to me often. And also write how your father & mother is. And don’t forget to tell me all about Laura & Charley and little George. I want to know whether he can walk or talk for I don’t get to hear from them. And I want you to let me know all about them. Now don’t be afraid of writing to me because anything will do me for the first time. Ann will help you, I think. I will give you 22 dollars if you write me a letter. That is pretty good pay but the money is none of the best that is going; it is good among the rebels. I send it to you to see it. The boys had any amount of it. You can give Bill one of these bills to keep.
Now I believe I have written enough for this time for this is my third letter today and I think I will write one more yet. Now I expect to hear from you before long. I will now close by sending my love to you all. I forgot to tell you we have plenty to eat, We have plenty of cornmeal and flour and we have flap jacks every day. I wish you could see some of them. Jake [Gibson] is just commencing to bake some now.
From your affectionate uncle — G. W. Minick, Co. K, 103rd Regt. Ills., 1st Division, 2nd Brigade, 15th A. C.
¹ A Provisional Brigade composed of nine regiments from the 15th Army Corps was created in February 1864 and placed under the command of Colonel Dickerman, 103rd Illinois.