1864: Albert Spelman to Calista Spelman

How Albert and Calista might have looked

This letter was written by Sgt. Albert Spelman (1824-1864) who enlisted as a corporal in Co. H, 80th Ohio Infantry, on 13 February 1862. Albert was accidentally hit and killed by railroad cars on 28 July 1864 while on detail unloading provisions at Allatoona, Georgia. He was originally buried there but his body was later exhumed and reinterred at the National Cemetery in Marietta, Grave No. C-1857.

Albert was the son of Nathan Spelman, Jr. (1778-1852) and Martha Smith (1780-1861) of Coshocton county, Ohio. He wrote the letter to his wife, Calista (Newton) Spelman. They were married in Coshocton county, Ohio, in January 1845. In the 1850 U. S. Census, Albert and Calista were enumerated in Keene township, Coshocton county, Ohio, with two children — Francis M. Spelman (1846-1915) and Amanda A. Spelman (1849-1921). Albert was employed as a Cooper at the time.

In the 1860 U. S. Census, Albert and Calista were still enumerated in Keene township (“Canal Lewisville P. O.”) but Albert had changed his occupation to farmer. In addition to Francis and Amanda, they had one more child, Emma Zilla Spelman (1856-1934), and Albert’s mother in their household.


Camp [at] Huntsville, Alabama
February 4th 1864

Dear Wife,

It is with great pleasure I take my pen to answer your kind letter of the 26th which was long looked for. I was glad to hear that you were all well and that Amanda was so much better through a kind Providence. I am well, hoping these few lines will find you all the same and in as good spirits for I can assure you that the time never was when we felt in such good spirits. We see the southern Confederacy crumbling to pieces. No doubt but that this looks strange to you as the Administration is putting forth such strong efforts to strengthen the army and to keep the old troops in the field now. [Just] look at the difference. While our government is holding out inducements to reenlist — and that with a free act of our own, the traitors say to their soldiers you shall stay without shoes or clothes or pay. Whilst our homes are safe [and] our loved ones are protected, they are driven from their homes where they cannot hear from their loved ones and all is laid waste. And while we are reenlisting by hundreds and by thousands, they are deserting by hundreds and by thousands. You may not see things as we see them [for] we are amongst them [and] we hear the deserters tell their tales of woe. We see the tear flow when they realize they are safe from the iron clasp of Old Jeff and his officials. I will write no more on the subject now.

Now as regards the place of Mrs. [Moses B.] Langley’s, I cannot say as I do not know what kind of a house it is [and] how it is finished off, but I expected it would cost six or seven hundred dollars and as for the [David] Croy place, it is true I have seen it enough to know [how it looks] but still I know nothing about the building or how much land there is belongs to it and it is so far to school. But still it may be the cheapest after all. If I get home, I think we can fix on something for your comfort. I do expect to get home before it is time for you to move so we can fix up things.

There was two regiments left our division on last Tuesday for home — the forty-eighth and fifty-ninth Indiana — and if it is the Lord’s will to spare me to get to come and see you, we can then consult together and look for our future good a home. We can give our views then better as times change so often we can tell each other what we cannot write. You may think I am sure this war will soon be over — so I am. It can’t last long but I feel to say the Lord’s will be done. I have peace of mind and my trust is in the strong arm of our faith, of our patience to wait His time. His ways is often in the dark but if our faith is strong, it will prevail. Faith is the key that opens the door of mercy. As your letter stated James Beall’s death, this tells me all flesh is as grass and [just] as the flower of the field, it passeth away. O let us remember soon it will be said of us we have passed away.

I send my love to all and may the Lord sustain the afflicted, hoping soon to see you once more. I am thine in the bonds of love, — Albert Spelman

[to] Calista Spelman


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