These letters were written by Harmon M. Friend (1833-1910) of Carlinville, Macoupin county, Illinois. He was the son of John Friend (1799-1879) and Rosana More (1801-1849) of Hocking county, Ohio, where Harmon was born. Harmon mustered into Co. I, 152nd Illinois Infantry as a corporal on 15 February 1865 and mustered out on 11 September 1865 after seven months service. According to his enlistment record, Harmon stood 5′ 8″ tall, had blue eyes, and dark hair.
Harmon wrote the letters to his wife, Nancy Adaline (Scott) Friend. They were married on 1 November 1855 in Macon county, Illinois. After the war they resided in Drywood, Kansas for a time and then in Boise, Idaho.
The 152nd Illinois Infantry was organized at Camp Butler, Ill., by Colonel Ferdinand D. Stephenson, and was mustered in February 18, 1865, for one year. On February 20, moved to Nashville, Tenn., and thence to Tullahoma, reporting to Major General Millroy, February 28, 1865.
April 26, 1865
Dear Companion and children,
It is with pleasure and respect that I sit down in my little tent to inform you and children that I am well at this time and I thank God for I have been quite sick. While you and the children was enjoying your Easter, I was very sick with a burning fever. I am glad that you and the children could enjoy yourselves if I could not but I am well now and thankful for it. The boys is in tolerable health with exception of William Jackson. He has been very sick with the fever but I had some medicine that Father left me and I give it to him and his fever is broke and he is better though not able for duty.
James Anderson got on duty this morning for the first time since we come in the army. He is not right yet. I received your letter yesterday dated April 15th which gave me a great satisfaction to hear that you and the children were well. You said that you had got my bounty money. That is all right — only be saving. You talked of buying a cow. If you [do], be sure you get a good one. You talked something about the cow you have and you would sell her. Be sure you don’t sell her too cheap.
I think I will be home before long — anyhow by the 4th of July — perhaps sooner and perhaps not so soon. Still I think the war is over but we may have to serve our time out. But from what I can hear, I think we will be sent back to our own state to fight Copperheads. But enough of this. The soldiers has been passing for the last ten days a going North from the extreme South. There is from five to six thousand passes [here] each day. And I think that our time will come by and by. The soldiers of this state want to take it in[to] their own hands and they say they can get along without our assistance.
I got a lot of postage stamps in the letter that I last received from you. The weather is very warm in the day and the nights is cold — so much so that I can sleep under 4 blankets.
Tell Rosany and Robert and Nancy Jane, Rebecca Ann, Sary Midy, and H. M Friend and the Baby boy I want you all to be good children and help your mother all you can and learn your books all you can and you must learn to cook and bake pies against I come home so you can get me a good dinner. I hain’t had a good dinner since I left there. No more. Goodbye.
Direct your letters to Tullahoma, Tennessee. Company I, 152nd Illinois Vol. Infantry
H. M. Friend to Nancy A. Friend & children. Write soon.
June 1st and 2nd, 1865
Dear Companion and sweet children,
It is with pleasure and love and respect that I seat myself to write lines to inform you and children of my health. I am in tolerable health at this time. I hope these few lines may find you and those sweet children [are] well and doing well. Well Nancy and children, you don’t know how glad I would be to see you all this morning and have the pleasure to talk with you all and eat one good supper once more.
I could tell you many strange things that I have seen down here but we might have better times down here id our officers cared for us as becoming of an officer. We don’t get enough to eat. I draw just about or near enough of bread in a day for two meals. [paper torn] we have candles that we trade it for bread, for cornbread — cold, hard times. And sometimes without salt and shortening. But it tastes good to the hungry soldier. And our officers drill us hard if there was any need of this and [if] they fed us well, I would not mind it. But there is plenty of provisions on hand and the government has to pay for it whether we get it or not. And we like to have it. But enough of this. I sent home for ten dollars. I suppose you have sent it or started it by this time. Our men says they will recollect our officers when they get home. We don’t know when we come home but we don’t think it will be long. I think that we may perhaps be there by the 4th of July — and anyhow, by fall if our nation does not get anymore trouble. I hope that we may get home by and by. Only be patient and don’t look for me till you are certain that I am coming. Perhaps I may come home as soon as this letter. We can hear any and everything here.
We have been expecting marching orders for a month but we are here yet and I think we will stay here anyhow till after the election Whit___ & Son?] the tenth of the month. It is said that we are to protect the polls on that day [so] that the people may have their [W ].
Well children, how do all [of you] do? Are you all well? Are you all good children? And do you be good children? Well that is right. Help your mother all you can and learn to work and read and write and when I come, I want you to cook me a good dinner and I will bring you something.
— H. M. Friend to N. A. Friend and children
June 5th 1865
Second Brigade, 152nd Regiment, Co. I
Dear companion and little children,
It is with pleasure that I take my pen in hand to let you and children know of my health. I am well with the exception of my cough. It bothers me of nights. O dear me, how awful hot the days is and the nights is so very cold. I hope these few lines may find you and children in very good health and plenty to eat and drink and doing well and enjoying yourselves well.
I was very much pleased on last Saturday night about midnight [when] I received a letter from you which told me that you and the children was well. It is a great satisfaction to me to hear that you and the children is well and doing well while I am in a foreign land and many miles from home with many desolate farms between and houses deserted which has been [ ed] by the ravages of war. And all along the road is to be seen the graves of our brave soldier boys — sometimes two and three thousand in a place.
The letter which I received from you was dated May the 26th and I received it on June 3rd. It was just eight days on the road from the time you wrote it, I could not answer it immediately for I went on guard duty on Saturday and did not come off till Sunday evening and I had to wash my clothes Monday morning. And Monday evening and Tuesday morning I write. When we aren’t on guard duty, we have to drill — drill [by] company, drill [by] brigade, and Dress Parade. [Then we have] roll call morning and evening. By this you see that we have not got much leisure time to write but we have to write between times. I write from two to three letters a week regular. I have received all of the postage stamps that you sent. I received stamps in four letters that you sent me. You have furnished me well with stamps the most of the time but paper is hard to get at the Christian Commission here now and I have no money. When I can’t get paper no other way, I trade postage stamps for it.
From what I can learn, there is sixty thousand troops on their way to Tennessee and I think that we will not have to go but I think we will be on our way home by and by. Only be patient. I think we will be there by fall.
Tell William McCord to write to me and I will answer. The boys is all well with the exception of Morris Poll and he is better, James Anderson is in tolerable health. Well, children, you must all be good and learn your books and learn to help your mother.
H. M. Friend to Nancy A. Friend and children.
[Note: This last letter was written by Nancy to her husband:]
Macoupin county, Illinois
June 24, 1865
It is with pleasure that I sit down this morning to write you a few lines to let you know how we are at this time. Your letter found us all well. I received three letters from you day before yesterday which gave me great satisfaction to hear from you and to hear that you had got well again. I received the likeness and pictures that you sent me. The children was mighty pleased to see Father.
You wanted to know about pony and the hogs. The old sow and her pigs is running out and doing very well. That pet pig I had to put up to keep it from taking up my garden and I am feeding it slop. It is getting to be a bog hog. I let Nelson have pony to take her off for his work. John could not do anything with him — he was so much like a wild deer — and he was trying to sell him. I thought he might as well pay for himself as us to do it. He takes care of him. He looks well — has fattened up very nice.
I will send you some more stamps in this letter. I don’t [have] time to write much now. I am in a hurry to send it away to Tennessee. The friends is all well as far as I know of at this time. You must write soon. So farewell for this time. I still remain yours until death, — Nancy A. Friend and children.
To Harmon M. Friend
A few lines to James Anderson. I was well when your letter reached me. I was very sorry to hear of your bad health. It is bad enough to be sick at home but worse away from home at such a filthy place as that is. Anyhow, I hope soon you may get away from there — all of you — and get to come home. I hope you may get well and hearty and keep well till you get home.
You wanted me to tell William to write. I don’t know when I will see him. I have not seen them but once since you left here. John Scott says he has wrote to you, James, as you are sick and need money. I would send for some. They say if you will send for money they will send you some. They don’t think that you are suffering for anything because Frank and Tom writes to them that they get plenty to eat — such as it is.
It is late [and] I must bring my letter to a close soon as I was in a hurry. The children thought they would help me write. They got hold of my pen and wrote all over my letter till I don’t know whether you can read it or not. So farewell for this time. Write back soon.
— Nancy A. Friend
to James Anderson.
Harmon — Tanner says for you to write to her.