Letter from Apr. 19, 1865

Charles A. Jewell to Parents

  • Full Title

    Charles A. Jewell

  • Description

    Charles Adolphus Jewell II was born September 8, 1839 near East Jaffray, New Hampshire. In 1842, the family migrated to southern Michigan, settling near the town of Lime Creek. Charles later attended the newly formed Michigan Agricultural College, and in 1862, was a member of the second graduating class. Shortly thereafter, he joined the Union Army, serving in the 18th Michigan Volunteer Regiment until July,1865. Jewell describes the public mourning of Lincoln in Huntsville, Alabama, and the sorrow felt by the Union soldiers. He then discusses his involvement in violent retribution exacted upon anyone accused of celebrating the assassination. Jewell recounts an evening when Union soldiers patrolled the streets for "demonstrations of joy" and upon hearing such an act, tracked the supposed perpetrator to the home of a wealthy man. The soldiers broke in and threatened to kill the man, but he convinced them he said nothing against Lincoln. Jewell notes that a feeling of fear is palpable among Confederate sympathizers because they are afraid that African Americans working in their home may turn them in to Union authorities, but he also acknowledges that many southerners express grief over Lincoln's death because he was a relatively moderate politician. Then, Jewell details the funeral procession and his belief that the assassination has reinvigorated morale among overworked, underpaid Union soldiers.

  • Transcription

    [Written sideways across top of page]

    letter by the last mail that came through, from Jimmy. He was, and had been well,
    We anxiously hope to see
    those boys back with us
    very soon. Churchill from Medina is here
    and assigned to Co.
    K. We have one recruit
    from Monroe Co.
    Those who ran away from
    the draft will feel mean
    enough now that the
    recruiting is stopped.
    They ought to be held
    in deep disgrace by all,
    hereforth. The Col.
    Doolittle has not got
    his Commission yet.
    so Horner Hulburd and
    Hinkly cannot muster
    Cap Babcock has gone home,

    Love to all


    PS I forgot to say that my
    money is almost all
    gone. And no signs of
    Pay-master, if [illegible in original]
    is [illegible in original] still, or any body
    else, please send me
    $25.00 and if you don’t
    get another letter
    with news from the Pay master
    within a week from the time
    you get this, and no oppor
    tunity offers of sending other
    wise, please send the same by mail.



    Huntsville Ala

    April 19th 1865

    Dearest Parents:

    The mail is finally through
    again, after long long days of waiting and
    I have got the earnestly looked for letter from
    you. The bridges have been on
    both roads between here and Nashville
    and we have had no news-absolutely
    nothing – except the very little by telegraph.
    What doleful times! For three days, we
    have mourned the death of that great
    good man, Abraham Lincoln.
    The deep mouthed cannon have boomed
    the bells have tolled, the Band has played
    his funeral dirge. The soldiers are
    heart-broken, I can scarcely repress tears
    of grief as I write. We trusted him with
    the implicit faith of a father. We knew he
    was the soldier’s truest friend. Every thing
    seemed confused-lost-bewildered, and the
    nation like an orphan child.

    [Written upside down on first lines of page]

    The Detroit Tribune came this morning and I was very much pleased
    to see the article on the Agricultural College. It seemed to be progressing finely.


    Indignation knew no bounds. Men of
    great temperament- Christians, -men of no
    passionate character- all soldiers, were ready
    to sacrifice the life and property of any who
    showed by word or deed, any signs of joy.
    We would have burned that town I verily believe
    I would not have hesitated to shoot any citizens
    or burn any dwelling, had I heard murder
    and treason, combined, from any lips. I was
    never so exasperated. Officers and men paraded
    the streets – I might say patroled- armed; on
    purpose to spy out any demonstrations of joy.
    In the dim twilight- A voice was heard to execrate
    his name and express joy at his death. The soldiers
    rushed for the man- they thought they tracked him
    to a splendid residence! they threw open the doors,
    seized a man –who was sitting, reading, by the
    hair, brandishing their bayonets, and some
    shouting “kill him” ! but they dragged him to
    the light – and became convinced he was not the
    man. He says he fully expected to die, for a
    few moments. The citizens are trembling, They
    don’t know but their negroes may have over
    heard some word of joy. Most of the really intelligent

    citizens are far from joyous, for they see plainly
    how the bloody – dastardly act has widened, deepened
    the abyss between the Northern masses, and the
    Southern fire-eaters. They see that unless peace is
    hastily made now – no mercy can be expected.
    We will burn, pillage, annihilate if necessary- but
    such a red-bloody- dastardly, political party must
    not live in these U.S. Should the news reach Sherman
    on the eve of a battle with Johnson, what earthly power
    could stop them- they would show no mercy!
    The procession here yesterday was the most
    solemn I ever witnessed! The whole military force
    was out marching in open order- with arms
    reversed, and with slow and solemn tread,
    keeping time to the sweet- tho mournful- deeply
    sadly mournful music of the Band, And the
    deep-toned cannon-every half-hour thundered
    forth something of the fierce-determined, spirit of
    vengeance, that filled the hardened breasts of those
    who had witnessed many scenes before, that stir
    men’s souls. Yet I never saw such terrible feeling.
    It was not the noisy, frothy [ebullitious?] that broke forth
    when Sumpter fell, nor yet the common sorrow that
    all felt at Bull Run. It was like the silent heaving

    of the volcano. Men who have been waiting so patient
    ly for these expirations of their term of service, whom no money can
    hire to reenlist, who spurn the price of a substitute – said in
    a subdued tone – low but terrible – between their teeth- “I” am
    ready to re-enlist as long as any murderers are left.” and they
    would have done it. The feeling is universal. Men who
    have not supported the President feel as deeply as we, who do. &
    have. It was a foul stab at the Nation’s honor!
    We don’t get news from Johnson & Sherman – indeed get no
    papers, yet. By telegraph, we learn that Mobile is ours. –and from
    the rebels that Forrest is badly defeated. How can the war last?
    If we must devastate the whole South, and exterminate the
    whole population of fire-eaters give us the word, and we will
    form a skirmish line, and burn the country. But who is
    to ‘give the word’? – Alas! our Commander in Chief –our
    beloved leader is no more and who is left that can so
    well, bring peace to us? God grant that this mantle may
    fall upon his successor. He has nothing of the natural
    ability of Abraham Lincoln.
    Andrew has just arrived and has been in to see me. He
    left the sugar which is delicious and means much more
    to me than the mere gratification of appetite. It assures me
    that “they miss me at home.” God bless you all, for your
    love, and thoughtfulness of me. I do not know how Will
    feels but I think he has given up the Regular Army, and
    I do not see any opportunity for myself, tho I am still of
    the opinion, that, should an opportunity occur, of joining with
    my present rank, it would be the best opening for me.
    I should be continually miserable in the neighborhood
    of soldiers if I were not with them. The drills, the music,
    the marching, the very buttons of the uniform are dear to me,
    and I feel such thrills of pride, sometimes, on parade
    and marching, and guard-mountings! as I never expect
    to feel from any other employment. But I expect to give it
    up, and be a farmer. My name has gone forward for
    promotion to the 1st Let. I was not consulted – I am not aware
    that any influence was exerted with the Col. since the Adju
    -nct says he simply stated the facts to him. I am to go in
    ahead of Lee-Baron. The prospect of a speedy closing of the war
    induced me to let the thing run tho I didn’t know of it till the
    recommendation was mailed, to the A.G. of Mich. My com
    -mission has not arrived. You are entirely mistaken, my
    dearest mother, in regard to my health. – I was never in better health. X
    the reason you have not heard from me, is partly because we have
    been off on a number of Raids (which I have not had room to recount)
    and then because the mail has been stopped by the floods. If the mails
    are only regular, I will try to write as often as once each week. I got only
    your letter tonight- but it was I wished most to see. I read a

    [letter continues to left side Scan 1]

  • Source

    UA.10.3.5 - Charles A. Jewell II Papers

  • Rights

    Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by Michigan State University and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

  • Tags

  • Cite this Item

    Charles Adolphus Jewell II. "Charles A. Jewell". Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections. Remembering Lincoln. Web. Accessed April 1, 2023. https://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/node/869