Adirondack Journal — Letters Home Series: Civil War Era Manuscripts from the Collection


The Adirondack Museum Library owns more than 600 linear feet of manuscript material. Included in these vast holdings are the Juliette Baker Rice Kellogg papers. This collection consists largely of correspondence to Juliette Baker (1842-1931); better known as "Julia" to her correspondents. Julia lived in and around Minerva, NY her entire life making this collection of letters an important source of information on the lives and times of early Adirondack settlers.

Julia's pen pals included many friends and family members that were fighting in the American Civil War. These letters give great insight into the psyche of the soldiers that penned them. Their dreams were simple: to return to the pleasures and normalcy of everyday life. The soldiers that wrote to Julia were looking for news from home in order to escape the drudgery and hardships of life in the camps. These letters are presented in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War.

The first letter in this bi-weekly series is from Cyrus A. Smith, and dated January 5, 1865.

Friend Julia
I suppose you will be very much surprised at receiving a letter from this place. But whether you will or not I have commenced I am going to carry it out although with out your consent. So you will please excuse me for being so impudent if impudent I am.
But perhaps if you knew who it was or is that is writing you would think nothing of it. I suppose you recollect that 2 years ago a young chap was up in the Boras River hunting grounds and while ther was in company with you a number of times. I will not tell my name at present. I was thinking today where I was 2 years ago when the thought struck me that I might write to you if for nothing else but to pass away the spare time that drags so wearily in camp.
Since I last saw you I have seen a great deal of war. I enlisted in a good company I have got along so far alright and hope to get out as well as I am at present. How is Mary Meade and all the rest of the fun loving folks. Also your sister. I have forgotten her name. Well as ever I suppose. Now I have an idea that you would like to know my object of writing so I will tell you it is this. Fun mutual improvement and perhaps something more after I get out of this cruel war business which will be in a short time. Come now Julia drop a line or two to a fellow once in a while to relieve me of the monotony of Camp Life. Hoping to hear from you soon I will close. From a Friend. Address C.A.S. Company K 2nd U.S. Artillery Fort Federal Hill Baltimore Maryland. My love and respects to all. P.S. Write and tell me what is going on up in the northern wilds. As ever your friend C.A.S.