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 second letter in this bi-weekly series is also from Cyrus A. Smith:

Dated Fort McHenry Feb. 21st 1865 Monday Morning
Friend Julia
Yours of the 3rd is before me very unexpectedly. I received it yesterday and will answer today. Since I wrote to you I have been in Troy and different places North. I started 3 weeks ago I got back yesterday having been sick on my way. Your letter has been in the Company for a long while back and as I was not here consequently was not answered before. I am hardly fit to sit and write this morning but will do my best as I hate to let a letter lay around without answering. When I wrote I did not expect to get an answer but was happily disappointed. Speaking about different young chaps being at the north.
Perhaps you will recollect me when you hear my name and perhaps you will not but I will tell you my name at all events C. A. Smith is my name. If you do not recollect me I do not know where your memory has gone. I was well acquainted with your father and often had some good times with him. So Mary Meade has changed her name has she. What name did she like better pray tell me. Hope you don't think of changing your position in life for a while at least (do You). Louise do you say the young lady's name is or Lois which. She too you say has left for a home of her own well there is nothing like it in the world. I am sorry to hear of your father's death. What in the name of common sense are you and your mother doing up there with no one to take care of your farm or have you got hired help. Surely you must be very lonesome so far away from the world in general. I can see in my minds eye what kind of a place the Boreas River Section must be with no one to talk to and no friend within 3, 4, or 5 miles. Does Mr. Stephens live where they did 2 years ago? And if they do do you see them? How are they all getting along. I declare I am so weak and tired I do not know what to do but I am going to tuck it out and finish this letter. You say you hope that I am a good soldier. All that I can say I have been trying to be for a long while have a couple of good marks to show for it I do not yet feel discouraged but say with many others down with the Traitors and up with the Stars. Neither did I vote for McClellan but was among those that were the means of sending him out of the United States by voting for the Rail Splitter. I suppose you have heard that McClellan has gone to Europe have you not? Well I think I have done justice to your letter and will now close by asking you to excuse all mistakes I has writing on account of sickness on my part. Since I wrote we have moved from Federal Hill to Fort McHenry so you may direct to McHenry if you write again.
Yours truly Cyrus A. Smith Co. K 2ND US Artillery