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20th, 68th & 81st Pennsylvania Infantry - Letter from a Coward

Item LTR-6589
August 26, 1863 John J. Cressey
Price: $450.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 2 pages written in period ink.

Chestnut Hill Hospital
August 26, 1863

Dear Father,

I received your letter yesterday morning to let me know that I was a coward. I wish that you would give the person my best respects and tell him he is a damblier, and he is no man. Ask him where I was the first Fredericksburg fight. Ask him if I was not in my place in the battlefield, if I was not in my place then I would like for him to tell me my place. Then ask him where I was when Burnside made his last move and got stuck fast in the mud. Ask him if I was not of at the head of the Corps in my place. Ask him if I was not in my place the 4th day of May at the Chancellorsville fight, when I was not hardly able to put one foot before the other. If I am such a coward, the person that told you these lies ain’t man enough to tell me so.

Father, the money that you lent me I will pay you as soon as I get paid. We expect to be paid next week or the week after. As soon as I get it, you shall have it. I can’t let you have it before for I have not one cent even to pay the postage on this letter. I would have paid you last payday but I forgot all about it. I am very much obliged to Rachel for running around to different houses making such a fuss about the money that I owe you. It will do her eyes good when she sees me in the house again. I won’t trouble any of you again after this money is paid. Father you shall
never have it to say that I am your troubles again. If you trouble yourself about me, it will be your fault. For I don’t expect to stay here in this hospital many days longer. The doctors are examining the men now to see who is fit for duty in the field and I will try hard for to get them to send me back with the rest. I would sooner be with my regiment than to be here to be tormented to death. I find all are turning against me but my wife. She is the best friend I have and has been so ever since I came home this last time. Father, I have been a stumbling block in the family ever since I could walk and I will be it no more. I intend to pay all my debts as fast as I am able to do so. I owe you $6.50 cts. You shall have it next payday for certain. If I owe you any more, let me know and you shall have it. This is the last letter you will get from me after payday. I expect to be on Virginia soil again, you may never see me again after that. If I don’t get killed by the bullets, my disease will in a short time. I feel it getting deeper hold of me. I can’t eat anything but what it comes up again. I am now under medical treatment at this present time. I am taking very powerful medicine, two drops 3 times a day. I fell 3 times in one day senseless while walking around the hospital. You all think that Mary Ann and Jesse has plenty to eat, but you are all mistaken. Sometimes they have anything to eat for a whole day. That I know to be a fact. The old man won’t give them anything to eat. It is not his place to feed them, it is mine. It is a husband’s place to take care of his wife and children and see that they get something to eat. Mary Ann has been a good wife to me, Father, but I did not know it till here of late. But I have been a bad husband to her. When I did work, I spent my money in the ale houses and theatres. Will can tell you where my money went. Mary Ann is always at work but what does it amount to when she takes her work home she sometimes don’t get her money for weeks. Father, you shall have your money next payday without fail. No more from your still loving and well wishing son.

John J. Cressey
A coward