Dartmouth College Library Bulletin

Notes from the Special Collections

THE CALVIN SHEDD PAPERS:
A GLIMPSE OF THE CIVIL WAR AND BEYOND

WILLIAM E. BROWN, JR.



The life of Calvin Shedd, an Enfield, New Hampshire, carpenter by trade and a Union soldier in the Civil War from 1862 to 1863, is documented in two separate and distinct manuscript collections recently acquired by Dartmouth College and the University of Miami. These acquisitions, while nearly simultaneous in timing, occurred independently of one another, and reflect the best efforts of the two repositories to preserve important historical collections. The Calvin Shedd Papers reside in the Special Collections of Dartmouth College Library; a second collection, the Calvin Shedd Papers, can be found in the Archives and Special Collections Department at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. This essay will focus on the Dartmouth College holdings; the University of Miami materials will be described in brief terms.

Calvin Shedd was born in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, in 1826. A devoted husband and father, Shedd enlisted as a private in Company C, Seventh Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteers, on 6 November 1861, at the age of thirty-five. He was appointed sergeant on 15 November 1861, and achieved the rank of first sergeant on 4 July 1862. Shedd was promoted to second lieutenant, Company A, on 23 July 1862, and discharged with a disability on 31 December 1863. Shedd returned to New England and then travelled to Illinois and Indiana to support his family in the years after the Civil War. He eventually returned to New England and died in Tewksbury on 11 June 1891 at the age of sixty-five. Much of Shedd's life remains a mystery. For two brief periods, however, from 1861 to 1863 and 1865 to 1869, a series of letters and documents illuminates his life. Many questions remain: What of Shedd's life prior to 1861? What did he do between his discharge from the Union Army in 1863 and his travels in Indiana and Illinois? How did Shedd spend the final twenty years of his life?

The Dartmouth College Library collection includes an interesting group of letters written by Shedd to his wife and children in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. A brief note penned in 1859 is followed by a letter of introduction, signed on Shedd's behalf by several citizens of Enfield. The letter attests to Shedd's military training in the Massachusetts militia and, coupled with Shedd's abilities, likely played a role in his early appointment to sergeant. Letters from 1861 and 1862 find Shedd relating his Union Army training experiences at Camp Hale in New Hampshire and shortly thereafter in New York City.[1] Ironically, this portion of Shedd's military service was among his most difficult and dangerous, as severe overcrowding, poor diet and quarters, and abysmal sanitary and health conditions created a deadly environment that travelled with Shedd and the Seventh Regiment from New York by boat to Key West, Florida. The Dartmouth letters then resume after Shedd's Civil War service, and document his efforts to receive back pay (1863 to 1865) and his travels to Indiana and Illinois, where he sought work and wages to support his family (1865, 1867, 1869). This essay reproduces only selected documents relating to Shedd's military discharge and salary matters. As with his Civil War letters, Shedd's missives from the Midwest offer thoughtful, descriptive observations on his life and activities, as well as heartfelt advice and yearnings for his dear wife and family.

The University of Miami letters, which will serve as the subject of a separate research article, include a series of remarkable documents that Shedd penned to his wife and three young daughters. In approximately fifty letters written from 1862 to 1863, Shedd recorded the daily trials and trauma of Civil War life in south Florida, including debilitating physical hardships, incredible tedium, the ever-present dangers of life in an isolated military outpost, and the constant struggle to maintain personal faith and a supportive family relationship so far from home.

These detailed letters, written with great love, painstaking attention to detail, and a calm, reassuring hand convey the extraordinary circumstances that life in the Union Army offered one extraordinary New Hampshire solider. Calvin Shedd has left us a lengthy commentary on a soldier's life in a subtropical military camp, with observations on the political and social implications of military decisions, and thoughtful discourses on the people, terrain, animals, fruits, climate, culture, and the vagaries of life in the southernmost regions of Florida.

The military history of the Seventh Regiment is significant for both New Hampshire and Florida. The regiment was originally raised by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph C. Abbott in Manchester, New Hampshire. Governor Nathaniel S. Berry 1861H appointed Colonel Haldimand Sumner Putnam, an experienced army officer, to command the regiment in October 1861.[2] On 16 January 1862, the regiment left New Hampshire for four weeks of drill in New York City. Among the many New Hampshire men in uniform was Calvin Shedd.[3]

The Seventh Regiment was dispatched to the Dry Tortugas, a lonely, desolate island on the far end of the Florida Keys. This subtropical strip of land served as the principal depot for the distribution of rations and munitions to the forts and military posts in the South.[4] Fort Jefferson, perhaps best known as the prison for Samuel Mudd, the physician who treated John Wilkes Booth, stands today on the site of a national park. Shedd travelled to Florida with a portion of the regiment on board the ship Tycoon. This vessel served as an incubator for debilitating and deadly diseases transported from the unsanitary camp conditions of New York City. A second vessel, the Mallory, transported another portion of the regiment.

The regiment eventually saw duty in St. Augustine, Florida, and in military campaigns in South Carolina. Shedd wrote several letters from St. Augustine, where he remained for the duration of his military service. Although Shedd travelled with the Seventh Regiment to Morris Island, South Carolina, he did not participate in the attack of Fort Wagner, South Carolina.

Shedd's letters from 1865, 1867, and 1869 find him in the western reaches of the United States. A group of 1865 letters from Waverly-believed to be in Iowa or Indiana-show him to be battling economic hardship and continuing physical problems. Writing shortly after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Shedd confirms his belief in the United States and offers a rather dark observation to his wife. In an apparent reaction to news of her serious illness, he writes:

Dont worry about the Children or about me; the only cause you have to worry about them is this Terrible Legacy. you have inherited from your Mother and have left to your Children I dont know where your Mother got it, but it is worse than Murder for any one knowing they have Cancerous tumors inherited or otherwise to marry and have children; for the "sins of the Fathers are visited on the heads of their children" with a vengeance. [5]

Despite the economic hardships encountered outside New England, Shedd pursues work as a carpenter. 'I have astonished the natives in the quality of Turning the old man is offering to bet a 100.00 that he has got the best Turner this side of Chicago.'[6] His struggles and periodic wanderlust see him considering moves throughout the midwest. 'I am getting a little more than Carpenters got in Lebanon . . . I am liable to go nearer home than farther off, or just as liable, prehaps to Chicago, or into Michigan . . .'[7] One week later he writes, 'I think I shall look round some before long Shall go to St. Louis & Chicago.'[8] Five days later, Shedd writes:

When you get so that you can get along it will give me courage and liberty to push out where I can do better. This is no place for me I am quite sure and I am at a stand where to put for but from all I can learn Mo. or Kan is the place for one with nothing but there hands. I think it was the great mistake of my life that I had not stoped here 12 years ago when I was out here.[9]

The final letter in the collection finds Calvin Shedd only moments away from another journey:

yesterday I packed my Tools and . . . I shall put for Kansas City first, after that, shall be governed by circumstances. . . . I shall stop over in St. Lo. tomorrow then go on by rail or Boat to K.C. unless I find a good job this side of there.[10]

With this letter, the written legacy of Calvin Shedd apparently draws to a close. While the letters tell us a great deal about a simple yet sometimes eloquent man, they also raise a great many additional questions. Finding the answers, and gathering the primary source materials that often contain such answers, are the work of archivists, librarians, historians, and scholars. Dartmouth College Library and the University of Miami Library have succeeded in this important activity, and our historical record is enriched by their effort.

The Calvin Shedd papers at Dartmouth contain one brief note (1859), and a handful of military forms written by someone other than Calvin Shedd. There are no letters by any family members or friends. The loss of letters written to Shedd by his wife and friends is understandable, although disheartening. In addition, no letters written by Calvin Shedd after 1869 are available. Therefore, we know little of his later years. His death in New England suggests that he was reunited with his immediate family, perhaps precluding the need for additional letters.

The letters appear here with spelling, abbreviations, and punctuation-or lack thereof-intact. Omitted text in the letters is identified by the use of ellipses.



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To Gen Joseph C. Abbott
Dear Sir                          

we the citizens of Enfield would recomend to you the bearrer of this Calvin Shedd of this Town as a man well posted in millatary matters and capable of Drilling men in the Soldier and company as any man that we are acquainted with-and if you can give him any position in your Regiment where his abillities can be Shown he will be appreciated and will prove a valuable acquisition to the Regiment and the army. he has had a long experience in the Volunteer militia in Massachusets both in Infantry and Artillary
Enfield Oct 14 1861

Convers G. Morgan       G.W. Conant
James F. Pattee       P.C. Cambridge, jr
William C. Smith       Wyman Pattee
James Huse       Alpheus Conant
J.P. Currier      
A.A. Cox      
S. Williams      

Camp Hale Dec 5 1861

My Dear Wife & Children

     I have just got my Certificate of Enlistment. There is a difference of opinion whether you can draw from date of Enlistment or of mustering in I presume the Selectmen will decide sometime in regard to it. we have not got our Board money yet expect it every day but dont know when it will come there is no particular news stiring I am in hopes to get off a couple of days to go and see Father but dont know as I can as the Col is very strict I have been Drilling the Co today in the Manuel of Arms it is said we are the Crack Co of the Regt I have written to Gove about that Bill told him I would turn it at Cox,s I owe C Houston something he will present the Bill I presume prehaps he would like those carrots let him have them if he will allow a fair price I wish James would see A M Shaw and sell those Ladders at W. Lebanon John Fallansbee will tell him about him I saw Shaw at Lebanon he thought he would buy them at 10 cts a ft the Hooks thrown in they will come to 10 or 12 dollars more or less. I have just got back from Dress Parade and will commence writing again I have been stingy of my Doughnuts and have not eat them all yet I am well except my Cold which is not well yet. Miner is here & is gaining he looks much better than he did Fred Black was here yesterday he lives at Dumbarton his family is well Hoyt was here the other night to see me he is selling Patents yet. I will begin again I have just been to Rations Beef & Bakers Bread & Coffee for a change in the morning we shall have Coffee Bread & Beef for Dinner Bread Coffee & Beef except the Coffee we shall have water so that we have a change three times a day it is rumored that we shall not leave the State and all sorts of rumors I dont take much stock in any of them.
     This is a splendid looking Regt on Parade with their Dress Coats on, the lines extending about 40 rods
     I settled with Gust Walker at Concord got a little money enough to pay the assessment on Insurance I am waiting to get my board money and send it all together Kiss Ada Anna & my Baby Lily tell them to be good Girls tell them Father thinks of them many times a day & night.
     Thayer & I have fixed a place & we sleep side by side. I think I had better have those Socks made as we spoke of with a Leather Sole; my nightcap whips the crowd there is a number wished to buy it. I sold that pipe within 1/2 hour after I got back for $1.00 to have my pay when we get pd off write to me soon. have the north end of the barn banked up as soon as you can; so it will not freeze in the cellar if the wood saw is out of order have Arnold Folsom fix it he will do it the best of any one and as cheap I am getting to be the most popular man in the Co if they could have their own way they would put me in Capt I think.
     all the Officers come to me for advice and the men call on me to dicide all military questions that they have in dispute I dont think of any of any thing more to write I send the certificate and shall send a writing to James Huse to get the money of the Town as soon as I can

      Yours &c
            C. Shedd


N Y City Feb 9th 62

Dear Wife & Children

     I dont know as I can write much I have not slept over 1/2 hour for 2 nights I have got a Felon Bleeding sore or something of the kind on the end of my right fore finger and can hardly hold a pencil I am pretty well other wise. the Regt expects to go Tuesday or Wednesday it may not quite as soon We go in the Bark Tycoon & ship S.R. Mallrory the Regt is growing weaker every day we stay here in these Barracks there is a great many sick I have been to see the Surgeon for the first time this month with my Finger he told me to Poultice it with Bread Poultice I have and it is easier this PM I am trying another pencil I dont know as you can make it out I have not heard whether you have recd that money yet and feel a little ansious about it I hope it is all safe.
     We all feel anxious to get out of these infernal Barracks and done much care where we can go so we leave here Sam is well stands it better than most of the men.
     Tell Henry I will write to him when we get where there is any thing to write about give my Love to them all tell Mrs Clark I have got her Box of snuff yet except what I have taken and given to the Boys we all feel sad for Mrs Edson and Family it is a hard blow for them that must be expected of war which is a cursed thing any way we look at it. I write so bad and my Finger pains me so I will close with love to all an a Blessing.

Yours Ever CS

I will try and write again before we go


2d Lieut Calvin Shedd of the 7th Regt N.H. Vols having applied for a certificate on which to ground an application for discharge from the U.S service. I certify that I have carefully examined this Officer and several certificates from physicians under whose observation he has been for the last four months, and find that he has been wholly prevented from military duty for five months past by Chronic diarrhoea contracted at Morris Island S.C. in the line of his duty; that he is still very much reduced in strength, unfit for duty and unable travel; and will in my opinion be unable to resume his duties in a less period than four or five months. Dated at Concord N.H. this 22d day of Dec 1863

Wm Henry Thayer Sug 14 N.H. V     
Act Med Director Mil Dist N.H.


Waverly Jan 8th 1865

Dear Wife
     I recd yours of the lst last eve and was very glad that you were able to write you speak of an examination I would submit to most anything if you are satisfied it is for the best. does Dr. C. seem to understand his bis or is he making a job of knitting work of it. it is best to have faith in a Dr then let him go ahead.
     I am comfortably well my stomach troubles me conciderbly yet but is so much better that I do not mind it much I made the best weeks work last week $24.00 which I think is a little ahead of C & H Hands but I worked till 9 & 11 PM every evening except Sat. in this dry air I wear out my hands with sand paper and they crack and are most outrageous sore the work is mostly B. Walnut and bad on acct of dust. I have paid my board all my expences clothing etc and have about $10.00 more than when I started from home I have Bot. a $100.00 7-30 Gov Bond which cost $102.85 the back interest to Aug 15th the interest is 2 cts per day I think I shall get another this week or rather 2 fifties the first six months interest I get Feb 15th the interest on $100 will be $14.60 per year or about $15 if the interest is invested I wish now I had bought Bonds when I first left home I think if my health continues the same as now that I can make from 15 to 20 dollars per week I have astonished the natives in the quality of Turning the old man is offering to bet a 100.00 that he has got the best Turner this side of Chicago the great trouble is low water. "there is never a rose without a thorn" the business is carried on by L.W. Tondro in Co with his father Lyman lives at C. Falls where they have a shop & wareroom. I do the turning for both shops except the Chair stuff that is Boys work but they think it is something great to turn a straight green stick. I dont mean to get into that at all if I can help it. As Bedsteads & Table Legs pay much better. if I had the conveniences they have at Cambridges shop I could make $30 a week. as it is I expect I shall soon scare them and get cut down as that is my luck. these men are not Mechanics and I am afraid they will make their stuff so poor that it will spoil their trade the only part of the work done decent is the Turning prehaps it would have been better for me to have done it poorer to begin with. But if it falls through next summer I can get 3.00 per day at Carpenter work easy there is the poorest set of mechanics here I ever saw in any state they are not better than the Niggers down south. That Order of col. Abbots I think is very good what makes you call it awfull
     I think the Tavern is just the place for Mrs Day to slave out the rest of her life & just the business he would like to a dot so on the whole it will be a splendid move. I have thinking of it and it seems to me that Henry is not holder on that stuff after the foreclosure tell him to ask a Lawyer as this was a mortgage as additional security to a mortge on real estate
     I have not written to Father you may if you choose as you can tell him the circumstances of all better than I can I had a letter from Pease last week I shall write him today. tell Annee not to worry about moving west as I shall never ask any of my family to come to or live with me again unless they choose to freely my best endeavors will be put forth towards your support wherever you choose to live. I have no news to write wishing you better health I will close

Yours &c      C Shedd


Waverly Apr 23d 1865

Dear Wife
     I have recd two letters from you last week both recipting the money sent. I am very much pained at the last one with the report of your disease as I had hoped and had reason to expect by the reports of other Drs that you could be helped. I have no patience to think of Drs Bullard Skinner or Currie especially Currie they have studied and practiced to but little purpose if they dont know any more of the human system than they have shown in your case. as for Dr. Rodgers it is a mere matter of faith no tangible proof of his powers can be had his failure to tell the nature of your disease does not surprise me but Currie as I wrote before ought to be prosecuted. I am glad you are so calm and can write so calmly when you think your case is so hopeless, and hope you will have strength to continue so.
     Dont worry about the Children or about me; the only cause you have to worry about them is this Terrible Legacy. you have inherited from your mother and have left to your Children I dont know where your Mother got it, but it is worse than Murder for any one knowing they have Cancerous tumors inherited or otherwise to marry and have children; for the "sins of the Fathers are visited on the heads of their children" with a vengeance.
     Rum dont entail the worst curses on Children there in the world if it does I am very much mistaken, but this is a case you are not to blame for I dont wish to have you take this strong talk as blaming you in any sence of the word. but you will be to blame if you worry about the future welfare of your children so far as the common events of life are concerned the day is past for Orphans to starve or freeze and morrally they do as well as other children in my judgement; in 39 years of life; If you are comfortably situated wont it be best for you to stay where you are for a few weeks? I will wait till I get an answer from this then will go to S.R. and take you home if you wish Money we have got to have, and just now we are having a good run of water, and probably I can make good pay for a short time. Pease write me there is nothing doing at E. business is stagnant and he is jobbing about the house I expect work will get dull here soon then will be the time to leave. I demand one thing that you will let no one know that I am going east or anything about it, my arm got better then I let down a stitch in my back but have kept at work with much tribulation. if it had been any work but stand up work I would have to lay by.
     I think the Country will stand even with the great loss of the President. it takes a very great man to make a perceptible hole among the millions of the world; when one dies there is two ready to take the place. Folks made a great blow because Johnson got drunk but drunk or sober he is better than those who railed at him and demanded his resignation so loudly it is amusing to see with what facility these amusing good folks eat their words and lick their own spittle now he is President. we had a 36 hour snowstorm Thursday and it is not gone yet. the spring is very late again. I charge you not to worry about no one it is more appropriate for others to worry about you it is about time for you to leave off borrowing trouble

Yours &c      C. Shedd


Waverly Apr 25th 1865

Dear Wife
     Yours of the 18th came to hand last Eve I am glad to hear you were able to ride to reading & that Dr Rogers has not altered his opinion I hope he will prove correct and help you. About the garden I dont know what to do it wont pay to hire it tended Jim cant do anything about it unless he lets it out. do as you please with it if you think of going there soon prehaps it will be well to get something planted.
&c     Times are so dull east that I dont think it best for me to go there untill it is absolutly necessary. I am writing on my Latheand supper is ready

Yours in haste      C Shedd

I had a letter from Pease I dont think he has any notion of coming out here he excuses himself by saying it will cost a hundred dollars for tools I supposed he had gumption enough to know that he would want tools if he worked at Carpenter work anywhere the best thing he can do is to stay where he is and be easy

CS


Waverly May 7th 1865

Dear Wife &c
     Yours of the 30th post has come to hand. the prospect seems better for your health if the spirits cure you they shall have the first Premium. This is the third day that has seemed like planting time today we are having a regular Prairie Hurricane otherwise it would be very pleasant. There are many families going to the Mines Idaho &c and many moving here & from here it is all move in the west to stop but a little while in a place seems to be one of the characteristics of the western population. this town is crowded not even a chance to get boarded without trouble so that the price of board will keep up if wages go down. families with 3 to 8 Children are living in one small room go to the river for water with all other conveniences in propation. it is expected to be a wet season with short crops as this is the seventh year since the last wet one. they have not finished putting in wheat which should have been done a month ago. Oranges have just arrived in market at 15 each I cant indulge at that figure. I have no news to write & will close.

Yours &c      C Shedd


Waverly June 4th 65

Dear Wife
     You write that you are 100 perct better I congratulate you in the enjoyment of perfect health. It seems that you have gained very rapidly in one week from very low to par. prehaps you did not mean what you wrote, nonetheless I am very glad that you are better. I am loosing flesh again and getting weak it has been very warm dry and dusty for two weeks the crops are suffering for want of rain. (Dutch) John Smith went up the river friday P.M. and caught between 30 & 40 lbs of Pickerel one weighed 6 lbs. none less than 2. I think it was the nicest string I ever saw.
     You write you are going home shortly if you go as soon as you proposed I will write next week to E.
     I send $20.25 and will send more shortly. I have not much by me now but expect to earn some during the week. do you suppose Pillsbury has furnished his family a dollar & a half a day to live on for the last year? still he takes good care of his family while I abuse mine.
     Nan would have a good show if bound to Mr. Haley to put her out every time she (Mrs H) was obliged to be away a week or two 'all is not gold that glitters'.

Yours &c      C Shedd


Waverly June 13th 65

Dear Wife
     I recd yours of the 5th Sat eve. I presume this will reach you at Enfield if you start this week. I send $20 I presume Ada & Anna will get over their homesickness in a very short time after you reach there. for a rarity it rains it has been very dry and dusty for several weeks they sometimes have their heaviest freshets in June and this is the year for a wet season, but it has not appeared much like it yet. Strawberries are getting ripe but are scarce on account of the drougth.
     there is no news stirring the Chicago talk of but little except the Sanitary Fair which I suppose is unprecedented in Grandure of Conception and embelishment.
     Gens Grant & Sherman are being Bored by the public in great shape good for them, they have no business to be so distinguished, it is disgusting to see people run such things into the ground.
     I have nothing new to write I continue to have all the work I am able to do. unless Pease is doing better than when he wrote he would have done better to have come here.

Yours &c      C Shedd


Waverly June 20th 65

Dear Wife
     I did not write Sunday as usual the reason why cos I didn't last Friday just at night we had one of the most violent Showers with Gale I ever new it unroofed several buildings broke down many trees. I never saw so much Lightning & thunder put into one night as that it rained steadily two nights and one day clearing up Sunday about 9 A.M. then I done my washing and toward night took a ramble on the Prairie after strawberries found two. they sell them at 30 per qt Butter is down to 10 cheese 20. I dont see the point of that I dont get Potatoes half the time reason why the farmers let them freeze. buildings are going up very fast or things they call buildings there is more agricultural machinery in town for sale than would supply 20 towns like E. if they were to start new a man will plant & tend from 40 to 60 acres of corn and never touch a hoe to it.
     I suppose you are at home this week you ask why you dont move to S.R. I suppose the reason is you have not $100, it would cost to move. then I am at a loss to see where the extra hundred or two it would cost you to live there a year is coming from. can you elucidate the point by figures & facts.
     it was cold enough for a frost last night but the wind kept it off.

Yours &c      C Shedd

Prairie rose buds. they are not very pretty when blown


Boston Jan 26th 69

Tuesday 2 PM
     I have bought my ticket by way of N.Y. Pittsburgh Ft. Wayne to Chicago
     I stoped at Lowell saw Father he gave me $10.00 I would not have taken it but thought my pile was dangerous for so long journey my ticket to Chicago was 23.00 it will cost 5 more by way of Cincinnatti and I shall not go there.
     I send an insureance Policy for 8 days it cost me 2.00 and insures 25.00 per week and 5,000 in case of Death so if I get killed send to the Co. at Hartford.
     there is no snow here but it is so cold that I have kept pretty still today shall start at 5.30 from Old Colony Depot by Newport line to N.Y. I will not reach Chicago till Friday or later if I stop over at any place. tell Hyde that 23.00 is as cheap as any route from here they are all of the same price.
     Father thought I was going right away from home and felt rather bad about it but if I have my health I will make or break this time so done get sick and tease me to come home for anything short of Death

Shedd

Pay Day wont come till the 16 or 17 of next month for me then only part of a month 16 days if I work all of this week I have got an awfull dirty job but we work about as we please dont hurry though it is very hard work some of it I was fearefully tired when I first began


Bloomington Feb 21 / 69

Dear Wife & Children
     this is a most excrable pen I recd yours last thursday Eve sorry to hear that you are all ailing dont get hard sick for heavens sake for we are in a tight place just now but if I have my health shall work out of it in a month or tow I hope as I wrote before business is dull and things look Blue but I hope a bad beginning may be the precursor of a good ending my Toolls did not reach here so that I shall not get in but 16 days this month I was just one month after leaving Sturtevant in getting to work here but it is a short month and there seems to be more Sundays than usual week before last the bluebirds were singing Frogs peeping Geese flying warm as May this morning we have from 4 to 6 inches of snow and it is quite wintry on next months rent you must make Lanton wait if necessary and keep a stiff upper lip earn as much as possible and try and see if we cant get a start this year if possible. I must say I am doubtfull with my present knowledge of this country whether we ever move out here, but I presume things will look different in the spring and business gets lively, much obliged to you Lilly for your letter meat & Bread is cheaper groceries very little higher rent twice as high such Tenements as ours would be 25.00 per month here, if one owns a house they can get along better here than in the East Coal Bituminous 4.00 per Ton wood 6.00 per cord Board from 1 to 2 dollars higher washing 1.00 per Doz. Butter 25 to 30 Corn 50 per Bushel B stk 15 Flour 6 to 10 sausage 15 Ham very high 22 Carpenters wages 250 to 350 in summer Machinists 3 to 350 year round 10 hour


Bloomington March 14th 1869

Dear Wife & Children

     I recd yours & Lilys last night glad to hear you are well hope Lilly will succeed in her edging business if she can do anything at it go in and dont back down.
     My health is fine I have had a fearfully hard job this last week putting in Pattent Bumpers lifting & Boring hard wrenching in putting in large Bolts, the dirtiest work I ever done my hand look like Hen Tibbets, ask Mr. Folsom if the Mr Heath at the Shop is A.C. Heath formerly master mechanic at the Amoskeag shop in Manchester there is a man by the name of Carley that boards here wishes to know as it is his uncle if he is the man. Carley is Boss of the Planers in machine Shop. Speaking of Oyesters we have three oysters and a plate of soup every Sunday for dinner and soup every day at dinner if we want it but I dont eat any but Oyster Bean & vegitable Vermicelli Maccaroni &c I let pass. we have plenty to eat the only fault is slack cooking of some of the meats B. Steak every supper since I have been here except sunday then cold meat Tea & Coffee morning & night I get Tea at dinner made on purpose alone two & three kinds of pie at dinner no puddings mince, apple, Peach, Blackberry, Prune, custard, Cocoa-nut, Lemon, and Cherry pies Prune, Blackberry, apple, Peach, or cherry sauce at tea the house is lighted with Gass which is a nuisance for the pipes leak and stinks all over the house in every room it will not shut off so I burne it all night and keep ventilated as well as I can and put a stopper over the burner in day time. The City is also lighted with Gass and all the principle streets have wooden sidewalks and the streets are thouroughly paved with mud but I think it may be plesant in the summer barring the dust which is inseperable from this whole western country. Business is dull here yet I am told it is always so in winter as there is no lumber or wood business here as in most places but work is very plenty in summer at good wagers as then all surplus help is absorbed by the farmers. Lil tell Dick that if he is a copperhead that you will cut his tail off chock up to his 'Bottle'.
     I am in hopes that it will be a little more agreeable here by and by and that the mud will go away but it comes every time there is a little shower sticks like putty your cold streak has reached here and paid us for the warm Feb. I dont think of any news to write Owen ought to pay that 8 dollars I guess Currier & Turner will always owe me that note. Well the Battle of life will soon be over, and none then will depend on me for a living; and there will be no hole left where I go down, "So Mote it be".

C Shedd

write or post Mondays so I shall get it as it is so far to the office that I dont go very often except Saturdays


Bloomington March 21st 1869

Dear Wife
     I recd yours of the 19th last night was glad to hear that you were getting along so well & hopefull and a prospect of self-support which will help me very much more than any one would think I sent you 15.00 last Wed. which I hope you have got ere this as it will help with that bbl of flour I think it will be a good strike in taking Pease as you will be sure of you pay and a steady man. I am well as usual have not worked so hard the last week been scraping car seats and made the job last well, since I found out what my pay is I shall be digging out of this in a month or tow I think, business continues to be fearfully dull in the mechanical line, they have got a class of hands here that are bound to stay and they pay them just what they please, I think the Republicans of No 11 put their foot into it in bolting, whether Cox was good or bad; ask Pease what he thinks of it, give him my respects does he work by the hour or piece I should like to have him write me, how they get on in the shop how is Lils edging get on is she getting rich. I am in hopes to get out of this sled now and pay for the machine and Jim in two or three months with good luck as I shall find job to make more money this summer as I shall leave this country sure. I don't believe in Railroads the reason they are so anxious to work for them is they get their pay regular and take no thought or car but to keep their job & kill time. I think the best way when you write to Father to direct to Lowell then if there is any thing he dont wish Mrs S. to see So. So. it is getting warmer and the streets are one slush of mud this latitude is the meanest I was ever in, neither one thing or another, north or south, worse than N.E. or S.C. I think Belle Chase has made about such a market as one Augusta Burtt did about 20 years ago.
     dont sleep three in abed put my youngest Cuss in a Trunk or Band Box or on the Lounge or Sofa or some place and I should think you all would be more comfortable. I don't think of much to say this time

Yours Always
     Calvin Shedd

22d I mail my letters on train at 2-30 P.M., now in a few minutes the more I think of it I am the better pleased with your boarding business keep a record if you find you are loosing shut right off short you can tell in a short time.

C.S.


Bloomington March 28th 1869

Dear Wife & Children
     I recd yours of the 21st last night glad to hear you are well. I am well and gaining flesh think it a good thing that I quit turning have better appetite side does not trouble me as much Spine is better back does not ache quarter as bad as when I was at home standing all the time.
     I have been turning most of the time for a few days have moved into new shops and think I shall get more agreeable work I asked the Boss yesterday for a job by my Lathe he said he thought he could give me one most of the time at any race I could keep my Tools there together, if I can work there the job would be very good, if I was not obliged to earn more money. I have got a new bench close to the Lathe, probably shall not turn but a few days in a month I celebrated my Birth-day yesterday by eating my last apple which was pretty wizzled and partly decayed yesterday was very plesant and spring like Today it rains the mud is still horrid a foot deep in places and perfect porridge and where the water drains off sticky & stiff like putty it damns this country for me. Nonnie cant you make me a little neck ornament to wear with a paper Collar something that could be sent in letter as it costs as much to get a colar washed as two paper colars cost and I cant stand them up and put on this tie that I have for they wont turn down again without tearing. I think by and by I shall ant some thing sent out after I get more money to send home in a month or two prehaps my mosquito net Razor and other things, paper collars are 35 cts for a box of 10 I think they are only 15 there 14 is my size. I am plesantly situate for board lodging and health by far than when in Iowa but cant earn so much money that is where the rub is but I am getting a little more than Carpenters got in Lebanon for 2.50 was the price last summer unless for extra hands, but I will have good pay before summer is over or I am greatly mistaken, I am liable to go nearer home than farther off, or just as liable, prehaps to Chicago, or into Michigan, but I am not decided in favor of any place, the Pacific Road is played out with me too much rush there. it is hard work to find stock for an interesting letter every week as I stay right about my business & Boarding house only go up town sat. nights and then come back as quick as possible for there is nothing to interest me. Velocipedes are the rage but I have not even seen one yet they have a riding Hall here 10 cts admission an cent a minute to ride so I hear. Gen Howard, Mrs. Cady Stanton Fred Douglas Anna Dickinsom have lectured here did not go to hear any of them, reason why, '10 cts admission'

Love to all
     C. Shedd


Bloomington Monday Eve Apr. 5/69

Dear Wife & Children
     I recd yours of the 28th this Eve went for it Sat they said nothing, they have a trick of advertising all letters left over friday night that was the reason I did not get it, I am well as usual have worked every hour since I have been here that is to say I have not lost a minutes time. I have nothing of interest to write that I think of. A Spirit suggested to me that Folsom let Richardson or Moses have money to get into the Firm and thats whats the matter with me, the rest maybe guessed. I have not reced any letter from Hyde very sorry for I should be glad to hear from him. I think I shall look round some before long Shall go to St Louis & Chicago they are the great centres for everything of the West after that I can probably write Hyde something deffinite and tangible
     the mud has dried up so that it is some better getting round but not enough to start business very much. corn the staple of this country is low about 37 cts delivered to the cars and Farmers wont sell business on the R.R. a little slack in consequence. Cattle dealers are loosing money fearfully those that contractted in the fall for stock at a certain price to be delivered or taken this spring the prices have fell instead of rising and they are out. Lill how is the Edging trade got rich "Eh"
     I dont hurt myself with work as I did when I first begun as my job now is much easier cleaner and better, but I must quit it for a better one soon as I can find one as there is not enough money in it.

Good Night
C Shedd

Huckleberry Pies nowadays dried very good Raspberry not so good


Bloomington Apr 10th 1869

Dear Wife & Children
     I recd yours last night am glad to hear that you are getting along so well. I expect you will make a little fortune in boarders I hope you will make as much money as I do and more too. things look at little brighter here they are begining to build not so many idlers still there are a good many looking for jobs.
     When you get so that you can get along it will give me courage and liberty to push out where I can do better. This is no place for me I am quite sure and I am at a stand where to put for but from all I can learn Mo. or Kan is the place for one with nothing but there hands. I think it was the great mistake of my life that I had not stoped here 12 years ago when I was out here. My impression is that wages are coming down all over the country and I am not certain as it will be good policy to hunt much for the biggest wages but for a place I like for a home and there set my stake and stand by it through thick and thin. that Machine troubles me greatly I can send you about 40 dollars pay day and I want you to write me by return mail with that what you can do by borrowing towards the machine or pay a part of it, what you can, before May 1st, and see how you can compromise the rest. if worst comes to worse I can quit the last days of the month and get Apr pay but that leaves me in a bad fix.
     There is nothing of interest going on here the trees are budding out but it is very muddy from recent rains I see by the Free Press that Eva Gove is dead.
     What a D-d old fool Old Withington is to get Married at his time of life. if John and Willie come west their heads are Level they cant do worse and the chances are 5 to 1 that they will do better after they learn to live here if they would put themselves to Farming, raising Stock is the business of all others.

love to all
C Shedd


McLean Co. Capital L on the Lean     
Bloomington Sunday Apr 18th 1869

Dear Wife &c
     Yours of the 11th is recd Move if you can do better but stay a spell if you can till I see what I can do. Who should pop into the shop last Wed but John and Will. they had been all over the north part of the state looking for a job could not get one, nowhere. Foolish boys! That they had not written me and found out or taken heed of the letters I have written which have invariably spoke of the dullness of business why didnt you tell them and the mistake that they did not take their tools with them they stayed over night then went to Chicago to look up an Uncle of Johns. it is too bad if they had waited a month longer then took their tools with them there would have been no trouble finding a job. as it is I am afraid they will get discourage and go home with a bad impression of the West.
     Nannie I am very much obliged to you for that ornament it is very pretty; but you will be disapointed as I was for I tried to put it on about an hour this morning and could not my shirt button is at the top of where the ornament should be so the Elastic is an inch from the Button and I have failed to think of a way to make one, so let it go, I thank you just as much as though I could wear it; my impression is that one that would go round my neck once, and tie, putting it into the collar before putting it on, would be the most feasible. I have thought of cutting a piece out of the middle of the one I have and weaving it in that way. John and Will are to write me if they get a job or go home since they went away I have heard from Mo & Kan there is an emmence emigration there this spring already and I am perfectly satifyed that I ought to go and that soon as possible the climate is grand good land good water and the best class of emigrants going there I work with a man that was down through there to Texas after Cattle he says there is no part of the country he likes to well as so. western Mo. and shall go there to stay soon.
     I mailed you $40.00 last tuesday which I hope you have got before this. I hope to hear in you next that it can be so arranged that I can start the first of the month.
     The Boys said they did not let any one know where they were going but did not caution me about writing and I don't know whether they want it kept secret or not tell of it or not just as you think best, if you cant make any other arrangement I believe I must write to Durant offering him some extra inducement to wait for 60 days from May lst.

Yours &c
     C Shedd

P.S. Lill how is the Edging business


Bloomington May 2d 1869

Dear Wife & Children
     I recd yours of the 25th last night yesterday I packed my Tools and if nothing happens shall start at 2-35 in the morning I have not lost an hour since I commenced work till I quit. They wanted to raise my pay and have me stop but dont see it. Till I look further I shall put for Kansas City first, after that, shall be governed by circumstances. John & will done a big thing, I dont see why they did not write me as they agreed when they left.
     I presume the reason of that Letter being mailed at St. Lo. I put it in the Box at Freight Office, and they mailed it on the down train, which was wrong.
     I shall stop over in St. Lo. tomorrow then go on by rail or Boat to K.C. unless I find a good job this side of there. I hear from so. western Mo most every day and all say that it is a fine country good for fruit &c the only bad feature is a drought occasionally that just uses things all up when nothing is raised hardly in the Vegitable & Grain line, but there is no place just right unless found the other side of the River.
     I dont think of anything else to write and will close & pack my trunk

Love to all
C Shedd



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[1]Camp Hale, named for United States Senator John P. Hale 1861H, was located outside of Manchester, New Hampshire.

[2]Haldimand Putnam´┐Żs papers are Dartmouth College Library, Special Collections, MS-742.

[3] Otis F. R. Waite, New Hampshire in the Great Rebellion, Containing Histories of the Several New Hampshire Regiments, and Biographical Notices of Many of the Prominent Actors in the Civil War of 1861-1865 (Claremont: Tracy, Chase & Co., 1870), 339. The standard history of the regiment is Henry F. W. Little, The Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion (Concord: Seventh New Hampshire Veterans Association, 1896).

[4] Waite, New Hampshire, 347.

[5] Calvin Shedd to his wife, 23 April 1865. Dartmouth College Library, Special Collections, MS-763.

[6] Shedd to his wife, 8 January 1865.

[7] Shedd to his wife and children, 28 March 1869.

[8] Shedd to his wife and children, 5 April 1869.

[9] Shedd to his wife and children, 10 April 1869.

[10] Shedd to his wife and children, 2 May 1869.



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