1863 Canada West, letter from farmer to brother in Union Army (Ohio)

$120.00 CAD

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March 1863 letter from Amos Whittemore, living near Orwell Canada West (Ontario). Orwell is about 25 Km SE of London Ontario. Sent to his brother Moses in Canal Lewisville in Keene township, Coshocton county, Ohio. At this time Moses was serving in the 51st Ohio Infantry.

Nice snapshot of life in Canada, opinions on slavery, runaways (draft-dodgers?), politics of the time, dysentery deaths, railways, and a smattering of religion.

See other letter from this family I have on sale.

While not named, this was part of a group of correspondence between the two brothers.

Eight pages, but last 2 appear to refer to something else.

Orwell March 19th 1863
I received your letter dated Jan & Feb and I was glad to see so much greater quantity of information than usual. As to the the first article in your letter about loving my neighbour better than myself I plead not guilty.  And I have not lost all of what I once had by loving my neighbor at all I have lost the greater part by buying building lots other men bought side by side who were what we call good calculations. The next article in your letter is politics which are the same here as in the States only they are out of danger yet they are secesh and union as if the belonged to the States. As to the annihilation of slavery I agree with you & a large majority in Canada. But it would foil the whole not to buy Union men’s slaves//
In connection with your politics & slavery you give the appalling account of 500,000 men dead ah dead. I think I think that 100,000 at are home half runaways & the remainder sent home sick & wounded &c. The next article is the price of produce &c. Which would not be a great price when we know your money is worth only 60 to 65 cents for a dollar...There are several oil wells near this place that produce and abundance of of oil – your essay on religion is so full in description of its truth and its universal use I will not say anything only I wish might experience it in its full efficacy. As to my coming to Keene ...//
... I have an acre of ground in good condition for a garden and more if can use it. And a house and all things necessary to Board & Lodging. I heard lately that that Father was yet alive and the writer did not know but he & all the kindred well as usual. You asks what Father thinks of his past life. I suppose he thinks like many other men I shall stand as good a chance as many others who see no difference in most professions & non professions...//
This has been an unpleasant winter too warm to keep the snow yet there has been some cold storms and frost. Half of this month has been as cold as any half month this winter but now is sugar weather & much is made in this vicinity generally. There has been much sickness & many more deaths than usually. Last fall many young and some old people died with the Dysentery. And this winter many have died with fevers colds consumptions & I have suffered a little by colds yet I have many visits staying sometimes 4 or 5 days away in a week. If I well and nothing uncommon comes to pass I shall be at your premises in Keene at about Novem 15 or 20th 1863//
The religious part of community are in about the usual degree of activity but on account of Politics is not so prosperous as usual. There is a party who want to give the Roman Catholics the liberty of having separate schools and get money from government which should be given to Common schools so that schools in the neighborhood must be small and costly and thus make Romans.I fear that it will become a law. There is an other party wants a rail way from Quebec to Halifax. Some oppose this Because Canada is now in debt 70,000,000 $. Time will reveal it in due time. The ground is becoming bare and mudy Trees are tapped &c Etc //
...The last account I have of Joseph he was in West Charleston Vermont preaching half the time in Vt. & half in Canada.I have not heard from David or Abert for a long time.. I may be to fast in saying I come next winter for you did not promise to pay my land next winter but I suppose you will. Write on the 4th of July if you cant have any thing to --- before and I will respond. Now we never meet in this world I feel an assurance we should meet in the world to come where we see many with whom we taken sweet council. & waked to the house of worship together & enjoy happiness forever & ever ...Your loving friend & brother Amos Whittemore//
Next two pages appear to be part of another letter…top panel missing…
…(bunch of numbers)…This makes half a dollars difference near as possible & so of bushels If you cannot understand it yor School Teacher will Explain . Orwell Elgin County C.W. C.W. stands for Canada West//
…not been for anything I have been expecting money from Jeremiah Fowler which was due on the first of Jan. And I had just sent a letter to my attorney & as the money must be acknowledged and must be exchanged for current money before it becomes of no value. We are afraid that your new --- will fail then States money would not be worth much. I have just received a letter stating that he could not get silver or gold or check on any any bank  And did not know how much or when --- send soon as they or he could get the money of Jery. So I must stay and attend to it.//


8 pages, one top panel missing. Some staining. Folded horizontally for mailing.

18 cm x 11.5 cm


Moses Langley Whittemore (1840-1865) was the son of Daniel B. Whittemore (1802-1888) and Lovina Goodhue (1808-1857). In 1860, the Whittemore family resided in Canal Lewisville in Keene townsh county, Ohio, where Daniel worked at his trade as a cooper. By then, Daniel was married to his second wife. Moses enlisted at the age of 22 in September 1861 as a private in Co. C, 51st Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). He was promoted to corporal in December 1862 and mustered out as a veteran with his regiment at Victoria, Texas, in October 1865. He died of broken health just weeks after his discharge.

The 51st Ohio served in various capacities after it was formed, but did not participate in its first major engagement until the fall of 1862 when the regiment met and defeated Wheeler’s Confederate Cavalry at Dobson’s Ferry. The 51st then when on to suffer casualties at the Battle of Stone River before moving on to occupy Murfreesboro.

In January 1864, Moses is still at Murfreesboro. On the 16th of that month, his birthday, he writes a 9pp missive to his family detailing his thoughts upon turning 24. The majority of the letter reflects upon his spiritual journey, and how the conflict that rages on in the country reflects a larger struggle and overarching question regarding Protestantism’s place in the world.

Moses’ next three letters are written from Blue Springs (near Cleveland), TN, and near Atlanta, GA, during the spring and summer of 1864, just after Moses’ reenlistment. During this period his regiment was involved in the Atlanta Campaign. Following that campaign his regiment moved west until it mustered out in Victoria, TX, at the end of the war. While Moses’ military record does not indicate any  illness or disease, a family history indicates that Moses “died of disease contracted in the service” shortly after his regiment mustered out.