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Ira Conine Papers: Transcripts - MS 673
January 26, 1865
As I have a leisure moment, I don't know as I could spend it more pleasantly than in addressing a few lines to you. We have been having some beautiful weather here for a few days, but it commenced raining yesterday, rained all night, and to day it is snowing, but it will do me no good if it would snow and freeze for three weeks. I couldn't use it. Now I wish I could be up at the "old Squires" about two or three weeks while it is [sleighing]. Would'nt we have a gay time? Get Amelia to come and stay with us, [Gail] and [Dunn] to address occasionally. The most fun I saw was standing on the ladder watching [Gail] and [Dunn] preparing for the stage. I have thought a thousand times what would I give for a picture of that scene just as it was, Amelia sitting on the chest holding the curtain to one side so that I could see. Sallie thrown back on the bed nearly dying with laughter, you in your night clothes sitting up in another bed while Han and Eliza was dressing and primping and I standing on the ladder watching them. Now don't you think it would be a beautiful picture? Them trowsers was such a great fit for ____ and that vest for Gail, but I think Gail was rather full breasted for that vest. I must write to Anderson all about that when I can get his address. I'll never wear any of these clothes again and I know Anderson wont wear his after I tell him where they have been indeed it would scare him to death. Jennie do you know where Mr. [Critesen] lives now? There was a number of letters sent from the hospital to this camp a few days since and there being no such [men] in our camp, we opened a few of them one of which was addressed to Samuel Craig. I read it and of all the love letters ever I saw it was ahead-she subscribed herself Sarah [Critesen] [Anopolis] Indiana. They are engaged to be married and it appears that he has neglected to write to her she is nearly crazy, love sick and a great many others things. I read the letter and not knowing where to address it to her fellow and thinking it might be the same Sarah [Critesen] that used to go to school at Sharpsville, I returned her letter. Well it is just nine months to day since I came to this camp. Little then did I think of remaining here untill now but so it has been and if they leave me here seven months more they can just kiss my foot and I'll quit them. However I cant complain where I am I have everything I want. What more could a soldier ask! I have indeed been one among the favored since I have been in the army although I believe you said I should not be because I was so wicked. I am with you like old Dunahoe was with the Presbyterian preacher where he "prayed he might be removed by death or some other means." "I swear I won't go." Nothing but a General order will ever get me to rejoin my company again. If they take that pains to get me I shall be compelled to go but untill then I shall remain in Knoxville. I believe I would as soon ___ the remainder of my enlistment here as any where. Well Jennie while I was writing this two or three days since I was called to something else and have delayed concluding my mission untill this eve and I have just sent for the mail. Who knows but I will hear from you to night. I received a letter from a lady of [Anopolis] Indiana this morning, Miss Sarah [Critisen] in answer to the letter I returned to her the one she had written to her betrothed. She appears to want to know something more of me I will send you her letter the first opportunity I have. When I wrote to her I subscribed myself I.B.C. and she addressed me as such but wants my full name which I think she will get "in a ____." I have got her on the wing and think I shall keep her there at present. Jennie I have a couple of good novels here which I am going to send you but I shant mail them untill I think you have had time to answer my letter for fear they would be so much interest to you that all your time would be taken to novel reading and I should'nt hear from you for several days again. Well the mail boy has come but none for me, too bad isn't it. Well I sometimes think I am doomed to disappointment. Only average about two or three letters a week and you know how that isn't half enough so long as they don't come from the right source. Last night I sat here for an hour and read over all your old letters that I have received since my return and indeed I couldn't help laughing aloud as I chanced to notice an occasional remark. I don't think you ought to say anything about Anderson and I writing spicy letters, I think some of yours will do. I keep them locked up in my valisse you will not get any of these untill I get home. I want you to hear me read them and interpret their real meaning and you know I would'nt say any thing bad unless you had learned it to me either verbally or by letter. I am indeed a modest boy, the more so than any boy my mother ever owned. Lieut Wallace and I are well and having about as gay times as usual. We are building a house here for twenty-six ____. It is a small frame in shape of an L, has three rooms in it, twelve feet by sixteen, one for a office, one for a kitchen, the other for a bed room. We have it nearly completed all pine lumber except the roof that is chestnut shingles. Have four carpenters to work at it. They commenced the week before Christmas. I went to town yesterday and bought the glass, hinges and locks, cost $25.00. The glass alone cost $18.00, thirty-six panes. "Perhaps" you would like to come and visit us when we get moved into it. And "perhaps" you would'nt. We purpose dedicating it with a dance to which you are respectfully solicited as you say you sometimes [___ ___ ___]. It is getting nearly bedtime and I have a letter to answer before I retire. I will close this .
Yours very muchly,
My regards to the [Yaller Gal] and all the rest of your friends. Generally tell that dutchman of yours he better be making his way to Germany then to let me hear of him gallanting any of my [girls] about.
February 5, 1865
My dear Jennie,
It is Sabbath eve. the children asleep, my lady gone to church in company with a Mr. Locke and Lady of this city-"relatives of my wife." So you see I am stealing a leisure moment in her absence to correspond with another. I was married the 30th of November, but I didn't think you would be apprised of the fact so soon. I married a lady whose maiden name was Priscilla Jane Peckoves. Since you have become acquainted with the fact that I am married I am heartily glad that you have also found an admirable suitor-"Mr [Cumus]" of California. I have seven months yet to serve in the army. I never expect to visit Ohio again if I do my stay will be limited. Well I guess I have carried this joke far enough. Please allow me the honor of informing you that I am yet single and expect to remain so untill I wed the one I so long since proffesed [professed] my heart and hand. I also beg pardon for telling you such an untruth on the first page, and keeping you long in suspense about that, which you should have known better. You ask if I think you ever neglected me to attend an oyster supper! Indeed I do not think you ever neglected me in the least. I do not think you would be guilty of betraying your trust. You are too much the lady to say one thing and act another. I was surely jogging your memory a little that I might hear from you oftener. Hereafter when anyone ask if I am married please read to them the first page of this missive. There was a wedding in town to day a Mr. Harrison Grooms of 12 Ky. Inftry. to Miss Margaret Cummins of this city, He is about 33 years of age while she is but 18. His term of service is expired, was mustered out yesterday, and to day was mustered in for life. There are a great many soldiers marrying here, but it is only those that never went in society at home. Some never intend to live with their wives any longer than their stay at this post, while others I believe are honest in it. One soldier about 21 years of age married a lady here who has been married once and has a daughter 17 years of age and one son in the army. What do you think of that? Me thinks your answer is if it had been you, you would have married the daughter in preference to the old lady. Think I should done the same. "But every one to their notion". Jennie, I believe I told you in my letter previous to this about me returning a letter to a Miss Sarah ______, she wrote me a letter and appears to want to know something more of me. I will send you the letter in this. She wants to know my full name but she has'nt got that yet. Charley and Lydia are married, well they certainly must be a very interesting couple. I think that family of children have done exceedingly well in marrying. So to Miss Cook Lucinda to Mathias, Elisabeth to Mr. Bainey and last of all Lydia to Charley. Now I think if Isaac could manage to latch on to the "Scotch Maggot" (Abbie Oren) one couldn't say to the other, "your husband or wife is a disgrace to the rest of the family." Well Jennie the mail is here but no letters for Ira to night. Too bad isn't it. I was looking for a letter from my Clarksfield (Miss Armstrong) to night. I believe I will send you two or three of her letters with this. I would just give something nice to go to see her about half doz. times. Judging her by the letter she writes I think I could just have a gay time with her don't you? You wanted I should send you some novels. Jennie I will do so I am going to send you some poetry in this which I think is real good.
Well for an answer to your letter you say you are glad that I can find enjoyment in the perusal of your letters, wish you could make them more worthy my perusal, that all the human family are not endowed with the talent of letter writing, that you are one of the unfortunate ones. Now Jennie, I beg to differ with you then. I don't wish to flatter you any but I think you are one of the most fortunate in that aspect rather than unfortunate. Again you say you get just as many one horse answers from I and Wallace as you want, now we don't pretend or at least I don't pretend to be a great letter writer and if you don't like our style just shove along. I will write to Miss Armstrong and Miss Conkle, Wallace will write to Miss Stewart and Miss Emma Stone as they are fully competent of appreciating a good letter. Your time is so taken up with entertaining them two H.G's at home and corresponding with Epley, Randall, and I presume others that I am kept ignorant of that you cant take time to read my horse answers. That [Yaller Gal] (Maggie) time is occupied in corresponding with some nigger Sergt. who tells her he is on detached duty that he is a Lieut or somebody else or else she like you, is endeavoring to entertain some dutch H.G. or O.N.G. or perhaps a few because he owns a few yards of muslin, piece of calico, bolt of cambric, and calls it a store and says he is rich so she hasn't time to write to a white man consequently doesn't know how to appreciate a good letter. Now that is not the kind of correspondent we want. Whenever we fail to interest our correspondents we wish them to either quit answering our one horse letters or ask us to stop our correspondence that our letters are no longer acceptable. Indeed when I started out I did'nt expect I should be competent to interest such refined, modest young ladies as I have had the honor to carry on correspondence with since in the army a great while. I knew my style of address would fail to interest them but thought I would continue to write untill I was requested not to do so. But as there was nothing said concerning this while I was home I will say no more perhaps you was only jesting in your letter if so don't take offence at what I have said too. I don't believe I meant half I have written and again I might have meant even more. Well Jennie I am glad you have decided not to go into a printing office. Just at leave hear of you going into a public house in Cincinnati. I assure you that picture will not get the advantage of you if you keep it at arms length if it is anything like the original it would be safe anywhere would'nt it Jennie? Indeed it might have been myself counting an hour behind instead of you counting an hour ahead but be that as it may a little while longer and we will decide that. I used to think the old clock was too fast and often threatened to stop it a little while. I told you I had some hearts to dispose of and purposed letting you have your choice, but since you write me you are going to distribute yours around to old bachelors as I will soon be on that list I'll keep mine and claim a right to one of yours being a bachelor I supposed you wont slight me because I am poor. Well I sat down to write you a note but I think I have pretty near written a letter perhaps you will think this a two horse answer and I will from you.
I remain yours,
It is eleven o'clock and I have written four letters I think I will retire for the night will you give me a kiss before I go?
You wrote to Mrs Shaw that I was married, aint you ashamed to write such stories about one? Now I could'nt get her even if you should die (or marry ____). And her husband get killed in the army. So it is, I believe I am doomed to disappointment. Yet I shant despair, there is Miss Amelia (my schoolmate), Miss Armstrong, my correspondent, and then there's Mrs. Alward raising a Gall for me. So you see I have plenty strings to my bow. Lieut Wallace says tell Jennie don't accept second hand love. We have our house finished and the Lieut is looking for his wife everyday. Him and I are all alone now. They took every teamster and the wagon master away from us. There was a general order, Dept of the Ohio ordering every man on detached duty belong to 23rd A.[G.] to report to the post-commandant at Louisville, Ky. to be forwarded to their commands. The order included me but by some pretty sharp arrangement among the officers, this far I have been retained but they may get me yet. If they do you will hear from me in time. You wanted me to direct my next to Gilboa. I would do but your school will be out before this can reach there so I will address to Ottawa as usual. It is bed time and no doubt your patience has tired long ere this so I will conclude take a kiss and retire. I am well, pleasant dreams to you and now good night.
I remain as ever,
Jennie please preserve this lock of hair Miss Armstrong sent me.
February 23, 1865
It has been more than a week since I last wrote you. Yet I have no letter to answer. But the war news is so cheering and I have so little to do at present that I am getting quite saucy and I think it is nobody's business if I should write two letters to your one-who has a better right? I should have received a letter from you two or three days since in answer to mine of February 5th. I also wrote one to a lady in Sullivan, Ohio two days after (a schoolmate you know). And her answer is here, but I know there has been something to hinder you or you would have written. Jennie, I was looking over your old letters last night and you never wrote a line to me in December last or at least I did not receive any. I received a letter from Miss Critisen few days since. If you will agree to not train me over it I will send you her letter also a copy of the answer I sent her. I told her my name was James B. Carroll. She is pretty sharp. I wont [won't] give you the particulars that you can see when I send the letter. Please take of them. I might need them some time. My [Clarksfield] has played. Lieut Wallace wrote to her sister that there was never such a man as Conine in Knoxville that if any such man was corresponding with her sister Jennie he was an imposter and signed himself as Harry Howard. That is a way we have of killing correspondents when we get tired of them. I think if you will look among the last letter I brought home you will find a copy of a letter I wrote to a correspondent of Lieut Wallace's the copy is in his hand writing. Jennie, in this I am going to send you a copy to one of Miss [Coukle's] letters (the answer I wrote to her). Thought "perhaps" you might want to see what I write to my schoolmates and correspondents, let you see the letters then you wont get "jealous" you know. Will send you Miss [Critisen's] letter with my response in my next, so fix up your mouth to have a good laugh. I don't know whether the Lord will ever grant forgiveness for the lies I have written since I have been in Knoxville or not. But it is not my fault. They all want me to write them and when there is no news I must write something so I write just what crowds into my mind first. I never write anything to you but truth but when I write to others I am going say just what I please for I know they never will be any the wiser. Great excitement here yesterday, celebrating Washington's birthday and the cheering crew of Charleston and Fort Sumpter. Cannons booming from all the surrounding hills, bands playing national airs, and every thing knee high to a duck hurrahing. Everybody seemed happy and who would'nt upon the receipt of the intelligence that the "Stars and Stripes" again float over Charleston and Sumpter. I am well and enjoying myself "bully" have nothing at all to do but lounge about town, "plenty to eat, drink, and be merry."
I am still "____,"
Raining like the _____today
My Dearest Jennie-
Yours of 18th Feb is received but it certainly was a long time coming or at least I thought so. Poor "little Slim" felt very sad while perusing the first page of Ira's letter of Feb. 5th did she--! Sorry I kept you so long in suspense. I have no doubt but the news shocked your nerves and you might have become insane, I shall be more cautious how I write in future and should I be induced to marry one of these Quasi Rebel Bon tons of Knoxville I shall not apprise you of the fact, but write you just the same as ever. I was sure you would think my letters too frequent. And yet you speak of jogging my memory a little in that respect, I believe I have written you at least one letter per week since I left you last--but viceversa, I ought to job your memory in regard to the briefness of your letters. Why don't you string out and write me all that happens though it may appear old to you yet it would be news to me. I am away down here where I see nothing, hear nothing, in truth I have become a real know nothing all because I cant get any of you to write me the summaries at home. You think I deserve a better correspondent than Jennie. I believe she thinks so too for she hasn't written me very ____. I guess Wallace Killed me up there by telling ____there was not such man as Conine in Knoxville, never had been. Miss Slim, I shant send any more of my letters if you only want them to comment on and make light of______I expect the Girl does the best she knows how. I know I generally do and if I should catch any one making fun of my letter writing, I should be most likely to tell them they better go to, I mean if my letter afforded them any particular pleasure they are perfectly welcome to it. Well Jennie, I will send you one of Amelia's letters for if you have not a right to say who my correspondents shall be and to judge whether they are competent letter writers or not, who has! "Poor Ikie" has hitched on to the "Scotch Maggot" has he! Better staid in the prison, I do wonder if she is as frisky now as when I was home in /63 or has she got over that. You ask if I do not think she had better waited, indeed I do not. She has done better now than she ever could do again. I was about to give you the judigree of the Oren family but as I have already written Mother my opinion of the boys I shall defer saying anything to you concerning any of them. I will just say this, I think Ike has better remained single------You thought because our teamsters were taken away Wallace and I would have to get out and do something; it is nearly one month since they left and I haven't done two hours work since. I think unless they get something more for me to do soon, they may as well discharge me-only an expense to the Government. We received sad news from the Division of which I belong last night. One whole Brigade was shipwrecked while enroute to Sherman. Not a man made his escape. The Brigade consisted of the 100th O.V. Inftry, 104th O.V. Inftry, 16th Ky Inftry and 8th Tenn Inftry Reg. You are afraid I will have to go to my Regt. yet before my time is out that is the least of my fears. Yet if I do, it is no more than I enlisted for. But I assure you I shall never join my Regiment again so long as I can keep out of it honorably. Since I have been in the army I have never been under guard or reprimanded for any my conduct neither have I been guilty of anything that I am ashamed of. If I had it is not likely I should have been in this town today. Officers don't put themselves to unnecessary trouble to keep men who are not competent and worthy of a good situation.
Jennie, you must like to stay at Gilboa better than I should. I would'nt live in that town for $50.0 per month. Please allow me to tell you my opinion of the village. If Satan should be overrun with sinners and have no place to put them that were yet to come and would start me out to hunt a new location for (a hot place) I should go directly to Gilboa for I believe if there is a place on earth that resembles that fiery furnace it is Gilboa.
Do you ever hear from George ____what has become of him! It is a wonder he hasn't got a good situation some where before this--some one must fill these vacancies and why not him as some one else? If Henry Epley knew any more than the law allowed him he might have assisted George a great deal in securing an easy position. But the great trouble with these officers is they never care what becomes of a man after they got his signature and their own shoulder straps. You think I have too many strings to my bow to suit you. Well my dear (can you swallow all that), I shall sever some of the strings if that would suit you better! I am sure they are of no use to me get along full as well without them as with them. I don' know but I do make myself (at times) too familiar with young ladies but you know I have ever been pretty successful and to some extent it has made me vain. I am apt to be too frank oftimes as the old lady told her daughter one day when I had absented myself from the room "He needs watching, so be careful, them eyes don't shine and dance for nothing" Now isn't it too bad to think that any one would say that as harmless a creature as I "needs watching" what do you think of it, Jennie?
You can put that lock of hair in the cupboard keep the mice away from the cold meat. What has become of Miss Staunton? We haven't heard from her for a long time. I thought "perhaps" she had gone to Toledo again. Haven't heard from her since she wrote a great long "fish story" to Wallace.
Quite an excitement here at present the 3rd North Carolina Regt. has just returned from a raid bringing with them 40 Rebel prisoners two of which were women dressed in men's apparel and each of them armed with a carbine and two heavy pistols. They swear vengeance to all Yankees and refuse to wear anything but male attire. How do you think such a life would suite you?
I believe you would be a pretty good looking soldier be sure to get into some Headquarters as clerk or orderly.
Jennie it is getting late if you will excuse me I will go to bed. One kiss and now good night. I remain as ever
Ira B. Conine
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