Civil War


 Civil War Letters

This page copied with permission 3/22/02 from
Thank you Kelli for your generosity in offering it!

I am very fortunate to have these many letters that give me a glimpse into the lives of the Balcom family during 1862. The letters were mostly written to Gilbert E. Balcom while he was in hospital in Washington D.C.  Sadly, I learned that he died there in December of 1862 and never returned home but the letters are all full of hope for his coming home and plans for Thanksgiving.  I have letters from every single sibling and their respective  spouses as well as his father, Judson,  and I also have Gilbert's document that promotes him to Corporal.  I have researched and found that all the sons except Madison appeared to have served in the Union, MA Volunteers.  During the time frame these letters were written both Gilbert and Willard were enlisted although Willard received a disability discharge early fall of that year and then later he reenlisted in 1864. Marcus D. did not enlist until 1864. I have copied their particulars below.  I have not been as fortunate in finding any direct descendants of these people other than my own. I am inclined to think that Gilbert never married since he was only 20 when he enlisted and 22 when he died but I would love to hear from any descendants of any of these sibling as I know they would come to love this family as I have. 

Gilbert E Balcom







Grafton, Massachusetts




Service Record:




Enlisted as a Private on 12 July 1861 at the age of 20
Enlisted in Company G, 15th Infantry Regiment Massachusetts on 12 July 1861
Promoted to Full Corporal on 05 March 1862
Died of disease on 12 December 1862 in Washington, DC





Marcus D Balcom







Grafton, Massachusetts




Service Record:




Enlisted as a Private on 10 August 1864 at the age of 27
Enlisted in Company F, 1st Battn Heavy Artillery Regiment Massachusetts on 15 August 1864
Mustered out on 28 June 1865





                  Willard Balcom







Grafton, Massachusetts




Service Record:




Enlisted as a Private on 01 September 1862 at the age of 33
Enlisted in Company E, 51st Infantry Regiment Massachusetts on 25 September 1862
Received a disability discharge on 07 February 1863 in New Berne, NC
Enlisted in Company F, 1st Battn Heavy Artillery Regiment Massachusetts on 15 August 1864
Mustered out on 28 June 1865







Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War. (MASSCW) Published in 1931-37 by Adjutant General  



I will post a sampling of letters and hope to eventually get them all on this website. I am transcribing them as they are, meaning I am not correcting spelling or grammar. If I can't decipher a word I will put a ? by it.

From Judson Balcom, Gilbert's Father

Grafton, Nov 24, 1861
Dear Son, As I have not written you since you left I thought I would send a few lines informing you that my health is better Doct Hobert is giving me medison which helps me. I am very glad that you enjoy good health and I hope you will after the battle of Bulls bluff. I felt anctious to hear the result fearing that you was either killd or taken Prisenor but it seems you are not neither. I hope you will escape all harm and return. I hope the south will see their folly and give up. iff you should go into another battle be careful and not risk to much but I hope you will not have the opportunity of using your Rifle to shoot the southern Foe. I felt sorry to hear that Samuel Sibly should fall but it was so ordered. I see by the papers that the southern soldiers are Disbanding and giving up iff that be the case perhaps they may come to some settlement. we had a thanksgiving they were all at home to enjoy it but you remember that you were not forggotten when we sat down to supper all wished that you was here to enjoy it with us Willard bought the turkey and carved it he kept Willard all day. I hope you had a good thanksgiving in kamp. Mother said she should like to send you some turkey but you would have to wait till next year iff you should have to winter their you must want more clothing than what you have got iff there is any thing that you want for comfort send us what it is I hope you will get into some comfortable building iff you winter their. You wanted to know whether I had received my money but wonce I have they pay off the last Friday in each month sis sends her love to you and wants you to bring her a little black boy to play with her I don't think much more to write at this time you must write often. Yours with Respkt, J Balcom



From Gilbert to his brother Madison (he only wrote two of the letters and one is too light to read very well, here is an excerpt of the other)
 Camp near West Point Va. May 12

Dear Brother, I received a letter from you a few days ago with much pleasure I should have answered it before but have not had much time to write since we came to Yorktown. their was trouble in getting into their works for they were evacuated just one week ago yesterday or we went into them at that time. the same night we moved off into an open field that they had occupied but left in a great hurry upon our approach leaving their tents with a number of barrels of flour and considerable meal. that night I slept in one of their tents and took supper from a bag of meal that I got from a camp which they left in the woods about half a mile from the field. the next morning we went to the city of Yorktown and saw the Big gun which they left it was spiked. they were planning to do a big thing by planting torpedoes for us to tread upon, but it so happened that most of them were seen before there was a great many hurt, but there was a few who were burst by being trod upon. The first one that burst blew one fellows leg all to pieces. He died the next day believe it was after stopping in Yorktown. For a couple of days we took the boats and came up as far as West Point from there we moved 8 miles when we landed there was one division here engaged in fighting the enemy, but when we got upon land they took to their heels and did some what they call fine skedadling, you may not understand what some of these southern phrases mean, but if not I will tell you when I get back. Our Col has been promoted to Brigadier so we have lost him, the weather is fine everything is in full bloom and birds sing to us most all the time. there are no Rebel to be seen everything is quiet as can be. they had quite a Battle at Williamsburg you have seen it before this time and as I know nothing of the harshieties I will not try to any. One thing for sure the sap on both sides was heavy. From your brother G. E. Balcom I received those stamps. Tom Hern has got back he sends his respects as do all the boys. I will send a letter from Lizzi. I wish you would save them for me. G. E.

From Willard to Gilbert: 

Grafton Aug 31st
Brother Gilbert I thought as I could write you a little news I would ? all well but Father he is failing ? we have had quite an excitement about drafting but I guess it is all over in Grafton our quota is 68-54 have sined 30 have been exzamined of which 5 were rejected 2 of Biscos boys went in one was rejected Warren Munion Ed bonnet and others were also. Then Drury, F. ?, Ote Pratt, ??, Gim Gleson, Moses Keith. bill Hammond. and lots of the same sort . Ira Alrdich, George Ferry is one of the Drummers Tim Bosworth and others of that kind are going in now. I will lett you know how near  Mark and I came to  it  Emery Warren and Saunders came to us after the meeting on the Common and asked us what we would go into the Fifteenth for it needed 2 to fill the 2 years quota. I told him that for  a hundred and fifty dollars four out of ten of the ? offered their share but J. D. Weilor thought it would make a fuss so they backed out but we thought we would put it through so we told them we would go to Worcester so we went up the next day if they would give me State Aide for two put this back. I asked them how long we must stay there they said half and hour but the Squad had gone to Camp Cameron so he said we would not go then we told him we had got a team so he says he would get us four hours furlow we told him that would not do so he said we could take a day but we would have to go into the Gard house when we got back. I told him I thought that would be a good recomend for us we told him if we could have till Monday we would go but he said no so I said till Friday he said he could not so we said we can't go then so Mark swore he would not with being drafted. Aldrich went up with us to pay us off and said the nine months would be full before night so we shure of no draft but he reckened to fast that night they came after me and I told them I would go in the Weilors Company if they would give me the State Aide for two but J. D. Weilor said they would not pay men two or three times over so I told him to (shit then) that is so but he was to fast they thought they should fill up that night but it want so easy they thought it was but fifty and they had 45 and thought they could fill up easy but 68 and what will not pass is some diferent and they find it so for Grafton is cleaned out some I tell you five out of old Stokes shop in this and all the rest of the some so if they get me now. they must pay me that is so for I had just as lives stay at home as go and that is so you spoke of Pikes peakers how is it did they learn you to Skedaddle if so I won't come for I should hate to run Fred Whitney has been up here he says he would not come back for five hundred dollars. Liz says her pie won't taste verry good to Gil when it gets there but when he gets home she will make him one that will. we had peas and beans for dinner today and can have them till snow flies. I can't think of any more so will let Mark write so good night from it is hard work Will

From M. A. (Madison) to Gilbert: 

West Millbury, July 10th, 1862
Dear Brother, I received a letter from you about four or five weeks ago and have not received one since but am very anxious to hear from you. it has been very exciting time here since the Battles people were in great suspence for a while we could get no news and it was reported the McClelan had retriated. Papers were not allowed to say much and the Telegraph was under orders not to transmit news over the wires and we did not know but the rumors were correct but are very glad to find they were not. I had a letter from Elizabeth a week ago they were all well then they had just got home to Lawrence, had been with Pike at Fort Riley. There is considerable excitement now about the new call for volunteers. Some think they will draft. Some places are offering Bounties Hartford. Sutton talks of 100. there has been no meetings yet don't know what the different towns will do. I sent three papers the other day so you could see what reports we get.

West Millbury July 19th, 1862
Dear Brother, I received yours of the 13th to day. and received one other this week. I was very glad to hear from you and that you were better. hope you will continue to be well. you should take the best care of yourself. do not form any bad habits. if you have any get rid of them immediately. I hope you have not. but you have something to do to keep clear from them. if you are tempted to do any thing wrong think of those at home that wish you well and think of you many times every day. I have three dollars that I can send to you now if you want more let me know and I will try and send it to you. I would be saving of what I had and not get things you do not need. but will do you more hurt than good. it is sacrifice enough for you to be there under the circumstances your health and life exposed without giving what you get to those unprinsipled Sutters. I do not think much good of them. I have heard of them there was a son of one of them was here a short time ago. and he told about some of them. he has been there himself. there is a difference in them I suppose. this is advise is for your particular benefit not mine. I am just about the same as I used to be. I have not had a letter lately from Mary or Elizabeth. I was down to see Father yesterday he is not as well as he was a Short time ago but he felt better than he had for a few days before. you wrote sometime ago about his having five dollars a month. did you make arangements to that effect if so write and let me know and I will see that he has it.  M D got the letter that you sent the evening I got there I sent him a letter to day I guess he will send those things the fore part of the week if he did not to day he is making Boys Boots for Stratton and Axtell 2.50 a case. Willard works for Capt Slocum yet. Business is the best now it has been for a great while before. Volunteers are not so plenty on that account although they are coming in very well 23 went into Camp Wool at Worcester from Millbury it is the 34 Reg. Grafton has raised 9 so I hear the town gives them one hundred dollars Bounty each one of them when they are Sworn in.  there is a Mrs. Leland lives near us that William Collins used to live with. she was down here a few days ago and enquired after him. when you write write how he is. Chas. Bigelow is better now but it is very doubtful whether he ever does much more but hope he may. not much more I think of to write. write soon, your Brother MA Balcom have you got that Dictionary and Testament now if so use them often.

(on the back of this letter)...Monday morning the 21st If you want anything more let me know. I want you to take what I have written as I mean it. I don't mean you should not have any thing. But I do not think those Sutters use the Soldiers as they ought and I would not help support them much those that live to get-back this money might do them some good then I suppose you understand me. Write any particulars about the place. things that happen. Gen McClelan or anything doubted you choose. some say he had only 60 thousand. write what you think of the new position. Do you know Edward C. Gleason of the 20th Reg Co E. It is reported he was killed others that he was wounded. can you find out about it. his Mother lives here. there is a Bowlan Bowen in the 15th Reg Comp D or Worcester Co I believe that is well accquainted with him. Heavy rain yesterday in the afternoon just clearing things look well here prospect of a large quantity of fruit apples and such like grass is very fair this season --I see Pope is at work taken Gordonsville where 3/4 of the rebels supplies come from. MAB

West Millbury, Sept 5th 1862
Brother Gilbert, I have not had a letter from you since about a week before you left Harrison's Landing. I suppose you are not allowed to write. I heard from you by way of Joseph Grant the other day he saw you near Alexandra. I had a letter from Elizabeth a day or to ago. She was well at Lawrence. School finished. Mary and Frank were at Fort Riley with Pike. Fiske Wheeler has raised a Comp in Grafton and Westboro. Willard has joined.  I hear this morning they go into camp at Worcester to morrow. Fred Jourdan is a Lieutenant I hear. Jim Gleason. O Pratt. McKenzie. Mr. Biscoes Boy. Walter Keith. Chas Holden. Joseph Axtell. and Brother. are some that have joined the Comp. Father was about the same the last I heard from him I think I shall go to Grafton to morrow then I can tell you better how he is. Willard and Marcus went to Worcester to enlist in the 15th before W. enlisted in Wheelers the 15th was full. some at Camp Cameron now for that Reg. M. D thinks he shall not enlist now I told them that if I were going to enlist I should go with Wheeler was I right. All have been anxious about things about Washington for a week past I sent you a letter some time since papers twice did you get them. write MAB


West Millbury Oct 17th, 1862

Brother Gilbert, I received your letter and was glad you were getting better you should be very careful now. I went down home this week Father was better then Willard was at home Sunday the uniform came they sent the cents back poor ones. M D is at work for French of Worcester $6.00 a case best job he ever had he has had a hard time for a year or more I am glad he has a good job. I had a letter from Elizabeth this week I believe she and Mary are well Pike expected to go some place in or near Missouri. there is a host of apples this year. I raised about 7 barrels on some tress I have with the house I hire. I have not much time to write this morning it is almost time for the mail to go. they begun the draft in Boston drafted about 900 and stopped. are going to raise a bounty of 200  if they can and not draft Fremont  by last nights paper is to have an important command. the Army of the Potomac has made a forward movement. and taken Charleston to fifteenth was at Bolivar Heights. Write soon, Yours , M A Balcom

Written by Rebecca (wife of M A) and M A to Gilbert
West Millbury Oct 24th 1862
Brother Gilbert I suppose you will begin to think I am not verry neighbourly about writing to you for a long time, but I have had so much to do, that I have put it off, until now. We received a letter from you yesterday and I was glad to hear from you but sorry to hear that you was sick and I hope you will not get any worse but better, soon. I suppose it is not very pleasant, staying in the hospital is it a Soldiers life is pretty hard life any way. I hope you will get your discharge. I think you would get better if you should come home. Mr. Ford has got well and takes work from the shop where Madison works he was sick you know when he was out there. We had a few lines from Marcus to night and he said your Father was smart for him. I hope he will keep getting better we all are as well as usual the boys have been to school but Freddies school finished to day Elmers will keep three days more this term. I expect they have grown a great deal since you have seen them if Freddie keeps on growing as fast as he has done he will soon be as tall as I am. Those flower seed that you sent me did not one of them come up. I planted them with much care in the best place I could find in my flower bed but they would not come up. I felt disappointed I wanted to see how they looked. I called them 15th Regiment. We begin to have pretty cool weather here the ground froze last night as little and the grass was white with frost. I do not think of much news to write and Madison going to write so I will close hoping to hear from you soon. from Rebecca
Brother Gilbert, I received yours of the 20th yesterday, got one from MD this evening. Would be willing to do anything for you that was right. am well acquainted with the Representatives of Grafton Mr. Axtell would see him if you thought best. but if you can get it without any such thing it would be better that way. let me know about how you get along often. Was it the chief or Head Surgeon that took your name if it was you stand a good chance to get it. Is the Hospital you are in, in Washington or where I see an account from other Hospitals in the papers but don't see that name how are the sick treated there. I marked a piece in the Journal about a case in one of the Hospitals do you know of any such things. there is Soldiers relief Society in Millbury and most all other towns I guess. it is to benefit the sick and wounded Massachusetts Soldiers meet once a week to work then they send Jellies Wines and Money for their particular benefit there are agents there to look after such things in and around Washington. one that will swindle rob a soldier like that is worse than a Brute. Lucious Thayer is Warren Thayer's youngest Boy I suppose. Deek Ball wrote he had got the box your shirts were in it. I saw Whitney soon after he came home he told me to tell you he was all right when I wrote to you. had a letter from Mary this week She and Eliz were well, the Reg Pike belonged to was in a fight a few weeks ago. he was not in he is one of Col Blunts bodyguard. the Rebels chose to leave there was about 1000 of them and about 400 Union they killed about 200 rebels and the rebels killed 20 wounded 90 took 150 prisoners. write soon MA Balcom Have not heard form Willard this week except I heard most of the Grafton Com got into the Guard lock up. they found out the pass word and passed the guard to most officers found it out and changed the word so they could not get in. when they came back don't know whether W was one or not may go up there tomorrow.

West Millbury, Oct 30th, 1862 
Dear Brother....Alf is about but poor. all wore out no particular disease but tired out. Grant is very sick but don't notice much only when they speak to him or touch him then he will rouse up look about then sink back again. Rebecca was down home day before yesterday. Father had another bad turn. had not quite got over it when she was there. I have not seen Willard since I wrote to you before. he was down home and staid over Sunday. most sick with a cold. better when he went back. there is a report that the 15th Reg is coming to Camp Wool when the 51st go. I don't know whether there is anything in it or not. there is quite lively times here on politics. the Democrats tried a little game but I guess it won't work they got up a party called peoples party. good many Republicans went into it in good faith but they found out what the game was so they are not quite so plenty amongst them now. it was their plan to defeat John A. Andrew and Charles Sumner. Sumner especially but I expect they have got something to do to accomplish that. they showed their coulars a little to quick to succeed. Sesech(?) will generally stick out try and cover it up as much as you will. I don't believe in trying to make people believe a lie.


West Millbury Nov 15th 1862
Dear Brother I have not heard from you for about a week. I sent one before you  wrote that you wanted ?.  I suppose you received it. I would be careful what you wrote you know what you wrote to me if you wrote it to some it would be generally known and might not be of any advantage to you you may think you don't care but it will be better for you and I know what I write.  Keep cool. I wrote to Elizabeth last night. have not heard from her since I wrote to you. Father was about as he had  been the last I heard. Willard is in Worcester yet the Reg is expected to leave next week. Suppose it will go with Banks Expidition. What do you think of McClelan there is something some where that is not right. I have always had confidence in Mc. I believe him to be one of the Greatest Generals in the Country if not the Greatest. A great Engineer can plan well and I believe execute his plans. I also believe the President is a great man and should be Sustained whatever he does. it is because in his judgement it is best. I believe him to be what he is called Honest-Old Abe. I see by the papers that there is great exertions made to have him revoke his proclimation of Emancipation I hope it will never be. slavery has been protected long enough it is the cause of the war and if it will bring Peace away with Slavery. it appears to me that God has a hand in this and means it shall be done away. Freedom and Slavery can never live together in peace. if it had not been for the Northern Simpathy for Slavery this war would have been ended before to day there is a class of men that wish to create a division in the north. I hope Abe will shut them up the Election is over and John A. Andrew is Governor again for all the (?means? moneys?) used to defeat him. Charles Sumner I expect will go back to the Senate Again one of the most Intilectual Honest Concientious Politician in the Country. It is Thanksgiving the 27th would like it if you were here guess I may go down home or to Douglas. write yours from M A Balcom


West Millbury, Nov 29th 1862
Dear Brother, I am glad to hear you expect to have comfortable quarters if you are to stay there. You should take the best care of yourself. I suppose your blood has got to be poor having so much of that strong coffee and such like. Alf was not able to come. Grant is sick yet but better. You spoke about some shirts have you not yet got those that M D send out. I have you a pec of apples on the way. Business is very good now. the 51st regiment went from Worcester to Newburn the other day Willard was not very well when they went away has not been since they have been in camp. I did not go home to Thanksgiving. heard from Father last Tuesday he had another bad turn but was better then Elizabeth has got back. I have not seen her yet she has the chills.


Torn and date missing..
News came today that there was a Battle going on at Culpepper and Gordonsville. Pope was commanding in person the Rebels attacked Banets (?) with a large force. a messenger was sent to Gen. Burnside he is somewhere near or at Fredericksburg. I have not heard from Mary or Elizabeth since I wrote you before. I see by the papers Gurilla Bandits are in Missouri they are taking measures to capture them.


 Gilbert received about 5 letters from friends, two from a man named George Prentice who I imagine is related to Sarah Prentice who married his brother M. D. (Marcus)

From George Prentice, August 22, 1862 Dear Friend, Mr. Fisk Wheeler has lately got his papers authorizing him to raise a company of nine months men from Grafton and other towns in this vicinity. I heard this morning that he had got 15 men enlisted do you think that he would make a good Captain, Fred, Jordan, talks pretty strong of enlisting Mark has been talking about enlisting also but I think he has pretty much made up his mind not to go unless he should be drafted. We are going to have a town meeting next Monday afternoon to see about the draft they want to pay a bounty and try and get volunteers enough without drafting they lack 4 of the first company and if they can't fill that I can't see how they expect to raise the second. the last nights Journal said that it is reported that Burnside is going to be first -over Pope and McClellan how would the army of the Potomac like that operation. How is the health of the men now are the ranks much thinned off by sickness or battle either? What are you drawing off from Richmond for are you afraid of getting visited their. Emma sends her love and all the other good things. I can't think of anything more to write, hoping to hear from you soon. I will hand off and sign myself your friend

From another friend, C. L. Preston, Oct 17th, 1862, Camp Parole, Annapolis

Dear Friend, I suppose you remember that I lent you three dollars when we were at Camp Winfield Scott. Before Yorkstown I heard that the regiment had been paid off and I am all out of money. We are not going to get paid  untill next month thought I would send to you for the money which according to agreement should have been paid when we were at Harrison's Landing where we were paid last. if you will send me the money you will greatly oblige Charles L. Preston there is a rumor here that the 15th was going home to recruit I hope it is so the boys that belong to company G are all well. Leroy D. Ball is in the tent with me. Rockwood is cook for the officers. I suppose the regiment is pretty badly used up I don't think the old 15th  will be recruited again I am sorry to hear of so many killed and wounded in our company. I must bid you good bye for this time.


To Gilbert from J. A. Pike (Gilbert's brother- in -law and my 4th Great Grandfather)

Camp on Sheugar Crick Jan 4/62

Dear Brother I received a letter from you yesterday dated Oct 28. it had been laying over to Leavenworth for a long time, it was remailed in Leavenworth Dec 29 and I got it yesterday. but I have got one besides that that I have not answered I think. So I will do it tonight. I am officer of the day and have to be up late and I will write to keep awake.  Mary wrote me that you had got to be a Corporal.  How do you like it, it is a little more pay but a good deal more trouble.  but that is the only way to get up is to go from a Private to Corp. and then to Sargeant and then up, so just keep on and sometime you may be where it will pay you better than it does at this time.  This day one week ago, I went to Lawrence to see Mary.  I supposed she would be there by that time but when I got there she was not there and I stayed until yesterday morning and she did not come and my furlough was out and I could not stay any longer.  But I think I was some sorry that I had to come a way down here 65 miles without not seeing Frank, Mary and Sis.  I suppose they are in Lawrence now and if they are I wish I were there with them.  But I am not and can't help it so there is no use of fretting.  It has been raining this Eve and now it has stopped and is getting cold fast, for I can feel it in the tent , for we are in tents.  I have a good fire burning, it is cold and I must fix the fire now.  There is no news that I think of at this time.  Write to me as often as you can and oblige.  Please direct to St. J. A. Pike, Co. D. 8 Rig, Kansas Voll Osawatomie, Kansas.  Direct Mary's and Liz's letters to Lawrence as usual.  What letters you send to me I will send to them and what they get they will send to me.  Remember me to all the boys.  Tell Smith that I do not recollect him but suppose I used to know him ?????  Goodnight, Pike


The following excerpts are from his brother Marcus D (M D) and his wife Sarah E Prentice. They wrote the most letters and the longest and always both wrote on each letter.

Grafton Aug 3rd 62
I have received no letter from you for over a week. but thought I would write you a few lines and let you know we are all alive and well. there is not much news to write the little town of Grafton has raised 21 volunteers now. and has got to get 14 more before the 18th of this month or they will have to draft. perhaps you thought strange of my writing that this was a humbug at when the Sutters come on here and tell what they are making out of the soldiers I can't see it any other way. Joe Leland is sutter for the 25th Reg and he has been on here for 3 or 4 weeks. he says he hopes he will last 6 months longer and he will make as much money as he wants. that is about as far as the patriotism of that clap of men goes. every devill of them ought to be sent to states prison for 2 years to hard labor. a man that has got no more soul than to go out there to rob the soldiers is not fit to live in a civilized community. but there is plenty of them that are  ready to do it. some of the rich ones will be made richer and the poor will be poorer. business is tip top can get plenty of work and a good price for it. outdoor help is good. wages are clear up. a man can get from 1.50 to 2.50 per day. father is about as he was when I wrote before. he does not yet get out doors much now for he can't walk he is so week. do you have any letter from Liz or Mary now. I got a letter from Liz 3 or 4 weeks ago but have not answered it yet but shall in a day or two. Sister Hannah sent a piece of cake and a card to us last week. she rides by here every day in her carriage that is getting up some. I went up to see John yesterday. he is making boots now and Alby is pegging for him. he says he would like to send some of his salve out there. he has not got any money to send but if he could he would like to send some salve. did the battles wear any holes in your shirts coming out there and did the currants keep. and the blueberries. berries are quite plenty here now. we had some cucumbers for dinner off from our own vines that is doing pretty well. I suppose you got that hair I sent in the last letter Little Sarah picked the Berries for the blackberry pie and the old lady made the meat pies and dough nuts. and pickles. how do the boys stand in this warm weather I suppose there are some of them sick out there. Robinson is sick with typhoid fever at New Orleans. I don't think of any more to write now so will close as Sarah wants to write a little. my respect to all the boys and write as often as you can from M. D. Balcom Dear Brother Gill how do you do now we have not heard from you for a fortnight I hope you are not sick the baby has gone over to Gramps and I will improve the time to rite you a few lines hope you had a good time over that box we sent you. I wish I could hear form my brother that is out there. Carrie and me go a berrying most every day. I have got a nice little carriage to drag her in. Sarah Knolton came down here to make us a visit last week and she said Father was well. I went over to see you father yesterday. I was sorry to think that he had failed so fast. he is very week indeed I do not think he will ever come over so far as our house again. Will come over this morning to tell us they was up with him all night he could hardly speak a loud word I must go over and see how he does. I wish when you write to Lizzy and Mary you would tell them how he does we will write them soon Madison have been over to see father. I hope he will come over soon again this from Sarah Balcom lots of love to you

Grafton Aug 17th 1862
Dear Brother, I have not had a letter stating that you go the box yet but expect to soon. we are having rather cool weather just now. Carrie is a year old to night and has got 4 teeth. she can't quite run alone. but I think she will in a week or two. Harrington has offered $50.00 to the first five that will volunteer for 9 months. ford. jim gleason. Charles Holden. Captain Howe and Otis Pratt say they will go. but I don't know whether they will or not. the town is going to offer $100.00 to volunteers so I heard they have got the first quota and sent along. the 34th Reg left Worcester last night for the seat of war. Sarah and I have been off to Grandpa Prentices and over to see Father. he says tell gill he is gaining  slowly. I don't know that he will get well enough to get around again quite smart and I hope he will. Will thinks that you are on the skedadle to much to represent the Balcom family. Munion was round extolling the Militia last week. there was a man shot at Camp Wool last week for stabbing an officer out in one of the divisions. he tried to get into Canadian but was caught at Buffalo and brought to Worcester and shot. that was rather rough for the 34th Reg to begin on wasn't it.  father got a letter from Liz last night. she has got through with her school and has gone to Lawrence again. she says Pike is going to Fort Riley that is a hundred miles nearer home. Old Sam says the war has got to come to an end before long Let it cost what it may. he has got waked up now. and so have quite a number of the high cocks. Brother White says if he has to come out there he shall have some of the Peaches. that our army have been protectin. Weatherbees Family have an auction next Saturday and are going west to keep tavern so I expect bud will be selling rum before long. that will do for Orthodox. Scanlin got home last week. he has got his discharge so you will get another chaplin. I suppose Largent has enlisted into the 15th reg. I believe Whitney has got home all right. I expect he was home sick enough. perhaps he did not like to be where there was so much company. how does Brad stand it soldiering. I think if I do not have to be drafted I shall have plenty to do and good pay for doing it. for there will not be any more boot makers than will be wanted here if they get a few more of them away. I will send you a few pieces of snake root to eat while you are reading this. will let Sarah finish. Brother Mark
Dear Gill, Emma was most mad because we did not tell her we was going to send you a box and she said she wanted to send you something. Carrie is so pleased to think she can stand alone. she will laugh and follow like fun. I wish you could see here she is going to look like Abby as she grows older. Emma says Eliza Straton ? is al the time talking about Gill Balcom she wants to know if I thought you cared anything about her and I told her she must ask you about that do good, Sarah E. Balcom

Grafton Aug 24th 1862
Dear Brother I have just been over home father says tell gill he hopes he is getting better so that he shall see you home before long. he says take good care of yourself so as to come home all right. Carrie has just come up for me to take her up to see me write. she was a year old last Sunday. she can run alone some. she is very anxious to get a hold of this paper. she is into every thing she can see. Fisk Wheeler is raising a company of nine months men. I suppose you have seen Joe Grant before this time. for the 34th Reg have gone out with Pope I believe. Uncle Warren was down here thursday he is living in Oxford yet. I suppose you are pretty busy just now. but you must write as much as you can. Will and I went fishing Friday we caught 22 pickerel he caught 14 I caught the rest. we did not start till about 1 o'clock. that is the first time that either of us has been this year for pickerel. Widow Wakefield is keeping house down to bungy. good place for her. Father Redding and all his family went to Purgatory. Hannah cried all one day because Streeter? was going to stand a chance to be drafted. she is tender hearted some hain't she. 

Grafton, Aug 31st 1862
I have not received a letter from you for nearly 3 weeks but hope I shall before long there was a notice in the paper stating that letters from soldiers would be stopped for the present. but now that the rebels are on the skedadle I suppose they will let them come before a great while. Grafton had to raise 35 men for the 3 years quota. and 68-9 months men. they have not got them all yet. but I think they will without drafting. there will be but  very few young men left in town after they get through. Will and I were going to enlist into the 15th. we went to Worcester. to be mustered in but they would not give us a furlough of over 4 hours. so we came home without enlisting. they told us we could stay all day and be given the guard house when we got back. but I thought that would not be a very good reccomend for a start and thought I would keep out of the whole concern. Bill Kent has enlisted in the 9 months quota. and John Drury. and Warren Munion. Art Wolcott is at work in Worcester and he was down home last week and he said he was going to enlist. Scanlin has had an offer of the Lieut. Calvery in the 36th Reg. I do not know whether he would accept it or not. how are you getting on now have you got that box yet. John White could not find the receipt for the box. he said he had thrown it in with his other papers and if he found it he would let me have it you was expecting the box when you wrote last and I have not seen him since his man is going for a soldier. that means Moore. I believe he was there when you went away. father says tell you he is gaining now and he thinks he shall get better he is a great deal better than he was a week ago I got a letter from Liz last wednesday night. I will send it to you. if you have time to read those papers I will send the rest of them if not I will wait till you do before sending them. sarah has gone to soldiers meeting to night and when she gets back she can write you about it. My baby is fat as ever. and just as well as she can be. Will is going to write a little to you and put in with mine. we are having cool weather here now. rather cooler than you get down there I guess. Robinson is dead. he died at the hospital in New Orleans. he was sick with typhoid fever I think. he died the 7th of July.  Fred Whitney thinks he would not come back again for $500.00 he does not think much of being a soldier. John Ford wears his uniform every time he comes into town. he looks bully in it I tell you. Alexina Brown died yesterday. I will not write more at this time but let Sarah finish. my respects to all the boys brother Mark
We had a good meeting the hall was full they had all the soldiers take the front seats and Fiske Wheeler was their Capt he spoak. I wish you could have seen our pears and apples. there is lots of fruit this year lots of love to you and hope you will come out of it all right from Sarah Balcom keep your eyes open for the devilish rebells good by

Grafton, Sept 28th 62
Dear Brother as I did not see your name in the list of killed and wounded and missing I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know were all well. Will has gone into camp on barraks near Camp Scott. they have got the old gun shop for one camp. they have been building baracks at camp Scott. they are nearly finished. one or two companies have gone in allready. why don't you write it is nearly 7 weeks since  you have written. have you lost your hands  or what is the trouble. father is quite comfortable now but is rather weak. he has failed within a month a great deal. he does not get out doors a great deal now.. we are having a rainy day today . so I have not had any thing to do but lay round. so I thought I would write to you. the old 15th get some. they seem to pitch into that reg. for all any other. what is the cause of it. got a letter from Liz last week she had been sick for a week or two but was better when she wrote she said she had a letter from you the day before she wrote. Mary was coming to Lawrence in a day or two  she said and Pike was going to fort Scott. how did Brad get hurt. Stowe has rather hard luck soldiering.. how did the new recruits like fighting. Will says we are lucky boys by not going in to the 15th he has got tired of being soldier. he thinks their is too much dog about it. he can't have his own way quite enough to suit him I was up to camp Wednesday and  thursday. I went up the first day to carry in my boots and the next to get Wills bounty money. I have got a job of French now making long leged Grain boots. there is plenty of work to be had now. and good pay have you seen soldiering enough yet if you have I will tell you how to get off. Will thinks he should not want to see any more if he was in your place. Sister Emma told me to write you that she dreamed that you cam home and came up to her house and she made an indian cake for you. she says when you come home if you will come up she will make you something better. MD Dear Gil why don't you write to us to let us know how you are. I tell Mark not to rite to you again unless we hear form you soon for perhaps you don't get the letters and it is wasting postage stamps. I went up to camp last thursday and carried Carrie I got her picture taken and if you will rite us soon I will send you one and I shall send one to Eliza to night she looks like a little angel girl I hope you are one of the lucky ones and come out all right so you can come and live with us again we would have good times this winter plenty of apples to eat. Carley Balcom and Ben Knapp is in the douglas company and Bill ? is Captain lots of love to you, Sarah E Balcom

Grafton, Oct 5th 1862
Dear Brother, I was glad to hear from you . How do you get along now. was you in the late battle or not. Henry Ball wrote a week or two before the last battle that you were alright then. did you get my letters. I have written nearly every week for 7 weeks. and got no answer till last night. John Stowe was buried today. Sarah and I went to the funeral. there was a great many people out to day. Mr. Scanlin attended the funeral. the house was crowded so that I could not get in. Grafton has got to raise 27 more men for nine months. I don't think they will be able to get them without drafting for them. but hope they will. Will thinks he was a dam fool for enlisting. I don't think he will stay nine months. he says his back is weak he can't carry a knapsack. that will throw a man out the quickest of anything. so tony phillips told him he is the man that took care of Col Ward when he had his leg taken off. he is waiter for Dr. Bates now. so he says he knows all about it. I should like to see you coming home in a short time. for boot business is tip top now. Father was quite pleased to hear from you for he did not know what had become of you. he said I might tell you that he was getting a little better now. He is considerable better than he was a month ago. he has got quite strong to what he was then. I hope he will continue to be so. Father had a letter from Liz Thursday night. Mary, Frank had got home when she wrote. so she was not quite as anxious to come home. the 15th reg got into all the rough places that any other Regt can't get in. but I don't think it will get filled up again. for they got cut up so bad that they won't dare to enlist into it. I think Will and I were lucky not to get into it for we should have got their just in season to have gone into the last a battle. I don't think I shall make much of a soldier so shall stay at home and let you and Will have all the honor that a soldier gets in this war but I don't think much of the honor a soldier gets in this war. do you know where the reg is now. I heard that they were at Bolivar Heights. Gen Gorman  complemented the 15th very highly. he wants two more Regts and wrote to Governor Andrew for ? Regts. tom Bigelow wrote that there was not more than 12 of the Original company left and only about half of them able to do duty. that is using them up some. the rebels are going to raise the Black flag now on account of the President's  Emancipation Proclamation. I will close now and let Sarah write you you will find enclosed five dollars. write soon as you get this and write all that you can from Brother Mark.  Gill how glad we was to hear that you was one of the lucky ones and sorry to hear you was sick be you much sick write soon all the particulars and whether you was in the battle or not Elbridge is sick in one of the Hospitals  it was a great consolation to Mr.  ? family to think that ?? could go out there and get his brother and bring him home. I suppose he has suffered everything. Fred Robinson went up to Worcester yesterday and had one halve of his ball taken out the other is in his body yet he was out to day to escort the body to the grave with the company. I feel very anxious to see you again do right us how you have faired and all the news about the other boys. I will send you little Carrie perhaps she will cheer you up. I hope you will be spaired to come home and set by our side and tell us some of the senes you have had to pass through it would be very interesting. May God restore you to your health and return you to your once loved home again.. Good by this from your affectionally Sister Sarah E Balcom

Grafton Oct 12th 1862

Dear Brother I thought  I would write you a few lines to let you know we are all well as usual. I hope this will find you ready to come home. Father says you had better come if you can get discharged and let some of the rest of them do the fighting. Will is down on a furlough. he says tell Gill he has got about enough soldiering. sister Emma sends her love and says tell Gill to come home and she will give you a good dinner. you had better come now I think it is getting cold weather here again. I have been chestnuting to day. did not get many as we have not had frost enough to open the burrs. I have got a job on 6 dollar grains now and if you come home you can have 2 dollars a day for striking that is as well as you can do out there I think. I sent your letter to M. A.  Henry Ball wrote to his father that he got the box 2 weeks ago and wanted to know what to do with your things. I told Mr. ball to tell Henry to wait until he heard from you so you can write him to send them to you or do anything else that you think best. I sent you 2 shirts and 1 pound tobacco, some camphor gum. a bottle of peper vinegar and salt all ready mixed. and plenty of victuals. but they are all spoiled. Henry did not know where you was so I told his father and he is going to write to him. the 15th is at Bolivar Heights. there is only 5 of the original co left. Alf Howe is in the hospital at Alexandria. he has been sick for some time but is getting better slowly he thinks he could get well quicker if they would send him to the regt: for he does not get the right kind of food there. The Hues boy is dead. Deek Smith was killed in the last battle and quite a lot of the other boys killed and wounded and I suppose some taken prisoners. I presume  you have heard of that before but Alf did not know that they had been in another fight so I thought perhaps you had not heard of it. Lyons Stratton has got another wife he came out  Bride to day. Lusy Hammond was married last thursday night to Largent John Wheeler of the 51st Reg. M. V. he is cousin to Capt Fisk Wheeler I had the honor of being hostler in that occasion. Albie Stratton is in the Grafton co. how long have you been in the hospital. Sarah says she has not news to write but wants you to write us and she wants you to write whether you are coming home. she wants you to come home this winter for it is lonesome here and the Beau have gone to war and you can wait on the girls as much as you please. sister Eliza was down here the other evening. She goes over home quite often Father has a letter from Liz last night she is at Lawrence now. she said she had not had a letter from you for some time. Pike was at Fort Scott when she wrote. Sarah wants to know how you like the looks of her gal. She is flying round here strangely to night. I heard rather a hard batch of news about you. I heard you had got to playing some. you had better quit that for there is nothing to be made at it. and you can tell what you will come to by looking at Will. he says you had better quit that business for you will get swamped with some of those boys. I thought you was not going to play at all when you left home. I don't think of anything more to wrote so will close. so write soon. from M. D. Balcom

Grafton Oct 23rd 62
Dear Brother I received your letter to night. I thought I would send one right back. I have written to M. A. and shall send it tomorrow morning. I wrote to have him come down saturday to see about your discharge. I had a letter from Liz tonight she is having the chills. she wants to get home and think she shall before long. Will has been in the guard house 3 days for refusing to do duty. that is very well to start on if he keeps on he will make a soldier yet. did you get Carrie's picture. you did not write any thing about it. I will not write any more this time for it is bed time but will write again sunday. have you got the  things that I sent in the box. Father keeps as smart as he was when I wrote before.  hoping you will get your discharge I subscribe my self your brother Mark D. Balcom

Grafton Oct 26th 1862
Dear Brother I had a letter from M. A. and he said you wrote to him the the Surgeon had taken your name for a discharge and I think you will get it sooner in that way than you would in the other. I hope you will get it in season to get home for thanksgiving day or sooner than that if possible. Eldridge prentice is here now. he got a furlough to come home. I don't know how long it is for. but he thinks he has had enough of war and I guess the rest of them have. the paper stated that the 15th were going to be sent home for a while and I should think they ought to discharge them for they have had rather a hard time of it. Will is at home on a furlough. he was on the sick list and the doctor sent him home. they think the 51st regt. will have to leave in the course of a week or two. if they do perhaps you will see Will before you get home. he thinks that Irishmen and Blacks are the only ones fit for Soldiers. I had a letter from Liz last night she has the chills some now she has got so much by going to Kansas. but she is quite as anxious to get back as was to go. ? father he has got 3 sick children. what do you think of what I told you about going for a soldier. guys it was a good thing for you to go for you would not  have been satisfied till you had tried it. father has had  another bad turn. but is a little more comfortable to day. I don't think he will stand it much longer. but he may for some time yet. Sarah is weaning the baby. I shall have to take her and get her to sleep and let her write. You must write as much as you can. I will let Sarah finish now. from M. D. Balcom
O Gill I feel very thankful that you are not any worse off and that is a little prospect of your coming home I hope it will be soon for your Father will be so glad to see you I think he will not stand it but a short time he is nothing but skin and bones come just as quickly as you can. Sarah E. Balcom

Grafton Nov 9th 1862
Dear Brother I received your letter of the 3rd yesterday and was glad to hear from you. but should have been more so to have seen you. we are all well at this time. but suppose you will not be till you get home. Will was at home last Monday and stayed till Wednesday morning. the whole of the companies went home to vote. John A. Andrew was re-elected Governor. but I suppose you have heard of that before. we have been having quite a snow storm here. and I think we shall have some cold weather now. business is first rate and the prospect is good for all winter. I wish you was here now so you could go to striking. I have got Charley Prentice with me now we can make about 8 pair a day that will leave me 3 dollars that is better than I have been in the habit of doing for the last 2 years. but I hope I shall be able to do it for 2 years to come. have you ever got the stuff that I sent in that box yet. sister Emma is doing house work for Ed. Leland George is getting better slowly. I have got 3 barrels of apples and have spoke for a barrel of cider so you could have some to eat and drink when you come home. have them hurry up your discharge so to be here Thanksgiving. that will be 2 weeks from thursday. I have got to write to Liz now so will let Sarah finish this from M. D. I have put little Carrie to bed and ask her once in a while where Uncle Gill is and she will run to the window to see if she can see you she can say here Pa come, here Ma come, and kitty come, do come as soon as you can I have got a bag of Walnuts and Chestnuts saved and some jellies for you and Grandpa Prentice has got some butternuts and if you can be hear by thanksgiving we will have a gay old time we will have a sleigh ride over to Madison be praying and I hope you can come. Mark has spoke for a turkey of Georges I suppose you knew Ransom Robinson was dead died at the hospital out New Orleans with ??? Pike has sent Frank a little black poney I guess he will be pleased Sarah school finished Saturday the sleigh run her Saturday quite fast --it stormed so hard hear to day we could not go to meeting. I feel most afraid the galls will be all after you if you come home so I shant see you none selfish thing han't I. good night from you afectionately Sister Sarah E. Balcom ,Grafton and lots of love to you Mark wished me to say to you that Mrs. Gibley and Aunt Rachel was over last week they want you to rite to them.

Grafton Nov 16th 1862
Dear Brother ...I sent a dollar and it was all I had to send at that time, how is it about you getting your discharge. do you expect to get it or not. father wanted me to ask you what you wanted sent out in a box. he has just had his hog killed and thinks he could send you something good to eat. he is getting along first rate now. you had better hurry and get your discharge for boot business is good enough so you can make 2.50 a day if you are able to work I have got a barrel of Cider and a turkey spoke for so you had better get home by thanksgiving. streeter has moved home to father Reddings. he has not had a very long experience in housekeeping. have you ever got your stuff that I sent in the other box. you have not written about it. fred Robinson had the other half of the ball taken out of his shoulder yesterday. I expect you will be surprised to get a letter from Liz. but she got home friday night. George Howe started for Washington Friday morning I believe suppose you have seen him before this time as he talked of stopping there. he is after Alf. be sure and get your discharge from M. D. Balcom

O Gill, Mark had gone up town Fryday night the stage drove into the yard thinks I Old Gill has got a long but to my surprise Liz popped in her head I hope the next time you will arrive she had company all the way to Worcester got home all right I went right home with her I never shall forget how Father looked he looked so pleased his countenence changed in a moment. Eliza wrote her he was quite low and she paid-for home and am glad for us she did it was lonesome over there for her the old woman and sis to stay if she should die I wish you would come soon Carrie went rite to Eliza as soon as she got into the house Mark has learned her to dance ask her to dance and she will putter down so fast and look as cunning. my Fathers family are all well. Old fire was down to visit me last week one afternoon. Sarah and he Mother was all well then she had got her a sewing machine she has lots of work to do now I expect Will  will be on the road to texas this week a homesick child he will be before he gets back he is now before he starts rite soon all the news from Sarah E. Balcom

Grafton Nov 23rd 1862
Dear Brother I received a letter from you last evening. was pleased to hear you was doing well. I should not care so much about your going to striking for a while if you could only get home again. if you have been off duty for 60 days you can demand your discharge any way. for Bingham got his in that way he says there was a man told him that he could get it in that way and he had a lame hip for the next 60 days and then he got his discharge with no trouble. so you see there is not so much bother about it after all. Liz is up at Oat Pratts to night. she had a chill in meeting to day and so went home with Sis to eliza. father is quite smart now. he says tell Gill he is getting along first rate and tell him to come home as quick as you can. he says you have been off duty more than 3 months and had better demand your discharge for you have been out there long enough. the 51st start for tuesday or weds. Will has been home on a 4 day furlough. I carried him up yesterday. he says they won't keep him but 2 months any how. Parker was discharged last summer in the same way so you need not be afraid to try. George Howe said that Deek Ball and Joe Grant were the sickest of any that he saw out there. they have got to get 12 more men before the 8th of Dec. or they will draft them but they draft if they want to for all my enlisting. I will not write any more this time but will let Sarah finish. from MDB
he likes to have me finish Liz and I went to meeting together to day Mr. Miller preached sister Emma said send  her best love to Gill O Gill I saw sister Lusy Terles ? to day and she looks like a full blown rose and I saw Sister Ann Mr. Russell Eames is quite lost in consumption. if you have a box sent to you I will put some little goodies in into it--it was to bad to think you could not get the other one the shirts was to good to be lost-but maybe some poor soldier got them that done them lots of good I am making soldiers ? draws? at 46 cts per doz I made one doz last week and a frok for Charles besides taking care of sis don't you think I am getting smart in my old age. thank you for those pleasant dreams you spoke of We both sleep so sound we don't stop to dream don't know as we should wake if the house should get a fire they read the proclamation to day it was a good one. Good night this from sister Sarah E Balcom a good kiss from Carrie to you she will smack like fun lots of love to you

From Elizabeth Ellen (Lizzie) Balcom to Gilbert E. Balcom

Lawrence August 19th 1862

My Dear Brother. We received a letter from you some time ago and Mary answered it but I had just come from ? and thought I would a ? a little. We were glad to hear that you were not harmed in the battles at Richmond. for we expected to learn that you were sick or wounded you had not written for so long. I hope you are well again. and was not taken prisoner. I hear from home sometimes. not as often as I wish. write not as often as I should. if father was well enough to write. I hope he will do better soon. Sometimes I think I cannot stay here I want to see him so much. I wish he  could even come out here. It seems as though it would do him so much good if he could come here and stay one summer. It is beautiful weather. So warm and then is a cool house all of the time. Which makes it very pleasant. If my friends were here. I should never think of going to Mass. again. there has been considerable trouble below us during the past week. you  will hear an exagerated story about it shure if you hear of it -at-all. for I know  how we used to get frightened about the stories form here. A place about 15 miles from here. Independence was taken a short time ago by the rebels.  Quantrell. a nother rogue. was the leader of 100 men and came and burned several houses. Our men fought bravely and the rebels were scattering when Col ? ordered a surrender. and they had to do just as they were about to gain the victory. I would have turned and a shot him before I would have surrendered the old traitor. He has been suspected for some time of being a rebel. but he denies it. he was taken to Fort Leavenworth. Last evening. colonel Jennison spoke in town. but we did not hear of it until this morning. I would like very well to have heard him speak. Last week ? spoke here. to the ? I could not get near enough to hear it all. as he spoke in the open air but all thought it was very good. He left that night at midnight so I did not have an opportunity of seeing him. Eulis company have returned to Fort Riley. and ? and Pike sent for this ?  as they did not know where they should be ordered away form there and ??? Their orders are to garrison the fort.?? and if they receive no further orders they will stay during the winter. and Pike said unto me that if they stay in long he should send for me. and if he don't send soon I am afraid the rebels will be up here. there are 1000 a little below Kansas City-50 miles from here and there is no knowing what they may do. but you need not write home anything I have written for there may be nothing in it. only rumor. I hope it is so, at least. The company have been out to Fort Wise. Colorado to Lexington was as far as they intended to go but the paymaster took another escort there. and went on to ? their horses are rather thin now. after so long a trip. and they were in a fierce march out there. I received a letter form Madison on Friday, one form Eliza, Emma P--Addie ? Cullin white. and I don't know who else a little while ago. I must answer some of them tomorrow. My letters come all at once and it makes one busy. Just a few days out -Mrs. Mallory,  Mrs. ? sister with whom I am  staying is going to bed and it is late so I will follow for I guess you have read enough scribbling for tonight so with a good night kiss I will  close until morning sweet dreams of Eliza.  Wed morning, this is a lovely morning and I am expecting to take a ride with a young lady and gentleman to ?? about 8 miles from here. There is a large nursery there and we are going to visit until tomorrow morning. a young lady there. and get some grapes, plums and peaches. Then come home. I have not to ride horse back ever since I came out here. I have been to ? 35 or 40 miles from here teaching school. and while there took several rides with the young people. with whose family I bordered. I had a very large and very pleasant school. I have 119  names and some days 80 scholars. but the average attendance was 59. It was the first public school there ever had been and only two schools when 4 ought to have been kept. They were anxious to have me come back but Mary was not very well. and it is so far from home they did not want me to go. I have made a great blot on this paper but I could not help it for there was a critter in the ink and I took it out with my pen so please ? it We heard this morning that Earles's company were to be ordered here. if it is true I am very glad. for then Mary and Pike will both be at home. I am expecting a letter from them this morning. Well it seems Sister ? is married at last. Sister Emma writes that they seem to be very happy--Hannah sent a card and some cake to Adin and to what Emma has said he had not tasted it. Where is Adin been? Do you know? That is the first time any one has mentioned his name in their letters.
Mary had a letter from one of Pikes sisters in or near Westboro by the name of Collins and she wanted to know if you were in Company G if so you were in the company with her sisters husband. I don't know his name though. Perhaps you can find out though. I don't know of anything to write that is of interest. There is nothing going on here now. Every thing is quiet. only recruiting. They are trying to fill up the old Regiments and have raised a Negro company. they are quartered in an old house opposite us. and have fine times. dancing and playing marbles. they are noisy things. and happy too. They drill very well. Feel proud over it too. Elsie writes that drafting will commence in Grafton in a short time. 30 men are to go in a short time. I hope that Willard will not be one of them for I don't know what father would do if he should go. Well I must close now as I am going away. Please write often if you possibly can and let us know of` the news. You do not write us any letters as you used to. Don't you have time? With love for all and a laugh and have fun yourself. I remain your affectionate sister, Lizzie

From Lizzie to Gilbert, Grafton, Nov 30th 1862
My Dear Brother. Sunday Eve. I received a letter from you a few days ago with much pleasure. and disappointment too for you write that you have not obtained your discharge. but was waiting for your pay. so we thought we might see you at home in a short time. but I will say nothing about our disappointment. for you are the one who has to stay there. but we all want to see you very much. I know you can get discharged easily if you have been off duty for 60 days. for I know a fellow in one of the MS Regts. who did so very readily. and then drew his pay. and started home. Have you ever tried it? I am glad now that you are in the hospital. for you might be in that battle which is to take place at Fredericksburg if you were out. They say that will be a great battle. Eliza Stratton's brother will be in it. and he is in the front line. She had a letter from him. and he was within a half mile of F-. She worries about him a great deal. He was in the battle of Antietam  all that week. I hope that will be the last battle. but it seems to me that fighting does no good. and only  kills men for nothing. It is cruel. I heard today that Frank Marble was dead. He was wounded again and I suppose has died from the effects. Frank Merriam was with him when he died. It seems sad to think how many died from that Reg but I hope you will never go into it again if you get well. Father wants to know what you wanted  Pike to have sent most in your box. he says if you can't come home they will fix up a box and send it. He had a good Thanksgiving dinner. and Marcus said he knew you would come . For it seemed so. I thought you would come until I got your letter. and then all hope was gone. But you will be good. when we do get you. Father is about the same. and seems to remain so all of the time. His face has been bloated. but is not quite as full today. Mr. Eames is very low. he will not live long. Charles Bigelow looks poorly. I saw him to day. he says he is growing weaker. The 51st left Worcester last Tuesday for Newburn. they have had quite pleasant weather for the trip. Wills back was pretty lame and sore but he thought he would go. I guess he will get enough of it though. I wrote to Mary again last week. I shall expect a letter from her this week. I suppose she is very lonely. I should not have come had it not been for Father. I heard he was failing but I like Kansas best. Write soon again and receive much love from your loving sister Lizzie Eliza sends her love and says she hope you will be able to get home soon. Ed Slocumb is sick and his father is with him so I stay with him some nights. I wish you were here too we would have fun times but I must wait patiently. Be careful of your self and don't get sick. Pleasant dreams Lizzie


From Lizzie Balcom to M. A. Balcom, Lawrence, Kansas
June 15, 1867(?)

My Dear Brother, I have almost forgotten whether you are indebted to me or me to you for a letter.  But I have been thinking of writing to you for some time and will do so this morning.  It has been raining heavily through the night.  And now everything looks so beautiful.  I wish you could just get a glimpse of the country as it is looking now.  We think it is always very beautiful.  And more so at times.  You have no doubt heard of the excursion parties.  Composed of senators, representatives and capitalists with their ladies who have taken a tour as far towards the Pacific as the railroad extends.  The first, which was called "cameroni party" ?? past through here about 2 weeks ago.  The people gave them a grand reception.  A collection was spread in the Eldridge House.  After which, they went to Frazeri Hall.  Where a large number of citizens were collected.  And speeches were made.  And the band played.  Until quite a late hour.  The toilettes of the ladies was a very interesting feature of the entertainment.  Next morning, carriages were provided for them.  And they rode into the town.  And visited Mt. Oread.  Which is a place of considerable interest to strangers.  For we can see the country for miles around.  This week another party called "Wades Party" came.  This consisted of about 100 persons and this last of about 50.  They did not remain in town so long as the other party did.  They arrived about noon.  And while dinner was being prepared for them spent the time in riding around town.  A splendid band accompanied them and we had a rich treat.  The Mt. Oread is directly back of our house and the university was opened.  The band went up into the cupola and played for some time then they went to their dinner and at ??.  Started west.  But owing to high water which hindered their ? at Topeka.  They were obliged to return and spend the night here.  Rev. Wade Trumbull.  Chandler.  Crestwell and many ? men of the party.  G. and George Francis Travis was a shining feature of the excursion.  The City is quite well filled most of the time.  And we have a fine opportunity to see some of the celebrities of the country.  My school closed a week ago and I am enjoying vacation very well.  Next week I shall commence taking music lessons.  Our organ has come and I have got to learn to play it.  Miss Percy, one of ? assistants was a fine player but she is not a good teacher and will not return so I have to learn.  I was glad that I am obliged to for I should not take so much pains to learn if I were not.  It is a very good organ and will be a great ornament to our schoolroom.  Our examination passed off very pleasantly but there were not as many visitors as we expected.  We trimmed the room with leaves and ? of roses and in every corridor there was a bouquet of flowers.  It looked real pretty but the examinations don't seem like those we have at home.  The committee don't take as much interest as they might and of course we cannot make them good without their cooperation.  This week Shine has been on LP ? convention held here.  It was a union convention and a large number were present from nearly all parts of the state.  The meetings were very interested.  Thursday morning Shine was a grand children's concert.  The lower part of the large Methodist church was almost filled with children from the city schools and many of the schools from the country came in.  They all sang together and it was very fine.  A colored school was present.  And took quite an active part in the singing.  You know they are musical naturally.  The convention adjourned at noon.  To meet at Leavenworth at the call of the officers.  It has been a very pleasant week.  I see by the Mass. spy that you have been having conventions in Worcester.  Did you attend any of them?  Well, I see that I have covered a large space in a very short time and must draw my letter to a close.  We are all well.  Our garden is looking finely.  Pike has some splendid grape vines.  He has just bought two lots back of us and has been ?? this week.  He is going to have a new place here in a few years.  If he prospers.  It is located very pleasantly and he is slowly improving it.  I will send two dollars in this letter for the purpose which I told you.  I would like to send more but it is not convenient now.  Write soon.  Love to all, Lizzie

I will send just a note to Rebecca.  And with it a small piece of some dresses which I have been getting.  The ? is really quite pretty.  Something new for me.  As I never had anything this color before.  I haven't finished it yet.  Am going to make it with a ?.  Think of trimming it with white ??.  But have not decided.  I made my bonnet this summer.  It is a real pretty little thing to look at.  Hardly discernible when placed upon the top of my head but it is the fashion and there is one excellent thing about it.  As it is small it did not cost much.  It is made of green ? quite light put on plain.  Dotted with pearl beads with ? lace and pearl fringe around the edge.  A pick moss rose and buds cover the front.  Grass ? that is all.  I never am ? before.  And as my face looks as ? I've painted it all was in ??.  I thought it would look as well as anything.  Mary made her a very pretty one.  But a different style.  What have you got?  I like to keep about or have new just as much as ?  I was there.  I wonder if you are mad at me.  If not, I wish you would favor me with a short letter.  It would seem real good to hear from you.  Love to Mother, Willard, Sarah and all the rest.  AFF.  Lizzie