WIFE’S LETTER TO SOLDIER HUSBAND PVT. LAFAYETTE PRICE, 1ST MICHIGAN CAVALRY

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Item Code: 282-423

Dated 17 July 1864 [from Paw Paw, Michigan]. A joint letter from Price’s wife Catherine (and daughter Alice), written to Pvt. Price ten days after his death (by disease) --a death of which his wife was unaware, but knew was coming. 4 pp, in ink, on unlined paper, 5” x 7.875”. Exhibits fold-marks and slight soiling; writing slightly faded, while remaining entirely legible.

Accompanied by family bible, in brown leather w/slip-case strap, w/gilt edges, 5.75 x 3.875”. Front eps contains various family names, in pen and pencil, including “Mrs. Alice Price”, “Mrs. Alice Johnson/ Paw Paw Michigan”, “Willis Newell Johnson/ Flaxton, N. Dak./ June 23/07”, “Lionel Johnson/ La Ward Johnson”. Rear eps inscription: “Mrs. Alice Price”, “Mrs. Alice Johnson”. The bible was published by the American Bible Society, 59th Edition. Old Testament & New Testament sections, 803 & 250 pp. respectively. While exhibiting light wear and rubbing and slight soiling, this Bible is in good- plus shape, with tight spine and only one loose signature. Accompanied by black edged mourning envelope, 3 x 5.25”, w/attached 3 cent stamp, addressed to Mrs. Maria Price/ Paw Paw/ Michigan, dated on the left margin, in ink—“Aug. 20th 1864”.

Letter Text:

“My Dear husband it is with a sad hart I sit down to write to you not knowing you will live to get this. My Dear when I think we can never meet again in this world of sorrow and suffering I can hardly contain My Self. Oh My Dear if I had Money to bring me there how soon I wold come. Oh when I think of the lonesome hours I have past and hoping you wold return but that it never can be. Oh pa if you liv to get your pay send it to me and I will come there as soon as I can. Oh that I cold no more see you but we are all in the hands of god and he will do all things. We’ll put your trust in god and he will sustain you. Oh My Dear put your trust in god and he will take you to him self. I feal that I shall not long survive you. My health has ben very poor this sumer. My prayer that we can meet in that bright world where sorrow can never come and where we can meet our parents and children has gone before. Alice feals but to this up she cannot see pa again. She sends her love to her pa. Willy says he wants to see grandpa. I remain your affectionate wife until Death . C[atherine] M[aria] Price….I and glen has wrote seven letters in Dix to L.F. Price…and have sent too paper with tobacco in. I will send my picture and another paper and tobacco. Ma…(in upper right corner) LB has wrote you and got no ansor.”

On a separate page, from Price’s “dotter” Alice:

“I thought I wold rite a few lines to let you know that I am well. I am vary sory to hear that you was so sick and how I want to see you . I hope you will get well and come home and how glad I would bee to see dear father once more & father if you will haft to die I hope you go that that hapy home wher ..sorrow and …is no more and if I do right I will meet you there . Willy sends his love to granpa and wishes you will come home . It seems hard to have a father die far from home. But must put our trust in god so good. Bye for I can’t think of any more I must close. From your dotter Alice to her pa.”

On a separate page, from friend “Mary G.”:

Mr. Price…as Mrs. Price was writing and I was here with her I thought I must say a few words of comfort if such could be spoken. I am sorry to hear that you are so low and hope it is not so bad as we anticipate. I hope that you will yet recover to come home to your family. If you do not may God give grace to hold tight to the faith of a meeting with them in heaven. It is hard to die away from home yet God ever sends kind friends to watch over the dying couch of a Christian. Be of good cheer. Mr. Price give not up to despair but read that blessed bible the promises of the good and the faithful; servant & let the things of this earth disturb not your mind so but what you can trust implicitly on your saviors faithful promises. My trust is that you will yet recover go with this letter. Mrs. Prices feels very bad and I have been trying to comfort her all in my power but my efforts are unavailing. Poor woman I feel sorry for her indeed & can write no more. Your friend Mary G.”

Private Lafayette Price was a 45 year old father and grandfather who enlisted as private in Co. “G”, 1st Michigan Cavalry, at Kalamazoo, MI, 2/1/1862. He died of disease in a Washington, DC, military hospital on 7/7/1864.

This extraordinary wife’s letter to a dying (already dead) soldier is perhaps the most poignant the Horse Soldier has ever seen. To die in battle is one kind of soldier’s death, to waste away with disease, a long way from home is another, and far worse. The accompanying family bible heightens the tone. Accompanied by internet research material, the packet invites further research.   [jp]

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