Jewitt-Pennock-Foster and Cool-VanPelt Family History Copyright © 2015
As Frank's second letter from Camp Burns in Clarksburg, Virginia (later West Virginia) opens, he mentions that the Captain's brother is in the hospital: "a large brick house, the man (owner) is in the rebel Congress.... it is as nice a house as I or any other person should live in."
During the Civil War it was very common for occupying forces of either side to commandeer local homes for hospitals and other military uses. I was not able to discover any more about the owner Johnson, but did learn that Clarksburg was firmly controlled by the Union for the entire war (despite being the hometown of Stonewall Jackson!) As a result, Frank was relatively safe at Clarksburg -- the only real threat being illness. In this letter he seems to be in good health and eating well: "There are lots of ripe fruit here.... I am growing and getting... fat." Again, like taking over private homes, the soldiers were stealing freely from the orchards and crops of the local Confederate farmers who were off at war. Frank goes on to say: "We do not know where we will go, but I think we will stay here for a while. There is an artillery company here." Reading a little bit more about Clarksburg's role in the war, Frank's impressions make sense.
According to Clio, a non-profit educational website:
"Clarksburg was the site of no major battles or skirmishes. However, it was a crucial supply depot for Union supplies. General George B. McClellan established his headquarters near the city during the early phases of the war. At one point, Clarksburg had seven thousand soldiers camped in the city, prepared to defend supply lines from Confederate attacks. Despite the Union presence in the city, Clarksburg was a town divided. Throughout the war, personal loyalties of Clarksburg citizens remained divided, though Union control of the area was firmly maintained."
Clarksburg June 29/62
Dear Pa & Ma
I just think you are not acting right for not writing. now I have written 3 times & this make the fourth time. I have not got one letter since I have left Camp Chase. well I will tell you the news. I am well & so is the Boys. the Capt's brother is sick he is in the hospital. the hospital is a large Brick house the man is in the rebble Congress. his name is Johnson. it is as nice a house as I or enny other person should live in. Addam Bowers is not well. did you get that letter that have the Capt's picture. I want you to tell me if you did tell Flora not to spend that 10 dolar bill. the (lears or cars?) runs here on sunday. I have to drum on sunday for bitallain drill. there are lots of ripe fruit here. I had some cherries. some of the corn is as tall as I am. the Boys say that I am growing & getting as fat they said they neve saw enny person pick up as fast as I do. we do not know whare we will go But I think we will stay here a while. there is a Artillery Company here. tell Jo I want him to write. all the Boys in the Co is getting letters & I get none. I think you mite write every week once. well it is getting late and can not write mutch. perhaps you have forgotten where to direct your letters direct them to Camp Burns Clarksburg. Harrison Co. Va. in care of Capt Day. that is all for the preasant.
your son, Frank
Some of the most prolific cries in Civil War soldier's letters is "Why don't you write me more?" and "Tell everyone to write me!" Mail delivery was highly anticipated by soldiers who felt left out of the events on the home front. Letters were a huge source of information and the main source of communication back home to the common soldier. It was reported that some regiments were sending out around 600 letters per day.
Stationery and envelopes during the Civil War period were beautiful. They typically featured patriotic messages, imagery and political cartoons. It was not uncommon for envelopes to be as decorative as the stationary. Soldiers had the option to write "Soldier's Letter" on the front of their envelope to have the recipient pay for the postage due to the trouble of tracking down stamps and keeping stamps usable in the field.
Above quoted from "World Turn'd Upside Down" blog post by Stefanie Ann Farra and also above, see an example of a Soldier's Letter sent by Frank when he had first arrived at Camp Chase.
Here's a little bit more about Civil War stationery quoted from an article by Veronique Greenwood published in National Geographic 12/10/2015....
In 1861 and the years that followed, many American men found themselves far from home... More than 2.6 million men joined the Union Army over the course of the war, while roughly a million joined the Confederate forces. The volume of mail ticked upward with letters to distant homes, and when it was time to send a letter, soldiers and civilians alike reached for a new kind of envelope, freshly printed and decorated with red and blue flags, delicate engravings of eagles, poems about the girl left behind, or the faces of generals, whom people at home might never have seen.
There were many such envelopes to choose from: Over the course of the war, 10,000 or more Union designs were printed, says Steven Boyd, a historian at University of Texas, San Antonio. “You could buy a hundred different designs in a single packet for one dollar,” he says.
This riot of creativity was sparked by, of all things, a change in postal rates. When we drop a letter in the mail now, we don't think of the envelope as a luxury. But until the mid-19th century, U.S. postage was charged by the sheet, so people simply folded their letter and used sealing wax to close it. Reforms to make letters cheaper, however, meant that by 1851, there was a flat 3-cent rate for mail under a half-ounce and traveling less than 3,000 miles. Envelopes, made on newly invented envelope-folding machines, flew out of stationery stores.
Two more examples of Civil War stationery.......