Civil War Reconstruction Period Letter

Civil War reconstruction period letter from a Freedman Bureau minister located at the Tyler House, Fort Monroe, VA. Letter was written by Samuel J. Whiton on April 17, 1866 to his parents Deacon Chauncey Whiton of Westford, Conn. This letter is for auction on ebay and I felt compelled to post it here as we do not know whom may purchase it or where it will end up:

Tyler House, Ft. Monroe
Virginia, Apr. 17th 1866

My Dear Father & Mother:

Your letter has just come, and as usual I seat myself at once to reply. It is so damp and chilly that I can not go out among the people, and besides I am rather lame from my horseback ride of sixteen miles on Sunday. I could not get a wagon, and so I went on horseback to the Whiting and Downey farms to preach. It was a beautiful day, as warm as our another June, and I quite enjoyed the trip. I went alone, and some of the way the road wound around through pine forests. The whiting farm is on the Yorktown road, and McClellan’s army passed it on their Peninsular campaign. Now and then I passed a freedman’s cabin, or caught sight of an apple orchard in full bloom. A veil of blue smoke half hid the distant woods. I was quite a while on the way, for I am not a good horseman enough to trot much. I was cordially received by the people, who gathered in the little slab school house. The building was necessarily plain, but well filled with people. I made another appointment for preaching there in two weeks, and immediately after the close of services left for the Downey Farm. It was a ride of three miles over a strange road, but by inquiring I found my way. I rode up to one of the cabins, and got a drink of water, where a colored man kindly brought me without my dismounting. In hour or so brought me to the Downey Farm, where the Misses Stuart have been teaching. Here I had a nice dinner, and as I pleasant chat with the teachers and a Mr. Badger from Mass. At 3 P.M. I preached to a large audience. The room was very quiet, and we felt the Spirits presence. After meeting I rode home, when I arrived about dark. Eating supper, I went with the ladies to the Methodist Church, and heard their minister’s farewell discourse. I think I shall get used to horseback riding if I stay in Virginia. I had a very steady pony, “Old George,” belonging to the Freedman’s Bureau.

The religious interest here continues and increase. Last Thursday night twenty three came forward for prayer at the 1st Baptist Church. Twenty-six were baptized last Sunday, and many more will be soon. I am so sorry to be lame just now, so that I can not visit. But I think I shall be out tomorrow among the people. I should come to day if it was pleasant.

Mr. & Mrs Paine and Miss Brigham have gone home. I am now the only man at the Tyler House. There are twelve ladies. We are getting along very pleasantly.

There was a celebration over the passage of the Civil Rights Bill yesterday at Norfolk, procession, speeches &c. among the colored people. The rebels fired into them, and the blacks returned fire, and five men are reported killed. Of course there is intense excitement all around.

We are to have a celebration of colored people here on Wednesday. I do not think the rebels will dare interfere, for the blacks greatly outnumber them. They will fare hard if they do. I am afraid if Johnson goes on so there will be more fighting yet. The Mess Stuarts at the Downey Farm have had their lives threatened. I think we shall not be harmed.

Love to all from

Your eff. Son, S. J. Whiton [Samuel J. Whiton]

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