This letter was written by Margaret Fruit (1834-1912), the daughter of Robert Fruit (1797-1879) and Margaret Campbell (1801-1866) of Mercer County, Pennsylvania. She mentions her sisters Maria and Caroline near the end of the letter. Caroline later married Byron Hull. Margaret died single in 1912.
Margaret (or “Mag” as she preferred to call herself) wrote the letter to her older brother, Pvt. John W. Fruit, of Co. G, 10 Regiment Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry (39th Volunteers). This regiment was at Camp Tennally (near Tennallytown, Maryland) from 1 August until 10 October 1861 when they crossed the Potomac into Virginia. John served with his company until September 1862 when he was discharged for wounds he received at Charles City Cross Roads on 30 June 1862 during the Peninsula Campaign.
Home [Mercer County, Pennsylvania]
Saturday, October 19th 1861
I received your letter about two weeks since and would have written sooner but I did not know whether to direct as before or not. We have not heard from you since you left Camp Tennally. When you write, be sure and write how much further you are away.
We are all well at present and the neighbors also (the exception of M. D. Davis — he has not been well for some time). Times are very dull at present. I think if it was not for the Zahniser family, ¹ we would all die for want of excitement. Levi [Zahniser] & Mary King were married last Sunday night. Yesterday was the infore day. He passed here when he went after her. You had better believe he had a suit of clothes on that would have done credit to Lincoln himself. Do you not think that they are taking a singular way to serve their country. I do.
Ed[ward C.] Thompson & J[ohn] Koonce & Joseph & Tom Stuart [Stewart] left home for Camp Curtain yesterday. They go in [Col. William] Maxwell’s Regiment in J[erome B.] Hoagland’s Company. I did hear that M. & J. Anderson were gone but I do not know whether it is so or not.
We have had most beautiful weather for about two weeks. We have had little or no frost yet. The boys were at a big husking last Thursday evening at Hiram Snider’s.
[Lt.] Sy [Sion B.] Smith is with us yet. I think probably he will stay another year. Will Coreen is growing very fast. I should not wonder if he grows out of your knowledge entirely before you get home.
Do not send Maria any more presents for fear she goes wrong in the head. She is showing them and gassing about them to every person that comes here.
I must bring this to a close as there is a sewing society in Mercer and Cal [Caroline] is going to it and I want to send this to the office with her. We have a busy time knitting socks & making blankets for the soldiers.
Mother & the rest of the family sends their best love to you & their respects to your messmates.
Good luck for the present. From your sister, — Mag Fruit
¹ The Zahniser family, of German origin, had a presence in Mercer County dating back to the late 18th Century. During the Civil War, the Zahniser’s were well represented in the ranks of the Union army. They were generally divided between Republicans and Democrats in a 2:1 ratio except for when a member of the family was a candidate and the entire family turned out the vote for their relative. On one such occasion, an opponent remarked that the county had three parties — “the Republicans, the Democrats, and the Zahnisers!”