This letter was written by Elizabeth (“Luisie”) Heaton Leete (1827-1896), the wife of Capt. John Strickland Struthers (1826-1901), Co. K, 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry. He was commissioned as captain in November 1862 and was discharged for disability on 9 July 1864 — some three weeks after this letter was written.
John and Luisie Struthers had four children: Helen (b. 1847), William (b. 1854), Mary (b. 1857), and Agnes (b. 1860).
Luisie was the daughter of Lewis and Harriet (Elliott) Leete of Guilford, Connecticut. Capt. John Struthers was the son of Philadelphia marble mason John Struthers who partnered with architect John Strickland to create a number of notable Philadelphia buildings. Before the war, Capt. John Struthers resided in Tuscorora, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. In 1860, The Struthers were enumerated in the census at Newark, New Jersey where John’s occupation was given as “railroad conductor.”
I believe Capt. Struthers was wounded and taken prisoner while with his regiment in the spring of 1863. By the time this letter was written, Capt. Struthers was serving as the commander-in-chief of a “dismounted camp” (Camp Stoneman) near Washington D. C.
Much of the content of this letter centers upon the health of the Struther’s only son, William Struthers (b. 1854). William was never a healthy child and though he did survive to adulthood, he was an invalid. Despite his handicap, William become a distinguished scholar and linguist, as well as an accomplished poet.
Addressed to Capt. J. S. Struthers, Commanding 1st Division, Camp Stoneman, Giesboro, Maryland
June 18th 1864
I must write you a few lines for I know how anxious you are about Willie & you will feel more troubled now you have seen how weak he is. I judge by myself. I wanted to see you before you came yesterday but today I miss your face & will more then.
Our doctor has just been [here] & says Willie has no longer the dysentery but diarrhea. The disease has changed and he thinks he will gain strength daily but says this is cholera season; that there is no sickness here but diarrhea, & in some families 5 or soccer sick with it. He advises that no vegetable food be used; ripe fruit he thinks good. Willie is not as well today — or was not this morning — but I think he will be better for he has eaten at least of beef 1 lb. cooked rare. I think he ate too much hoarhound candy yesterday.
How did you get home? I want you to write often. I will everyday. Today is May’s birthday. I will celebrate it when Willie and I come home. Poor little fellow. He’s lying on the bed looking at two little Sunday school papers that have just come from you. I have not taken him downstairs today. Am going to get him out in the air as soon as he can bear a ride.
I will not say anymore for I want this to go at 4 o’clock. Have you the medicine & things from Express? Give each one a good kiss for us all and take one for yourself from your affectionate old wife, — Luisie