This letter was written by Jacob Bishop (1808-1885), the son of Abram Bishop (1766-1835) and Anna Truman Bond (1783-1870) of Granville, Washington County, New York. Jacob and his wife, Fanny Potter, came to Kenosha County, Wisconsin in 1841. He was a staunch Republican and a Quaker by faith.
Jacob wrote the letter to his son, Isaac Thorne Bishop (1844-1920) who enlisted initially in Company B, Second Illinois Light Artillery (“Taylor’s Battery”) but later transferred to Company C, 55th Illinois Infantry where he served three years. Seven days after joining the 55th regiment, he participated in the Battle of Chancellorsville and his regiment soon after went down the Mississippi River to Young’s Point, opposite Vicksburg, where in the summer of 1863, they helped to dig the canal which was usually called by the soldiers, “Grant’s Ditch.” Isaac then fought with his regiment from Grand Gulf to Raymond, and next at Champion Hills, Black River Bridge, and in the siege of Vicksburg. During the siege of Vicksburg he was assigned to special duty in the Ordnance Department of the 15th Army Corps. After the capitulation of Vicksburg, he was transferred to the Post Ordnance Department. In January 1864, he was assigned to duty in the Ordnance Department, Military Division of the Mississippi, located at Nashville, Tenn., by order of Lieut. Gen. U.S. Grant, where he remained until the close of the War, in May 1865.
A postwar Wisconsin Senator, Isaac T. Bishop gave the Dedication Address for the Wisconsin Monument at Vicksburg.
Somers [Kenosha County, Wisconsin]
12th Mo. [December] 16th 1863
My dear boy,
Since Vick [Victoria] has written a long letter I do not suppose that I can write any news but I thought I would scribble a little. It has been very warm, pleasant weather here this fall. Joseph plowed part of the time last week. Finished the 12th. Most of our plowing done and ready for sowing in the spring — about 40 acres besides what there is in Dell place — about twenty acres. So thee will see that we have been busy and lots of work for next year. I expect to mow 200 acres of grass if it grows. I have bought a broad cart sower — the greatest labor-saving machine that we have in the way of putting in crops. One man can sow and cover 10 acres in good style in one day.
Produce is very high here now — in fact, all staple articles in every line. Hay is worth from 8 to 10 dollars per ton in the stack.
Thy mother has been gone to Durand about 2 weeks. We expect her home this week. We are all well. I wish thee would write to thy Uncle Jefferson Strong. They have had a very severe trial. their son was killed and thy Aunt Laura is sick. Direct thy letter to Thomas J. Strong, Wickliffe, Lake County, Ohio. ¹ Also write to thy Aunt Ruth. ² Direct to Fairfield, Lenawee County, Michigan, and don’t for get to write to thy old friend Charles Conen. Watch and pray without caring that thee may be spared from all the snags on the [paper crease]. Remember that the prayers of the righteous [paper crease] much if sinners entice ____ thou not beware of women and strong drink. Be true to thyself and thy country.
I wrote thee a long letter about a month since. Have not not yet received an answer. Write often and give all the particulars. How things look and are managed about Vicksburg. Had I better come down this winter? Is there anything that I could do there to pay or to help the country in anyway? I have thought some of trying to get down there this winter.
Joseph is waiting to go to town so farewell from thy father who prays daily for thy preservation and general prosperity.
— Jacob Bishop
¹ Thomas Jefferson Strong, Sr. (1802-1876) is enumerated in the 1860 Census in Willoughby Twp, Lake County, Ohio. He was married to Laura Bishop (1803-1877). Their son, Corporal Thomas Jefferson Strong, Jr. (1836-1862), served in Battery G, 1st Ohio Artillery, and was killed at the Battle of Stones River on 3 January 1863 “by a cannonball,” according to the Widow’s Pension File. His widow was named Helen Elizabeth (Farwell) Strong (1836-1871).
² Ruth Bishop (1809-18xx)