This letter was written by 31 year-old Erastus Fuller (1830-1915), the son of David Fuller (1795-1871) and Mary Esther Drue (1798-1877) of Gardiner, Kennebec county, Maine. In 1861, less than a month after the firing on Fort Sumter, Erastus was working as a carpenter in Oquawka, Illinois. He was married to his first wife, Elizabeth Merry (1831-1867), and we learn from the letter that they had an infant son—possibly still unnamed, though we know from burial records it was named Elmer Erastus Fuller (1861-1862).
Erastus wrote the letter to his 1st cousin, George Stanwood Fuller, Jr. (1835-1913) of Hallowell, Kennebec county, Maine. George was the son of George S. Fuller (1807-1878) and Hannah Stanwood Lord (1809-1901).
April 28, 1861
I received yours of 21st yesterday. Was right glad to hear from you once more. If you had not written, I should have sent you a blank to fill for me. I find that [ ] folks to write. I went one to my folks and then in two weeks after I received a letter from them. I forgive you for your negligence but mind next time.
We are all well. Lizzie has gone out to one of the neighbors to make a short call for the first time since the young son come. She is right smart (if you please). The boy is a fine fellow. I can tell he looks a good deal like Lizzie Flora but has dark blue eyes & light hair. All of our cousins are well.
J[ohn] M. Fuller’s son William [Henry Harrison Fuller] ¹ has gone to help defend his country. He is about as smart a cousin as we have. There was 40 of our brave boys started for Cairo last Tuesday. Times are getting warm here. Everyone is for the Union. If anyone is for the South, they have to look out for their neck. There was a man in town a week ago thought it was the Democrats & Republicans that was fighting. He being a Democrat thought he had some friends here so he just went in on his muscle and soon had to leave or fare worse. If he had not gone, he would probably [have] got a small bone that runs up his back broken.
We have 4 companies formed of 60 men each drilling 3 times a week. Your humble servant is 2nd Lieut. in one company and will probably be promoted. If there is a call for more troops, we shall go with 150 men and if we have to shoot, we shoot to kill.
There may be excitement there in Hallowell [but] you are not so near the field of action as we are here. There is any quantity of provision in this state. If it was not for the war, it] would go to feed the South. But as it is, Illinois will keep it for her own use or for the U. S. and it is reported the South intends taking some of it. It will be a sorry job for them. If it was not for my business, I would just be off in short order. Business looked quite favorable this spring [but] just as soon as Sumter was taken, it struck like a heavy frost in a thrifty garden. Nothing of any importance [is] going on—only war.
Elisha is in Young America 14 miles from here. Len is farming. He is in good spirits.
Tell Frank I will send the jacket as soon as possible. I suppose that is what he wants it for the jacket.
If Gordines has the coop, I hope he never will trouble me but I expect he will if I should be lucky to get anything together. There is not much hopes of it now. Excuse this poor writing. I don’t feel much like writing. I feel more like hauling on a rope to string up a few of those traitors. Let us have a government if we have to fight as our grandfathers did, what would the old veterans say if they could come back (Liberty or Death).
Let us hear from you afore soon.
¹ William Henry Harrison Fuller served briefly in a 3 months organization early in the war and then returned to Oquawka to help organize Co. G of the 84th Illinois Infantry in which he served as 1st Lieutenant from September 1862 to May 1864.