George W. Colvin – Civil War Letters

I was quite overwhelmed when I read these letters – first knowing that George Colvin never made it home to his wife Lucinda and two young children made them very poignant – and then reading his longing of wanting to be home with them, but still desiring to do his duty as a soldier, was another struggle.  He must have been in debt, asking Lucinda to pay what he owed, but wanting to change his life when he got home, making a fresh start with his wife and children.  There are two more letters from George Colvin in this newspaper article, which I will share with you are at a later date.

from Newspaper Articles by Orval W. Baylor

Has Old Letters of Civil War Days

Letters Father Wrote to Mother Are Cherished by Mr. Enos I. Colvin of Springfield.  Was Soldier in Union Army and Died In Prison

Mr. Enos I. Colvin of Springfield has a number of old letters that were written by his father, George W. Colvin, while he was a soldier in the Union Army.  They were addressed to Lucinda Lea Colvin, wife of the said George W. and mother of Enos I.

George W. Colvin, son of Joseph and Nancy Turner Colvin, was born in the Big North sector of Washington County, February 25, 1835.  His father was a native of Virginia, born there March 18, 1780.  He came to Washington County when a young man and settled near the little settlement of Cornishville.  He was married to Nancy Turner July 26, 1805.  The Turners were early settlers in the Big North.

Joseph and Nancy turner Colvin were the parents of 13 children and George W., was the youngest.

As a young man, George W. Colvin traveled about from place to place.  A brief memorandum in his handwriting and now preserved by his son, tells of his travels.  It reads:

“Copied the 8th of October 1857.  This is to remember the time when I first left Kentucky on the 9th day of April, 1855, and went to the county of Lee State of Iowa and I resided there until fall and then I returned back to Kentucky and remained there six or seven weeks and then made my return to Lee County Iowa.  Resided there twelve months and then I went to the State of Missouri.  Remained there one week and then returned to Kentucky.  I landed there 23 November.  Remained there until spring and then I went back to Lee County, Iowa, and from there to the State of Missouri, Noetowa County.”

After approximately three years of going and coming, George W. Colvin decided to stay in Kentucky.  On June 29, 1858, he was married to Miss Lucinda Lea, and from then until he entered the Union Army he resided in Washington County.  Three children were born to George W. and Lucinda Lea Colvin, viz., Amos Colvin, April 10, 1859, Enos I. Colvin; December 4, 1860; Martha Ann Colvin, February 6, 1863.

Entering the Union Army at the beginning of the War Between the States, George W. Colvin continued in the service until near the close of the conflict when he was captured and taken to the Confederate prison at Andersonville, Georgia.  There, after he had suffered all the horrors for which that prison is known, he died.  He had been home to see his family a short time before he was captured and on the occasion of that visit he went to Louisville where he had his picture taken astride his favorite horse.  This picture is now preserved and cherished by his son.  It shows him in uniform with his sword at his side.  When he started south to rejoin his regiment he left his uniform and the sword with his family, fearing that he would be apprehended by the enemy.  The uniform was kept by the family for many years, but it later became lost.  The sword is yet preserved by Mr. Enos I. Colvin.

Enos I. Colvin is the sole survivor of the family of George W. and Lucinda Lea Colvin, and he has for many years resided here in Springfield.  He was married to Jane Kays, March 15, 1891.  About the year 1900 they moved from the northern part of Washington to Beechland and occupied the place where tradition says Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln commenced housekeeping in 1806.  The old cabin in which the Lincoln’s lived was still standing when the Colvin’s moved to the place and they tore it down.  The logs were piled up to remain there until about 1911, when they were seen by a person from Harrodsburg, secured by him and taken to that place where they are now enshrined and exhibited as “The Lincoln Marriage Cabin.”

The first letter of George W. Colvin to his wife and family – May the 31st, 1863.

Russell County, State of Kentucky, Jamestown, the County Seat.

Dear Wife, with pleasure I will inform you that I am well at present and I hope when these few lines comes to hand that may find you all well.  I would like very much to see you all, but Lucy, I don’t know as I shall come home any more until peace is made.  I have come to the conclusion that peace will be made against next Christmas.  We understand that the Union men has taken Vicksburg and the whole forces that were there and seventy pieces of canon, and we are looking every day for a fight to come off here.  The Rebels has a very strong force on the other side of the Cumberland River, and Jamestown is four miles from the river.

‘My regiment is at Green River, but there were thirty-three sent out of our Company to Columbia on detached duty and out of the 33, ten of us was sent from Columbia with the two regiments of infantry for their advance guards were at this time very comfortable.  Situated where we are in a first straight dwelling house in Jamestown.  Lucy, I don’t know when I will get back to my regiment, but I am as well satisfied here as I am anywhere in the army.  Lucy, I will tell you what we have been living upon.  We have had nothing but coffee and hard bread for better than a week.  But we will get some meat this evening.  Lucy I have not heard from you since Samuel Lambert brought a letter for me.  You said you had payed Jack Sims and also Graves with the exception of seven dollars, which I am glad to think that is so paid.  When I left the regiment they were talking of drawing two months wages which will help us a little towards paying my debts and I hope will get through after a while.  Lucy I have not heard if Molly has got well of the fistula or not, but is she has got well I want to sell her, as I told you in the other letter that I wrote to you.  I want all my little accouterments together if I ever get out of this war, I am going to a new country and take a new start for a living and lead a different life.  Lucy, you and my sweet little children is the last thing that I think of when I lay down upon the hard earth to rest with all the tormented insects to encounter with and you are the first thing I think of when I get up of a morning.  Lucy, I wish that I could send you and my sweet children some more apples, but it is so that I can’t send you anything this time.  Lucy, I want you to write to me as soon as you get this letter and you will please write often.  I will write to you again, soon as I receive a letter from you.  I will now come to a close for the present.  So fare well for this time.

‘George W. Colvin to Lucinda Colvin, Jamestown, Kentucky, May 31, 1863.  Excuse my bad writing and awkward spelling for the drums and fifes bother me.  We have a good force here and can soon have more.’

4 thoughts on “George W. Colvin – Civil War Letters”

  1. This is a very touching letter. Thank you so much for sharing it. It is especially poignant knowing the outcome. My great grandparents, William Russell and Zerilda Williams Watts lived near Cornishville, KY during the Civil War and I now live in Atlanta, GA north of the infamous prison of Andersonville. Marilyn

  2. Thank you for sharing this letter. It personalizes history. Incidentally, I recommend visiting the Andersonville site.

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