[Letter] 1846 Oct. 2 [to] Mrs. Elizabeth Caswell / William R. Caswell : a machine readable transcription of an image
Caswell, William R.
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October 2, 1846
This document is a letter dated October 2, 1846 from Captain William R. Caswell to his wife, Elizabeth. Captain Caswell was one of many Tennessee volunteers who served in the Mexican-American War. He writes about the recent battle in Monterey, and gives his wife advice on business at home.
I have just finished writing a letter to the Knoxville Tribune, giving an account of an excursion I took on yesturday [yesterday] and the day before, in pursuit of Canales and his band; which if published you will see tho [though] it contains no incident of any importance; but I felt like writing to some one from whom you might[added: hear] from me. And now when I commence a letter to you, I can think of nothing worth writing except to tell you how anxious I am to see you and Eliza and that little boy— the weather has moderated very much by a few cold Northern winds, causing the nights to become quite cool, tho' [though] the [the] middle of [added: the] days are still very warm; during which time we generally lounge under the awning in front of our tents when we have no military duty to perform—The nights are most lovely and bright, as you may judge from the fact that I am writing this letter by moonlight alone. Perhaps we have in Tennessee as [added: bright nights as] they are here, but there we have not often more than two or three such nights in succession, whilst here they are seldom obscured by a single cloud. As my comrade Winship (who has recovered from the measles and this evening returned to our Quarters) would say I am writing by moonlight for "grandour [grandeur]"— for indeed I can see much better by candle light than by moonshine, bright and beautiful as it is. I have just heard to-day, that our Cavalry Regiment had reached San Antonio, — that supplies could not be had for them to recruit at that place—and that Gen. [General] Wool had ordered them to Port Lavaca, which by reference to the map you will see is a long ways behind the Head Quarters of the Army, and I doubt if ever they can get up with their horses in condition to render any service— Genl. [General] Pillows Brigade is now moving forward, and we shall probably go ourselves next week to Monterey — I am anxious to go up, not only because of the great battle fought there— and of the advanced position we shall be placed in, but because too, the country is described as most abundantly supplied with grain, cattle, fruits, &c [and et cetera] (none of which we get here) but it is said to be a most salubrious and delightful climate— I have heard very little more more of the particulars and incidents of the battle than I had heard when I wrote to you last—I have not yet heard what Bob Foster done there, but having a list of the officers who were killed and wounded in the storming of Monterey (tho' [though] not of a single private) and his name is not on that list— I know however that he has done, and behaved well. for even the Regular officers say the Tennesseeans [Tennesseans], all, fought like Trojans—
I have not written a word of advice about our business at home, because what I migh [might] say might be inconsistent with circumstances of which I am ignorant— But I will make some suggestions, which you will not however regard unless you shall think them advisable under all [added: existing] circumstances— In the first place— If you could hire Mr. Foel (who was employed by Mr. Long last year) to take charge of the farm—it would enable you to keep Thomas at home. And you might afford to give him a liberal price, perhaps best to have in the the contract that he should be paid out of the proceeds of the crop— Mr. Taylor could and would make a contract with him— But you can either do this— or continue the farm as it has been, or rent out the farm and hire out the boys— for altho' [although] I may get home (if peace should be concluded) soon after you receive this, yet I may be detained in the service until the end of my term of 12 months— If I am, however I shall save out of my wages from $80.. to $100.. per month— Tho' I do not know that I shall have any means of making you a remittance, and if I had, I have no certainty of drawing my pay as it falls due, I have only drawn one month wages, and the paymaster has no money here now, whilst a great many soldiers have not drawn a cent— It seems to me, too, that some measures ought to be taken to collect the debts due from Biggs and Eaton, for I cannot believe those debts have been paid,—Still if Eaton should make a liberal payment, perhaps it would be good policy to indulge him for a part—tho' [though] I suppose we will loose [lose] the Nance debt which might have been saved by an earlier proceeding as you advised me often; and for this[added: with many, very many other things] I have much confidence in your judment, [judgement] and leave all to your discretion— Mr. Taylor, you remember, has my notes— If you think advisable to sue; any person, some of the lawyers will attend to it for me—If you can have any debts collected or can realize any of the proceeds of the dues by notes, fees or otherwise, use all that you [you] require for your comfort, in the most extensive signification of that word comfort— If you cannot have collected as much as you thus need, borrow as much from Gen. [General] Brazelton —I can, when I return, very conveniently manage the balance of my debts when I return— Gen. [General] Pillow is very rich, being worth perhaps 200,000$, he is a good financier. and says he will put me in a way to make some money, but I do not depend on this, for I know of no way he can do so, by any means which I could accept—I wrote to Mr. McClung [added: or told him] I would move with him to Texas — but home seems to now, as so sweet and dear a place, I do not feel as if I would be willing to exchange it, for any other— I have not received a letter from you since I left home, except the one that was brought me by Lieut. [Lieutenent] Turnley — And you must know that I am anxious to hear from, It is oweing [owing] to the negligence no doubt of our Post Masters between this place and Orleans— I imagine however that tho' [though] my letters may have meet with some delay, yet that you receive them with much more regularity, and certainty—
In my speculations about the time when the happy day shall arrive, in which I shall meet you again, I am guided by my conjectures about the duration of the war, and my opinion tho [though] based upon uncertainties numerous, and many of them far fetched is, that we shall have a treaty of peace concluded. But if this should be so, or whether it is or not, I cannot calculate upon getting home again earlier than the first of February next— Which seems so very long, that it almost drowns with despair, my anxious hopes of return. But anxious as I am to return, I am not satisfied for the war to end at what it now stands, I hope to have one brush with the Mexicans myself. I have been apprehensive that I should be reproached at home for leaving my company and accepting my present situation in Gen. [General] Pillows staff— Because when I left Knoxville my the friends there of my men expected me to take care of them— My great inducement to come forward was the expectation of being in the fight which all the time I have expected would take place about Monterey; and in which I knew my company company could not get up in time [added: to] participate— Besides if they had come forward instead of going to Lavaca, I think I have the ear of the Generals so as to [added: have] renderd [rendered] them some favors— besides I did not know how I could have rendered them any service upon their march, now I think the best service I can render them will be to obtain orders for them to march away from the south into a more congenial climate— If I can get them forward so as to take part in the next fight I will join them, if I cannot get them forward, I will try and get myself forward. In my former letters, I have told you much about myself and no important changes having taken place in my manner of life since that I need not write at this time any more upon that subject— I have written one letter to Alfred — And I have written to A.R. Crozier giving him a sketch of the battle at Monterey— Please preserve all the papers in which you can find any reference to me, my company, &c [and et cetera]— I will write to Gen. [General]Brazelton I think by next mail. A son of Mr. Ross from Anderson County has been discharged. If he should return home by the first steamer I will send this letter by him— Give my love to Eliza. I wish she could be at school. And on that account I am anxious to return home, so that I may keep you company whilst she is about. Kiss the little boy for me— and give my love to your Ma.