Christopher T. Dunham to his mother, Mary Hess, written April 30, 1863 from the headquarters of the 3rd Division Army of Kentucky in Franklin, Tennessee.

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Christopher T. Dunham to his mother, Mary Hess, written April 30, 1863 from the headquarters of the 3rd Division Army of Kentucky in Franklin, Tennessee.


Christopher Theodore Dunham was born Sept 24, 1836 in Berkshire, Tioga County, NY. He moved to Freeport, Stephenson County, IL around 1856 and in 1860 was elected county surveyor. In the spring of 1861 he enlisted as a corporal in Capt. Atkin's company in the 11th Illinois Regiment of the Union Army. He transferred to Noleman's Calvary Company and was mustered out July 5, 1862. He returned to Freeport where he again enlisted under the President's call of July 1. 1862 and was elected Captain of Company F, 92nd Illinois Volunteers. With his background as a surveyor, he was detailed as Topographical officer on the staff of Brigadier General A. Baird, commander of his regiment's division. In 1864 he was tendered by Governor Yates the commission of Lt. Col. but turned it down to remain on staff duty. He was also attached to HQ 3rd Div. Army of Kentucky and HQ 1st Div. Reserve Army Corps. In 1872 he was admitted to the Elgin Insane Asylum where he died January 27, 1878. His early letters were to his fiancee Sarah Cummings, spelled "Saddie"later changed to "Sadie". They married in the fall of 1862.


Christopher Theodore Dunham


April 30, 1863


Midway Village Museum






Head Quarters 3d Division A Ky
Franklin Tenn April 30th / 63
My Dear Mother,
Your very kind letter of the 26th I was most glad to recieve [sic] – although it gave me much pain and grief to hear of my darling Wife being still so sick – Oh dear Mother you cannot half emagine [sic] how my poor heart yearns to see my loving wife again. & never have I felt before the strong arm of military power as at the present time & never have I felt so much like – leaving the service as at the present time, and indeed I would cirtainly [sic] do so if it were not that we are on the extreme Right & front of the Army of the Cumberland & the Enemy in considerable force just a few miles to our front. I do fully appreciate the claims of my country to my feeble services – but at the same time I ought to consider the claim of my sweet darling wife & she so sick too.
You may tell Sadie that as soon as I can get a “Leave of Absence” I will come home & see her & that I think there will be an opportunity to get one before long. Just at the present time – General Rosecrans says he wants all the officers at their posts. So I think before long we will have another battle. & then Officers who merit –
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them will be able to a [sic] Leave of absence but more officers go home who do not merit it than those who do. General Baird himself nor Genl. Granger could not get a Leave of absence unless on the account of their Sickness that is the rule which is now established. My dear mother you may well emagine [sic] my feelings to hear how my poor sick Wife was grieved to know I could not come to her – do mother kiss her once for me – I find by your letter that She is lower than I had expected – I hope she will speedily recover – What suffering she must have endured – Two babes, how it supprised [sic] me when I heard of it. I think they were remarkably large – I knew Sadie was a good Mother – poor darling how bad she must have felt to see her dear babes laid away in the grave & her husband so far away from her I should really loved [sic] to have been home to have seen them – wonder who the “old Woman” was who thought they looked so much like their Pa –
No doubt you do every thing [sic] to keep my Darling in good spirits. Dear Mother you must be very tired & ill by watching so much but oh I do wish you would give her every possible care and attentions. Oh how much do I wish I could nurs [sic] her. I could do it so well I know, & I pray she may never again be sick without my being by her bed to nurse & care for her. Dr. Mc Pheters, the Medical Director on the Staff of Genl. Baird (& who is [messing] with me) says he thinks Sadie will get along pretty well now, but that she must
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be very careful – You must write me more about Sadie –
What did she think of her babes! did it grieve her much to see them taken away does the Doc. Prentice think her health will be good after she gets well – as though she had not had the babes prematurely? – tell me what he thinks about it – Oh my sweet wife – she looked so pretty & the picture of health when she was out to see me & now so sick. I have her dear picture close by me – would it was the original, but I will wait patiently until the time comes when I can be permitted to see her.
You wished me to tell you how far I am from home. From Franklin Tenn. It is [10] miles to Nashville & nearly 200 miles to Louisville Ky, & 600 miles from Freeport so you see it would not take more than two days to come home – We are very strongly fortified at Franklin & the [adjoining] towns or posts – I was boxing out fortifications at Brentwood when the news came of my darlings Sickness. I have not written my Mother yet. but will soon she will feel very bad to know of my darlings misfortune – Mother would come out & see her I believe & perhaps she could help in nursing her. I am so glad that Sadie has such confidence in you. She believes you can do most any thing[sic] for her – To day[sic] has been the one to be observed by fasting & prayer – the proclamation of the President making it so – the troops looked fine – there is but little Sickness now in camp. The boys have the Shelter tents – which are only large enough for two soldiers, they look very singular – tell darling
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Sadie that those troops which she saw at Danville & which were mostly taken prisoners will be back in a few days, & tell her too that all the Staff of & General Baird sympathize with me in my disappointment in not coming home. & that they feel very bad to know that my Darling wife is sick they ask me frequently have I gotten further news from my wife.
How are all the family do write me tell Stephen to write me – Ive [sic] not had a letter from him in a long time tell him I will be happy to answer any & every letter
Where is Luther now write me
Tis getting quite late so good bye my dear Mother from your Affet [sic] Son in Law
C.T. Dunham
To Mary F. Hess
Freeport, Ill
P.S. I would like to have my Razor sent me I left it in Sadies [sic] basket at Danville & are there any spurs now at the house I [need] a pair
I see Mr Cochran has married
may they have a happy time –


Original Format



Christopher Theodore Dunham, “Christopher T. Dunham to his mother, Mary Hess, written April 30, 1863 from the headquarters of the 3rd Division Army of Kentucky in Franklin, Tennessee.,” Midway Village Museum - Digital Collections, accessed April 18, 2024,