Christopher T. Dunham to Sarah E. (Sadie) Cummings, written May 28, 1861 at Camp Mandin.

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Christopher T. Dunham to Sarah E. (Sadie) Cummings, written May 28, 1861 at Camp Mandin.


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


May 28, 1861


Midway Village Museum






Camp Hardin May 28th 1861
My Dear Saddie
I was very glad to receive a letter from you this morning although I had expected one sooner. & as you appear to have made out a good reason for not writing sooner—I accept your apology on your own grounds—that you will write oftner [sic] in the future. Dear Saddie I do love to receive letters from you so well that I could peruse these which I have already received over again & again & still find something interesting & loving in them. I think the one you wrote before the last one is so fine & good that I have read it several times. You said that you presumed that I was quite displeased with you for not writing sooner. No I am not displeased. Neither do I doubt your affection for one moment. I know that you have considerable to attend
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to & perhaps do not at all times have an opportunity to write when you would wish, but I should like to hear from you often & I will try to write you twice a week as you requested, & let me say that we appreciate letters coming from home only as those who have been away & on similar expeditions can appreciate. My Dear I think of you very, very often & it makes my heart glad to think I have so good a friend when I am so little disearving [sic] of one. Glad to hear that you are well & enjoying your self [sic]. I have no reason to complain & [sic] this respect, have been well & had an opportunity to see more of the country than any one in our Regiment as I was appointed by the Col. to furnish notes & drafts for him of the County. Occasionly [sic] of course we all feel the absence of—friends & society. I will write your mother soon. We received a telegraph dispatch a few moments
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ago that our Regiment with the Briggade [sic] are accepted for 3 years. Our Col. telegraphed from Washington. So you must not be surprised if I am among the [Nr.] who wish to see the war through with all due respect for you (& your feelings)—Saddie whom I most dearly love I thought it my duty to enlist for the three years service. Consequently I signed a paper to that effect. Many of the Regiment will not go for more than three months. I hope you will not think hard of me for doing so—you must know that I could not honorably do other wise & it is only the love which I have for you which could induce me to consider the matter for one moment. Mr [Ornerly] is here now & most every day someone is here from Freeport. But I am generally absent in the country when they come. Last evening quite an excitement was occasioned
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last evening about 12 o’clock by one of the guards shooting at a spy. The boy who fired on the man was from our company & the other guards who were near say he showed great coolness & firmness. We shall leave in a few days for Cairo & how long we shall stay there I do not know, hope & wish not long, for I like our position here much better than I shall at Cairo.
I had heard by Mr Clark of [Burchard], & [Lawvers] exit from a state of single blessedness I wish them much happiness—long may they wave. You very kindly thanked me for these sketches, they are of not much account, and made in a hurry, but could be copied & made to look better. I have my military map [prety] nearly finished—the officer [sic] are foolish enough to say it is quite nice. [Friday] quite a number of ladies visited camp & the officers wives arrive
[remaining pages of the letter are not extant]

Original Format



Christopher Theodore Dunham, “Christopher T. Dunham to Sarah E. (Sadie) Cummings, written May 28, 1861 at Camp Mandin.,” Midway Village Museum - Digital Collections, accessed March 3, 2024,