Christopher T. Dunham to Sarah E. (Sadie) Cummings, written September 27, 1861 from Camp Lyon Birds Point, Missouri.

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Christopher T. Dunham to Sarah E. (Sadie) Cummings, written September 27, 1861 from Camp Lyon Birds Point, Missouri.


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


September 27, 1861


Midway Village Museum






Camp Lyon Bird’s Pt Mo., Sept. the 27th, 1861
My dearest Saddie,
Your very affectionate and excellent letter of the 21st was gladly received on the 25th. My love you cannot emagine [sic] how glad I was to once again get a few lines from you, & although it has been some considerable time since hearing from you, now that I have read your good & consoling letter I cannot find any fault with you, knowing that your time would be considerably imployed [sic] in household affairs. And the trouble necessary on mooving[sic] and the marriage too. I felt [disposed] to excuse you on those grounds, but having heard from you so regularly before then was sometimes some feeling or apprehension in my mind that you were unwell. And then I
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thought perhaps you had gon [sic] to Pennsylvania with your mother and on a visit and that several weeks would naturally be imployed[sic] to make the trip. And occasionally a lingering thought would say—that you were surrounded with so many friends and company that you had forgotten me. Stationed off in the secluded outposts of Missouri—but one of that ennumerable [sic] band of persins [sic] whose house the Cotton Tent or the broad canopy of heaven, but I like it very well indeed, could stand a great deal wors [sic] fare —this morning I am very comfortably situated in my tent writing you. Have a very good table & floor & the bright sun is just now streaming across my paper which makes my eyes a little dim, which will answer for an excuse for the bad writing. My love you do write such good letters and so easy my heart beats in sympathy with yours in the centiments [sic] which are contained in these lines of yours in regard to religion—yes my love this world would be very difficult indeed to live in or this life would be quite dreary
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and sad if there were no higher power to appeal to in hours of affliction and disappointments. It appears to me that there can be no one although they do & act quite wrong [or] always are acting right, but who very often feel the necisity [sic] and the want of a pure religion to help them on in the battle of life. And since we are fighting the litteral [sic] battle & battle when death is the issue. So much the more do we want a divine hand to assist us. But how pleasant and consoling it is to have an earthly friend to sympathis [sic] with you in all your joys and afflictions. My love you do not know the value of your love and kind words and pleasing smiles to myself. So long as I can have your love and sympathy all looks bright and pleasant in the future and I do not regard our trials + troubals [sic] or exposures very great, or that they are too much compaired [sic] with the great object in view. My aim is not to gain distinction or notariety [sic] in this war by petty figuring. or humiliating our self for office. Do not care an [sic] fig for Mr. Atkins partiality in regard to the offices, but will tell you if he had permited [sic] an election
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To fill those offices to which he made appointments. I know that I should have held a pretty good office. He has appointed those who cannot make out a morning report or scarcely divide in arithmetich [sic]. The [Caps.] knew that I could have had an easy position in the engeneering [sic] department, but as he wished me to rejoin the Co. and as I would prefer actual service to working in justifications, but after having done all the writing & making out papers, pay roll & c. for the Company then to be used in that manner I did not like it for I know the [boys] of the Co. did not like it either. So on the first of the month I join Capt. Doleman’s Cavalry, it is attached to the 11th Regiment & will accompany that Regiment wherever it goes. I will like this better than the infantry. The Capt. first made objections to my joining it but in his letter to me from [Freeport] he gave his consent, it being necessary to a transfer from one Co. to another to have the consent of the Captains & the Colonels, for the present you will please dirict [sic] as usual your letters. This is the best Cavaly [sic] Co. in Mo. it having the best guns. the equipments. [are] the saber, pistols & small rifle. & have good horses.
There is not much news here and you get it all in the Chicago Tribune. Our Regiment made a trip to Norfolk and back which improved their spirits considerable,
[the remainder of the latter is not extant]

Original Format



Christopher Theodore Dunham, “Christopher T. Dunham to Sarah E. (Sadie) Cummings, written September 27, 1861 from Camp Lyon Birds Point, Missouri.,” Midway Village Museum - Digital Collections, accessed July 14, 2024,