Christopher T. Dunham to his wife Sarah E. (Sadie) Cummings written May 31, 1863 from Franklin, Tennessee.

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Christopher T. Dunham to his wife Sarah E. (Sadie) Cummings written May 31, 1863 from 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. He married Sarah (“Sadie” or “Saddie”) E. Cummings September 22, 1862 in Freeport, Illinois. 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. After returning to Freeport he was again surveying, but in 1872 was admitted to the Elgin Insane Asylum, where he died January 27, 1878.


Christopher Theodore Dunham


May 31, 1863


Midway Village Museum







Head Quarters Third Division,
Army of Kentucky,
Franklin Tenn May 31st 1863

My own darling Sadie,
Although I wrote you this morning Love—yet this blest evening with beauty & loveliness is enough to cause me to write again—because I feel lonely & as though I wanted my darling to be here and enjoy it too. How exceedingly lovely this evening is. It is one of those kind of evenings—fraught with beauty & loveliness which makes the heart feel its own insignifficance [sic] and long for the sympathy of these we love—
I have spent the day very pleasantly indeed—read a good portion of the time—& read the little Bible which you gave me & of which I think so much & towards evening I took a pretty ride out from the camp a few miles—oh how pleasant it was—the farms (save where they had been destroyed by the army) looked blooming indeed, every thing looked like the handy work of the Allwise God. & this evening I read again the little Bible—oh how struck I was with the Epistle of Paul to the Corninthians Chap 7—I happened to turn to it. You know
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how it treats concerning marriage—the duties of Man & Wife exhorting them to be faithful one to the other—&c &c—and towards the latter portin [sic] of the Chapter it treats, or points-out what should be the course of action of a husband or wife in case one dies—whether they marry again or not. It says or Paul say [sic] it is well enugh [sic] for them to do so but appears to indicate to the contrary in some portins [sic] of the Chapter—and the thought struck me then—how long would it be ere my Sweet and loving Wife would become anothers & my name almost forgotten. Oh my Sweet one you can imagine how what a thrill of sadness passed through my poor heart but I know the thought was not right but I have consoled myself many times by the thought that if I fell here on the field I would meet my Sweet Wife in heaven What a happy & consoling thought my Love. Some how it is very repugnant to the mind the Idea that all you have as a precious treasure when you pass away becomes anothers, but I suppose in a true Christian sense and light the idea is a selfish & unholy one—So my Darling Sadie—whilst I am now speaking of the Subject (for I may never brouch [sic] it again) just mentioned—I do not wish
you to think that I am so selfish as the previous lines of the letter would indicate. No I will say now that should anything happen me [sic]—It is my wish and desire (how so ever much my natural feelings might be opposed to it) that you marry again. Oh how bad I do feel this evening—I feel as though my all had flown away. You will excuse me won’t you love. I should most earnestly desire to be permitted to see you again—but Gods[sic] will—not mine be done—I have thought more of the Bible within the last few days & the necessity for being prepaired [sic] for the—final hours—than I have during the Service before—Oh that I was a Christian a good one. Would it not be so nice Sadie—for us bouth[sic] to love God with all our hearts and Sole [sic]—let us pray for each other my love, will we not? How do you spend the long and beautiful evenings my love? do[sic] you not get lonesome? and [sic] at times unhappy? I believe it would be better for this army to march now I am to remain dormant in camp & better for my self—then our thughts [sic] & time could be engaged—and consequently more contented and happy. Now my Sweet wife I will be honest with you—the most of the time whilst I am on duty especially at day I feel well and contented, but frequently when night comes when I get Seated in my tent, how much do I then miss your Sweet Society—your encouraging Smiles & pleasant voice—but we all hope and pray that—the
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time will soon pass away—when our hearts are to be so sorely tried—Now Sweet one you are the only one to whom I say anything conserning [sic] my feelings in regard to being absent from you—the officers—would not know by my appearance that I was married for I am whilst with the troops & men cheerful and for all they know happy—but oh my dear one it is a very great sacrifice for me to remain absent from you & especially was it when you were sick—had you not gotten better immidiatly [sic] I think I should have come home without Leave as I should have considered the circumstances justifiable—and would have been willing to have—Subjected myself to any & all humiliation on your account—for I considered my promise to you binding when I said I would be with you in sickness as well as in health at the marrige [sic] alter—oh my [Good] Wife you cannot imagine how my poor heart felt for you then—I could have done anything almost to have been with you. and now it is my [determinate] if you do not get better (which I think you will) to resign & come to you—Capt. Lupten & Capt. Polk [both] of Genl[sic] (Baird’s?) Staff are home now on Sick leaves of absence. & they were not very sick neither [sic]—So you See I am unfortunate in not getting sick—my Bro[sic] is well now. Lieut Mayer is also & he is making a good officer—he is considered one of the best Lieuts in the Regiment—my boys are all in good health now—do you
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remembr [sic] the boy Sanders who was so sick at Rockford? He joined the company a few days ago—not having been with it since we left Rockford—he is not well & I shall get him discharged—Has Stephen left the printing off? what do the folks think of a draft? do[sic] they not now think it best to have a few Negroes “fight”? I see the powers are taking steps in that direction I saw quite a [flattering] notice the other day in a letter written to a person here—he was giving the news of the town & said that James C. [Charl] married Miss [Tarlux], & after giving a few more items—said that Capt Dunhams [sic] beautiful Wife had given birth to “twins”—I am anxious to hear from Henry and Charles—I saw today that Charley’s Regiment had done well on a [scout]at the Potimic [sic] & I suppose Henry was in the Vicksburg battles—Just as I am writing I see another storm is
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coming up—we have had severel [sic] lately—How is your dear Ma now? And how is Agnes? I feel interested in Agy [sic] and would like to see her doing well—and also the other girls—but little Agy[sic] as I used to call her always was a peculiar friend to me—do you remember how she used to intercede & do anything I wanted her to do? Now my Sweet one when you write me give me a long letter will you—tell me about everything—Tis now about 10 o’clock So My Darling “good night”—pleasant dreams to you is (the prayer?) of your faithful husband C.T.D.

Original Format



Christopher Theodore Dunham, “Christopher T. Dunham to his wife Sarah E. (Sadie) Cummings written May 31, 1863 from Franklin, Tennessee.,” Midway Village Museum - Digital Collections, accessed July 16, 2024,