Civil War Letters of the Christie Family

Author: Thomas D. Christie
Date: April 17, 1865
Location: Clyman, Wisconsin
Addressee: Diary Entry
Description: Not precisely a letter, Thomas' entry into James C. Christie's family diary describes the effect on the Christie family caused by the reports of Lincoln's assassination, and the news of the Confederate surrender arriving in Clyman nearly simultaneously with William G. Christie, freshly released from Confederate prison.

Page 1  Page 2  Page 3  Page 4  Page 5  Transcription

Clyman Wis. April 17th

The events of the past week have been of such importance to the nation, and to this family in particular, that I am of the opinion that they deserve more special mention than is contained in the concise daily kept by David.

I shall therefore detail here these interesting occurrences in the order in which they came upon us, and thereby transmit to posterity a record of the most eventful week of the Century.

On Saturday the 8th, the news came home by letter from Goldsboro, that William had been taken prisoner near Bentonsville on the 21st March — Sunday — John Schaller came home on a visit before leaving for Prairie du Chien. On Monday, only two days after they had heard of William's capture, the family were surprised by his arrival on furlough from St. Louis. This was but the beginning of wonders.

On the same day comes the announcement that Lee, with his Army had surrendered to Genl. Grant as prisoners of War, thus closing the long and bloody conflict of the past four years. The joy was universal, even the bitterest Copperheads joining in the jubilee of victory, and it seemed as if nothing more was needed to make the nation's happiness complete. Wednesday the 12th brought more excitement, caused by the arrival at One O'clock that morning, of another Boy in Blue on furlough from Goldsboro, N.C., who suddenly burst, like a torpedo, on the slumbering household, and ruined sleep for the rest of the night. Our happiness now seemed to be complete, or if anything marred the pleasance of the family reunion, it was that thought of Sandy's position, far away in Wilmington alone. But in view of the Capture of Richmond, the great victories of Sheridan & Meade, the crowning victory in Lee's surrender to Grant, all seeming to indicate a speedy close of the war, and considering the sudden and unexpected arrival of the two sons, one from dreadful imprisonment, and the other from Sherman's front at Goldsboro, it is not surprising that our hearts should be filled with thankfulness and joy, so that at times we could scarcely realize our happiness to be more than a dream. But the events of the week were not ended, and it remained for the ever memorable Fourteenth of April, — the day that saw the old flag raised again on historic Sumter, on the anniversary of its lowering from those same walls four years ago, — to cloud, by its sad, tragic occurrences, the universal sunshine in the nation's heart.

At 2 O'clock on the afternoon of the 15th, we hear the news of the assassination of President Lincoln and Secretary Seward the night before, of their deaths on the morning of the 15th and of the swearing into office as President of Andrew Johnson. This news depresses us more than would a defeat to Grant or Sherman, and the greatest anxiety is felt as to whether it will have a sinister effect on the late well grounded prospects of a speedy peace. In my opinion it will not, for I think Johnson's policy will be almost identical with that of our late lamented President, the misfortune of whose death cannot give the Rebels more men or military material, the want of which defeated them, nor will it at all discourage our Soldiers in the prosecution of their efforts to crush totally the last wiggling of the reptile Rebellion.

I have here sketched the more prominent events of the past most eventful week, — a week which will be remembered with mingled feelings of pleasure and regretful sorrow by the whole American nation in general, and by this position of it, the Christie family in particular.

[Transcriber's note: The remainder of this excerpt appears to be Thomas's notes on weather patterns and wheat crops, the majority of which is illegible.]

Page 1  Page 2  Page 3  Page 4  Page 5  Transcription