This letter was written by Melissa Hoisington Wells of Fabius, Michigan, to her husband. At the time, Benjamin was stationed near Nashville, Tennessee with the 11th Michigan, Company A.
Sunday June 22nd 1862
After a silence of three long weeks I again resume my pen to let you know that I am still in the land of the living although I am not enjoying the best of health at the present time. I do not know how long or how nicely written my letter will be for my hand trembles so that it is with difficulty that I can write but I will do the best I can, hoping that you will make all due allowances. No doubt you are feeling anxious to hear from me and I would have written before had I been well enough but likely you know the reason before now. I have received five letters from you since I wrote and I will answer them all as soon as I can the dates of them were May 23rd and 26th and 30th and June 5th and 10th. To tell the truth I hardly know what to say but I will try to think of enough to make out a letter if it is not as interesting as it might be. The rest of the folks are well as usual.
I have been quite sick for nearly three weeks but am on the gain now. I have not fully regained my strength yet but if nothing happens any more than I know of now, I think I shall soon be restored to good health again. Perhaps you would like to know some of the particulars concerning my sickness but to be frank about it, I am half ashamed to tell you anything about it. But I presume there is no one that feels any more anxious to know than you do and if you will not think that I am immodest I will tell you.
Fred wrote to you two weeks ago today and told you all the news. You have doubtless received the letter by this time however I hope you have not for I would have been much obliged to him if he had waited and given me a chance to write the particulars. I think it would been more suitable than for him to have done it. After he had written the letter, he brought it down and read it over to me before enclosing it. I did not feel very well pleased with all he wrote and I do not see what he meant by writing as he did. I should thought he would know that you would feel bad enough without his taking particular pains to hurt your feelings. Now I have not the least recollection of wishing any such thing on you as he stated to you in his letter.
It would been very ungenerous for me to wish you to suffer because I had to and I do not think that I said any such thing, although I was suffering such extreme pain that I might have said and done a great many things that I know nothing about now-- for I do not believe that I was conscious half the time of what was going on. As for Em, I cannot say much for her for you know as well as I do that she is very apt to say just what she thinks when she is angry but since I have been sick she has been very kind and attentive and willing to do all she possibly could for me, and I do not believe she really meant what she said-- at least she says she did not and I have every reason to believe what she says and I cannot help feeling out of patience with Fred for writing such a letter. He should never sent it-- had it been in my power to prevent it but I could not help myself. The letter was written and of course he would do as he pleased with it whether I liked it or not. I think it was very unfriendly of him but likely he thought it was all right so I thought I would do the next best thing as soon as I was able I would write to you and tell you how the thing was and have the matter made right if I possibly could. You must not feel hard nor mind anything about it for I certainly do not wish to hurt the feelings of the best friend I have and now don't feel bad nor care anything for what he said and I am sure you will not, now that you know how it is. I cannot blame you if you did feel hurt when you received his letter I think I would had I been in your place.
I had a long painful time in the beginning. I was sick over 48 hours and it seemed as if I never could live through it I was in such agony all the time from the time I was taken until I got through-- which was from Thursday night until Sunday morning. But it appears I did and am living yet and thank fortune I managed to get along without the help of a doctor and I think that is half of the battle and it is my most earnest wish that I may never be called to pass through another such a siege, although I little know what suffering there is yet in store for me. I can be content to live with but one child in all the rest of my life rather then endure again what I already have. I thought of you many times during those long tedious hours and often wished that you were with me. It seemed as if I could endure the trial with much better fortitude, but since it is over with, I cannot help feeling thankful that you were not here to witness my suffering, for such it surely is I do not think I never had one faint idea of what it was until I had the experience. I had no other help but Mother and Mrs. Parsons. I think she is excellent help at such a time and if there were more like her, the world would be so much the better off. I shall never believe if I live to be a hundred years old that it is any place for a Physician-- but perhaps you are getting impatient to know the result of all this fuss, but you likely know for Fred wrote it in a letter to pay me for all this trouble.
I have a boy that weights 8 lb and 1/4. He is two weeks old today, born the 8th inst. I cannot describe to you how he looks but he resembles other babies I think for they all look alike to me when they are so young, but just as he is at the present time you can imagine a little round chubby form lying near me as I write in a long white flowing dress and blue edged blanket sucking his tiny fist in the innocence of babyhood.
Dear Ben, how I wish you could see him. I am sure you would love it quite as well as I do it you could only come home now what times we could have I feel even more anxious to see you than before, but I live in hopes that the time will soon come when you will be at home again and we will be happy once more as we used to in times gone by. I feel sometimes as if I could not wait for the time to come it seems so long since you went way. It is nearly 7 months ago. I think that is a long, long time to be separated from the dearest and best friend I have, but I will hope for the best. I feel more encouraged now than I have for some time before, for I feel that with me the worst time is now passed and if you were only with me now I should think that long dark night had indeed passed away and the bright morning had again dawned.
I received those things you sent also your likeness for which I was very happy to receive. It looks quite natural but I cannot help think very sober. You must felt downhearted about something when it was taken. What was the matter with you, my Benny dear? I would like to know. You must excuse this bad writing for my pen is a miserable concern. I can hardly make a respectable looking mark. I will write again as soon as I feel well enough and try to write a longer letter and a better one if I can write soon and I remain,
your affectionate wife
Courtesy: Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan.