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Winslow, Ferdinand Sophus



Ferdinand Winslow served as Quartermaster in the Civil War and wrote home every few days to his wife. As these letters begin he is serving as chief procurer of forage for the animals. In March 1862 he is made Assistant Quartermaster of the Army of the Southwest. He mentions the 4th Iowa and the 9th Iowa. He mentions, but is not at, the Battle of Pea Ridge and visits the battlefield in the days after the battle. People he worked with are Captain Sheridan, Colonel Vandever, and General Curtis, and places he served as quartermaster were St. Louis, Rolla, Lebanon, and Springfield, Missouri. The last letter in 1862 is dated September 26. This is followed by a copy of a letter to Lincoln resigning his post. His resignation was rejected or else he rejoined the military effort because the correspondence resumes in July 21, 1863. It appears he has been with his wife during this time because in a letter to his wife of July 22 he says, "I am now starting again for a long absence, of which I did not dream when we parted." In July 1863 he is Depot Chief under General Rosecrans (which he sometimes writes as Rosecranz) with the Army of the Cumberland in Nashville. This army numbers over one hundred thousand and his pride in serving such a large army comes through in these letters. In September 1863 he is relieved of this office due to "the rascally intriguing" on the part of a couple of envious and ambitious officers. Soon thereafter, in late September 1863, he again tenders his resignation and requests a furlough. He has nothing to do, but he is unable to return to his pregnant wife in St. Louis because the rebels have cut the railroad line. The last letter in 1863 is dated October 19. The next letter in the collection is from April 1865 written from the Military Division of West Mississippi. It appears he is no longer in the army, but visiting as a private citizen and thus he can travel freely. He has been in New Orleans and goes to visit General Canby and someone named Christesnsen, taking a steam ship into Mobile Bay to Stark's Landing. He visits Spanish Fort and General Canby's camp some eleven miles away during the taking of Fort Blakely. He says in this letter, "All the Generals -- Steele, A. J. Smith, Carr, Granger, Osterhause, and others sat down in a circle back of Christensen's tent around the quiet happy Canby, who lit and smoked his cigarre with an apparent delight and gusto." In his next letter, the last in the collection, he tells of entering Mobile with Generals Canby, Osterhause, and A. J. Smith. His wife appears to have moved around during the time he was writing to her. Apparently she is in Iowa at first, somewhere in Linn County, because he mentions Anamosa and Marion, but then she apparently goes to New York to be with family. At some point she moved to St. Louis to be near her husband. Also during this time he has an agent looking at land for him and is leaning toward settling in Linn County. These letters are articulate and sometimes charming, with surprisingly inventive turns of phrase. They also reveal the differing fortunes of war, with him telling of the hardships of long days in the saddle, of riding and walking in the rain and mud, of the lack of sleep, and of people constantly pestering him for supplies. But one sees the othe side of the coin, too, when he lodges with people in the community and dines in style with wine at dinner, and often tells of the beautiful women he meets at social occasions.

Author: Jacque Roethler, October 2006

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Ferdinand Sophus Winslow Letters

Identifier: MsC0846

Civil War Letters of Ferdinand Sophus Winslow, 1861-1865.

Dates: 1861-1865