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Letter written by Joseph Arnold to his family in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Joseph was a member of the 1st Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry (3 Months Service) when he wrote this letter. He mentions the food they were eating and converstions with slaves. Many of his letters were written in German, since his parents were born in Germany and still spoke the language at home. [Joseph Arnold letter Translated from German] Charlestown, Virginia July 20, 1861 God's greeting dear parents, brothers and sisters, As you want to hear from me more often and it takes so long for letters to get there and back, I take up my pen again to send you a few lines. We left Martinsburg, [Virginia] last Monday and went to Bunker Hill where the Rebels again departed rapidly. From there we marched here to Charlestown and are now here, at the place where John Brown was hanged a few years ago. Yesterday I went to the spot where the gallows stood [and] where the others of his party were hanged. Charlestown, where we are now, is eight miles from Harper's Ferry, where we shall probably go next. People here are mostly affluent and rich, and most of them own slaves. I spoke to some of them yesterday. And asked them if they had to work hard. And they said yes, and told how good their masters are. And in the same breath that they are not allowed to speak to a white person. I am well and in good spirits. Our food is not much, I have not had any bread for a month, we have crackers, or what they have on ships "Pilot Bread", and salt meat twice a week. Fresh meat and other delicacies are hardly known. In closing, send all of you my regards Your son and brother Joseph Arnold
Letter -THE CIVIL WAR -Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
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Last modified on: December 12, 2009