Paulding, Emma C.

The Emma C. Paulding Papers (1859-1879) 

Scope and Content: The collection consists of six letters written to Emma C. Paulding in Duxbury from her cousin and soldier, John Southworth, during the Civil War.  Also included in the collection are ten letters written to Emma C. Paulding Bates from various friends and relatives during the mid-19th century.

Biographical Note:  Emma Cushing Paulding was born in 1843 in Duxbury, MA to William Paulding and Mary Southworth.  In 1866 she married George Bartlett Bates (b. 1847) of Kingston, MA.  The couple resided in Duxbury and had five children: Mary Amanda (b. 1867); Ruth Ella (b. 1870); Emma Bartlett (b. 1873); George Thomas (b. 1876); and Grace Louise (b. 1883).

John Southworth (1843-1864) was born in Duxbury, MA to James Southworth and Lucy Ann Benner.  He joined the Massachusetts 18th Regiment, Company E in 1861 and died at the Confederate prison at Andersonville, GA in 1864.

Organization:  The Collection consists of 16 letters in two Series.

 Series 1: Civil War Letters from John Southworth (transcriptions at bottom of page)

  1. John Southworth to Emma Cushing Paulding, Dec. 5, 1863.
  2. John Southworth to Emma Cushing Paulding, Jan. 7, 1864.
  3. John Southworth to Emma Cushing Paulding, Feb., 6, 1864.
  4. John Southworth to Emma Cushing Paulding, Feb. 17, 1864.
  5. John Southworth to Emma Cushing Paulding, Mar. 12, 1864
  6. Johh Southworth to Emma Cushing Paulding, April 10, 1864

 Series 2: Other Correspondence

  1. Albina A. Collier to Emma Cushing Paulding, Aug. 12, 1859.
  2. Lauretta to Emma Cushing Paulding, Feb. 26. 1860.
  3. Aunt E. C. Cushing to Emma Cushing Paulding, May 30, 1860.
  4. Hattie J. to Emma Cushing Paulding,  Aug. 30, 1860.
  5. To Emma Cushing Paulding, Jan. 25, 1861.
  6. H. J. Fish to Emma Cushing Paulding, July 15, 1861.
  7. Lucy to Emma Cushing Paulding, Nov. 11, 1868.
  8. Ella to Cousin George, Aug. 31, 1874.
  9. Emma Cushing Paulding from her sister, Jan. 11, n.d.
  10. Emma Cushing Paulding to Mary, n.d.

Camp Near Beverly Ford VA

December 5th, 1863

Dear Emma, I shall have to write this fast or I shall have soon for I have a good lot to write. I received your letter last night and you ought to have seen me, I jumped more than 4 feet and I got one from Mary and Mother too. Oh Emma I have had an awful hard time since I wrote to you the hardest I think since I have been in the service. Old Gen. Meade couldn’t be satisfied until he (?) in the Enemy and got drove from that camp where I wrote to you was where we started first, we started and it came on to rain and the mud was such that the (?) got stuck and so they ordered the army all back in to camp, but we hadn’t been there but 2 days when we started again and marched to the Rappidan River and crossed and then we knew we must be near the Enemy. (Writing with different shade of pencil starts here) Emma I am almost ashamed to finish this letter it is so long since I began it, I see by the heading that it was the 5th now it is the 13th. But Emma I will tell you why I stopped writing so sudden and why I haven’t finished it until now. I was out on picket and was on the reserve and I sat down to write to you and I had got so far when we had orders to move our reserve picket to another position, so I had to put up the writing and (?) go to striking tents and by the time I had got my quarters(?) picketed  in another place I had to go on past and was relieved the next day and had to come in to camp and there we had orders to build our winter quarters and I had been hard at work ever since. Until today and it is Sunday and so I thought I must write to Emma, I have got lots of letters that I had long before I had yours that are not answered but I must answer yours first; for I love to read yours so well, I guess I will tell you about our hard campaign that I commenced too. Although I suppose you have heard or read of it as I was agoing to say, after we crossed the Rappidan we were near the Rebs. We camped for the night on the frosty ground and the next morning marched and marched all day and at night stopped near (Richards?)ville and they were fighting right in front and we expected to have to go in to it but we laid there all night and the next morning marched and it rained hard all day and we were tramping around in the mud until noon and then stopped there that afternoon and night and the next day went to the front and it was the front too I tell you for we could see the Enemy’s earthworks an they at work on them and it looked as though we should have to do something to take them. I knew the minute I looked at them that we could never take them without all getting killed. Gen Meade came up and looked at them and said they must be taken and then the boys began to look blue. I know I was for I knew if I undertook to charge in to them forts that I should never come out alive and all the rest said so, but we had orders to leave all our knapsacks there and bunch all our straps up tight and be all ready to make the charge that afternoon at 4 o’clock. There was to be a signall gun fired when they were all ready from the right to the left and make one grand charge at a time and storm the works and between us and them it was about a quarter of a mile and a river between when we crossed that we had got to take our cartridge boxes in our hands and hold them over our heads and the Rebs would all that time be firing on us and mowing them down, but we was waiting for 4 o’clock to come all ready to start but it came and no charge an dark came and we bivouacked for the night but about 2 o’clock in the morning they routed us out and it was dreadful cold and we marched around about a half mile nearer the enemy and took a position on (?) of Battle all ready to charge at light in the morning. And we come near freezing, a number did freeze to death we could have kept warm by stamping around but we had to lay down flat on the ground for fear the Rebs would see us and shell us. Soon after light our big guns opened on them and they answered us and threw shells right in amongst us one shot fell right in front of us and we dug it out after they had done. But the Batteries stopped firing and they stopped too and the charge wasn’t made that day. Gen Warren of the 2nd Corps reported that it was impossible to take the forts and so at night we withdrew and laid right in sight of them all day the next day afraid to retreat them for they would have seen us and would have known the whole Army was agoing t retreat and then they would have poured in the shot and shell and killed half the Army so when it came dark we commenced the retreat and marched all night and got back to the Rappidan River about 6 the next morning and crossed. We got so sleepy that we would go right to sleep a walking after we crossed the river we rested about 2 hours and then started towards the Rappahannock marched about 10 miles and went in to camp and we had been about 2 days without anything to eat. Shouldn’t you have thought we would be tired. I was tired that I could hardly step, perhaps these stories seem long to you Emma but they are true, I couldn’t begin to describe the suffering of such a time but the people at home don’t nor can’t realize it until they have been through it once. But Emma I have got a nice kettle log shanty now and a fireplace and it is light and warm the best (?) I have seen in a long time. George Bryant is in the tent with me perhaps you know him he says he aint personally acquainted with you but you know his folks he is one of our new ones. I won’t call you Bridget anymore naturally it don’t sound very nice so I guess I will call you Cousin Emma for I like that name very much. I can’t help laughing to think Cousin Franklin is a courting I didn’t know as he would dare too but I suppose everything has altered since I left, it seems as though everything was just the same at home as when I left but I know there is a great acclimation(?), it seems Emma that you had a different idea of what I wrote in the last letter from what I meant when I spoke about going to Balls you seemed to think that I meant that I cared more about going to Balls that I did of seeing my folks, Oh! No Emma they are the first that interests me; but I meant that after I got home and wanted to have good times as I shall of course if I am well they would be the best times that I could have. I wouldn’t have you think any such thing.

Headquarters, 18th Regiment, Mass Vol

Hall’s Hill, Virginia

January 7, 1864

Dear Cousin Emma,

I received your letter day before yesterday and was very glad to receive one from you.  I hope you will always continue to write, Emma.  I don’t know of much to write to you, it is the same old thing here.  There has been a number of accidents happened in our regiment lately.  One man took his gun and went into his tent and shot himself on purpose.  He has been very sick of staying out here ever since he come and so I suppose he had rather die then to bear it any longer so he killed himself.  I went in and see him soon after he shot himself and the blood was running off him where I seem him it was a horrid looking sight I tell you.  They thought one thing that made him so melancholy was taking his rum away from him.  He used to be in the habit of drinking hard and come to have it taken away from him and taken away from home and friend and no chance to get clear, he felt so bad that he shot himself.  And another man stumbled down with his gun in his hand and the gun went off and shot his hand off.  They are all the time shooting or cutting themselves in this regiment.  Some of them never took a gun in their hands before they came here, and so they are careless.  You asked me if I ever drank any liquor out here.  I don’t meddle with it.  Emma, if I had at home, I should stop it here for I have seen so much of it here that despise the very smell and sight of it.  Some of the men have been beastly drunk since they got their new uniforms.  I have seen some of them all mud where they had been too drunk to stand up and so rolled in the mud.  I never want to see another drop of any kind of liquor without it is for medicine.  The worst thing we have to do here is to go out on picket guard.  There has to be a guard stationed about four or five miles from camp so that the enemy cannot get to our camp without us knowing it. And we have to walk there without stopping to rest but once the whole five miles and then only about 5 minutes. It is tiresome and we have about a horse load to carry. We have to carry three blankets and food for 48 hours and our equipment with 40 rounds of cartridges in our cartridge box and gun besides in all. It makes quite a load to one man. And then when he gets out there we have to stay 48 hours without any fires and no house to stay in, only what we put up ourselves made out of sails and (?). And a man may think himself lucky if he gets 2 hours sleep out of the whole 48 hours. They don’t allow any fires because they are afraid the rebels will find out where we are stationed. I was out one 48 hours when it was very cold and all we had to sleep in was a house built out of sails and (?). And cold meat all the time and cold bread to eat. I have seen the time at home that I would have our (?) if she had had to stay out all night when it was so cold as it was then. We think ourselves lucky if we can get ourselves a barn to stay in. There is quite strong talk of our moving here now. I believe we are under marching orders now but I don’t know whether we shall go or not yet, but I hope not for we have just got our new tents fixed comfortable and if we should move now it would cause a great deal of suffering before we could get settled again and likewise we should loose our stove, but it is always kept secret to the soldiers when we are agoing to move but I shant believe it until we start. When you see Harriet Fish Emma, give her my best respects, little Julian if he was not here he would have guns enough to play with but I should be afraid he would play rough with them. But I don’t believe but that he would handle them better than some men in our regiment. Give my best respects to all the folks, Emma. Well Emma, I must bid you goodbye.

From your friend and cousin,

John Southworth

Write soon Emma.

Camp at Beverly Ford Va.

Feb. 6th 1864

Dear Cousin,

                I received your letter last night and was glad to hear from you but it was so gloomy that it made me feel blue. I am very sorry that the people at home are so afflicted with that awful disease. They must all be stewed in dread. I don’t wonder that you are affraid of it when it is so near to you. I heard before that William Swift’s wife was dead but I did not know he was sick until you said he was dead. I am affraid that you folks will get it or mine at home I should feel awfully if it should spread all around and get in to our family. But it may not, I know it is an awful disease. It is quite a new disease I believe but I remember of its being about 3 years ago but not so much as now. There are men in this company from Plympton that have had friends with it. It raged around there and now it has got to Duxbury. Well all I can hope is that it will leave and not trouble you Emma or anyone of the family or any more that are not my relations with. Your letter didn’t seem to me like your others it was so sad. But I hope by the time you write again that things will look brighter at home and then I shall feel brighter. I think more of the comfort of my folks at home than I do of myself, for I am very careless of my health. We have to be here though but I have got used to it. If I hadn’t I shouldn’t have lived until this time. You said you had doubt but I had said to myself that Emma had forgotten me for not writing for so long. No I didn’t think that Emma but I tried to think of some reason but couldn’t. I don’t see how you could hear that I was coming home. I haven’t had any notion of reenlisting but I suppose you heard somewhere that I was agoing to get a furlough. But I guess you won’t see me Emma until my time is out. If I live to see that I shall probably come to Massachusetts once more and see all the folks again but there is time for a great many changes before that time and I stand in fear of them especially at the present time on account of home. And when campaigning comes I shall stand in fear myself more likely. You said many was down to your house I should think she would be affraid to go so near where the sick are for fear she would catch it. I have heard about the meetings at Ashdod but I did not know that farther Mother or many had been farther out once I suppose to see how they looked. I don’t much believe he will go again but I hope it will do all the folks around there good for I suppose they call it a wicked place. Maybe if I was at home I should have been a convert by this time. What do you think about it Emma? Then you did not go back to Tarkiln to keep school again Emma, why didn’t you? If it’s any of my business. You said you hoped there was a little fellow to examine your letters now. There isn’t now Emma I don’t like to show them to him I don’t like him well enough. You spoke about visiting Nancy did she say anything about when she was agoing to write to me? I wrote to her long ago and can’t hear a word from her I guess she has forgotten me but I suppose a lot takes up her mind. Is Henry Lewis at war Emma I did not know it. I know he used to go around with Nancy but I thought she had given him up. You spoke about the Millbrook girls I think they are very clever and agreeable and I should like to go and see them too Emma. Give my respects to William and tell him I hope he will get well soon it seems to  me he has been sick a long time hasn’t he Emma and give my love to Aunt Mary and Julian and except a full share yourself Emma from your ever loving cousin,

John Southworth

Headquarters 18th Regt. Mass V.

Camp Barnes Wells hill, Virginia

February the 17 (1863?)

Dear Cousin Emma,

I received your kind letter yesterday and was glad to hear from you. You said you was sick but didn’t mention what ailed you. You sign your name Cushing I don’t know what to make of it, if you are married I should think you would say so. I don’t know but it is your funning, sometimes I think it aint you writing to me and try to think if I have got any other cousin Emma. I had a letter from William and Sarah I was glad to hear from them, I wish Emma when you write again you would write something I can understand. I am pleased to hear from you any time but your last letter irritated me more than it done me good. If you want to judge me write so but I don’t want you to think I mean any harm to you by what I have said. If you are married write and tell me who your husband is and where he came from and then I shall be satisfied. It rains here today and it is cold and disagreeable. I should like to be at home so as to go (on) a sleigh ride. I haven’t had a ride of any kind since I left home. There has been strong talk of our moving but I don’t believe it is about done with now but it may be on account of the mud(dy) passing. I think likely as soon as the passing gets good we should have to move. There has been two great melodies for the past week and it seems to me the opinion now that the war will last much longer, I hope not. For I want to see my folks. I should like to see you for I should think there had been a great change in you since I left. Well Emma I don’t know of any more to write today, write any time I shall be glad to hear from you. Goodbye from your

Cousin John Southworth

Camp of the 18th Mass Vol.

Beverly Ford Va. March 12, 1864

Dear Emma,

                I received your kind letter night before last and was very glad to hear from you again. It seems quite long since I heard from you before but your letter was good enough Emma to make up for it, and now I suppose I have got to make up something to write back and I hardly know what it will be Emma for there isn’t enough to write about. I am out on picket guard now and I have just been in to Camp and I couldn’t stay in cap so I brought out my portfolio so as to write out here. I am (?) and don’t have to stand post so I have a plenty of time to write, I had a beautiful box from Abby the other day Emma and I was real glad of it. It made me think so much of old home, to eat some of the old pies such as mother always made. I haven’t got but about 5 months to serve Emma and then I hope to come home and see you. I expect we shall commence to march before long now as it is getting late and we have quite pleasant weather and so I don’t suppose they will let us lay here in camp much longer. I dread it awfully for the nearer my time is out the more I think of home and what good times I shall have if I get there but the campaigning that we have surely got to have before that time makes it look tough to me. I hope you will write often to me during the time Emma so as to keep up my courage. All the girls but you and Nancie(?) have stopped writing to me and so I hope you will continue.

                You tell me that there is a ball tonight and ask me if I think you had better go and you await my answer. Now I would advise you if I thought that night hadn’t past Emma. I believe by the way you write Emma that you want to go but you rather think it would be wrong. If I was agoing to advise you I should tell you to go as often as you can that is if it don’t injure your health and if they don’t have good civil times at the dances. In my opinion you would have the best times that you had and it would be perfectly harmless to you. If you like the fellows half as much as I do the girls you would go I think. If ever I get home I calculate to go to as many as there is within 5 miles of me that is my advice Emma now I want you to tell me when you write if you think you shall go. I think Emma that you are different now than when I was at home I think if I get home I shall like you ever so much, if you know how much that is. I think you used to be bashful but now I don’t believe you are for you talk about the young fellows. Their you belong to the sons Emma, I don’t believe it would do for me to join them if I did I am affraid I should be apt to break my pledge. Don’t you think so Emma. You ask me if I write to Mercy Oldham, no Emma she stopped the correspondence I think long ago, or else I see by her letter that she didn’t care about me and stopped myself. It is so long I have forgot myself.

Camp of the 18th Mass Regiment at Beverly Ford

April 10, 1864

My Dear Cousin Emma,

I hardly dare to try to answer your letter for the reason that I don’t feel myself competent to answer such a good letter as you wrote me.  And I am almost certain before I write that after I get it done that it will not be satisfactory to you or myself within. But if it will dear Emma I am willing to write in my own simple kind of way all day. But I never had such a good letter before from anybody I believe Emma and it was it was a long one too. I have just come in from picket and it is Sunday and very pleasant but it has been storming almost continually for a month but it feels like summer here today. About that fellow Emma. When I was out on picket I came in and found your letter and I read it and left it here until I came in today. But before I left it here I cut out that name as you suggested and burnt it. But I shouldn’t have been afraid to have it for the boys never trouble anything that is left on the cot. You must excuse this bad writing Emma for as you will notice, this is poor paper and I am a poor writer to and together I guess will make it hard for you to read. But about George Taylor, I am well acquainted with him and have been to a good many dances with him he is a very good looking fellow and I guess he is a good fellow too although I don’t know much about his character. But his family are all very good folks I believe. But I shouldn’t have guessed him Emma. I did not know as you would go around with a fellow that goes to so many dances. But he is just as good for all that isn’t he Emma. You spoke about my diary Emma. I shouldn’t dare to let you read it. Because as you said of yours it is one half to silly to read. There is some of it. That is when we are on the march. I should as leaves you would read that part of it as not but when I am in camp. I put down almost everything and it would appear silly to you. But if ever I get home I calculate to put them away in my trunk and in a number of years hence they will be interesting for me only to read. You say you will steal it Emma if I don’t let you see it now I don’t believe you would be guilty of lock breaking and stealing too. What a crime Emma, I should have you arrested forthwith (you know) but when I get home. You know when I get home. How that sounds to me. Then I will agree to let you see some parts of it, but I shall be careful to hold on to them when you are looking at them would that suit you Emma. And it is news to me that the remarkable Southweston as you call him ever went with I should like to take your… (Page 2 missing)

…I am glad of that Emma. For you are as good to me as a sister and I know you are good and honest in all you say. If some girls wrote to me that way I shouldn’t more than half behave then. They may think so while they are writing but it blows away as soon as they send the letter, you can certainly confide in me Emma for I mean all that I write and mean it all to be honest although I may be wrong in some of my sayings to you. You say I don’t think enough of myself, ah yes I do Emma, I think I am as good as anybody. Is that good enough, I guess you will think I am wrong their Emma. But as you say I should be apt to get led away if I did not think myself as good as the next one. But I don’t know as I am good enough to go with a girl. I think they are a higher grade of human beings than men. They don’t take part in this abominable abolition, diabolical war. I can’t say anything bad enough about it. But I don’t know as you will want me to go to such extremes Emma but I can’t help it. My tongue runs away with me perhaps, and then again perhaps it don’t. Because I cannot have thought of anything worse. I should have said it, you said you was thinking while you were writing about my fighting and perhaps that I shouldn’t have to. I hope not Emma I don’t like to. I am afraid of shot and shell I have had too many of them sing around my head already and I never want to hear another one that never had me fired at them, don’t know how dreadful they sound. I don’t think enough of Mr. Lincoln’s administration to free them. Perhaps you will not agree with me. I hope as you say that Providence will (?) end it. For I don’t think our shot and shell will ever do it although the amiable Lincoln may think so. I should like to get a cradle and rock him a shell. I think he wants to sleep a little longer. About the box Emma. I think it doubtful about a box reaching the army at the time you spoke of, as everything looks and acts like almost an immediate move. If I was to advise I should advise whoever thinks of sending one not to send it for it would probably be a loss. As you say it does cheer the soldiers to get a box. They are a great prize to them. You say you are not patriotic. I guess you have got as much as I have. For I haven’t got any. Not for this administration I mean but I have for the Union though as much as anyone. You say I laugh at you for having a beau Emma well I won’t anymore, I will think of it seriously. For it is quite a serious thing and you will find it so if…

-John Southworth

2nd page of undated letter to Emma Cushing

…be alive and well if I ever come home and all the rest of my relations too, I hope they will always be well especially while I am gone for it would make me feel very bad if I knew that any of my relations were very rich and I couldn’t come home and see them. You need not be affraid of writing to long a letter to me Emma for the longer the better. I don’t never get tired of reading them and/or the letters from my friends. I had rather you would write as much more than to write half as long as me the longer the better. I hope a letter from Olive Whalen quite often she writes real good letters I expect another one from her before long. You say that Aunt May wants to know my opinion about peace. I don’t know hardly what to write about that is so uncertain. I did think one spell that the war might end and in a short time had I have thought so much about it that I have about come to the conclusion that there will be one compromise as long as the affairs of the army have such an enormous price for doing nothing. They don’t have hardly anything to do what the privates do and they have all the praise to if there was a letter and the captain was behind a tree somewhere while the privates were out pacing the letter after it was over it would be ‘what a brave man to be this because his company fought well not because he fought but because he was in command of the company.’ It does see m the most absurd thing in the whole war to me. There will be no peace as long as that consists I don’t believe having over a hundred dollars a month for sitting in their tents and this war wouldn’t be left up I it wasn’t for officers. And the officers never done so well before and I don’t see any chance for peace but I don’t suppose I  am any judge but that is my simple and honest opinion. Well Emma I don’t know of much more to write and I have got this more to answer and so I must bid you good bye write the next time. From your cousin,

Johnnie S.

P.S. write soon Emma and as long a one as you can.

You mustn’t be offended at anything I have said in this letter Emma for If I have said anything wrong I done it unmeaningly.

Please excuse bad writing to,

From your Friend

and cousin,

John Southworth

So your middle name (is) Cushing Emma. I didn’t know that you was married I first saw it and I don’t know but it is so now write and let me know Emma.

2nd page of undated letter to Emma Cushing

…same time but I can’t see the shirts nor never shall I don’t suppose. You said Thomas was sick I hope he is better now. That soup you told me about Emma must have wonderful soup to cause such things to happen I wish you had have sent me a cake it might have been the means of getting me out of the service. You say you are agoing to keep school in Tarkiln. They generally have a hard seat there but I hope you will have a good success Emma. And I think you will for will be so kind to the children for I don’t believe you would attempt any harsh means to make them min you will be close to Abby and Elizabeth too. I should think you would (?) to Abby. I have just been writing to them. Well Emma I don’t know of any more to write I suppose we shall march father today or tomorrow and I hope we shall get somewhere we shall stop. Give my love to Aunt Mary and all hands when I get in to some camp I will write to Cousin William give my love to him. Well Emma write to me very soon for I always like your letters very much. I had so much War news to write that I didn’t answer everything in your letter as I generally calculate too.

From your Ever demanding(?)


John Southworth

Tell Jonathan(?) that I can’t think of anything to write but by the next time I may have some laid up that will interest him but shall be very glad to hear form him Aunt Mary too.


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