United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865; Peirce, Elizabeth Hannah--Correspondence; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women
Home, Sunday evening Mar 1862. Dear Augusta, At Father's today, I saw your letter to Howard, just received, and suppose some of them have already replied to it, and so will be a day in advance of me. When your last letter was read, I promised myself the pleasure of receiving one soon again, so sure was I of my own promptness in answering. But daily lessons and housekeeping always pushed it off till Sunday, until the children were sick one after another, and even that day was to my own. Though we have been very anxious at times about them, their illness has not been of such a character as to require fatiguing nursing, except a little while with Elliot. Sarah no doubt had diphtheria, a long, tedious case, and giving us much uneasiness, on account of the singular, treacherous nature of the disease; though Dr. Jewett seemed unwilling to call it by name till he saw her really recovering, when he appeared very much pleased. Though he says Elliot's attack was a form of the same disease, it was very different, and after three or four days and one very anxious night, much less alarming. He is quite rosy again, and trying hard to stand alone. Poor little Elizabeth is having her turn now, though I hope she is better to-night. Her cold is more upon the lungs and makes her look very badly, but is not of long standing. If you will mix all this with a little reading and spelling, a little geography and grammar, less German and flowers, and all the varieties which fill up our feminine lives within four walls, you will understand just what kind of a current, my good health and strength and determination have worked against these two months past. I do not mean to complain, in writing you this long story, for I am too truly thankful to have come so well through, and probably no one has though I was so entirely and constantly busy. I have seen very little of Mother in this time, but Mary has sometimes spent Sunday night with us. I cannot ask them to come when they feel the time so much lost if they are not at work, though I should be glad of their company often, and they would come in a moment if they thought there was need to work for me. Henrietta looks and feels much more like a woman, but a companion is not made even from one's own child in a short time, and every year of her age will bring new anxieties with it. That is a kind of trouble easy to borrow, and when I look at most of the young women I know, it does not seem very desireable that she should very soon join their number. She is not very far advanced in her books, but as far as I wish, if she can remain at home from school two or three years more. She was very much gratified by your letter, and would like to write again to you. We are very glad to have the Photographs you sent. Sella's is very good, and I suppose Frank's, but he is much changed; seems much more fleshy, and older looking. I wish Robbie's was as good as they are, and you too should have made a better and prettier picture, though the likeness is not bad. I should like to have our children's, but must wait for some money. They are neither taken so well nor so cheaply, here as in New York. There master Elliot made a loud call, and obliged me to go to bed with him, and I have found the days too busy and the nights too tired to touch my pen till now. I should feel that you had reason to complain of me, did I not know that my letters are only superfluities, when you have such regular ones from Father's. We have received and read your husband's letter to Jere, with the greatest interest. The Major's hands must be full-- may he have all good fortune and credit for his labor. I see the papers announce reinforcements for New York Harbor. I hope most earnestly you may not need them. We have suffered mischief enough from that horrible Merrimac, and hope she may meet a waterspout, or sub-marine battery, if the little Monitor does not finish her next time they meet. The bad news was softened somewhat by the report of Curtis' victory, but today we are all anxiety for the doubtful result of the battle near Fort Craig. As to how and, I do not know what they will think at Father's; I wish he could be satisfied to stay with them while he is so well.
Mother has had some return of her last summer's weakness, but I hope is taking good care of herself to prevent an increase of it. Mary is well as usual, and busy, she went to John Kennedy's and spent an afternoon with us, partly in the sugar camp. I wish you and the children could have been there with us. I have not seen your letter to Mary, but was glad to hear you had been to see Mrs. *Guion*, and hope you found the visit pleasant enough to be repeated. My large sheet is filled without containing half I had to say, but my head and arm are stiff from *pruning*, and might be doing better than scratching more paper in this style. Everything in its place, so here is my name, Elizabeth P. The children are exceedingly interested in Sella's knitting and reading, in Rob's morning capers, and Frank's doings generally, and larger people too. Remember us all most affectionately to the children and their Father, and let us all about them you can. Mary Hayes is much gratified by your mention of her. I cannot think it your duty, to look for the relatives you mention. Perhaps I am wrong, but I can never forgive their deceitful, mercenary mother, for making our good uncle's children what they are; nor doubt that they possess in a large measure, her blood and disposition. I have taken the liberty of helping myself to some pieces of carpet to match my figures, and so consider myself indebted to you (in cash or otherwise) for 2 1/2 years, including both times. How shall we settle it? It is disgraceful to send away such a sheet, but impossible to rewrite it. It grows more and more a hardship to have you at such a distance. I hope it may not last long. your Sister
Catharine Mitchill '31 Collection of Family Letters, Wellesley College Library, Special Collections