Twenty Bushels of Peaches & Seven Teeth

Kent Leatham


Springcreek, Miami County, Ohio.  September the 6th, 1862


Dear Brother in Camp

 “Love is a hard word to say

I take up my pen to let you know that we are all well but myself
and I have the chills ev’ry other day since wednesday but
I hope this will find you enjoying good health I got

in the atmosphere of the draft board

a letter from you yesterday and was glad to hear from you it did not
surprise me at all when I heard you had enlisted we would like
to see you before you go but that is impossible now

and the board members may be embarrassed

there is quite an excitement in piqua one day this week
the stores and shops was all shut up and all kind of business suspended
there is a camp about two miles from town on johnsons hill

and a little peevish to hear it mentioned.

where our boys are encamped there was two regiments there but
one was sent to kentucky and some of them have been taken
prisoner paroled and sent home we heard the cannon to-day

It is fitting, however, that the objector be bold

we was up to camp piqua yesterday and staid all day the boys
was awful glad to see us they have little frame shantys that will bed
between twenty and thirty men they did not do their own

in the knowledge that he (however unworthy)

cooking when we was there but about 12 oclock the boys began
to go out and at 3 they came strolling in with all sorts of eatables
they had about 100 Chickens geese and turkeys and somewhere near

is with the prophets, and that his inquisitors

twenty bushels of peaches they have a great time the health
here is pretty good there is some few invalids and cripples
one poor soldier who lost his left arm at the battle of pittsburg landing

(however worthy) are speaking for the dead

Frank has not forgot you yet he often says he wants to see you
he is ten months old weighs 23 lbs can stand alone has
seven teeth and eyes as black as black can be

past out of which man is creeping. It is not right

well it is getting dark and I am tired of writing I want you to take
as good care of yourself as circumstances will permit and do not
forget your bible and your god and be a good soldier kill

that advocates should apologize or flinch from love.”

all the secesh and restore the union and the good old flag and if it is your
lot to be among the saved come home and see your family
till which time I remember you and know you are in a good cause

[Handbook for Conscientious Objectors,

Your sister till death

Mary E Sustin

8th Edition, 3rd Printing, 1966]

p.s. write soon write soon write soon write soon


Kent Leatham’s poems and translations have appeared in dozens of journals, including Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Fence, Softblow, Able Muse, and Poetry Quarterly. He received an MFA from Emerson College and a BA from Pacific Lutheran University, served as an associate poetry editor for Black Lawrence Press, and currently teaches writing at California State University Monterey Bay.


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