Thomas Covert's Letters Home
Right, so as part of the new plan to revivify the blog, I am going to be posting the letters that Thomas Meredith Covert wrote home to his wife Phoebe. One by one. Each -- with the regrettable exception of the first two, which I have screwed up already -- exactly 150 years after it was mailed (after the manner of Samuel Pepys's blog).
Thomas Covert is my great-great-great-grandfather. His daughter Katie's son Harry Freeman's daughter Jeanne was my grandmother. Covert ended his days in the town of Kinsman, Ohio, where my grandmother knew him. (In an odd bit of trivia for my little corner of the speculative fiction universe, Kinsman is the home town of Chris Barzak, whose wonderful first novel One for Sorrow is set in its fictional analog.)
I'm not sure what town Thomas and Katie called home in 1861, when he left to join the 6th Ohio Cavalry and fight for the Union. Covert was some kind of artisan -- maybe a cobbler; he talks about working as a Saddler, and in the Military Register (which I'll have to scan -- its iconography is fascinating) he's listed as Company A's Artificer. (I believe I've played that class...)
The letters tell a pretty fascinating story, which is one reason I'm posting them. They raise a lot of issues of history and politics and character. It's probably also some small public service to digitize them (what I have access to are Xeroxes of typescripts made from the originals sometime in the 1980s; the originals are at the Western Reserve Historical Society, according to this footnote). And perhaps I'll end up doing something fictionally with them? As Jed observed, "Thomas Covert, who lived in Kinsman. It sounds like the sort of story where everyone has a name that means something."
Anyway, here are the first two letters (I'll offer variant readings of possible typos in square brackets):
Warren, Nov. 8th, 1861
You can see why I think he's a cobbler, right? I find his immediate boosterism for A Company, upon arrival, to be rather sweet, typical of his boyish optimism (I don't know how old he is when the war begins; he's been married for 4 years, though).
How do you think they were swinging? And doesn't it sound like fun, aside from the jerk who wandered by and "twitched the rope"?Posted by benrosen at November 24, 2011 08:22 AM | Up to blog