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Northampton Mercury, July 26th 1863, transcribed by Susan Manton

William Anger

The following letter has been received by Mr. Joseph Anger, of Castle Street, formerly of Rushden, from his brother at Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Green Bay Wisconsin, June 11th 1862

My Dear Brother, In the midst of all the troubles and trials of our distracted country I sit down to write to you, thinking you would be interested in hearing some particulars about ourselves as well as of this great war. You have heard perhaps of this rebellion, and I will undertake to tell you something of its cause, and its continuance so long a time. In the first place, our country is divided into Northern and Southern States. The Southern States have always held slaves, buying and selling the blacks as cattle, while the North do not. On this account there has been growing a feeling of disunion for a number of years. The last two years it has occasioned a great disunion, for, upon the election of a new President as ruler of the nation, the South declared a determination to secede from the Union, and fired the first gun. This has roused the North and a vast body of our men, fathers, brothers, husbands and mere children, have volunteered for the defence of the Union and the cause of right and liberty. Now we have an army spread over this great country numbered by the hundreds and thousands. There have been a great many very dreadful battles, and many very precious lives sacrificed, and still the rebels will not give up. They now leave the towns and cities as soon as our armies approach and a great quantity of their guns and military stores fall into the hands of the Northern men, besides a great many prisoners. The army is divided into a number of divisions, commanded by able generals, and they have conquered wherever they go, so that now the “Stars and Stripes”, the United States Flag, floats over nearly every State. Near Richmond, the capital of the Southern States, there is a great army now stationed and we hope this battle will be the last one, as they seem to have depended upon that place more than any other. It is very sad to think that so much misery must be brought upon our happy country by the great sin of slavery. But we hope that good will come out of it, for already the poor negroes are being set free all over the South, and some of them are forming into regiments to fight against their former masters. They have a very good system here in raising an army. Every man who enlists as a private receives 13 dollars a month and a bounty of 100 dollars after the war is over and 160 acres of land. If wounded they receive a pension, and if killed their families receive it. They are clothed and fed well besides. A great deal is done now in furnishing things for the hospitals, for there are thousands all over the land lying sick and wounded in hospitals. Thousands of prisoners, too, are fed and clothed by our Government. The expense of all this is calculated to be over a million dollars a day. But the country is equal to paying it. The crops are generally very good, and there is no danger of starving. Everything is very cheap in the Northern States, wages are high and work plenty, so that if a man will work he can get along well, and make a good support. The best of wheat flour is worth about a penny a pound and plenty of that; men’s wages from a dollar to a dollar and a quarter a day. If any one should want to come to America they need not be afraid of being compelled to go into the army, for none need go who do not wish to do so. You may have heard of the Homestead Bill. In this state the law is, that any man who settles on a piece of land is entitled to a homestead, 160 acres of land, after settling for five years, receiving a clear deed from the Government.

I have no farm now myself, having sold my land, and living in the town. I send my love to all my friends; I am well myself, and happy in Christ. My wife is very lame and feeble, but enjoying the presence of the Saviour and thinking it will not be long before she is released from suffering. I do not often see any of my people, except Martha, who lives about six miles from us, but I hear from others about them. Brother Matthew has a farm in the forest, where there are immense quantities of timber, which they are employed in winter cutting down for the saw mills, which are very numerous in this country, and which furnish labour for thousands. In the Spring and Summer they farm. Martha and her husband come down once in a while to see me; they are living on their own farm. Brother Matthew has lost a daughter the past winter, about fourteen years old. Mary has two fine sons – her husband stands six feet high. He is boss and manager in these forests, getting out timber in the winter but working his farm in summer. The gospel is preached the length and breadth of this land – on the battle field as well as in the quiet towns. Every regiment has a chaplain. We hope this may be a means of spreading the truth in every part of the country, so that good may come out of the present evil. Sabbath schools are very flourishing in every place in the North, and there is great interest in them. Hundreds of children are gathered into these schools in all the large cities, and taught to read and the truth of religion, who would never have any opportunity otherwise; and also, in the newly settled towns, these schools are established, and sometimes for want of a room for the school they teach them in the forest with no covering but the trees. Free schools are taught in all the towns and villages, so that the poor man’s son and daughter have an equal chance with the rich man’s. The schools are established by law, and in many of the States a portion of the land is appropriated for school purposes, and fund is secured. Besides this, there is a school tax, which furnished means enough to support three or four schools in every small town, and many more in the cities, according to the population. There are fine school houses, built of brick and stone and a principal employed, who receives from 800 to 2,000 dollars a year. He employs assistants to the number of six or eight according to the number of children in the schools and they receive – a part from the principal’s salary – from 150 to 300 dollars a year. We never have had a railroad to this place, but we are in fashion with the rest of the world and in a few months we shall hear the whistle of the locomotive in our city, which connects us directly with New York and any other city of the Union. From this place it will be continued 3,000 miles through the forest to Lake Superior, the largest fresh water lake in the world, where there are immense copper mines, employing thousands of men in working them. Labourers are wanted here.

And now, I want to have you write and tell me how Thomas and George’s wife and children are getting along, and whether you ever hear of John, and how Sister Elizabeth is. When this great conflict is won, and the victory gained, I hope you will ring old Risden bells, for this war will astonish the world. Now I must stop, hoping you are all well, and wishing to hear from you soon. We send much love, and believe me, you affectionate brother,

William Anger

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