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Letters by relatives of Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1861-1919

Laura Ingalls Wilder Family Correspondence, 1861-1919.

Most of these 26 letters by relatives of Laura Ingalls Wilder were written to her uncle and aunt, Charles and Martha Carpenter (Martha Carpenter was the sister of Caroline Quiner Ingalls, Laura's mother and "Ma Ingalls" in the Little House books). At the time most of the letters were written, Laura's aunt Martha and uncle Charles lived in Stockholm, Pepin Co., just a few miles from the "house in the big woods" where the Ingalls family would settle after the Civil War. They total 91 pages and range in date from 1861 to 1919. More than half were written by Laura's male relatives while serving in the Civil War.

These original handwritten letters can be difficult to read. Many were written in leaky tents by soldiers in the field, often in pencil or light ink. Some of Laura's relations could not spell or punctuate properly, and they often crammed notes or afterthoughts into the margins. Among the most interesting ones are these:

Sept. 12, 1861: from George Lockwood, describing the first battle of Bull Run
Dec. 28, 1861: from George Lockwood, describing the execution of a prisoner
April 16, 1862: from Nancy Quiner describing home front life in Concord, Jefferson Co., Wis.
May 18, 1862: from George Lockwood, describing guerilla warfare in Virginia
Sept. 16, 1862: from Verdine Carpenter, describing camp life in Corinth, Mississippi
Oct. 13, 1862: from Verdine. Carpenter, describing the battle of Corinth, Mississippi, on Oct. 4-5, 1862, in great detail
Oct. 21, 1862: from Sam G. Lockwood, describing marches and sickness among the troops at Cross Hollow, Arkansas
Oct. 28, 1862: from Verdine Carpenter (brother of Charles Carpenter), describing camp life and his illness at Corinth, Mississippi
Dec. 9, 1862: from Verdine Carpenter, describing action near Holly Spring, Missouri
Jan. 13, 1863: from H.N. Brewer, describing camp life at Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Feb. 26, 1863: from John H. Allcott, announcing the death of Verdine Carpenter
March 12, 1863: from George Lockwood, discussing national politics
May 29, 1864: from H.N. Brewer, listing mutual friends who have died, from Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Aug. 9, 1864: from George Lockwood, describing the siege of Atlanta, Georgia
To see the original handwritten letters, click "View the Document" below.

A lesson plan based on this document is available.

Another letter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder's mother Caroline, is also available at Turning Points in Wisconsin History.

View the Document

Related Topics: Immigration and Settlement
Wisconsin in the Civil War Era
Early U.S. Settlement
The Iron Brigade, Old Abe and Military Affairs
The Civil War Home Front
Creator: varies
Pub Data: Digitized from the original letters in Wisconsin Historical Society manuscript collection Call No. Stout SC 142.
Citation: Laura Ingalls Wilder Family Correspondence, 1861-1919, Wisconsin Historical Society manuscript collection Stout SC 142. Online facsimile at:; Visited on: 4/24/2014
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