William J. Bancroft directed this letter to his sister Myra in Shortsville, Ontario county, New York. He wrote the letter from Grand Blanc in Michigan.
Grand Blanc [Michigan]
August 9, 1863
Dear Sister Myra,
I received your welcome letter of the 6th yesterday. I was just thinking about writing, thinking my last post miscarried, and now hasten to inform you that those varmints arrived looking ugly as possible and departed for a place where they sometimes have hot weather.
The 4th [of July] in the forenoon I roasted some powder & shot and went to Fenton [in the] P. M. [to see] Mr. Abrams folks. Mr. Abrams requested me to give his respects to our folks. They were all in good spirits and looking well. He wants a private interview with your most august brother before he leaves the state and he intends to gratify him, I believe. I had a good talk. Mr. Abrams has taken to his pipe most devotedly.
I had a letter from A. H. B. last week. He is well and seems to feel first rate too. He told me of Orin’s death ¹ or I should have known nothing about it. It was the 148th engaged. I wish you would send me the county paper containing an account of the battle. I am sorry for Ceton. They have not drafted here, I believe.
Give my congratulations to the boys that they have a chance to travel “south in Dixie.” You think they will pay the money rather than go if they clear without getting substitutes. They ought to be prosecuted for swindling the government. It now wants men, not money. The Army of the Potomac has wanted a general [and] it now has one. And now it wants men and shall we give money instead? The question has already been answered. No, there is no hope of my being drafted under this call. If there was, I should beat home and stand my chance, I guess. You say I must not go if I am drafted. Will you, sister [of] mine, inform me how I am to avoid it? Run away to Canada and get drowned as a deserter did the other day? Never! so long as I can handle a rifle. And if our boys need help next fall to strike a finishing blow to the staggering arch traitors’ rebellion, I shall be in the next campaign in Providence permits.
I have not heard from George Southward since I was there. They live four miles south of Fenton in Rose, Oakland county. Please send me Aunt Myra’s address and I will try and get time to write to her.
Give my love to Cousin Harriet and Edward. Tell her that I regretted very much that she was ill last spring when I called as I have not seen her to speak to her in two years. It seems a long time to me as I used to be there almost every week. I think some of going to Detroit this fall when my time is out here and taking the Michigan Southern to Sturgis where Mr. Barton is and from there to Marengo via Chicago to see Aunt Mary and to see if the country suits me any better than this. [And] if it does, whether there is a chance to get near Mary Clark. The trip there and back with some other little expenses incident to traveling will cost $12 or $15 there and back and I can get home by the falls for $8 making the whole about 23 dollars. What do you say to that? There is no likelihood of ever being able to have a farm and keeping together in Ontario as Albert is going to farming it with me if God spares him to come home whole and in health. And if I can light upon a farm in a healthy locality that suits me, I shall not hesitate about my course.
Give my regards to all and I’ll retire to hunt your fleas. But do not send me any for fear that they may revive.
Yours in love, — Willie Bancroft
¹ Capt. Orin J. Herendeen of Co. H, 126th New York Regiment, was killed at Gettysburg on 3 July 1863. He was from Ontario county, New York.