This is the final letter from James Edward Cox in this collection. A little over two months later, he would be killed at Shiloh. As frequently as he wrote home in the previous two months, it is probably a safe assumption that he wrote several more times before the 1st Nebraska Infantry was sent to Tennessee and the battle that would claim Cox’s life.
James touches on three themes in this letter. First, he reports that his health is improving but that he is still very weak. He’s lost between 20 and 30 pounds and doubts he could march if the regiment were ordered to move out.
He then turns to his family and says that he still has heard nothing further from Charles but is confident that his brother was not involved when the 8th Michigan was engaged in a battle at Port Royal, South Carolina. He then raises the issue of William Thomas who apparently wanted to enlist but was refused on medical grounds. It is uncertain whether this is his brother, William, to whom most of Charles Cock’s letters were addressed. It seems likely, however, since the rest of the paragraph is about his siblings, Charles and Mary.
Finally, he turns his attention to the weather which is typical Midwestern winter. Cold and snow changed to rain and mud. James is tired of Missouri and hopes that the 1st Nebraska will be sent to see action further south on the Mississippi but he suspects that they will spend the summer patrolling Missouri for guerilla forces as they had the previous year. Sadly, his wish to see action was fulfilled but it cost him his life.
Georgetown Mo January
Your letter of the 23nd has just come to hand. and I now hasten to answer it My health is improving I have got my fever broke and the Diarhea stopped but I am still very weak and have not much appetite yet. But I think that if I am careful that in the course of a week or ten days that I shall be able to do duty again. But I [am] as poor as a crow. I only weigh 150 lbs and last winter my weight was 180 all winter and I have never weighed since I left home less than 170. But I hope that when I get over this sickness I shall pick up. I should be oblige to remain here if we were ordered away for I could not march three miles. The sick in our regiment are all improving.
I see by the papers that the 8th Michigan Reg has been in a fight near Port Royal and that the Major of the Regt was killed But it all happened before Charles reached them I think I am sorry to hear that Wm Thomas had to come home but if he has the rheumatism it the best thing he could do for the camp of a soldier is a poor place for a man that is not well and able to take his part, when a Soldier is sick money is the best friend he has. I have not heard a word from Charles only through your letters since he left home except once and that was immediately after he got to Washington I have written to him once but I expect he never received the letter I have not written to Mary for the last two weeks for the last letter I received from her she said that she expected to be home within three weeks and I have not written to her because I thought she would not get the letter.
We are having very changeable weather here now, Having raining and freezing to day it is raining and mud is about a foot deep I never saw such a muddy country in all my travels as this is, the roads are almost impasable, There is some talk of our going to Lexington but I don’t think that we shall leave here before the first or middle of March, we are all in hopes that we will get a chance to go down the Misisippi But I don’t think that we will get a chance I think that we will be kept in this state the coming summer scouting around the same as last, But I hope not for I have seen about enough of this state having travelled nearly all over it. My hand trembles so that I can hardly write and as I have written about all the news I think of now I will close, Write often and I will as often as I can