Because school in Grand Chain, Illinois had been available only at irregular intervals, Elizabeth McGee’s letters show inconsistent spelling and no punctuation. However, with her husband’s encouragement, she wrote at length and almost daily. Her letters reveal her concerns while her husband is gone and sections of many are quoted in Hardtack and Heartbreak. The following excerpts of letters not included in the book illustrate her writing.
March 20, 1863
Deare Mr. McCartney
I got your letter this morning all right and found three dolars in it which came in vary good time but I am a fraid you will nead it worse than I do was sorrow to here that you did not feal well but hope it is nothing serious the matter I am still on the mend but feal quite weak yet Little Jane is not well and is vary cross Marcus is well and just as good as he can be I have got a little garden made but you know how my gardens look I got Bill Danilles to plow the ground he charged one dolar I found the notes that you rote a bout but have not seen Mr McCoy yet . . . Armstrong came here after a note and said the man was redy to pay it and he looked over all the nots in those big books but he did not find it I got a letter from Mr Minic and he says thee is one hundred and five dolars coming to you and he will have it in 10 days and then he will send it to me he said he would pay himself out of it for surveying . . . I want you to wright often to me as time seams so long without you come home as soon as you can I think you will have a hard time to read this but you know it is from me so no more but remain your most affectionate Wife E. M. McCartney
March 28, 1863
I have just received your of the fifteenth all thoe it is old it gave me a great deal of satisfaction I am glad to here that you are so well satisfied with the camp I would give any thing to see you know but I am a fraid it will be some time before I can have the pleasur of meating the one my hart holds so deare but I will try to git along the best I can until the time comes when you can come home take the first chance for little Jane is all the time talking about you and if you don’t come soon she will forgit you but as for my selfe I can not forget you if I never see you in this world I will still think of the one that I love better than all the world beside . . .
Well I have bin to see Mrs Danice and she says for me to say they are all well she says she is not going to wright any more until she gits a letter from Mr Danice , , ,