Letter from Mary S. Clark to Temple Clark

Mary Clark writes from Fort Snelling to her brother,Temple Clark, in Green Lake, Wisconsin. She offers news of the fort, family, friends and social events. She mentions Henry Wilson's expedition to capture a group of Dakota implicated in the alleged murder of a white man. She reports that the lieutenant guarding the five Dakota at the time of their escape is scheduled to appear before a court martial. Also included is a description of a fire in the fort's commissary store, after which Clark writes, "The occurrence of the most trifling thing at Fort Snelling soon becomes an object of universal description and importance."

Fort Snelling Iowa October 13, 1844 My dear brother Do not suppose that I am writing to you because I think you deserve it for you know that you do not as I have not rec[eive]d one line from you since I left home. Tell Sister if she is still at Green Lake that I should have written to her but I am uncertain whether or no she is at Fort Atkinson and I am as equally ignorant of Mother's present place of destination not having heard from either of them for some time. Mr. Muston has been absent for a month having been sent with troops up the St. Peters— together with Col. Wilson[,] Dr. Turner[,] Lieut[enant]s Carpenter & Denman & Selden & Capt Backus. We are expecting them down daily. "My Son Robert" arrived here two weeks since he is much stouter than when he left Winnebago- and is quite as handsome as he used [to be]. As was his mama a is not here. Mr. Hayman's intimate friend Lt. Hale arrived here some time since from St. A[u]gustine with his bride. He met Mrs. Hayman in St. Louis--Lobby's own little Boy grows rapidly and is a beautiful child the image of dear little Em. How is Father—now [?]--You have all had sad times since I came away it really seems as if there was no end to our troubles--I think that Father is much happier when Mother is with him he must have missed her very much last summer. How does poor little Em get along [?] I suppose she is somewhat lonesome without me--I wanted to go home with mother this Fall but had no way waiting of getting to her. Fort Snelling is a delightful Post much pleasanter I think that Fort Crawford the people here are agreeable and sociable. Mr. Folsom has been ordered to West Point in place of Mr. Granger[.] It is quite delightful to have Aunt Charlotte here, she is very much pleased with Fred—and says he is very much such a person as was Mr. Sweeney. I am very agreeably disappointed in Fred myself-he is very affectionate and kind to me and far from being mean I think him very generous. Aunt Charlotte sends her love to you and says you must write to her and tell how every thing is going on at Green Lake Wednesday Morning the 15th We were all awakened last night by what at first seemed the howl of Indians but proved to be the cry of fire[.] You can readily imagine the confusion which pervaded through the garrison. The gallery was soon soon thronged with ladies in their nightcaps each eagerly inquiring where is it? where is it? One lady was seen walking down the gallery holding a candle in her hand and upon being questioned as to whither she was going answered with as much calmness as possible, "I am going home to save some clothes for my two children Kit and Bob." She was arrested however in her progress by the intelligence that the fire was in the Commissary store and would soon be extinguished, which proved to be the fact. The occurrence of the most trifling thing at Fort Snelling soon becomes an object of universal description and importance. I am expecting every moment to hear the cry of “Steamboat!” when the gallery will be again thronged and made the scene of many bets and conjectures as to who are the passengers and what news the mail contains. There has been a box sent from here to Atkinson for Mother to [take] to Green + there is a new work in it which I think will interest you all very much “The “Mysteries of Paris" the other book in the box written by Cooper I have not read--How does my dear little niece come on[?] Who does she look like[?] she is now at a very interesting age. She is I know a great amusement for you all. Dear Lat [sic] must be very proud of her. Tell Eliza I intend visiting her very soon. If Mother is at Green Lake ask her to write me immediately if she is still with Fanny[.] Dear Sister will write to me it is so long since I heard from any of you that I feel quite uneasy. I suppose you miss Mr. Hayman very much--he is very fond of you and would I know do anything to serve you. Aunt C, Lobby & the Baby send a great deal of love to you all--Kiss all for me and believe me As ever your attached Sister Mary [P.S.]The Steamboat Otter has at length arrived and brought an addition to our society this winter, having on it two Sisters of Lt. Carpenter. They are neither of them young and are the ugliest looking mortals in creation. Our garrison will number this winter 15 ladies. We are invited this evening to attend a cardparty for Lieu[tenan]t Woods. The Steamer Lynx which is expected daily hourly will bring us Capt. Plummer with his bride and a bat[tery] with a bride. There is no surplus of quarters now adays[sic] in this region. I wish I had some news to tell you[.] P.P.S. The troops have just returned and are well and I never saw Fred so stout as he is now. They took 5 Indians as prisoners who, much to the mortification of the command, escaped—Lt. Selden was officer of the guard at the time of their escape and is to be summoned before a court martial this morning to give in his defense.