The collection contains 63 letters: 20 from James Knox to his wife Catharine; 22 from Catharine to James; and the remainder from various correspondents writing to either James or Catharine.
James’ letters describe his health, provide details of his life in the army, and express love of Catharine and longing for home. In a letter of April 21, 1865, he mentions the trains that showed up at Summit Point, Virginia, to take men from other regiments home. He spent part of his time as an orderly sergeant and part of his time as a second lieutenant there (May 14, 1865). In a letter dated June 13, 1865, gives a graphic description of his regiment traveling to the Shenandoah River at Vickers Gap to wash up. Finally, he writes from the hospital in Maryland that he will be discharged soon (July 14, 1865).
Catharine’s letters to James focus on her health, daily activities, and family news. Two early letters contain poems that Catharine wrote for James (February 16, 1865 and March 2, 1865). In an undated mid-April 1865 letter, she describes reactions to Lincoln’s death (“I wouldent halve felt any worse if it had been my father”) and mentions the executions in Indianapolis of six men “for saying they were glad of” Lincoln’s death. In a number of letters, she describes gardening and other household activities, and her letter of June 18, 1865, includes a strawberry and some cloth from a dress she was making.
Of the remaining 20 letters, 14 were written during James' service in the army. Of these, six were written to James and four were written to Catharine by other family members or friends. Seven of the eight letters written after the war deal with James Knox' business issues. Two additional letters were written to James' sister Harriet Knox from friends.