LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (NBC) — Nearly 100 civil war letters a man wrote to his wife 160 years ago return to Long Island.

“Dear wife, tell them they can never can whip the Rebs fighting the way they do now,” Robert Finnegan with Suffolk Historical Museum reads.

Those words were written 160 years ago by a 41-year-old Islip man named Frederick Wright. Wright described his experiences as a Union army soldier during the Civil War.

“It gives you an insight into what a common man was going through in the war,” Finnegan said. 

Finnegan has transcribed 97 letters wright wrote to his wife Phoebe and five kids. All were donated to the Islip Historical Society after being found in a shoebox on Rhode Island

“Starting with the first letter and continuing all the way to his discharge,” said Victoria Berger with the Suffolk Historical Museum.

Three years of letters, all written in lead pencil. Berger and her team from the Suffolk Historical Museum spent months gently unfolding and preserving each one.

“I have yet to see something this complete and spanning such a length of time,” Berger said. 

The writing is difficult to read, but the words are eye-opening, Berger said.

“Tell the children I have seen men with their bodies cut up in all kinds of ways,” one letter reads. 

Tales of the brutal war, but also words of love from a father worried about his family.

“In many of the letters he’s very concerned about her, getting by without him and that’s something powerful to see in the letters,” Berger said.

Wednesday, one of Wright’s family told NBC that someone had offered to buy the letters but they opted to give them to the Islip Historical Society, so others could read and benefit from the words.

“It was sad to see the infantry killed and wounded by the hundreds,” another letter reads.

Finnegan is now working to put the letters in book form, a soldier’s thoughts at a time when Americans were fighting one another.