Letter written by 1st Lieut. Anthony B. Burton of the 5th Independent OH Battery (Hickenlooper’s), to his foster father Z. B. Coffin, from the headquarters in Jefferson City, MO. Burton writes Coffin that his regiment has just been paid, and includes a breakdown of his wages. Though he is happy with the pay, there are also expenses incurred being a lieutenant, and mentions several charges he needs to pay. Burton describes the paymaster, Major Will Cumback, who was a Congressman and shares stories of his time in Congress. Burton writes that everyone is in good spirits after their recent good luck streak.
Hd. Qrs. Jefferson City Mo.
Friday afternoon Jany 24/62
That welcome gentleman, the Paymaster is now paying us off. I have just received my “pile” $285.56 for two months service up to Jany 1st. The amount is counted up as follows
Pay for two months 106.66
4 Rations (30cts) per day, for 61 days 73.20
Commutation of Forage for 2 Horses 32.00
Use & Risk of 1 Horse at 40cts per day 24.40
Pay for Servant at $13 per mo. 26.00
Allowance for Clothes for Servant 5.00
1 Ration per day for Servant, for 61 days 18.30
This looks like big pay but I find it most confoundedly expensive being a Lieut. I have my horse to pay for this time, &c. &c.
I herewith send you $100. – which
please pass to my credit I wish you to charge me with the $25 Andy borrowed of you, and he will settle with me. Also, charge me with the whole cost of the mess-chest. Andy and I have arranged it, for him to pay for the chest, and me to pay the Express charges, and when we return home the chest will, of course, fall to him. How do our accounts stand, after charging me with the $30. – which I suppose you have sent me before this?
The same Paymaster paid us this time as before – Major Cumback. We invited him up to dinner at Bakers as before and sent and got old Secesh Dixon’s carriage to bring him up again, this time taking a team of our, own horses however. The Major is quite a wit, and tells many
funny stories of his experiences in Congress. Strange to say though he has been a Congressman, he has never tasted a drop of liquor in his life. Good for him, say I. He says he used to get in some pretty tight places sometimes, amid the universal drinking at the Capital. He told us of a party at President Pierce’s once where everyone in the room including the ladies, got pretty tolerably “funny,” except himself. I might think he was a little boozy himself, on the occasion, and though every body else so, as tipsy persons sometimes do, but he doesn’t look like a man that was ever addicted to ardent spirits. Some people might call him large-featured, for he has a large nose, a large mouth and an “awful” large Moustache,
but I think he is the best-looking man that I am in the habit of seeing, out here. At any rate, I am always the gladdest to see him. Long may he wave, and often may he get around where we are.
The boys received the full $26.- without deduction this time. Corporals $28.- Sergeants $34.- Artificers (6) 30.-
They are all in high spirits at our continued streak of good luck. Guns, horses, and Pay; all within a week! “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood &c &c” Maybe we are on that tide, who knows? There is a better feeling throughout the camp than I have ever seen before. The boys are all in good spirits – expect some of them will come into camp tonight with bad spirits in them. Poor joke that, Don’t laugh. Love to all. Believe me
Yours ever affectionately A.B. Burton
Anthony B. Burton was an accountant from Cincinnati, OH. He enlisted as a private in the 2nd OH Volunteer Infantry in April, 1861. During his 3 month term he fought in the Battle of 1st Bull Run. After his discharge in August, he joined the 5th OH Battery (Hickenlooper’s) as a junior 1st Lieutenant. He was presented by his friends in Cincinnati with a non-regulation Cavalry Officer’s sword (2015.001.015) just before his departure to Jefferson City, MO. He served in MO until March 7, 1862 when the battery was sent to Pittsburg Landing, TN and was present at the opening of the Battle of Shiloh. Burton’s horse was shot from under him and around 3 P.M. he was shot in the left knee and carried back to the landing. Captain Hickenlooper found him aboard a steamboat where Burton refused to have his leg amputated, saying he’d rather die with his leg than live without it. Burton recovered and rejoined his battery in November, 1862. He commanded the battery during the fighting at Vicksburg but eventually resigned in March 1864 due to his wound. Burton returned to work as an accountant. He continued to live with his foster father Z.B. Coffin at Newport, KY utnil his death January 30, 1898.