Letter written by Private Lee Mason Fitzhugh of Company A, 6th OH Volunteer Infantry, to his father, from the headquarters of the 4th Division on board the steamer, Diana, while en route to Fort Donelson, TN. Fitzhugh describes the journey from Wickliffe, KY. Brigadier General William “Bull” Nelson put him in command of the division train since his aide, Captain William Preston Graves, did “not attend to things to suit him.” Fitzhugh writes that the general has his own way wherever he goes, including paying whatever he sees fit for hotels and meals. Fitzhugh says he is treated very well by the general, and therefore does not mind acting as his aide. He concludes the letter by mentioning the fall of Donelson.
Hd. Qrs. 4th. Div.
On board Steamer Diana
En Route to Fort Donelson
Feby 18th 1862
We left Wickliffe Friday a.m. and marched to Elizabethtown, halted a day for orders and proceeded to mouth of Salt River, (West Point Ky) reaching there Sunday Evening, Embarked on a splendid fleet yesty and are at this moment oppisite Hawesville, Ky from which point this will be mailed. Altho’ it was bitter cold and a deep snow on the ground I enjoyed the march, as I was mounted on a splendid stallion of the Generals and comfortably wrapped up. Had a pair of fine revolvers and a sword for arms, given me by the General to take care of – dont know whether I will have any arms at all or not when I really need them The General placed me in command of the Division Train the other day as his aid- Capt Graves (a young exquisite from Louisville) did not attend to things to suit him. I stopped at the same hotel in E-town & West Point with the General & Staff and eat at the same table on the boat. the General has things pretty much his own way everywhere pays just what he thinks right & no more.
They charge for meals and a bed 2$ per day on the boat – Nelson pays he’ll pay a dollar a day & no more! he pays my bills or has all but one and that was not his fault. the boy at the Hotel did not include in in the Genl’s, but boned me for it and I had to honor the amt & pay it – he is very kind to me but the moment the least thing goes wrong, up I go, he seems to forget that I am the Adj. Genl’s clerk as he calls upon me to superintend the packing & unpacking of his spring wagon, places trains in my charge and uses me more as an aid than anything else- well, if he always treats me as well as he has I am & will be satisfied.
We have just got the news of the fall of Donelson – glorious news – my next I think will be from Nashville of Clarksville – Much love to all –
from your son in haste
the boat shakes so
I cannot write
Lee Mason Fitzhugh was born in Madison, IN on November 27, 1838. He enlisted with the 3rd KY Cavalry as a private on June 18, 1861, aged 23. He mustered out on April 15, 1862 for promotion and joined Company A of the 6th OH Infantry. He married Anna H. Thornton on April 23, 1863 in Hamilton County, OH. After the war he worked as a dry goods merchant in Indianapolis selling tea and tobacco. Anna died in 1883 and he remarried in 1885 to a woman named Laura. They moved west to Los Angeles, CA where he continued working as a tobacco merchant. He died March 13, 1906 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, CA.
Letter written by Private Henry S. Clark of Company C, 15th IL Infantry, to Frank W. Fuller, from the camp of the 15th IL near Pittsburgh Landing. Clark writes that the previous night, his regiment was ordered to fall into ranks, and the 4th Division was ordered to support a wing of the army that had been attacked by Confederate forces. However, after marching for about a mile, the order was countermanded. General Hurlbut informed them that General William T. Sherman had been attacked, but was able to drive back the Confederate forces. Clark thinks they will have a hard battle in the next week. He advises Fuller not to come, as they have plenty of men at the moment. Clark is sending Fuller some “Tennessee script” that he captured from a “live secesh at Fort Donelson.” This letter was written the day before the Confederate surprise attack at Shiloh.
Camp of the 15th Ill
1st Regt. 2nd brigade of the 4th Division Department of west Tenn. Pittsburgh landing Tennessee River Apr 3rd
Yours in haste
P.S. Well Frank I suppose that you are looking rather anxiously for news from this quarter, but when I received your very kind letter of the 19th, 24th, &c, a day or two since, I thought the show was rather poor for me to give you any (news) but this morning I can give you a little, last night about half past seven we received orders to fall into ranks immediately with
guns and equipments ready for action, the Regt was soon formed in line of battle awaiting further orders meantime the news came that the right wing of our army had been attacked by the Rebels in force and we, the 4th Division, were ordered out to support them, after standing in ranks about 15 minutes we received orders to move on, accordingly, we started forward the other Regt’s of our brigade soon joining after we left camp the whole division was soon moving until after going about one mile we were halted, there waited about 20 minutes when the order was countermanded, Gen Hurlburt came along about that time and gave the particulars of the case Gen Sherman had been attacked
but not in force, by a strong reconnoitering party, he had driven them back at a loss of 11 killed and several wounded among the killed was a Major and Capt the Rebels loss was 27 killed and 12 prisoners, number of wounded not known, it appears that we were ordered out thorough mistake of messenger sent from Sherman to Hurlburt, Sherman sent orders to have him to hold his Division in readiness to march out, thus it ended for the present, though probably before another week rolls around we will have one of the hardest battles of the war, how it will terminate God only knows, we think however that we can clean them out, but as the issue is near at hand I shall not brag, but I feel now as though I could stand up to the rack “fodder or no fodder.”
You asked me if we wanted any more help. I can’t say, but I rather think that we have got plenty of help, and I would advise you not to come at present, if at all, though of course use your own judgment, but I must say, John [Pvt. John F. Clark, Co. A, 12th IL Cavalry] was very foolish to go, a man who has got a family has no business here, I thank you for your kindness in sending those stamps, although I had plenty for present use, there is no way of getting them here, and I should have been obliged to go without when they were gone, as they cannot be bought here for love or money.
I enclose you some Tennessee script, which I got of[f] a live secesh at Fort Donelson I should have sent a more interesting memento if I had been able to but there was no opportunity to send things from there
Look to hear from me soon again and remember me as ever
your true friend
Henry S. Clark, from Lysander, IL, enlisted in Company C, 15th IL Infantry as a private on May 24, 1861. The 15th Ill. Inf. lost severely at Shiloh as a part of Veatch’s Brigade in the Hornets’ Nest on April 6, suffering about 250 casualties, including 42 dead. Clark survived the Battle of Shiloh and went on with his regiment which also participated in the Siege of Corinth, MS and the last phase of the Vicksburg Campaign. Clark mustered out on May 25, 1864
Letter written by Sergeant William A. Garner of Company G, 10th TN Infantry, U.S.A., to Mr. James W. Waldren and family, from Camp Spear in Nashville, TN. Garner, a Union soldier, is writing to friends and updating them on general war news as well as news from his hometown of Pulaski, TN. He offers to find out whether the 21st OH was involved in the battle at Stones River. The Confederates conscripted everyone who was obligated to military service, and all the prisoners at Fort Donelson who took an oath were forced back into the Confederate army. He writes that Captain Julian was killed near Columbia, TN while skirmishing with Confederate troops. Louis Kirk, a captain in the Confederate army, was killed near Franklin. Garner mentions that no African American troops, or “recruits of color,” have been raised in Tennessee, but he hopes that will change.
Camp Spear, Nashville, Tenn
March the 30th 1863
Mr. James W. Waldren & Famalie [Family]
My Dear Friends
It is with a degree of the most delightful pleasure that I avail myself of the present opportunity to drop you a few lines in return for the affectionate letter that I have just received from you bearing date of the 22[nd] of this inst. Indeed, it affords me much pleasure to receive intelligence from a friend or friends that has ever been ready and willing to give me help in time of need. I am very glad to learn that you are all well, and prouder to learn that Mrs. Waldren is in very good health. I can just state in return that my health is very good, and a great deal better than when you last saw it. The boys are all well, and as fat as pigs. Capt. Gillespie is in front. His lady is in the city as yet. I do not know whether or not the 21[st] Ohio was in the battle at Stones River. I will try to learn by the next letter. I held a conversation with Mr. Rankin of Pulaski a few days ago, and he had just seen his lady a short time before, who still resides in Pulaski. And she had given him the following statements.
1. The Rebs have conscripted all persons that were obligated to military duty. J. R. Childers was selling sole leather at $1.50 per lb. George McGrew had bought out the town principally, and was doing a big business. All of those Fort Donelson prisoners had taken the oath had been forced back into the Rebel army. I could learn nothing of Mr. Pillow. Mrs. Ranking will be here in a few days, and then I will write you more. I know no more now. Capt. Julian was killed near Columbia, Tenn, while skirmishing with the Rebs on the 19th, and he was a brave man. Louis Kirk was killed near Franklin in a battle that was fought there. He was a captain in the Confederate Army. There are no recruits of color being raised in this state as yet, though I hope that there will be. It a very dark hour in this department now. Our Tenn. boys are the very boys that can whip the Rebs. We expect to get our pay tomorrow, if we are not disappointed as we have been before. There is 4 months’ due us. My babe departed this life on the 7[th] of this inst. I will close by saying to you write soon and give all of the news.
William A. Garner
William A. Garner, of Pulaski, TN enlisted as a sergeant in Co. G, 10th Tenn. Infantry (U.S.A.) ca. April 1, 1863. This regiment served as garrison troops at Nashville, then later guarded the line of railroads at Bridgeport, AL On March 8, 1864 Garner joined Co. I, 2nd TN Mounted Infantry (U.S.A.) as its captain. He enrolled for one year, and was mustered out June 17, 1865.
Letter written by Corporal Amos Kibbee of the 1st Battalion, 4th IL Cavalry, to his cousin Hattie, from Pittsburgh Landing, Tennessee. Kibbee describes his transfer from the 29th IL Regiment to the 4th IL Cavalry after the battle of Shiloh. He describes what it is like for a soldier in battle, and the overwhelming feeling to completely destroy the enemy that comes as a means of self-preservation. Kibbee writes that Nashville, New Orleans, Richmond, and Memphis are all in Union possession, and does not see how the Confederates could at this point hope for success. He is anxious for the war to end as he feels he is not suited to a soldier’s life – his main goal is for the war to end rather than to be promoted in the military. He requests that his cousin be available when he visits home so that they may spend time together, and that he will likely move back to Illinois.
Pittsburgh Landing, Tenn. May 11th, 62
Dear Cousin Hattie
Yours of April 20 came to hand yesterday and I avail myself of the time given me today on account of being on guard all night to answer it, although perhaps I should do it better if I were not so sleepy and tired. I think I forgot to tell you in my last that we have been transferred from the 29th Reg. of Infantry to the first battalion of the 4th Cavalry, commanded by Col. Dickey. We have been attached to this since directly after the battle of the 6th and 7th of April. The division to which I belong (the first, Gen. McClernand’s) was very badly cut up in the fight and they have many sick, and I think this may be the reason why we are held in reserve, and it is very probable we shall not participate in the coming struggle which is hourly expected, and which, indeed, is now already being fought, but more the fashion of a siege than an assault. We have heard cannonading in the direction of Corinth this morning, which implies that “somebody is being hurt.” I have shared the fortunes of this division of the army ever since its organization at Cairo. I was with it at Forts Henry and Donelson, and at Shiloh. It is unnecessary to tell you that the army met with little opposition at Fort Henry, but we had several cavalry skirmishes with their mounted scouts, shotgun cavalry.
So I have been in two regular pitched battles. Although I have seen blood enough spilt, yet I can hardly content myself to be a noncombatant in the present impending battle. Yet I think you will hardly demonstrate this “bloodthirstiness,” but a desire for a speedy peace, which can only be accomplished through their utter and complete overthrow, and to endure this I am willing, yes, anxious to “brave the leaden storm” once more. There is much to plead in extenuation for the soldier who is so often accused of forgetting the feelings of this better nature. There is a wide difference between experiencing the wild and terrible excitement on the battlefield, and contemplating it from afar. It is utterly useless for anyone to attempt to describe such feelings in language, but this much I can say. It is an utter forgetfulness of everything but a desire to destroy your enemy in the quickest way possible. I think perhaps it is self preservation more than anything else that prompts this feeling. But in all my experience I have never seen a soldier offer the least indignity to a dead or wounded enemy. No truly brave man would do this. Only cowards are capable of it, and I think, Hattie, you would find more than one here to dispute the word of anyone who would call me a coward, or accuse me of inhumanity to a suffering friend or foe. Well, the battle of Yorktown, or rather the siege, has been brought
to a successful issue, and the Rebels are in full retreat towards Richmond, and I hope it may have the influence upon the destiny of this war that all have presaged for it. With Nashville, New Orleans, and Richmond, and Memphis in our possession, their armies defeated on every field and side, what can induce them to hope for ultimate success? It is nothing but reckless foolhardiness to protract the struggle longer. But if they will carry it on to the bitter end, the consequences must rest upon their own heads, and nothing but destruction, almost annihilation, awaits them with its horrors enhanced a hundred fold if we adopt Gen. Hunter’s last resort, which ere long will be done. I am anxious that this war should close for many reasons. First, a soldier’s life does not suit me very well, and next, you must know that it is time nearly thrown away from a pecuniary point of view. You know of course that the wages are small, and it is very little we can lay up out of it, and I wish to be doing something for myself. For it is useless to deny it. I am growing old fast. The misfortunes and hardships of a few years have done the work of many. God heed the day of peace. Well, I am going to write something now which perhaps I never should. If I had not seen that little “my” in parenthesis in connection with Lieutenant Leek. I protest against your doing so again will tell you why. Since we have entered
upon the scenes that have tried mens’ souls we have had many trying times of danger, where officers especially have been watched by jealous eyes, and I regret to say it, but he has greatly fallen from the estimation in which he was held at first by the men under his command who think the feather in his heart a little whiter than the big black one in his hat. They think he is troubled with a disease popularly demonstrated “the bighead.” But this is too common a failing among army officers. You wished to know what kind of a looking man our captain is. He is a man about my height, not so heavy built, will weigh about 150 pounds, light complexion, sandy hair, tolerably good looking, is about 38 years old, has a wife and several children at home. As his temperament would indicate, he is passionate and impulsive, and if he is lacking in anything it is in cool discrimination in times of peril. He is liked by some, and disliked by some, but he is a very good officer. My ambition consists more in wishing to bring this war to a successful termination than for official promotion, and I would rather hear of peace today than be assured of a brigadier generalship in six months more of war. I cannot see the necessity for your keeping to the school room so steadily. Surely you might consult your own wishes and feelings for this season, anyhow, or at least a part of it, for I am going to stay perhaps a month when I come, and shall want you at liberty then while I stay, or I shall be lonesome. I expect to go back to Illinois to live after visiting all my relatives there. Yours truly,
Ame to Hatt
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Tell your mother that I thank her very much for her good wishes, and should be as glad to see her as she would me, I’ll warrant. And “Sister Lizzie” the same. I can imagine the pretty things she said; “tell” me. Tell Madison I am coming to see him and stay a whole week. And if I should conclude to take my horse with me, perhaps we won’t have some madcap races. My black [horse] is not in as good condition as he was. He has had awful hard usage and poor feed. The roads are too bad to haul forage, but he will improve as soon as we get plenty again. You may look for me about the first of August; a year from [my] time of entry [in the army].
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We are encamped about half way between Pittsburg and Corinth. [We] shall move up a little closer tomorrow. A.K. to H.
Amos Kibbee, from Metropolis, IL, enlisted on August 7, 1861 as a corporal in an independent company of Illinois cavalry, designed to be attached to an infantry regiment as an adjunct unit. His company was assigned to the 29th IL Infantry during the battle of Shiloh, but was transferred to the 1st Battalion, 4th IL Cavalry immediately thereafter. In the spring of 1863 various independent companies were re-organized to form the 15th IL Cavalry, and Kibbee was assigned to Company B. He was promoted to sergeant (no date recorded). Kibbee was mustered out of the army on August 25, 1864, at the expiration of his three years’ enlistment.