Letter – William Farries, 27 September 1862

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Letter written by Corporal William Farries of Company E, 24th WI Infantry, to his brother, from Louisville, KY. Farries thanks his brother for sending him postage stamps, and describes life as a soldier. His main source of discontent is the constant moving. The citizens of Louisville were scared that General Braxton Bragg was coming to burn the city, so Farries’ regiment was ordered to defend it. Most of the women and children left the city for Jeffersonville. Repeated alarms in camp indicated that Confederate troops were near, yet no enemy soldiers appeared. Farries mentions a rumor that they will be losing their colonel, as he may be promoted to brigadier general. He remarks on the poor crop that year, and inquires about his horse, friends, and family back home. Farries concludes by requesting newspapers as well as some tea.


Louisville, Sept. 27/ 62

Dear Brother

     I received your letter last night. I was glad to hear from you. I could not tell what was the reason you did not write. I have written 2 letters to you & 1 to Mary, & yours is the first I have rec’d. I got the Harper’s Weekly, but I did not get the Sentinel. I am much obliged for the postage stamps; they came just in the nick of time. Those that I brought from Milwaukee got wet & spoiled. I am glad you are all well & I hope you will stay so. For my part, I never was healthier in my life. You want to know how I like a soldier’s life. I like it pretty well, at least as well as I expected. We have it hard at times, & there is times when we can take it easy. There is one thing I dislike, & that is moving so much. We have been in 6 different camps since we left Mil[waukee]. At present we are encamped at Louisville, Ky. The people here got scared. They thought Bragg was coming to burn the city, so we were ordered to

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come here to help defend it. The people of Louisville got scared almost to death; nearly all of the women & children left the city & went over the river to Jeffersonville. There was quite an excitement in camp yesterday about 4 o’clock. The long roll beat, the men seized their arms, & rushed into the ranks, & were marched out to meet the foe. They marched 2 or 3 miles to the entrenchments, where they waited about an hour, but as no enemy appeared, they were marched back to their quarters. We had scarcely time to eat supper & get a little repose when again “the drum did beat at dead of night” & we were marched back again to stand 2 hours in the cold for an enemy that did not come. As soon as Old Sol began to warm up the earth, the officers got over their scare & marched us back to camp, a tireder if not a wiser reg[iment] of men. There must be some Secesh around here, for a reg. of cavalry passed here yesterday with a man & a bull dog, which they had taken prisoner. They said they were Secesh. Nearly all the teams they have are composed of

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mules, & some of them are the best I ever saw. They have rather a peculiar way of driving them, & as it will be new to you, I will try & describe it. A teamster in Wis[consin] thinks it quite a feat to drive 2 pair of horses, but a teamster down here thinks nothing of driving 6 mules with only one line. How the[y] do it is a mystery to me. They have them hitched up the same as we hitch our horses with. 

This difference; they have a stick tied from one bit ring to the other on the inside (between the mules) & where we use 2 lines to each team, they use but one line for them all. Yet they will turn & twist them as easy or easier than a Wis. Teamster can his horses. There is a rumor in camp that we are going to lose our colonel. They say he is going to be a brigadier general. If it is true, the boys will be sorry to lose their colonel, for they like him in spite of his crossness. We were out on drill one day, when the right wing of the battalion made some mistake. “There, there,” said he. “The right wing is gone to hell, & I will never see it again.” I thought if he kept on

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swearing, his chance to see it there would be pretty good. We had rather a poor crop, but I suppose it is as good as the general run this year. How does Nell [horse] get along? Has she got over her cold yet? Take good care of her, for I want to use her riding the girls around when I get back. How are Carrie and the family? I have written to her 2 weeks ago, but haven’t got an answer yet. I have also written to Mr. Dexter & Gunnyon. I do not know whether they have received them letters or not. I wish you would send me Harper’s Weekly or Frank Lashes’ paper as often as convenient. Next time you write, send me a dram or two of tea in the envelope. My present address is Louisville, Ky.

Give my love to mother & Hattie & the rest & keep some for yourself; from

                   Your Brother, William Farries

P.S. I am sorry the plate was spoiled; was it good for nothing[?]   W. F.


William Farries, from Wauwatosa, WI. He is listed as a farmer, born in Scotland, about 5’9″, with hazel eyes dark hair, and a fair complexion. He received a $25 bounty for enlisting for 3 years service. He enlisted on August 6, 1862 as a corporal in Company E, 24th WI Infantry. He was later promoted to sergeant, and was wounded November 25, 1863 at Missionary Ridge, TN. Sgt. Farries was mustered out of the army June 10, 1865 at Nashville, TN.