Letter – David Norton, 2 December 1861

2015.002.174

Hi-resolution scans of the full document can be made available for a fee. Please see our Image Request page for details.

Letter written by Captain David W. Norton of Company E, 42nd IL Volunteer Infantry, to his mother, from a camp near Tipton, MO. Norton’s company has seen no fighting since they left Camp Hunter in Tipton. They marched to Warsaw on the Osage River hoping to fight General Sterling Price, but were disappointed. They were then forced march to Springfield, MO and joined General David Hunter’s division. He describes the rations and weather conditions. Upon arriving at Springfield and finding no Confederate troops, the hard and hurried march had been unnecessary. Some blamed General John C. Fremont, though most still have confidence in him. Norton warns that the newspapers are exaggerating the number of casualties suffered by Union troops. After staying in Springfield for a few days, they marched back to Camp Baker. Norton mentions that he had been ill, and the doctor tried to keep him from marching on to Warsaw. Initially he stayed behind as ordered, but the next day rode out to join his company when they received new orders to head to St. Louis. Since then, his health has recovered. He has been busy making muster and pay rolls for the company. He mentions an engagement with a small camp of Confederate troops, and how he took prisoners against the authorization of Major Roberts.


-Page 1-

Camp near Tipton Mo.

Dec. 2nd 1861

Dear Mother

As I have just learned that a mail by which I sent you a letter from Springfield Mo. has not been since heard from, I thought you must be somewhat anxious to hear from me. You have undoubtedly read of Battles fought and to be fought in this state since you last heard from me. This Regt. has been in none – excepting those to be fought! I don’t know which of my letters you may have received so I will tell you all that has occurred to me since I left Camp Hunter, Tipton 28th of Oct. We marched to Warsaw on the Osage River in 3 days. This was the first place where we were sure to have a fight with Gen. Price! When we arrived he was no nearer to us than when we started. We remained at Warsaw 3 days and crossed the river – on that bridge you may have seen illustrations of in Harper’s, – and marched 6 or 7 miles and camped at Camp Baker where we remained until the 1st of Nov. Our soldiering now begun for the first time. At nine o’clock on the evening of the 1st we received orders to march immediately to Springfield leaving our camp equipage and all men who could not march night and day behind. We started at 10 o’c. I had in my company to go with me, my 1st Lieut and 62 men out of a comp’y of 94 Rank & file. We marched all that night and joined Gen. Hunter’s division

-Page 2-

at their camp in the morning. We stopped here long enough to cook our breakfast and marched again. We made 30 miles that day – 42 miles our regiment marched without sleep. We laid ourselves at length on the prarie that night and did some ‘tall’ sleeping even if we did for the 1st time do with out tents and other camp conveniences such as full rations and something to cook them in. But we did not miss our rations until the next morning, for we were too tired to think of eating.

We were up next morning in time to eat such rations as we could get – being fresh beef with out salt and one pilot brisket to a man – in time and marched about an hour before day. We marched about 30 miles that day and camped in the woods, where fortunately we had plenty of fuel, for although it was not very cold, still we were so tired that we all felt as cold as if it had been winter in place of Nov. This day our men began to give out; and I marched into camp with only 40 men. We built large fires and waited for our beef and hard bread with a great deal of impatience for the butchers were slow and the teams with the bread had no kept up with us. We had just got our meat when an officer dashed into camp at full speed with an order from Gen. Hunter, – who had gone on ahead of us, -for us to march to Springfield without resting – So the long roll was sounded and we ‘fell in‘ in hot – (or rather cold) haste expecting that the enemy must be upon us, and minus our suppers we started in the dark to meet him. My boys would have left their meat on the ground had I not by

-Page 3-

precept and example induced them to put it in their haversacks. I put a “junk” of about four lbs in my haversack and they then followed suit. We marched that night in a cold mist – which was gotten up for our especial benefit until just at daylight when our commanding Gen. ordered a halt of about 2 hours. The way the most of the men threw themselves upon the ground at the order was a caution to young men not to go soldiering in Missouri! I stopped to build some fires to sleep by and then rolled my blanket around me and went to sleep in short order. The drums beat in two hour and up we jumped and I pulled out my beef and after dividing it with some of my boys who didn’t get any, I stuck my part on a stick and heated it through by my fire and eat it with as good relish as ever I eat roast turkey at home. We ‘fell in‘ in good spirits after our nights rest, and started again for Springfield perfectly sure we should have a fight when we got there – if not before! We arrived at Springfield that afternoon – having marched on short rations (and very short too) 100 miles in two nights and less than three days.

The Gen. said our Regt. did the best in the division and we had about 300 men when we arrived in camp – so you may judge how many men some of the other regiments had. One Regt. did not have more than half a compy! – I had 38 men – the largest number excepting one that any compy in our Regt reported. Our march was bad enough – but what was worse than that was that we were no nearer a fight than when we

-Page 4-

started from Camp Baker. The way our poor tired men cursed the one who ordered us on in such haste, was shocking to church members I assure you. No one but Hunters particular friends and the newspapers blame Gen. Fremont. Notwithstanding all that has been said against him, this army so far as I can learn, have more confidence to-day, in Gen. Fremont than in any other man under Gen. McClelland. About 20,000 men were hurried to Springfield without camp equipage and slept without cover, when Gen. Price was not within 56 miles of the place and showed no disposition to come nearer. Many a good man will pay for that march with his life, – which would have been all right if the march had been necessary, but as it was not it is a perfect shame. One of my own men I am expecting daily to die from the effects of the march. I for one do not believe that Gen. Fremont ever ordered us to make a forced march. I believe it was done to through [throw] a slur upon Gen. F.

Bad as our case was – those long articles in the papers, asserting that our men were dying by hundreds & thousands under the hedges and by the road sides, between Tipton & Sedalia and Springfield were nothing but outrageous lies from beginning to end. Our Regt. left only one man seriously sick on the whole trip and that was on our return. And he was left at a comfortable farm house. Those men who dropped out of the ranks from fatigue on the way all came into camp within three days. Those articles made thousands of hearts in this army boil with bitterness at those men who stay at home and write lying articles against those who are

-Page 5-

fighting for their country. If they confined themselves to pointing out their faults we could stand it although that is mean enough when they are where they are where they can not defend themselves – but to make such lies of ‘whole cloth‘ is contemptable.

Gen. Fremont, I believe, did everything a man surrounded by vipers as he was – could do.

We remained at Springfield 6 days and started on the back track. We reached Camp Baker on the fifth day. I did not give out once on the march until we were within about 3 miles of Camp Baker when I was taken with a kind of ‘gone-ness,’ and they put me on a horse on which I road to camp. The Dr. would not let me walk any farther as I wished to do on account of the example to my tired me. We received orders before daylight next morning to march across the Osage river at Warsaw and camp three miles beyond. As our teams were not with us we must again leave our Camp and sick behind. I was sick that night and the Doctor reported to the Major that I had the (Billious Fever?) And that I could not be moved, but as I had never yet allowed my company to march without being at their head, I told the Doctor I should go, and began to dress accordingly, when the Maj. came to my tent and ordered me to remain behind – nominally to take charge of the camp and sick, but really because he thought it dangerous to move me in a lumberwagon for he and the Doctor thought that they had a sick Capt. in your son, notwithstanding I knew better. They were rather anxious to get me on the sick list – not that they wanted me to suffer, but only because I had always made fun of them for getting tired or ‘played-out‘ as we call it. For you must know that the Major had nick-named me the ‘Stout Cap‘ as I

-Page 6-

had not been on the sicklist since the Regt. left Chicago. Well the Regt. marched from Camp Baker and I staid behind in obedience to Maj’s orders. In the afternoon one of the officers came back to camp and said the Regt. was to march at daylight next morning and to proceed to St Louis immediately. I thought from that that they must want to send us immediately into Kentucky and having no notion of being behind, I got up and had a horse saddled and started at sun down to ride to the other camp, about 12 miles. It was hard work to ride and took me about 5 hours to go camp. The next morning when the Major saw me he threatened to put me under arrest for not obeying his orders, but when I told him that I understood that he was to march that morning he laughed at my conceit at for thinking the Regt. could not get along without me, and called me a fool for running the chance of making myself sick. While I was talking to the Major, the Doctor came to report that he had succeeded in getting an ambulance to send for me. He was surprised and angry at seeing me, and said I had signed my death warrant that time sure! He said I was as sick as any man in the Regt. and had the Billious fever, but I knew better – so he got angry and so did I, and he insisted I was sick and I that I was not, and, so ended the affair. We did not march until the next day. I was hardly able to march, but would not ride because I would not acknowledge that the Dr. was right. I actually drove sickness “from my tent‘ and have been in first rate health ever since. That one day is the only day that I have not been in command of my company since we

-Page 7-

left Chicago. I am ‘fat and saucy’ – so say my “supperior officers,” for my old habit of saying what I think at all times and in all places has not left me yet. – In fact camp life just suits me – I believe I weigh more now than at any other time since I was at home.

My time is fully occupied with affairs of my company for I have the whole to do, excepting what can be trusted to my non-commissioned officers. My Lieutenants are of very little use to me, as they are either sick or lazy all the time.

We arrived at Camp Hunter, Tipton, on the 19th ultimo. Since then we have marched to Syracuse and back to our present camp. How long we shall remain here I can not guess.

Since we came here I have been very busy making muster and pay rolls for my co. and in writing up my company books, which were very much behind on a/c [account] of our long marches.

We have marched since leaving St. Louis, about 450 or 500 miles (since the 8th of Oct.)

The only thing our Regt. has done against the Rebels, has been done by my Co. We went out to take a camp of Secesh while we were at Camp Baker. We surprised them and took fiver prisoners and six horses. – One Major and four soldiers, several rifles & other traps. The next day I went out again to finish up the business and to take another squad camped two or three miles farther off. Some of Gen. Hunters Cavalry got the start of me and got to the camp before me and after a short but sharp fight took some prisoners and horses. I went to finish up the other job and took about 20 head of cattle and 14 horses

-Page 8-

The joke of the Affair is that Maj. Roberts sent one of his pet’s Capt. Vardon with his whole company to take this Major and his squad. Maj. Roberts would not authorize me to do the same thing that he ordered Capt. Vardon to do. I had the best guide and went straight to the camp about 12 miles, took it and returned to our camp the same night. What I did, I did on my own responsibility. The next day – after I had got the cattle & horses in a field ready to drive to camp, – who should march up but Capt. Vardon, who had marched all the day before and half of that day to get to the place I was already to leave with my booty. If ever a man was angry – Capt. V. was, to find me in full possession of the ground and ‘plunder’ and to learn that I had taken the prisoners and part of the horses in to camp the night before. I t was a good joke on him and on the Major too for selecting an old English officer to do what a young Yankee could do a great deal better.

When we found the Secesh camp the men took to the brush but our bullets call so loudly on five of them that they surrendered without being hurt. They are a cowardly sett out here. They know they are in the wrong and can’t stand fire.

I must close now as I must go up to Tipton to see my sick boys of whom I have one Lieut. (the one whose likeness I sent you) and 10 men in the Hospital there.

Write soon and often to

Your Son

(Excus Brevity) D. Woodman Nor

Capt. Co. ‘E’

42nd Regt Ills. Vols

in Missouri

-Page 4, Across Top-

P.S. I visited the Battle field where Gen. Lyon was killed; while I was at Springfield will write about it in my next D.W.N.


Major David Woodman Norton was born 31 January 1838 in Chelsea, MA. He had two other brothers (Joshua and John) who also enlisted and served in the Union Army. He enlisted with the 1st Zouave Regiment of Chicago and was then promoted to 2nd Lieutenant of the 42nd IL Infantry then Captain on July 22, 1861. He eventually joins Major General John M. Palmer’s staff as acting Assistant Inspector General. He was killed in action near New Hope Church, GA on June 2, 1864 during the Atlanta Campaign.

Letter – George Tallman, 30 September 1862

2015.002.120

Letter written by Sergeant George W. Tallman of Company E, 20th IA Infantry, to his father-in-law, from Camp near Springfield, MO. Tallman thinks that this may be his last chance to write a letter, as he is about to go into a hard fight (Battle of Prairie Grove, AR). They are advancing towards Confederate forces under the command of Major General Thomas C. Hindman. Tallman’s brigade is in the reserve, and therefore may not be needed, but he feels it is best to be prepared for the worst. He gives his father-in-law instructions on the welfare of his wife and child in case he is killed in the battle.


-Page 1-

Father Carhart

Camp “Via” 12 miles South

of Springfield Mo.

Tuesday, Sept 30th 1862

Dear friends at Home,

Feeling somewhat in the spirit of letter-writing, I propose to improve this, perhaps, the last, opportunity of writing to you, in penning a “little letter” to each. This I will inscribe to Mr. Carhart.

Sir: The events of war are crowding fast, one upon another The vast army (not so vast when compared with our eastern armies, but vast in itself) which has for months been concentrating at Springfield, near the place of present writing, is again on the move. Thirty thousand troops (according to report) of which our brigade is a part, are on their

-Page 2-

way to meet the rebel forces under Hindman. The expectation is that we shall have a hard fight, providing that the “secesh” have any “fight” in them. Hindman has about thirty or forty thousand men; but under what discipline & efficiency is unknown. We shall meet him with almost equal forces – more or less discipline & with unbroken spirits. The word goes round “hurrah for a fight!” We are “all agreed” on that, tho, on but little else. We have taken up the line of march from Springfield for the scene of conflict. We shall probably meet the enemy near Mount Vernon 30 miles distant. Our brigade is on the reserve and our participancy in the battle will depend upon the firceness of the battle, or rather tha

-Page 3-

of the onset. Should the results of the first “go in” be successful to our side, the reserve will not be needed; – but whatever may be the issue, it is best to be prepared for the worse. With the many who must “go down” in the blast of battle, I may be numbered, & I desire in this to arange some little matters which ought to be in better shape in case I should be killed.

You know with what means & in what condition I leave my wife. The money in your hands I would have her use as she sees fit; but would suggest, nay request, that it be put in such a shape, that should she not need it herself, it be accumulating, & made available for the education of our child.

-Page 4-

Should Susan not object, I would leave the whole matter in your hands, believing you to be an honorable christian gentleman, who would shrink from doing injustice to the dead or the living. Again, while you shall be pleased to permit Susan to make her home with you &, she should choose to do so, I implore you to study her spirit, & not treat her harshly, for I know she means right in every act. With many thanks for your past kindness both to me & to Susan, and a thousand wishes of success to you in temporal, & especially in spiritual things, I, with much respect, subscribe myself, your son-(in law) and friend & brother in the blessed Gospel of our Savior in truth.

Geo W. Tallman


George W. Tallman, of Hickory Grove, IA, enlisted in Company E of the 20th Iowa Infantry on August 7, 1862 as 4th sergeant. He was 24 years old. He was promoted to 3rd sergeant September 10, 1862, and 2nd sergeant December 25, 1862. On December 4, 1863 he was discharged to accept a promotion as a 1st lieutenant in Company I, 73rd U.S. Colored Troops. He served with this unit in Louisiana during the remainder of the war.

Letter – Isaac Jones, 4 December 1862

2015.002.055c

Hi-resolution scans of the full document can be made available for a fee. Please see our Image Request page for details.

Letter written by Private Isaac B. Jones of Company C, 3rd Battalion, 18th U.S. Infantry, to his cousin Helen Sofield, from Belotes Ford near Cairo, TN. Jones mentions that the mail had been captured several times in the last few months and is unreliable. He describes the hard marching from Winchester, TN to Bowling Green, KY. They caught up with General Braxton Bragg but General Don Carlos Buell held back, and Bragg escaped.They pursued Bragg’s forces to Springfield. Jones writes in great detail about the Battle of Perryville, including descriptions of the heavy artillery. The following day he walked the battlefield and describes the carnage he saw, including the surgeons amputations of many arms and legs. Jones concludes by writing longingly of his family.


-Page 1-

Belotes ford near Cairo, Tenn.  Dec 4th, 1862

Dear Cousin:

     I received a letter from you a little more than a month ago, I think, and allow me to say that I was very glad indeed to hear from you, for I had not received any word from any of my folks for a long time. I received one letter from my wife since I last wrote to you. She and Susie [daughter] were well. I had been looking for a letter from you for quite a length of time, and had almost came to the conclusion that you had not received my letter. Our mail have been captured, here and in Ky. several times within the last three months. So there is not very much dependence to be placed in them now. Well, cousin, we have some sharp times, and awful hard marching since I last wrote to you. We have marched over 800 miles, including our flanking movements, since we left Winchester, Tenn. We marched from Decherd, Tenn. a distance of 20 miles to reinforce Gen. Shouph. He was expecting to be attacked almost every hour. We did not get the order till evening. Then we started and marched nearly all night with nothing but blankets and rations. It rained hard, and was very cold and disagreeable. We had nothing but dry crackers and a little fat meat to eat, and only half rations at that. We got here the next forenoon and laid in line of battle two days. We had no fighting except some skirmish and picket fighting. We then moved on, with our whole force, near Pelham, Tenn. We expected there for sure to

-Page 2-

have a general action, but the enemy evaded us. We then marched to Murphreesboro on a forced march a distance of 65 miles. We rested there 20 hours and started in the evening, marched all night, and continued on till we arrived at Nashville, Tenn., a distance of 32 miles. We done all this marching on half rations and scarcely water enough to drink. We guarded the bridge of the Cumberland River at N[ashville] 7 days. Then we received another order for another forced march to Bowling Green, Ky.’ We made that in three days, a distance of 69 miles just in time to catch Bragg and his force of about 80,000. But Gen. Buell would not leave us at them, but kept us back two days, and Bragg made his escape again, after being allowed to take 4,400 of our men prisoners, and paroling them. Co. K, 2d Batt. out of our regt. was taken there, and the duce of it was, it was just a full company. They had just came into the service – consequently green, although well drilled. (I will resume our journey) After the enemy had two days’ the start of us, Buell, the old “traitor,” concluded to leave us go on the pursuit of the Confederate forces. The men were a good deal discouraged, but marched well. The fact of the business is, the marching we made has never been equaled in the U.S. We were 8 days without running water to drink, but twice. All the rest of the time we had to drink water out of mud holes in the road, and ponds in the fields. The water in some of the ponds was all green on the top, but we got so very dry that would drink almost anything in the shape of water, and we had nothing but dry crackers and a very little meat to eat, and coffee to drink. We never get beans or rice on a march for want of time to cook them. The day after we got to Louisville, Ky. There was

-Page 3-

325,000 Union troops bivouacked there. We rested there a short time and started after Bragg, Buckner & Kirby Smith’s forces. We went by the way of Shepherdsville, Bardstown, Springfield, etc. We marched 9 miles before we got to Springfield without a halt. All the time as fast as we could possibly walk, and part of the time on a double quick. There the Rebels opened fire upon us with their artillery. But ours proved too much for them. They had to retreat. Our brigade was in the advance and our regt. was in the advance of the brigade, so you see we were thrown in the hottest of the fire. We fought them back from ½ past 11 till night. The next day there was some skirmish fighting, but the third day they took a stand this side of a creek, they having the choice of the ground and all the water. So you see we had to fight them back for water. The general action commenced on the morning of the 8th of October about three o’clock, and both sides fought their best till after dark. Our brigade was held back as a reserve, but were called into action a short time before sundown. So that we were under heavy fire at least an hour and a half. Our battery took its position and opened up with incredible fury. Night was growing fast upon us, and the combat grew every minute more ferocious. The flashes of the artillery was blinding, above, around, in front. Bombs, solid shot, canister and minie balls flew like hail whizzing & exploding in every direction. The shrieks and groans of the dying and wounded, added to the horror & confusion of the moment, made up altogether a scene of consternation and dismay  enough to

-Page 4-

appall the stoutest heart. I was over part of the battlefield the second day after the fight, & the ground was literally strewn with the dead & wounded. I seen one place where the surgeons were at work with the wounded. They then had a pile of legs and arms about four feet high. I seen one poor fellow with the whole of his underjaw shot off He was living yet, but never could [say] anything; and others equally as badly wounded. One man in our regt. had his leg taken off, another was shot through the lungs, & another had both of his arms blown off, & face & breast burned all into a crisp. The battle was fought at and near Perryville, Ky., and it is called the battle of Chaplin Hills.

I was very glad to hear that cousin Alfred was so well situated. I only hope his regt. can stay where they are. If they should be ordered out on a few such chases after the Rebels as we have, he will begin to have a poor opinion of soldiering. I think, however, that the most of these new regts. will escape these hard marches. We have actually marched as high as 32 m[iles] a day, on half rations, with rifle accouterments, and 60 rounds of cartridges. You were saying you wished me to write to cousin Alfred. I don’t feel myself at liberty to open the correspondence. It would be entirely contrary to our discipline. If the capt. would write to me, I would be most happy to answer to the best of my ability, and give him all the particulars of the movements of the Army of the Ohio. We have 20 companies now in our regt., and three new ones ready to join us. Our regt. is different from the volunteers, we are divided in three battalions. I would rather be in a volunteer regt., on account of their not being so strict as the regulars. I would like to write more, but don’t feel able. I have been sick for several days. I am afraid my constitution will not bear up much longer. I have not much to live for, but my dear little daughter. If I could but see her once more I would feel better satisfied, but it is more than I expect. Give my love to your children, and accept the same for yourself. Tell Alfred I wish to be remembered. From your affectionate cousin,             Isaac B. Jones

Direct: Co. C, 3rd Batt./18th U.S. Infty./ 1st Division 3rd

        Brigade/ Gallatin, Tenn.   

-Page 1, Crosswritten-

Please answer this immediately if you deem it worthy. Direct to Gallatin, Tenn. this time, but at any other time you may direct to Louisville, Ky. It will always be forwarded. I would be very happy to receive a letter from cousin Alfred.


Isaac B. Jones was a carpenter from Williamsport, PA. He originally enlisted with Captain Joesph E. Ulman’s Battery of Light Artillery PA Volunteers at the age of 27. The company was discharged March 7th, 1862 and Jones re-enlisted with the 18th U.S. Infantry. He was killed in action on December 31, 1862 at the Battle of Murfreesboro.

Alfred J. Sofield was a clerk/justice of the peace in Wellsboro, PA when he enrolled as a Union Army Officer. He served in the Civil War as Captain and commander of Company A of the 149th PA Volunteer Infantry. During the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, he was stationed along Chambersburg Pike north of the McPherson Farm. His unit under artillery fire from the Confederate batteries on Herr Ridge, and was struck by a round, which killed him as well as Private Edwin D. Dimmick and Corporal Nathan H. Wilcox.

Letter – Frederick Doten, 11 September 1864

2015.002.040f

Hi-resolution scans of the full document can be made available for a fee. Please see our Image Request page for details.

Letter written by Lieutenant Frederick B. Doten of Company F, 14th CT Infantry, to his fiancée Georgie Welles, from the headquarters of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division. Doten writes that Sundays are generally quiet, and General Ulysses S. Grant intends for the day to be observed as much as possible. He mentions a recent horseback ride with his tentmate and a new railroad near the camp, which the Confederates have unsuccessfully attempted to shell. Colonel Thomas A. Smyth is currently in command of the division while General Gibbon is absent. Doten is sending Welles a piece of the 14th Connecticut Infantry’s colors.


-Page 1-

Head Qrs 3d Brigade

                          2d Div. Sept. 11th 1864

                            Sunday morning

My own dearest Georgie

     It is Sunday again, and the day for both of us to write. You remember last Sunday, in my letter, I wondered if you were not writing to me? Well, sure enough, you were, and in your letter you spoke of the same thing. Our Sundays in the army have been generally quiet. I believe Gen. Grant intends to have the day observed as far as practicable. We hardly hear a gun fired the whole day. So you can imagine how we welcome the day. We are having such

-Page 2-

lovely moonlight evenings that last evening I could not resist the temptation to take a ride by moonlight. So Lieut. Parsons (Adj’t Gen’l of the brigade) and myself took a delightful gallop across the country. Lieut. Parsons is my tent mate now, and a very fine fellow he is too. We remarked coming back that we hoped each to find a letter awaiting us. The thought hastened our steps, or rather the horses. And away we started at full speed. Arriving, sure enough, there was a letter for each. And I came to the conclusion that I had not had so pleasant a ride for a long time. My letter was from you, my own darling, dated Sept. 7th. So you are back in Chicopee, and pleased with your visit in

-Page 3-

Bridgeport. How glad I am. I received a letter from Nellie speaking of your departure. You are missed there, darling. Nellie is very much attached to you. She says she won’t know what she will do without you. I know very well before you went there, that my Georgie would be gladly welcomed. Charlie is disconsolate as usual. He has been in mischief. I thought I had stored away those pictures you speak of where no one would ever see them again. Well, I don’t mind about it, as I know of. I wish I could have come in suddenly and caught you and him, and Nellie too, looking up my old things. The old “Libby” [prison] suit, for instance. I would have captured the whole party; not one should escape, at least

-Page 4-

not without a large ransom.

     I am under obligation to that young lady for sending that “rice ball” to me. I will immediately commence to pin myself up, though I believe I have not had occasion to use such a thing for a long time. You need not tell her so, though. I will use them someway.

I am glad Aunt Sarah has discovered why I went to Springfield, and believe she thinks I had a good reason. ‘Why!’ she says. ‘Who do you know in Springfield?’

     I suppose your father was glad enough to see you home again. I don’t wonder at all, darling

-Page 5-

that he is so very choice of you. I should not like to have you leave me as long. But here I am far away from you, with no prospect of getting nearer at present. I am very impatient to see you, my own darling. Will the winter never come? I don’t think I get as low spirits now as I used to. Since I have the assurance that you love me, the only feeling is impatience to be with you. To be sure, it has been very gloomy here, and at the regiment since the loss of my poor friend, Will Hawley, and so many other noble fellows, but when I think of that, the next thought is about Georgie, my dear loved Georgie. I have her still, and

-Page 6-

she loves me. So you see, my darling, how much you have done for me already. You spoke of learning something good about me. No, no, Georgie, dear. I am altogether unworthy of your precious love. But dearest, it shall be an incentive to try and become more worthy.

     We have been in the same place for two days, at which we are all surprised. The new railroad runs quite near our camp, and the enemy frequently waste their ammunition trying to shell the trains. They have not been able to do any damage yet, though their shots come unpleasantly near, sometimes.

     Col. Smyth is in temporary command of our division, during the absence of Gen. Gibbon. I think

-Page 7-

it is wrong on the part of the government to keep Col. Smyth from having a commission as Brigadier Gen’l, at least. They give him a major general’s command with only the rank and pay of a colonel. There is not a more brave or efficient officer in the field than Col. Smyth. I enclose a small piece of the colors of the 14th. The old flag is nearly in pieces. This little piece was nearly off, so I thought I would send it to you.

     Please give my very kind rememberances to your father and mother

With many kisses for your own dear self,

                        Yours lovingly,

                                          Fred


Frederick B. Doten, was born in Sheffield, MA in 1840. He worked as a clerk in New York City then enlisted at age 22 as a corporal in Co. A, 14th CT Infantry, August 1, 1862. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant of Co. F, March 3, 1863, adjutant of the regiment, April 14, 1863, and captain of Co. F, Oct. 20, 1863. He was present at “Pickett’s Charge” at Gettysburg, helping defend the Angle on July 3rd and was cited for receiving many captured swords from surrendering C.S. officers. He was captured at Morton’s Ford, VA on February 6, 1864, but after being imprisoned at Libby Prison, was exchanged and returned to duty as a staff officer for Brigadier General William Hays. He was mustered out May 1, 1865, and became a cashier of the 1st National Bank of Chicopee, MA. He married Georgie L. Welles in 1866, and died Apr. 9, 1903.

Another 3 of Doten’s letters to Georgie, dating from 19 June 1864, 13 October 1864, and 10 April 1865, can be found at Spared Shared. An inquiry into his Prisoner of War status in February, 1864 is available in Ohio State University’s records Be sure to check them out as well!

Letter – John Doty, 18 November 1863

2015.002.023

Hi-resolution scans of the full document can be made available for a fee. Please see our Image Request page for details.

Letter written by Captain John S. H. Doty of Company E, 104th IL Infantry, to his brother Francis, from Chattanooga, TN. Doty writes about the weather conditions in Tennessee, and how he was recently paid and sent money home to Illinois. Confederate troops are nearby, but have not “attempted anything warlike.” The Confederates are stationed atop Lookout Mountain, which is several hundred feet higher than the Union’s location on Moccasin Point. He expresses the Union’s need to take Lookout Mountain, comparing the situation to the story of David and Goliath. Doty inquires after a friend, Sergeant Homer Wilson, and mentions how two of his own men are to be tried as deserters. He writes about the severity of General George Thomas, and states that Thomas and General Ulysses S. Grant are both good leaders, though General William S. Rosecrans (“Old Rosy”) is loved throughout the army.


-Page 1-

Chattanooga, Ten. No 18/63

Dear Bro. Francis

     As yours came to hand last night and was very glad to hear from you all & that you were well, as I am very well at present, and this was as nice a day as ever you saw. It looks like the springtime in Ills. But yet we have had some very disagreeable weather here already – rain, mud, and cold. We were paid on Sunday last, and have sent part of my wages home to John, and suppose he has received it, or will by the time this reaches you. It will come by express from Springfield, Ill., as we sent by this way of an allotment roll from here to Springfield. From here we have an express office, and that was the only safe way we have of sending money home. The Rebels are here yet, but they don’t attempt anything warlike, except send a shell occasionally, and that is about all the little creatures attempt to do to us. They have wasted a great deal of ammunition, for they have fired from the [Lookout] mountain every day, or all

-Page 2-

most every day since we have been here, & I don’t think they kill a man once a month, or at least I have not seen them. You see Lookout Mountain is very high above us. It is only (2,700) two thousand seven hundred feet above the river, which runs up to the bottom, or foot, of it, and it is very uncertain business shelling from such a height. When we get on our highest hill or mountain [on Moccasin Point], they are still about 700 or 1000 feet above us yet. It stands there like a giant laughing at us. Although it is high as Goliath was above David, still he was reached. And with shell we can reach, and have reached 100 and 200 feet above, as you may call it, giant Lookout Mountain. It seems that their shelling from that mountain does not amount to much, or has not so far. Still, we will have to take that little knoll, as it is an important place for observation, which you know is a good thing where there is an army. And you see the R.R. runs by the foot of their mountain, and we want to use the road to bring our supplies to us, although we are doing very well at present, for we have possession within 3 mile, and can get the rations

-Page 3-

by the way of steamboat & wagons. But we must have that hill. We will say as David the poet said to Goliath of old: With a little stone I will make you fall. So our cannon will say to Lookout Mountain: We can throw shell so fast you cannot count them, and proud Rebels there on that little knoll, I will make you some day hunt your hole, and get down out of that, or some of you might get hurt. Excuse my poetry, for I did forget myself. You see a fellow gets to writing sometimes loses the subject. Frank, do you see Sergt. Homer Wilson in Ottawa, and how is his arm? It seems that it would be about well by this time, or is he in the hospital at Chicago? If he is well, he should be here, for it is not right for him to be back there if he is able for duty. Two of my co. are to be tried as deserters – Debolt & Dunn. It will go rather hard with Dunn, as he was arrested and returned under guard. But Debolt returned voluntarily. Genl. Thomas is rather severe. Give me Old Rosy yet, for I would just as soon trust him as any of them. Although Thomas is good, Grant is good too, but Rosecrans is, or was, loved by his men all through the army.

-Page 4-

John Parrott, a member of my co., is trying, or at least I have been trying, to get him a furlough to go home for a while, as he is not or has not been well for some time. The doctor just handed me an order to make out the discharge papers for one of my company, Thomas Abbott, as he is broke down. Tom was a very good soldier, but he is used up for some time now. Frank, you wrote me that Kate and Rebecca was going to write to me. Good, for I like to get letters from girls & they are just the very two or three I would like to hear from. Well, it is about time to close as news is scarce, and there is no use to write about nothing, is there? As this letter is of little importance on account of things. I will stop by saying give my love to all & tell them to write to me. Oh, I forgot to tell you I bought a new vest today, as I have been without one for about four months – for there was none to be had. But there are some here just came on. That is all, I believe. Write soon to me and I will ever remain your obdt. bro.                            

Capt. John S. H. Doty


John S. H. Doty was born at Carlisle, PA, and worked in Ottawa, IL as a carpenter. He enrolled at age 23 in April of 1861 with a three months’ regiment. He joined Co. E of the 104th IL Volunteer Infantry as a captain on August 27, 1862. In the 104th’s first combat at Hartsville, TN Captain Doty was captured, but soon escaped. Doty served throughout the 1862-63 TN campaigns, and soon after this letter was written led his company in the famous assault on Missionary Ridge. He was killed in action on July 20, 1864 at Peachtree Creek, GA, being shot five times. His last words were; “Tell my father that I die for the flag. Good bye boys.”