Letter – Edgar Wilcox, 22 September 1863

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Letter written by Lieutenant Edgar “Ned” Wilcox of Company H, 3rd Battalion, 18th U.S. Infantry, to his sister Lottie, from Chattanooga, TN. Wilcox writes that he was involved in the “thickest” of fighting at Chickamauga. He describes the recent fighting, as well as the casualties suffered by his regiment. Wilcox’s regiment bivouacked after a retreat, and the next morning he awoke with a fever. Too exhausted to continue with his men, he sat under a tree until the Confederates began shelling, one of which injured his knee. He is writing this letter while stretched on the counter of an empty dry goods store that he found after the shell lamed him. He is determined to continue fighting the next day if able.


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Chattanooga Tenn. Tuesday

Evening 8 PM. Sept 22d 1862

Dear Lottie

I will write you a few lines to night though I do not know whether I can get them into any mail or if I do whether you will ever get them — We have been fighting now for three days very hard and I have been in the thickest of it but have providentially escaped without a scratch so far with the exception of a hit in the left knee with a spent shell yesterday P.M. which has lamed me considerable but did no further injury – All that troubles me is the fever & ague which I have had ever since Sat owing to exposure &c – Our Brigade went into the fight at sunrise Saturday morning the 19th & fought till dark & were repulsed three times with heavy loss – That night we were shelled heavily but we were so worn out we slept till 2 O.clock in the morning full force not over 500 yards from us and that the Balance of our Division had fallen back without letting us know any thing about it – you may perhaps imagine we fell back double quick and I can assure you we did – at day light Sunday morning were in line of battle again and I was ordered out with my comp. as skirmishers – about

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By 8 o.clock I had lost 6 or 7 men when the Rebs advanced in force & I fell back to the Reg. who were laying down under a little slope some 300 yds behind me. Here we fought them some 20 minutes but at a terrible loss as they flanked us & we were under a cross fire and we were obliged to fall back again – After this the fight became general for the rest of the day – The enemy charging & driving us and we in them charging & driving them – About noon I heard that Lee Brown was laying on the field where we opened the fight in the morning badly wounded and as I could not leave my comp. sent 4 men and a Sergt to carry him off, they told me he was wounded in 6 places the worst wound breaking his leg but that he was cheerful & did not think his wounds dangerous – At 4 P.M. the Rebs massed up on our left where were & completely overpowered us and we retreated precipitably and as our hospital and ambulances were capture I think Lee was also.

I wrote to Ria this morning that he was wounded but in good spirits & nothing more as I did not want to alarm her unnecessarily. On the retreat I got about 20 of our Brig. together & bivouaced about 12 that night – In the morning I waked up with a burning fever on me but hearing that the brig. or what was left of it was in camp 1/4 of a mile from us I sent them there in charge of a segt and laid down under a tree too much exhausted to go any further – There I staid

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until 4 P.M. when the Rebs commenced shelling the road & I concluded to “fall back” on Chattanooga (5 miles) but had not gone 20 yds before a shell burst just in front of me and bim a piece took me in the knee, but it was spent and only lamed me & I managed to get in here where I have been stretched on a counter in an empty drygoods store all day & where I am writing disconnectedly & hurriedly to night – Our Brig. has fallen back to the fortifications in the edge of town & there will probably be on the heavy fight tomorrow & if I am not really down sick I shall go again – Our Brig. now is all cut to pieces and numbers about 200 (200) men but they will fight to the last & you may bet I will be with them if I am able to stand up. – Can write no more to night –

Yours in Haste

Ned


Edgar Norville Wilcox was born in Berkshire, MA. He was a civil engineer attending the University of Michigan when he enlisted as a private in the 7th OH Infantry at age 23 on June 19, 1861. He was discharged in December of 1861 and then joined the 18th US Regular Infantry on January 14, 1862. He was assigned as a private in Company B, 3rd Battalion. In May 1862 he was promoted to sergeant of Company H and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on June 11, 1863 (retroactive to February 19th). Wilcox was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on September 20, 1863. He was breveted Captain in September 1864 for Murfreesboro, Atlanta, and Jonesboro and after the war was officially promoted to Captain on January 22, 1867. He mustered out January 1, 1871 and lived in Oberlin, OH working in railroad construction. He died May 25, 1892.

Letter – James Campbell, 17 October 1863

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Letter written by Private James Perry Campbell of Company D, 79th IL Infantry, to a friend, from Chattanooga, TN. Campbell is recovering from an illness in the hospital, where he has been since the Battle of Chickamauga. He is “heart sick” after the army was forced to retreat, having hoped for a victory that would end the war. He describes casualties on both sides, including the “River of Death” at Chickamauga, and the reality of dying for one’s country. He states that a soldier’s real motivation is less in glory and more in dreams of peace and going home. He mentions Braxton Bragg’s army is also camped nearby and that Confederate soldiers were stealing clothing left on the battlefield. Campbell thanks his friend for looking after his family.


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Chattanooga Tenn. Oct. 17th 1863

Dear friend

I take this oportunity to write you a few lines. I must excuse my self for not writing oftener to you, but I scarcely ever write except to home, I think that my diarhea is getting better since I have been here in the hospital I have been here ever since the battle waiting on the wounded and I think if I keep my self whare I can take care of my self that I will get shet [shed] of it after a while but this is a poor place for that purpose it is the most disagreeable place I ever was in, this is the first time I have been away from my ridgment since it came out in the servis, The ridgment is camped in about four hundred yards of my hospital the boys are all well what few thare is of them left, The hospital I stay at has about six hundred patients in it and my ward has had 36 and thare has 13 of them died and several more of them are bound to die yet, but the cases we have here are all of the worst kind the slightly wounded wer all sent to Nashville and other places north This was a very distructive and hard fought battlethe hardest of the whole war I think, I tell you Tom, I though when we comenced to fall back to this place that we wer gon up, it was a new thing for this army to retreat it was the first time it had ever done that trick, I never felt so heart sick in my life

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as I did when our army had to give up the field for I had though only of victory before and then a speedy close of the war and the joys of home dear home a gain, but we did not have that field without an effort as the dead of both armies will testify, it was the bloodiest field of the war and we left many a brave soldier thare who gave his life for his countries salvation I saw whole brigades cut to pieces at a single charge and even divisions melted away like snow we ever as you have learned before this greatly out numbered, our ridgement lost a bout half of our men but we do not know who is killed or who was taken prisoners as the fight we suffered most in took place after night, but Tom it will not take more than one more such a scratch and the history of the 79th regment may be writen in full for it will be with the things that wer, And what their history the ridgement may be remembered but those that composed it will be forgotton befor the flesh drops from their bones, talk to a soldier a bout the glory of dying for his country (as some of the northern papers do) and he will point you to the ditches on the field of Chickamauga and ask you what glory you can see in 3 or 4 hundred dead bodies piled in one narrow ditch, it is to save their country and get home to their families a gain that animates the soldier to do his duty, the fame of dying in the battle especially when that fame is to be sung by such selfish and cowardly men as the majority of those at the north are is not prised verry highly by a soldier, but talk to him of peace and of home and you will animate his whole

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soul, the soldiers want an honorable peace, not one of Vanlandinghams, Well here we are or what is left of us laying in a half circle round this town and Braggs army lays in the same shape just outside of ours, and neither of them seems willing to attact the other, I think that the rebs got the worst of the fight in killed, but we lost a great many guns and other soldier traps the rebs got a good suply of clothing from our boys that was left on the field they got one suit from me the best I had

Tom I feel much obliged to you for the interest you take in the welfare of my family and hope I may yet be able to partly return thos favors, but that must be left to the will and providence of an alwise and merciful God who rules and controls the destinies of man as well as those of nations and armies, If thare can be a fare price got for that land of mine I would like to have it sold and if it is not too much trouble I would like to get you to see if you can make a sale of it, and to help Hester to collect some of those debts if help will do any good, I must close this letter and I hope it will find you all well and doing well. Tell Hester that I am getting along verry well now and feel more like getting well than I ever have since I have been aling with the diarhea, Remember me to your wife and tell her I think she mite have writen to me

Your ever faithful friend and brother

J. Perry Campbell


James Perry Campbell, from Paris, IL, enlisted in Company D of the 79th IL Volunteer Infantry on August 1, 1862. He served as a private and mustered out on June 12, 1865 at Camp Butler.

Letter – John Compton, 24 September 1863

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Letter written by Private John D. Compton of Company G, 105th OH Volunteer Infantry, to his sister Margaret, from a camp near Chattanooga, TN. Compton describes a “hard fight” that occurred the previous week [Battle of Chickamauga]. He writes that they were outnumbered and suffered many casualties but only one man from his company was wounded. The regiment was forced to retreat on the last day of the fight. His company was then held in reserve.He describes an order to “charge bayonets” which drove back one brigade of Confederate troops. Compton sends his regards to his other family members, and urges his sister to reply soon.


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Camp near Chatinuga Tenn Sep 24/63

Dear sister Margret I recevid your [???] letter and was glad to hear from you since I got your letter We have had some hard times We have ben in a very hard fight last friday saturday, and Sunday We fought the enimy with Superior number our loss was grate While the enimy was grater from our Compiney there was none Killed but one wounded that was Cussion the red hed that ust to go Kingsville to School the ordly sargen and my self took him from the field our regt on saturday was obliged to retreet our ranks was broken by the surpier number but the brigade was scatered to the 7 winds of the Earth but our small squad containing 425 men was scatered could not get the next but 126 men in our reg We then held in resirve so if our ranks broke we could sustain them the rebels broke our ranks on sunday the men ran We layed about 6 rods back of them they ran thru ours the order was given to charge bayonets We done it and drove one brigade of them they flanked us we ran back We expect another atact but let them come We are very heavy fortifying here Waiting for [???] then we will try them Well I must stop riting for this time J.D. [???] is all rite and all the rest I will tell you the rest next leter rite soone from your Brother give my love to all Father mother sister brother rite soone let our fokes no how I am as soone as you get this

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Well James rite to me

Good Bye Forever J.D.

Compton to Margret and James [???] rite soone as you get this


John D. Compton was the son of farmers Rueben and Margaret Cary Compton. He was born in New York in 1842. Sometime between 1850 and 1860 the family moved west and settled in Kingsville, Ashtabula County in Ohio. He was killed on July 22, 1864 during the battle of Atlanta from a gun shot wound to the abdomen.

Letter – John Compton, 10 June 1863

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Letter written by Private John D. Compton of Company G, 105th OH Volunteer Infantry, to his father, from a camp near Murfreesboro. Compton writes that he has sent for a record of Company G that will list who belonged to the regiment, who died, where they marched, and give the personal information of the men. He mentions that he was exchanged after being captured by the Confederates, and that he will send home his parole and paper of clearance given to him by General William Rosecrans.


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ths 10/63

Camp Near Murfreeboro Tenn [???]

Dear father I thought I would rite a few lines to you this morning to let you no how I am I am well at presant and hope these few line will find you the same I have sent for a record of the Co G 105 Ohio Reg to tell Who did belong and who died and whare and the marches and all the fight and camp and age of the boys and all about it then when I get this I will send it home to you and you get a case and put it in and keep it I am exchanged and I will send my Parole home and the paper of clearance which rosincrance gave me and I want you to keep

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it and all the rest I send home to you keep them safe till I come home the boys is all well at presant rite some to me and tell me if you get this good morning from J.D. Compton

to his father and mother R-S Compton and Margaret Compton in Kingsville Ashtabula Co Ohio

rite and tell me if you got my other Parole I sent it to H. Brooks


John D. Compton was the son of farmers Rueben and Margaret Cary Compton. He was born in New York in 1842. Sometime between 1850 and 1860 the family moved west and settled in Kingsville, Ashtabula County in Ohio. He was killed on July 22, 1864 during the battle of Atlanta from a gun shot wound to the abdomen.

Letter – John Compton, 19 February 1863

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Letter written by Private John D. Compton of Company G, 105th OH Volunteer Infantry, to his siblings, from a camp near Murfreesboro. Compton describes how he was taken prisoner while foraging . He is back in camp after being paroled and describes his experience as a prisoner of the Confederates for three days. Compton says they were mistreated by provost guards. He attempted to leave the parole camp to visit his comrades in the 105th, but the guards found out. Compton writes disparagingly of the Union officers he was captured with. He suggests that his brother stay out of the army. Despite the tone of his letter Compton insists he is not homesick, and does not want his parents to worry about him.


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Camp Near murphysbrough

Feb 19 1863

Dear brother and sister as I have some Time I will rite a few lines to you to let you no that I am well at presant and hope these few lines will find you the same Well Jim I thought I would rite and give you a decription of how I was taken I had ben with the Reg 9 1/2 days they sent us out ot forage some stuff for the need to eat on the 21 of Jan got a bout 6 1/2 miles from camp when the Reb began to fire in our front We got one of our wagons and loded our guns and some of the boys fired into them the oficers was taken captin Canfield and lieutenant Torgee 3 otherSeth Perker and my Self Was all that Was taken before that you new but [???] Renginan Was taken We are all here in camp the oficers I supose will put us in the ranks but if they do for the [???] is broken they say but that is nothing to do with us they must be careful how they get in a fight with me for I think I am very good shot with the gun they give me Some of the boys has got home and When We get Paid off I Will leve too I think I have my PP [Provisional Parole] in my pocket Well Jim I will tell you how we lived while the Reb had us We stayed in a cart House We lived on corn

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bread and bisket with some sow bekon [bacon] the bread no salt in it but they had none neither so I could stand it they kept us 3 days then give us our P.P. and took us out of their lines and set us out for our selves We Went to Munfordsville Ky got on the cars and started for Lusville Went thus 3 days in [???] then Went to Nashville Tenn Kep 2 1/2 days then went to murphysborough stoped 2 days I ran away and went to see the boys and back every night they found out that We Were found to [???] they said that We might go out to camp so rather than to lay in fall we went the gard said that they was glad to get red of us they said dam the 105 all Hell could not Keep some of them and I was one of them you can [reckon] but Jim I said I would tell you What i had to eat we had flour from the time they Paroled us till we got out of their lines we mixed it up on a Plate and backed it on a ford with out any salt or shortning it Was flour and water that we got from a inn by the side of the rode they treeted us as well as they used their own men but we did not get enough of that When we got a mong the Dam northern sholder straps Jim if I live till the War is over their will be some of the Straps Ketch Hell I think one has got his just do Torgee is a mong the Reb and god noes I hope he will stay their till the War is over

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Jim you no what he rote Home a bout me When Was taken before he rote Home that I and Seth Parker was Drunk I hope they Will Keep him till he can learn to tell the truth and I guess they Will Jim I am a single man and can stand it but it is Well for you did not inlist When I did and I will give you some good advice you ar out and do you keep out the boys has gone out expecting a fight before they get back I should have had to go if it had not have ben that they did not no whether they had a rite to ask us or not I expect every day When they Will if they do old Hall will get the first charge from my gun if he goes in front dont tell or sho this to every one for it might get out you no and it might go hard with me but I Will do as I say if I get a good chance for I should have ben home now if it had not ben for him and I [always] Pay my Debts I gess he will get his Pay for the Boys all owes the same debt I gess some of them will Pay the debt Well Jim you may think that I am Home sick for the Way I rite but I am not but it makes me mad to think how they Will beg a fellow to get Him Draft once is a nough I think tell our fokes not to fret for I will come out all rite tell Pa to send

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get my clothes at Columbus if he sent them When I last herd from Home Pa Was Sick I hope he may get well tell him not to fret a bout me for I am well and tuff rite to John D. Compton Co G 105 2 Brigade 5 Division Murphysburough Tenn

Care of Captin Crowell

tell Pa to send me some stamps so I can by some Paper


John D. Compton was the son of farmers Rueben and Margaret Cary Compton. He was born in New York in 1842. Sometime between 1850 and 1860 the family moved west and settled in Kingsville, Ashtabula County in Ohio. He was killed on July 22, 1864 during the battle of Atlanta from a gun shot wound to the abdomen.

Letter – James Cooper, 27 January 1865

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Letter written by Confederate Captain James Cooper, Assistant Adjutant General for General John Bell Hood, to Captain Francis M. Farley of the 8th FL Infantry, from the headquarters of the Army of Tennessee near Tupelo, MS. Cooper begins by mentioning an “ill-fated” campaign into Tennessee, then encourages Francis to continue fighting despite recent losses. Cooper is determined to not give in to depression, for he feels confident in the Confederacy’s victory. He describes the current movements of corps commanded by: Benjamin F. Cheatham, Stephen D. Lee, Alexander P. Stewart, and Nathan B. Forrest. Cooper recently took on the responsibilities of the A. A. G., and has been busy furloughing troops. He gives Francis the unfortunate news that his old brigade has not done well recently.


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HdQrs. Army of Tenn

                            Tupelo, Miss Jan. 27 1865

My dear friend

     More than a month has passed since I received your last letter – it reached me during our ill-fated Campaign into Tennessee. It is useless to attempt to excuse myself for not answering sooner, for though I may have had some reasons for not writing at times, and at other times had no opportunity to write, yet I should before this time replied to your letter. But believe me, my friend, if I did neglect to write, I did not fail to think often of you – to sympathize deeply with you in your troubles, an account of which I received in your letter. It is a consolation to know that you were enabled to offer gallant resistance to the foul invaders of your home and that you succeeded in punishing to some extent the Yankee wretches. I am proud of your conduct on the occasion; it was however only what I would have expected of you.

I can appreciate & respect your feelings, Farley, at the time you wrote to me – but you must cheer up. Do not yield to gloomy feelings. The spirit displayed by the inhabitants of your little town [Marianna, FL] of itself (however sad in result) shows what the Yankees have to do before they can accomplish their ends. I have witnessed recently much to discourage; our army beaten & disgraced – disorganized and suffering. But I will not yield to depression. I have faith in our final success the justice of our cause and feel certain of success. And at all events let us go

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down with colors flying.

Cheatham’s & Lee’s Corps of this army are now en route for Augusta. I shall leave in a day or two. Stewart’s Corps and Forrest’s Cavy will be left in this country under command of Lt. Gen. Dick Taylor. I do not know who will command the army in Georgia, but suppose Beauregard will command in person.

After the army reached this place I was very busy for a week, both night & day, furloughing the troops, having all the work of the A.A.G.’s office thrown temporarily on my shoulders. I assure I am glad to be relieved by the movement of the troops from the irksome task. Col. McDonald of your old regt [1st Florida Inf.] returned to the army a few days since, after 2 years’ absence; has tendered his resignation & left on 30 days leave of absence. Your old brigade [William B. Bates’ (Finlay’s)] I am sorry to say did not gain much reputation on the recent campaign. To Bates’ Division is ascribed the misfortunes of the Army. They will do better another time.

It is so cold that I can’t write more. I am in a tent and my fire won’t burn. I only write to you now because I leave here tomorrow & do not know when I shall write again. By the way I wrote to you twice before receiving your last letter. So you owe me one.

                       Sincerely yours,

                                        Cooper


James Cooper was originally commissioned as a captain in Co. D of the 1st LA Infantry, in March of 1861. He was captured near Pensacola, FL and sent to Ft. Warren Prison in Boston Harbor before being exchanged. After returning to duty with his regiment he was assigned sometime in August 1863 to duty as an inspector’ general at General Braxton Bragg’s headquarters. When General Joseph E. Johnston assumed command in 1864, Captain Cooper remained on the commanding general’s staff. In July 1864, when General John Bell Hood was made army commander, Cooper served in the same capacity again on his staff.

Francis M. Farley was originally commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in Co. E of the 1st FL Infantry on April 5 of 1861. He was captured at Santa Rosa Island, FL later that year, and imprisoned at Fort Warren, Boston Harbor, where he met and became good friends with Captain James Cooper. After being released from prison, Farley was wounded at Fredericksburg, VA, and later resigned November 2, 1863. He subsequently served with the 8th FL Infantry.

Letter – John Beach, 14 October 1863

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Letter written by Corporal John D. Beach of Company G, 55th IL Volunteer Infantry, to his mother, from Lagrange, Tennessee. Beach writes that his health is improving, but several of his comrades are ill. He describes how the Confederates nearly took General William T. Sherman and his men prisoner at Collierville. The “Rebs” fired at Sherman’s rail cars. The 13th Regulars, vacated the train to fight, and suffered a few casualties. Sherman is now in Corinth, and his regiment has just received orders to march there. Beach mentions that he sent his violin home when he was in Memphis.


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Lagrange Tenn Oct 14th 1863

Dear Mother

    I now seat myself on the ground to write a few lines to you to let you know that I am getting better I have not had the ague for about two weaks. Frank Bennett is verry sick He has some kind of fever Charles West is also sick but not as sick as Frank B. Calvin Songster is sick with the ague These three are sick in the hospital. I have not heard of Charles Patterson since we left him at Vicksburg on one of the hospital boats I expect he is at Memphis or St. Louis but I do not know whare he is. Fred Smith is

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not well The regt. left Lagrange last Sunday Fred went along. They went down towards Holly Springs That is 25 miles due south of here We went from here to Holly Springs last year When we came through here the Rebs came near takeing Genl Sherman and some more generals prisoners at Collierville That is between here and Memphis The Rebs fired at them and filled the cars full of holes One car had a six pound ball put through it Genl Shermans old regt was along with him that is the 13 Regulars They got off and gave them a fight We lost 11 killed and 40 wounded and one of General Shermans staff officers General Sherman is now

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in Corinth George Hawk passed through here day before yesterday and he has my thing in Corinth with him The regt has not come in yet We have just received orders to get ready to go to Corinth We will go to day I guess The chaplain is here and he brought one car load of things with him, but not a thing from Deer Park. The things are all at Cairo They was not put on the boat and so they were left But if we stay in Corinth aney length of time we will get them because they will come to Memphis the next time thare is a Sanitary boat comes down I have written three letters since I arrived in Memphis. I sent my violin

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home while I was in Memphis I directed it to Mary S. Williams, Ottawa La Salle Co Ill. I paid for it; one dollar and a quarter I hope our things will come through You tell Franks mother that he is verry sick I suppose if he knew it he would not like to have me let her know it They are in the hospital at Lagrange. I guess I am the onley one that has written home I expect the ague a gain in a few days But I may not have it I have not done any duty in the regt for over one year I do not do any duty now I guess our regt has been in a skirmish while they are gone I must close on account of room Charles West has just come in the tent He has written home that he is well, but he will have the same [sickness] more.

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Direct to J. D. Beach Co G. 55 Regt Ill Vol Corinth Miss


John D. Beach, from Lasalle, IL, enrolled August 23, 1861 in Co. G of the 55th IL Volunteer Infantry. He was promoted to corporal, and re-enrolled April 12, 1864, soon thereafter being assigned to Battery A, 1st IL Light Artillery of the 2nd Division, 15th Army Corps. Later transferred back to the 55th Illinois. Beach was mustered out at Little Rock, AR on June 14, 1865

Letter – W.R. Lacy, 30 January 1863

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Letter written by Private W. R. Lacy of the 6th TN Infantry, C.S.A., to his cousin Amarila Lemons, from a camp near Shelbyville, TN, describing his participation at the Battle of Stones River. Lacy writes that he and his comrades are in high spirits, consoled through the war that the Confederacy will one day be an independent government. He mentions Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and that the Governor of Kentucky has ordered troops to keep the proclamation from being enforced. Lacy finds it strange that the Union proclaims the battle as a victory due to their great losses. He has heard reports about General Joseph Wheeler taking boats on the Cumberland River. He concludes by sending his regards to friends and family at home.


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Camp near Shelbyville Tenn

                                Jan 30th/63

 Miss Amarila Lemons

Dear Cousin

  As I have an opportunity of sending you a letter, I concluded to write you a few lines. Well cousin, our country is in a bad situation perhapse in such that we can never redeam it but we are in high spirits yet, and still look forward to the day of her redemption, and think it not far off,  there is one good consolation and that is to know that the Confederacy will be an independent government. Some of the Federal Prisioners say that the majority of there troops has lost all hope of subjugateing the south

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Our president says in his message that the war has entered its third and last stage  Gen. Woolford [probably Col. Frank Wolford, 1st Kentucky Cav., U.S.] the Yankee cavalry fighter disbanded his commands for thirty days and if old Abe dont modify his emancipaon proclimation that he will not call for them agen. It is rumored that the Govener of Ky has call for sity thousan troops to keepe the Presidents procklimation from being enforced in Ky. I think that will piece soon. Cousin I supose you have heard of the Battle of Murfreesburrow or Stone River  I suppose the Yanks claim a great victory I think strang of them for clamering a victory over us when there loss was so hevy and our so small compared with theres  Our loss was 5 or 6 thosand killed wounded and missing

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There loss 25 or 30 thosand besides the thirty pieces of artilery that we captured   It was a heard faught battle  Our Brigade did not get in a general engagement, but were in two hevy skirmishes, we were also uder the fire of there artilery all the time, Lieut. Bisy [Lt. A.J. Bucey] and Jef Gillum [Lt. T.J. Gilliam] were killed by a shell, I hope that we have faught our last battle. It was reported that Gen Wheeler and his cavary took five transports boats on the cumberlan river, and distroyed five cars on the Murfreesborrow and Nashville railroad two days since, I must close  we are all well, Capt Lacy is well and I know he would like to hear from you, give my love to relation and inquiring friends, write the first opportunity and tell Emma Sarah, I remain you cousin   excuse misstakes       W R Lacy  


Letter – Isaac Jones, 4 December 1862

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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.


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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

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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

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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

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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.   

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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 – Isaac Jones, 10 July 1862

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Letter written by Private Isaac B. Jones of Company C, 3rd Battalion, 18th U.S. Infantry, to his cousin Helen Sofield, from a camp near Iuka, MS. He details his regiment’s movements, including their stay in Columbus, KY. Though he describes the camp as being well situated, many men have gotten sick with the Mississippi River as their only water supply. The Confederate pickets are now within shooting distance, and a few of their men had been shot from a barn near camp. The regiment will be building a heavy entrenchment around the camp. Jones inquires after his wife, and explains some of their recent marital difficulties that have been exacerbated by his wife’s family. Jones writes he will come home “honored and respected” or not at all.


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Camp near I-u-Ka July 10th/62

Dear Cousin:

     Thinking that perhaps you would like to hear from me and know of my whereabouts, etc. I will take this opportunity of writing to you. I received a letter from my wife about two months ago. She said that she had received a letter from you and you wished to know my address. I would have written to you sooner, but it was impossible for me to get a stamp, and can’t even here for love or money. I have finally concluded to write at your expense. I need not mention that I don’t think you will complain. I enlisted in a volunteer light artillery company the 10th of last October. On the 7th of March our company was discharged on account of the government not wanting any more volunteer artillery. I then re-enlisted the next day in the 18th U.S. Infantry. I don’t like the regular service so well as the volunteers; we cant

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have half so many privileges. The regulars are exceedingly strict. The army regulations has to be carried out to the very letter. And you know the military law is the most t[y]ranical thing on earth. I left Harrisburg, Pa. and went to Camp Thomas about 3 miles from Columbus, Ohio, where we stayed a little over two months instructing our men. From there we went to Columbus, Ky., and encamped right across the river from where the battle of Belmont was fought. The Rebels evacuated the camp we were at a short time before we went there. It is a splendid situation for a camp, laying very high on the east bank of the river. But I think it was one of the most sickly camps that I ever was in. I am well satisfied that if we would have stayed much longer there that very nearly the whole of our detachment would have been in the hospital. The greatest trouble we had there was on the account of water.

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We could not get a drop to drink except that that was hauled out of the Mississippi, and it would stand from morning till night. The Secesh before they evacuated that camp worked hard three nights and days sinking and destroying their pieces, torpedoes, etc. But since then we recovered some very valuable artillery pieces. We have any amount of ammunition at that camp of every kind. We left there the later part of June [1862] & came through Tennessee and this far in Mississippi. Tenn. & Ky. Are the greatest places for fruit ever I seen. There is a great abundance of most every kind. The country is very thinly settled, and as a general thing, heavy timbered. The buildings are very poor with but a few exceptions. I like this camp better than any we have been at yet. The Iuka Springs are close to camp, where there is three kinds of water running, each separately, viz

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sulphur, alum, and iron. And there is a number of springs of very good water besides. We are expected to get into an action almost every hour. The enemy’s pickets & ours are now within shooting distance. The night of the 3rd of this month our men carried two soldiers in camp a little after night. One was shot three times, and the other was so badly wounded that he died in the morning. They were shot from a barn a short distance from camp. There was a few men sent out in my charge. We went and burnt his barn down, also his house and brought the gentleman into camp. Just a few days before that, one of their guerrilla bands killed 3 of our privates and wounded a capt. so badly that I think he will never recover. The force of the enemy exceeds ours about 4 or 5 to our one. But we will have the advantage of them. We are throwing heavy entrenchments around the camp, and also in Iuka.

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     Humboldt in Tenn. is a very nice place and so is Jackson. I think that Jackson can boast of the prettiest dooryards in the U.S. They are at least by far the nicest I ever seen. Corinth is not a very nice place. There are some very good buildings in the place, but everything is upside down and torn to pieces. We had to march from Corinth to this place, and carry heavy knapsacks. It was a very hard trip. Quite a number fell out by the way with fatigue and a few was sunstruck. One of our sergts. fell out and we had a hard time to bring him to his senses. However, we got here safe. As well as I like to move from place to place and render myself useful to my country, I would feel well satisfied if we could stay her a few months. For I am almost worried out. But I

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expect we will soon have to go on into the state of Alabama. We are now only sixty miles from the line. Please tell me in your answer to this, whether my wife answered you or not. If she has, I suppose she will endeavor to screen the conduct of her relatives and self as much as possible. However, I hope I may at some future time see you, and plead my own case. I think it would require but very few facts to be made known to you to satisfy you that I have pursued the right course,at least after I left Williamsport. I won’t cast a reproachful word towards her, for I know she has been misled by that contemptible Updegraff faction; and I will never rest until I have my revenge. That I will have, if it sends my soul to eternal torture. You may think that this is rash talk, but I have a good reason for it, and the more I -Page 7-

think of it the more determined I feel to carry out my designs. I received a letter from Lucy [wife] while I was in the State of Ohio, stating that she would be glad to live with me any place, west or south that I might think best. That will do very well that far, but she must also forsake entirely certain ones of her relations, or we had better always stay apart. For just so sure as they ever would interfere with our domestic concerns again, I know it would be the means of making me guilty of some great crime. It requires all the energy I have to keep hands off as it is. I came away as much for that as anything else, and I though my grief would not be so great by being a distance away, but I find I can’t help loving my wife; I would gladly sacrifice my life if it would make her happy. I know she is far from being happy where she is. I intend to come [home] honored and respected. If I can’t do that

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I will never show my face in my native state. Recollect, cousin, I don’t pretend to try to make you think that I have done as I should. I know I have not, and have acknowledged that fact hundreds of times, and have felt truly sorry. But I have found to my sorrow that repentance and acknowledgments will do no good with their stony hearts. I will close for the present. Give my love to Alfred and those dear children of yours. From your affectionate but unworthy cousin,

                                     Isaac B. Jones

P.S. An answer to this would be gratefully received. If you will be so kind as to write, do so immediately, or perhaps I will not get it, as we expect to move before long.

                                         Isaac

Direct thus:

            Co. C, 3rd Batt.

            18th U.S. Infty.       Iuka,

           Care of Capt. Knight    Mississippi

           

excuse this dirty paper


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.