This letter was written by Ephraim Bender (1835-1898), a sergeant in Company K, 100th Pennsylvania Infantry (a.k.a. “The Roundheads”). He was the son of David Bender (1811-1894) and Mary Rhodes (1810-1868) of North Beaver, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. George’s siblings included George (1837-1898), Elizabeth (b. 1839), Jefferson (b. 1841), Jackson (b. 1845) and Dallas (b. 1847).
Ephraim was wounded at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run on 29 August 1862. Regimental records state that he was wounded in the left foot. He was discharged for his wounds with the rank of orderly sergeant in March 1863. After the war, Ephraim moved to Trumbull County, Ohio, where he kept a saloon in Weathersfield.
In the letter, Ephraim mentions his brother George Bender who was a private in Battery B, 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery. George was also wounded at Second Bull Run and almost had a leg amputated. While recovering in the hospital, he was accidentally poisoned by hospital staff and nearly died.
See also — 1861: George Bender to Jackson Bender
Addressed to Mr. Jackson Bender, Cross Cut P.O., Mahonington, Lawrence Co., Pennsylvania
Camp Stevens [Beaufort, S. C.]
Jan. 18, 1862
I received your welcome letter on the 17th & was very glad to hear from you all. I got three letters in the mail. Got one from Aunt Betsy in the same mail. There hain’t been any change here since I wrote the last letter. Still I will try to write you a few lines. You say that George says they are fat, ragged, and dirty. We can beat that. We are fat, ragged, dirty, & lousy. Still we have got pretty good clothes and plenty to eat — such as it is. We have got fresh beef three times a week — that is, three days a week. Then we let filch the rest of the week. The niggers fetch in lots of corn bread and do all our washing for five cents a piece. That is better than doing it ourselves. There is plenty of niggers here — some six feet high & some not bigger than a rat — all sizes. We are living in a nigger house. It ain’t very large — one story high, eight by ten, with the chimney on the outside of the house. The house is blacker in the inside than your smoke house is. Still we think it is pretty good here. Still it don’t make much difference here for the weather is warm/ We can lay our most anyplace and don’t mind it. Still we don’t like to do it when we can help it. We can’t tell when we will leave here.
There was a regiment of cavalry came here last night. They will be great help to us. They will do all the scouting. That will save us from doing it & that is the most dangerous work we have. That was what we wanted when we went over the [Coosaw] River once. We had to do everything afoot. Back they had plenty of cavalry. But when we got our twelve hundred over the river once, they will do something, I think. If they don’t, they had better stay at home.
If you was here awhile, you might shoot some squirrels and rabbits. I went out the other day and found two on a little tree. I shot several shots at them [but] didn’t hit any of them. They don’t allow us to shoot. They think we are too close to the Rebels. That is the way we tell when there is an alarm — by the firing of the guns. If there is a gunshot in the night, it wakes the camp up — particularly when it is toward the enemy. There is plenty of rabbits. I went out the other night. I guess I saw a dozen rabbits. Still we dare not shoot them. If we do, we are liable to be court martialed and that won’t do very well here. Plenty of coons [too, but] we cant hunt them neither. The niggers say we could catch plenty of them but they are afraid of our pickets. They can’t go far till thy come to some pickets. Then they are stopped. They can’t travel without a pass from some of our officers. They would run all over the country if they could and carry the news to every person that would ask them. They tell all they know and a little more sometimes.
The Rebels left several horses here. Some of them ain’t much bigger than a good sized sheep. When you are on them, you can almost touch the ground. They are the Devil to go and you may think they get the chance to go here for when any person goes anyplace, he goes on a full run till he gets back — don’t make any difference. He belongs to Uncle Sam [and] that is the way they use them.
You don’t say anything about Aunt Margaret & Grandmother –how they are getting along.
I am bothered a good deal while I am writing. Some of the boys are putting in a back log & some of them are frying mush and the rest reading the papers that the mail brought last night, some smoking, some cleaning their guns. The reasonI write all this is because I have nearly run out of news.
The rebels came over to our side yesterday with a flag of truce to get [the] privilege to send some clothes to their prisoners that we have got in Beaufort. They were taken from them and sent down to them and a letter to our general. We don’t know what was in the letter. They was very pleasant to our fellows. Still I don’t like the idea of them coming over here anyhow.
Now I will close for the present. Now don’t forget to write soon. George McKinley is well and as fat as a pig. Alexander Garden is well again and is on duty again. William Garden is gassing [?] away as much as ever. Tell Henry Rhodes that I wrote to him and if he don’t get it, tell him to write anyhow and send me all the news. My best respects to you all.
No more at present, but remain your brother, — Ephraim Bender