1862: John Tiffany to Parents

Patriotic Stationery on Tiffany’s Letter (1862)

This letter was written by John Tiffany (1842-1862), the eldest son of Eli Tiffany (1818-Aft1880) and Mary Turner (1820-Aft1880) of West Yorkshire, England. The Tiffany family emigrated to the United States in June 1848, arriving in New York aboard the ship Queen. In the 1850 U.S. Census, they were enumerated in Chemung, McHenry County, Illinois. Ten years later they were enumerated in Irving, Jackson County, Wisconsin. In the 1860, Census, John was enumerated in Melrose, Jackson County, Wisconsin, working as a 19 year-old farm laborer in the Cadwell household.

On 7 September 1861, John enlisted in Co. G, 10th Wisconsin Infantry. He was killed in action on 8 October 1862 at Chaplin Hills (better known at the Battle of Perryville), Kentucky. He has a grave marker in Melrose Cemetery, Melrose, Wisconsin. His inscription claims that he was 21 years, 7 months, and 3 days old when he was killed.

The Tenth Wisconsin Infantry was organized at Camp Holton, Milwaukee, WI, and mustered into the service of the United States on October 14, 1861. It left the state November 9, and arrived at Louisville, KY, November 11, where it was sent to guard the line of the Louisville & Nashville Railway. The Tenth engaged in this service until February 1862, when the regiment participated in the general southern movement of the Union forces which reached south as far as Huntsville, AL. Shortly thereafter Union forces were compelled to retrace their steps north through Middle Tennessee and Kentucky until the Battle of Perryville on 8 October 1862, in which the Tenth was engaged from mid-morning until nightfall. When their ammunition ran out, they replenished it by lifting the cartridge boxes off the dead and wounded. For young John Tiffany, it would be his first — and last battle.


Nashville, Tennessee
February 25, 1862

Dear Parents,

I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that I have received no letter from you since just before I left Bacon Creek [Kentucky] on account the mail not being able to cross the river that the rebels burnt the bridge. But write often and I think they will come soon. The boys are about as well as usual — what there is — but they drop off on the sick list one after another. We left J[ohn] M. Williams at Bacon Creek, L[eland] Amidon at Green River, Enos Douglas,  J[ohn] Brewer, George Amidon ¹ at Bowling Green, besides quite a number that you don’t know.

We left Bowling Green the 22nd and made a forced march of 15 miles in 5 hours through rain and water as fast as it could pour down which accounts for my paper looking so like the old tick that laid aside. Two or three more of our boys we got into a house when we got there. The next day we marched again and started for Nashville. We crossed the state line on Sunday and got into the state of good old Tennessee. We are encamped within five miles of Nashville now. We arrived here this morning after a forced march of ten miles starting at 3 o’clock A.M.

We got to the general’s quarters and he told us that we had come without orders. Our colonel turned us around and marched us back a couple of miles to a good camping ground and we are here and I don’t know when we shall leave. The bridge is burnt so that there is no chance to get into Nashville over the river but the rebels have all left this side. The boys was stopped at a depot as we came down and they began as usual to rummage around and see what they could find and they found about 10 bushels of mail that had been stopped & mostly papers and one Ohio boy got a box of five shirts.

My feet are sore with traveling and so are most of the boys but we will settle with Jeff for this if we ever catch him.

26th — I was on guard yesterday and am going to try to send it out today if I can. They are ploughing here now and the birds sing but we have considerable rain. Write soon. We talk of marching today. Goodbye. — John Tiffany

¹ George Amidon died at Nashville on 19 March 1862.


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