These two letters were written by Pvt. Francis M. Faurot (1835-1897) of Co. E, 16th Indiana Infantry. Francis was the son of John Holliday Faurot (1802-1891) and Jane Chance (1807-1888) of Laurel, Franklin county, Indiana. He wrote the letter to Mary Esther Pruden (1840-1885) whom he married on 1 September 1863 in Franklin county, Indiana. In 1870, Francis and Mary resided in Rush county, Indiana, where he worked as a farmer. In 1880, Francis and Mary resided in Greenfield, Hancock county, Indiana, where he worked as a “street contractor.” Francis and Mary are both buried in Park Cemetery in Greenfield.
Francis mustered into the 16th Indiana Regiment on 23 April 1861 and mustered out on 23 May 1862. This regiment was organized for state service at Richmond in May, 1861 and mustered in on July 23. It left the state the same day, being the first regiment to pass through Baltimore after the firing upon the 6th Mass. in April. It was assigned to Banks’ army and stationed in Pleasant Valley. It was attached to Abercrombie’s brigade and in August moved to Hyattstown. It left there for Ball’s bluff on Oct. 20, reaching there the following morning and went into line of battle, taking part in the engagement that followed, and was detailed to cover the retreat on the 22d, being the last to cross the river. On Dec. 2 it moved to Frederick City, then to Harper’s Ferry, and later to Winchester. It built a bridge across the Shenandoah at Snicker’s ferry, and was in various movements until Warrenton was reached in April, 1862. Col. Hackleman was commissioned a brigadier-general on April 30. The regiment was mustered out at Washington May 14, 1862
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
November 18th 1861
Once more I seat myself to write in answer to yours which I received late last evening. Well, Mary, to commence with, we are all heels and head preparing our little mansions so as to make us comfortable whilst sleeping. I will give you an idea of our plan in fixing our tents. We first cut logs and carry them up. We then go to work and build a pen about 4 feet hight with these logs — just large enough so that our tents will cover them. Then we commence on the inside and dig in the ground 2 or 3 feet or any depth we please. Then our heads is about as high as the top of our pen when we are standing up. Now we have a fireplace to build. We go to work and cut a hole in the bank the size we want our fireplace, then build a chimney with sod. Now we want some place to sleep. We go to work and split from the timber what we call puncheons. It answers in the place of plank. We get them long enough so they will reach from one side of our pen to the other and fasten them between the logs about 3 feet from the bottom of our pit. We then cover it with straw. That is our bed. It is the most comfortable situation that we have had whilst soldiering. We know not what hour we will leave here. Rather than stay in our tents as they were, we thought it would look more like living to get to work and make ourselves as comfortable as possible and run the risk in leaving it. We have no shurity of staying here any length of time. We went to work and prepared our quarters comfortable without any orders so we will have to run the risk in leaving them.
Mary, you wanted me to give you a description of the country where we now are, our clothing, and so on. Our clothing is sufficiently warm for this time in the season. Our blankets is rather thin to keep us warm whilst sleeping, or was when we were in our tents. Now we consider ourselves in a comfortable situation.
We are encamped in a pine grove about 3 miles from the Potomac river. The country around us is hilly and very poor. The place we are now encamped has once been a cultivated field but is now thrown out to the commons, worn out, and grown up in evergreen. It looks very pleasant or would if they were in Indiana. There is so much of that kind of shrubbery here, it has become a common thing, so we pass it unnoticed.
I suppose you have heard of our advance across the river in Virginia so it would be unnecessary for me to give an account of it. Making a long story short, we had a hard time whilst we were across the river. We suffered with cold, hunger, and loss of sleep. I suppose you have heard all about it so I will leave that subject. ¹
You wanted to know something about the weather. So far it has been tolerable favorable. We sometimes have a day or two raining which makes it disagreeable. It has happened that every time we have made a move, it was sure to rain. Then it is miserable marching and sleeping in wet clothes upon the wet ground.
You spoke in your letter something about what I had written to you concerning religion. It appears as though I hurt your feelings. If I did, Mary, I did not mean it in the least. I cannot express myself here as I would wish because there is so much confusion all the time and I have such an inconvenient way of writing so I have a poor way of arguing the point on any subject. I see, Mary, that you and I will differ on religion that I will pass for the present. There was one thing I neglected when I wrote to you, Mary, and that was this. I ought to have returned you my thanks for your sympathy for me. I intended to do so and thought I had, but I reckon I did not. I hope it is not too late yet. If it is not, I return my most sincere thanks and hoping your prayers may be heard and accepted. What I meant by hypocrite was a person that professes to have religion when they really have not. I think a person that professes religion should never do wrong. If they do wrong, what is the path of righteousness for?
Well, Mary, I am about to get into an argument so I will leave that subject. The reason I said your prayers would not be heard was because you thought you done so wrong in going to Hildrith’s party when it was against your will. I was only joking when I said it. So Mary, you may make yourself easy about that. I hope you will not be justifiable in taking to yourself what I said about a hypocrite. (I hope you are not.)
Another thing you spoke of you appear to think that I am corresponding with Sallie Roberts. I am not, most assuredly. I never have heard from her since I was in Camp Wayne. That you was aware of. When I was at home, we were talking about it. I received it unexpectedly and it was the last I have heard from her. It appears strange to me, Mary, that you make such enquiries. I really don’t know what you mean by so doing. Enough on that subject.
The 7th of this month, [Joel] Palmer Coffee ² was shot about three o’clock P.M. It was a sorrowful afternoon to me to think he should lose his life in that kind of manner. He was on guard at the time of his death. The way it happened was Palmer and the sentinel next to him were going through some bayonet exercises and his opponent’s gun accidentally went off and killed Palmer almost instantly. I think he lived about 30 minutes but he was senseless. He was carried to the hospital and there he died. We had him fixed nicely in a military suit and wrapped him in our silk flag that we brought from Indiana and put him in a respectable coffin and expressed him home. Our company has entered into an arrangement to send any of the company home should they die in camp or get killed in battle if there is not so many we can’t.
You requested me to have my body sent home should I fall victim. That has always been my calculations. The arrangement that is now made is sufficient. They are calling the roll so I will finish tomorrow. Goodnight dear Mary.
19th — As I had to quit writing last evening in a hurry, I will finish this morning. Yesterday we had Grand Review. The whole brigade was present. They all met about one mile and half from our camp and our arms were inspected by our Brigadier General. After being thoroughly inspected, we marched back to our quarters. When we returned, we found the paymaster in our camp. He will commence paying today. The boys are all in a good humor and talking of nothing but the money they are going to get. They will all live well whilst their money lasts.. When they have it all spent, then [ ] bacon and crackers is their only resort.
As I have no more news of importance, I will quit for the present. I have been looking over my writing. I find some miserable blunders, blotches, and poor spelling. I hope you will overlook them all — or as many as you can conveniently. Give Lina my best wishes. Tell her she must not fall too deeply in love with the new school teacher. Tell Gina to drop me a few lines if she has any spare moments. Please don’t delay writing yourself as long as you did before. I had come to the conclusion that you had quit writing. No more this time. (Write soon) From your sincere friend, — F. M. Faurot
To Miss Mary E. Pruden
¹ A reference to the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in late October 1861.
² Joel Palmer Coffee (1842-1861) was the nephew of Joel Palmer (1810-1881).
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Camp Hicks near Frederick City, Maryland
January 11th 1862
Your welcome letter of the 1st came to hand. The pleasure it gave. I have been looking for a letter mail after mail but none came until this evening. Mary, why don’t you write sooner after receiving my letters? The time seems so long. It has been almost one month since I received a letter from you. I had almost come to the conclusion that some Home Guard had attracted your attention so that you need not send your letters so far. I must confess my thoughts were wrong. Your thrice welcome letter came at last.
Well Mary, this is my cook day. Oh the trouble I have this day. First thing this morning was to get up and walk nearly ½ mile through the mud to get a bucket of water. When I got nearly to camp, I stubbed my toe and fell down in the mud and upset the bucket of water. I then had to go back to the spring again. After an absence of about one hour, I returned back to camp again. I found the boys almost disgusted at me for staying so long. The question was asked [of] me: “Why did you stay so long?” I made no reply but told them to just stand around if they wanted any breakfast. It was a breakfast that was relished by all — not because it was so nicely gotten up, but because it was so long coming. That spring I have visited twice since and cooked two more meals besides breakfast. Oh dear, how tired I am. Do you not pity me, Mary? Once every six days I have to cook as we have 6 in our mess and cook day about — enough on that subject.
I am so surprised to hear of the weddings you spoke of in your last letter. Is it possible Francis is married? Well, well, well. I must leave that subject.
A few days ago to my great surprise I received a letter from an old friend — Minervia Power. I answered it immediately. She spoke highly of the party at Andersonville. I suppose the boys at Camp Bush are in the height of glory. I suppose the kind of soldiering they have is very comfortable as there is no long marches attached. I reckon they never think of reaching an enemy’s soil. My opinion is they never will leave the county as it will be impossible to fill the regiment — it has been so long formed and not yet full. From what I can hear, they are drinking and acting the soldier in the most horrible manner. Should that be the case, it would be better if they had stayed at home. Should they be discharged, they can have it said when they get old that they was once a soldier. Oh, how they can boast of their adventures in the War of 1861. Enough on that subject.
I am surprised to hear of Phebe taking her leave of the State of Indiana and fleeing to the state of matrimony and Illinois. I suppose she will become a resident of both the latter names states. All that I can do for all of them folks that would get married is wishing them well. I hope you have a nice time going to school. Oh that I were a school boy once more. It almost brings tears to my eyes to reflect back on the gone by days that I spent at school and then think of my present situation — the pleasant hours that have passed whilst at school — [but] it is no use lamenting — they cannot be recalled. The only consolation I have is to look forward to the time that may find me seated at a happy home, protected by a good government. That time, I fear, is far distant. I may never live to witness it. A faint hope is all I have. So far we have gained no victory worthy of notice. On the other hand, the rebels can boast of their success at different times.
We have been expecting a forward move by our division to form a junction with Rosecrans near Charlestown, Va. We still remain in camp. I do not know how long we may stay. Last week we were expecting to march out and camp in the snow. We were ordered to have two days rations cooked and be ready to march at any moment. Now the weather has become warm [and] the snow all disappearing, the rain falling, and things are all quiet in camp. There is no telling how long it mat remain so. The idea of our marching out in such disagreeable weather almost makes us shudder. Exposure would kill more than the rebels would with their masked batteries which they have waiting for us. We get horrible news from the troops in Kentucky. They are dying off daily from exposure. The Army of the Potomac is blessed with good health — that is a great object with a soldier — good health and plenty to eat.
It is now raining very hard. The poor guards have to suffer tonight. I have been in their situation so often that I know how to appreciate their feelings. I have often stood guard when it was raining and so dark that it was impossible to see a distance of three paces. Guard is the most disagreeable task we have to perform in camp. It is getting so late I am now burning a light contrary to orders. For fear of the consequence, I will postpone writing until tomorrow. Goodnight, dear Mary.
Sunday morning 12th. — This morning finds us in good health. Our mess were all represented at the table. So you know they are all accounted for. As to Charlie’s whereabouts, I must confess I have neglected speaking about him in my letters. The reason is he is driving team and I am seldom with him so in writing, I don’t think to speak about him. Once in awhile, Charlie comes up to our cabin and spends the evening. We frequently speak of our old friends that is far off. That is all we can do. Soon as I see Charlie, I will give him your love. I know it will be very acceptable.
From all appearances John Rees is getting some very interesting letters from Amanda Kyger. He appears to be highly gratified with the correspondent. I understood he had written to her that he was promoted to corporal. Well, he is corporal fifth or sixth. He reason he became corporal was because nobody else would accept it. Corporals here are considered the lowest class of soldiers. Their duty is to take the relief guards around and as the sentinels cannot leave their posts, the corporal’s place is to wait on them. So there is but few in each company that will accept it. John was one of them that considered it an honor worthy of note. Likewise, he noted it in his letter. It reminds me of a little notice I seen in a newspaper. It was as follows: Some private — as luck would have it — became corporal. He was so pleased with the promotion that he sat down and wrote to his intended informing her of his promotion. Her reply was, “Dear John, do be merciful on the poor privates.” It has become a byword in camp — dear John, be merciful on the poor privates. The corporals have but little peace — it has become a burlesque more than an honor. Enough on that subject.
You speak of Lambert volunteering in Rose’s Company. What part of soldier’s life can he perform? I am surprised at him for thinking of going. I got a letter from him some time ago. He said he intended to go but I thought he was jesting. As I have no more of importance to write, I will come to a close. I will enclose a leaf of pine from a tree that grew on sugar loaf mountain according to your wish. It was brought here in one of the wagons. You see I must quit for the want of space. I will anxiously look for a letter from Lina. Give all respects to all the family. Please write soon.
From your sincere friend, — F. M. Faurot
Charles has just come in. He sends his love.
Direct your letters as follows. F. M. Faurot, Co. E, 16th Regt. Ind. Vols., Frederick City, Md. — not by the way of Washington D. C.
N. B. This will pay for that blank page sent you before. There is 2 pages in one.