This letter was written by Horatio Dye (1842-1927), the son of William Dye (1807-1889) and Nancy Meeks (1808-1844) of Miami county, Ohio. In August 1862, Horatio Dye enlisted in Co. B, 87th Indiana Volunteer Infantry and served with that regiment until discharged at Madison, Indiana, in May 1865. While he was home on a furlough, he married Nancy Jane Thompson (1844-1937) on 24 March 1864. After the war, Horatio and his wife farmed and raised their family in Van Buren, Pulaski county, Indiana.
A startling fact revealed in this letter is the contention by Pvt. Dye that the inmates of the General Hospital at Madison, Indiana, were suffering from insufficient rations even though he believed they had been supplied to the hospital. He hints that the officers knew something of its disappearance.
[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Richard Weiner and is published by express consent.]
Addressed to Miss Nancy J. Dye, Star City, Pulaski county, Indiana
December 13, 1864
With much pleasure and respect to you I take this opportunity to write you a few lines to let you know that I am yet alive and on the land of the living. My health is tolerable good and my appetite is very good for our rations is very short. It is not because it hain’t here for us but I think some of the officers knows where it goes to and why it is so. But I can stand it if the rest can. But I would not mind all my starving and all my suffering if I could get some money for you or help you to what you need for to make you comfortable for my friends and neighbors will look upon me as though I did not try to help you any and I think if my friends has any respect for me, they will see that you do not want for anything. If I can get my pay, I will not ask nor expect much of them. I am very sorry if you are suffering for want of anything and I can’t help you and the friends and neighbors won’t help you.
I am very sorry that you have hurt your back. I think father might get you shoes and a little money too if he would try a little. I wrote you a letter from here on the first of the month and I have got no answer yet. I received one from you dated December 1st directed to Louisville. I got it yesterday and I felt very bad and lonely after I read it to think that you was in want. But my dear one, I hope this may find you in better health and not wanting for anything and perfectly satisfied. You must try and keep up courage and not get down-hearted, but I know it is hard for you to live so.
I will now close for the present, giving you my love and best respects forever. Direct to Madison General U. S. A. Hospital, ¹ Section 5, Ward 4, Bed 27.
— Horatio Dye [to] Nancy J. Dye
The weather is cold and some snow. — Horatio Dye
¹ The Madison Military Hospital was a Volunteers Hospital, located in Madison, IN. It was the fourth largest military hospital in the nation with 2,430 beds. Major Gabriel Grant (1826-1912) was in charge of its operation.
These three letters capture the details of engagements and troops movements by the 111th Illinois in May and June 1864 while participating in the Atlanta Campaign. The letters were penned by Sgt. Robert Gibson Ardrey (spelled Ardry in military records) of Co. B, 111th Illinois. Descriptions of his unit’s hard fought actions at Resaca, Dallas, and Kennesaw Mountain are included.
Robert Gibson Ardrey (1834-1922)—a 27 year-old farmer from Lively Grove, Washington county, Illinois—mustered into the 111th Illinois as a sergeant in September 1862. According to his enlistment records, he stood 5’7″ tall and had sandy hair and blue eyes. He gave his birth place as [Norwich] Muckingum county, Ohio. His parents were William Ardrey (1809-1893) and Elizabeth McClurkin (1810-Aft1850). The brother to whom he wrote one of these three letters was Thomas S. Artry (1840-1918).
[Note: These letters are from the personal collection of Richard Weiner and are published by express consent.]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
May 22, 1864
Dear Father, Mother & all the rest,
We are still here at this place but expect to resume the chase tomorrow. We are about 45 miles south of Dalton. I should [think] 75 from Chattanooga. It is yet 50 to Atlanta. The supplies in the wagons gave out here & it was deemed necessary to stop two or three days that they might be brought up on the railroad. There is now trains coming in from Chattanooga almost every hour of the day. I wrote you a few lines when we first got here. I told you of our fight. We struck south from Chattanooga & left Dalton to the east & took possession of a gap [Snake Creek Gap] in the mountains near Resaca on the railroad. This expedition was under command of McPherson & John A. Logan & the object was to flank the rebs & either compel them to retreat or else cut the railroad & make them surrender.
Skirmishing commenced on the 9th. This day Gen. Thomas was to commence the fight in front of Dalton & we were to commence on the rear. We had to stop back 5 miles of Resaca & it took till the 13th to work up close to the reb fort. At 4 o’clock P. M. of the 13th, we got within 1¼ miles of the fort & in plain view of the place. The rebs had three trains of cars there which they ran south. One of our batteries took position & fired several rounds at the locomotives but did not hit them. The rebs had a large body of sharpshooters that lay behind logs & in the brush who made it rather unhealthy for our artillery men. They had to be drove off & for this purpose Co’s A, B, C, & G of the 111th were ordered to charge them. They lay in a hollow & to charge them we had to run down a hill which was cleared off with the exception of here & there an old stump. Well at 5 [P. M.] we charged. As we ran down the hill, they poured in a volley of shot that was terrific. Six of our men were killed before they got to the foot of the hill & 10 wounded. Two of Co. B are dead. S[amuel] T. Walker, nephew of the captain, was killed on the spot. E[phraim] Furby was mortally & died the next day. D[avid] Wilson had a thumb shot off & D. C. Seawall received a flesh wound in the arm. One or two others were struck with spent balls but were not hurt much. ¹
We drove them back & took their position. They were now so far off that they could not hurt our artillery men. We held our ground & kept up a continual fire till after dark. I shot 38 rounds. I do not know whether I killed any or not but I know they kept pretty close behind logs & trees after we got at them. The next day we took some of the same chaps prisoners. They said we made the best shooting they ever seen & wanted to know what kind of guns we had.
On the 14th at sundown, a general charge was made on them in order to gain the other side of the hollow. The remaining 6 companies of our regiment were in it. The first of our companies were left to support the batteries. It was a hard fight & lasted till after 9 o’clock at night but the rebs were beaten & we held the hill. That night the troops made three lines of breastworks.
The next day—Sabbath—we lay in the trenches all day waiting for the rebs to charge on us but they did not try it. That night they evacuated [Resaca] & fled south burning the railroad bridge over the Poosa [Oostanaula] river. Monday morning at 8 we marched into their works. They left many of their dead on the field & quite a number of cannon. The army was then started in pursuit. Johnson tried to make a fight at Calhoun & at Adair, but Gen. Thomas flaxed him good & sent him skiving. — R. S. Arbry
¹ Sgt. Artry is describing the Battle of Resaca. During this part of the battle, four companies of the 111th Illinois were engaged in taking the ridge overlooking the town of Resaca and, in the evening of the 14th May, to drive the rebels from their fortifications near a small stream at the foot of the ridge and push them over the hill beyond it. During this part of the fight, the four companies lost seven killed and 28 wounded.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Big Shanty, Georgia
June 12, 1864
Mr. T. S. Artry
At last I will try and answer your letter which I received some time ago. I am still well for which I should be thankful. The rest of the boys are well also. Since I last wrote home, we have been in another battle. We were under fire 4 days & 5 nights near Dallas & strange to tell, none of Co. B were hurt although we were on the skirmish line 24 hours & the rest of the time were in the first line of works.
We came on the rebs on the 16 of May & formed in line of battle while the rebs bullets were whistling around us. We formed three lines deep—that is, one line about 100 yards to rear of the one before it. That night we dug ditches. On the evening of the 28th, the rebs made a charge all along our lines but were badly repulsed with a loss it was estimated at 2500, prisoners included—very few of them. ¹ But when I think if it, I told this in my last letter.
Well, on the night of June 2d, the rebs fell back & we started the next day for the railroad. Got to Acworth on the 4th & lay there till the 9th. It is said Sherman is in no hurry. He does not want to take Atlanta till after Grant gets Richmond. This is to keep Johnson from going to Richmond.
On the 9th we started again. Marched 6 miles & came on reb skirmishers. They were about 2 miles in front of their main force. They have made a stand on what is called the Lost Hills. Their last stand was made on the Altoona Mountains. Our division is left back as reserve. Fighting has been going on most of the time since we came here between skirmishers. Yesterday the train came up. The locomotive was run out to the skirmish line & done some tall whistling at the rebs. I expect it made them mad to think that they burnt all the bridges & that we built hem up so quick & brought the cars along with us. This was done to bore & taunt them. But enough of this.
Yesterday & today it has been raining heavy. This does not stop skirmishing. The rebs say that the reason that they had to fall back was we did not fight them fair. Sherman always flanked them & fought them on the end (as they say). They say there is no danger of Sherman going to Hell for he will outflank the Devil & go to Heaven.² But enough of this.
In my last I told you that our lines extended from Marietta to Dallas but this was a mistake. It should have been Ackworth. Marietta is still in reb hands.
I wish you would send me a sheet of paper & envelope when you write to me as I lost all mine & there is none to buy. I have not heard from home since I left Kingston. Write soon & a long letter. I am stout & hearty. Have stood the tramp first rate. Give my love to all the rest. So goodbye. From your brother, — R. G. Ardry
¹ Sgt. Artry is describing the fighting near Dallas, Georgia, in which the rebels tried to break through the Union lines, the heart of the attack being on the Division in which the 111th Illinois belonged. The rebels came with fixed bayonets and advanced to the Union lines before being repulsed with heavy losses. In this engagement on the 28th of May, the 111th Illinois lost 5 killed and fifteen wounded though none, apparently, in Co. B. One of the wounded was Lt. Colonel J. F. Black.
² In this campaign, Sherman wrote the textbook on the principle of the flank. Said one rebel soldier on surrendering to the 103rd Illinois, “Sherman will never go to hell; he will flank the devil and make heaven in spite of the guards.” [Sherman and the Principle of the Flank by Stuart Rosenlatt, printed in the American Almanac, March 1997]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia
June 28, 1864
As we were in a heavy engagement yesterday (27th) & as I will have a chance to mail this today, I will write you a few lines that you may know that I am still safe & well although we were in the worst place yesterday that we have been in. Five of our company are wounded & are missing—Capt. [William H.] Walker seriously & perhaps mortally wounded. John Piper is shot through the right foot—not a very bad wound. The ball struck about inch back of his great toe & on the inside of his foot, cutting into the bone & perhaps fracturing it. The same ball struck G[eorge] Mearns on the back, inflicting a wound skin deep. [Lewis] Jack Land was struck [by a] spent ball on the neck. It did not cut the skin but bruised his wind pipe. He will be alright in a few days. James Rogers was struck in the ankle joint, the ball coming out through his heel. He will likely lose his foot [died on 29 August of wounds] & G[eorge] A. Cox is missing—supposed killed. Well, you will want to know what we we were doing. You will likely get it in the papers & a more full account sooner than you get this so I will not tell you much.
We charged on a reb fort on a hill. ¹ We had to drive the reb skirmishers near one mile through a dense brush before we came in view of the fort. Then there was a swamp or slough & for next 100 yards the timber & brush were piled down making an almost impenetrable barrier. This was all to cross under a dreadful fire & uphill at that. Well on we went, men dropping at every step. Our regiment was supporting the 55th so they were ahead of us. There was only places here and there that we could get through. Many of the men got to the breastwork but here another obstacle interposed it. It was sharp stakes set in so that a man could not get through. The lines did not all come up together & as our brigade was ahead, the rebs got a cross fire on us. Giles A. Smith seeing this, ordered us back. So we fell back 200 yards & went to digging ditches. We were soon burrowed in the ground enough to hold our position. We had a heavy line of skirmishers within 100 yards of the reb fort that lay behind logs & trees picking off every reb that showed his head. Most of our men were wounded while lying on their faces but enough. We were relieved last night after dark. Are now in the rear. Goodbye. — R. S. Ardry
¹ Sgt. Artry is describing the Union assault of the rebel entrenchments on the side of Little Kennesaw Mountain. This assault began at 8 o’clock A. M. on 27 June. The entire division in which the 111th Illinois belonged made the assault on the rebel works that were located well up the side of the mountain and heavily guarded by abattis. The works were not taken and the regiments losses were 1 killed [Capt. J. V. Andrews of Co. A] and 16 wounded. Sherman later wrote that this was the “hardest fight of the campaign.”
This letter was written by William A. Smith of Co. D, 116th Pennsylvania Infantry (fought with the Irish Brigade). The letter discusses the Battle of Falling Water (soon after Gettysburg, in which that unit was heavily involved) among other things. Even though the letter is not datelined, it most likely was written on July 15, 1863, since it is headed “near Harpers Ferry.” According to Mulholland’s history of the regiment, the 116th spent the night of 15 July 1863 there following Falling Water. William served as a private in Co. D, and later as a corporal in Co. A of the 116th Pennsylvania before being transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps.
I believe that William A. Smith was the son of John Matlock Smith (1809-1873) and Phebe M. Medenhall (1813-1900) of West Chester, Chester county, Pennsylvania. It is curious, however, that he was not enumerated in his parent’s household in the 1850 US Census.
There are several references to this soldier — including quotations from other letters — posted on the internet or published in books. In his book, Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac, (page 87), Lawrence Kreiser wrote that Pvt. William Smith — when he learned of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation — was quoted as writing, “To hell with the Niggers…I would shoot one quick as a wink if he gave me any sase.”
[Editor’s Note: This letter is from the collection of Richard Weiner and is published with express consent.]
Pleasant Valley, Md, near Harper’s Ferry
[15 July 1863]
Dear Father & Mother,
I thought I would write a few lines to let you know where I am. We have had a hard time of it since I wrote to you before. We have been chasin’ the johnnie rebs up and run them to Falling Waters and then captured about 2,000 prisoners and kill[ed] a good many of them. We have about 16 rebs of them that we are going to shoot for surrendering and waving a white flag and seeing that there was not many of them and then they run back and pick[ed] up their arms and shot our men down after they had surrendered. So they held a drumhead court martial and their sentence was to be shot.
We have had marching all the time — today 20 miles. And the day before the Battle of Gettysburg we marched 35 miles — and it is hard work. It is kill[ing] me up marching with the diarrhea so bad. It [is] keeping me running all the time and it makes [me] mighty weak. And it is as much as I can do to get along on the march. If they don’t stop pretty soon, I will have to give up the ship.
We have got orders to go ahead again tomorrow at 4 o’clock to Winchester [to] try to get ahead of Od Lee. If we had not marched so hard and so long, we could [have] got ahead of them in a day and got half of Lee’s army. They rushed them in the river with the point of the bayonet and drowned a great many of them in [ac]count of us running them so hard to get them across the river so that we could not get them. As it was, we took about 2,000 of them altogether. Our division took 4 or 500 of them. In their rush, one of the orderlies at the headquarters took 3 of them himself — so you can see which side it takes to capture one.
Well, it is getting late so I will have to stop writing. I seen Bill Dollings today and 2 others from West Chester. Asis Fittings and Gad Goule in the bands. I think it is Beck’s [Philadelphia Brass] Band and they are all well.
Here is an envelope with the stamp on that was taken from [a] rebel’s knapsack at the Battle of Falling Waters and a little cathrel [?] badge that I found on the Battlefield of Bulls Run. It was laying along a lot of human bones. I have got some things more to send home but there is no chance. I thought I would [have] got them sent home when I was in Pennsylvania but we got out of it in such a hurry there was no chance. And tomorrow morning we will have to cross the river in[to] Old Virginia again. I am sick and tired of that state.
So goodbye to you all for awhile and direct your letters [to] Headquarters, First Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac.
This letter was written by 38 year-old Nelson A. Daines (1824-1875), who enlisted as an artificer in Battery E, 1st New York Light Artillery in September 1861. In December 1863, Nelson re-enlisted and in June 1864 was transferred into Battery L. He remained with the unit until 17 June 1865 when he mustered out at Elmira, New York. According to his enlistment record, Nelson was born in Yates county, New York, and was a 42 year-old blacksmith when he entered the service in 1861. He had dark eyes, dark hair, a dark complexion, and stood 6 foot 2 inches.
Nelson’s service record indicates that he was present with his battery at the following engagements: Lee’s Mills, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, Seven Days, 2nd Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Thoroughfare Gap, Mine Run, Wilderness, Laurel Hill, Spottsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad. He claimed he “was never sick one hour” and that he never spent any time in a hospital unless it was “to look after sick & wounded boys.”
Nelson and his wife Rebecca were enumerated in Howard, Steuben county, New York in 1855 and 1860. He was buried in Bath, Steuben county, New York.
In this letter, Nelson informs his wife that he has survived the Seven Days Battles and relates an incident that occurred during the fighting at White Oak Swamp. He ends the letter by telling her he is going to send her home most of his pay reasoning, “If I get killed, I don’t want the rebs to get much of my money for I don’t like them. So they had better keep out of range of my bullets.”
Addressed to Mrs. Nelson Daines, Tolesville, Steuben county, New York
Postmarked Old Point Comfort, Virginia
July 18, 1862
My Dear Wife,
I write a few lines to you to let you know that I am well hoping you [are] the same. I received your letter dated July 11 & was glad to hear from you, You said you received my letter dated 21 & 22 [June]. I have written 2 or three letters since then. I wrote a long letter to Richard Tole. I wish you would let me know whether he got it or not. Tell him I wrote him one.
Everything is quiet here. The rebs has fell back some twelve or 14 miles. When we shall advance, I don’t know — probably not in some time. We are resting. The last fight we had was at White Oak Swamp. I will tell you what happened to me that I laughed about. I was by the side of the Battery wagon. There was some 50 cannon pouring the shell into us. I was standing under an apple tree. The shell came like hail. There was a heavy shell passed close by my side passed just the neck yoke of wheel & middle team. While I was looking at such close shots, there was a 20-pound shell came [and] struck about 2 foot above my head and cut almost every limb off & let them down on me. It was very full of apples. I laughed. But I soon dug out. I guess them apples was shook off to early.
But we give the rebs a severe tanning and then go on about our business. Our cavalry said the rebs in places would lay dead 40 & 50 on a rod and a half square. War is a big thing where it done up Brown.
I have been unwell but I took it to stink. but we are now out of [danger]. Before you receive this letter, I shall have some sixty dollars to send home for safe keeping. If I get killed, I don’t want the rebs to get much of my money for I don’t like them. So they had better keep out of range of my bullets.
This partial letter is unsigned so we don’t know the author’s identity but he tells us he served in Co. C, 124th Illinois Infantry. Company C was known as the “Springfield company” though it was partly raised in Jersey county, Illinois. “It contained 103 noble men, nearly all of whom were Good Templars, and was organized in Carpenter’s Hall, Springfield, August 25th.”
A roster of Co. C has been included below from the history of the regiment.
The letter contains an excellent description of the movements of the regiment from the time they left Camp Butler until their arrival outside Memphis, Tennessee, where this letter was datelined in February 1863.
From the letter we can surmise that the soldier’s parents lived in Illinois but the recipient of the letter — his Uncle — lived somewhere in “the East.”
February 17, 1863
Permit me the privilege of writing to you a few lines hoping not to intrude upon your patience or tine in reading this letter. But as I am far away in the South and you in the East, I suppose you would like to know how things are a moving down in this part of the world and what the western army is doing. I will try to inform you the best that I can. The division that I am in is about one mile back from the Mississippi river — at least our regiment is. We have been here for a bout 3 weeks expecting to get orders to move for Vicksburg almost any day. But there is quite an important business going on now — at least we think so for Uncle Sam is paying off his soldiers now at this point. We think that he did not come any too soon for our pocketbooks was getting the sweeney — as the boys call it — for we have not had any before since we went into the service. But we feel better since they have been filled again.
Well, we are not doing much just now in the way of fighting but expect to pitch in before long for everything looks very favorable for us to go to Vicksburg. The Rebels think they can whip us but they will have a chance to try it on for we are in a fighting division. I must tell you where we stand in military rank. It is the 17th Army Corps in General Grant’s army command by [James B.] McPherson. In the First Division command[ed] by John A. Logan and in the Third Brigade command[ed] by Colonel Hennie — acting Brigade Commander. Our regiment is the 124th Illinois Regiment of Infantry command[ed] by Thomas J. Sloan Co. I am in the collar company of the regiment. It is Company C, command[ed] by H. L. Field who is a very good man and is thought a great deal of both by the company and the colonel and the general also for he is a religious man and tries to do his whole duty. Our company is got the best reputation in the regiment for drill and promptness in the discharge of its duty.
I must tell you where we have run since we left home so if you wish, you can see our trip by looking on the map called the History of the War. We left Camp Butler the day that Father and Mother started for the East to make you a visit, then went to Columbus, Kentucky. From there we received orders to go to Jackson, Tennessee, where we laid about 6 weeks. Next went to Le Grange (Grand Junction) by the way of Bolivar. We laid there about 5 weeks, then our leader came for us to move south so off we went to the next place which was Holly Springs [arriving 30 November 1862], then west to Waterford. The next place was Abbieville. The next was Oxford where we was only about an hour before the time that we got in there the rebels left. So we went in hot pursuit of them but as night come on and as the roads was very muddy — so bad that our ammunition wagons could not keep up with us — so we had to stop then for 2 or 3 days for rations to come to us. Then orders came for another move so off we started. When we stopped, we found ourselves at the Yacona creek where we laid about 4 weeks. Then came orders for us to take the back track. Then if you had been there, you could have seen some long faces for some of the worst roads an army never passed over before, I don’t believe. For some of the way you could hardly pass along. But back we came through mud, water, rain, and darkness. We went some days as far as 28 miles in a day until we reached Grand Junction. Then we stopped for 2 days. Then our division was sent east to guard the Memphis & Corinth Railroad which we done for about 3 weeks. Then we had orders to start for Memphis. So off we started and passed through several little towns of not much note so now we find ourselves encamped near Memphis, Tennessee where we have been in camp for a little over 3 weeks and rained most of the time while we have been here.
I must tell you something of camp life. I will begin to tell you in the evening at 5 o’clock, our drums commence to beat. Then comes roll call. Then at 8 AM, at 12 & at 5 PM & at 8 o’clock in the evening and drill from 9 A.M. until 11 o’clock. Dress parade from 4 to 5 P.M. On the Sabbath we ought to have preaching but as out chaplain is not the man for the place, he has not preached more than 10 or 12 times since we left Camp Butler. That was about 6 months ago as it it seems but it is a little over 5 months. So we don’t hear the word of the Lord as much as a great many of us would like to hear for in Christ Jesus is our hopes, and if we put on the armor of faith and confidence, I believe we will come out right. Trusting that we are in the right cause, we look forward with eager eyes for the day to come and that soon too, for we think thee has rained blood enough, spilt already, and the Earth atoned with blood in enough places without continuing it any longer. But I don’t see that it is any closer to an end than it was 9 months ago. What is your opinion on it, Uncle? I would like to hear from you on this point.
I don’t know anything of interest or news at this time except what perhaps you have heard of before this for I expect and I know that my folks at home get news before we do unless it happens within our division. You must pardon me for writing so long length a letter for I expect you will get tired of reading it. Excuse bad writing for if you could see how we have to write, I think you would excuse this letter. Give my love to Jane folks and to Aunt and my cousins. I would like to hear from you if you can make it convenient for to write. I would like….
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).
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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.
The author of this fascinating letter may never be known. He signed his name “Jo” and addressed the letter to “My Dear Wife” but otherwise left very few clues to his identity. What can be gleaned from the letter is that his Union regiment was encamped in or near McClellan’s headquarters at Savage’s Station on 28 June 1862, the day following the Union defeat at Gaines’s Mill. They were then ordered to withdraw from Savage’s Station, burning whatever could not be transported — even abandoning wounded soldiers — to move their base to the James river. The movements of the regiment and the description of engagements with the enemy suggest that the soldier was in one of the regiments left to cover the retreat — most likely in Sumner’s II Corps.
In the second paragraph, the author says that “one of Stackhouses’s boys” who belonged “to the Pennsylvania Reserves” came into the encampment at Savage’s Station bearing news of the defeat at Gaines’s Mill and was subsequently ordered out of camp. This suggests to me that the author may have known the boy’s father. A search of records revealed that there were two Stackhouse boys serving in the 32nd Pennsylvania Infantry (3rd Pennsylvania Reserves). Their names were David Stackhouse (b. 1841) of Co. K and William Stackhouse (b. 1839) of Co. I. Their father was Charles W. Stackhouse (1816-1872), a blacksmith residing in Altoona, Blair county, Pennsylvania.
Camp near City Point
Friday noon, July 4th 1862
My Dear Wife,
You have heard more about what has transpired in the army this last week than I can begin to tell you. All I know about it is there has been some very queer movements made — and some very hard battles fought — and instead of us taking Richmond, we have marched away from it. Our Generals pretend to say that it is strategy, but for my part, I can’t see the point.
On last Saturday [28 June 1862] afternoon, one of Stackhouse’s boys come into our camp and told us some of the awfullest stories about General McClellan getting defeated on the right [see: Battle of Gaines’s Mill]. He belongs to the Pennsylvania Reserves. He said that they had an awful battle and that Jackson came in and cut off our supplies and that we had been outflanked and badly whipped. Our Colonel heard him tell his story and then cleared him out of the camp. His story created a regular panic among us and the men were almost crazy. Well, we got orders to march at 3 in the morning [29 June] and everything that we could not carry we were to destroy which made things look very strange indeed. The officers cut their tents all up, broke their trunks all to pieces, and many a good uniform was destroyed. And the worst of all, we had to burn all of our provision that we could not carry. We had piles of it as high as a house. I suppose we had a $100,000 worth of it.
Well we left our camp and fortification [29 June] and marched about a mile when the enemy nearly surrounded us and we had to halt and fight him. We whipped them badly and we run clear out of sight and then we started on our march again which was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and we were not disturbed again that day. ¹ The next morning [30 June] we started about daylight and marched about one mile and then we halted to cover the retreat so as to fetch off our baggage wagons and artillery. The enemy made his appearance again in large force about 2 in the afternoon and we had a hard fight until 9 at night when we whipped them again and then retreated again.² The enemy came after us hot foot and we had to stand and fight again. We were exposed to a very hot fire all day but whipped them again and took 2 batteries and a whole brigade prisoners.
The next morning [1 July] we started again and marched all day without any disturbance and encamped within ½ mile of the James river and near City Point. The enemy attacked us yesterday morning [3 July] and we whipped him again and took 2 guns and 800 prisoners. And now they are not to be seen. I think we will cross the James river and wait and get reinforcements and then take Richmond.
I understand the President has called out 300,000 more men which is what we want badly for the enemy has outnumbered us in every fight. We have had very hard times but we will now have it easier. I suppose you have been worried about me and I would [have] wrote sooner but we had no chance for we were forbid. I have not received a letter from you yet and it has miscarried. Write as soon as you get this. I am well and hope to be home soon which is my greatest desire. I want to see you all — you and the baby especially. I have been very fortunate indeed as we have been exposed to danger very much. We have not a man killed but 8 wounded. I don’t think we will have any more fighting to do soon — not until the army is reorganized anyhow — and then we will make very short work of it which is just what I want.
Tell our folks that you have heard from me and don’t be worried if you do not get a letter soon for we may be where we can’t get a mail. I don’t know when you will get this but I hope soon. So goodbye from your, — Jo
¹ The author is probably describing the assault by John B. Magruder’s division on Maj. Gen. Edwin B. Magruder’s troops at Allen’s Farm which lasted a couple of hours.
² This would have been the fighting at Glendale (or Frayser’s Farm) on 30 June 1862.