My Ahnentafel
Definition | 14-gen | GEDCOM

1.1. Michael Hugh COOLEY 1.2. Lonnie Rae COOLEY
2ND GENERATION
2. Allison Claude COOLEY 3. Billie Dell HOGUE
3RD GENERATION
4. McCabe COOLEY 5. Marie Henrietta HENNEQUIN 6. Hugh Wallace HOGUE 7. Birdie Nina MCDOWELL
4TH GENERATION
8. Joseph William COOLEY 9. Araminta D JOHNSON 10. Louis Francois HENNEQUIN 11. Marguerite STEWARD 12. Robert Irwin HOGUE 13. Nancy Joanna FOSTER 14. William Ellis MCDOWELL 15. Euphemia Ruth ASHENHURST
5TH GENERATION
16. Greenbury COOLEY 17. Amelia Mohler PETTIT 18. Wesley Phillip JOHNSON 19. Susan Isabel FISK 20. Louis HENNEQUIN 21. Maria Theresa DRAVIGNEY 22. John Joseph STEWARD 23. Fanny LAURENT 24. John HOGUE 25. Ann R SIMPSON 26. John A FOSTER 27. Martha Jane STRUTHERS 28. William Erwin MCDOWELL 29. Maria HART 30. Oliver Taylor ASHENHURST 31. Sara Eva SOUTHERN
6TH GENERATION
32. David COOLEY 33. Laurinda AIKEN 34. Joseph PETTET 35. Elizabeth MOHLER 36. Elijah JOHNSON 37. Anna Jane FOSTER 38. Edward Curtis FISK 39. Arminta D WOOD 40. Xavier HANNEQUIN 41. Marie Magdeleine BELOT 42. Pierre Joseph DRAVIGNEY 43. Marie Thérèse GILBERT 44. Joseph STEWARD 46. Jean Baptiste LAURENT 47. Jeaninne Henriette VANDERMEULEN 48. James HOGUE 49. Margaret IRWIN 50. Isaac SIMPSON 51. Elizabeth RICHARDSON 52. Samuel FOSTER 53. Nancy ____ 54. James STRUTHERS 55. Elizabeth SAVILLE 56. John MCDOWELL 57. Anna CURRY 58. Joseph HART Sr 59. Susan PICKENS 60. Oliver ASHENHURST 61. Euphemia BISHOP 62. Charles William SOUTHERN 63. Ruth Ruema HOOVER
7TH GENERATION
64. John COOLEY 65. Sela WRIGHT 66. William AKINS 67. Rebecca MCCLINTICK 73. Ruth ____ ? 76. John R FISK 77. Mahala KEMP 78. John WOOD 79. Charity CORSON 85. Jeanne Claude DRAVIGNEY 86. Josph GILBERT 87. Agathe LANGARD 102. Matthew RICHARDSON 103. Ann STOCKTON 104. James Couples FOSTER 105. Jane MORROW 108. William STRUTHERS 109. Janet LINDSAY 110. Robert SAVILLE 111. Deborah ____ 112. John MCDOWELL 113. Jane ERWIN 116. Edward HART 117. Nancy Ann STOUT 118. John PICKENS 120. William ASHENHURST 121. Nancy ASHENHURST 122. Peter BISHOP 123. Eleanor ____ 124. John SOUTHERN 125. Elizabeth DUNCAN 126. John HOOVER? 127. unknown
8TH GENERATION
128. Edward COOLEY 129. Martha RAPER 130. William WRIGHT 131. Martha MORGAN 132. William EAKIN 133. Mary WALLACE 134. John MCCLINTICK 135. Mary Jane MCDOWELL 152. Richard FISK 154. William KEMP 155. Sukey DAMANT 158. Eli CORSON 159. Christianna THOMPSON 206. Richard Witham STOCKTON 207. Mary Ann HATFIELD 210. Samuel ? MORROW ? 218. James LINDSAY 219. Margaret WATSON 220. Samuel SAVILLE 221. Ann BOOTH 224. John MCDOWELL 225. Esther HARRISON 226. William ERWIN 227. Mary ERWIN 232. John HART Signer 233. Deborah SCUDDER 234. St Leger Codd STOUT 235. Susannah SIMPSON 248. William SOUTHERN 249. Magdelaine FORD 250. Charles DUNCAN 251. Margaret KIRK 252->255. unknown
9TH GENERATION
256. John COOLEY 257. poss Sarah MATTHEWS 258. Thomas RAPER 259. Martha HAM 260. Richard WRIGHT Sr103 261. Ann 262. James MORGAN 263. Mary DAVIS 316. Jacob CORSON Jr 317. Charity STILLWELL 318. Benajah TOMSON 319. Prudence ELDREDGE 412. Samuel STOCKTON 413. Rachel STOUT 414. Joseph HATFIELD 415. Phoebe CLARK 442. Robert BOOTH 443. Ann GASTON 452. John ERWIN 453. Jane WILLIAMS 454. Francis ERWIN 455. Jane CURRY 464. Capt Edward HART 465. Martha FURMAN 466. Richard Betts SCUDDER Jr 467. Hannah STILLWELL 468. James STOUT 469. Mary Ann CODD 496. John SOUTHERN ? 497. Margaret KIDD ? 500. Charles DUNCAN 502. John KIRK Sr 503. Margaret BROOKS 504->517. unknown
10TH GENERATION
518->823. unknown 632. Jacob CORSON Sr 633. Naomi 634. Nicholas STILLWELL 635. Sara HAND 824. Richard STOCKTON 825. Susannah WITHAM 826. Col Joseph STOUT 827. Ruth BRYMSON 828. Abraham HATFIELD 829. Phoebe OGDEN 829. John CLARK 904. Edward ERWIN 905. Frances FRANCIS 908. see 904 909. see 905 910. William CURRY 911. Sally YOUNG 928. John HART 2nd 929. Mary HUNT 930. Josiah FURMAN 2nd 931. Sarah STRICKLAND 932. Richard Betts SCUDDER Sr 933. Hannah REEDER 936. see 826 937. see 827 938. Capt St Leger CODD 939. Mary HANSON 1000. John DUNCAN 1001. Dinah BRADFORD 940->1035. unknown
11TH GENERATION
1036->1263. unknown 1264. Jan CARSTENSEN 1265. Maria Elias DAAS 1268. John STILLWELL Jr 1270. George HAND 1648. Richard STOCKTON 1649. Abigail ____ 1650. Robert WITHAM 1651. Ann HOAG 1652. Jonathan STOUT 1653. Anne BOLLEN 1654. Daniel BRYMSON 1655. Frances GREENLAND 1856. John HART 1st 1857. Mary ____ 1858. Ralph HUNT 1859. Elizabeth JESSUP 1860. Josiah FURMAN 1st 1862. Edmund STRICKLAND 1863. Hannah ____ 1864. John SCUDDER Jr 1865. Joanna BETTS 1866. John REEDER 2nd 1867. Hannah BURROUGHS 1876. Col St Leger CODD 115 1877. Anna BENNETT 115 1878. Col Hans HANSON 1879. Martha Kelts WOODARD 2002. John BRADFORD 2003. Mary MARR 1880->2071. unknown
12TH GENERATION
2072->2079. unknown 2528. Carsten JANSEN 2529. Barbara 2530. Elias DAAS 2536. John STILLWELL 2537. Elizabeth PERRIN 2540. Thomas HAND 2541. Katherine STUBBS 3296. John STOCKTON 3296. Eleanor CLAYTON 3304. Richard STOUT 3305. Penelope VAN PRINCIS 3306. Capt James BOLLEN 3307. Anne VAUQUELLIN 3308. William BRINSDON 3309. Margaret ____ 3310. Dr Henry GREENLAND 3311. Mary BAREFOOT 3312. Thomas HATFIELD 3313. Anna 3314. Cornelius MELYN 3316. John OGDEN 3317. Jane BOND 3718. Edward JESSUP 3719. Elizabeth BRIDGES 3720. John FURMAN 3728. John SCUDDER Sr 3729. Mary KING 3730. Capt Richard BETTS 3731. Joanna CHAMBERLAYNE 3732. John REEDER 1st 3733. Hannah THORPE 3734. Jeremiah BURROUGHS 3735. Hannah WAY 3752. Col William CODD 115 3753. Lady Mary ST LEGER 115 3754. Gov Richard BENNETT 3755. Mary Ann LONGWORTH113 106 3756. Andrew HANSON 3757. Annika ____ 4006. John MARR Sr 3758->4143. unknown
13TH GENERATION
4144->4159. unknown 5072. William STILLWELL 5073. Hannah 5074. Daniel PERRIN 5075. Elizabeth 5080. John HAND 5081. Elizabeth GRANSDEN 6592. John STOCKTON 6593. Eleanor CLAYTON 6608. John STOUT 6609. Elizabeth BEE 6614. Robert VAUQUELLIN 6615. Jeanette 6622. Walter BAREFOOT 6632. Richard OGDEN 6633. Elizabeth HUNTINGTON 7456. Thomas SCUDDER 7457. Elizabeth LOWERS 7458. William KING 7459. Dorothy HAYNES 7460. John BETTES 7461. Mary BIGGS 7462. Rev Robert CHAMBERLAYNE 7463. Elizabeth STOUGHTON 7466. William THORPE 7467. Garthered BLITHE 7468. John BURROUGHS 7469. Johanna JESSUP 7470. James WAY 7504. William CODD 7505. Hester LAMPORD 7506. Sir Warham ST LEGER115 7507. Dame Mary HAYWARD115 7508. Thomas BENNETT 7509. Anstie Tomson SPICER 7512. John HANSON 8012. Daniel MARR 7511->8287. unknown
14TH GENERATION
8288->8319. unknown 10144. Nicholas STILLWELL 10145. Ann 10148. Pierre PERRIN 10149. Andrienne JUBRIL 10160. John HAND 10161. Joan SIMMONS 10162. Henry GRANSDEN 13624. Edward OGDEN 13624. Margaret WILSON 14912. Henry SCUDDER 14913. ____ LOWERS 14914. John LOWERS 14920. Alexander BETTES 14921. Joan LARKYN 14926. Rev Thomas STOUGHTON 14927. Katherine 14936. Jeremiah BURROUGHS 14938. John JESSUP 14939. Joanna KERRICH 15012. Sir Anthony ST LEGER 115 15013. Mary SCOTT 115 15014. Sir Rowland HAYWARD 115 15015. Katherine SMYTHE 15016. Robert BENNETT 15017. Elizabeth EDNEY 15024. Col. John HANSON 15025. Frances PRICHARD 15026->16575. unknown
15TH GENERATION
16576->20289. unknown 20298. Jean JUBRIL 20299. Juvine LOMBARD 20326. William GRANSDEN 20327. Ann 26528. William OGDEN 26529. Abigail GOODSALL 26530. Richard WILSON 26531. Margaret 29792. William de STIRKELAUNDE 29840. Robert BETTS 29876. Francis JESSOP 29877. Frances WHITE 30024. Sir Warham ST LEGER 115 30025. Lady Ursula NEVILLE 107 115 30026. Sir Thomas SCOTT 115 30027. Elizabeth BAKER 115 30028. George HAYWARD 30029. Margaret WITHBROKE 30030. Sir Thomas SMYTHE 30031. Alice JUDDE 30032. John BENNETT 30033. Margery 30034. John EDNYE 30048. Thomas HANSON 30049. Janet G GLEDHILL 30050. John PRICHARD 30051->33151. unknown
16TH GENERATION
33152->33279. unknown 53056. Richard OGDEN 53057. Mabel de HOOGAN 53058. Henry GOODSALL 59584. William de STIRKELAUNDE 59752. Richard JESSOP 59753. Ann SWIFT 59754. Alexander WHITE 59755. Eleanor SMITH 60048. Sir Anthony St LEGER 111 60049. Agnes WARHAM 112 60050. George NEVILLE 60051. Lady Mary STAFFORD 60052. Sir Reginald SCOTT 115 60053. Emiline KEMP 115 60054. Sir John BAKER 115 60055. Elizabeth DINLEY 115 60056. John HAYWARD 60060. John SMYTHE 60061. Joan BROUNCKER 60062. Andrew JUDDE 60057. Agnes GLOVER 60096. John HANSON 60097. Agnes SAVILE 60098. John GLEDHILL 60099->66303. unknown
17TH GENERATION
66304->66559. unknown 106112. Robert OGDEN 106113. Joan 106114. Johannes de HOOGAN 119504. William JESSOP 119505. Emotte CHARLESWORTH 119506. Robert SWIFT 119508. Thomas WHITE 119510. William SMITH 119511. Katherine PORTER 120096. Ralph St LEGER 120097. Anne HART 120098. Heughe WARHAM 112 120099. Mary Ann COLLES 120100. George NEVILLE 120101. Margaret FENNE 120102. Edward STAFFORD 120103. Eleanor PERCY 120104. Sir John SCOTT 115 120105. Anne (Amy) PYMPE 115 120106. Sir William KEMP 111 115 120107. Elynor BROWNE 111 115 120108. Richard BAKER 120109. Elizabeth DYNELEY 120110. Thomas DINLEY 115 120112. William HAYWARD 120113. Agnes BALLY 120122. Robert BROUNCKER 120192. John HANSON 120193. Catherine BROOKE 120194. John SAVILE Esq. 120195. Margery GLEDHILL 120196->132607. unknown
18TH GENERATION
132608->132608. unknown 239020. Thomas SMITH 239021. Margaret CLARKE 239022. Augustine PORTER 240192. Ralph ST LEGER 240193. Anne PROPHET 240194. Sir Edward HART 240196. Robert WARHAM 240197. Elizabeth ____ 240198. Geoffrey COLLES 240200->240207. Royal Lineage 107 240208. Sir William SCOTT 115 240209. Sybil LEWKNOR 115 240210. Reginald DE PYMPE 115 240211. Elizabeth PASHLEY 115 240212. Sir Thomas KEMP 111 115 240213. Emelyn CHICHE 111 115 240214. Robert BROWNE 111 240215. Mary MALLETT 115 240218. Thomas DYNELEY 240224. William HAYWARD 240225. Elizabeth BROCKTON 240226. William BALLY 240384. John HANSON 240385. Cicely RAVENSHAW 240386. John BROOKE 240390. John GLEDHILL 240391->265215. unknown
19TH GENERATION
265216->266241. unknown 480384. Ralph ST LEGER 480385. Margaret TYRREL 480400->480415. Royal Lineage 107 480416. Sir John SCOTT 480417. Agnes BEAUFITZ 480418. John LEWKNOR 115 480420. Sir William DE PYMPE 115 480421. Elizabeth WHETEHILL 480422. Sir John PASHELY 115 480423. Lowys GOWER 115 480424. Thomas KEMP 111 480425. Beathris LEUKENER 111 480426. Sir Valentine CHICHE 480427. Philippa CHICHELEY 480428. Sir Thomas BROWNE 111 115 480429. Alianor DE ARUNDEL 115 480430. William MALLETT 115 480448. William HAYWARD 480449. Jane WILCOCKES 480450. William BROCKTON 480768. John HANSON 480769. Cicely DE WINDEBANKE 480770. John RAVENSHAW 480826. Vincent CHICHELE 115 480827->530431. unknown
20TH GENERATION
530432->960767. unknown 960768. John ST LEGER 960769. Margery DONNETT 960824->960829. Royal Lineage 107 960830. Sir Walter D'EVEREAUX 107 960831. Elizabeth MERBURY 107 960832. William SCOTT 960833. Isabella HERBERT 960834. William DE BEAUFITZ 960842. Sir Richard WHETEHILL 960844. Sir John PASHLEY 115 960845. Elizabeth WYDVILLE 115 960846. Sir Thomas GOWER 115 960848. Sir John KEMP 111 960850. Sir Thomas LEUKENER 111 960851. ____ HOO 111 960854. Robert CHICHELEY 960858. Sir Thomas DE ARUNDEL 115 960859. Joan MOYNE 115 960896. John HAYWARD 960897. Margery WEVER 961536. John HANSON 961537. Alice WOODHOUSE 961538->1060863. unknown
21TH GENERATION
1060864->1921537. unknown 1921538. James DONNETT 1921648->1921661. Royal Lineage 107 1921662. John MERBURY 107 1921666. Vincent HERBERT 115 1921688. Sir Robert PASHELY 115 1921689. Philippa CERGEAUX 115 1921690. Sir Richard WYDVILLE 115 1921691. Elizabeth LYONS 1921696. Raulf KEMP 111 1921702. Sir Thomas HOO 111 1921716. John DE ARUNDEL 1921717. Elizabeth DESPENSER 115 107 1921792. James HAYWARD 1923072. Henry DE RASTRICK 1923074. Henry DE WOODHOUSE 1923075->2121727. unknown
22ND GENERATION
2121728->3843075. unknown 3843076->3843327. Royal Lineage 107 3843328->3843375. unknown 3813382. Sir Thomas TUNSTALL 3843376. Robert PASHLEY 115 3843377. Anne HOWARD 115 3843378. Sir Richard CERGEAUX 115 3843379. Philippa FITZALAN 115 3843382. Sir John LYONS 3843432. John FITZALAN 3843433. Alianor MALTRAVERS 107 115 3843436->3846143. unknown 3846144. John DE RASTRICK 3846148. Alexander DE WOODHOUSE 3846149. Beatrice TOOTHILL 3846150->4243455. unknown
23RD GENERATION
4243456->7686151. unknown 7686152->7686655. Royal Lineage 107 7637760. Sir William PARR 7637761. Elizabeth de ROS 7686754. John HOWARD 115 7686756. Richard CERGEAUX 115 7686757. Margaret SENESCHAL 115 7686758. Edmund FITZALAN 115 7686759. Sibyl DE MONTEGU 115 7686864->7686865. Royal Lineage 107 7686866. Sir John MALTAVERS 107 7386867->8486910. unknown


 
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The following letters by Mitchel Thompson were copied directly from http://civilwar.aea14.k12.ia.us/Resources/thompson_letters.htm. There's no attribution for the introduction's author.

INTRODUCTION

It was August, 1862, and the summer sun shown warmly on the dusty country road. The husky young farmer, Mitchel Thompson, urged his team of horses to a faster pace. The heavy wagon, lumbered noisily, stirring up huge clouds of dust that hung in the air as though undecided whether to try to keep up with the wagon or settle back in the road.

As Mitchel drew near the Warren County seat town of Monmouth, Illinois, he noted an unusual number of vehicles of various types converging on the area. He stopped at the General Store where they did their weekly trading and left the buckets of eggs, carefully packed in oats, together with the list of grocery needs he would pick up when ready to return home.

As people were crowding around a man speaking in the court yard, he joined them and learned, from the very persuasive orator, that they were urging enlistments in the conflict between the states. The plan was to speed up the war and have it over by "spring planting time." Very convincingly did he present his subject as he urged the loyal support of the Federal Government in order to maintain a united country.

Company B 83rd Regiment was being composed mainly of men of the local area. Many relatives, neighbors and friends were enlisting and as Mitchel listened he felt the patriotic call of his country in the excitement and urgency of the hour. As Mitchel started the twelve-mile trip home, his heart was torn between the double patriotisms--his family and his country. A young neighbor lad, galloping past him shouted, with all the exuberance of youth, that his parents had given consent to his enlistment.

When he reached home, Eliza, with little eighteen months old Cory in her arms, met him at the gate. At sight of his loved ones the patriotic scale dipped in their favor. He unloaded the groceries and drove to the barn lot to unhitch the team; his wife returned to the cheery kitchen to put supper on the table. When they were seated at the table, Mitchel thanked the Heavenly Father for the blessings of loved ones, home and country. Eliza felt the anxious tension in her husband's earnest prayer.

He then told her of the wild enthusiasm and excitement he had encountered during the afternoon. They discussed the pro and con sides of the issue and with the seriousness of the subject, emplored God's guidance in the momentous decision. Although it tore her heart. Eliza felt it might be better for Mitchel to go when he would be among friends and relatives than if he went later. That had to be taken into considerations even though at that time it seemed as though the conflict would be of short duration. They made the important decision in favor of his enlistment and Mitchel, taking their best saddle horse, rode back to Monmouth. Even at that very late hour the town was seething with excitement--that being the final opportunity.

The short time till he was to leave was filled with plans for the care of Eliza, little Cory, and the farm. Eliza's older brother and a sister came from their home in Indiana to be with her.

Mitchel Andrew Thompson was in the 83rd Illinois Regiment Company B. Their destination was Fort Donnelson, Dover, Tennessee near the Cumberland river. They were to guard supplies of the Union forces His first letter received by Eliza was written as they were on their way to their, unknown at that time, destination of Fort Donnelson. All of his letters were carefully preserved by Eliza; the interesting accounts of military life--tinged with human-interest experiences--make a treasure trove of historical and readable material.

Guarding supplies was considered a most uneventful life and the soldiers used their own ingenuity and inventive skills to help pass the time. Mitchell noticing the beautiful shells on the banks of the Cumberland River, began making dainty finger rings and breastpins for gifts to loved ones. He found some cedar wood in a house partially destroyed by fire and from wood work made a chest about the size of a shoe box. He inlaid it with shells cut in the most attractive designs of unsurpassed precision. The small pieces were inlaid with such care and skill that in the more than one hundred years not one piece has become dislodged. The little chest was among his things sent home to Eliza and is one of our treasured possessions.

Many guerillas harassed the camp and were a constant cause for uneasiness to the soldiers. Among the duties of those at Fort Donnelson was to keep the telegraph lines in repair. On August 20, 1864 a civilian reported that there were six guerillas hidden near by. Captain Turnbull, taking twelve volunteers with him started out to clear them from the area. Instead of six, there were over one hundred and Mitchel was one of those killed. The bodies of the soldiers from Monmouth Illinois were sent home for burial

Following the funeral service for her husband, Eliza went directly to the death-bed of the wife of her brother Craig. She made a home for him and his three children until his remarriage three years later. Then Eliza and Cory (six years of age) made their home on the Thompson farm, later moving to Monmouth, Illinois.

Cory (Mary Cordelia Thompson) was graduated from Monmouth College with a B.S. degree. She was married to Alexander Ross MCCain in Monmouth, Illinois on October 6, 1891. They made their home on their farm at Lenox, Iowa. Eliza made her home with them until her death in I902, closing a life of loving Christian service for her family and many friends.

 

May 27, 1862

Before enlisting at home

Spring Grove, Illinois

 

Dear Eliza:

Your favor of the 19th came to hand yesterday and I was pleased to hear that you got along so well, more especially as I had been told that you took the wrong road that by all means you should have gone to Chicago. I could not see the force of their arguments. I was well satisfied you would have to wait at Ranolds Station until the train would arrive from Chicago and you had to spend the night at the depot (that you would have done traveling had you gone by Chicago). Well, I Suppose you want to know whether we keep our heels and stomach allright or not. As for the stomach part it is allright, but the heels get most desperately out of gear following the plow. I was just 8 days plowing 20 acres, making 21/2 acres per day. I am not through planting corn yet. I have planted all I had allowed to but Mayfield is not able to put all the ground in he had calculated to as his team is pretty well run down so I have to take 6 or 7 acres of his ground. The ground is getting very dry--so much so that vegetation is doing but very little good. The health of the neighborhood is very good. I don't know of anyone being sick. George Logan started back to the war on Monday. He appears to be well but he is far from being stout. James Lukens is at home sick. His father went after him. He had the typhoid fever and it settled in his legs that he can't walk. I guess they have some doubts whether he will ever get well. I have a notion of going down to see him as soon as I get through planting. Elias Quinn is at Paducah yet. He is able to walk around. The rest of the boys are well.

We had quite an interesting time at our Communion last Sabbath. Mr. Millen gave us a couple of excellent sermons. Were not crowded as there was communion at Porter's church on the same day. Wm. Thorn and family are well. There was a letter in the office for George when I got this out. I suppose it be from Alice. I have the house to myself today. I ate one of Frank Dunn's dinners today. Yesterday Mrs. Mayfield was at Monmouth and today she is out showing her finery. As a general thing she has stuck to home very well since you left. I want You to stay until you make a good visit. Don't do as Mrs. Jennings says she did--she paid a visit to her old home in Ohio and only stayed three weeks and did not see the half of her friends. She allowed she would never do that again

I have 200 sweet potato plants to set out this evening. I expect I'll have a good time keeping them from dying.

I Suppose I need not write any war news as you will hear plenty of that at this time. Thus, I need only write about commonplace matters, things that go along about old fashioned like. Doll has a little mule. I have her out ready to ride down to the office with this letter. I call the colt Billy Bowlegs as its fore legs are crooked. The Lill cow bids fair to not be fresh until you get home. Our strawberry patch makes a big show in bloom, promising a good yield. If there should be rain soon the raspberries, what there is of them, are also full of bloom. I only wish we had a good patch of them.

Mayfield thinks it is considerable of a chore to milk that red cow now she gives a bucket nearly full of milk. I can't do it when the bag is so full. I milk their old Spottie and keep the hogs off and so we have it.

I don't know as it is essential for you to write exactly when you will be at Monmouth as there will be abundance of chances to get out if I should not be there. I should like to know when you are coming and I will try to make it and be in Monmouth to meet you.

Yours affectionately,

M. A. Thompson

 

August 28, 1862

St. Louis, Missouri

You will see by the heading of this sheet that we have at length moved our quarters. The order now is to prepare two days rations which will do us to Cairo. Our trip thus far was not a pleasant one. Still it was as pleasant as we could expect, the river being low we were compelled to crowd into light draft boats and barges, towed by small transports. We already begin to see the dogs of war lying before us one of the gunboats rigging up anew. Also we see some of the effects of the war in a steamboat lying before us undergoing repairs since it had been fired into by the rebels. There was considerable stir when we were coming down by a rebel squad making a foray on the town of Lagrange. I did not ascertain the amount of damage done but a force from Quincy went and retook the place.

The health of the Regiment is moderately good. Still there is some o the diarrhea by changing water. River water is a miserable substitute for good well water. If the weather were extremely warm there would be considerable suffering. I caught some cold that rainy night we spent in Monmouth and yesterday I had the diarrhea. Today I am enjoying very good health and can eat hearty at our coarse grub. We are all pleased with our officers. We all say that they are the right men in the right place. George W. Lansom of Rockwell is our company commissary. He is a good jovial fellow and performs his duty well. Out boys are all in fine spirits as they are about to send a special to the pot

I must close, sending my love to you and Cory. I feel that I am fulfilling my duty both to God and my country. Write to me and direct to Cairo. Yours affectionately, M. A. Thompson

 

 

May 1862 - August 1864

September 2, 1862

Cairo, Illinois

 

Brother William:

As time flies rapidly and I have not written to you as yet and have written but one to Eliza and that from St. Louis but to tell the truth we have had but little time for writing until we got our camp fixed up.

As for the health of the Regiment, it is not to say good but at the same time I can say that it is not bad although there is considerable fever from being exposed so much in a crowded flat boat coming down the river. We were huddled together too much, still that would not have been so bad if we had had no dirty scamps in the crowd. We have no arms yet but we are being put through in the drill about right. As for our trip down the river, with the exception I mentioned above, we had a pleasant trip. We had no difficulty in regard to rebels.

I received the Monmouth Atlas yesterday and see by it that we were in the Barracks at St. Louis. That is a mistake but we have a good joke on some of our field officers. Major Brant and Capt. Reed and a few others were taken by the guards that were stationed in the city and taken to the barracks but were not kept in confinement long, but it was a good joke on them.

Our company and Captain Butlar's raised collections and presented their captains with a sword and sash each. You ought to have heard the responding address of Capt. McClanahan--it would have done your soul good to hear the stirring appeals to the Company. It was all done in the street of St. Louis before a crowd of spectators. We got the name of being the most evenly and largest sized men of any Regiment that they had seen at St. Louis. Here we are called the hairy regiment as every man almost has hair on his face although most of them have their air clipped pretty close to their heads--some so short that the scalps can be seen all over the heads.

The 72nd Regiment from Chicago is here. They as a body of men Cannot compete in size with us. They are a rather small set of men

Yesterday we as a company marched down to the levy to see the rebel prisoners and in speaking of the 72nd being an inferior set of men, they are nothing to be compared in inferiority to the rebels. I have frequently heard of them being a miserable looking set, but I have had anything like a correct idea of them--they are just such a set of men that could be led by the nose wherever designing men wish. Cairo is a low, muddy and ugly looking place but this time of the year it is dry, but we can see traces of the mud. It is now one complete bed of cockle burs. We had no place to drill until we cut down the weeds. There was no troops here until the 72nd came. They came a few days before we came--conveniently they got the best ground to drill on.

There are a large number of contrabands here--came from the neighborhood of Pittsburgh landing. They are of very small size apparently very much stiffened up by exposure. Some of them are of jet black, others of a copper color, others almost white. You can only discern a dusky tinge in their complexion, but not any more than a great many white men of dark complexion. One of them, a female, has three children almost white. One little girl is decidedly good looking-bright black eyes, pleasant countenance. Lt. More took our company on parade before their quarters and had a view of them. The little girl was called up to the company and they put small change into her hand to the amount of two dollars. Lt. Turnbull was anxious to get her mother to let them have the little girl to raise but he could not get her consent. She could not be prevailed upon to part with her and I don't blame her. They are kept here and fed by the government. They do anything that they can to make anything for themselves.

I understand there is an order for us to leave this place immediately but I cannot tell where we are to go. Please show this to Eliza and if I find out where we are to go I will enclose a note. M. A. Thompson

 

September 2, 1862

To Eliza Thompson:

I received a pair of excellent buckskin gloves sent by William. I was very glad to receive them as the mornings are right cold to frosty and being out on picket guard they come in a very good place. You stated to me in a letter sometime ago that you wanted me to state to you if there was anything I wanted to be sent to me. (You must excuse me for so many mistakes for there is so much confusion). I am entirely satisfied with what I have. Gloves and boots are all that the government does not furnish its soldiers--the boots I brought with me and the gloves Wm. sent, so I am furnished with clothing. We have a pair of pants, a pair of socks, and a blanket so as to have enough for winter. As for the eating department we are not so well off. The principal thing that I lack is butter and would not want for that so much if they would give us fresh meat, but they don't and confine us on salt meat and sometimes very strong at that--principally salt pork and corned beef. We could get plenty of beef cattle, hogs and sheep but our Colonel is too much of a buby to let us go out to bring it in. I have the most complete disgust for that man. The talk now is that the Regiments will be consolidated and merge the new Regiments into the old until they are filled up and have old and experienced officers to command them. It certainly is my heart's wish that ours may be, so as to get clear of that old booby.

You stated in your letter that if you had any idea of me coming home by Christmas you would not break up housekeeping. As far as that is concerned I cannot be at home until the close of the war and I don't believe there is a man upon earth that can tell when that will end but a person may prophecy. There is one thing almost certain that if there would be a general move to decisive strike and destroy the large armies of the rebellion there would be short work of the balance. No move at present but I remain, Your husband, M.A. Thompson

Write as often as you can. I am always glad to hear from you and Cory and all the friends. Mitchel

 

September 4, 1862

Our commissary was around circulating the Colonel's order to the cooks to be ready to march in an hour's notice, but it is only speculation where we go. Some say Louisville. Our arms are on the ground and will be distributed immediately before marching. We are all anxious to be going anywhere rather than be hanging around in such a place as this. Some of our boys are down on the Ohio river guarding some of the government vessels. Wm. G. Struthers has a squad guarding the magazine on board the Steamer "Illinois". Since I commenced this our cooks are ordered to have ready one day's rations. Still no word where we are going, but that is kept silent for special purposes that the enemy may not know where we are going. The sick of our Company are all better so they can go with us. Josiah Martin and Thomas Gowdy are the worst and they are better. They have the fever. All our boys from Spring Grove are enjoying good health with the exception of a little cold. We all tent together. We had a little of a mess about our tenting. We all went together at first and afterwards some fellows went to work and divided off the messes and separated us and we would not stand it and when we got to Cairo we went to work and remodeled the mess and threw out some of these fellows and they did not like it and tried to break up our mess but when they found us resolute they gave up and allowed the officer to place them in other messes. That is generally the way, men will be run over if they will not stand up to their rights.

Fruit is not very plentiful here and generally of an inferior quality Peaches and apples are green, hardly fit to eat. Good ripe peaches will not stand shipping as far as they have to bring them (from the country around Centralia). They are picked before they are ripe and wilt so much that they are not good. At St. Louis the peaches and apples were excellent.

I can see across the Mississippi to Burd's Point. There is an orchard s Owing itself right conspicuous, but the farm has not that romantic appearance that I had an idea from the writings of correspondents. It is rathern an inferior looking place. In fact, the elevation is scarcely above the average of the country which is always overflowed in time of high water. The great plantation of Col. Burd will have no attraction for me after this. Cape Girardeau is rather an.inferior looking place. The only imposing building was the Catholic female college or nunnary. They saluted us bravely as we passed along the river.

I. C. Hogue is our cook. We pay him 25 cents each per month and relieve him in standing guard. We have not a complete set of cooking utensils yet but we look forward to being better provided for in the future.

There are two companies of Indianians on the levy waiting shipment to Arkansas to join an old Regiment.

A person need not wonder that our army movements have been so slow for there is an immense amount of work even to keep one Regiment going. There is a four-mule team busy all the time hauling water and can hardly keep us going to only haul from the Ohio river about two hundred yards away. There are many things in an army that greenhorns can see to write about that old hands would hardly notice. I was out throwing a cannon ball (a 32 pounder). I could throw it but ten feet. The biggest and stoutest man there could throw it only 12 feet.

Direct your letters to Company B. 83rd Illinois Regiment, by the way of Cairo.

M.A. Thompson

 

September 6, 1862

Dear Eliza:

I mailed a letter to Wm. yesterday and stated to him that we were ordered to leave immediately but did not know where to. I have since ascertained that we are bound for Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and to assist the 13th Wisconsin Regiment to retake Clarksburg or at least that is the word now. Today we received our arms and equipment and I must say they are splendid guns of the celebrated Springfield make. It is a right smart load to carry all the equipment of a solider but I guess we can go it. The order now is strike tents to be off. The steamers are waiting to take us to Fort Henry. It is astonishing the amount of labor that it takes to get a Regiment ready for travel.

We are on the Steamer Dakota and are now bound up the Ohio River and a beautiful stream it is compared to the muddy waters of the Mississippi. I find it very convenient writing on board the steamer, anything more than it shakes very much. The river is very low and the steamer rubs the rock very frequently. We got started about five o'clock in the evening. It is now 11 the next day and we are within a few miles of Fort Henry. A person can see but little of the country as it is but little settled up and the timber comes to the water's edge. There are, however, some inhabitants on the river but they are few. The Tennessee River is a nice stream of water, clear and blue and there does not appear to be as much filth in the water. It seems a little strange to me that a river the size of this would float a steamer the size of this but when I consider it drains a large extent of country but I see but few tributaries to swell its water. I was of the opinion that this part of Kentucky was hilly but I have not been able to see any hills yet. The banks are not high and they are covered with a growth of timber that is not very inviting, rather inferior kinds.

I am sitting beside some fellows from the south part of the county that are hard cases for certain, brimful of cursing, swearing and blackguarding of every description. There is a good deal more than half of our Regiment that is of that stamp. There is but very litte swearing in our company; still there is right smart of mischief in the company when we are in camp. We have worship in all of our tents every morning and evening The revelie is beat early in the morning, then the roll is called, then drill half an hour, then worship, then breakfast. I. C. Hogue is our cook. He is exempt from drill and standing guard. We next drill one hour and a half before dinner; after dinner we drill one and a half hours before supper, then we go on dress parade which lasts 1/2 hour which closes the day.

I believe that all in our company who were sick have gotten about well. None of our Spring Grove boys has been sick yet with the exception of colds caught that rainy night at Monmouth. We had one pretty hard rain at Cairo but nothing like the one at Monmouth.

I will not finish this letter until we get to Ft. Henry as there will be no chance of sending it. Two o'clock finds us at Ft. Henry. We got along very well. We found the fort very much delapidated so we will probably stay over night before moving to Ft. Donnelson.

 

September 10, 1862

Ft. Donnelson

Dear Wife:

It is with pleasure I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines. I have written Wm. since we came to this place and stated to him all that transpired up to that time and I think it unnecessary to relate the same to you. I am not certain whether I stated to him about a spell of sickness I had or not, but I think not. I was on picket guard duty for 24 hours and about the middle of the night I was taken with a chilly sensation. I was taking turns through the night standing with the picket mess (it was my duty to attend to the wants of two squads of three men each stationed about 150 yards apart--relieve any that are sick, detail men to guard persons without passes that are on the outside of the line to headquarters etc.) I wrapped myself in my blanket and shook as though I had the ague after which I had a slight fever and was right sick Torn that until morning. My wind that would rise from my stomach was very repulsive. In the morning my bowels began to operate and for three or four hours were very free. I soon felt better but it left me very Weak. Next day I was able for duty and have felt nothing of the like since. There are several of the boys who have not been able for duty for several days. Homer D. Hull has not been well since we came here. He is better now. There are no severe cases but several have symptoms of the flux. Alex, Isaac and Frank Hogue have all had slight symptoms. R. Hays took a bad cold and it left him with a bad cough. John Struthers has a very bad cough. Brother Newton had a bad spell of something the day after we arrived here but is able for duty now and looks tolerably well.

Part of our company went on an expedition down the Cumberland river with a contraband steamboat of a diminutive size, with the object of getting it onto the Tennessee river to carry provisions up to Ft. Henry. I look upon it as a rather dangerous undertaking as they have nothing but small arms and if the enemy should have a cannon on shore anyplace they could bring them to in double quick time. They may, however, get through safe. T. G. Pollock and Hamilton Brownlee are among the number.

Our first alarm was made this morning about three o'clock. The long roll was beat to prepare for battle and all was hurry and bustle. No one knew what was the matter but all knew something was up and the companies all fell into line and marched to the brestworks and were ready to receive an attack in short meter but there was no attack. It turned out that the scouts brought in word that there was enemy near and that there were three suns heard firing which was supposed to be the signal made by the pickets but no one seems to know where the firing was. It may have been a ruse of officers to test our spunk as Harding was seen visiting our tents to see if any were there that would not go to the battle. If such was the case he found none in our company at all events who was not in the ditch. The enemy is not far off but as a general thing it is hard to come at them. After the 25th of this month we will have a better chance. We don't know who is and who is not loyal but after that time any that have taken the oath of allegiance and those that have and do not live up to it will be considered rebels and be dealt with accordingly. It is a pity but Congress passed such laws a long time ago and placed the army on the right.

I have not yet received any word from home. I have, however, heard indirectly through a letter that Newton's wife wrote to him that you were well. I expect a letter the next mail but as the mails are very irregular here we don't know when we will get any but there is one due now. Capt. McClanahan is unwell. The Dr. says his liver is out of fix and is bilious. I hear our orderly calling the names of the company. I must leave the shade tree and go to see what's up. -- Returned to my shade with a lighter heart and with the addition of R. Hays and I. C. Hogue with pen and paper in hand.

What has stirred their hearts so much? I see a pleasing smile On their countenances, Ah! It is the long looked for mail has arrived bearing gems of love and friendship to relieve the heavy heart and brighten thoughts of friendship and love to those we left behind. I received your kind letter of September 6 and was truly glad to hear from you that you are well and getting along well. I am truly Sorry to hear of Josiah s loss and bereavement. When I saw their child last I thought it was on the decline but such is the way of all the earth and we must submit. I got the Instructor and Atlas and was pretty well supplied with reading matter. I was glad to hear that the friends are all well, that Alice is with you. Tell her I will write her a letter when I can find time. I wrote to William to send me some postage stamps. I brought sixty cents worth with me and kept them m my pocket book and in marching from Fort Henry to this place I got them damp through perspiration and they stuck together in every conceivable way that I got them almost entirely spoiled If I had it to do again I would get stamped envelopes. I am in hopes you will get along well and not be at any inconvenience from me being absent. I have no fears knowing that you are among friends, but this brings to my mind an argument produced to me by a union man of this area who is now acting as a guide for the army that went up to Clarksville. In reply to my question "Why don't the Union men here show their faith by their works and Join the army as you have done? It would certainly be much easier to put down the rebellion." "My dear sir, you have asked a question that has been asked free men before. Where you came from in the northern states your families are among friends but we are among enemies. If you go away your families will be cared for by kind friends. If the Union men here should all enlist what would become of our families, for we are but few and our enemies are many. We as a general thing are poor, our enemies or in ranks of the enemy are the rich. What would our families do if we were all to enlist and leave the country? It is impossible.

Now we are the spies for the army and what few of us are left see at the families of those who have enlisted don't suffer. We are solely dependent on you of the north to conquer our enemies for us. In east Tennessee the Union sentiment is strong but here it weak. In east Tennessee with some help of the North they will own this rebellion. Here we are not able to do anything only to lie low and do what we do in a quiet way. But you people of the North do not realize the extent of this rebellion, neither do you go at it in the right manner to put it down. This thing of guarding the mansions of the rich while the husbands and sons are in the rebel army is intolerable. The only way this rebellion can be quelled is to break the power of the rebellion. How is this to be done? Is it to fight the rich and leave their property unsullied? No sir! You must reduce the rich lordling that is engaged in the rebellion to poverty--cut and slash until there is nothing left that he can recover himself with. This country is ruined completely and it will hurt it no worse to divest the scoundrels of every specious property that they hold." My reply was, that when the Act of Congress to confiscate the property of rebels win be in force we may go into it on his plan. Said he, "I wish to God you had done it a year ago." So ended our conversation.

Another conversation I had with a squad that came in to take the oath. "Where did you boys come from that wears the feather in your hat?" Our reply was "From Illinois." Their reply was "They told us that Illinois was going to join the Confederate army and now we see them in the army of the old Union." My reply was that they were in a grand mistake for it only took three weeks to raise this regiment under the call of the President to raise 300,000 volunteers and the quota of Illinois is over full and pressing to get into the ranks. This made them open their eyes big so our conversation ended.

Do write often and I will try to keep you posted in passing events.

Your friend and husband, Mitchel

 

This morning I go on guard and H. Brownlee is starting home on furlough and I want to send this letter by him so I must cut it short and reserve whatever I have more to say for another time.

I see in our last Cincinnati Gazette an honourable mention of the 37th Ind. Regiment for their gallantry in a very hard fought battle at Dallas that contributed largely towards saving Hazen's Brigade from a rout by the enemy. But for the stubborn resistance of the 37th and another Regiment I don't recollect the number of the rebels were compelled to fall back and take to their brestworks and abandon their charge.

Did we see a complete history of every circumstance connected with this war would it not make a large work?

Mitchel

 

September 29, 1862

Fort Donnelson, Tenn.

Dear Eliza:

It is with unfeigned pleasure that I have been permitted once more to address you a few lines. I believe I cannot count back how many days it is since I wrote you before but I'll try and not forget it again.

I am now what they call an invalid. I have had one of my bilious attacks. It worked on me in a different manner than it had done before but I have it pretty effectually checked. I had a shooting sensation in my head for several days and I foolishly kept tampering with it. I got vinegar and cayenne pepper and made a strong wash for my head but it had no effect to scatter the pain. I then took a dose of 3 pills that Capt. gave the but they helped me very slightly and did touch the bile. Next I took 3 more of Knight's pills. They did not operate at all. I then began to send to the Dr. (We are under the care of the 71st Ohio Regiment). I got five pills of blue mass. The next morning I went over to the Dr. and he gave me 3 papers of quinine. I took it all and went back the next morning and he gave me a dose of salts. About noon I sent over and got a dose of oil and turpentine. That operated once but not very heavy. I then began to come to the realization of my true position. I then sent over to the Dr. and told him that I had a severe bilious attack. I've had them before and nothing seemed to do any good but Cal. He sent me a dose of Cal. I took it and it broke the bile and I had a big time of climbing the brestworks. It worked me well especially as I had taken so much of that other trash. The next morning the orderly listed me off to the hospital thinking they could furnish me with better quarters and I reckon they have succeeded but the fever was not broken yet and I made free to tell them that it most generally takes two doses of Cal and he forked it over with a dovers powder and also left a very strong tincture of camphor and chloroform to wet my head that seemed to relieve me of the pain especially if I would lay right still and keep my head as low as any part of my body. The next was three powders composed of some kind of blue stone or something I did not keep run of it any longer. I am now writing with my portfolio on my bunk which is composed of boards with my blanket doubled to sleep on sitting on the box I have to spit in. Nate Johnson has just come down stairs. He has the chills and fever and is very weak, running too much from his bowels. He says he got a letter from Amanda on Saturday, the same day I received your very interesting letter. Nate tells me to write that he will write as soon as he gets up so as to be able but not to be uneasy about him if they don't get a letter from him as soon for sometimes his complaint is long in recruiting.

But I had almost forgotten to write anything in reply to your letter and in the first place the thousand and one reports are not true or so nearly so that they don't amount to anything. There is no doubt but there is greater military men than Harding. I have heard boys say that he ought to resign because he is no drill master, but he is going to stick to us through thick and thin. Our company has had no brush with the guerillas. A squad of our men was detailed to go down the Cumberland Ever to guard a small boat and a few of them went up into the town of Eddyville without their arms and some guerillas popped at them with helr revolvers but did no harm. Our boys followed them and fired onto them just as they were getting over a hill.

I want to ask you one or two questions: one is, is our wheat threshed yet; if not, is it keeping good in the stack? Don't have John to just say "I guess so", but to be sure of it. Another thing is does John still give lime and copperas to the hogs yet? If so it is allright, but if not, let him buy more and keep giving it as long as they keep the hogs. I am at the end of my sheet and I've been writing all day as I could sit up. A kiss for Cory and accept my love in the bonds of affection. Your husband till death, Mitchel

 

October 14, 1862

My dear Wife:

It is with pleasure that I sit down to write you again although I am somewhat down in the mouth too from the fact that there have been three mails come, and pretty large ones too, but I have not received any. I did really look for one yesterday and listened steadfastly to the calling out of the names but lo and behold they quit calling and I had none. I went away with the blue. There are so many things that I would like to hear about from home. I have not heard a word about my hogs since your next to the last letter written about the forepart of September. I have heard rather indirectly that they were sold but I never heard anything else about them. Hamilton Brownlee got five letters the last mail and several others got from two to four. It made me heartsick to think that some could get letters and be posted in everything that is going on in old Warren and I could get nothing--only what I could gather from them. I learned that they have the considerable difficulty down at Cedar Creek church about calling a pastor. The difficulty arises through Mr. Porter's obstinancy. I am truly sorry that they have got into loggerheads. Mr. Porter is not able to keep charge of the congregation and I can't see why he is determined to govern it and say whom the congregation shall choose for his successor and have so many conditions to his giving up his charge. It looks too much like a man wanting to govern a congregation after he is dead. Maybe I judge harshly but from what I have heard by letters from there I came to that conclusion.

My health has gotten pretty good. The diarrhea took hold of me a little last night but I am able for duty now. Tell William Newton Thompson that it is very well that he did not come here with us for he would undoubtedly have had a hard time of it for men of strong constitutions did not escape and persons of delicate constitutions have had a hard time of it. I sympathize with Josiah for the loss of his little boy. I might have stated that in other letters but I did not think of it while I was writing. I wrote to William Thorn to send some postage stamps but I have not received them yet. I thought my stamps were entirely ruined when I wrote but I saved some of them but they are now about all done. I have but three and no chance here to get any. I would like to have some more or I will have to quit writing letters; since I commenced writing this letter another mail has come in and brought me a letter from brother William which I was very glad to receive. It was very satisfactory He stated that Dan Myers wants to buy some corn on the ground from me and wants me to set the price, I cannot do that as I don't know anything about the relative value of the corn but by all means let him have the corn and let brother William and William R. Thorn fix the price. I will be satisfied. I would rather take a small price than hire men to gather it, but tell them to let him have it at such a price as will be satisfactory to him and they will not think too low. You will be particular to have John to feed my hogs plenty of lime and copperas and salt. I believe this is a preventative of the cholera, but if it gets amongst them it may not cure it. I am very well satisfied with William's sale of my hogs. I only wish he had sold more of them, but as it is he will have to do the best he can to keep them at home and out of mischief. I am very well satisfied that they have not done the threshing yet as prices are so low but I would like to have it threshed and in market before the first of December as the money must be paid to the sheriff by that time.

I suppose before you get this letter that John Thompson will be a married man. If so, I wish them much joy and gladness.

I wrote to William to send me a pair of buckskin gloves but I have changed my mind by talking with others as they are easy to get wet and hard to get dry. Wollen gloves are far ahead of them so that if William can buy me a pair I would be glad; if not, if you could get the material and knit me a pair I would be vary thankful to you. William will find some way to send them to me. I do not think I can do without something for my hands this winter. It was an oversight that I did not bring a pair with me. I was mindful of my feet and got myself a pair of good boots and you ought to see the way that the boys who have nothing but shoes covet our boots. Some have sent back for boots the same way I am sending for gloves. Mittens would not suit. There must be fingers to them We are getting along very well now. Today I go on guard which is the first duty I have performed since I was sick. Nathaniel Johnson has not yet got able for duty. He has a little touch of the ague since he came from the hospital but the Dr. says he will have to take some medicine for three or four days. R. Hays has got clear of his flux and is now on duty The worst is standing out after night. Homer D. Hull is still in the hospital He is very flighty yet--he thinks he is at home sometimes and it doesn't please him at all if you contradict him. Frank Hogue is there. He is getting some better but he is very weak. There were 15 sent out of the hospital last Monday, still the hospitals are full. There are several yet that are nearly ready to come back to camp. Captain Cutler's company came over day before yesterday but are ordered back to Hindman. There was a battle expected at this place and there was Considerable cavalry sent here, but it was a false report and they are ordered back. Rankin Foster did not come over as he was not well.

He gets letters from John. John P. Foster's son is here. He is with us now. The boys had a pretty hard time there as well as we they had about 1/3 of their number in the hospital at one time. Now the health of their company is better. We have no prospects of any battle any time soon; in fact we don't know of any enemy being anywhere near us. I believe there is no great body of men only in Kentucky or with Price at Corinth. There are a few guerillas prowling the country but it doesn't amount to anything--only bother Union men.

I have filled my sheet and must go on guard. Your affectionate husband, Mitchel

 

November 12, 1862

My Dear Wife:

It is with pleasure I seat myself to answer your kind letter of October 27 for which I had long looked and was anxious to receive and which I read with a good degree of satisfaction. It is a pleasure to receive and read a good long commonplace letter. There is something original in it but I was truly sorry to read the account of Alice's sickness. When I come to consider the difficulties you had to contend with I can easily excuse you for your long delay in writing. Tell Alice that I can sympathize with her in her distress of body as I have recently experienced the same distress of body but I hope that before this letter reaches you that she will be recovered to her usual health. My health is entirely recovered but I had about ten days of a disease--something bordering on the flux but it did not hinder me from going out on a twelve-day scout into Kentucky under the command of Brig. Gen. Ransom. We expected to have something to do but the rebels were too wary for us. We did, however, come up with them and gave them a little brush. Our Regiment did not get up in time although we did the best we could in double quick to get there but the cavalry and the 13th Wisconsin with one piece of artillery scattered them like a flock of patridges before the 83rd came up as we were in the rear that day. We did not even stop at the battle field but pressed forward in hopes of getting another chance at them. All I saw was one dead rebel by the roadside. That was the first sight of the reality of war I have witnessed. We were at the time within the bounds of Hopkinsville in Kentucky. We expected when we started out to find a considerable force to contend with but we could not find more than about 5 or 600 under Col. Woodward. We traveled about 200 miles in all and were not over 45 miles from here. We lost 2 men (cavalry) killed, one wounded. The loss of the rebels was variously estimated at from 12 to 22 killed. We did not have a man hurt at the time of the battle but 3 or 4 of our cavalry were behind their company getting there. Horses shied when about 30 of Woodward s men pounced on them and killed two of them. I cannot see any great utility in any considerable body of men scouting through the country after the guerilla parties, for they are well mounted on the very best horses that Kentucky can afford, and acquainted with every footpath; on the other hand we are encumbered with our heavy teams and artillery wagons and cannot go every place where cavalry can, so that they can escape us. The best we can do, to give my opinion of the best mode of prosecuting this war would be to concentrate our armies so as to whip out and destroy these large armies, then let the men that have volunteered in the service of the United States from these guerilla districts come home and they, in most places, would be strong enough to put down all these rebel bands of thieves and robbers that infest the country for it is evident that plunder is the motive power that induces these men to band together and this war is the excuse, at least that is the opinion of the Union people of this country. The county that Hopkinsville is in sent 600 men to the Union army and if they were at home now and drilled as well as they would soon take care of these bands of robbers.

There are a good many of our Regiment sick in the hospital yet but the general health of the Regiment is considered better than it has been. R. Hays has got pretty well again. Alex Hogue has got over his spell of flux. Frank Hogue has gotten well enough to be moving about the hospital yard. He was sitting on the fence when we passed coming home. He looks thin and considerably bleached. Thomas Pollock is pretty well but has not been on duty yet. Brother Newton had a severe spell of the lung fever since we started out on the scout. He is better now but he is broken out in sores on his face and his mouth has been sore but they are getting better. He said he never in his life has taken so much medicine. He is not reduced so much as I was but he was not sick so long. Nathaniel Johnson is well or nearly so but has not been on duty yet. A young man by the names of Giles is lying very low. He is in our company. They don't think he will live 24 hours. John A. More died a few days after we left. He was the first death in our company. Andrew Piles got back to our company. That was entirely contrary to my expectation. I believe I have gone over the list of the sick. I. C. Hogue has not been sick since he left home.

Eliza, I am glad you have concluded to move your quarters so you will be away from the turmoil and care of a big house and cares of the affairs of a farm. If things don't go right and a person don't know anything about it they will not feel so much anxiety. I have no anxiety further than my crops are concerned and even that, I am fully satisfied that they will be attended to very well. I would like to hear how matters are occasionally I know that it throws a good deal more responsibility onto William but when the hogs and the crops are disposed of then that will be comparatively scarce.

I am very well satisfied that you have Dr. Patterson there. I know he is needed.

John did not go according to my instructions. I told him to haul corn to town and buy lime with the money to plaster the room as I did not think that which was in the cellar was worth anything, though it might be worth more than I expected. You did right in papering the room. It gave you more to do than was practical.

I have just been out on battalion drill and when I got in I found a letter awaiting me from Rev. J. C. McKnight. I was much pleased to receive a letter from him and will answer it soon. I have also received one from Brother Wm. I have not received one from your brother William yet but I can excuse him on account of Alice's sickness. Wm. states to me that he has paid over to the sheriff $332.76. I don't exactly know how much I owe but I think my wheat will about square it up. I would feel greatly relieved if it would. I will answer William's letter at my first convenience.

You state that you are sorry to hear we were on marching orders that you hoped we were settled at Fort Donnelson. Such might seem to you to be a disadvantage but I don't look at it in that light as I consider this station of no practical importance as the gunboats when the river is navigable would drive every vestige of rebel rule from the river and more than that I consider this a very unhealthy location although it is in a mountainous section the simple fact that there has been so many horses and mules killed here at the time of the big battle and only half buried, the air is definitely impregnated with the miasma arising from such carcasses. If a man wants to satisfy himself of that fact let him just walk over the old rebel campground and you will feel a very offensive atmosphere. We passed through a very fine country about Hopkinsville and if we are to spend the winter we would be a great deal better off to be quartered at such a place where we can get any amount of beef cattle, hogs and sheep. Here we are comparatively deprived of these and compelled to eat salt meat brought from the north. Several of our company have today received by express boxes filled with fixens from their friends at home. It shows a very friendly feeling towards our friends at home but I think they should use discretion about what they send, or it may turn out like the Indian's gun "cost more than it comes to". For instance a man here received a box containing cooked chicken, pies, cakes, and the like that were entirely spoiled when they came here. If I were to prescribe what should be sent, I would say butter as first and foremost, sorghum molasses, onions, pickles and the like. As for myself I am perfectly satisfied to trust Uncle Sam for my living. If, however, you have a surplus of white butter you might send a roll down to John Hogue's and he will send it along within a keg he is going to send to Isaac and Alexander. If you do send any, send 10 or 12 pounds and it will do me all winter. If we move from this place we can easily take it along. If they make up a keg of molasses, send 2 or 3 gallons. With these articles is all I would wish to have that we can't get here.

Mitchel

 

Dear Wife:

It is with pleasure that I seat myself to write a few lines as it is a good while since I have written you a letter and as we are about to start away on a scout I thought I could not go without writing to you. I have received a letter from you last week and was pleased to receive it. You stated that you received the lines I wrote and sent Mr. Moler. It does appear to me that you do not get all the letters I write you or they must be a long time going. I do think that I write you a letter every week until I went to Kentucky but I think it is now near three weeks since I wrote you but you must excuse me as it appeared almost impossible to get to write--we are moderately well (in speaking of "we", I speak of the boys from Spring Grove, etc.). Frank Hogue is not very stout yet but he has come to the tent with us. Thomas Pollock is not able for duty yet. He hurt himself lifting and that he is not going to get over in a hurry. Newton is getting well again. He had a right severe spell.

There is great probability that we will make this fort our headquarters for the winter. We have built ourselves cabins and fixed ourselves very comfortable but the order now is to have 7 companies in the field pretty much all the time leaving 3 companies to attend to the duties here. I am very well pleased with the arrangement. I am going with the 7 companies the day after tomorrow. We take five days rations with an order for four days more if needed. We are bound south of here to Waverly and vicinity to hunt up what rebels we can find in that region. That is where Companies A and H had their fight. I am glad to get out into the country. I want to see some more of Tennessee. We have not seen any of the farming country of this state. I did think we might be sent to guard the railroad running through Kentucky to Nashville but I don't know anything about it. It was only my own idea. It is only 80 miles from here to Nashville, your brother John is there. We expect to cooperate with troops from Nashville and it may be we may meet, but it is not probable that we would find one another unless we should stop to encamp sometime in one place. Our war news is generally of a late date. It is not necessary to try to give you any war news other than Our immediate neighborhood. I was surprised to hear of George W. Logan's death as I had not heard that he was bad. I received the postage stamps you send me was pleased to get them as I was about out of the article. I received a pair of gloves from William at about the same time I got a pair of woolen ones from a colored woman here for forty-five cents and sold the buckskin gloves for one dollar and fifty cents We have abundance of winter clothing. I have two pair of pants, 3 shirts, 3 pair of socks, 2 blankets and other things in proportion. We have sacks filled with husks to lay on and we sleep very comfortably.

There are about 15 or 16 cabins together. Our cook house will be by the side of the cabins with a furnace to cook on. We will have one of our number to attend to the cooking and a darkey to do the carrying of water, chop wood, wash the dishes, etc. This is about the way we win get through the winter if we stay here.

I must close as my sheet is about full and the alarm has beat to put the lights out. Yours affectionately, Mitchel

 

Ft. Donnelson, Tenn.

January 12, 1863

 

Dear Eliza:

It is with pleasure I set myself to write you a letter in answer to one I received from you bearing the date of Dec. 25. I was glad to hear of yours and Corry's good health but was sorry to hear of the afflictions of the Douglas family and Alice. I am sorry to hear that she has not got over her chills. My health at present is good. My eyes are a little weak but I am doing nothing for them expect batheing them with cold water.

There is quite a stir here in regard to the battle of Murfreesboro. I hear that the 37th Indiana was in the fight and that their Lt. Col. was slightly wounded. There were 17 steamboats went up the river in a string loaded with supplies for Rosegrans' army and are now returning loaded with wounded soldiers. Oh, what a dreadful calamity this thing of war is, but it may all be for good. God doubtless has a purpose in view and it is our duty to bow in submission to his divine will and it only remains our duty to study to find out what his will is and then to perform it to the best of our ability trusting in God for divine assistance and direction. There is no question but God is working all things around right but it takes dull humanity a long time to be brought to a true sense of their duty so as to act the part aright that God has designed for them to act in this drama.

We are all anxious to hear from Vicksburg. We long to hear of the great father-of-waters being open to the commerce of the world once more. There is no doubt but they have a destructful battle there. I also hear that the 17th Reg. of Illinois volunteers has been taken prisoners. If so, they doubtless have had a hard battle for I am persuaded that they would not surrender for nothing.

Capt. McClanahan is very anxious to hear from his boys that were in the battles. Wm. was in the 17th and Frank in the 36th which was in the fight and probably a good deal worsted. There is no enemy near here to give us any trouble that we are aware of, but it looks to us like nonsense to be staying here in one place so long and having nothing to do but drill, drill, drill, and standing guard. By the way I hear that there is a report at home respecting our Regiment --that our Col. is a drunken sot and a great many other reports of a similar character too tedious to mention. I am happy to state that though there have been a great many things transpired that had better not have been done but our officers had not learned the trade yet, the great majority of the reports are greatly exaggerated. We were all greenhorns at the business but there have been great reforms and I have heard it stated by persons who ought to know that as a Regiment on drill we compare favorably with Regiments that have been long in the service.

As Capt. McClanahan is about to start for a visit to his family I embrace the opportunity of sending you some of my handiwork. I had no convenient tools to work with but some of them have a splendid lusted Some of the thin ones will have to be cased. They' will look splendid for breast pins but will have to get the pins put to them as that is beyond my capacity. I worked more at them than I should have done Non account of my eyes, as finishing them up is a particular job and requires good eyes. Rubbing down the shells is a big job' as there is no grindstone here. Sometimes I would rub them on the side of a broken grindstone sometimes on a brick and sometimes on a board with sand sprinkled over it. For boring out the rings we used the bayonet set on the gun and whirled it round until we got the hole bored. You can divide them with your brother Wm. and family, reserving for yourself and Cory your choice. I have sent you fifteen dollars in my last letter. I sent it by Mr. Rowley. Use some of it to get pins put to them and get Doc Lamphier to case the thin ones that have the best luster. He will do it right. I have not shaped them perfectly. I allow the jeweler to do that. Let him proportion them to suit his own notion. I may work out a few more if I find some right nice shells but I must let my eyes get sound first .

Yours as ever, Mitchel

 

Ft. Donnelson, Tenn.

Jan. 17, 1863

Dear Eliza:

You will doubtless wonder why I have written you 2 letters to be sent by the same person but the Capt. is detained so long that I feel like writing you another letter, especially as I have some news for you from the 37th Ind. Reg. Wm. Rankin passed here on a steamer bound for Cincinnati loaded with wounded soldiers from the Murfreesboro fight. hill was wounded by a ball in the shoulder going in at forepart of the shoulder and going out through the shoulder blade. He is getting along very well. I being on picket guard missed getting to see him. Your brother John got through without a scratch. Capt. McKee is supposed to be mortally wounded. There were a few killed in the company with Rankin but Foster was not acquainted with them. The Reg. was pretty hardly dealt with but they are in fine spirits and full of hopes for the future, from what we can learn. David Hogue is not hurt. James Elder was killed by a ball instantly. Joseph Baxter and William Arthur were killed but I suppose you have heard before this of the casualties of the battle. Troops are pouring in from all directions to Rosegrans and the probability is that there will be another conflict soon for the rebels don't appear to be retreating to get out of Rosegran's way and Rosegrans is not the man to stand and look at them when there is a chance to strike them a blow. The rebels took 3 of our transports that were carrying supplies to Rosegrans and burned them. They paroled all the whites and formed the negroes in line to shoot them in accordance with the order of Jeff Davis, but Rosegrans had sent out some of the Missouri cavalry who caught them before they had time to do the deed who took their sabers and cut them right and left to completely demolish the whole squad which is the right way to serve the scoundrels. They have been served with too much levity and that is the reason why they are so bold, but I am very much in hopes that Rosegrans will put another crook in their nose.

Eliza, I have for some time thought to write to you concerning Ike Hogue. I am persuaded that homesickness is the moving, or the principal, cause of his complaint and I firmly believe that it is letters from his wife that help in promoting it. His letters certainly do not do him the same good that they do the rest of us. Thy are couched with the most affectionate appeals, deploring his absence, lamenting her destitute condition, pleading for him to make every effort to get a discharge on account of his hearing and stating that if every she gets a hold of him again they won't get him from her so easily. Now such writing does not do for a man of his temperament. He is easily overcome by affectionate appeals. It is true that Isaac had no business to come here on account of his hearing but they ought to make the best of a bad bargain now. My reason for writing to you of this is for you to talk to Bell on the subject and tell her that you have learned that homesickness is the principal part of his complaint and that he is rapidly going down and that it is her imperative duty to write him the most encouraging letters that she can, putting in no complaints of her lonely condition nor worry his mind with accounts about old Mr. Graham's actions. Now it would be much better for her to encourage him, write to him about the doings of the war and the virtual necessity for everyone to do the best to crush out the rebellion for what is a home without a country and what is life without liberty? Isaac had me for his confident and adviser until Bell found out that he let me see his letters and she gave him a scolding for it and I have not had a word from them since I used to laugh him out of it when he would begin lamenting over his fate. saying that all things will work out right yet and we will have to be patient and bide our time and strive to do all in our power to put down this rebellion and then we can, if spared, go home and enjoy the comforts of our homes and families, but his reply would be "yes, but if I had a woman such as you have that would write letters such as yours does to you I would not care" then would say that his woman is not one of that kind. Now I don't want her to know that I have written to you in such a manner as I have on the subject but as Isaac is now leaving us to go with Capt. McClanahan to the General Hospital he will probably be out from under the influence of his friends and acquaintances and will very likely give way to despondency unless he is encouraged in some other way. Newton is going along. He with his other complaints has the yellow jaundice and the probability is that both of them will eventually get their discharge but they may have to lay over at the hospital for a long time before they can get their discharges signed by the proper authorities.

Mitchel

 

Ft. Donnelson, Feb. 3, 1863

Dear Eliza:

I have heard through letters received by some of the boys from Spring Grove that you had started for Indiana. Consequently at least two letters which I had directed to you to the Grove have failed to get there before you started. I will now direct this to Richland hoping it will reach you there. I directed a letter to you and sent it with Dr. Rowley who has been here the second time which had fifteen dollars in it for you. I have not heard whether you received it or not. I also sent you another letter by Brother Newton with ten dollars in it. I do not like to keep any more money here than I need for a little change as Uncle Sam supplies our wants pretty well. Newton is on his way home and very likely will get his discharge on account of physical inability as he has several complaints of which the chronic diarrhea is the most prominent. He had the yellow jaundice when left. He is not at all able to stand camp life. Isaac C. Hogue is on his way home too. He got sick and settled in his head considerable and injured his hearing so much that there was no use in him staying here. There were some fifty went from the Regiment. Cap. McClanahan went with them but the commanding officer at Cairo would not let him go home and in a few days he was back and at the head of his company. There is a report here now that there is a strong force blockading the river. If it is true there will probably be a gunboat fight soon here. I was sorry that I did not get to see Will Rankin as I was out on picket duty when he was here and just got in as the boat left.

I sent to you by the Capt. a package of my manufacturing of shells into breast pins and rings. Some of them have a splendid luster. I suppose they will lay by till you go back to Ill. I also sent Wm's girls a Package They and the letter were all put up together. They will probably mail your letter to Indiana. James Foster is sick with the measles. He is getting along with them very well. Parker is well and how has James' place at the big siege gun. The health of the Reg. is on the improving scale and I think we will soon be able to take rank with other regiments. We had a few days ago three paroled prisoners from Corinth They belonged to Steward's cavalry from Ill. They say that Seven hundred of the rebel cavalry came across 28 of them when they were out scouting and took 15 of them prisoners. They state that they were here at the time of the battle of Donnelson. They state that at one time when they were here they were nearly all sick. There were not enough well men to make a detail to dig a grave. Such are the accounts we have received from all sources in regard to the health of this place.

I am looking every mail for a good long letter from you giving the particulars of your journey and how matters and things were in Illinois when you left and how matters and things are in old Rush. I received a letter from James a short time since. I have not answered it yet. I have been too busy. I have been detailed to build a house for a Regimental bakery but today is too cold to work on the roof so I put in the time at writing. There was quite a little excitement here last week. It has been reported that Forrest was prowling around here with his cavalry and artillery We heard a report as it were cannon at a distance; presently a report came that one of the pickets was wounded with a shell, then came the long roll to arms and we rallied round the flag in double quick and the darkies, of which there are a great many here, all huddled up close behind us, almost scared to death, but it proved to be the bursting of an old shell that lay where the pickets were of which there are hundreds of them lying about. The man's name was burns. His leg was badly mashed and the surgeon amputated it below the knee. The shell was too close to the fire and ignited.

My sheet is full and I must stop, hoping I may receive a good letter from you some time soon. My love to all, M. A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donnelson, Feb. 4, 1863

Dear Eliza:

I on yesterday wrote you a letter but as the mail did not go I this morning hasten to record another hard fought battle of Ft. Donnelson which resulted in a glorious victory to our arms. We had hardly commenced eating our dinner when the long roll was beat and we were in arms in short order, but we were very incredulous about the alarm whether it was not only a ruse to get us out in skermish drill but we were marched out beyond the pickets in skermish line (that is all abreast five steps apart--our company on the east, Reed's company on the southwest. We had only to stand in line 3/4 of an hour until the rebels made their appearance then we began to believe that the reports we had heard of such a great force. We fired onto them and they retreated back until the main body came up and they formed in line of battle. Then our drum beat the rally on the flag and we were called in. We scarcely were in position before the cannon began to fire which lasted an hour and they (our artillery) were badly cut up and ran out of amunition. The rebels thought they had us and charged on us, then was the time for us. We came out of our lair and charged them and repulsed them with great slaughter and took a good many prionsers. We repulsed them in every charge, according to the prionsers statements there were between six and seven thousand of the rebels with five pieces of artillery. They came on us on all sides with their cannon cross firing, but we had to lay low until they would make another charge. Finally the firing of the artillery ceased and the fight was entirely by the infantry. Our company came out the safest of any. Capt. McClanahar was shot through the fleshy part of the thigh. Edward Rockwell's leg was mashed with the bursting of a shell at his feet. Capt. Reed was killed. Orderly Campbell was killed of Comapny C. Our quartermaster was killed (Bissel) in all there were some 12 or 14 killed and some 43 wounded--some very bad and others but slightly. As for the rebels there are 65 dead rebels lying around here and all that the artillery killed were taken off. We took some 60 prisoners. They just took us at a time when we were the least prepared for them; Captain Cutler was off at Nashville, Capt. Flood of the battery was away at Paducah after more amunition Capt. Hammeric with his Company was away up the river. I don't think we had over 600 or 700 effective men, but how different the case now, the firing ceased at eight o'clock at night and at ten there were gunboats that made their appearance on the river with a large force that was coming up to reenforce Rosengrans. There are now some twelve or 15 thousand of our troops here. The gunboats, five in number, shelled the woods for several miles up and down the river causing them to skedaddle in quick time. The streets are now full of officers and soldiers from the boats looking over the battle ground and examining the position. They all express themselves surprised to think how in the world we sustained against such powerful odds and held the post so successfully. Eliza, it looks very much to a casual observer that man should receive great praise for the achievements of such actions but the hand of God is in it. I never in my life saw the hand of God so visibly as I did in this battle. It appears as though at one time that nothing couse save us but at the same time they had expended their strength and nearly exhausted their artillery amunition. There was a shower of shells flying around us but they fell comparatively harmlessly to ground. At that time there was no use in us exposing ourselves to their raking fire of cannon so our officers compelled us to lay down in a deep trench that was washed out in the bottom of a deep ravine and made us stay there until the rebels made a charge after they had silenced our artillery They advanced on us in three distinct lines of battle(all cavalry) and when they got in convenient distance for our rifles we got the word "forward." Then we rose as out of the ground and completely discomfited them that they never as much as fired onto us. Their only safety appeared to be to get out of our reach and some of our prionsers say that their officers must be d----d fools to think they could charge on infantry with such guns and bayonets as we have now. I see the hand of God in this. The rebels were so chargrined to think they were so badly repulsed by so small a number that they have relied upon reinforcement of 1000 men and they were forming in a line of battle to make a night charge, the officers swearing that the would take this place or burst. Just at that time a shell from the gunboats whizzed in and the prisoners say there was the greatest commotion to get out of the way and the whole army skedaddled. The force was that of Wheeler, Forest and Wharter, the same force that cut off Rosengrans provision train and have been since trying to blockade the river and cut off the supplies to Rosengrans. There is now not less than 10,000 troops here on the river. They are waiting here for their commanding officer, Gen. Granger. This is the 6th of Feb. and the battle was on the third and we have not got the ground cleaned off yet. Men who were here at the time of the great siege say that there were more horses and mules killed this time that there were then from the fact of the enemy being all cavalry The rebels paroled all the prisoners they took of our men and they are sent to Benton barracks. I have not been able to learn yet how many of our men were taken prisoners but I don't think there were more than 12 or 15 among which is Clark Elder and Montgomery that married Mat Hemphill. I did not receive a scratch, but could feel the wind from the shells frequently and they would spatter the dirt and gravel all over us when we were in the ditch. I shall never have another word of disapprobation to say against any of our officers for they all acted with the utmost coolness and presence of mind, never became hysterical or confused and acted with the utmost coolness and every man seemed to take it with perfect ease and good humor. William Struthers when a ball creased his cap said "Bully for the cap" and it made us all laugh around him and numerous were the jests and remarks indulged in while the enemy was cannonading us. As for myself, I never felt the first particle of fear except when we were out at first skermishing when the enemy made their first appearance. At that time I felt a little trambly and I hardly know whether it was for fear or from cold for there was snow on the ground and the wind was very chilly but I could just draw up and hold a bead on a rebel as easy as I could on a prairie chicken.

Our wounded are getting along very well. Capt. McClanahan is in good spirits, his wound is sore but not painful; Rockwell's foot is amputated below the knee, Francis Clark was contacted with a mine ball on the cheek but would not have interfered with his biting had not a shell struck a chimney above him and knocked the brick in every Direction one of which hit him on top of the head which stunned him but he got over it in a short time. I did not think of writing so much when I turned the paper but it seems as though I could not quit so you must take your time to it and decipher it the best you can.

Eliza, I cannot close without saying to you that I never in my life saw so direct an answer to prayer as is shown in this instance and I am also convinced that it was not only the prayers that have ascended to God from here but at home the sweet incense of prayer arose to high heaven for our safety and success, and may God in his goodness and mercy be ever with us to shield and protect us and make us still more successful in putting down this rebellion. No more at present but still remain most affectionately your husband, M.A. Thompson.

 

Ft. Donnelson, Feb. 5, 1863

Dear Eliza:

Our boys feel in good spirits now and full of sport. They have some good times. They don't take drilling as a drudge as they did last summer but have got used to it and they can go through the performances with much more ease and precision. Indeed I think we have attained to a good degree of perfection in drill. It really looks nice to see the Regiment on dress parade. We have the very best arms in the service-the Springfield rifle--as bright and glistening in the sun as they can be made and we are required to keep them so--dare not let a speck of rust get on them.

There have been a good many of our wounded die since the battle and about twenty of our wounded secession prisoners died. I will send you a copy of a few lines that a wounded secession prisoner wrote a few days before his death:

"A man that enlisteth in the Confederate service is but of few days and short rations. He goeth forth to fight the Yankees, he is driven by his commanders to charge, when a bullet strikes him he is left to die alone in misery and without a friend to take care of him, and without a heart to ask for help. He lays, he groans, he bleeds, he dies, all because he is a rebel to his government and a traitor to his God, he dies miserable, he has no friends to bury him. He has to be put away as a beast and looked upon as a dog, where he goes I do not want to say but he dies miserable. He carries his corn dodger with him, he wears his one uniform, rides his one horse, carries his one gun, works for the d---l and boards himself." Such is a soldier's life under secession rule. I trust we will not have such a doleful picture to make especially for the latter part. No more at present, but remain yours as ever,

M.A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donnelson, Feb. 28, 1863

Death of Capt. McClanahan, Feb. 23, 1863

Dear Wife:

I have been long looking for a letter from you, but have failed for the last four mails and I have delayed writing longer than I would have done hoping every mail to receive one from you but thinking my last letter did not reach you. I have concluded to write the second letter since I received one from you but it seems hard for me to write any as we have been very busy since our engagement with the rebels. We have made an entire change in our locality. We have built a new fort and moved into it. The camp we did occupy was not a fort. There was but a part of the Regiment that had any breastworks to protect us from attack of the enemy in fact a person could hardly perceive a better place than it was for the rebels to shell us than our old camp--a high ridge encircled the town in a very convenient distance for cannon to operate successfully and we were shelled out of our quarters quick and compelled to take shelter in ravines on the north side of the town next to the river where we were comparatively safe from the enemy's cannon which was a necessity from the fact that the battle then was almost entirely by artillery and the infantry could not reach the enemy but when the artillery ran out of amunition then the enemy thought they had us allright and came in on us in force. Then was the time for us to come out of the ravines and charge them and scatter them in every direction and in every attempt to charge us they were repulsed. We received word from Rosengrans that Price and Bandorn were marching their forces in this direction and we would do well to fortify ourselves as strongly as we could to resist them. Immediately all hands were put in motion--all the Negroes, all the teams, and every pick and shovel that could be found in the country was pressed into the service and we went into fortifying in earnest. The site was chosen on what is called Searborrow Heights about midway between the little town of Dover and the old rebel fort which is a good position containing two hollows, short and deep, running down to the river than an enemy cannot get a shell into which in case of a severe cannonading we can be comparatively secure and when the rebels make a charge on the fort of course their cannon will cease firing then it will be but a minute's time till we are all at our breastworks to repel any attacks. We have two 32 pounders siege guns commanding the two wings of the fort and one Colt Howitzer commanding the center between the two seiege guns all taken from the rebels works. Such are our defences at present and we feel comparatively safe so far as fortifications are concerned and we have our cabin moved to our new quarters and we are fixed up right comfortable. You might ask why did you not move in to occupy the old rebel fort. My answer would be simply this, that the rebel fort is a defense against river and gunboat attack but is but slight protection from an attack by land. The rebels depended on their outer breastworks to defend them against land attacks but we could do nothing towards defending that for it would take 20 or 30 thousand men to man these breastworks properly.

Well, Eliza, I have occupied a good part of my paper to give you an idea of our position but there is another matter of more importance that I must write. I have to write to you of the death of our beloved Captain which took place at 4 o'clock of the morning of the 23rd. We were not altogether prepared for it but could see that he was sinking gradual and finally the diarrhea set in and reduced him rapidly. He sank away just as though he were going to sleep and even in death I never have seen a corpse more natural and look so calm. A person could hardly distinguish only through the palid cheek but what he reposed in sleep Such is the death of the righteous. I think it was truly said by a man in an ajoining company that if ever a man went to heaven Capt McClanahan was one. He was put into a metallic coffin and his son took him home. The other man of our company who was wounded was Edward Rockwell. He has since died and his brother took him home. there is a large number of wounded on both sides dying and such is the effect of war.

My health is pretty good and has been for a considerable time. Robert Hays has not been very well for sometime. He had been troubled in his bowels. Our company has gotten tolerably clear of sickness. There is but one in the hospital and he has the rheumatism. They have discharged all the bad cases. Brother Newton, I. C. Hogue, J. G. Pollock and a number of others have been discharged. I understand that Newton is in poor health since he got home with the camp diarrhea I have not had a letter from Illinois for sometime but I hear through others letters that the friends are all well. I. C. Hogue has recovered his health but got his discharge through his deafness. I wrote you a letter and sent fifteen dollars in it and I also sent you ten dollars by Newton to be sent by Capt. McClanahan or the man he sent his letters with. I have not heard of either of them. The first letter I sent by Dr. Rowley, the same man that I sent the five dollars to William with I would like to hear from them. I would also like it if you would send me some postage stamps as it seems almost impossible to get them here. I would like exceedingly to hear whether Corry got well or not. I was sorry to hear of her illness. I got the likeness of her you sent me by the hand of S. C. Curren. The picture is a complete one. I am much pleased with it. I would like if your likeness had been connected with it. I received a letter from your brother William written a short time after you left. You wrote in your letter which you left for Rebecca to finish that you had been looking for me home to attend to the business of fix' ing up the farm sale. That idea had not once entered my head from the fact that there is no possibility for me to get a furlough no matter how much I may desire it. I am, however, very much pleased with the way Wm. has fixed it up. Dr. Wallace was here on last sabath week and gave the Regiment a good sermon. Alex Rankin was also here and took him five bodies of the dead with them. Among them was Clark Kendel and Orderly Campbell.

My sheet is full and I must stop as it is time for Payer meeting and I must attend. Don't cease your wrestling with God for us that he will bless us. Yours affectionately, Mitchel

 

Ft. Donnelson, Tenn., Mar. 17, 1863

Dear Wife:

Yesterday I received your kind letter of March 2nd. You see by the dates that it was 16 days in coming from your hand to mine but when I tell You that it is the first line I received from your hand since the forepart of, Feb. you will think that I must get but little news. The letter you wrote shortly after your arrival in Indiana is the last I received until yesterday. I was uneasy as Corry was so unwell when you wrote.

You may no doubt miss getting some of my letters but we have been so busy here of late in fixing up our new quarters that I have found it difficult for me to get time to write as I have had a standing detail for carpentering, fixing up comissary department, moving houses, etc. We are getting pretty well fixed up now and we have more time for writing and I hope we may be able to keep up our correspondence more regularly in the future. I received a letter from J. D. Thorn and was much pleased to hear from him. I have written him two letters but he did not acknowledge the receipt of either of them.

From all I can learn we are better fixed here than nine-tenths of the soldiers who are in the field, I received a letter from Mr. Graham our preacher and it was full of good counsel and meets my views admirably and it was not only suited for myself but for all here. Consequently I read the letter to others he administers to us timely warning. He says that our Regiment has been by our actions brought into notice, we will be marked by the enemy and no doubt soon called upon by our country to still higher deeds of daring and danger and that we should not for one moment trust in an arm of flesh, still trust in God for he alone can shield us in the hour of danger and who giveth the victory. He also states that treason at home is becoming bold and that the last battle for freedom may be fought in the North. I trust it will not be, still it may be so, for there is no doubt but the language of John the Baptist in the 3rd Chapter of Matthew, 10th verse apply to us now as well as it did when the Savior came into the world: "And now the axe is laid unto the root of the trees". You will mark it that it is not the roots of the tree but the root of the trees, as of many, we gather from this that there were many prevailing sins that our Lord and Savior was to conquer, and now are there not many sins in this our day that are great sins that the axe will be laid to the root of, beside the sin of slavery, Yes! verily, and the North has an abundance of sins that they will have to be brought to a just sense of, for the fan is now in God's hand and he will no doubt purge this floor and the fire of his great indignation will burn up the chaff, and bring the nation out of this turmoil white and clean, but we must break off our sins by righteousness and our iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. It may be a lengthening of our tranquility.

I am glad to hear that Cory has got well again, but am sorry to hear of Mother's feeble health. Tell her I am prepared to sympathize with her. for although I am hearty and hale now and weigh some ten pounds heavier than I ever have before to my knowledge, yet I have since I've been here had feebler health than I ever had since my recollection. I am pleased to hear that the Christian people there take such an interest in behalf of their friends in the camp. It encourages our hearts and strengthens our hands and we can truly say with the Psalmist in the Third Psalm where he was enabled to place the most explicit confidence in God as his shield and protector he could lay down and his sleep would be sweet for God sustained him.

I received a letter from Nancy Ann that Isaac Mayfield has buried his wife so he is a widower with two small children to care for, but such is life and we all have our trials.

I have forgotten whether I told you who we elected to the offices made vacant by deaths and discharges. Lt. Turnbull for Cap., J. Herman for Second Lieutenant, Wm. L. Struthers for orderly, Alex Warwick and John Wright for Sergeants. I have heard several times from Monfort He is as hearty as ever. I have heard from Father McQuiston who says he can feel old age coming upon him very much. He says it has been a very wet and disagreeable winter.

I forgot to state that Sparta, Randolph Co. is Father James McQuiston's address and he would no doubt be much pleased to have a letter from you. I long to see Monty. Yours, etc. M.

 

Ft. Donnelson, Tenn., March 28, 1863

Dear Wife:

I just came in from taking a game of ball with our young Capt., Second Lt., and a goodly number of the company where we were having a good time generally. When I was made the receipient of one of those favors which never fail to give me pleasure, viz., a letter from your hand. I was astonished inasmuch as there was no mail. It occurred to me that it was one of those letters of old date that I failed in getting but when I saw the date that thought gave way to others and I involuntarily thought to look around to see if I could discover the one who was kind enough to bring it, but finding it came from the Provost Marshall's office I found by reading it came by the hand of one Powers but I have failed to find out anything about him, but I suppose he is gone up the river for I heard this morning the whistle of a fleet of transports going up to Nashville, I was pleased to hear that Mother's health is improving and that the hope was that she would regain her usual health. I rather suppose Cory will keep you busy spreading pieces of bread with butter. I don't think I have ever seen a picture that looks more natural than her picture you sent me by Cal Curren and now while my thoughts are about Cal I must tell you that I received a letter from him which states that he is at Galatin, 30 miles from Nashville and is first steward at Sergen Rice's Convalescent hospital at a salary of $30.00 per month, has a dutchman for a waiter, has all the advantages of learning that a man could desire, has the privilege of being present in the surgical and amputating room. Who would have thought it, but this world of ours is a curious institution but we usually find that the man that has the most brass in his face and is the most importunate is the first to get places of emolument and who live in ease and pleasure. He is engaged by a Special contract and can quit at any time and if his superiors in office see fit to take his station from him, he will not be reduced to the ranks which does not infrequently happen. Well, all I wish is that he may Succeed and get to understand his business well. From what I can learn there must be a change of tactics in the progress of this war. We are no more left here, a mere handful, to guard this post but they are concentrating troops here in large numbers. I think I have already written to you that forts Henry and Hiemen are evacuated by order of Rosegrans and reinforced this place with them which makes the number at this post at 2500 or 3000 and more recently there is an order to reinforce this place with 6,000 more troops and the boats are busy transporting provisions for them. Engineers arrived here yesterday to lay out fortifications of greater magnitude than we have now for greater protection, but you may ask why go to so much trouble with this place when our Regiment held it for seven months and that without any fortifications at all? I will explain as far as there is understanding here. It is thought that the rebels are concentrating in front of Rosengrans' large forces for the purpose of outflanking him and come in behind him and cut off his supplies and retreat but to do so would be compelled to clean out the outposts of which Fort Donelson is considered the most important, hence the idea of strengthening this post so as to resist any pressure the enemy may see proper to bring against us. I have no idea of who will have command of the post. I doubt whether Brigadier General A. C. Harding has military experience enough to command a force as formidable as there will be here, although he has proven himself fully able to defend the post against great odds with untried troops. There are numerous reports of movements that I cannot tell what is the truth so it is not necessary for me to relate camp rumors, but will only relate what appears to me to have at least a semblence of truth. It is rumored that Van Dorn is marching on this place with 16,000 troops. He may be moving in this direction and I have no doubt but he would like to be north of the Cumberland river into the rich and plentiful country of Kentucky immediately north of this place, but I doubt his coming at this time for the river is yet in good boating stage and he would doubtless find himself very much disturbed in crossing over by the gunboats and if he does attempt that he will wait till the river falls and the roads get so he can get his heavy wagons and artillery with him. I think it is a wise measure in strengthening this place to throw obstructions in his way if such should be his intention, but amid all the movements and counter movements that are going on I cannot but have reasonably good hopes that the war is drawing near its close. There is one thing very certain--the time for action has fully come, the time for excuses for delays on account of not being ready has passed.

Our Generals who are at the head of our leading armies are of the "go-ahead" kind. We are done carrying on this war on peace principles. Our armies that are in the field are determined to prosecute this war to the bitter end, despite the vigorous attempts that are making in the North to raise up a strong opposing power to crush the administration and to put a stop to the further prosecution of the war. They spurn with the utmost contempt those traitors in the north who would sell themselves and their posterity to a relentless foe that would reduce them and us, to be mere vassals to a set of aristocratic slave holders and traders in human flesh whose vital principle is, the few to dictate, the mass to serve.

I had considerable of an argument with a wounded secesh prisoner in one of our hospitals who was from Texas and who, it was reported, was acquainted with one Wm. L. Thompson who was in the army that attacked us on the 3rd of Feb. whom several here supposed to be Dr. Thompson's oldest son, Rufus' brother, but which I could not gather that he was the same. In reply to a remark I made to him that I wished to find out whether I was actually fighting against a cousin of mine or not he replied that if I had a cousin in the south I was undoubtedly fighting against him. I told him I could not think that unless he was there by conscript. No, says he, there are no conscripts in Texas they are all volunteers and a man who moves from the North is the stronger in favor of southern rights and opposed to the aggressions of the North. He could not tell why it is but it is so. I told him that the same rule worked well on the other side. I could count the families by the dozen living in my immediate neighborhood who came from the South and from the great nursery state of rebellion, South Carolina, that are the very strongest in opposition to this rebellion of the southern states and I can tell the reason for the differences of the two classes. The men of the North that move south are a class of men who do not look at the social relation that one class of men sustains to another farther than dollars and cents are concerned, do not hesitate to take the labor and services of another class without a just recompense, so far as it will minister to their own comforts. In other words they think that slavery is right and do not allow their consciences to interfere farther than ease and opulence is concerned; the other class are a set of men who look upon slavery as a curse to mankind, a curse to society both in a civil and a religeous sense. It is rearing up families in luxury and ease with a domineering spirit, lounging in idleness and vice, frowning on anyone who should do anything for themselves, looking upon those that would cook a meal's victuals or would curry his own horse ignominious.

This class hates slavery. They have a conscience in the matter. They see the evil that slavery places on society. They flee from it as they would flee from the wrath to come. They move North to a land where universal freedom prevails, where labor is looked upon as meritorious where all are permitted to read the Bible, where all are on an equal footing in regard to procuring an education, where all can worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences and where the Wealth is with the masses and not with the favored few. Such is the class that moves North and they are opposed to this rebellion from the fact that it strikes at the very roots of the society that they have moved North in search of and because the south is waging this war to break down free institutions and establish a government with slavery as its base and that the few should lord it over the masses.

The man did not seem to wish to continue the argument further, but remained silent and as I left he thanked me for calling on him and invited me to call again when I could make it convenient. He was a pleasant fellow to talk with but was impulsive. Nathaniel Johnson was with me and was talking to our other prisoner on another bed which remarked when the man I was talking to said he did not know what was the reason men from the North that had moped South are stronger southern rights men, remarked that it was because they had no better sense. I thought the remark a good one and very appropriate at the time.

Well, I have been lengthening out my lines without giving any news from Illinois, but my news is scarce. Brother Wm. sold his farm to Gurlaw as well as mine but I have received no letter from him yet and l have none of the particulars. I have, I believe, no other news of any importance to write but wishing you well that you may have the enjoyment of good health as I doubt not you enjoy yourself at your Mothers and hoping you may still enjoy yourself until in the good providence of God I may be permitted to return to you.

I remain your husband, M. A. Thompson

 

Fort Donelson, Apr. 10, 1863

Dear Wife:

I have for sometime been looking for a letter from you but as our mails are so irregular I don't think it strange; the last mail, however, brought me a letter from you dated Feb. 9th. Rather old but nevertheless it was welcome. I have discovered the reason of the delay in sending letters from Indiana unless the postmaster is careful to notice the address they are very apt to put the letters to the 83rd Ill. in the mail carrying letters to the 83rd Indiana. Consequently they go to the wrong Regiment. This letter came to me with the writing on the envelope "not the 83rd Ind.". This may serve to show you how to direct your letters. Just simply put the words in addition to the address you put on (via Cairo) and they will not likely send the letters in the wrong direction. The letter you sent with postage stamps in that you spoke about in your late letter sent by Mr. Powers has not come to hand yet. I think that must be the cause that I get so few letters.

My health at present is good with the exception of some cold. Robert Hays is in the hospital at Paducah. He has the camp diarrhea but was not very bad, but circumstances rendered it necessary of which I well state, two of our gunboats were up the river and were attacked and driven back by the enemy cannon, and was disabled by a shell Consequently we won't truckle to the rebs at all but he goes forward manfully as he sees the cause requires and he is respected by friend and foe and has a peculiar knack of making friends out of his foes. I do wish our officers were all men of the same stamp. Matters would go on in a very different sort of way. It appears that there must be some excitement all the time but such excitement as this last was but short-lived) not over a day and a half.

Yesterday our company went out on the telegraph line between here and Smithland to repair the telegraph and set new posts. I being on guard did not get to go along. Today I have been busying myself in scrubbing the floor the first time since we built the cabin. I also went to work and baked some sheep sorrel pies which the boys pronounced first rate. I wish you could drop in this evening about Supper time as we have a variety now. We have salt pork and fresh beef, suet pudding, hominy and pies, light bread and biscuit, coffee (genuine) tea (gunpowder), so you see we are not in a starving condition Wm. N. has a right bad cold. He was on provost guard for sometime and it was cold and chilly at night and as he had to be out every night he was not man enough to stand it. Will had a chill last night and is right sick today. I don't know whether it will amount to much or not. We have a good deal of right good reading some of which I will mention. The first is Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon's "Justification and Regeeration." I think I never read such a work before. He is such a strong reasoner probably your folks may have the work. I have taken the book with me while on picket and read to the other boys. I also have a book of sermons compiled by Mrs. Trimener. They are abridged from sermons from old English divines and are first rate. There is also a book on Human Physiology, an interesting little work the title of which is "Know Thyself" by Jane Taylor. It is a good little work for a person to read to post a person in regard to the human system and many of the laws of health. I would like you to buy the book if you have a chance. There are number of such books sent here by the Contriband Missionary Society in Michigan and Wisconsin. They are old books and probably the refuse of rich men's libraries and a good many not suitable for the purpose for which they are sent. Spelling books are more in request The Contriband school is progressing very favorably. Some of them learn fast, in fact the blacks here are going to outstrip the whites.

I will give you a specimen of the language here. A right well dressed couple came through our lines in a nice covered buggy and on their return from Headquarters. The pickets asked them if there was any news at H. Q. This was about the time that Grant was having his first victories over Lee. The sentinel had heard the news but wanted to hear what they would say. The man said there was no news particular why institution of slavery by preaching that slavery is a righteous institution, instituted by God himself, and that it is the only true basis for society and proclaim such doctrine from the pulpit but let Micaiah come and teach another doctrine how quick he would be put in the dungeon and fed on the bread of affliction and water of affliction. Well, it is certain that God has a great controversy with this people and that he will carry it out until he has subdued at least some of the great evils that exist in Our day, and it is the duty of every Christian to wrestle with God that he may shorten his hand, that he my not permit us as a nation to run on our own speedy destruction.

We are getting along very comfortably here. The weather is pleasant. True there is a great to do in building fortifications but the work is not hard, the reliefs are put on for half days at a time and that is divided in two reliefs changing every half hour so that two and a half hours per day is the work time and that comes only once in two or three days. Yet some of the boys complain at that and would rather be put into the guard house than work.

We are altogether better provisioned than we were last summer. It does appear to me that Colten, the Quartermaster last summer did not care whether the soldiers got anything good and wholesome to eat Or not so he got as much brandy as he wanted. I don't blame the boys for complaining when they were taken from a good living at home and bound down to hard tack and meat that when it was cut open would smell all over the house but when our Lt. Col. took it into his hands he soon had bread for the boys and provisions that are good.

You stated in your letter that you had received the letter with the ten dollars in it without any instructions as to what to do with it. I did not intend giving you instructions about it only for you to use it to clothe yourself and Corry and anything else you may need money for. The 10 dollars I sent you after that by Newton I expected to pay your way to Indiana. I never heard whether you got it or not. The shells I sent you I never have heard from you whether you received them. You left before they got to you. The five dollars I sent you in a letter a short time since is for you to use your own discretion about. I did not want it here. I have since sent brother Wm. 45 dollars to pay debts with. I got 52 dollars at our last payment. Wm. stays on the farm he lives on this year. He has fixed up all his debts. I sold him my two colts for 100 dollars, cash.

No more at present, but remain, yours as ever, M. A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., Apr. 22, 1863

Dear Wife:

This evening I received your letter of April 15. I think the Postmasters have discovered where the 83rd Ill. is located or probably because it was put into the office at Greensburgh. Just the same day I put my last letter to you in the office I received from you that had the postage stamps in it of March 12. I find it not addressed right. It is not addressed to this place and the one that had went to the 83rd Ind. was not addressed to Fort Donelson. It would suit to send from Monmouth addressed as they are but they do not do for any other state, at least there is a great chance for them being missent, I see this last letter is directed in a hand different from yours "via Paducah Kentucky". I am not certain but this is the correct way to direct then and so there may be no mistakes in the future be sure to put on your letters "Fort Donelson, Ten., via Paducah, Ky." and I think there will be no more mistakes. There is not much doubt but we will stay here this summer, still I am only guessing at it for war is very uncertain. Gen. Harding is now at home. He is not assigned to a command yet but it most likely this will be his place of command.

The roof of our warehouse leaks and we have had so much rain that I fear that our provisions will be damaged. Vegetables are very high here and but little selling. Onions the size round of a teacup sell readily at ten cents each. I have paid 25 cents for a gallon of string beans. I see no other vegetables selling. Butter is 25 cents per pound. We do not indulge in that as it is no luxury when got as it looks as though there are too many streaks of lard in it. Milk sells at 5 cents a quart or 15 cents a canteenful which holds 3 pints and you may be well assured the milk does not look as rich as the milk our red cow used to give. We don't indulge much in that article, but enough of this for the present. We have had but little of note since I wrote you last. Still we had a little excitement about the way affairs were progressing over at Fort Hiemen. Word came here that part of their forces were attacked by Gen. Wharten with a force of 1500 or 2000 men were marching on the fort. We got the word the enemy on the last day of June and in a very short time we were in line of march with two days rations in our haversacks. Two o'clock the next morning found us at Henry opposite Hiemen, 15 companies with 4 pieces of artillery, but the whole affair has turned out to be a scare or something else among the troops there. It appears that some three or found hundred mounted Kentucky infantry went out on a reconnaisance and ventured too far and were set upon by somebody. They were scattered in the woods in every direction. Fifteen of them came in and reported this tale which caused all the scare. Presently the rest came in, or I should have state in its proper place that these 15 men reported that 300 or 350 of the troops were taken by Wharten but they came in with their arms and equipment and would show no parole of honor. I suppose everyone can have his own opinion of the affair and I can have mine and I can express it if I please. I believe it was nothing more nor less than a drunken spree after becoming thoroughly satisfied that Wharten was not marching on the fort we retraced our steps on the morning of the 2nd of July. When coming back I fell out of the ranks and stopped at a house and got my haversack full of string beans, my arms full of onions, my canteen full of sweet milk and as much buttermilk and corn bread as I could stow away in my stomach and then toted my way into the fort. Such ends that chapter. There is nothing of note going on in the fort in the way of celebrating the 4th of July with the exception of a few rounds of firing of our big guns which make the earth fairly quivver. Some of the boys are inclined to indulge a little too much in intoxicating drinks for which there are some half dozen put in confinement in the jail. A man is not allowed to get drunk and raise a fuss in camp with impunity and I think all the better for our Col. for that. In fact he throws his influence all the time on the side of order and morality. I have reasonably good health, as good as I generally have when the warm weather in the spring. My eyes have not got so I can see good yet.

They are not sore nor inflamed but they still keep glimmers I expect they will never recover so as to see as well as I could before I had the sore eyes before I left home. I have been not using my artifical teeth as I could not wear them when I had the sore mouth and I got them bent some way that I can't get them to fit my mouth. I got my likeness taken and sent it to Sarah Ann but I did not like it very well for my eyes were too glimmery. I did not open my eyes enough but I thought I could not mend it and she wanted the likeness. I fixed up in my equipment. We are getting along very well now. We have been up the river to Clarksville, expecting to go on to Nashville but were not needed but there are floating bands of rebels between here and Clarksville that bother our transports so that we have to guard them sometimes They were there the day before we went up but we saw nothing of them. Gen. Rosegrans is sending out expeditions to gather up the horses and mules so as to strip the country of the means of raising supplies for the rebels. One of their parties passed this last week. They striped several men that we are acquainted with. They were here to take the oath but there is no doubt but they are rebels at heart. There is a squad of Texans which was left the rebel service and joined us that go before the scout being dressed in secesh clothes or rather Texas uniforms and examine the people to find out who are rebels by stratagem and they have signs that they leave behind and when the scout comes along they strip them of everything they have. I think it is the surest method of putting down the rebellion and should have been resorted to long ago instead of occupying the troops in guarding rebels' property.

We have a big job of fortifying here but we do not have to work hard. We have easy times and plenty to eat. You wanted to know whether our molasses has given out. We have a goodly quantity yet and have been using it all the time since it arrived. The butter did not last long. The freight on the barrel and box was $12.91. The dividend was $2.55. My share of butter and molasses was equal to my share of the expenses so I was not out a cent. Some of the boys did not have any sent so their share was paid in money which amounted to enough to pay all the expenses of shipment.

I received a leper today from James J. Lukens. He says his leg is not well yet but it is not swollen so much as it was when I left home. He says Margaret Jane McKnown has four children, the youngest is but a few weeks old. Thomas McKnown is at Murfresboro, is stout and hearty James McDill is in the same Regiment. He has got hearty and seems better satisfied now than he was sometime ago.

I received a letter from John L. Lukens, a cousin of mine in Penn.. in answer to a letter I wrote him a short time ago. He states that Charlotte Thompson was buried two weeks previous to the time of this writing. She was my stepmother and had her dower in my fathers estate which I suppose will now be settled up. James Lukens says in his letter than in South Henderson where Ewing Thompson lives they have a great deal of sickness. There have been seven or eight died within the last few weeks--old Mathew Findley is among the number and Abner Short's wife, a near neighbor of Ewing's. The disease is erysipelas. They have it in Ewing's family and they seem to think it is contagious.

Robert Hays is getting well. He thinks he will be back here in a few weeks He thinks he has a splendid place at Paducah. Everything is there in the hospital that is needed to make him comfortable. I think it is a good thing he went down there.

Our Captain has gone home on a recruiting tour to get new enlistments to fill up the Regiment. I have not heard whether he has any Success or not. Lt. Moore is on a visit to his family in Warren County also so that we are entirely under command of Lt. Hurdman. We get along fine. The boys all like Hurdman and there is but little discord in the company. We are not aware whether there is any number of rebels near here or not but I hardly think there are enough to give us much trouble.

I believe I have nothing further to add at present, but remain Your husband, affectionately, M. A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., May 12, 1863

Dear Wife:

About ten days ago I received two letters from you by the same mail One Feb. 16 took the rounds and could find no place for the sole of its foot and returned to the one who sent it finally came to hand with the olive branch and I in connection with the whole mess had a right good laugh over the letter to think it has been rambling all over the country for such a length of time. The other letter was dated April 2nd and had been to the 83rd Ind. The old envelope I shall send to you to show you how it came from the hands of the Ind. Regiment. They certainly know how to appreciate a letter to see how they try to make sure for it to go to the right Regiment. Now in the first place I will make a suggestion that you put the word "Illinois' in full before the 83rd so that the postmaster will see the state first that the 83rd came from for I presume there are a great many letters to the 83rd Ind. and when he sees the figures he looks no further, taking for granted (in his haste) that it goes to the Ind. Reg. and to place in bold open hand the words "Illinois, Vol. 83rd Reg., Ft. Donelson, Tenn. Co. B. then I think there will be no more going to and fro like the chaff before the wind.

We have all the elements to make the war effective. One thing only needed and that we may have, but I am not fully persuaded that we that is God's blessing. Sometimes it would appear as though He Withheld his hand. I think our government has taken a few steps in the right direction. Adjutant Gen. Thomas says that if any officer refuses to let the blacks come into our lines but remand them back to their masters he will by virtue of the powers invested in him dismiss such officer from service. Such expressions a year ago would not be received with much favor, but now the minds and sentiments of the pro-slavery portion of the army is fast undergoing a change, and when they are thoroughly brought to consider that slavery is the primary cause or the root of the matter and that to destroy the tree, root and branch, is the surest way to break this rebellion, then no doubt but God will bless efforts for crushing the rebellion. Eliza, when a man takes a comprehensive view of this rebellion, if he is a believer in overruling hand of God, he is led to exclaim that "God's ways are not as our ways nor his thoughts as our thoughts." I was reading in the last chapter of 1st Kings where the Lord said Who shall persuade Ahab that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead, and there came forth a spirit and said I will go forth and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets, and God permitted the lying spirit to go. Now it is interesting to read that s chapter and compare it with the spirit that has been bolstering up the wicked.

We expected to be attacked by Van Dorn and his force immediately the order was to prepare for battle and have everything in readiness. The hospitals were cleaned out and the convalescents were sent to camp and those who were not considered able to bear arms were put on board a steamer and sent down to Paducah to make room for wounded, so you see Robert was shipped off. The battle proved to be only a scare. The Van Dorn army proved to be only 300 or 400 men with Col. Woodward with a few pieces of artillery who came to the river at Palmira about 15 miles above here. Our cavalry has driven him off killing a few and taking upwards of twenty prisoners which are to be started today for Indianapolis, Ind. I would like amazingly well to be one to take them there but it happens I am not.

I am engaged at the present at putting up a building 160 feet long and 50 feet wide to stow away provisions for the army. It is astonishing how much provisions it takes to keep an army supplied. I have been for some time full of hopes that the end of this war is not far distant and one great reason for making me think so is the powerful reaction in the B North. It appears that the recent actions of the Northern copperheads has acted as a stimulent to stir up the dormant Union sentiment. They find there are no neutral grounds--a man must take sides either for or against this rebellion and the unflinching and determined stand the soldiers in the field have taken must make a man with half an eye see where he would stand provided he would take sides with the rebels. In fact I never did see men more determined to prosecute this war to the bitter end than are the soldiers in the field.

I hear from all quarters of the general observance of the day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer appointed by our President. I am glad to hear of the humiliation of the Christians of our country. We too had a pleasant time. We had divine service by the chaplain of the 71st Ohio and also Prayer and Praise in various places at the post. Montgomery preaches for us frequently. I like his discourses very well. He is evidently doing, we have not yet done anything in regard to organizing a Congregation and building a church. We have preaching in the open air and meetings for prayer in the different cabins. I think we enjoy special privileges in this respect for which we should be very thankful to the giver of all good. Many are out in active sevice and are entirely, or almost entirely, cut off from such privileges. Wickedness is constrained to hide itself in a marked degree. Our present Col. A. A. Smith is one of the right kind. Any officer or soldier who gets drunk is to be reported to him direct and he will apply Gen. Rosegrans' order to the very letter. Before he came down on them so strong there was a good deal of drinking done.

I received a letter from John Thorn a short time since. He says he is enjoying good health and appears to be well satisfied or as he says, can't help himself and may as well be satisfied. Their Regiment is acting Provost guard at Murfreesboro. Our duty here now is very light. We are not on guard more than once in two weeks where last summer we had to stand frequently twice a week and sometimes every other day when the Regiment was very much reduced by sickness.

The general health of the Regiment is good in comparison to what it was last summer and fall. Lt. Moore has got back from a visit to his family. He is in good health and spirits. Capt. Turnbull is still at Monmouth recruiting. He has several on his list but I don't know how many--none of our acquaintances.

My sheet is full and I must stop writing for the present. Hoping you and Corry may be in common with the rest of your Mother's family enjoying the blessing of good health. Your husband, M. A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., June 2, 1863

Dear Wife:

It is now nearly two weeks since I have written to you and it seems long, but is nearly double that time since I have received a letter from you. I almost begrudge the 83rd Ind. for the honour of having the first peek at my letter. You probably do not know where the 83rd Ind is. I can tell you. It is in Grant's division and has been in the recent great battle before Vicksburg and by the way has that not been a series of great victories if all reports are true. Our men have suffered fearfully in taking those heavy batteries at the point of the bayonet. I hope it will never be my lot to have to face the cannon's mouth against such odds, where torpedoes are thrown among our men while they are in the act of scaling the walls. It almost chills the blood to think of the suffering entailed on the soldiers but we must not complain for there is one thing certain--we are in the hand of an overruling providence. God does not say only to the wicked, go fight, but he says also to the righteous, go Stand up for your rights manfully and He does not send them alone but says choose me for your leader and I will be a shield and a buckler unto you. I will be with you and fight for you. I often have wondered why it is that a small squad of men can prevail against such odds but the thing is easily explained to the student of the sacred scriptures. Every day a man who is truly a child of God can see the wonderful workings of God in the events that are transpiring and what renewed obligations we are under every day of our lives for the many favors and blessings we are enjoying. I have frequently thought of a remark made by Mr. Marks of whom I have written to you in my last letter, that the army was composed of the best men and the worst men that the country contains. He made this remark at our prayer meeting after hearing Our prayers offered up in behalf of our country and especially he was gratified to hear the many petitions offered up for our friends at home He thought that "Heavenly, it was Christ-like, for it shows a common sympathy. Be assured your friends at home are unceasing for you at a throne of Grace, and he was happy he could go home and tell his congregation of the deep sympathy that is manifested in the Christians of the army and the Christians at home." We were well pleased with Mr. Marks. He seemed to be particularly fitted for the place he was occupying. He was here about two weeks and preached twice or three times on Sabbath and either spoke or preached at prayer meeting almost every evening through the week in one or the other of the Regiments. Would to God we had such a man for Chaplain. I heard more preaching from him in the brief space of time he was here than l heard from our Chaplain all the time he has been in the service.

Since I wrote to you last I have not been as well as formerly. I had a bad cold that settled in my head and especially in my left ear which became almost entirely deaf but it has gotten better. I am not entirely well yet but am able for duty. There is a good deal of the sore eyes here now and it appears as though the Dr. can hardly manage it with the present mode of living. Robert Hays has not got back from Paducah yet. A read a letter from Mary Ann a short time ago. They are enjoying good health. The children are going to school and improving very fast. James McDill's wife is still at her fathers and enjoying herself finely. Monfort is hearty and learning very fast. You stated in your letter you u would like to be write to Father McQuiston if you had his address. I am sure they would be much pleased to have a letter from you and if you can find time I would be much pleased if you would. Their address is James McQuiston, Sparta, Randolph Co., Ill. I had a letter from Frank Dunn the last mail. They are still at Corinth. They had a battle with Gen. Forrest after Forrest was here and whipped him. The news from Vicksburg is very encouraging.

Your husband, Mitchel

 

Ft. Donelson, June 20, 1863

My dear Wife:

It has been now over two weeks since I have written you a letter and I must try and scratch you a few lines. There are two reasons for not having written sooner. The first is we have been compelled to move our quarters from the south end of our Regiment to the North end on account of the main fortifications occupying the site of our cabins. My next reason is I have been very unwell for several days. I think I have written to you that I had a severe cold that had settled in my head affecting one of my ears so that I could not hear anything but a very distinct sound. The cold has left my head and my hearing came all right but it settled in my breast and affected me there causing me to cough considerable. Next the diarrhea set in which was a good thing for me for it run the cold off but that stopped too soon and left me constipated and my stomach became affected. But I have about worried through that and now the piles are working on me and I know not what Will be next on the list, but there is one thing certain. I will try and get a furlough and go North for a while and if I succeed you may see me at Richland about as quick as the steamboat and cars can take me. But that is more than likely visionary, when I come to take a view of the modus operandi of getting a furlough and if you don't know the rounds to be taken I will explain to you. I first must get the approbation of the officers of our company with their recommendation. Next I must go to the surgeon and undergo an examination for him to testify that I was able for service and that a leave of absence would be beneficial to the recommending of a certain number of days. This must next go to the Col. of our Regiment and get his signature, next to the commander of the post (Col. Lions). Next it must be mailed to Gen. Rosegrans for his approbation, then sent back to the commander of this post who will hand it to the surgeon, from him to Col. Smithand from him to the commander of our company and from him to me. Then I am at liberty to strike a bee line for the North pole. You see from this that it is no fool of a job to get a furlough and you need not build yourself up much in hopes of seeing me, but I am determined to make the trial and there is no knowing but I may succeed. I know there will be no difficulty with our officers and the surgeon and I can't tell for the balance. I believe a change of mode of living would be beneficial to me. Robert Hays has got back to camp. He looks hearty but does not feel so. He has not been on duty yet. He has some diarrhea yet but is not bad with it.

I do the principal part of the cooking except when I don't feel able. I don't drill any. I stand my share of guard except when I am not able to So out, then they don't put me on. I am not oppressed a particle with duties--I can do them if I feel able and if not I need not. We have first rate quarters now, better than we ever had, in a good location close to She water and near to the comissary department and also near to our Cols quarters so can be posted in all the movements of the Regiment.

I had like to forgot to tell you that I got two letters from you yesterday one the tenth of this month, the other the 20th of April. The one with the postage stamps in it, the two last letters I got from you came direct from your present address. You touched the right spot--they catch the word Illinois first before the 83rd which makes them notice more particularly. I am very glad they have got to coming direct. I received a letter yesterday from Sarah Ann and she says her Father and Newton have gone to St. Louis to buy horses and probably will come back by Centralia to see the country. She says that Isaac Mayfield was married to Sallie Lowe. She did not want to marry him but her Father made her marry him. She said she did not love him and never would but Ike would have her. I think he acted the perfect fool and ought to be booted.

I have received a letter from Andrew Mitchel. They are still at Corinth acting Provost Guard. The 17th Regiment is in the thickest of the fight at Vicksburg. There have been some of the Regiment killed but not many. Tom Heflin is allright yet and also Will McClanahan.

The paymaster was here and paid us up to the first of May. I have now 30 dollars so that if old Rose lets me go home I can pay my way. I will write to you again if I feel there will be any chance. Lt. Hurdman will go with me if I go. He will go to Princeton.

No more at present but remain, your affectionate husband

M.A. Thompson

 

Fort Donelson, Tenn., July 4, 1863

My dear Wife:

As I have been devoting some of my time to writing letters to our friends in Illinois to send by the hand of Mrs. Lawhead who is here on a visit to her husband I could not be satisfied till I had written one to you. although I have received no letter from you since I wrote to you last in regard to my trial to get a furlough. I am now prepared to give you the result of my trial which is simply this I did not (as James Curren used to say in regard to his first experience in farming) make a respectable fizzle. I did not even succeed in getting the surgeon's signature to it, from the fact that they could not testify that I had any ailment that could not be cured here. I was a good deal down in the mouth when I wrote you my last letter but I have gotten over that, still I am not entirely well I have been having the headache, more or less, for six or eight days but do not take any medicine. I prefer dieting myself and using as much vegetable diet as I can procure. You know it is not my habit in the summer time to eat much meat. We are being furnished plenty of fresh beef. Most of our barrel meat, that is, shoulders, hams and sides, are very good tasting but they have been miserable rough handled.

My health at present is good. My eyes have got right smartly better than they were when I scratched you a few lines by Dr. Mitchell which I presume you got a good while ago.

Last Monday week we were ordered out or a scout. We had hardly got out of sight of Dover when we were overtaken by a very heavy storm of rain, soaking us completely. We traveled ten miles and camped for the night, dried our clothes and blankets, got our suppers, gathered some long grass nearby, made our bed, got a pole, sharpened the butt end and stuck it in the ground by our feet, bent it in a rainbow form to our heads and fastened the top to the ground, spread two blankets over the hoop, then my old friend John Sampel and I crawled under extending the blankets over us, were prepared to sleep but the clouds being heavy the thunder began to roll, the lightning flashed and we had a powerful rain. Next morning when we got up to kindle a fire and when the others saw our hoop and how dry we were they said that was one Yankee trick for sure. After breakfast of coffee, hard tack and bacon we resumed our journey ten miles further to our destination stopping by a shingle factory on the Memphis, Clarksville and Louisville railroad. We built rail pens, covered the top with shingles and had a good roof, went to a Mr. Boon's barn and got plenty of hay and had good quarters. The infantry was there principally to hold the position and for a position for the cavalry to fall back upon. We had two pieces of artillery placed to defend the position in case of an attack. The cavalry scoured the country for guerillas and squads of conscription men and mules and horses. On Saturday we returned with killing one man, 20 prisoners, six of whom were officers in the rebel service. We also brought in about 150 horses and mules and also a number of blacks who are busy at work on our fortifications. Such was the business of that week. Although it was a rainy week we had some good times. It is the object of the army to destroy everything that would give strength to the rebel army so as not to destroy that which would at the close of the war be of value to be confiscated for the use of the government. It is pretty hard to regulate the boys to keep them within bounds so as not to strip the country of everything so as through those who have taken the oath of allegiance upon the government for support There may be a question in your mind in regard to those who have taken the oath of allegiance whether their oath will save their property for them. As I understand this, the oath only saves the life of the rebel who takes it for, unless through the leniency of the government, death is the penalty for rebellion. Again, if a man is in rebellion to the government and is again taken under the protection of the government by taking the oath of allegiance and then he is again found giving aid and comfort to the rebels he forfeits his life for certain. So far as I understand this matter, the oath of allegiance does not cover any property they may have before.

Our commanding officer is a great deal more severe on the officers for getting drunk than he is on the privates. That is as it should be for if officers are allowed to indulge of course that is license for the privates.

Pat least they can have but little influence over the men for good but a great deal for evil.

We have not had an opportunity as yet to commence our church building. The building Will not be large--20 by 30. Next week was Our time appointed to commence, but it has happened that the B. M. is determined to move the Regimental bakery to the fort and I and one other of the building committee are detailed to assist in putting up the new building so we were compelled to postphone the other for a time. It doesn't make so much difference as we have a splendid shady place for worship. Still we have had and are still having a great deal of rain and of course a house at such times is indispensible. We have a very good central location granted us. The church will not be a sectarian concern. It will be a Regimental concern. Still that does not make our forming ourselves into a Christian association the less important. It is for the promotion of the cause of Christianity generally and particularly to attend to the young men who are sons of pious parents that have been l dedicated to God by baptism, especially of the Psalm singing churches and to secure as much preaching as we can of our own kind. Our chaplain is getting a little warmed up. He is preaching some right good sermons of late but he has lost his influence in the Regiment and I fear he never will regain it.

Tuesday, July 7. Not being able to finish this letter at the time I commenced it I will now try to finish it up and first of all I must tell you we have had a visit from a son of our esteemed friend John Simpson from old Hopewell. He is here on the same business as Rev. Mr. Marks, an agent of the U.S. Christian commission. He is no preacher but I think he is a first-rate fellow. Robert was very glad to see him. He says he likes our location better than any troops he has seen. He came here from Nashville. He was in western Virginia. He says too frequently our camps are located low and when wet weather makes the ground marshy with bad water. He thinks we are fixed very comfortably here.

Another think I must tell you about: since I commenced this letter we l have succeeded in securing a white woman to cook for us--the wife of one of our mess who had been detailed on one of the big guns and is now brought back to the company. She seems to take hold first-rate. We pay her $7.00 per month and her husband assists her by us standing his guard. I think we can take more comfort now if things go off allright. We are looking hourly for mail. Your husband, Mitchel

 

Ft. Donelson, July 18, 1863

Dear Wife:

The last mail brought me a letter from you direct in due time. Two weeks since I received one from you dated the 10th of May, but since you got to directing your letters your present way all the letters I have received came to hand in due time. I was much pleased to hear from you as I had not received a letter direct for three weeks. You say you had not received a letter from me for over two weeks. I think I had not sent you a letter for over two weeks and I think I wrote you the reason for it in a subsequent letter as we had to move our granary and I was sick. I have gotten well again. Have been for a few days busy about our church building. We have been delayed with our building on account of moving so many buildings from the old quarters at Dover to our new quarters so that we have been kept on other duties so much. The mail starts out this evening and I thought I had better scatch you a few lines or it would be several days before another would go. I will hardly have time to fill this sheet but as local news is scarce it will make no matter, just so you know all things are going on allright here. News is abundent from other parts of the field. Our armies have been having wonderful success in all parts of the field. Our Potomac army has at length gotten over their ennui and are coming out of the kinks finally. That raid of Lee's into Pennsylvania has done a great deal of good. It has wakened up Pennsylvania to a just sense of their duty. I am glad it has happened. Morgan it appears as been harrassing the southern part of Indiana and is now over into Ohio. I suppose you began to think war was near at hand. I tell you the No'rth cannot appreciate the horrors of war, but go out amongst the citizens here and you can see the affects of it and they can tell you what war is. I did think I would try to get a furlough and go home a short time but I find it is impossible and I have entirely given up the idea.

This document I have to sign to release the administrators of Father's estate will have to be sent here and I can get the privilege of going to Cairo as mail agent for the Regiment as there is one goes down every week so that I can have the acknowledgment made allright.

Our boys have been out gathering blackberries and have been very Successful They are very plentiful some places here. We have a surplus of sugar and Mrs. Pence is making them up into blackberry jam to keep them till the picking time is over. We are living finely now. Artemus L. Pence's wife is here and they do our cooking by paying her $7.00 per month and he assists her and we stand his guard and do his fatigue duty. It is a noble change and our company savings are sufficient to pay all our expenses. We need not pay out a cent of our wages. We sent to Cairo and got a barrel of onions costing $4.50 which is an addition to our table comforts.

Col Lions, commander of this post, says the boys can go out as often as they please for blackberries for he says ten bushels of blackberries will do the boys more good than all the medicine the Drs. have and I think he is about right. If we had been treated so last summer I don't think there would have been so much sickness amongst the boys. Robert Hays is getting stout and hearty. George Manson has got well and hearty. I almost forgot to tell you that William Whitsand is dead and also Libbie Ann Thompson is dead; also John L. Patton is dead, the man who owned the farm that Rufus lived on last year.

No more at present but remain your husband affectionately, Mitche P.S. The latest news here says Morgan is within six miles of Hillsboro Ohio. He is no doubt giving the Ohioans a good scare. I'm in hopes they will bag him.

 

Picket Station No. 4, Ft. Donelson, Tenn.

July 29, 1863

Dear Wife:

Being off sentinel duty and having four hours that I can call my own I thought to devote a part of the time to writing you a letter. Not that I am indebted to you for letters but the time is my own and I can devote it to whatever I please. I have written you an answer to the last letter I have received from you. My health has never been better since I have been in the army as it is at present. I am entirely clear of any headaches, colds, or diarrhea. The last that I had was a species of neuralgia or a pain in the back of my head in the same spot that I had it last fall after I had that spell of the fever for which the Dr. me three different times and also used tartar ointment on the upper part of the back of my neck and the pain entirely left me. The health of the boys is generally good. Capt. Turnbull received a dispatch from his father that his wife was taken very ill and that her case was hopeless and that if he wished to see her alive he should start for home immediately. He telegraphed to Rosegrans and started. I have not heard whether he got a reply or not. I suppose likely he did or he most probably would not get further than Cairo. Our Col. was ordered to Nashville last week and got back yesterday. I have not heard his report whether he was ordered there on any important business or not.

Some were prophesying that it was the forerunner of a forward movement but I have my doubts as to that for as far as I can learn Bragg's army is scattered --some gone to Richmond, some to Mobile and others divided off into guerilla squads some of which I think are infesting the neighborhood south of this. Yesterday some of our light infantry and a company of the 28th Regiment infantry were driven in by a band of guerillas numbering 150. Immediately seven companies of the 13th and one section of Flood's battery were sent after them. They are still out and have no word from them but there is no probability of then finding the scoundrels. There is a family of notorious scoundrels which has lived near this post that has raised a squad and infests this part of the country picking up stragglers and rendering it difficult for squads to get out without being strong enough and armed to resist an attack.

Our Regiment was out day before yesterday to intercept a squad of guerrillas making their way over into Kentucky but they were too smart for them and had passed and gone. I was not out--was on guard. Today I have taken our cook's place on guard is the reason why I come on so often. Yesterday H. Brownlee, R. Hays, W. Finley and I went out and brought in 8 gallons of blackberries. We are living high now on blackberry pies, puddings and dumplings. We get milk at ten cents per quart get sugar at 7 pounds to the dollar; cooking apples sell at from 25 cents to $1.00 per bushel, potatoes sell at $1.00 per bushel but not very plentiful.

July 30. I did not get my letter finished yesterday but will try to finish it today. Our scouts have come in and have brought a few prisoners necessary for a leading man to go into the Northern states and he would have plenty to flock to his standard but I gues he has found out his mistake by this time. Lee, too, I suppose has found out that there is no fun in invading the northern states and will be content to carry on the war on their own soil. I am in hopes Gen. Meade will succeed in exterminating Lee's whole army as he had well nigh done before he crossed the Potomac. Gen. Meade must understand his business right well to handle such a large army so successful I expect that battle of Gettysburg was a very hand fought battle. What an immense destruction of life is the consequence of such battles. I never want to see such a sight, much less be in the battle although at the time of our little battle I could look upon the dead rebels with the greatest of complacency Still it is a horrible sight but the rebels brought it upon themselves. It is not so pleasant to look upon groups of our friends cold and mangled by the deadly missiles of the enemy but such is war. There are always two sides to a question and there can hardly be a battle without there being casualties on both sides. Since I commenced writing the scout of the 13th Wisconsin came in with two of their men who were wounded the day before by that guerrilla band. One of them has since died. One of them was shot with buckshot and has a number of them in him. He had so little strength left that when they were hunting for him he could not make any noise to be heard although they were within twenty feet of him. He has crawled into the brush to hide from the guerillas. They had laid therefor abut 36 hours without food, water or cover. This shows in a small scale what big battles are in a large scale. There is no enemy so hateful as these They are just a set of robbers and banditti-despised alike by Southern and northern people. The guerillas pretend to be fighting for the south but if a southern man has any money or property that they want they are apt to have it appropriated to themselves.

We are looking for a mail on every boat and I expect to receive a letter from you. I will not close this letter until just before the mail goes out in hopes to hear something from you. We have been in the service of our country now one year and the war is not ended yet. Still the skies look bright and I cannot but have hope that the war will soon be brought to a close. However, if peace were declared today it would take several months to establish civil rule in the southern states and then it would require the presence of any army of considerable force to carry out the confiscation act so we need not build ourselves up in the hopes of getting home soon even if fighting does cease for there Will be a vast amount of work to be done after that. Doubtless our government will make haste to discharge all unnecessary troops but the oldest troops will be doubt less discharged first. Of course it would be nothing but justice to discharge those who had been the longest in the service first.

I received a letter from James McDill the last mail. The 84th Regiment with which he is connected has moved south and are now at Winchester doing Provost duty at that place. They had a hard march of it and were without rations for a while and had to march back some 18 miles as they were brought to a stand at Elk River not being able to cross it as it had rained on them almost every day after starting from Murfreesboro. That Regiment has seen harder times than ours has. I think we have every reason to be thankful that we have been permitted to hold this post. According to my notion this place is one hundred percent better now than it was when we came here. The air is undoubtedly more pure and healthy and then we are so much more comfortably fixed.

No more at present but remain your husband, M.A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., Aug. 7, 1863

Dear Wife:

Once more I seat myself to write you a few lines and being on picket again I can put in the time more pleasantly by writing than anything else I can do. I mailed you my last letter that I wrote you while on picket and stated at the heading that the mail had come and no letter from you Just then there was a boat coming up with another mail which contained a letter from you which I will now try to answer although I believe I have you several letters in my debt. However I am always glad to receive a letter from you whether late or early. Some of them have been from two to three months old, but now they come direct. I think we are lucky in finding out the cause of the failures. Your present mode of backing the letters is the proper way.

My health still remains good. I have no ailment that I am aware of with probably one exception. I have a little of my old bleariness of the eyes. My eyes still water some and fill the eye with a kind of a gummy substance that covers the ball and hinders the sight some, still keeps the eye clear of that and the vision is good, probably as good as ever it was.

My eyesight has not been impaired by the sore eyes that troubled me so long. Alex Hogue is the worst in our cabin now. Frank Earp and John Sampel each has had a furlough and gone home on account of their eyes.

I have not had a letter from W. R. Thorn's folks for some time. Still I have heard through Lawhead that they have a young daughter, so much for them. They are doing something for their country from accounts There is a good deal of sickness in some parts of that country from accounts. There is a good deal of sickness in some parts of that country still I don't know of any of our friends who are sick. Wm.'s folks and Newton's family are well. Old Aunt Jane is still enjoying tolerable good health. Fordonia Fulton is at Kingston in Iowa. She likes the appearance of the country out there much better than she expected I have not learned yet where Wm. expects to move to next year. He is not going to stay where he is for Edmond Shumic is going to live there. I am in hopes this war will be over soon so that we all can look out for a location all together. I do not think I could content my self to improve that 80 acres of land I got from Robert Hays. It does not altogether please me and then I do not want to fool away time improving where I do not expect to live. I have no knowledge as yet where I would like to settle. I am acquainted with men here from Hancock and Adams counties. From their statements land is no higher and not so high as it is in Warren and a much better chance for timber land of the very best quality that is Wm. R. Thorn's opinion that if he moved from Warren he would prefer not going more than 100 miles south in Hancock and then there would be a chance for fruits of all kinds. I am not particular for my part so I can live a quiet peaceable life I do not think I will dip into farming very steep when I get home, if I should be fortunate enough to get home in health and strength.

We have been having very good schooling here to be patient under tribulation. There is none of doing what we would wish to do, only doing that which we are compelled to do and have to come under the most strict military discipline and we have learned to take it patiently. We work according to orders. If anything is to be done there is no one to do it without a special detail then we go at it with a will. In fact I expect we will be so lazy we Will not want to do anything when we get home. I am Setting but little written today from the fact we have such a talking crowd I wanted to write Alice a letter and I will not get it done today.

The boys are all speculating high on the prospects of the war. They all want to go home. We have been having a big time here lately. A division inspector came down from Nashville and put us through a rigid inspection, and that was not all--it was on the Sabbath day. The religions had to give place to the military. I must give you a little account of the transaction. I came off guard Sabbath morning and expected to have that day as usual to myself but I found I had to go on inspection and review Consequently I must make all necessary preparations.

I roust scour and rub up my gun for we are not allowed to have a speck of rust on them, blacken up my boots, blacken my belting, cartridge box, etc. That occupied the forenoon and by the time the 13th was through then our drum beat and we went out and stood the inspection Finally we were ordered to the parade ground and the inspector put us through drill till dusk. We came out with flying colors as being the neatest, cleanest, kept our arms in better condition, most regular in our dress of any troops he has inspected. Our drilling pleased him very well. We have a better chance than Regiments in large armies. They have no chance to drill while we have every chance which gives the better chance to show off and more than that we have every chance to keep our clothing in good order.

I must, by the way, tell you a little anecdote about General Harding He was ordered to Nashville and reported to Gen. Rosegrans, as Brig Gen. Harding. Old Rose viewed him from head to foot and then without saying a word broke out in a hearty laugh, "Why (says Rosegrans) I expected to see the defender of Donelson as a young, big six-foot rawboned powerful man, but here he is a short stumpy old wrinkled up man." Harding took the joke very well, was not a bit disconcerted. I have heard that Harding was ordered to Franklin near Nashville to take charge of that post but I don't know whether it is so or not. He is at home now. I guess from what I can learn that Bragg's army has gone under, is broken up and scattered. I don't know what will be the next move. It is said that the union portion of the people of South Carolina is about to rebel against the present government and that they are about to throw off the yoke of their tyrant oppressors and come back into the Union. I do hope it is so. I also hear that the soldiers in Beauregard's army are about to compel him to surrender and give him 20 days to make up his mind and if he refuses they will hang him. I do hope he will hold out till they hang him. I think it would do him good. I do hope that a large number of the leaders of this rebellion will meet with the same fate.

We had a meeting on the 6th, yesterday, the day appointed by the President for thanksgiving and praise. We had a good address by our chaplain, one well worthy of man's most particular attention and meditation. Our Col. gave us a spicy address that enlisted the admiration of the crowd. He came out strong against the Copperheads He said he wishes to live fifty years after this war is over and to spend all his time and all his energies for their entire extermination. Col. Smith is very popular here. He is a good man and kind and obliging to his soldiers. I have a ring to send to Corry. I shall make another just like it for Libbie and send them in a letter to you. Tell Corry I received the kiss she sent me and I'll send another back to her. Ask her if she recollects her papa, if she would like to see him. Tell her I have her picture here and can see her likeness at anytime. Tell here there is a little girl here s by the name of Ruth Green who would like to see her. She has seen her picture .

No more at present, but remain yours, Mitchel

 

Alarm Post No. 2, Ft. Donelson, Tnn., Aug. 21, 1863

Dear Wife:

Once more I seat myself to write you another letter and as I am on alarm guard today I have not much to do but sit in my tent and read and write. It is the easiest post there is on guard. We go on guard about every 3 or 4 days. Our duties are light and now while I am writing about the guard business it may not be amiss to write you a little account of our guard business. At half past seven the new guards are called out nearly 100 in number. The number from each Company is marched to position at the place of guard mounting by the sergeant and when all are in position the drum beats the adjutant's call when he comes forward and sees that the guards are properly inspected, their arms and equipment are all right, then causes the instructions for the day to be read and assigns the guards to their different posts. There are two sets of pickets. The outer pickets are stationed from one to two miles from the fort. They are generally cavalry, divided into four posts on four different sides only when they are out scouting. The inner pickets are stationed with in from 1/2 to 1 mile from the fort. Seven posts in all, 3 men and one corporal in charge at each post. Next in order are the alarm posts of which there are two--one in camp and one on a hill about three hundred yards from camp. Their duties are to keep a lookout day and night to hear any alarm on the picket lines. The firing of one gun will not be regarded. The firing of two guns must be reported to the inside guard and from them to headquarters. If we hear three shots we must also fire three shots which will alarm the camp and the drums will beat to arms then the officers assign each company to its position and send out scouts to find out the cause of the alarm. The next in order is the Provost guard of which there are 33 men, 3 corporals and 1 sergeant, divided into 3 reliefs of two hours each whose duty it is to guard the prisoners at the jail and guard house of which we generally have a pretty large supply. The next in order is camp guard, guarding the magazine the commissary stores, the hay and grain for the horses and so on. We are having good times here now, although the Col. is putting us through a rigid drill in the manual of arms. He says we are equal to any he has seen in Rosengrans' army in battalion drill but in the manual of arms we are somewhat deficient and he is not going to stop till we are proficient in the manual.

The health of the Regiment is right good at present. Still there are some cases of bilious complaint. There was a man drowned by trying to swim his horse across the river yesterday going out on a scout. A scout last week brought in 27 guerilla prisoners. The guerillas got two of the 13th boys as prisoners.

Today one company of the 13th Wisconsin Regiment came up from Columbus It has never been up here before and are now pitching their tents That will make our guard duties less frequent.

The last mail brought me a letter from Wm. R. Thorn and also one from Sallie Ann. I answered them both. Wm. says he has his grain all in stack. Brother Wm. had not his all up yet. Nancy Ann has gone to Ohio on a visit to her Mother. I was pleased to hear that her Mother Will be made up by a visit from Nancy Ann. Capt. Turnbull has gotten back from Monmouth. His wife is some better but is still delicate. Cap, brought me the Executor's release for me to sign and also the deed for my farm. I have applied for a leave of absence to go to where I can get it signed and acknowledged. I may go to Cairo or perhaps not further than Paducah.

We are having plenty of vegetables now. Apples are plenty but are not of the best quality. Peaches are beginning to come in but there are not many ripe yet. There are plenty cucumbers at 5 cents per dozen, milk ten cents per quart, butter 20 cents per pound, green corn ten cents per dozen ears, potatoes 60 cents per bushel, apples 50 cents, Melons are coming in plenty and selling moderately high. The butter doesn't taste much like the butter we used to have from our cows and we don't indulge much in it. Wm. writes that our cows are doing very well but the grass was so burnt up that they fell off very much in their milk. Wm. wants me to send them a nice little name from Dixie for their nice little beautiful daughter, as he calls it. I have sent them several. I wrote to him I could send his little daughter a name but I did not want to send it the practices of the fair sex here. I asked him how he would like to see her with a big quid of tobacco in her mouth spurting the juice with as much unction as any regular old sophisticate, but such is the practice here and they think nothing of it.

By the way I think I wrote to you that Wm. C. Whisnand was dead. I find that it was a mistake. It was Mrs. Montgomery wrote to her husband from South Henderson and that was the report there but it was not so, though he is in a delicate state of health. Cap. Turnbull saw Mrs. Hays a day or two before he started back. She was on her way up to Spring Grove on a visit. They were all well and getting along very well. Some of the children had something like the scarlet fever, but not very bad. Patterson Thompson's health is not at all good. He and Hattie are going to Ohio on a visit. Nancy Ann went With them. Sallie Ann says that old Mrs. McLaughlin is dead. She died with the consumption. Wm. received a letter from Mr. Huston. He still keeps recommending that country very highly. He says five men from Monmouth went up there to look at the country and before they got back they had each bought a farm. Wm. thinks he will go up and see the country himself. I don't know if Huston has gotten to be squire yet or not.

I had almost forgotten to say anything about you paying me a visit. I would like very much to see you and Corry and I have considered the matter over and over. I cannot but discourage it for I cannot see that we s could have any satisfaction placed as I am in a mess of 14 and every I available place in the cabin occupied With our bunks. Lawhead was chief cook in the Hospital and had a room to himself so that his Wife could be accommodated, but such is not the case with me. Those who have wives coming build houses or shanties for their reception. Their calculation is to stay but from what the Col. tells me that will very likely Soon be played out for the medical department complains that the labor attending the families is greater than waiting on the soldiers.

I will try the very first chance I get for a furlough home but I cannot suggest anything about the time when. I caused you such a disappointment once and I must avoid the like again as there is uncertainty about this furlough business, until it is actually in my hand approved then there is no time for writing for the first boat will carry me.

No more at present, but remain yours, Mitchel

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., Aug. 31, 1863

Dear Wife:

It is With much pleasure I seat myself to write you a few lines and acknowledge the receipt of your kind letter of Aug. 13. I had just put into the office a letter to you so I have delayed writing hoping something might turn up to make a letter more interesting. At length the time has come which I deem suitable and I write. If I mistake not I have written to you about our frequent inspections, reviews, and musters. Recent movements prove the surmise true that these grand demonstrations are the forerunners of change. The first grand review was immediately before the taking away the 5th Iowa Cavalry; the second was the taking away the 71st Ohio; the third was before the taking away of the 13th Wisconsin, which leaves the 83rd alone to hold the fort. The 13th was ordered to Columbia on the railroad running from Nashville a little west of south. Also in the meantime Steenbeck's battery was ordered away to Clarksville, leaving Flood's battery with the 83rd. We are now all that constitutes the force to defend the fort. You might naturally wonder how it comes that the 83rd was not chosen, but left, as though not Worthy. I will explain. The 83rd with Flood's battery is the only force that has been in any engagement and proved themselves patriotic. The 5th Iowa has been in several skermishes but never showed themselves valorous; the 71st Ohio was in the battle at Pittsburgh Landing who turned and fled at the first fire and also six companies surrendered at Clarksville to a force not its superior; the 13th Wisconsin has not yet been in an engagement but has marched through Kansas, Missouri and a good part of west Tennessee. Steenbeck's battery has never yet smelled the enemy powder. Flood's battery has been the rounds with us and shared with us the honor of defending the post and also several scouts which has proved their valor. Now you would naturally ask why have we been left here and all those that have not proven themselves taken away. I can best answer that question by giving the reply of Gen. Rosegrans to one of his division commanders who desired the 83rd Ill. to be added to his division "I cannot take the 83rd from Donelson with out placing 3 other Regiments there. It would just be the same as taking two Regiments out of the field--the rebels have a wholesome fear of the 83rd." Such is the reason we are left and I am very glad of it. It is true the rebels do fear us and hate us as they would a serpent and probably worse as they have the serpent hoisted on their banner as a fitting emblem of their cunning and strategy to draw its duped followers within its coil.

The news today is still more encouraging. Ft. Sumpter has fallen, Charleston is tottering to the fall, Chatanooga is being evacuated and it appears as though the rebels will soon be driven to the center to be blown up at a blast. But I need not give you news derived from papers as you read the dailies while we have but the weekly and occasionally a daily.

We have been having preaching in our new church for several Sabbaths. Yesterday, Sabbath, it was dedicated to the worship of God. The services were opened by singing a portion of the 90th Psalm. Next reading the scriptures by Sergeant Montgomery, next prayer by Capt. Shader (a Methodist minister), next a very good sermon was preached, or rather read by the Chaplain, who is capable of getting up a right good discourse if he tries. Very fortunately for us Mr. Edie of North Henderson came poking his head in to help with the services. He preached in the afternoon to a crowded house, and dealt forth some of his heaviest blows against sin and those who indulge in sin, taking the law as delivered to Moses on the Mount as the basis of his remarks and dealt his severest blows against profane swearing as that sin brought no return even in this life, no gratification of passion, no gratification of lust, none of appetite, no return whatsoever, but it was a sin that the willful perpetration thereof would not be held guiltless. I tell you, Eliza, such preaching does one's very soul good to hear, for a person can fully appreciate such preaching after being deprived of it for a time. Mr. Edie came here direct from Sparta where Synod met. There is such a crowd around him I have not yet had a chance to talk with him. I shall before I finish this letter inquire about Father McQuiston, etc. Today we have been having another review and inspection and the inspector is now going around inspecting the cabins and the cook houses, even the cupboards and boxes, pans and pots, beds and bedding--everything must undergo a rigid inspection. I never took the one-fourth of the pains to brush up, black my boots (which you are very well aware I did but little at home) and every strap on my knapsack, cartridge box belt, etc., etc. The gun must not have a speck of rust on it (that's not the way my rifle was kept at home) but must be polished as bright as it can be made. We use emery paper to polish with. Its pretty hard to bring some of the boys up to the point of military order. The officers are compelled to be more strict on all from the fact that some of the boys would be very sluggish if rigid measures were not taken to keep them in trim. On the last announcement of the result of the inspection our cabin was one of three the cleanest and best kept. The arms of this Company were put down at 2 3/4--3 being the highest number. Capt. Cutler by a little shenanigen got the highest number by not bringing out all his company, leaving out some of the worst, slyly excusing them from inspection. He gamed no credit for his action but is in keeping with his actions in general.

We are getting along very well now and expect to stay here till we are shipped home which I hope we may be soon, but I don't expect we will be left off for a good while yet. I cannot tell whether there will be much fighting done yet or not but everything seems to show as though the strength of the rebels was so much broken that they were as it were in the last ditch, still they may hold out a long time yet by shifting from place to place and doing as it has been said run Rosegrans to death.

I had a good laugh at Corry's reading the plate. That is surely original. She is a lovely little creature. Her pranks are all right, only do not indulge her too much in them. Let her not know you think them smart so as to make her vain for children do learn vanity very young and when they find that their folks are paying particular attention to them it exalts them in their own opinion and makes them forward. Still I would not advise curbing children too much for then they will become backward and dull. There is a midway path to follow in training children that is pretty hard to follow. I am always glad to read your accounts of Corry's pranks. Still I have not made any remarks about them. It is not because I have forgotten her but because of negligence.

I got a letter from Frank Dunn last mail. He is in fine spirits. Says he has one of the finest drilled companies in the 12th Army Corps and has had an honorable mention from headquarters. Andrew M. Thompson is promoted to commissary sergeant. He had an honorable mention from headquarters as one of the most soldierly looking men. I am glad he is coming out so well.

My sheet is full and I must stop. Yours as ever, M. A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., Sept. 8, 1863

Dear Wife:

Having some time to myself today I occupy it in writing to you, more especially as I have sent you the deed of my farm for your signature without writing any instructions as I was a little pushed for time at that time. I started in company of Mr. Edie to Smithland for the purpose of getting the deed and release signed and acknowledged before component authority and for the purpose of sending them with Mr. Edie. I had to hurry through so now I will write to you the necessary Instructions for signing the deed although I don't know as there is any needed as Thomas knows all about the manner such things are done. It will be enough in the state of Illinois to go before a Justice of the Peace hut in Ky. I had to go before the county clerk and have the county seal on it. The laws of Indiana may be the same, I don't know, but Thomas can ascertain that matter. The release I had acknowledged before a Notary Public and have the seal of the state attached to it. Your name was not needed on it so I sent it to Newton. I did all I could to get a furlough to go attend to that business but I failed. The furlough came back disapproved, then the Col. gave me the privilege of going to Smithland for the purpose. The Col. thought the business I had was sufficient to secure me a furlough but it came back disapproved despite the Col.'s recommendation.

Now since I have gotten back I must five you a little of my adventures in the trip. There was nothing of note transpired on our way down save that we were stuck 14 hours on a sand bar and had hard work to get off, the labor of which we all partook, Mr. Edie with the rest of us. The water still falling the greatest difficulty was to get back. The steamer Huntsman was ordered to Nashville and we went aboard and made out to get as far as what they call the Ingram Shoals and all the efforts were unavailing to pull her up over them so they concluded to return. I did not like the idea of that and being within 14 miles from Canton I determined to take shanks horse for it that far and it might be some smaller boat might come up and I could come the balance of the way by boat. In coming up I necessarily had to keep back from the river to avoid abrupt hills and to get anything like roads as there were none along the river. I found when I got opposite Canton I was some six miles north of the place as I had kept too much an easterly direction, being in a good country I concluded to continue my course to Donelson. I found at Coedis they were raising Union troops for the state service and had one company nearly full. I thought there was not much danger of an enemy but I had not proceeded many miles until I began to come across secession men who were not afraid to acknowledge themselves such even to the U.S. soldiers. Finally I came across three men, two of whom had been in the rebel service. One of them was wounded in the battle of Chickahominy and had some Chickahominy lead in him. These men had all been in here and taken the oath of allegience to the United States. The youngest man of the three seemed to talk allright and I could have pleasant conversation with him but when I began to get the better of him in the argument of Lincoln's administration the Chickahominy man commenced a tirade of abuse to Lincoln, to all his supporters, to all abolishionists, nigger stealers, wanted to know why we came down there to steal and rob poor defenseless families, starving women and children, mixing up with his harrangue all the vile slang and horrid oaths that a totally depraved heart could produce. I soon saw there was no use talking with him and simply said I did not wish to enter into a controversy, was simply passing peacefully through the country and started on my wag his curses following me and when that did not satisfy him he began to hurl stones after me which I dodged and got out of his way, having n° arms more than a pen knife. I thought it the better part of valor to be getting out of that place as quickly as possible.

When I got in the Col. inquired particularly about my little 0 adventure and says he must have that man brought in. He says there is a great many men in this country that need killing and that the country will never be what it ought to be until they are. There was another man who was evidently a guerilla who was on the boat and wanted to come up the country in the same direction but was evidently afraid to travel With me and put out as hard as he could by himself and I saw no more of him until we got 40 miles from where we left the boat. He opened his eyes big when I came up with him. He never spoke a word nor I to him He was among his friends who had avowed to me that they were secessionists before I saw him. I parted company with them as most of them were going another road and I was glad to get clear of them as some of them were getting on a regular bender. They would bring out their jugs and were getting them replenished. One of them passed me in the evening so drunk he seemed to be asleep on his horse. I stepped out of his way and he passed on so I was clear of that squad.

I tell you, Eliza, this is a great country and a great people living in it but I believe I would choose to live with a different class of people--so ends this epistle. I have almost occupied all this sheet with my one subject. I have but little space left for other news but as news of importance is scarce I may have enough room. I received a letter from Sarah Ann (and by the way Sarah Ann is about almost my only Ill. correspondent now since Nancy Ann has gone to Ohio). She tells me Wm., Dan Miers and a man living on Jane Thompson's place have gone up to Paxton to see the country. Arthur Carmichael, Thomas Pollock and probably brother Newton will go up soon for the same purpose. It appears that good land can be had cheap there. I would be glad to be with them but Uncle Sam holds me tight and I must abide my time. I have the impression the war is about to flunk out. Still we cannot tell how long we may have to stay here. I think I wrote to you about the 13th being ordered away leaving the 83rd here alone with Flood's battery.

When you get the deed signed, mail it to Wm. S. Thompson to Spring Grove and it will go Wright no doubt. As I have to go on guard and my sheet is full I must stop for this time, hoping you and Corry may have 800d health, and receive abundant blessings from the giver of all good is prayer of your affectionate husband, Mitchel A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., Sept. 25, 1863

Dear Wife:

As I learned that the mail is to go out today I thought as it is difficult in getting the mails now I would embrace the present opportunity of writing you a few lines. It is a good while since I have received a letter from you. My last was written the 30th of July. I have however received letters since that date but have received none in this month and am looking for one every mail. I will give you further instructions about sending your letters to me. Our Regiment is now divided. The Col. with the right wing is now at Clarksville leaving the Lt. Col. commander of this post with the left wing of the Regiment with Flood's battery so this Regiment has both posts to hold. You may direct your letter to Clarksville, Tennessee without putting Fort Donelson on them and they will be distributed at Clarksville and the part for this place sent down to us. It is much the best way. We get all our mail by the way of Clarksville now. Direct them by the way of Louisville, the object of directing the letters to Clarksville is simply this - the postmasters have been in the habit of sending the Ft. Donelson letters to Cairo and your letter most generally goes down the river.

Under the new arrangement the mail would have to come back to Louisville and they had better be directed by the way of Louisville to Clarksville and they will come allright. Gen. Rosegrans has been gathering all the troops he can for his offensive movement leaving as few behind to hold the posts as can. We have a good deal of guarding to do but we can get along very well and would get along much easier if we had the new guard house within the fort built which is underway. It requires 33 guards constantly detailed to guard the prisoners at the guard house which is at Dover.

I have not been very well for a few days. My liver was not right and it was likely to terminate in the yellow jaundice but it did not get that far I am pretty well again but not as stout yet as I used to be but hope I will improve. I received a letter from Brother William. He had returned from Ford County. He has rented a farm there and designs moving over this fall. He is much pleased with the country there. He designs renting the first year. Wm. is going to make a sale and will sell a good deal of my fixens there--pretty much all my farming utensils, machines, and reaper, etc.

I received a letter from Rufus. He has heard from his brother Wm. in Texas. Heis teaming from Waco to Brownsville opposite Matamoro in Mexico. He states that his father died last November. I have no particulars of his death. Wm. says the rebels may force him to take up arms to fight against the Union, but no man on earth can make him pull a trigger where it is against his will, so the report about him being here at our fight of last February is untrue as I had supposed from the description I had of him. There are but few guerillas about here but they are vicious. A few of our men were out on detail a few days ago and were fired on by the guerillas. Two of our men were killed and one wounded. The boys hid themselves and the team started as though they were retreating. The guerillas came back to see what they had done and our boys fired on them and killed their leader, George Hinson. It is a hard matter to catch these fellows. The nature of the country is such as to make it difficult. There are too many hiding places.

We are looking for a mail soon and hope to hear from you. We are quite lonely here. Cutler's command is gone, Morgan's is also gone; in fact all the companies that we had any particular acquaintances in are gone but I am in hopes we will not be separated long.

Your husband, Mitchel

 

Ft. Donelson, Oct. 6, 1863

Dear Wife:

This morning's mail brought me your letter of the 10th of September being 25 days out but even that is better than for your letters going to Vicksburg before coming here. In my last letter I directed you to direct my letters by way of Clarksville and Louisville. I have not had a letter from John for a long time but I suppose he has so many correspondents and such a poor chance for writing that it is difficult for him to keep up at least I find it difficult sometimes when I have a great deal better chance than a man on the march or active duty. I fear he has been in that terrible conflict that Rosegrans has been engaged in. What a most wonderful battle they have had. It seems strange that the armies in the other parts of the field would lay down and let the rebels concentrate their whole force against Rosegrans, but such seems to be the case. Still I guess the rebels got worsted. Our men, or at least the most of our men, seemed determined not to be driven no matter what amount of force the rebels could bring against them and it is truly well for us all that they did so or the rebels would have run this country over again, but I am in hopes they have been and will be checked. Old David Turnbull is here. He came last night. He was on his way to see his son John but could not get a permit to go without going as a nurse. Hearing that his son was allright he did not go but turned his course this way.

He says as near as he can find out the circumstances connected with the battle it was a complete slaughter. I have been told that Beauregard has a large number of our men prisoners in Charleston and sent word to Gen. Gilmore that if he wanted to burn up his own men in Charleston he may fire away with his Greek fire shells. When he takes 8 the advantage that way I can't see but it would be just as good policy for us to put their men forward and let them kill their own men as well as they ours. In regard to the postage on that deed of conveyance, I feel as much bored over that as you. It was night when I got it done at Smithland and took it to the post office and got the postmaster to put the stamp on it and gave him a dime. He put two on it and gave me the third and had the one cent for his trouble, but it seems he was not content with that but put an old stamp on so you see how it came to be charged over again. He is a little bit of a spunky Dutchman and a three-cent stamp is big in his eyes.

I am sorry I am not loose footed enough to be with Thomas and Gregg in looking for a new location. I would be as you say sorry if brother William should settle somewhere distant from the rest of us. Hamilton Brownlee was home on a furlough and has just got back. He says Arthur Carmichael and several others were over in Ford County and were much pleased with the country. It would be well enough for your brothers to see that country before settling. Wm. has not brought yet but has rented a farm some 18 miles from where Huston lives. He is where Rev. McCracken lives. I wrote to you in my last letter about the deed and the circumstances connected with it.

I have not been very well since and have not written such. I had something of an infection of the liver but am well again. It is about two weeks since our last mail came until this one got here. Small steamboats run the river now and get along very slowly but my letters full and I must stop. I am to cook again and it is about time to get supper

Yours in the bonds of love, Mitchel

I send you a gold pen in this letter. I have abundance of the very best quality of steel pens. Gold pens got to be all the rage here. This one cost me 125 cents.

M

 

Ft. Donelson, Oct. 13, 1863

Dear Wife:

This evening when I came in from literary society I was met by a welcome visitor in the shape of a letter from you of the various dates of Sept. 12, 18, and 21 and was much pleased to hear from you and as Sergeant Gordon is going to start to Clarksville early in the morning I will embrace the opportunity of sending you a few lines at the risk of losing a little sleep. As I had written to you before, the right wing of our Regiment went to Clarksville which leaves the left wing to hold this place and as Sergeant Gordon was in command of the Negro Brigade in the building of the fort, he is left here and is messing with us, is a first rate fellow and I believe a true Christian. He is going up to Clarksville to visit the company. Clarksville and this place are the only places there are troops this side of Nashville and on the south there are no troops this side of Rosegrans army. We have the sole control of this part of the state that is in possession of the federal army. We feel perfectly safe here although the 19-20ths of the inhabitants here are secesh but their fighting force is all called off to assist in crushing Rosegrans. It seems strange to me that the other parts of the army should stand still and let the opposing force move off to assist in fighting a great battle and them do nothing to cause them to retrace their steps, but such has been almost universally the case--hold on till the enemy would return and get into position. Still it seems that the Potomac army is reinforcing Rosegrans and no doubt but there is warm work going on now or soon will be. I have had fears for the result but truly I can't help but have fears for the safety of the boys for there is a powerful destruction of life and surely our friends will not escape all the deadly missles that are hurled by so powerful an army of rebels.

 

Dear Eliza:

This is an evening for rejoicing for the Sargeant Warwick has just arrived back from a trip to Quincy with the sick and being at Monmouth has brought a lot of letters and among them is one from Alice Thorn with a heap of news. I suppose I am in for a new dress for my little niece, Alma, as the first part of the name is my choice. I shall make it a nice little ring as the first installment. And by the way you asked me to make Corry a ring and you would save it for her. I have had several that I designed for her but I can't keep them. If I make a nice ring there are plenty of men with little girls at home to send to so I must let it go. I will try to send one if I can get a nice shell. Alice has sent me some of Cherry's butter. I anticipate a good time enjoying it. She has my thanks. Greg has bought John Turner's farm for Mother. Alice wants me to buy old Mr. Butterfield's farm and Gregg Will Butterfield's. Then I would be in a patch of Thorns, sure enough?? Mr. Graham has gone in company of Dr. Hamilton to Minnesota for his health. He was very unwell when he went away. Dr. Hamilton's health is poor and is going north for his health. The health of the boys here is pretty good and they are all in good spirits and have a jolly time. They seem to take it as a matter of course and concluded to let matters take their course and they will be content. We would like very much to get our mail more regularly but it is raining now and I hope the river will rise so the boats can run. H. Brownlee has just told me that James McDill was wounded in the shoulder badly. I am sorry to hear it but such is war and we must bear with it. I have rather indirectly heard that the 37th Ind. was badly used up in the battle but I suppose you have the particulars long before this. I am anxious to hear how John got along.

I am going to send some rings in this letter. They are not the same I designed sending. I sold five today and the man picked out the ring I was going to send to Corry but these are clear shells. I will write Corry a little letter and put the rings in it. No more at present but remain your affectionate husband, Mitchel

Direct your letters to Clarksville, Tennessee just as though Co. B was there and I will get them direct.

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., Oct. 13, 1863

Letter to Baby Corry, 2/2 years old

 

To Mary Cordelia Thompson, Dear Daughter:

You may have forgotten what your Pa looks like but your Pa has not forgotten what you look like. I can see your picture every day. Your Ma got your likeness taken and sent it to me and I am very glad of it for it is a good likeness. It just looks like what you were when I left home but I suppose you have grown a good deal bigger now and can talk and sing. Yes, your Mother wrote to me that you could sing like everything and that you were learning to say your letters very fast. I wish you could read and write so that you could write your Pa a good long letter and tell me all about your playthings. You get your Ma to write for you and tell me all about your plays you have with Libbie. Tell me about your Uncle James, Uncle Thomas, Aunt Margaret. Tell me whether you bring Grandma a drink of water when she wants it and bring her knitting to her.

I got a letter from your cousin Alley, Libbie and Alma. You have never seen little Alma. She is a pretty little girl with dark blue eyes.

I am going to send you some rings in this letter. I want you to give one of them to your cousin Libbie if it fits her finger. I expect they are too large for your finger but Ma will keep it for you till you get bigger. Your Pa has some right nice shells and I will try to make you another one and send it to you.

It is now after the middle of the night and I must stop writing and go bed. Your Pa would like to have a kiss from you.

Your Pa

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., Oct. 30, 1863

Dear Wife:

With pleasure I take my pen in hand to answer your letter to Oct. 2, three days in coming in hand. Doesn't that sound like something? It Is not like being three months on the way. I hope our letters may continue to pass in such a short time. It seems that Craig was but a short time in preparing to move and is off in a hurry. Brother Wm. has also moved. He started the 19th I think. I wish I could have been there when they were picking their location. Still I don't as I could not have bettered matters any but it would be a satisfaction to myself. You know that I have a decidedly friendly feeling towards Wm. and family and would like to see them located in a good locality. As matters stand now wit me it is very uncertain whether I will get home before the three year are out or not. Still I am in hopes that rebelism will soon play out. I look for some steering work soon in northern Georgia. I have every confidence in Gen. Grant as leader and sorry that old Rosy is remove; but the old man may have gone astray. Guerillas are getting plenty around A good many of the deserters from the rebel army turn guerilla.

It won be long, however, till matters will be changed and these bands will be hunted up and dealt with. One of these bands of 100 fired on some of our cavalry scouts at Clarksville, killing one man of Co. B. and wounding two others. Our boys don't know whether they killed any of the rebels or not. They got five of them as prisoners. The blacks are enlisting rapidly. There will soon be a strong force of them. I am glad of it. It will relieve us the sooner. We are very vigilant here to prevent a surprise by night as there are threats of a raid into the fort to blow up our magazine, but our supplies, etc., but if they try it they will find us ready and some of them may get hurt. We feel perfectly able to hold this post against any attack the rebels can make, unless it would be a strong force from the rebel main army and such should try it our force has a better chance to come to our assistance than they have to come against us. We don't feel as though there is any danger of that. We now see the steamer Nevada from Cairo. She is our mail boat and I expect some letters by her as I have had none for a long time. I'll not finish this letter until I see if there is any news from her mail. Still, the news I have is later than this mail can bring for our orderly Wm. S Struthers got back from Monmouth today. He buried his wife while he was gone. Maggie Thompson has been very low with typhoid fever but is better now and will probably get well. She was considered very dangerous.

I am now on picket--my favorite time for writing letters and have also my favorite post, a high elevation that I can see all around and a long distance up and down the river. I don't think my health was ever better than it is at present. The boys all seem to be enjoying better health than formerly.

You mentioned in your letter concerning James McDill. I think it must be a mistake about him being wounded. I received a letter from James Lukens stating that there is no account of James being wounded but Thomas McDill was wounded slightly. Thomas McQuown was not hurt. James Lukens health was good but his leg is slight swollen to some extent. I was glad to hear that John had escaped unhurt. I don't Suppose John and James McDill had a very good way of writing as they both owe me a letter. I shall write to them again. I would like to hear from them. In regard to my standing the hardships and exposure attending the life of a soldier in the army, I must state to you that a garrison life and a life in the field of active service are two different things We have had precious little more exposure here now that we should have had at home. It is only the exceptions that could be called exposure I must tell you that we understand the gambit better now than we did when we first came here. Ignorance in every department had a great deal to do with causing the hardships that we have undergone Even to start us out on the march we would be better prepared now than we would have been last fall. Experience is a good teacher but a costly one sometimes. There is no mistake that there is great exposure, hardship and suffering in our large armies and I think we have been very much favored in being assigned to garrison duty. The inspector, Noble, from Nashville, day before yesterday said we were the best fixed, the cleanest looking and had the brightest guns of any troops he has inspected for a long time. He favored us very much Army canteens, haversacks, kitchen furniture that was damaged any way and was not very serviceable he condemned so that we could draw new ones.

I believe I should get some larger paper as it runs out before I finish my story. Yours as ever, M. A. Thompson

 

The Nevada has come and brought me a letter from Sarah Ann They were to move on the 19th. They had brother Newton, Ed Kirks and Elias Quinn to haul loads for them. They were as well as usual.

I did not tell you about a cane I made for myself. I have it finished off in style. It is red cedar with a white shell head with a cannel coal 8 square block set underneath. Four of the squares have bright shells round set in them. Underneath they block are set 8 crown points of bright shining shells of different colors. Below them are 4 hearts, next under there are 4 diamonds, two of which are for eyelets to put the string through, next are four shields, next is a long white shell to have the name on it with three diamonds on the three opposite sides, next are 4 round shells, small. These all are the very choicest shells I could find. I was nearly a week in making it. It is the admiration of all who see it. I will sent it to Ill. the first opportunity, I would hardly be tempted by a 20 dollar bill for it. A great many of the boys have got in the notion of getting up canes. I could have a dozen to fix up could I do it, but it takes more work than I have time to spare to do and then my tools are anything else than good. I paid $1.90 for files at one time but they did not last long for I have too many friends who like to use them and they are hard to come by at best.

I guess I must stop writing or you may think I am scarce of paper but I am not. I have a quire and a half and three bunches of envelopes I bought from Kern 4 dollars worth and sold $4.15 worth and have this amount left so you see my paper costs but little.

The drums are beating for the new guards and we will be called in and I won't be sorry for I am hungry for my breakfast. We were disappointed about the Nevada. It was another transport and had no mail on it We were all out of sorts about the way the mail business is carried on. On the river there is no certainty about it, the Nevada was booked for more than a week and has not come yet. The telegraph wires are cut by the guerillas and we have no communication in that way but the cavalry are out fixing it up again.

No more at present, but remain your affectionate husband, M

 

I had almost forgotten to say anything about the socks you mentioned. I am not very particular about the socks as I have two pair of very good government socks that are made of good wool, soft and pliable, but there are a great many socks that are coarse and harsh that are not fit to wear such as the ones the boys are drawing now, but I drew mine sometime ago and are better than the present stock. I would be much pleased if you would knit me a pair of gloves and send them by mail. I would willingly pay the postage on them and thank you very kindly in the bargain. That is the only article I particularly need.

I must stop my scribbling or you may not be able to get much sense 8 out of this letter. M.

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., Nov. 10, 1863

My dear wife:

I have for sometime been looking for a letter from you but our mails are so irregular that the delay is great. The last letter I had from you I received three days from the time of writing. I am not certain but we will miss it again in our directions as the 83rd Ind. is in the army of the Cumberland or will be soon as Gen. Sherman gets to the army of the Cumberland, then I suppose their letters will go by the way of Louisville to their Regiment and my letter will no doubt follow them as they did before to Vicksburg.

I have no news of importance to write but as I am on picket I find it the pleasantest mode of putting in the time and and as I am up with my correspondence I may commence to get them in my debt. The health of the Regiment is remarkably good. There are no severe cases of sickness that I know of. In fact there is not as much as a person would normally expect from the fact there is so much foggy weather at nights here and the pickets are out in it every night. The nights are sharp to frosty. It has been a remarkably cool fall. We have been wearing as much clothing as we used to do a good piece further north.

Eliza, the longer I am with the Regiment the more I seem to think of the men who compose it. In fact men that I used to look upon as hard cases I now look upon as good hearted clever fellows. They are becoming more systematic. There is not so much of the hair-brained, helterskelter care-for-nothingness about them. I suppose it is the case with all Regiments. Still it is not the case with the battery men here. Take them as a whole I don't believe I ever have seen a set of men that was composed of quite as hard a set of men. We are rather bad off now in the preaching line as our Lt. has gone home on a sick furlough with a severe cold that affected his throat, the Chaplain is at Clarksville. Consequently we have no minister among us. We have two prayer meetings one on Sabbath at 2 o'clock and one on Thursday evening. We have a literary society that promises well. There are several men here who are possessed of considerable talents that are able to discuss questions that arise that edify the audience. They also edit a paper called the Fort Donelson Review in which there is considerable wit displayed both in poetry and prose. Sorry is the man who calls down wit of the poets on his head by saying or doing anything that savors of cowardice or doing any unmanly act that is taken notice of. The most cutting piece I heard read was about a corporal who thinks himself something who went with a few others hunting. While shooting squirrels, a ball from a gun a short distance off struck a tree close to them. "Guerillas" was the cry. This corporal took a different direction from the others and scampered for the fort, getting tangled in the weeds. He fell and thought he heard the word "Halt" and thinking the guerillas had the others he threw away his gun to lighten himself and headed it to the fort and reported that the guerillas had attacked them and the others were made prionsers. The cause of the alarm was another squad of our men was out squirrel hunting and it was a ball from one of their guns that struck the tree near this man. The others hid behind trees till they found out the cause of the alarm, and continued shooting squirrels till they were tired and put for home so that affair ended, but with the corporal it has not ended yet.

The letter you started to me by the old route before you got the new directions has not come to hand yet but we are looking for a mail every day. We have not had a mail by the river for three weeks and plenty of boats are running. I can't tell what's the matter. The Col. has telegraphed but can find out nothing about it. I think that little Dutchman at Smithland ought to be booted out of that office as pay for that old stamp he put on that deed of mine.

The guerillas have not troubled us here yet but we can hear of them. around us frequently. They come close enough to look at us sometimes from the hills nearby but there is no danger of them attacking us. The general impression is that they want us to go out after them and then when the fort is scarce of men come in and burn the place. They will find that won't work. We are too few in number to go out into the country after them now. There is too much at stake here. It would appear almost incredible the amount of cost there is in furnishing a fort like this with the one article of ammunition. I have been told there is now $225,000 worth of ammunition in our magazine. You can more easily understand this when I tell you that every shot by a six pounder field piece costs about $6.00 a charge and the 32 pounders cost our government about $15.00. There are about $75,000 dollars worth of goods in the quartermaster's department. Next is the Commissary department. I can give you no estimate of that as the most of the supplies have lately been taken to Nashville. In the spring there were about 600,000 rations stored there but now I hear there is but 60 days rations left us. I am very glad of it for the provisions were getting spoiled and were hardly fit to eat. We are not drawing anything like full rations but we get in money the balance and we lay it out for vegetables potatoes, etc. I don't think I have laid our five dollars since I have been in the service over and above what I receive as back rations for eatables. There are other things that I have seen cause to lay out some : money for, but it brings me in far more than I lay out such as fixins to work in the shell business. I am now working up some shells preparing to trim out a cedar box for a ladies' work box that if I can make out to get a right nice one I'll try to send it to you. I takes a good deal of work but I don't care for that my time is Uncle Sam's and what time he does not need my services I can devote to what I please so it does not interfere with the military rule.

I have trimmed out seven canes with shells, some of them very nice. One man by the name of Stephens who is now discharged has one I trimmed. He says he was offered ten dollars for it but would not take it. I have several rings made and sold some as high as a dollar each. I shall send some of my highest priced rings but there is danger of them getting broken by the stamping the postmark but what I have sent seemed to go safe. The pencil went safe. I guess I may risk more. You can keep them or sell them just as you please if any person takes a fancy to any of them. Those you don't want for yourself or your friends you may sell.

As my paper is full and I have no news I must stop for the present. Your affectionate husband, Mitchel.

The rings are all $1.00 each.

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., Nov. 23, 1863

Dear Wife:

Being on guard again and having nothing special to do this afternoon I seat myself to write you a few lines in answer to that letter you started to me before you received my instructions to direct your letters to Clarksville. You will recollect I stated to you I received your next letter in three days. This one was about 26 days in coming so you can see the difference is greatly in favor of the way of Clarksville. I do not have your letter with me so that I can answer it in detail but as there was no very special news in it I shall proceed to answer it according to memory. Your suggestion about our acting in consort in our devotions please me very much. I believe it tendeth to harmony and great good may result from it. I know I have been entirely too neglectful and need stirring up often by the way of rememberance. We have, however, preaching every Sabbath night. Still that need not materially interfere with the time in your proposition. When we are on guard on the Sabbath we are not permitted to go to church, yet may be within hearing the singing. The guard must be attended to no matter what may be going on. We have been without preaching for a couple of weeks. Lt. Russell of Company K has been our preacher since the right wing went to Clarksville and he has been home getting him a wife but has got back again bringing his woman with him. He is acting Chaplain for the left wing, Higgins being at Clarksville.

I learn by a letter from Mrs. Hays to Robert that James McDill is at home but have not heard the nature of his wound. It can't, however, be very severe. He has been to Randolph Co. to Father McQuistons Sarah went up with him to Warren Co. but had not yet been to see Mrs. Hays. Maggie Thompson had a very severe spell of the typhoid fever. Had, it is said, three different fevers at the same time and has got better, will probably get well. I have not heard from brother Wm. since he left Warren Co. It will doubtless take good while to make the trip as it is 150 miles. I received a letter from J. D. Thorn a few days ago. He seems to be in fine spirits, has all confidence in Grant as a commander, thinks they will have no battle with the rebels soon, thinks they will be afraid to risk a general engagement with the force Grant has. I rather think the rebels are after the east part of Tennessee now, want to recapture Knoxville and drive Burnside north of the Cumberland mountains but I guess they will have something to do if they accomplish that much. The guerillas about here have made no stir lately. One of our companies went out today to be gone a week on a surveying expedition connected with the ground belonging to the fort. It is said the limits of the fort grounds extend some 15 miles across. They will make a plot of all the roads and all the streams of water and have names for them, all the mountains or high hills and everything connected with it so as to make a complete geography of the country around. It is a big job and they have been engaged with it for several months. Today Major General Jon A. Logan passed on his way up the river to Nashville. He stopped but did not get off the boat. His staff came up for our commander, Col. Braught, and took him down to the boat. The cannoneers gave him a salute of 13 guns. His stay was but a few minutes.

Wm. Newton Thompson and Orlando Winbiglar have joined the 12th Ill. Cavalry and are going to the front in Grant's army. There is quite an excitement in old Warren again about enlisting.

The Cooperheads are thrown in the shade in the late election. It is time for them to singmum. Vilen Dingham has got a deadener in Ohio. good for him. The folks at home are not all Copperheads; the K. G. C. are a stink in the nostrils of all loyal people. I have seen several letters from a man by the name of Foster in Adams Co., Ohio, to his brother-inlaw A. M. Warwick in our mess that is the worst kind of Copperheadism. A man holding his views if he lived in a southern state would be the worst kind of a slave holder and Tory to the government unless it would serve the slave owner entirely. I would hate to receive letters from a relative of such a character. I believe I would repudiate them .

The river still keeps in boating stage but is rather low. Boats are running pretty freely. Ten of our company escorted one to Nashville. got back last Thursday and had seen no place they would exchange for this in point of comfort. They get their mail more regularly at Clarksville is the only advantage that place has over this. All our old stock of Provisions have been taken to Nashville and we are receiving a new stock I am glad of that for the supply that was here was fast spoiling, but taken there they will be but a few days consuming them.

I am locking on every boat that comes down from Clarksville for a letter from you. Have received none by the way of Clarksville but the first one you sent by that direction. Yours as ever, Mitchel

 

I most forgot to tell you that the 50th Regiment has left Corinth and is now stationed on the railroad leading from Nashville to Decatur. They are at a place called Lynville. They are doing Provost duty and guarding the railroad. My news is out and I must stop and go to working on my box for Corry.

 

This is the morning of the 24th. A large mail came last night. I got a letter from Nancy Ann and also one from F. J. Dunn. William has gotten moved and they all seem to be well pleased with the country. Newton thinks he will move out there in the spring. Elias Quinn thinks he will go then too. Kirk was pleased with the country. These each hauled a load each for William. Mary has the offer of two schools. She coffered 13 dollars per month at the school nearest home and board at home. Mr. Huston was there a night. They are not flourishing as they wish. Call is not able to do anything; one of the other boys is delicate and can do but little. Their corn is injured by the frost, etc. They are 18 miles from where Wm. is. She writes to me that Mr. Stevenson that lives in the brick house north of Monmouth is married to Bell Green that used to live at Mr. Kendel's. Colum Jennings twins are both dead. They have received Corry's picture. I want to get mine taken on paper and can get six for $3.00.

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., Nov. 28, 1863

Dear Wife:

I seat myself to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of Nov. 6th-21 days in coming. It appears that we are doomed to disappointment as the 83rd Ind. is at Chatanooga and your letter gets into the mail bag going to the Indiana Regiment. A mail came today from Clarksville but none for me. I suppose they hadn't got the grand rounds yet. I got a letter from John a short time since he was in as good spirits as ever. I read the note you sent me that treated on the complaint Rebecca has. It is new to me. I did not know anything about her being unwell. I wrote a letter to Rev. Dr. Dales of Philadelphia for his opinion of a cure that is advertised in the paper. The instruction of Mrs. M. E. Brown, metaphysical physican, to find out whether her remedies were what they profess to be. He put himself to the trouble to go and see several who had been treated by her. He was so favorably impressed with her cures that he purchased a bottle of her eye water and sent it to me, begging me to receive it as a present from him and wishing me to wrote to him whether I received it and what effect it has on my eyes. To further test her remedies I sent money and ordered her metaphysical discovery to be sent to Rufus. It may be it will cure Rebecca. At all events if it does Rufus any good I would be for trying it. I suppose I had better get Wm. R. Thorn to attend to my business in Ill. Still there will be but little to do as brother Wm. has done pretty much all. Curlam has not paid any but the first payment, the second payment not being due for one year from the time the bargain was made. I don't know exactly what time it is due The third payment is due in two years, both payments drawing 6 percent.

You want to know Wm's post office address. It is Chatsworth, Ford Co., Ill. You ask me how I am off for boots. My boots I brought with me from Monmouth are good yet and will no doubt last me this winter I would not trade them for any of their new ones here. I wrote to you in regard to gloves as for everything else, I am well off. Tell Corry I would like to hear her sing "Rally 'Round the Flag" and "Brave Boys are They".

There is glorious news today. Our army at Chatanooga has taken 15,000 prisoners and 52 cannon. Good for Ulysses. He is an old war horse and got a goodly number of good old war horses with him. The news from all parts of our army is encouraging and looks very strongly peaceward. I think the rebellion is fast playing out and as you say, the election in the North and especially in the border slave states shows a powerful reaction in the minds of the people and I think the time is not far distant that secession views in the south will be as unpopular as it has been popular.

I received a letter the last mail from Capt. Dunn of the 50th. They have left Corinth and are now at Lynnville, 60 miles from Nashville on the Nashville and Decator Railroad. His company and two others are doing provost duty. The balance of the Regiment is guarding and repairing the road. We are getting along very well. Our duties are light and plenty to eat. Today we got our pay for Sept. and Oct. I send you ten dollars in this letter. I did not send any of my last payment home thinking it might be I could get the privilege to go myself. I would send more but I think ten enough to risk in one letter. I will send more in another as I have no use for it here. No more at present but remain, yours as ever

Mitchel

Tell Thomas and Margaret I would like to help them pare and cut apples for a while. If my last letter with the rings got through safe, fit one Margaret's finger as a present from me.

 

Dear Wife:

As there is a good chance of sending a letter to Clarksville today by we of the right wing boys I though I would write you a few lines, more especially to give you some new instructions how to back your letters me for I find I am deprived of my letters by them going down to the my of the Cumberland. I wish you to back your letters in this style: Mitchel A. Thompson

Fort Donelson

Company B

Tennessee

via Louisville and Clarksville

Leaving out the number of the Regiment as there is no other Regiment here there is no danger but I'll get the letters.

As I am to go on today I shall not have time to write much and it is raining and I could not take my portfolio with me. Wm. Newton Thompson is here now. He has volunteered as a new recruit to our company. Several new recruits are on their way coming from Warren Co., Ill. The health of the boys is in the main good but some of them are complaining of colds. There are but few sick. The Clarksville boys are enjoying good health and are in good spirits. Col. Smith is going to make a trial to get the left wing to Clarksville.. I would be glad if he would succeed, then we can get mail every evening from Louisville. I got the first letter you directed by way of Clarksville in three days, the next in 21 days, the next has not got the rounds yet. I hope it will soon get through with its travels and make its appearance.

There is nothing special going on here. The guerillas are quiet, only operating on the Union citizens occasionally. I hear there is a force of 1500 Union soldiers at Waverly, 35 miles south of this right in the heart the rebel country. I hope they will clean out the rebs there. We have had a grudge against that place every since we were here. That is the place our boys had their first fight with the rebs. I must stop writing as it is near breakfast time and we have not had worship yet and guard mounting is immediately after breakfast.

No more for the present. I send you five dollars in this letter.

Mitchel

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., Dec. 21, 1863

Dear Wife:

Yesterday I received a letter from you dated Dec. 7 in answer to one of mine of the 25th of Nov. You did not state in your letter whether you received anything in the letters I have sent you. I have sent You three letters--the first containing some rings, the second containing two five dollar bills (greenbacks), the third contained one five dollar bill The two first you should have received before Dec. 7 but no word of them. The last one I wrote about the time you wrote your letter. In that letter I gave you some new directions to have y letters sent by Clarks vine without putting the number of the Regiment on it as we are at a post we can get out letters without giving the number of the Regiment Doubtless if you got those letters of mine and have answered them the letters are going the rounds to Chattanooga and also to Knoxville as the 83rd Ind. is in Sherman's division and he is now following up Long street into Virginia and then goodbye letters. I hope they'll have a good time.

This morning James Foster from Porter's congregation arrived here and now by the way while speaking of Mr. Porter, I will state that he died about the first of this month. I have not heard any special news from Foster yet as I was on guard when he came. The boys are busy reading letters from home. Their letters generally bear the mark of peace and pleasure the folks are apparently enjoying themselves finely. Creig is now living in Robert Hays' house he has has bought Piles farm for $2000 dollars, 80 acres of prairie and 10 or 12 timber. James Foster looks as though he needs to be recruited up. He looks very thin Samuel (his son) is in great glee. The boys are receiving lots of nicknames. (You must excuse my spelling for the boys are cutting up so around me I don't know half the time what I am writing). They are looking forward to a good Christmas dinner. We have two turkies fattening for the occasion. There are seven pound cakes to be made. Nate Johnson Says Amanda is coming down here to start this day. Ham Brownlee's wife is here: Doc McClanahan's wife and family are also here. Last week I was right unwell. Pains in my bones, a constant chilliness with sore throat. I took no medicine but rubbed my throat with volitite or Hartshorn linament and held occasionally a little lump of camphor ill my mouth. I missed one day's guard but am well now. We have been having some right severe weather lately. The weather when I was sick was bad--wet and rainy. Yesterday the mounted Infantry found three guerillas killed one and wounded another; also our provost guards took up two counterfeiters and now have a ball and chain to each of them. There was an abundance of counterfeit greenbacks found about them. The guerillas are fast playing out here. There are Union troops scattered in different places now since Grant has flaxed out Bragg and the guerillas are beginning to hold up. The weather has been too cold for them to lay out. Our boys caught one by getting his clothes. He managed to escape in his night clothes only but he was compelled from cold to come back and give himself up.

I have been in a hurry to get this letter written to send to Clarksville by a Mr. Perkins. I have not heard from brother William since I wrote to you. There are several boys coming to this place from old Warren. War matters still look brighter and brighter to me. There is only one drawback that I can see. That is the grand army of the Potomac is doing and has done poor business. There are too many men who want to be the biggest of the big for that army to accomplish anything. The men can and do fight well when they have a chance. Witness Gettysburg, where they have gained a decisive victory when they were the attacking party. Yours as ever, Mitchel

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., Jan. 4, 1864

Dear Wife:

Long have I been looking for a letter from you but look in vain. It is now 58 days since you wrote the last letter I received from you, running the time back to the 7th of November. My last letter I directed you to not put the Regiment on the letter but direct them to Ft. Donelson by the way of Clarksville with Company B on it. I understand that the 83rd Ind. is in Sherman's division and that is in eastern Tennessee so if your letters go there we may say goodbye to them. Did I not think you were getting along very well I would be uneasy but I am getting so used to being disappointed it is getting to be an old story and don't go so hard with me as it used to.

We are getting along in the same old way, one regular routine of duty. There are getting to be a good many women here. Company B has eight here, among them is Amanda Johnson with her two little boys Monfort and Ellsworth. She got here on Christmas day. Nathaniel was not overly anxious for her to come but the way she was fixed I don't know but it is as well for her to be here while we stay here. I am not much in favor of bringing children here, yet there are a good many here. It makes more fires and these have to be kept up. Wood is abundant here and we can cut it but getting it hauled is the trick. Our teams are going every day, Sabbath not excepted. Last Sabbath I was detailed as one to get wood and also Saturday before and yet we have but about one load ahead to keep up about twenty fires so you can see the sticking point in doubling the fires.

January 5th. Being detailed on guard yesterday I did not get this letter finished and now will resume and try to finish up but better than all I have the extreme pleasure of receiving by mail today the mittens you sent me with the note in them stating that you are well. Now I can write in answer to this, thanking you very kindly for the Christmas present They suit me first rate. They reach so high on the wrist making them very comfortable and you better believe such things are needed here now for it is bitter cold, second only to the Illinois prairies. You state you sent me a letter a few days previous to this note but it has not come to hand. You stated you received my letter of the 11th with the five dollars in it, but did not state about the others which I Suppose you have written about in your former letter. I stated to you in a former letter that brother Wm.'s address was Ford Co. I see by their last letter it is Livingston Co. but as you have received a letter from them You have their address direct. I learn by Wm. Newton through a letter from Josiah that S. L. Foster has sold his farm to John Struthers and is going over to where Wm. is to see the country. I am very much afraid the Spring Grove congregation will flicker out if the members move off unless the influx should keep pace with the afflux. John Struthers is a son of old James Struthers of Monmouth. He gets $2420.00. He made a better sale than I did. M. Samuel Hallem and Draper Babcock from Monmouth are here on a visit. They have just been in here examining some canes and the little box I have made for Corry. They admire them very much. I have put eighty-seven pieces of shell on it. James Foster has been here for two weeks. He took my cane home with him. I received a letter from Wm. R. Thorn the last mail before this. He speaks of the death of Rev. Wm. M. Graham, also of Mrs. Moreland also of the Widow Brownlee. He says he would like it I were there to buy Mr. Colter's farm which is for sale for $2000. They were all well and have been having some very cold weather.

F. C. Hogue got a letter from Tom Heflin. He is well and speaks as though they are all in good spirits. Their time expires on the 25th of May. They are at Vicksburg yet. The 11th of next month our time will be half up so you see time flies fast.

I must stop writing at this time and go to getting up wood for this nightbids fair to be cold, cold, cold. It would be good sleighing here now had we a sleigh. Tell Corry to give you a kiss for her rattle. I have not received an answer to the letter I sent her yet. She must hurry and learn to write so as to answer it.

Yours, M. A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., Mar. 13, 1864

Dear Wife:

Yesterday I received a letter from you written at Monmouth and was much pleased to hear you had arrived safe and that Corry had got quite well. I had written a letter and sent it to Wm. Thorn. I expect it was there by the time you got home if it went direct. Matters are pretty much as they were when I left. We are having easy times. Nothing much to do but stand picket--have cabins at our picket posts with stoves. We are fixing ourselves very comfortably. We are trying to start a post garden to raise vegetables for the soldiers and have the darkies to run the institution. I think it a good plan. The blacks ought to have something to be engaged at and we need the vegetables. In fact our eating is dreadful slim at the present. Maybe it appears so to me from he fact of me being so much feasted while with you. Robert Hays has gone. I suppose you will get to see him. Amanda Johnson could not stand the modus operandi of bringing up children here and I think she is right. Parents that don't care how children are brought up and are willing to let them run at large in every kind of company may live here, but such only can live here in anything like peace of mind. Amanda will give you a synopsis of how matters are here and then you can better appreciate why I said so little about you coming here. I know it is no easy matter to train up children properly under the most favorable circumstances and I can see no use in placing ourselves in positions unfavorable if it can be avoided. Old John Sampbell is discharged on account of his eyes and I think its well my eyes are yet a little glimmery.

Our prisoners escaped the guard house night before last. The alarm was given and we were all called out to recapture them. Four of them had shackles on. I came onto one in the brush and made him tell me where the others were. He pointed to the water that he had just crossed. There were three of the shackled men under water and almost perished with cold as they had been there for nearly an hour they say. One of them was a Captain in the rebel service, is a cousin to Lawyer Stewart, States Attorney of Warren Co. His name is More. I was entirely by myself when I found them and called the boys up to march them to the guard house again. They had cut a hole with a pen knife in the floor under their bunk and got down through the hole into the cell. No one being in it, it was not locked. Then with some iron they pried the fastening of the outside door and got out. The prisoners above at he same time keeping up a noise so the guards did not hear them.

The Kentucky folks are kicking up quite a fuss by us recruiting he U. S. Service with their darkies and teaching them to read. They have been trying to get us sent away and have Kentucky troops in our place but the General says we are just the ones he wants here and for us to stay so I suppose neither friends nor enemies can get us away from this place for both have tried it and been unsuccessful. We hear of no guerillas anyplace about. They are pretty well all played out. There has been an election to establish civil rule here but there was previously little voting here. Unionism is not strong enough here although they all have taken the oath of allegience it will take some time for these old hard heads to come over. There has been an order issued to make out a list of all the abandoned property in this county.

New recruits still keep coming to our Regiment. Four came yesterday Montgomery was here when I got back. He has unproved in his preaching very much. He is generally liked, can draw a crowded house. Stayed with us 2 weeks and has gone back and is laboring very acceptably in the black Regiment at Clarksville. You must excuse me for writing with pencil as I have no ink and am on picket. Write soon. I am anxious to know how Mother stood the trip to Illinois. Your husband, M. A. Thompson

 

Apr. 1, 1864, Ft. Donelson, Tenn.

Dear Wife:

Yesterday as we were being mounted on guard I had a letter handed to me which when I reached the post for the day I opened and found it to be from your hand containing a half sheet from your brother Wm. I was glad to hear from you but was sorry to hear of Corry's Continued ill health. I fear it may settle into some settled complaint that will injure her health and drownd her naturally buoyant spirits. I feel satisfied she will have as much care taken of her as can be, especially in so quiet a place as Jane Thompsons. I can hardly think she has the measles There would be no more chance to catch the Small pox traveling as we have been. Still I hope it is not that. l came home this morning and by some mishap l left your letter at the post. l always like to have the letter before me when answering.

Well, I will state something in regard to our operations as I Suppose you have heard some big reports about Forrest's movements, especially if you have seen the accounts as they are published in Nashville papers that the rebel flag was flying over Paducah, Smith land, Fort Donelson, and Clarksville, which is entirely not so and not likely to be. It is true that a part of Forrest's force was at Paducah which you have the particulars and it was feared that he was working his way up here and Gen. Rousseau telgraphed for us to be on our watch for him and in case he should attack us to hold on until he could get reinforcements here which were here in 12 hours. Forrest didn't come near here. There is, however, guerilla groups prowling around through the country. There were 4 or 5 near our pickets last night but they made no demonstrations. The probability is that Forrest has gone back south these troops are ordered back to Nashville and we are glad to be clear of them for they are hard ones. It is astonishing what ill feelings exist between the Kentucky troops and the other Northern troops. They are so down on the darky troops. Their Col. who is a slave owner says he would sooner shoot a nigger than a rebel and a great many of them seemed as if they have lost all human feeling. It would have been much better if the state of Kentucky had gone with the rebels for we could fight them much better if they were in the rebel ranks than in our own. We had to double our guard to keep them straight. It is said their Adjutant went to the steamers and told their barkeeper to give their Regiment as much liquor as they wanted. They would show that G-d d-d abolition, nigger stealing 83rd a trick or two. But we doubled our guard and patrolled the camp constantly and as soon as they would come to a darky cabin they would come running for our guards and the next thing you would see of these fellows they were skedaddling for safer quarters. There has been more than one revolver drawn on them by our men.

There was, however, no serious disturbance between us. One thing was against them--if there were a mess gotten up they had to be wholly responsible for it as our men were not in for making trouble, but they found we were not to be fooled with. I suppose they thought to come and make a big dash and show of cursing and boasting of their prowess and damning the abolitionists would scare us as it used to the niggers but it didn't work and they cooled down. Their Col. who had command of us while they were here said if he had command of the 83rd for 6 months he would take some of the pride out of us, etc., etc.

My health still keeps good and the boys are all enjoying good health. Wm. N. Thompson had a little brash a few nights ago but has gotten well again. I had a letter from James McDill a few days ago. He says he pot to doing duty again but his shoulder is easily hurt and he is still exempt from all fatigue duty. Thomas McQuown is promoted from 1st Corp. to 5th Sergeant (Commissary sergeant). Andrew Mitchel has the same position in the 50th Regiment.

I received a letter from Margaret S. Thompson. She says the land I sold her had been sold for the taxes in 1861 and was redeemed. That is little trick that Demars played off on Frank Dunn. I heard Frank say he gave his share of the money to Demars to pay the tax on his share as it was divided on the tax list yet. She says she wants to sell the land. She did not say for me to buy it but the intimation leaned that way. She did not say what she asked for it. When you write to me tell how you like the way matters stand about the Grove now--what the church prospects there are, what kind of neighbors, if there are many who would be likely to engage in such a scene as there transpired at Young America, how James H. Logan likes the state of affairs, whether Gypsy Smith is giving them any trouble. I hear that Mr. Winbeglar is poorly and is thought he will not live long. How do Creig and Hattie like the country, how does Rufus get along, how does his wife wear in society?

I must close this and put in a short letter to Wm. I hope Corry will be better when I hear again. No more at present, but remain, your husband,

M. A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., Apr. 15, 1864

Dear Wife:

Yesterday I received your kind letter of the 1st and was very glad to hear from you although I heard from you by Robert Hays who got here on the evening of the 7th and looks well, much better than when he was when he started away. A trip home seems to recuperate the soldiers very much. My health is good and the boys are enjoying themselves very well. Our company was out on a four-day surveying trip. We had a good time of it. We traveled about 15 miles a day. We had no more than arrived on the bank of the Tennessee river when we were fired into by the guerillas but we soon made them skedaddle for the tall timber. Some of the boys say they saw two horses without riders after our fire but we could not get across the river as the gunboats destroyed all the boats along the river and to cross in a small dugout would be dangerous as the rebs would have the advantage of us, so we left them and followed our chain carriers. You may want to know how it comes we are surveying and measuring the country around, but it is necessary for military operations to have a complete map of all the roads and farms and prominent points in order to make this fort a permanent military establishment. Report says Forrest is at Paducah again but we have no particulars. He may give us a call yet but we are ready for him.

I have not heard from John D. Thorn since I came back. I had a letter from Frank Dunn. He was at Moorsville, Alabama. He has not slept on anything but the ground since he got back and been on the march all the time and had orders to proceed further to the front. I think the dogs of war will be let loose soon. He thinks the 83rd are more favored than any regiment he knows of being left at a post so long. We certainly ought to be very thankful that we are left at this post. The others call us the "band box Regiment", but we can bear the name bravely.

Also glad to hear that your Mother stood the trip in the cars so well and thinks well of the country. I don't know but it would be better for us to buy Colter's farm instead that of Margaret as the improvements are made. Still there are other pieces of land I can pick on that would please me much better if they could be had. Still it is not worth my while to bother myself about that yet.

I got a letter from Sarah Ann dated the 2nd. She says it is very wet there now. Wm. had his small grain all sowed. There is a split in the Old School Church. They have an organization at Chattsworth and want all the country members to go there but some of them won't go. Mr. Lewis and Mr. McKinney will join our church if they get an organization. Mr. Lewis anxious about it. David McKnights have gotten moved to their own house. Abner is living by himself. He and Miss McKinney are not going to be married. She is to be married to a Mr. Allen so he is cut out. She thinks Abner is going to be married this spring but does not know to whom. It is bedtime and I must quit until tomorrow:

Morning of the 16th. It is pleasant this morning, still fire feels comfortable. It has been too cool to do without fire all the time this spring. Frank Dunn write to me that it is a cold backward spring where he is and there will be but little crops raised. Fruit is killed to a great extent. The peach bloom here is very scant. Trees are all in a decline and soon peaches will be a rarity here. Apples are very poor here, most generally natural fruit, still there had been a good many fruit trees brought here from Rochester, New York before the war.

The Union sentiment here is about on a stand still and I guess will be until our armies gain some new victories. It is certainly amusing to hear the old foggies here talk. They say "There has been too much stump speaking and too many newspapers in the country--that is the cause of all the trouble." I was speaking with one man that thought niggers were a curse, but drawing him out to explain his reasons he stated that they are not profitable. They do not pay well.

The folks here think the ladies from the North who have come down heres to teach niggers to read and write have let themselves down very low There are two ladies from Indiana from the Freedom Society who have a school of over 100 students. Their names are Ellen Groves and Hettie Allen. They have an old man with them who is lame but he can assist in teaching and keep things straight.

We found a good many disloyal people while we were away. We showed them but little mercy. Whatever we wanted we took. We would get to their meal barrell and their cooking stove and bake as much corn bread as we wanted and they could not help themselves. We do things ere that we would no more do at home than cut our fingers off, but ere we think no more of shooting at a man than we would a rabbit at home. But we would have but little conscientious scruples to do the same at home under like circumstances. I tell you if we were at Coles County with our arms we would make those Cooperheads hunt their holes very suddenly.

We had Regimental inspection yesterday and today our Brigade inspector is here and we will have a general inspection. I must go to fixing up as they are very particular.

No more at present but remain your husband, very affectionately, M. A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., April 23, 1864

Dear Wife:

As Joseph Garside has his discharge and is going to start home shortly I shall try to scratch you a few lines to send with him and as I am on picket and it is very inconvenient to get ink I shall write with pencil. I have been looking for a letter from you the last mail or so but it has not made its appearance.

Times pass off here pretty much as usual. Not much stir in military matters. Forrest's force keeps themselves pretty close. We don't hear of them crossing to this side of the Tennessee river. We have heard nothing from them since we had that little skermish while on the Surveying scout. People are beginning to resume their usual Occupations here. One iron furnace has resumed business. They are clearing about $1000 per week. They give their hands $10 per month, clothe and feed them and give them as much ground as they want for garden and truck patch. They think all parties are doing better than they ever were before. It is much better to reward labor and skill than to compel involuntary servitude even if men are in possession of the requisite power. There are some 21 different iron works here in this county Some have been very extensive but have been destroyed by fire or other ways injured by the fell hand of the destroyer, War.

Land here is a drug on the market, no buying or selling. Much could be had for a mere song. I have been told that land in west and north west Missouri can be had at the rate of one-tenth of what it sold for be fore the war broke out. The reason is simplely that the two antagonistic parties cannot live peaceably together. At the beginning the rebels held sway and treated the Unionists shamefully and now the scale has turned and Union sentiment has the ascendancy and the rebels know full well that they can't live among those incensed men whom they have so heathenishly treated so that it is better part of valor to sell for what they can get and vamoose the ranch. Such will be the case all over the south shortly, no doubt, though as the old saying is "Birds of a feather all flock together". It may be there will be a changing of the Unionists flocking together and the rebs together so there will only be a changing off Had we the climate in Illinois that they have here I would not trade a farm there for anything I have yet seen here. I would not be as strong in my partiality as Doc Graham's Dutchman who would not trade a farm in Indiana for all he had seen in the south.

We are getting along in the eating line very well. We have good bread salt pork, beans, rice, hominy, coffee, sugar, tea, some excellent hams and occasionally molasses. We can buy dried apples at 8 1/2¢ a pound from the Quartermaster; also kraut at 16¢ a pound. We had at our last drawing 26 pounds of potatoes issued to our mess consisting of 13 men. Potatoes are scarce and are high in price, $2.00 per bushel. We do not buy any. When I get in the notion I bake a few pies. If the mess furnishes the materials I make them for nothing, but if I have to buy the materials I charge 10¢ each.

Two more of our company's women have gone home--Mrs. Baldwin and Mrs. Lansom leaving our company with but seven women. The darkies are making themselves gardens and it is beginning to look thriving. The government sent them four boxes of garden seeds that they can plant to raise their own supplies. Its much cheaper for them to grow their own than to furnish them rations.

The boys in our company who gave in their names as candidates for positions in the darky regiment have been ordered to Nashville for examination. There are four applicants, Sergeants Wright, Warwick and Sansom and private Sansom. Montgomery has not received the appointment to the Regiment of colored troops yet. The different companies have not got fully officered yet. They have to go to Chatanooga. I must cease for now but still remain your affectionate husband, M. A. Thompson. Kiss Corry for me.

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., May 2, 1864

Dear Wife:

I wrote you a letter and sent it by Joseph Garside but since I wrote that letter I received one from Brother Wm. which contained a notice to me that Gerlam has made a tender of the money for my farm and demanded the deed. I don't know as I need write anything more about it for I suppose Wm. R. Thorn has my deed and will hand it over to receive the money. All I wish to state is I wish Wm. R. Thorn to send some of the money to Brother William to secure the land at the tax sale which comes off the 20th of May. It will take about $188.00. After the Bode note is paid you can do anything with the balance you see proper as I have no particular place for it and could not specify what would be best.

My health still keeps good with the exception of a slight cold as we have been having some very cold and chilly weather and some heavy rains. One night while I stood picket the lightning flashed so bright that it completely blinded me so that I could distinguish nothing but the image of whatever object caught my eye while the lightning flashed. The Iens of the eye would retain the photograph for nearly a minute, everything else would be completely in darkness until the eye would catch another flash of lightning. Often I would turn around and look at our stove in our cabin from which came a slight flickering light which would immediately set my eyes right again.

Wm. Newton has had a spell of cold. I thought he was going to have a severe spell but old Dr. Cooper examined him and says his lungs were sould and that he would get well soon and such was the case.

I have no doubt from the action of the Governors of the Northwestern states that we will soon be relieved of the command of the fort and sent to the front. We have had a long time of it at this post and are ready and willing to go. We are under Hooker's immediate command. It will seem like a hard matter for us to pull up stakes and leave, having been so well fixed here it will be a good deal like commencing anew. The new recruits look upon it a little with a shudder but the government wants to make a decisive blow and throw ail the available forces against the rebels and crush this rebelion to the dust that it may not rise again. I do hope the next campaign will be the last and this wicked rebellion will be brought to a speedy close and that we may be permitted to rejoin our friends again.

A person can see by the reception of George Thompson, the English abolishionist and philanthrpist at Philadelphia that there has been a radical change in the minds of the men in the old "Keystone State". Judge Keiley of Democratic fame and Mr. Bruster and other friends of the south and southern institutions are proclaiming themselves unconditional abolitionists and don't want to see this war wound up until the chains are loosed from every slave in the land. Such sentiments coming from such men are of value.

We have not been paid off since I came home. There are now six months pay due me. We will I presume be paid off before we will be taken away from here, if we are moved. I will send a box home with some surplus clothing that I could not carry with me. We have been having spells of the cold but believe as a general thing we are better.

What an outrage this Fort Pillow affair was. President Lincoln thinks he may retalliate and I think he ought. There certainly must be some way to put a stop to such horrid barbarity.

I am looking for a letter from you day after tomorrow as the mail comes that day. I have had no letter for a good long time. Our mounted infantry killed a guerilla a few days ago and wounded several others Forrest's men are conscripting on the other side of the Tennessee river. It would be but of little consequence if they would take them all as they are all of a piece.

Yours, etc., M. A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., May 3, 1864

Dear Wife:

Morning of the 3rd. I was gratified by receiving the expected letter one day before I expected it. Your letter is dated April 11th, showing that it takes a long time fords letter to travel from Spring Grove. The postmark is the 16th. I have been writing to you pretty regularly every week since I came back from my furlow. I don't know as I have much news to write more than I have written by pencil more than to answer your letter. I am sorry you have feelings of disappointment in getting to Illinois but sickness will be confining to a person. I am sorry to hear of Wm. Thorn's affliction at such a time that it is necessary for them to be at their outdoor work. I do hope they will get J. B. Foster at Spring Grove but from your account I very much fear they have cast another fire brand into the furnace. I should not have done any such a thing for $10.00 or for 5 times $10.00. I do hate such trucking and think if Walker had the sense of a sucking turkey he would not throw himself in the way in that congregation. But men can hardly see their own faults. Probably he thinks the fault don't lie at his own door. I suppose Logan and Moreland thought that as Curren and Wm. and I were gone that Walker's enemies were all gone but it may so happen that if I come out safe and sound through this contest that I may have to go back there and I don't think I would feel very comfortable with Walker as a spiritual dictator. One thing certain, had I been there my vote would have been against him. I do hate such truckling for the sake of getting a few dollars for subscription. That congregation has had a bitter experience in that matter but it seems men can't learn anything even by sad experience.

As to the Dumars trick, I don't think it will fall upon me to back up the paying part. I wrote to Frank Dunn about it and he thinks as you do that it is a scabby trick in Dumars. He says he recollects distinctly giving Dumars the money to pay his share of the tax but I suppose Dumars did not pay any of the tax and gave in this 45 acres to sell for the taxes so as to screen his own for that year. He certainly must be a flat head copperhead. In regard to buying that land at Spring Grove I am of the same opinion as yourself--the improving will be so costly. Let me make another suggestion. How would Tuggy Smith's place do? He has a nice location, an excellent well of water, a right good orchard but the principal part of the land is unhandy but not more than that at Spring Grove. Still there would be a house to build. How would that meet your approbation? There is more land than I would want. I do not know whether he would sell or how much there are but few men in Illinois but would sell had they the chance. I am a little of your mind in regard to crossing that creek bottom. I would rather be on the south south side had I my preference. Get Thomas or James to ask Smith what he would ask for his farm and without letting him know what I have been writing.

You did not tell me the name of that man from Ohio you speak of. l hope from what you state that Corry's health is improving and will soon regain her wonted health and spirits. Tell Corry her Pa wants her to be a good girl and learn her letters well and learn to read right nice by the time her Pa comes back. I would like to be there to see you all in your new home, but judging from the weather here a person would naturally think it would be a very cold, disagreeable spring in Illinois and so it is in Indiana so I see by the Louisville Journal--wet and muddy and almost impossible to get the spring crops in the ground.

I have had no word from John Thorn yet. You state your last account from him was the 27th, I suppose of March, as it was the 11th of April when you wrote. Tell me in your next in what division and Corps he is f and also Brigade so that I may know how to find him if we are taken down to Chatanooga. We are in Hooker's division and 20 Army Corps. We have not been assigned to any brigade yet nor will not I suppose unless we are relieved from this post.

I am sorry to hear of Colum Jennings' wife being afflicted so, still if her affliction be of benefit to her in turning her mind from so much giddiness to that, that is more substantial and for her eternal welfare it may prove a blessing to her. God works by various means and we should not doubt his wisdom. We are establishing a Bible class here. There are 35 who have signed as members. Andrew Rodgers is teacher. There will be considerably more names added to the list the next Sabbath. If we stay here this summer we will have some books on Matthew to assist us. Rodgers is a thorough theologian. I can't see why he quit preaching. He says in reply to a question asked him if he had given up all hope or interest in a future life. "No," says he, "I would not give up my hopes in a future life for all the wealth in this world." He is willing to do all he can to instruct others.

Yours as ever, Mitchel

Your last letter came by the way of Louisville and Clarksville and I will send this the same way and see whether it will be as long going. I still expect another letter by tomorrow's mail from Smithland.

M. A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., May 13, 1864

Dear Wife:

Your letter of April 27-30 came to hand in very good time. The next day after I wrote my last letter I did not then think it worth while answering it so soon but deferred for a short time in hopes of hearing some news to write but news seems scarce. My health still keeps good and also the boys all. We all have had spells of cold, but have got pretty well over it. Alex Hogue is complaining a little and by the way since I have mentioned him, he got a letter from his wife stating that his little boy Alonzo is entirely deaf from the effects of the spotted fever. There is little hope of him ever getting any better. It is a peculiarity of that disease to leave the patient afflicted in that way of whatever member of the body it settles in. This spotted fever prevailed very much about Eaton, Ohio but very few got well and those who did live are afflicted for life. No doubt we are sorry here to lose Dr. McClanahan as we all had much confidence in him as a physician. We are under the care of the 3rd surgeon, Dr. Cuthbert. The 1st surgeon is at Clarksville with the right wing. I believe I would rather risk Dr. Mc than either of them.

You stated in your letter that John S. Thompson's wife was not likely to live and then stated at the close of the letter that she was so much better that she was thought to be out of danger. I have heard since by a letter of Harry Glenn's that she had taken a relapse and could not get well. I am sorry to hear of this affliction. How careful persons should be when they are beginning to get better to keep from doing anything that would calculated to throw them back for the relapse of a complaint is much worse than the first, the system being so much reduced it has much less powers of resistance. John will be like a fish out of water if he loses Susan. He has plenty of sympathizers.

I received yesterday a letter from Andrew Mitchel, the 50th Regiment is now in the front under Sherman in the 4th Brigade 2nd Division 16th Army Corps. They were on the march to the front when he wrote the letter commencing it at Athens, Alabama and finished it on the old battle ground of Chickamauga. Sherman being a few miles yet in advance they were to move up that day. No doubt but they will see hard times ere long. He says troops are pouring in by thousands and if the rebels are not whipped this time it will not be for want of men. It seems by the telegraph news that the army of the Potomac is at hot work, that Ben Butler, alias Brute Butler as the Rebs call him, has cut their line of communication in the rear, destroyed their railroads from Petersburgh towards Richmond and left no way for them to escape by rail. Our last word is that he was within five miles of Richmond. Won't it strike terror amongst the rebs of Richmond if Brute Butler gets there but won't there be rejoicing in Libby?

Our Mounted Infantry are kept out pretty much all the time keeping the guerilas stirred up as they are bothering the steamboats on the river. Our Col. seems to think we will not be relieved here yet. He says he has tried that too often. He went to Nashville expressly to see if there would be any chance for us to be moved from this place but the only reply he could get was the question "Can your Regiment hold those two places--Donelson and Clarksville?" His answer was that we could. Well, you stay there. That's the place we want you so the matter stands. For my part I am very well content to stay. We may be doing even more good here than we could do in the front but it looks to us like wasting precious time. Still its the unbounded duty to keep the line of communication open and it may be if a full Regiment of new troops should come here inexperienced Forrest might attack and take the place as his headquarters is at Jackson, Tenn. 100 miles from here. It would only take him two days to get here if he was so minded to try the place and after we should leave he may make an immediate attack and his force is pretty large and very blood thirsty as witness Fort Pillow. He has a particular spite at Donelson. There is no place he would rather capture than this but he has a wholesome fear of these big guns and our boys know how to handle them.

I am glad church matters are assuming a prosperous state at Spring Grove. I hope Foster will accept the call there. Tell Corry her Pa still remembers her. Yours, etc. Mitchel

 

I reckon Wm. knows what the measles are by this time. I would like to have been there to help him do up his spring work. Dr. Wallace had better keep his mouth shut about Spring Grove or he might hear that a good share of the difficulties at Spring Grove hangs to the skirts of Monmouth. M.

 

May 21, 1864, Ft. Donelson, Tenn.

Dear Wife:

As the mail man is to start down the river this evening I thought I would write you a few lines or it may be a good while before I would get another chance. Not that I owe you a letter or in answer to one of yours as I have answered all the letters I have received and a good many more as I do not get an answer to all I write. You may not receive all I write l and at the same time I may not receive all you write. I am pretty punctual to write one letter every week and sometimes in less time than a week but sometimes I miss Robert Hays received three the last mail from Mary Ann but mine came up missing. We get a mail once a week sometimes and sometimes in ten days and when a person misses a mail it seems long to wait for another.

We are still here at Donelson and from appearances the probability is we will stay there is nothing certain. We may go. Our Col. thinks we will not be relieved of our position here as it would take double our number of raw recruits to hold these two posts. He said he was up to Nashville and made application to join a command in the front the reply was: Are you able to hold these two forts and on replying in the affirmative they told him to stay here. This is where they want us. I am very well satisfied to remain here if we can do a much needed job here Our duties are not laborious and we are surrounded with a good degree of comfort. Vegetables are beginning to come in. We have onions occasionally. Today I am cook as we are left again without a cook. Our darkie has gone on a steamboat at $45 per month and we have not secured the services of another and if our boys were all willing to pitch in I would as leave do our own cooking but some of them don't know how and don't want to learn the trade.

There is going to be a general stampede of women in some of the other companies when the paymaster comes along again and he is now at Clarksville and will be here soon.

We are enjoying very good health. One thing I would like to know: that is how did the people at home get the idea in their heads that I was trying to get my discharge on account of my eyes? I never dreamed of such a thing as that and more than that my eyes are no wrose than they were when I was with you and I did not express any desire to get a discharge when there.

There seems to be glorious news from the army of the Potomac. General Grant seems determined to push the rebels to the last ditch and Ben Butler is playing a nice game in cutting off Beauregard from joining Lee and destroying the railroads south of Richmond. He'll make the rebs quail in their boots. The women of Richmond will hate to see Brute Butler coming. News also is good from northern Alabama and Georgia. Sherman is driving the Rebs to the Gulf. I want to see them all driven to the very neck of Florida and then make them jump off into the last ditch.

One of our new recruits is taken with sore eyes. If he will have as severe a time as I have had he will not know what to do with himself.

The guerillas still infest the country. Our boys killed one day before yesterday. The Clarksville, Hopkinsville, Lafayette and Donelson boys have all been chasing the same group but were unable to catch only but a few straggling ones. I have not seen Ranken Foster since he came back. He had been down here while I was with you in Illinois but had to go back to Clarksville, I heard a few days ago he was as stout and hearty as usual.

We have been double roofing our cabin and extending the roof out in front to keep the sun off in the heat of the day. It is very comfortable and nice. I don't know hardly how we got along with the fixtures we had when we first came here but the older we get the more sense we have. Yours as ever, Mitchel

Still remember Sabbath evenings. Tell Corry I often think of her and for her to be a good girl. There is another little girl here, daughter of David Gowdy of our Company.

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., May 30, 1864

Dear Wife:

The last mail brought me a letter from you and I had designed answering it sooner but on Friday last when I was on picket I was taken with griping pains in my bowels, but getting relieved and after coming in I got some of Baker's Pain Panacea and it relieved me but I had a severe headache. The Dr. gave me some bluemass pills and I am not pretty well again. I think Baker's Panacea a right good thing for the bowels in case of an incipient stage of the flux. I feel now as though there had been nothing the matter with me, yet it took my strength away. Another of the boys, James L. Baird, had a spell of the flux at the same time and has not gotten along so well, but is getting better. The rest of the boys are as well as usual.

It was my impression that brother Wm. had left Guerlam notes in Manton Foster's hands but I don't recollect of making any inquiries about it. It would be a hard old go if they were lost but I presume they will turn up some place. I have sent 55 dollars to Wm. by express to pay on that land and would not like to let such a chance as that slip as there are but few chances of that description for investment that I hear of. Still, if I have lost that chance the only thing is to let it go. It might be better for me to get Smith to attend entirely to my business as it is more in his line of business and as there is such a scarcity of help for the farmers it is not best to bother them more than necessary. I know pretty well how it is for a man in a busy time to start out to attend to a little business. A man has generally to neglect his own or some one else's business.

In regard to buying some land before I would get home had never entered my head. All the writing I have done is just all the same as gab about it. I have been bothering my head considerable about it and can't relieve myself any other way than to write, especially as I had sold just about the time your Mother and family took the notion of moving there. I would, however, sell that 80 of mine if anyone gives me $550.00 for it. I would give a quit claim deed. Your letter of May 5th came to hand about the same time as the one of May 16th came. The former came by way of Clarksville, I had just sent a letter before I received it that I thought it not worth while to answer it so soon.

The river is falling very fast and the probability is that we will have lonesome times here in the dry season if we are left here and the probability is that we will be left here. We came very near being sent to the front. The order was made out but they considered that we were divided and holding two posts and a detachment of light Infantry at each division. They reconsidered the matter and decided to withdraw the order so we are here yet.

It seems that Gen. Banks has not even made a respectable fizzle in his military operations though he is reported as a great statesman he has certainly not proven himself to be a good military commander I can't see the propriety of a large army driving a large army before it with only a small detachment in the advance and the supply train next to the main body of the army a day's march in the rear, having only small detachments forward to be slaughtered by details. I don't want to go into battle under any such leadership. Almost any corporal of the guard would know better than that how to manage an army.

I think that Generals Sherman and Grant understand their business and are putting the rebels through by the double quick. l have an idea of putting in for Regimental carpenter position. I believe I could get the position if I wanted it as the present incumbent is about to be transferred to the engineer corps. It is a pleasant business and not hard work which is quite an item for us here. Besides there is no loss of sleep and no exposure to general duties. My class of new recruits are getting along fine in the tactics and will soon know as much as any of us about the drill.

We have a Bible class in our church on Sabbath afternoons and it is very well attended. Andrew Rodgers is teacher. We are without a preacher now. We have prayer meeting Thursday evenings. l still try to keep up our Sabbath evening prayer. It is difficult sometimes for me to find retired spot just at that time as we sometimes have preaching at that time and prayer meeting sometimes but I generally manage to find time and place.

As the mail will not go out for a day or two I will delay this letter and maybe write more, Yours, etc. M.

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., June 5, 1864

Dear Wife:

As an opportunity has opened to send you a letter direct I embrace the opportunity. Mr. Samuel Stephenson of Monmouth is here and designs to start on the first boat for home and we always wish to send our letters by hand as they go quicker. We are still here at Donelson. The word now is that we will go soon to Nashville as we are in Hookers reserve corps. We are in much of an isolated place for him in case of needing us. He wants us in a position he can get us. Such is the word Mr. Stephenson brings and he was at Nashville last Friday. We are to do provost duty at Nashville.

We are in our usual health. l have recovered from my spell of the flux and am as well as usual with the exception of cold. Some of the boys have still the relics of the sore eyes. Nate Johnson is about the worst; Alex Hogue second, John Struthers comes next. Henry Glenn has them in their incipient stage. We have still good news from our armies in the front. Success after success and if it still continues the rebellion will surely go by the boards soon. That such should be the case is my fervent hope and prayer. What an immense amount of slaughter this war has been. The cause of it is astonishing, yet it seems as though it must be, that it is a part of God's plan to bring about the result required rests without a doubt. If it is the wish of the authorities for us to go for ward to aid in the cause in a more conspicuous manner than we are I cannot object. We are no better than other people and it is but just for us to bear a part of the burden. We have been wonderfully favored ever since we enlisted and we ought not to complain if we are deprived of our ease for a while. We have now been very near two years in the service and been in but one engagement of any consequence in the entire time while some other Regiments have been in dozens of battles. One report Mr. Stephenson brings from Nashville pleases me. A Regiment was sent out to hunt guerillas with orders to kill all they can find and bring in no prisoners. That is my idea exactly. There is no use in fooling with them but kill them and be done with them. The country will be much better for it.

The river is getting very low. I hear there are several boats laying at Ingraham Shoals. If we were to stay here I would be pleased to be on a squad of men to go down and make a channel through these shoals and turn the water all through it which could be easily done and the government would be paid well for it as all other shoals between this and Smithland are but slight.

Our Bible class is progressing very well. Rodgers proves to be a good hand at the business. We have had no preaching for three Sabbaths Today we had an excellent sermon read to us. We have a book in our mess of sermons compiled and abridged from Old English Divines by Mrs. Trimmer that are excellent. I have taken them with me on picket to read to the boys and some of them listen with a good degree of interest.

Montgomery has got his commission as chaplain of his darkie Regiment and gone on to the front. I am not aware where the Regiment is. I suppose the 17th is mustered out all that did not reenlist. I have not heard whether Tom Heflin has reenlisted or not.

We are looking for a mail from Smithland and with it I expect a letter from you and one from Wm.'s folks. Yours as ever M. A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., June 8, 1864

Dear Wife:

A few minutes ago I received yours of May 26th but did not get the one from Wm. I suppose they are too busy to do much writing. The letter I sent by Mr. Stevenson did not go as soon as I anticipated. He had to stay here two days waiting for a boat and I thought it would be best for me to write now and answer this letter in time to send by the next mail which I expect will start tomorrow and my object in writing so soon after the other one is I wrote you that we were to go to Nashville in a short time, but that calculation has already been knocked in the head. Col. Smith was at Nashville when the order was made out and he told them he did not want to go to Nashville, he would much prefer going to the front when it was determined on to move us from this place so they then told him to stay where he was. What I wrote to you in regard to being up at Nashville so that Gen. Hooker could get us when he needed us was my own supposition as the only thing that would suggest itself to me to justify the move but now I can't tell why they would want to make such a move unless it would be to have Col. Smith's services, as he is just one of the best of men and one that is needed.

The blacks throng northern benevolence and will get schooling, but it is doubtful if the poor whites get much unless it comes the same say for there is not public spirit enough to establish schools here.

I received a letter yesterday from Andrew M. Thorn. The 50th Regiment was at Rome in Georgia doing guard duty. They were guarding prisoners in the same room that Col. Straight and his command were guarded in by the rebels. The tables are turned now. The citizens say we are not half as hard on their men as they were on ours. Our men while in prison were handcuffed and very illy treated. Our men treat them as prisoners the same as they would our own men when they are put in the guard house for some mischief.

In regard to the paying the tax on that 80,I had instructed Robert Hays to write to Mary Ann to get some money from Samuel Hays to pay my share when she paid her share so that the tax receipt will be all in the one name as it is better on account of the title. l have since paid Robert the amount.

I would be pleased to hear of Winbiglar embracing Christianity. I think the near approach of death might have a beneficial affect to humble him at the feet of Jesus, calling aloud for mercy while it is not too late.

Tell Corry there are several little girls here that play and cut around just like she did when I was at home. Her Pa would like to see her again but must stay here a while longer. Isn't this a cruel war that keeps your Pa away so long, but we must wait with patience.

I have taken a large sheet this time as I had plenty of time to write and my correspondents are getting few as the spring campaign has opened. Mitchel

 

Ft. Donelson, June 16, 1864

Dear Wife:

Yours of the 2nd came to hand the last mail. I will proceed to answer it. The letter came by the way of Clarksville and was perused with pleasure. I always am glad to hear from home even if there is no news a any importance and I suppose the rule holds good on the other side so will proceed to give what little there is. Yesterday while I was on picket our boys came back from their scout of eight days. They were along the line of telegraph between here and Smithland doing repairs. They repaired 70 miles and were within 20 miles of Smithland. They speak as though they had a first rate time--the best scout they had been out on, lived on the fat of the land but would not touch anything belonging to Unionists but if they would be crusty and sassy they would take what they wanted and they might help themselves. Such is the way it goes when we are out. We can pretty well tell who is friendly and who is not. Some will even divide their last bushel of meal with us. One woman even offered that if we would stay till her husband would get home from the mill she would bake bread for the whole company but we passed on. We had just passed a house a few miles back that the boys sacked right severely. The man would not take the oath of allegience. Another told a lie in saying there was no firearms about the premises. One of the boys got a chair and looked on a board on the loft and pulled down a first rate rifle heavily charged. He took it out and wrapped it around a tree, mashed it all to pieces. Another house we came to they did not want us to stop there as there was but little room and there were plenty of houses on a piece further but we understood his move. Our Capt. told him he could not help it, the boys had made a big day's march and were hungry and tired. His next excuse was his wife was weakly and the work all devolved upon his Mother who was old, nor able, but that made no difference. "Just show us the meal barrel and we will ask no more" said the captain. So some men went into the kitchen and took possession of the stove and fixtures and baked corn dodger enough for all. So you see that's the way we live in Dixie. You would hate to see a parcel of men come into your house and take possession of your kitchen and bake up all or nearly all of your meal without leave or license, yet we think nothing of it here. Another time we came to a Dr. Williams' house. They were secessionist. We compelled them to bake our bread for us. They were wealthy and had black women for cooks. The majority of the people have no slaves. This school is drawing the darkies here. There are over a hundred in the school and some of them learn very fast but others do not.

I am now writing on our kitchen table and our black cook has his spelling book on the other side of the table pouring over his lesson. He keeps it by him all the time and he may be found every day at his lesson when time offers opportunity.

I was right smartly tickled yesterday on guard. An old Kentuckian came to a negro shanty close by our post to see a boy that had left him He wanted to know who put it into his head to leave him and come to Donelson. The boy is a smart little fellow and had come by himself. He said he had it in his own head for a long time. The man wanted to know if he didn't want to go back again. The boy answered that he did not. The Kentuckian asked him if he wouldn't go back if he would pay him. No, he said, he wouldn't. Well wouldn't you go back for $500.00. No, he wouldn't. Well what are you doing here? I am going to school. The Kentuckian hung his head and walked off. The boy says the old slaveholders always told them that the Yanks would not school them, that they were not that kind of people, but the darkies don't believe their masters. A squad of our men went out into Kentucky and gathered about 100 darky men and enlisted them in the U.S. service. It is like pulling teeth for the old Kentuckians to give up their niggers.

I would just like it if John Morgan would overrun that state from A to izzard and learn them how to take a joke. There are a few men who are good and true but they are almost as scarce as hen's teeth and that may be said of those that are in the army with a pretty good assurance. l guess Morgan has learned them a lesson at Cinthyana and thereabouts. The feeling in the army as far as I know is with Morgan and says go It. You will do more good than anything else, diplomacy is nowhere for them though Dr. Brackenridge stands firm and a few others but they are scarce.

Well, I declare I am at the end of this sheet and have not answered your letter at all, but have been going on in my rigamarole about the rebels and niggers but I will take another sheet, but it comes to the time for my class in tactics to meet.

I must ask Corry if she is learning to spell yet and tell her there are lots of little girls here going to school all trying to learn and she ought to try and not be behind. Your Ma wrote to me about you going with Libbie and Allie to the Sabbath school. Pa was glad to hear of it and would like for you to go.

The drums are beating for guard and I must stop.

Yours, etc. M. A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn., June 23, 1864

Dear Wife:

I have been waiting for several days for the Smithland mail but it has not made its appearance yet, but I have received your letter of June 10th by the way of Clarksville so that is doubtful whether I get one by the next mail. I will answer this letter so as to have it ready when the mail starts which is very uncertain now as the river is getting low. I forgot to answer your question in your letter of the 2nd in regard to me getting a discharge on account of my eyes. The first I heard of it was when Robert came back from home and since that Mary Ann asked the question by letter if it was really so that I was trying to get a discharge. That's the way I got it but know nothing how it started.

I am in hopes you will be more successful in getting a preacher this time than you were with Foster. We are about to make a trial to get a preacher here as our preachers have all flickered out and left us without any at all and Lt. Moore has been ordered to Nashville on detached duty leaving us without anyone who could be termed a leader in meetings. Different ones are writing to their respective congregations to assist in sending a man here making it a voluntary act and as we are likely to stay here yet a spell we would like to have more preaching if we could conveniently. We have 26 members of the U.P. Church in our company and 25 adherents. There are 6 members of the R.P. Church and 4 adherents. There are 6 women, wives of members of our church and 1 of the R.P. church. I have joined R. Hays in a letter to Samuel Miller as the Spring Grove church is in pretty tight quarters at present and I thought it not best to ask to burden them any more.

In regard to the money I received last pay day. I sent $55.00 to Wm. to buy some of that land for taxes. He did not get any for me. He got one quarter for himself. He says you wrote to them you were afraid for me to go into any speculation until I got home so I wrote to him to send the money to you. You can use it can. I have no plans laid out in the least.

Corry seems to be busy. I suppose she will be great help to her Uncle Thomas. I reckon she can carry him a drink occasionally.

The contraband school is out now. Day before yesterday they had an exhibition of progress. Some of the little fellows who had never seen the letters before could read right plain and speak pieces they had committed to memory without flinching. Taking everything into consideration it was pronounced a decided success.

I have not heard from the 50th Regiment since the hard fighting and am anxious to hear from the boys but must have patience knowing and believeing they are in the hands of One who works all things for his own glory and the good of those who love Him.

Matters are passing along here in their usual way. There is considerable crossing and recrossing the river below here by guerillas. They riddled a boat pretty well as it was coming up lately, killed one man on it, 14 shots were fired into the pilot house on one side and the Rebs were on both sides of the river numbering 250. A part of our force went down with two pieces of artillery but the Rebs had gone and it was not practical to follow them. They went into Kentucky to get some of their horses--the guerillas take their horses and we take their negroes so they are skinned on every hand.

I would like to have some of those cherry pies you speak of, but we had a nice lot of mulberry pies with seeded dried cherries stirred to mix with them to give them a tartish taste. They were pronounced good. As some of our friends are here from Clarksville I will finish this and send it with them as it is uncertain when the mail will go down the river We are in our usual health. Mitchel

If any of the friends would wish to assist us a little to get preaching they can do so through Dr. Young in Monmouth. M. A.T.

 

Ft. Donelson, June 28, 1864

Dear Wife:

This morning I was recipient of one of those favors that always give me pleasure, viz., a letter from your hand bearing date of June 15th. It is ten days since we received a mail from down the river. We are about to have a change in carriers and I hope for more punctuality in the future. Yesterday I received a letter from Sallie Ann dated May 21more than a month old. This letter came by the way of Clarksville. I had thought that our correspondence had had some interruption but such is the way it was done and as she is there on a visit. I need not write now so I will defer writing for this time. My correspondence with Lizzie B. has been broken off almost entirely and it may be by the same process. You seem to be enjoying yourselves finely in visiting and receiving visitors. I would like very well to make one of the number and hear Tom Heflin let off one of his biggest ones, but we have 25 months yet to face the enemy and must have patience, which we do have to a remarkable degree.

You will have a letter ere this will explain the disposition the authorities have determined on in regard to our Regiment. I am glad to hear that John is spared yet. I hope he may not be very sick. I rather suppose he may not be very bad as there is no use for men that are not able for the most severe active service in the front. When the army is resting in quarters a man has to be right sick before he is taken to the hospital but sometimes during action if a man shows symptoms of sickness he is sent back if the surgeons do their duty and I believe as a body they are fully up to the standard of the medical profession. I have heard nothing from the 50th since the fighting. I suppose the friends about Spring Grove hear from them more regularly and I would like you to write to me if there is any news of importance concerning them as my correspondence is limited in that direction.

I am pleased that Alex Wilson has sold the reaper and you are Welcome to try any speculation you may see that offers inducements. You will no doubt have added to the $25.00 the $55.00 I had Wm. send you. You are at liberty to use it as you see best. I still have a few dollars of pocket money sufficient for any little expenses I may need money for. One think I would like for you to do would be to send me a couple of good coarse towels by Hamilton Brownlee if you can get them to him without too much trouble as it is impossible to get any such thing here at anything within reason.

I am pleased to learn that the Sabbath school seems to be reviving at Spring Grove. I think to that it is necessary to have permanent preaching and I think the members ought to strain every nerve to get a good preacher settled. I know nothing about Mr. Patterson but you have in a measure a chance to be pleased or displeased with him. I hope he may suit you and be an honor to the calling. I have long been of the opinion that a good working minister could built up a good flourishing congregation at the Grove, but a slothful minister is in much the same category with a slothful farmer, their respective flocks will show visibly how they are treated.

That dog of Josiah's ought to be down here--it would be a good subject for a squid The boys have permission to squib all dogs that come around the pickets and as they are very plentiful the boys have a heap of sport. Such a howling as some of these hounds keep up is a nuisance to the inhabitants. I think a dog that would snap at a child is not fit to live. Tell Corry that when her Pa comes home he will fix all such dogs that would hurt her.

It has been warm and dry here for several weeks. The river is getting very low. The large boats must soon leave the river. We have had no June rise; the inhabitants say there is always a June rise and it will generally last until in August. Tell Tom Heflin he did not answer my last letter. I will look for one from him soon as he has got home. If you see Lizzie B. tell her she owes me a letter or some of her letters are lost. Give my respects to Mother and Margaret and Thomas and all inquiring friends. Mitchel

 

Ft. Donelson, Tenn. July 18, 1864

Dear Wife:

I seat myself to answer your kind letter of the 1st inst. which came to hand on the 14th. I had sent you a letter a short time before and thought to wait for a few days to collect some news but have not been very fortunate in that respect. I received a letter from Capt. Dunn and also one from Andrew M. since I wrote to you. They are still at Rome in Georgia doing Provost duty. There are extensive arrangements made there for the sick and wounded of the army. There were about 1400 there and preparations for as many more. They represent Rome as a beautiful place, good location, fresh air, good water and good buildings.

Frank Dunn is detached as post officer of the day. His duties are to keep everything in order, see that all necessary arrangements are made for health and comfort, details guards and a general supervision of matters. We had likened to have a big fuss here last week but it has all quieted down now. There was considerable gambling and horse racing and a good deal of other actions that are not becoming the true gentleman going on here and the better feeling portion of the officers waked them up with some pretty heavy charges preferred against them and had the matter gone on some of them would have had to smart under it but through strong promises of mending their ways the matter was dropped and so harmony once more prevails in camp.

On yesterday (Sabbath) three of our men were out a few miles at a forge. At old man Parrishes the guerrillas pounced upon them and made them prisoners, took them off to hold them as hostages for couple of noted guerrillas that we have in the guard house. Gus Scott of Monmouth is one of the number. He was out sparking a Miss Buckner relative of the rebel Gen. Buckner.

Ranken Foster was down here last week. He is stout and hearty and says he hears from Spring Hill occasionally, says matters are going on there as usual. I see from accounts from the Monmouth college that Professor McKee is elected as a professor there. I have no doubt but it is a wise choice if his health only holds out good.

I suppose Tom Heflin will cut a big splurge now as he has got a stout hearty women he will go into farming largely now while things are high and everything costly and when there is a down come he will come down with them. I rather expect if I get home safe and sound to go into business in rather a small scale. You have not written to me yet if those notes of Guerlaws were found or not. I would like to hear about them. Wm. has not written about them either. I have no idea who has them but thought Manter Foster had all my business in his hands and consequently thought they were amongst the rest. Robert Hays got a letter from Mary Ann stating that James C. McDill was killed on the 18th of June, shot through the breast and died in a few hours. One by one they go.

What a fearful day of reckoning there will be with the perpetrators of this great crime. The blood of thousands will cry aloud to God to avenge them of their adversaries.

I see by the last Atlas that Winbiglar is dead. I was expecting it. It is reported that Capt. McGain of the 8th Regiment was killed but it was not known for certain.

I was glad to hear you had paid Martha a visit. I guess Cory will recollect the windlass that tapped her on the head. Tell her that her Pa recollects very distinctly of getting just such a rap on the head very much in the same way and was knocked down. I was at school, was about 12 years of age, went to draw a bucket of water and about the time the well bucket got to the top I let the handle slip and it went down again with a whirly wheeze. The round struck me on top of my head and laid me sprawling on the ground. I can sympathize with Cory on her mishap.

I was glad to hear that Mitchel has taken hold of farming and doing well. Corn seems to be quite an object there now. Quite a difference to what it was while I was farming. We were very anxious to sell if we could get 10 cents or a trifle over. Now ten times ten can be had just as easily. There is some encouragement for farmers but it does seem to me the farmers ought to quit sowing spring wheat until that chince bug will get routed out for lack of something to live on. It has been a pest there as long as I have lived in Illinois more or less every year.

Today H. Brownlee got back. He does not look very well. I am of the impression he will get a discharge as the state of his health is not such as to be reliable in the service. He has the heart disease. Wm. N. has got well again and has been doing duty for the past week. It is now blackberry time. We have had several good cobblers. They don't go too bad when we have plenty of milk. We pay ten cents per quart for milk 25 cents a pound for butter, $1.00 per bushel for potatoes, $1.00 per bushel for June apples. We can get huckleberries at 15 cents per quart. I have paid at the rate of $4.00 per bushel for onions. It was too dry a good part of the season here for vegetables to do much good. It takes more rain here to do the country good than it does in Illinois. The ground dries out so quickly. I heard that Mr. Ranolds of Cedar Creek was coming down here to preach for us a while. l would be very glad to have him come. Robert Hays is very well acquainted with him--they were neighbors in Ohio. l don't know whether to call the news from the front encouraging or not. Sherman seems to be driving Johnson still further south. Last report says Sherman has taken Atlanta with 8000 prisoners but it is not official and I can't tell whether to believe it or not. That Maryland raid turned out a fizzle. Those fellows might be caught napping yet. Our armies have had a lot of hard fighting and a heap of lives lost without much advantage gained on either side. At all events the victories we have gained are dearly bought. The rebels know it is life or death with them and they may as well die fighting as any other way. I do hope this business will be wound up speedily. I am heartily tired of it but we must bide our time, do our duty and leave the rest to the over ruling hand of Him who is the Ruler of the universe and upholder of all things.

The weather here has been exceedingly hot. The thermometer has ranged from 90 to 104 in the shade. We have but little to do here but the soldiers at the front have to suffer by heat and dust and lack of wholesome water.

The 138th I hear have gone to Leavenworth, Kansas. They have a good place there. They may be very thankful they were not sent down the river to Vicksburg or thereabouts.

My sheet is full and I must stop for the present.

My love to you all. Mitchel A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donelson, July 29, 1864

Dear Eliza:

This evening I will try to write you an answer to yours of the 18th inst which I received the last mail three days since. I should have answered it sooner but was busy on fatigue duty. I have been making new seats for our church and laying a floor in it. Finished it this evening and as the mail starts out tomorrow I thought I would scratch you a few lines to let you know I am allright yet, health good and spirits as high as usual. In fact I find there is no use in allowing one's spirits to flag as one gains nothing but is continually losing. We as soldiers have no need to complain as we have but few hardships to encounter. More than one would in a mixed crowd as there is here. Things here are not as I would wish they were but a person must always live with two bears in view--viz., bear and forbear. One thing would be an advance in the scale or order and rectitude if it could be adopted and carried out, viz., an order prohibiting the sale and drinking of spiritous liquors. There are so many men who like their liquor that it is exceedingly hard for such an order to be carried out even if it was made. Our Company has a few who indulge with excess and they are more trouble than all the balance.

Brownlee has gotten back but is not in good health. l think he will get a discharge. He has the heart disease and dares not exert himself or he will bring it onto himself. Wm. N. Thompson has got stout and hearty again--has been doing duty for two or three weeks. His cough has entirely left him. Samuel M. Wiley, a new recruit from Miller's church, has the sore eyes now. Glenn has gotten better and has been on duty for a week or more. I think Wiley will not have them as bad as we all know better how to treat them tow than we did before.

We have been to Clarksville since I wrote to you. The guerillas burned a boat and a barge loaded with 400 barrels of coffee. We recovered about one hundred barrels of them and no doubt but the citizens are full of it but there is too much of the rebel about them to fork it over without being compelled to by a strong arm and bayonet.

The war seems to be progressing slowly but I think surely for a complete overthrow of slavery and the two-fisted farmers and planters will have to succumb to the single fisted farmers and greasy mechanics. They are stubborn though, as you can see by the hard fighting about Atlanta. They contest Sherman's advance bravely but they are not able to drive him back. What a list of noble lives are cut down. It looks like downright butchery but we must still put our trust in that overruling hand that is able to bring order out of confusion.

You want to know what day of the month the 83rd's time will be out. We were mustered in on the 11th day of August 1862 and consequently will be out on the 11th day of August 1865--just one year and thirteen days from this date. Time flies fast and will soon roll around. I fear the war won't be then settled but Old Abe is making big calls for troops and seems determined to put it through.

I must send you a half sheet again as the rest are all in bed snoring and the mail starts out early in the morning. I'll fill a sheet the next letter I write. My paper and envelopes are both out but I'll have a new supply when Alex Hogue gets back from being to Ohio on furlough.

Yours as ever, M. A. Thompson

 

Ft. Donelson, Aug. 5th, 1864

Dear Wife:

This evening I received a few lines from Ranken Foster concerning a letter from E. N. Cowan which I will enclose to you as it is late and I go on guard in the morning I would have no chance to write till the mail would leave. You will see by Mr. Cowans letter the sad inteligence of William Rankins death. One by one we hear of our friends being taken off and but few family connections escape but all have cause for grief over the loss of their near and dear yet in the good provadence of God, our loss may be their gain which is an excelent source of encouragement for the Christian. Our armies are passing through a severe ordeal that, although at the sacrifice of a great number of valuable lives. Yet its to be hoped that the final result will be abundantly blessed with a good sound government and based upon riteous principals and not with slavery and aristocracy, as chief cornerstones. I think the Rebels are beginning to think their only hope is in transfering the scene of the contest with the Northern states by extensive raids but I don't think it will work any benefit to them, but will rous the dorment spirit of large numbers of men in the North that will fall into the ranks to fight for the old flag which they are dishonering by such tardiness. The Potomac army has been making another heavy effort the actual result of which I have no knowledge, whether it will be of decided advantage or not one thing is certain the army on both sides keep melting away the hope we have over and above the rebels is that the North is more numerous and could hold out the longest for it looks very much like it was working towards a war of extermination. There is a force of Rebel soldiers in the neighbourhood that are doing a right good business they aparently hate these guerrilas as bad as we do and have convinced a war of extermination shuting them whereever they can catch them it has been a well known fact that the guerrilas made no difference between union and secesh so they spent money and property they could turn to account these reb soldiers came into action with a flag of truce and took out a Guerrilla and shot him without any seramony they are gathering up there conscripts and cleaning out the country generaly. We had a visitation here last night the Wife of Lieut Russel of Co. 72 died after a short illness she had the flux and congestive chill. I had almost forgot to mention that Rankens letter stating that John L. Mitchell is poorly the very grate probability is he is not living by this time also Dave Alenberger died with the flux and a to frequent draughts of hard corn, was pretty well burnt out. Today five commissions came to the left wing of our Regt., one of which came to George N. Samson our fifth sergent our Regt. is prety well represented in the Negro Brigade, its a position I have no hankering after though I see no diference between the honours of positions in black Regt. than in White, in fact I think the requirements of the commanders of the Negro Regt. are grater than the Whites. There is but little sickness here more than what I have stated Lieut Gamble with three or fore men was taken prisoners while taking a drove of cattle from Clarksville to Nashville they were formed in line to be shot Gamble broke and succeded in escaping; but was fired on without taking affect the others was shot one of them was a soldier but the others were hired but had our uniforms on. It apears that we are not a going to have any preaching at least before the Meeting of Synod and its a little doubtfull then so my eforts in seating and flooring the church is in vain but such is life-its late and I must stop for this time.

M. A. Thompson

 

August 20, 1864

Skirmish at Pine Bluff, Tennessee

 

Report of Lt. Col. Elijah C. Brott, 83rd Ill. Hq.

U.S. Forces Infantry

Fort Donelson, Tenn., August 25, 1864

Colonel: I have the honor to make the following report of a skirmish between a portion of rebel Gen. Woodward's command, numbering 110 men, and Capt. William W. Tumbull, Co. B., 83rd Ill. Volunteer Infantry and 11 men of his company.

On the morning of the 17th instant Capt. Turnbull received orders from these headquarters to proceed with his company as guard to telegraph repairers on line leading to Smithland, Ky., on the morning of the 20th, near the Great Western Furnace, a distance of about 15 miles from the fort a citizen reported to Capt. 6 guerilas. The Capt. learning by going across the rebels would be obliged to travel 3 miles while the Capt. would reach the same place in traveling 1 mile, hoping thereby to capture the 6 guerillas, the Capt. with 11 men, started in pursuit; but on reaching said place the guerillas had preceded him a very few minutes. The Capt. and men followed nearly to the Tenn. River, a distance of 6 or 8 miles from his camp. Came near enough to the guerillas to fire a volley at them. Captured from them 1 horse and 1 gun. The Capt. then concluded to return to camp, and when but a short distance on his return he was met by 110 men of Woodward's command, who fired into the Capt. and party at a distance of about 20 yards, the Capt. returning the fire. The rebels then charged on and overpowered them, killing the Capt. and 7 men, horribly mutilating their bodies, their heads and faces terribly beaten, and from 2 to 4 bullets in each. One man being wounded and left on the field was carried by ladies to the house of a citizen. While lying on a couch a second party came up. One of the fiends seeing the wounded soldier fired his pistol at him 3 times and killed him. Two men escaped and reached the fort in safety, and two more were taken prisoners. A detachment consisting of Co. B. mounted infantry, and Battery C, Second Ill. Light Artillery, Capt. James P. Flood commanding, found the bodies on the ground where the fight had occurred, gathered for burial by the citizens. The body of Capt. Turnbull was found some distance from the scene of strife, he, it seems, having fallen back and defended himself until overpowered and killed.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

I am, your obedient servant, E. C. Brott, Lt. Col., Commanding Post

 

Col. A. A. Smith

Commanding Clarksville and Donelson

Page 467 "The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies."

Series 1, Vol. 39 (in 3 parts)

Part 1 Reports

Published under the direction of the Honorable Stephen B. Elkins, Sec of War Washington, Govt. Printing Office, 1892.

 

August 25, 1864, Ft. Donelson, Tenn.

Mr. Editor:

Early last Sabbath morning John Elliot, of Company B of our Regiment, came into camp with news that a large squad of Rebels, the previous day, had attacked a few of our men a few miles below Fort Henry, near the Tennessee River, and probably killed the most of them

The company had gone out the previous Wed. to repair the Telegraph line running to Smithland. On Saturday the 20th, in the morning, they were about five miles from the river, and not far from the road much traveled by the guerillas which runs between Linton on the Cumberland and Pine Bluff on the Tennessee River, where there is a ferry. Getting information that six of them had passed on their way west that morning, Capt. Turnbull took eleven from the large number who volunteered to go and went after them. By fast marching our party reached the river a few minutes after the others and coming in sight fired upon them wounding one and securing a horse. It was about eleven o'clock. Facing about they marched a half a mile back, the Capt. Carrying the captured gun. They stopped a few minutes at Bassett's house, leaving there they came about one hundred yards further, when suddenly three or four shots were fired in front of them, and they saw as many horsemen wheel and run back. Some of our boys fired after them supposing it to be a small party. On their left and between them and the river was a cornfield, on their right was a wood with a little underbrush, but not enough for a screen for a fighting party; a ravine ran near it--of some depth--parallel with the road, about a quarter of a mile back in the woods. When the first shots were fired the Capt. said "What's that, are they firing on us?" After some of the boys fired he ordered them all to fall back from the road, and they took their position a few rods distant. Hardly had they done so, when the whole body of rebels, about 70 in number, came on at a gallop, yelling like demons, cursing and threatening, calling out to surrender, "shoot them" and "kill them" and using other savage language. Our party seeing the odds against them, turned about and by order of the Capt. fell back again They were immediately surrounded by the enemy and mingled with them, both parties scattering in the woods, and each one fighting for himself; the rebels firing on our men who had only their empty guns for defense.

About the time the enemy came up with them, two of the party, J. Elliot and J. A. Struthers, who were on the right, broke away on the right and front and although pursued and fired at, escaped to the ravineone going up it and the other ascending a hill near by. For some unknown cause the rebels did not pursue them far. Struthers made his way to the crossing of a wireroad and the guerilla road at the Great Western Furnace and waited to join the company on its way back to camp the next morning. Elliot reached camp the next morning, bringing news of the disaster first. Another of the boys, J. Neily, soon after they wheeled to retreat, stumbled over a log and fell. On rising he turned about and surrendered to one of the rebels, they being all around him. But a few minutes after, another rebel rode up and swore he would kill him and fired his pistol full in his face, the powder marking but the ball missing him. He was taken on with them and was treated well enough; crossed over the river on Sabbath and taken on to Paris; brought back to the Tennessee river, paroled and returned to camp--to the surpnse of everyone. A fourth man, Marrion Morrison, was badly wounded and beaten, lay insensible for sometime and finally made his way to the river and 48 hours after the fight was taken on board a gunboat and is doing well in a Paducah hospital.

From all the information I can glean very little about the fighting itself. The Rebel soldiers, as well as their Capt. Bates, who formerly lived on the spot where our camp is, said they had seen men fight hard but they had never seen a man fight as those fellows did. But they utterly refused to surrender and there was nothing else to do but to kill them. One was lying wounded and was asked if he surrendered, not being able to speak, he shook his head. Mitchel Thompson was rode upon by a rebel: he got behind a tree and was running around it trying to load his gun when the rebel running after him shot him. He received a shot in the left side and his face and head were marked with a dozen cuts and bruises. They said James Pattison, our fifer refused to surrender, but took a club when his gun was gone and pounded a rebel, Capt. Pettijohn, on the shoulder with it. He received two large balls in the face; several of them fought in the same manner and one of them when he could get nothing else threw stones and clods. W. Finley received a small shot in the right side of his face and hear that is the mark of the muzzle of a double-barreled shot-gun; above his eye is a similar and deep cut; on his forehead are long, deep gashes, besides many other marks. He received a fatal shot in the bowels. W. F. Martin was shot in the left jaw, and a cut on the right temple. They cut off his left finger for a ring. J. W. Hogue was shot in the right breast and received a cut on the head. D. M. Nichol was shot behind the left ear and in the left foot. S. A. Foster by some means got across the road and into the cornfield One of the guerillas shouted, "Yonder goes one of them in the corn field. They pursued, ran him down, and left him with both thighs broken. The neighbors took him into the house and put him to bed and sent for a physician. A few hours afterwards another party coming along, some of them went into the house, and one of them declared he had killed "twenty-nine Yankees and this would be his thirtieth", he deliberately drew his revolver and shot him twice, killing him instantly. Several of the rebels claimed to have been the one who killed Capt Turnbull. They said he was a brave man and fought hard, seizing his gun by the muzzle and beating them with it. Some of them called out to others, "Don't kill the Capt.", at which he dropped his gun but another rushing up immediately shot him. He received a ball in the abdomen and one in the right cheek, beside a long gash on the top of his head. He was found about a quarter of a mile back from the road in a ravine and one or two others not far away. Three others were found fifty yards nearer; and another still closer, but to the rear of where they formed to receive the enemy.

The assertion of the rebels that our men would not surrender is, no doubt, partially correct; and was made to shield themselves from the abhorance of men for such a cowardly, cruel massacre. Our men met the enemy resolutely and confidently until they saw them coming on in such numbers. They then endeavored to retreat; seeing no hope of retreat, they offered to surrender, this being not accepted by the drunken wretches, and because of their discomforture at Hopkinsville they then turned and fought with the power of men who so long had learned to hate the prowling murderers, but never had learned to fear them, but some of them, I think would not offer to surrender. Some of them, I think, resolved to die and sell their lives as dearly as they could. I know it was in them to do so, but why should five times their number, on horseback, armed with guns and revolvers, aware of the number of their opponents, who were taken by surprise; why should they not have seized them and tied them without firing a shot? Why use such language, shoot men down when unarmed, shoot the helpless wounded, beat the wounded and dead with their guns, as they declared they did afterwards, cut off a boy's finger for a trifling ring, and shoot another dying wounded in bed? Long ago besotted by slavery's influence, they were developing what they ever were.

It was a desperate affair while it lasted. The heavy fighting lasted perhaps five minutes, dying away into dropping shots. Our men were pushed back several hundred yards; several hundred shots were fired at them, and several were marked with many wounds. And yet, strangely enough, all the wounds were in front and nearly all were about the head and breast. I need not say they were brave. I need not tell their acquaintances at home that they were good men. I Suppose that the gap in our company will not be filled.

I am tired of these hideous details, but I thought it best to get as near the facts as possible for the satisfaction of friends. The bodies were brought in Sabbath. On Monday evening they were buried, some of them will, at least, go home.

The rebels, we hear, are being driven out of Kentucky. With Woodward and Johnson killed, their men scattered, the rivers up, the gun boats patrolling, their plunder hanging heavy on their hands, and they -we hope -- will be tormented before their time.

The river is up, the boats are passing. The weather is cooler. Col. Brott goes on to Clarksville, and Major Bond comes to this place to take command.

Yours,

A. A. Rogers

Army correspondence, Fort Donelson. August 25, 1864

 

RESOLUTIONS on the death of Members of the Company B. 83rd Illinois

At the called meeting of the officers of the left wing of the 83rd Regt. Vols. the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:

Whereas, God, in His infinite wisdom, has suffered to be taken from our midst on the twentieth inst., by the hand of the enemy, the following members of Company B of our Regiment: Capt. Wm. W. Turnbull, Corp. Mitchell A. Thompson, Fifer James Pattison, Privates Wm. W. Findley, Samuel Foster, John W. Hogue, Wm. F. Martin, David M. Nichols, they being in the vigor of manhood, and in the discharge of their duties as soldiers, each one of whom was a man of firmness in the maintenance of truth and morality, and ever ready to perform his duty as a soldier, patriot and friend --- therefore

Resolved, that we cannot but deeply feel the loss of these our fellow soldiers: yet that we bow in humble submission to the will of Him who governs the destiny of nations as of individuals.

Resolved, that in the deaths of Capt. Turnbull and Corp. Thompson we have lost officers prompt in the execution of their duties and conscientious in their dealings, and as officers, Christian and friends, worthy of imitation and deserving of the grateful remembrance of all.

Resolved, that while we mourn the loss of our comrades, we extend our cordial sympathy to the families thus bereaved of kind fathers, brothers and sons.

Resolved, that we, and all the regiment, are hereby admonished of the uncertainty of life and of the necessity of being ready for certain death.

Resolved, that while we mourn our loss, and submit to Providence we also declare our horror and indignation at the conduct of those savages who could, by overwhelming numbers, could ride down, massacre and mutilate those noble men, thus, in a professedly Christian land violating the laws of Christianity, of war, of humanity, of decency; and that charging this crime to the institution of the South and the policy of the Confederacy, we express our belief that retaliation on the part of the Federal authority is not only justifiable, but necessary to prevent the recurrence of such cruel deeds.

Resolved, that these resolutions be published in the Christian Instructor, Knox Republican, Monmouth Atlas and Monmouth Review. Signed

 

Giles Grissey, Capt. Co. H. R. D. Russell, Lt. Co. K. W. L. Cuthbert, Asst. Surg. J. H. Herdman, Lt. Co. B.

 

Committee


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