CIVIL WAR LETTERS
The following letters were sent to their hometown papers by men who were serving in the Civil War. Some signed their names others used psudonyms,
most made clear what unit they were in, some did not. These are important because they give "real time" accounts of the war. In the cases were I have information on the authors I will so note. Some
of these are not easy to read as they are quite graphic.
Printed in the May 2, 1863 - Vernon Banner
January 14, 1863, at Frame House Hospital, near Overall Creek, Murfreesboro Pike, Tenn., from wounds received at the battle of Stone River, John C. SKINNER, of Louisville, Ky.,
private, Co. F. 15th Kentucky volunteers, aged 17 years and 5 months. He was shot through the left thigh, badly fracturing the bone. He was taken by the rebels and robbed of everything except what
he had on, and was left near 48 hours without care.
Young Skinner was a noble boy and every inch a soldier. When told that he would not recover, he said with a steady voice and his eyes flashing true courage, "I am not afraid
to die, and I could not die in a better cause." He then asked to have a Catholic Priest sent for, which was immediately done, and Rev. Mr. Caldwell came and spent some time with, after which the brave
lad expressed a readiness to go, and after three days intense suffering died like a Christian and a soldier. Peace to his brave soul.
Letter to the Editor
January 12, 1863
Mr. B. F. Lewis
From telegrams and private letters, I am at last enabled to give you casualties in Jennings Co. Companies, engaged in the late battles
at Murfreesboro, Tenn. The 6th Indiana, was in Johnson's Division, and the extreme right flank of our army. The enemy massed upon our right flank, and drove
it back two or three miles, with dreadful slaughter, as its long lists of casualties will show, some knowing Butternuts
, or enemies of this regiment are
whispering around that it run
; Permit me, modesty to give this the lie
; She knows no such word as run
. Johnson's and Jeff Davis' Division's
were both overpowered and driven back, none but cowards
will say she run. Col. Baldwin commanded the Brigade and Col. Tripp the regiment. Lieut. Rust was
sick, and Lieut. McGannon commanded my company. The following are the losses in the company.
Co. B 6th INDIANA
KILLED-William Jolly-Benjamin F. Simpson, Seeley Jane, and J. G. Shewmaker, total 4.
WOUNDED-Sergt. John Tillman, color bearer, severely in Knee, Steven Jayne, severely in leg. William Tungate, severely, Samuel Kitts, severely.
L. S. Deringer, severely, E. M. Adkins, slightly, Lewis Howe, Prisoner & paroled-Total 10.
MISSING-Sergt. Caleb Whitmore.
Below are the losses in some other companies from our County-Viz.
Henry Dixon, Co. I 6th Indiana, wounded, John M. Roop, Sergt, Co. H 37th Ind. Mitchel Day, Sergt. Co. C 37th, shoulder, Chapman A. Beauchard.
Co. C 37, Ind. Missing, Isaiah L. Green, Corp. Co. C shoulder, Jas. A. Ferren, Co. C 37th Ind. shot through breast, John Lawler, Co. C 37th Ind. leg. George McKay, 37th
Ind. thigh and John Gorbit, foot.
Co. A 22 INDIANA
WOUNDED-Corp. Thos. Brighton, in thigh, John Banks, severely, Thos. Myrick severely in arm, Wm Priz, severely in arm.
The losses are said to be greater in Johnson's Division than in any other. I will forward you as soon as received, all items of interest.
S. F. McKeehan.
Sunday, Sept. 27th 1863 - North Vernon Plain Dealer, October 15, 1863
Letter from the 26th Regiment
This following letter from Henry Story, to his brother and friends, will be read by our citizens with interest.
ON BOARD STEAMER
D. G. Taylor, Twenty Miles Above Port Hudson, Sept. 30', 1863
Dear Bro. and Friends:
Yesterday Marshal and I had the pleasure of reading a letter from Riley, and were glad to learn that all were in tolerable health at home.
Marshal and I are well, and safe, but our Regiment are nearly all now prisoners. Our Reft. (the 26th Indiana) 19th Iowa, and one section of Coles Battery,
was captured yesterday, about six miles from here. The boys fought bravely, but were compelled to surrender to overpowering numbers. Some thirty or forty managed to escape, they
being on picket-and several got away after the surrender. But one of company "H" escaped (Oscar Cowell) and he was on Picket. We lost some twelve or fifteen killed, and thirty
wounded, in our Regiments and Battery. As far as I can learn, none of company "H" was hurt, but all captured.
Capt. Stott was seen march off at the head of his company, under rebel guard. The command was taken completely by surprise, and entirely surrounded, before
they could do anything. It was raining very had, at the time, and most of the boys were eating dinner. The rebs. force was supposed to number ten thousand, infantry, cavalry and
artillery. They got between six and seven hundred of our men-a pretty good haul.
About a week since, I took the chills, and was sent to this hospital boat for treatment; had it not been thus, I should also have been a prisoner with the
The following are the names who were captured in my company:
Capt. R. H. Stott, Sergt's, Harding, Doll, Glenn and Thompson; Corporals, Shadomy, Marsh, Gregson, and McBride; Privates, Carr, Cook, Elliott, King, Gibbs, C.
Shinolt, J. Shinolt, Heaton, Jordan, F. Marsh, S. Marsh, Specht, Waller, McGurdy, Riggs, M. Robinett, R. Robinett, Moran, Dixon, Ritz, Merril, Gunder and Alexander.
Hours Truly, HENRY STORY
In Field, at Chattanooga
On the 31st of August, Johnsons Division, of McCooks Corps, to which our regiment is attached crossed the Tennessee River at Caperton's Ferry,
near Stevenson, Ala. We remained there until the evening of the 2d of September, curtailing our baggage to three wagons to the regiment. Then ascending the Sand
Mountain we bivouached. The mountains here, were about 20 miles wide, covered with pine and chestnut, poorly watered, very rough and hard to travel, we reached the foot
of the mountains on the 4th and waited events and orders, in Lookout Valley until the 10th of the month, when with Davis' Division in the van, we crossed the Lookout Mountains,
a distance of 20 miles, more in a south-west course, landing us in the state of Georgia; some prisoners of the 4th Georgia cavalry were taken here, who reported the "rebs" in
strong force beyond us, and that Whartons Brigade had just left the valley pursued by our cavalry. Thus came to us the first news of the occupation of Chattanooga, by our forces
under Crittenden, McCooks Corps had all concentrated here and all of Stanleys cavalry. Our movements seemed slow, and without much object. We thought we were going to Rome, to
intercept the rebels who were supposed to be falling back upon that place. News reached us here, that sent all the wagons up the mountains as fast as men and horses could carry
them, the enemy were reported in force at Lafayette and Summerville, towns on the mountain between us and Chattanooga, we were then 50 miles from the latter place, and 35 from
Rome; on the evening of the 18th we were ordered to support Gen. Thomas, and like and not like the army in Flanders, after marching down the hill we marched up again, and 9 miles
toward Lafayette, and stopped for a little rest. A little after midnight, we got orders to march back again to the place from whence we ascended the evening before, and thence
back across the mountains, to where we had left on the 10th, having marched 60 miles, and not advanced a foot, there everything seemed in doubt. A dozen orders to march came during
the night and as often countermanded, we tarried here the next day, the 15th, and found a little of the rest we so much needed-this station was called Winston, after a man who
lived here. A good many loyal men were found here, who proved their loyalty by their works, a good many of them enlisting in our army, there we found our enterprising Sutler,
Jo. Andrews, with a fine stock of what soldiers need after a long march, and we lightened his load considerably. In the evening Col. Tripp was presented with an elegant sword
by the officers who had been associated with him so long. Capt. Prather made the presentation speech.-summing up the Colonels career in a few feeling and touching words, and
offering the sword as a slight testimonial of regard, expressing satisfaction with the past, and confidence in the future. The response was like the man, cool, calm, but with
much feeling. He hesitated, feared he could not meet the expectations of the donors. He said we were probably on the eve of a great battle, but he would accept it and use his
best endeavors not to dishonor it. The regiment being drawn up in column, thanking the officers for the elegant he proposed that the affair like some other great occasions,
should end in smoke. Whereupon officers and men took a big smoke, every one felt that the tribute was well bestowed, and the sequel will show that the sword was not dishonored.
On the morning of the 16th we were again started back up the mountain towards B Broomcorn Valey (where we had met Whartons rebel brigade) and marched 15
miles keeping along the crest of the mountain, instead of crossing it. The next day we passed Stephens Gap, which is the main one across Lookout mountains, and thence on to McElmoris Gap where we decended and marched to Chickamauga creek making a march of 28 miles, over very dusty roads, on one canteen of water to the man, each one with a knapsack, canteen haversack, gun and cartridge box, weighing at least 40 pounds on a average, and not a dozen stragglers to the regiment-' twas a hard march, and nobly endured by our soldier boys; the grand incentive as the enemy in front. Here we found some of Thomases, Corps, and met some of our friends of the 82d. The enemy were strongly posted in Wickers, Catslett, Dug and Bluebird Gaps, of the Pidgeon mountains, from 2 ½ to 4 miles distant. We skirmished here with the enemy on the night of the 18th with no results. On the morning of the 19th we started to the left, or toward Chattanooga where we heard quite heavy connanading. We moved 4 miles to Pond Springs, and remained there until 11 o'clock. Presently we heard musketry, and about 12 ½ o'clock things began to loome up to the dignity of a battle. We came nearer and nearer, and finally we were ordered to "double quick" For the first time we then thought of getting into a fight. Men went at this pace for a mile or more, before we were ordered to unsling knapsacks. They were piled up at the side of the road, and we loaded and prepared for contest. We moved out upon the field, and soon found the enemy. The 6th supported the battery of our Brigade (5th Indiana, Capt. Simonson) moving out we found a sanguinary engagement had taken place there. Dead men lay here and there in blue uniforms. The wounded were thick. As we pushed further, on we found horses laying in heaps, and broken caissons showing a battery had been stationed here. The Brigade then charged the enemy some 300 years, capturing 3 guns, or retaking 3 of our own, which had been lost in the morning. Here was where Bairds Division had been repulsed (Rousseaus old Division.) Here was the dead body of Lieut. Van Pelt, who had commanded the famous Loomis Battery, shot in the breast. The enemy made another stand here, and screaming shells tore through our ranks, more passing over us. One hit among us as we lay in mass, tearing off the lower limbs of one of Co. A. A demonstration was made by the enemy upon our left, and the 6th was ordered to "rise up," and for a half mile we charged them until all were out breath, and nothing in our front but a skirmish line. Here there had been a hot engagement. Federal and rebel lat together-we passed where a rebel battery had stood, and had abandoned 2 of her guns. Horses and caissons were piled together and burning-wounded horses were floundering in the flames trying to extricate themselves, but could not, 'twas a horrible sight! But one often seen on the field of battle. As we moved back, a volley of musketry fell upon our right, staggering it a little. Here fell Ira Gordon, of Co. I severely wounded, and 3 others of our regiment-we had to leave them and hurry back to the battery as she had no support. After returning and taking our position, a lull occurred in the tempest, and we began to look around and see what we had gained.
The guns we had captured and those we had retaken were taken to the rear, and the wounded were cared for. Those we had wounded on the half mile charge were brought in-'twas now near night. The shades of evening were gathering upon us-we thought the work for the day was over, and we were satisfied that we had regained all ground lost in the morning, and in possession of even more. The battle-ground here, was a beautiful pine and chestnut woods, gently rolling. Beyond us and to our right was a cornfield, where our other three regiments were in position. They had thrown up a temporary breast work of logs to protect them. As order came to our Brigade about this time to withdraw to where we had unslung our knapsacks, and there to remain for the night, all was quiet along the whole line. But all at once the enemy appeared in strong force advancing in heavy columns. It came too, with the rush of an avalanche. Our skirmish line was driven in. They appeared in front of our whole division, but I will only speak of our Brigade-on they came;
The three regiments in our front, held them in check for some time, pouring among them leaden volleys that made them howl with rage. But they pressed. At this moment, Col. Strong, of the 93d Ohio, fell dangerously wounded. Seeing their commander fall they commenced to retreat. Col. Baldwin, who was in command of the Brigade, dashed up and grasping the colors of the regiment, bore them back to their work of logs, and planted them there, telling the men "to leave them if they wanted to." Gallantly then they rallied round their colors, and took their places in the line. The enemy now commenced falling back slowly to a ravine below the cornfield, when the Colonel again took the colors, leaped his horse over the works, and dashed to the front after the retreating rebels. He soon returned, and handed them over to the sergeant. The enemy reformed in the ravine and came again with better success. Our men were driven from their position after a most stubborn resistance with some confusion. The batteries of both sides were sending forth their loudest thunder-peals. Col. Baldwin dashed up to the right wing of our regiment; he told us "the enemy are upon you, you must fight." And he rode to the right of the regiment, and part of the way back again, entreating them to stand up to their work. Our regiment was lying down in line of battle, with the Battery in front of our center. In the meantime the battery limbered to the rear, wheeling round our left flank, taking position again. Col. Baldwin then ordered us "forward double-guick, charge!" and the most of the right wing started, (Col. Tripp nor the left wing was not apprised of the order.) As we raised, many fell wounded. On we went through fire and smoke, amid the belching of cannon, the flashing and ringing of musketry." Such a roar I never heard before, nor want to hear again. Some of the regiments that had been driven from the front formed with us. Col. Baldwin beckoned us on. But soon his horse dashed to the rear, riderless. Our right now struck the rebel line. They gave way. There we stopped. The fire and smoke and battle-blaze were awful. - Oh! The scene was terribly grand! A rebel battery seventy-five yards in our front, a dark line of human forms on its flanks, discernable by the continual flashing of the cannon and small arms, as far the eye could penetrate the smoky mist, our own lines here forming and making a gallant fight a few yards in our rear. Our batteries belching forth a perfect stream of fire. It was a scene beyond my powers of description. There we stood in this blazing fire, this hail of lead, and iron death until twenty rounds were expended-till half our number had fallen. Then taking the wounded that could walk with us, we moved back to our own lines, forming on the first "stars and stripes' we saw. Co. B, minus eleven men. Rallying round the flag, we again sent a deadly fire into the rebel ranks. Col. Tripp rode up and down the lines encouraging the men to noble deeds, to stand till the last man was cut down. Major Campbell, too, walked around giving encouragement to all. Every one was doing their duty nobly. Presently the rebel fire slackened, and finally ceased altogether. The great storm was over. Our ranks were terribly thinned. But I never saw men more cool or more determined. The rebels withdrew a short distance only, but fired not a shot. The men of the different regiments of the Brigade were collected together, and while we were waiting for orders, Co. B, was thrown some fifty yards in front, as skirmishers, and to watch the operations of the enemy. The rebels were forming their lines in less than a hundred yards of us,- where they moved up regiment after regiment and stacked arms.
The moaning of the wounded and dying was most heart rending. The air was full of agonizing screams. The commands of the enemy were given in low tones, but distinctly heard. The smoke was stifling, but slowly ascended, and passed away. We were soon rallied on the battalion and moved slowly to the rear, where our baggage had been left, distant half a mile, our battery had lost one gun, by having all the horses shot, and tangled among the trees. We quietly ate our evening meal, and wearied and worn we layed our blankets down and slept-or rather dreamed of battle-fields, and mangled bodies. But we did sleep till another morning was ushered in. We then built works of rails and logs around our lines to protect ourselves from small arms, and 'twas well we did, for between nine and ten o'clock the Sundays battle began. But we were well prepared. It was a bright autumn morning, and it seemed so much at variance with nature to be engaged in such deadly warfare-heavy musketry commenced upon our right, and left, and kept working towards us. We knew 'twould be upon us soon, men spoke but little, they were full of thoughts of home and friends. Just before a battle begins, when we know 'tis coming, we are full of dread expectancy-'tis then the cheek pales and lips and limbs quiver, the voice trembles, and the breath comes thick and short. A round or two, and the eye sparkles with unnatural brilliancy, the nerves become firm and steady and the voice assumes its wonted time. Men who stand the first shock of battle, are scarcely ever found among the stragglers. If they are overpowered they retreat to the first defensible point and rally and fight desperately, and often they thus win a battle against a superior force. Closer and closer came the enemy-louder and more loud came the musketry and screaming shells. A short moment, and they were upon us, screaming and yelling like devils. Our skirmishers were driven in, and we opened upon them. Our whole line was engaged. The trees were cut down like grass before the sythe-shivered limbs were whirling through the air. Our cartridge boxes were getting empty and still the battle raged in all its fierceness. Our works were near the base of a slope, 150 yards from the crest. Back of this crest, on the plain, was the ammunition, details crossed over this hill under the most deadly fire. An ammunition wagon was started to us, and the horses were all shot down. Men were again sent, and just as our 60 rounds were gone that we had started with, in the morning the ammunition came. I never saw men grasp anything with such eagerness. For two hours and forty minutes this engagement lasted. Then the rebels withdrew to make a dash upon some other part of the line. Again all was quiet as far as we were concerned, but the flanks were both engaged. An irregular fire sprang up in our front, and our skirmishers were driven in, at the commencement of this engagement, Col. Tripp was wounded. He was standing behind a pine tree, watching the battle, and directing men how to make their fire effective. I saw him fall, or sit down quicker than was his want. He said nothing for sometimes it has a damaging effect upon troops to know the commander has fallen. As the firing slackened, I sent Lieut. McGannon to him to see about more ammunition, when he returned he whispered to me, that the Col. was wounded. As soon as it could be done consistently, I sent men and had him carried from the field. His horse, which had hitched near him, was bleeding from a dozen wounds, and fell dead shortly after the Colonel left. His saddle and holsters were saved. He was put in an ambulance and started to the hospital. Just then, the enemy had massed a heavy force upon our right flank and drove everything before them, cutting us off from all communication with our hospital. A general stampede of ambulance and ammunition wagons took place. His ambulance was swept along with the tide and made its way Chattanooga by sundown; the Colonel in bad condition and much weakened by loss of blood and fatigue, In the engagement of the morning an average of 120 rounds to the man was fired. Guns got so hot that men could scarcely handle them. The men were so blackened with powder and dust that their best friends would have to look twice; before knowing them. A burning sun poured on them from above, and a much hotter and more destructive fire in their front; but they held their ground against everything.
We remained on this ground until five and a half o'clock in the afternoon, when we received orders to march to the rear. We then supposed we were going to help repel some charge of the enemy, and moved up the hill, leaving our knapsacks at our works, as we expected to return there. Crossing the hill, we received quite a heavy fire, and in crossing an open field, a raking fire from both flanks. Still we were hurried on. At sun-set, we found ourselves off the battle field, and for the first time, we were sensible our forces were withdrawing from it. We were led over burning hills for six miles, when we came into the Chattanooga road and moved on to Roseville, a mile further, and bivouacked for the night, and all next day. In the afternoon, the enemy commenced shelling us. Troops had been sent ahead to fortify Chatanooga, while we made a show of a stand at Rossville. On the night of the 21st, we withdrew from Rossville to Chatanooga reaching there at daylight. We found many of our troops already in position there.
Toward the evening of the 22d, the enemy commenced closing in around us: attacking our pickets: but manifesting no disposition to press us. We worked night and day on breastworks and fortifications. Our Brigade was thrown to the extreme front, on the right; near Lookout Mountain. We fortified ourselves, and remained there until the night of the 25th, when we withdrew to the second line of works: leaving our pickets in our first.
Lookout Mountain was given up without much of a fight, to Gen. Forrest, on the 23d, and they soon had artillery there that kept us awake and dodging, until we withdrew.
For eight nights we had no rest-would get into a doze, then a shot from their cannon, would have us all in the trenches. On yesterday morning we were relieved, and we are now mostly out of reach of their shells and shot, and can sleep quietly. The lights of the enemy are seen all around us, but nothing more than a dash on our pickets, and an artillery duel, once or twice a day, disturbs our quiet. We have been patiently waiting an attack, but as yet they have made no assault. We have received no reinforcements yet, that I know of, only such as we have made to order. If the enemy gets siege guns before we do, they may give us hot work, but they can't take us without a hard fight and a long one. We ain't whipped yet. We have never felt whipped. If we are whipped, we are the sauciest set of whipped men you ever saw. We were fighting two or three men to our one, and if we could have got ammunition, we would have run them on the night of Sunday. Daniel Grinstead of my company, who was left behind as a skirmisher, remained upon the battlefield all night, and he says 'twas hard to tell who was in possession of the field; stragglers from both armies were hovering around the same fire, and neither knew which was the others prisoner, and he saw no rebels at all on his return to our camp.
The rebels had lain a deep scheme. They withdrew from Chattanooga, without battle, knowing Rosecrans, would send a force to cut off his retreat to Rome or Atlanta, which he did, sending McCooks Corps and all the cavalry some fifty miles from Chattanooga. Reinforcements destined for Rosecrans hearing of the peaceful occupation of Chattanooga, would not be in a hurry to reach him. By thus keeping our forces scattered, and at the same time keeping his communication safe he could pounce upon us with the heavy reinforcements he had received from the Potomac and Johnson, and whip us in detail, or cut us off, from Chattanooga, and then retake it. If this was his purpose, he failed, and has not gained a victory, for we have got to Chattanooga, and intent to hold it as long as possible. I
Know not troops could have done harder fighting than Johnsons Division, and if we don't gain some credit and honor from it, there is no
Use trying to gain it by fighting, and I for one don't want to make the attempt. We fought in Thomas' Corps, on the left center-while Davis and Sheriden were off to the right. I see the papers fail to speak of us. Official reports will set us right. We are all in good spirits, but momentarily expecting a bombardment. Tell the friends of Co. B-those who have an interest here, that every man did his whole duty, and that I am proud of my company. Although we are few in number now, we are proud in spirit. Every mother who has a boy with me, can say she has a brave son, and one who has done his whole duty to his country. Excuse this nervous style-and correct errors. I have written in haste.
Here is a list of the wounded:-of Co. B. 2d Lieut. A. S. Prather-slight-in breast. 1st Sergt. John I Patterson, severe in right leg. Corp. Henry Hooker, slight in right leg, Jeptha King-slight in right leg; George O. Monroe-severe in arm; Thomas R. Monroe-slight in hand; Walter S. Twaddle-severe in hip, supposed prisoner, Alexander Clements-severe in hand and thigh; Samuel C. Smith-severe in arm; Wesley W. Dye-in leg and missing; David Roudebush-wounded and missing, William R. Walker-slight in leg; John Dixon, missing.
Samuel F. Mckeehan, who was the writer of this report home - died June 15, 1864. The following is a report of his death: Page 318 of
the History of the Sixth regiment Indiana volunteer Infantry - by C. C. Briant
Battle of New Hope, Georgia
Captain Samuel McKeehan, who was acting Major, and who was the ranking officer over there, made the discovery that we had no support on either flank,
and told the writer to go down where Colonel Berry was, in the woods, and tell him to charge up and take the rebel line on his front, or we would be compelled to fall back.
I instantly turned to the right and started in a quick run, quartering to the rear, thinking Colonel Berry was about in that direction. I had gone about 100 feet, which
brought me directly in front of the rebels, who still held their line on our right, when one of them fired at me as I run, but I was going a little too fast. The ball plowed
across the small of the back, but not deep enough to cripple; so, after turning a somersault, and going through some other gymnastic performances,I bounded off down the hill,
found the Colonel and delivered my message, and, with all possible speed, made my way back to my post in the regiment; but the first sight upon my return, was the prostrate
form of Major McKeehan lying on his face. I ran to him and lifted his head, when he put up his hand, caught my coat collar and pulled me down, then as well as he could speak
(for the poor fellow was shot in the mouth), told me to never mind him, but look after the men.
Major McKeehan is buried at the Chattanooga National Cemetery grave #110903.
Printed in the June 18, 1863 - Vernon Banner
To the Mother and Family of Lt. Jesse L. Cain
Camp 67th Regt., Ind. Vol. Inf.
Near Vicksburg, Mississippi
May 28, 1863
As a friend of the late Lt. Cain, I feel it a duty to inform you of his death. He died on the 18th day of May, two days after the hard fought battle of Champion Hills, in
which he received his death wound. I suppose that Capt. Erwin will write you the perticulars, as I did not see him after he was wounded. He received his wound while gallantly leading his men in the
battle, when they appeared to be nearly overwhelmed by the enemy. Thus has departed from among us one of the bravest among the brave-one whom we might safely say had no enemies. He was loved and respected
by all who knew him, both in and out of the army. We all mourn his loss, and deeply sympathize with his family and friends for their loss of a kind son and loving brother, and one who bade fare, had he been
spared, to be a useful man to his country.
&nbs p;We have passed through many terrible scenes within the last few weeks, and are expecting many more. The battle of Champion Hills, 16th May, and storming of the rebel works, in rear of
Vicksburg, 22d May,
were two terribly hard fought battles. Loss heavy.
Printed in the July 7, 1863 - Vernon Banner
Letter from the 12th Regiment
Snyders Bluff, Rear of Vicksburg, June 19 1863
EDITOR BANNER-When I last wrote you I believe I promised that my next letter would be written from the city of Vicksburg. Well, when we arrived here we expected to have the privilege
of working our way through the "walls" of the city immediately, but we have been somewhat "detained," a short distance in the rear. It has been our business, so far, to prepare for and watch that notorious
Joe Johnson, who, with his minions are maneuvering to make their way to the doomed city. We are now nearly ready for him, and in a few days would not care to meet all the army rebeldom at this point.
The country east of Vicksburg is very broken-the finest for fortifying I ever saw. An army in its possession, well fortified, cannot be dislodged. While the guns of Gen. Grant are
busily engaged in paying their respects to the city, we are engaged making his position secure. We are fortifying night and day, and every hill-top now has a rifle pit, or a fort for artillery, for two miles
in our front, while they extend some four miles to the right and left of us. All this fortifying has been done since we landed on the bluff.
It would be contraband for me to tell you the number of our troops here, but I will say that every hill-side is covered with live Yankees'.
Gen. Logan made an assault on the inner works of the rebs. Yesterday, and gained a position within twenty feet of their main fort, dismounting several of their guns, after which they
drew the remainder in and closed the port-holes.-Logans boys are now under their guns so the rebels cannot use them against him. The only alternative they now have at that point is to light the fuze of shells
and throw them over the works at our boys below. In many instances these shells have been hurriedly picked up by our heroes and hurled back at them over the works in time to burst among the very devils who
first threw them.
The front rifle-pits are now filled with our boys day and night, who keep their guns ready to pull trigger at every rebel who dares to raise his head above the earth-work. Our boys
talk to them and dare them to raise their heads. This is very tiresome, but is borne with great fortitude and determination.
Our shot and shell are continually plowing the streets of Vicksburg from all sides. Deserters and negroes say that but few people remain in houses. They have all dug holes in the
ground and taken shelter in them Desolation reigns supreme.
Deserters tell us that the arch traitor, Jeff Davis, is in the city, but we receive this with a good deal of allowance, and pray in the mean time that it is so.
As I write Gen. Grant and Admiral Porter are using their heaviest guns, which make the hills around tremble with their "Union saving power."
We captured two thousand cattle and nine prisoner from Johnson yesterday-He is reported very short of rations, and is making a desperate effort to collect supplies from the citizens.
Our Regiment is in tolerably good health. The heavy fatigue duty we have had to do here necessarily added some of the list at the hospital.
The most glorious news of the war will soon be sent up for record from the vicinity of Vicksburg. The city must fall within a few days, and every other rebel den in the confederacy must
speedily succumb to its fate. More anon.
Respectfully yours, A. S. C. (Allen S. Conner)
Printed in the July 23, 1863 - VERNON BANNER
Letter from Col. Tripp
July 7, 1863
BROTHER PITT: (Edward Pitt Hicks)
- After a few days of busy life, grappling with its stern realities, I find time to write you. I will first name that which has weighed heaviest
upon us, the rain, and consequent mud. For twelve days since we left Murfreesbora have had but one that it did not rain. For heavy night march, falling rain, interminable mud, gulches, and mountain passes,
my little experience has found its equal nowhere else. After a season of beautiful weather we left Murfreesboro on the 24th ult. We had not marched a mile on our way when the rain commenced falling and
continued as just stated. Our corps is in advance. Six miles out on the Shelbyville road our division turned to the left, taking the Wartrace road, through Liberty Gap. Willich's Brigade in advance
(he won't march anywhere else.) About eleven miles out, as we approached the Gap, we encountered the enemy. Willech skirmished for a mile or two, taking three prisoners, getting one man killed and several
wounded. When we arrived at the ridge of the Gap, our brigade relieved Willich. The 5th Ky. And 6th Ind. was put in advance. I deployed six companies, among them B. & I. of our County, as skirmishers. The
rebels were well posted, about a quarter of a mile from us. When we got in line we had three companies supporting the line, in charge of Maj. Campbell, your humble servant on the skirmish line. In this order
we moved forward, the 5th Ky. on our right. The rebels were in a barn and out buildings, fences and negro cabins. Their first fire brought down three of my men - Co. F. It was manifest that we must make short
work of it, so we pushed rapidly forward, and soon dislodged them. Their next line was behind a fence, but in getting to it they had to pass over an open field. In doing this we taxed them pretty heavily; but
their misfortune was also ours-in advancing we had to pass over the same field. We did it very cautiously, yet suffered some. Here Marshal Grinstead was wounded, I fear fataly. We drove them about a mile, when
night ended our days work. We had 15 wounded, none killed M. Grinstead, and Sheets, Co. F (the latter was shot through the lungs,) are the only ones not likely to recover; of these I have some hope but chances
are against them. And here let me say a word in justice to Marshal Grinstead-than whom no better soldier was in the army-braver, true and honest-one of natures noblemen. God bless him. I love him as a brother
and pray for his restoration to health, that he may continue to bless his country and friends with his pure example and high patriotism. It an honor to his Father that he has such a son to give for his country's
On the 25th the enemy attacked us with considerable energy, but we drove them back. Today the second Brigade. Col. Miller, had the honor of the front. I was a looker on, and have to say
they did it up in fine style. The lay of the land is such that but a small force can engage at the same time. The "Gap" is a gulch through the mountain giving a force having possession great advantage over an
I neglected to say in the proper place that our Regt., on the 24th punished the enemy in a very satisfactory manner. In front of our line they left four dead and six wounded, and were
seen carrying many from the field, besides we took seven prisoners. This is paying them at least one installment on a little debt we contracted at Stone River. I hope to live to pay all my debts. If I do not I
trust my administrators will "square the books."
In battle it may be truly said life hangs on a slender thread. For instance one man in company "I" had two guns shot to pieces. Another had his life saved by his "Henry" rifle. It was
before his breast. The ball struck the lock plate. It spoiled the gun, but did not injure the man. The ball that struck M. Grinstead passed through the stock of his gun.
Bragg's army is badly broken up - We have taken thousands of prisoners, most of them willing victims. Many are taking the oath and going home. This refers only to Tennessee conscripts.
I doubt the policy of letting them off this easy, but to talk to the poor devils you could hardly do otherwise. The poorer classes of Tennesseeans evidently are determined to get out of it as soon as possible.
We have no news from our front today. It was, when last heard from, at the base of the mountain, some 20 miles from here. This army has gained one of the most decisive victories of the war, although we have done
but little fighting, with which we are content. I know not how it is with others but for myself, I confess to have but little taste for fighting. I would greatly prefer to have peace, if I can have it on living
terms. If not, then fight is the lesser evil.
is pretty effectually "cleaned out" and I trust we will go on conquering and to conquer till the last armed traitor shall lay down his arms and acknowledge the supremacy of the government
that has blest them as no other people on the earth have ever been blessed. Business and family matters I would be glad to speak of, but have not time, as our mail is ready to leave. Accept my best wishes for
your health and happiness.
I am, as ever, thine
November 5, 1863 - Vernon Banner
The following letter, from Dick A. Conner, was received by his Parents a few days since. Dick was reported among the missing at the battle of Chicamauga,
and was supposed to have been killed-but we rejoice to learn the contrary-the letter explains itself.
BELL'S ISLAND, RICHMOND, VA. Oct. 2, '63-I write you a line, to let you know of my whereabouts. I am here, a prisoner of war. I received a wound in the right breast-only slight.
I am in good health, and doing well.-I was captured on the evening of Sept. 19th, at Chicamauga.
R. A. CONNER
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
February 25, 1864 - Vernon Banner
Written by John Hill
Scottsboro, Alabama,Camp 12th Reg. Ind. Vol. February 4, 1864
Mr. Editor:- Your former correspondens, A. S. C., having retired from the army, and the 12th Regiment having many friends in your County who
are readers of the "Banner." I have deemed it not unwise to give you a few brief dollings, by the way, of the 12th Regiment. It is said that as soon as a man commences
to write for the newspapers, he becomes conceited, and is good for nothing afterwards; fortunately for me I have always been full of conceit, and never was any account
at home, so I am safe from disaster in that direction.
We are still at Scottsboro, in winter quarters, and will probably remain here until about the 1st of March.
The 12th Regiment, with three othersof the 4th Division, left camp on Saturday morning, the 31st. ult., on a schouting tour, taking with them
seven days rations and twenty-four thousand rounds of ammunition. They crossed the Tennessee River at Larkin's Ferry, and went South. The second division composes the
expidition, headed by Major-General Logan, commander of the 15th army corps. The 12th is commanded at this time by Lieut. Col. James Goodnow, an officer fully qualified
for the position he is called to assume.
Lieut. A. S. Conner has resigned, and when Major-General Sherman accepted his resignation, the 12th lost one of her most efficient officers, and
company A., a brave and faithful Lieutenant. He carries with him the best wishes of rank and file of both Regiment and Brigade.
The health of the boys at this time is very good, Company "A" having none sick either in quarters or hospital. In the absence of its Captain,
Company A is commanded by Lieut. Bob Weatherington, who, in the language of young America, is a "bully fellow."
Our Regiment will return tomorrow, and in my next I will give you a synopsis of the seven days scout. Until then I remain.
LETTER TO VERNON BANNER
Written by J.H. Doll
Natchez, Miss., June 4, 1864
MR. EDITOR.-I wish to inform the friends of the boys of Co. H., 26th Ind. Regt. who were captured last September at Fordock, La.,
that when I left them they were well and hearty. Several of the company got through to our lines, or had started, three come with me, Corp. Thomas Grayson, Philip
Specht and Jno. K. McCurdy. We left Marshall, Texas May 12th, '64. We marched nearly four hundred miles, was twenty days on our journey. We never traveled
the roads, kept in the woods all the time, as every man in the country in a soldier, and we would have been recaptured if seen.- This was my third trial and
the other boys second. Specht and McCurdy had tried once before. We lived on parched corn five days at one time, no bread nor meat. By the aid of one Union
man we found and the negroes, we managed to live until we arrived here at Natchez. We are once more clothed in the United States uniform, everything plent to
eat. While in the rebel dominions we had one pint of corn meal and one pound of beef for a days rations. Sometimes a little sugar or molases, and a few
negro beans. Pork was a rarety with us. The names of the boys that remain at Marshall Texas are Sergts. W.S. Thompson, A.M. Glenn, Corp. John S. Marsh, W.S.
Shadony, J.A. Cook, Jo. Alexander, Mortimer Elliott, Jo. S. Gunder, Charles King, Frank A. Marsh, Samuel L. Marsh, A. Merrell, J. Shinholt, C.C. Shinholt,
Wm. Robinet, L.D. Robinet, A. Ritz, Charles Waler, and John Moran.
Johnathan D. Gibbs, Jesse W. Heaton and J.N. Jordan started for our lines May 11, but whether they ever got thro I can't say. We hadn't
much delicacy in crossing the streams, swiming the small ones and rafting over the large ones, wading swamps for hours at a time. You can't imagine our
feelings when he halted at a negro shanty and asked how far it was to the Mississippi river, and they said just two miles, and that we would find the Yankey
pickets one and a half miles from there. We were nearly worne out but the news cheered us so that we started off on double-quick but it proved to be four
miles instead of one and a half, but forward was our only thougth, and after about one hours trave, there stepped forth five of those jet black soldiers,
saying come forward men, your messenger has informed us who you are, we are happy to see you. We met a black man on a horse and sent him to the pickets to
let them know who was approaching, as they had a fight just a few days before, and would have fired on us if we had not sent in the messenger. We all had
on the butternut suit. Nearly every black soldier swore they would kill a rebel for each of us. We remained that night with Capt. Freeman, 63d Colored Regt.
and the next day we arrived at this place.-- We are now under the old stars and stripes' protection, living fine. May they ever wave high!
Sergeant, Jacob L. Doll was mustered in at Vernon, August 30, 1861 and mustered out September 21, 1864.
He married Nancy J. Earwood on August 20, 1861 in Jennings County, Indiana.
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