Fort Riley, Kan April 30th 1862
Dear Sister Jerusha;
I received your kind little
note enclosed with Geo. M.'s and I will improve my first opportunity to
thank you for it and I will take a big sheet for it. I received some good
kind letters form Mother and L. A. last night and the bundle of papers
that Geo M. spoke of two or three weeks ago. The were very thankfully rec'd
by boys in the Hosp. And Co. particularly one of C. P. that broke his leg
last night wrestling. One of Co. B. broke his leg at Lawrence, play ball,
and one of the same Co. broke his leg by scuffling at Fort Scott. We left
15 at Lawrence and we learned a day or two ago that they were all getting
better. Cracker was the lowest of any and he is improving. Edwin Robinson
joined us day before yesterday. He came from Ft. Worth with a Co. of the
8th Kan. That came here to garrison this post which is commanded by Maj.
Wallin of the Regular Army. Robinson has got entirely well.
I was in Col. Poole's tent this P.M. informing him of the sickness of Jimmy Stewart's and he said he had heard of it from his Mother at Madison. Poole says no one here knows yet whether we will go to New Mexico or not, or where we will go. He thinks it would be quite a desirable trip. He thinks we should no stop long, but would probably go down thru Texas to the coast and would probably be out of the service as soon as any. It certainly is very interesting to me to see this new country and the last 40 or 40 miles we came over coming from L. was the most pleasant and desirable country I ever was in. It was well watered and that only [? luck] seemed to be wood which is only found along the steams. The last 20 miles is more particularly characterized by bluffs which are the extent of our vision where before only the same rolling prairie greeted the eye. The bluffs are all bare and they all show a strata of rock formation mostly lime stone, about the same distance from the near to top.
The three Commissioners form Wis., Mr. E. D. Holton, John Stewart and Fraser have been here for the last few days with the Allotmest Rolls and they have gathered some fine specimens among which is a horned toad which is a singular looking animal. It has almost every color and they are very bright. Its sides are well armored with horns which it can lay back against the sides. I think it must be some of St. Patrick's getting up for it is said that its chief end is to present itself an attractive morsel to a snake and after he is swallowed, spread its hors and cut open the sides of the snake and thus destroy him.
I have allowed $10.00 of my monthly pay which will make $20.00 every payday, to Lucy Ann and she can do what she has a mind to with it. It will not affect the present payment because there was not time to carry it out.
Our Co. has signed or allotted about $1000.00 per month. I think it will prove a great benefit both to the soldiers and the friends at home fore I know a good many instances in the Reg. of soldiers allotting a great share of their pay to their families that are much in need of it and they realize it when they are sober, but after they get their pay in their hands they live upon it until it is gone. Mr. Holton addressed our Reg. last Sunday eve, which was quite interesting to us. He spoke very feelingly of the death of Gov. Harvey, they were intimate friends.
If 8th N. Y. Cav. is disbanded, I do hope he will go home and stay until I get home. I wonder why he don't write to me and Chester too, he has never condescended to answer my letter yet. Your inquire if I get the newspapers, all we get is the Leavenworth papers with the telegraph reports which is only the skeleton of the news, but in those bundles of papers that come form home, I get a pretty good idea of what is going on.
I find it is harder for me to be in camp with the Co. than it was before I went into the Hosp. I had much rather be at work all the time. I feel so much better. I have endured the work in the Hosp. better than most of the nurses, for I am the only one that has not been down sick, that was in as long as I, but if I had remained in the Hosp. A few days longer about the time we left Lawrence, I should probably have been down, for I was the nearest to being sick that I have been since I left home. I had been broken of my rest for three of four night so that did not get but about 3 1/2 hours sleep in the 24 and was very [? billoius] with all, but I kept moving about (for it, I stopped and laid down, I grew sicker very fast) and the night before we started, I slept in the morning and start with the Co. and keep my place in the rank till we camped at Big Springs 16 miles form L. and the next morning I felt much better and when we got here. I was as tough as the best of them. An idea has just struck me and that is sending home one of the cactus that I spoke of, by mail. I will see how well I can do them up. I should be very much pleased to get one home and have it live, they grow on a very dry soil so would not suffer for moisture.
We have Co. drill form ten till eleven A. M. and battalion drill from 3 to 5 P. M. and dress parade after. Our pay rolls are being made out but we don't know when the Paymaster will be here. I do feel very grateful to Mr. Tiffiny for his kindness and hope I may be able return his kindness sometime, ether to him on somebody else. I will write to him. Capt. Vanderpoole heard last night of the sever illness of his wife. He says if she is worse by the next letter, he shall go to her at once. I am glad to learn that Coz Magia is better. Remember me to her and Olive and Mill & all the rest. Much love to all, from your aff. Bro.
Also written on top:
If the illustrated papers were all sewed together as some of them are they would last longer. I have to distribute them the first thing and those that are loose get separated and lost.
Camp rear of Vicksburg
June 22nd 1863
I rec'd the bundle by
Freer a week ago today and I was tremendously tickled, it was quite a windfall
to me. It was a long time since I had heard from home. The picture of the
house looks as natural as the original. The handkerchief is a nice one,
much better than the apron. I am sorry you could not see Mr. Gaddis or
some of the furlough men. I have not heard anything of any more going home.
I believe they only give us twenty days now. I presume after Vicksburg
is taken, there will be more given. I guess you know as much about when
Vicksburg will fall as we do. We hear the same story now that we heard
when we first came here, that the Rebs cannot hold out more than a week
longer, that the rations are played out &c. &c. Deserters come
out about every night, one came last night. He says that they issued flour
to their troops for the first time since the siege commenced yesterday.
He thinks they are reduced to their last supply.
We are having considerable duty to do now. We come on picket every other night. The duty is quite different form any we have ever had before we go into the rifle pits and play sharp shooter wit the rebels, but by our continuos firing we keep the rebs down so they dare not show their heads. If one ventures a shot there will be a dozen or fifteen shots from our men to where his smoke rises.
We are in no particular danger if we are cautious about keeping behind our breastworks
The face of the country is about as much broken as it can be. It is made up of a succession of ravines and ridges. The picket line is along one of these ravines, the rebs one side and we the other. The forts are on the tops of these ridges and the rifles pits are in advance of them on every favorable position, where cover is necessary to get to the pits, trenches are dug to walk in. Deserters say that the Mo., Tenn. & Georgia troops in Vicksburg are anxious to surrender and when they are put on guard they have to put guards over them to keep them from deserting. When we are on picket we have chats with the rebs across the hollow. They seem to be very will to talk. Our Regt has had on killed, Milley of Co. "A." and two wounded [? wis] 2nd Lieut. Bird of Co. "G." and private Games Simons of Co. "B.", both flesh wounds, not serious, on of Co. "K." was wounded in the side by exposing himself when not on duty, he is recovering. Our Div is second one from the left of the line. Gen. Herron's Div. being on the extreme left. The line on the left is not as close to the rebel works as they are on the right of the line. The picket on Gen. Logan's Div are close up to the rebel forts so the rebs there cannot put their heads about their works at all.
The 1st is Batt. are about two miles to the right of us. I have been to see the Hackett boys several times, and enjoyed myself very much. Eph is 2nd Lieut. and is very popular with his boys, they are well and tough. I visited the 23rd and saw Joe Savage and Sam Webster. They are both wee. I am very glad you are able to ride to Baraboo. Have you got an easy riding wagon? I am glad that Eugene is such a faithful boy. I wish I could send him something. It is a good deal of comfort to me to know that there is someone at home to help Father do the chores. I am sorry to learn that Farther does feel as stout as last summer. I hope he will be very careful of his strength, but I know that as long as there is anything to do and he will always find enough, he will keep [?bliging]. I think he must enjoy it very much to be able to buy some new clothes. I wish I could afford to pay his expenses down here so that he could see his large army and the county down this way. It happens I am not on guard today. There was a detail of only 27 men a segt. And two Corps so they did not take me. They are on picket in the rear about three miles out. Our duty here is pretty had but I will only be so until Vicksburg is taken. I have got over the ague so I am tough again. The weather has been cooler since we left Grand Gulf and the lies are now here to what they were there. I think it is more pretty here than at the Gulf. I think we have got acclimated so that we should endure the climate pretty well, in regard to the dangers of our position. We are only subject to occasional shots form which we are protected by our breastworks, but I feel that we are in the care of the same one that now watched over us from the first and hope I may be always ready for any event of his providence.
A call was made a few days ago by the chief Engineer of the Div for civil engineers in all the Regts of the Div, and Col. Bryant having heard that I had worded at the business, sent me to report to him a Div. Head Quar. He said he was going to survey the country occupied by our army and he should probably want me as soon as his interments come. He took my address and said he would send for me when he wanted me.
I was all the one that had reported then. I am not sure whether he will send for me or not and am not very particular either way. We drew some potatoes yesterday form the Sanitary Com. For the first time, they tasted better to me than my pie I ever eat at home. They were real by a treat to. Justy Freer spoke of this visit with Father, he sends his respects to him. I will write to Lect next time and thank him for such a good long letter of particulars, they are just what I want to know. I can realize as much better how things look at home and what change there is.
I imagine Geo. Had a fine time and a good visit all round. Just what he deserved. I hope he or some of you will write me about his trip. I think the best way to direct to me will be to Co. E. 12th Reg., Gen. Laumans Div., Cairo, Ill.
I should Dudley's folks would feel only so far away from friends. I guess I will write to them. I wish you could see the splendid magnolia grove that are here. They are beautiful. I wish Geo. or someone would send me papers occasionally, all we see now are what are sent tot he boys.
Very much love to all the loved ones at home and a whole army corps of love to you, dear Mother
From your aff. Boy
From the Wisconsin Historical Society
AUTHOR Swain, Samuel Glyde.
TITLE Papers, 1861-1868, 1884.
Box 1-2 : MAD 4 /16/C4
Micro 472 (1 reel) : MAD 1V/Mss Box 145
CALL NO. Micro 472
Wis Mss 69S