This letter was written by James W. Hughey (1830-1917) to his brother-in-law Levi S. Miller (1829-1917) and Sarah Jane (Hughey) Miller (1829-1917) on Vinton, Benton county, Iowa. James was the son of Thomas B. Hughey (1801-1885) and Elizabeth Jane Gordon (1804-1854) of Madison, Highland county, Ohio.
James was married to Mary Jane Trout (1833-1911) in November 1853 and had at least two children, Melissa (b. 1855) and George (b. 1856) by the time of his enlistment on 17 March 1862 as a private in Co. H, 1st Battalion, 13th US Infantry. At the time of his enlistment, James was described as 5’7″ tall, with blue eyes and brown hair. He was discharged from the service in March 1865 at Nashville, Tennessee.
At the time this letter was written in mid-May 1862, the battalion of regulars were still encamped at Camp Sherman near Alton, Illinois. Gen. Halleck used them to guard prisoners of war until September 1862 when they were finally set to Newport, Kentucky, for final organization and then sent to General Sherman’s army who was then at Memphis.
[This letter is from the personal collection of Greg Herr and is published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]
Camp Sherman [near Alton, Illinois]
May 13th 1862
Dear Brother and Sister,
I received yours of the 8th inst. which found me well and enjoying myself well for a boy that is as far from wife and children and relation and hear of few times from them as I do. This letter is the second that I have had—one from wife and one from you. I was glad to hear from Vinton and to hear from the boys that was in the Pittsburg [Landing] Battle as I have not heard the names of the wounded nor those that has been taken prisoners in any of those companies that I was acquainted with. There was one of those names that I was not acquainted with unless it was old man Loree but if it was, the first letter was wrong for it was a letter S instead of L. So write which it is.
This regiment was paid off last Saturday the 10th of May. I got for my dues up to May 1st. $29.73 which is most double what I expected to get. I did not see what was the cause of them paying me more than the rest. When I signed the pay roll I was hurried so that I did not get to look over all the charges but it comes in good play. I want to send Mary Jane $25 this time. I think I can get along till the first of July. Then we will be paid again.
I will have my likeness taken as soon as I can have it taken and send it to you. I went yesterday but I could not get it taken. There is two artists in this city and since the boys has got their pay, there is such a rush to have them taken that there is not any chance but I will try to send it in my next letter as I want to send one to Mary Jane as soon as I can get it taken.
So I want you to write oftener and none of your half sheets for you cannot buy a half sheet without buying the other two so write all the news and let me have something to read. We are still a gaining ground on southern soil and backing the Rebels down. We get word that there was a general engagement going on now. We got this news last night so God speed the times when rebellion will be subdued and our poor prisoners set free for if anyone would see how prisoners look where there is no more than 1,000, they would like to hear the sound of freedom where there is sentinels to guard them with loaded guns and bayonets to pierce a man through if they say a sassy word to him and see them sick and dying and no one to cheer for them.
I will have to close by requesting you to write often. So goodbye. J. W. Hughey
A word to Mr. and Mrs. [John] Felker. I am in Illinois now and am enjoying good health—I think better than I ever did at this season of the year, I was weighed yesterday with just my dress coat on and weighed 139 lb—a half pound more than when I left Vinton. Then I had some 12 or 15 lb. more clothing on than now. Write to me and let me hear how you and the boys get along.