This letter was written by John Newton Silverthorn (1821-1883) of Brooke, Virginia (now West Virginia), the son of Henry and Hannah (McCracken) Silverthorn. At age 15, John learned the millwrighting and carpentry trade, then went steamboating on the Ohio river. In 1845 he attended Florence Academy in Pennsylvania and then taught school at the J. B. Anderson’s Collegiate Institute at New Albany. In 1849 he married Harriet J. Dinwiddie of Hanover, Indiana, and then took charge of the Ripley County Seminary. His next job was editor of the American published in Terre Haute. After a number of other jobs he finally became editor of the Journal in Evansville, Indiana.
Also adding a note to the letter was James H. McNeely (182801902) who was a printer and newspaper publisher in Lawrenceburg, Dearborn county, Indiana. In 1859, McNeely purchased the Evansville Daily Journal.
The letter was directed to J. O. Jones, the postmaster at Terre Haute, Indiana. There is a reference to the wounded soldiers from the Battle of Shiloh arriving at the hospitals in Evansville.
April 11, 1862
Mr. J. O. Jones, Terre Haute, Dear Sir,
At request of Mr. J. H. McNeely, I have made diligent inquiry at the hospitals & found there are but three (3) soldiers from your city or vicinity now in this city & they are convalescent & need nothing. The balance have all been furloughed or having regained their health have returned to their regiments.
We expect some of the wounded from Pittsburg Landing tonight or tomorrow for whom the kind offices of your loyal-hearted citizens are invoked. Prepare such things as you know will be needed & have them ready to send when required. Our people here are alive to the work.
Yours for the glorious old flag, — Silverthorn
[in a different hand]
I handed your letter over to Silverthorn, he having more time to spare than I have and a better opportunity. I hope his letter is satisfactory.
The “Commodore Perry” has just arrived with about 250 of the wounded from Pittsburg, Tennessee. Major [Frederick] Arn and Capt. [George] Harvey of the 31st [Indiana] are killed. 1
Yours respectfully, — James H. McNeely
1 The after action report written by Col. Charles Cruft of the 31st Indiana Infantry mentions the deaths of Arn and Harvey: “It grieves me to report the loss of two gallant officers. During the first charge of the enemy on the morning of the 6th Maj. Fred. Arn fell mortally wounded. He was a true soldier and accomplished gentleman. No more gallant soul ever “took wing” from a battle-field. Capt. George Harvey, one of the best officers of the regiment, was killed upon the field while bravely leading his company in the afternoon advance.“