1864: Phillip Jones Carleton to “Cousin Harry”

This letter was written by Phillip Jones Carleton (1842-1887) who enlisted in August 862 as a musician in Co. G, 7th Indiana Infantry. Because he still had time to serve when his regiment mustered out in 1864, he later transferred to Co. C, 20th Indiana Infantry.

Phil was the son of James Farnum Carlton (1805-1857) and Anna Maria Jones (1810-Aft1860) of Bangor, Penobscot, Maine. In 1874, he was married to Emma Shields Nunemacher (1850-1925) in Marion county, Indiana. After the war, Phil worked as a freight agent in an express office in Indianapolis.

In his letter, Phillip inform his cousin that he had cut two buttons from the “coat of a dead reb Lieutenant at the Battle of Gettysburg.” The 7th Indiana came to Gettysburg with 436 men in the ranks but played no active role in the fighting on July 1st, having been detailed to remain behind and guard the corps supply trains. When their relief never showed up, their colonel (Grover) took it upon himself to order his men to the battlefield where they arrived and took a position on the north side of Culp’s Hill, next to the survivors of the Iron Brigade.

Here’s a cdv of 1st Platoon, Co. G, 7th Indiana Infantry (Dale Niesen Collection)


Camp of the 7th Indiana Volunteers
Culpeper, Va.
January 8th 1864

Dear Cousin Harry,

I received your kind letter yesterday and of course was very glad to hear from you again. You will see by this that we have been moving again. We left Kelly’s Ford the day before Christmas and came to this place. Correspondingly we had no time to prepare for a good time on the 25th. We are encamped about half mile from the town which once was a very nice place but now is almost ruined. I was over there yesterday and only saw two women while I was there. There are not many families living there now. The finest house, I think, in town is one that the famous Extar [Extra] Billy Smith built. His family now live in Warrenton. When we were [there] this fall I saw his wife as we passed their house. 1

There is nothing of importance from this Dept. Everything seems to be dull. There was some talk of us moving the other day but I guess we will not leave here this winter unless the enemy makes a flank movement on us. I have not heard from Annie for some time. I begin to feel a little anxious. I received a letter from home the other day. The folks were all well at home then. I also got a box from home day before yesterday which pleased me very much.

You say if I will send you some little trinkets, you will excuse me for my negligence at the battlefield, but you must recollect in time of battle all is “excitement.” However, I will try and get something to send you—viz: I have got two Rebel infantry buttons which was cut off of the coat of a dead reb Lieutenant at the Battle of Gettysburg. You will see by one of them they are Alabama buttons. I will also send you a bone ring which was given me last winter by a Lieut. of the 4th Michigan Regt.—a friend of mine. It is not a very nice one but perhaps will please you. Laurel [wood] is not very plenty in this place or I would have a pipe made for you. Perhaps I can get some yet. I will try at least.

An Alabama officer’s coat button

Speaking of your poetry, I think it is very good but I do not know of any poets in our regiment. We are about six miles from John Minor Botts farm 2 but the first time I have an opportunity I will go up there and get a piece of wood of some description and have some little article made for you. I have seen his farm several times but never thought of getting anything as a relic when I had a chance.

I do not think of anything more this time so I will bring my epistle to a close. Hoping this will find you well, I remain as ever your affectionate cousin. — P. Jones Carleston

Love to all & to Miss Fiddis

Just writing her name makes me think I would like to have her photograph. Don’t think I am in love but I should like to have it to go with the rest I have. I have Pauline’s, Annie’s and several others. If you can’t get it any other way, tell her you want it for yourself. Write soon to me. — Phil

Do your best now.

I will send the ring in the letter and will send the buttons some other way.

1 Extra Billy Smith was the Governor of Virginia. He also served early in the war as Colonel of thr 49th Virginia Infantry. His home in Culpeper was a classical revival mansion that was demolished about 1930. The post office was built on the location. The property in Warrenton was called “Monterosa.” It was constructed in the 1840s and is still standing today.

2 John Minor Botts was a prominent Virginian who opposed the expansion of slavery and opposed secession. He was jailed on a couple of occasions by the Confederate government. His farm was near Culpeper.

One thought on “1864: Phillip Jones Carleton to “Cousin Harry””

  1. Cousin Harry would be Harry Jones Shellman, son of Anna Maria Jones Carleton’s sister Katherine Jane Jones Shellman. Harry was living with Philip in Indianapolis in 1870.


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