This letter was written by Alfred A. Laughlin (1844-1862) who lived in Germantown in southwestern Ohio. The letter came from a collection of letters that were sold by the Swann Auction Galleries. Laughlin joined the 112th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI), which never reached full strength and was merged into the 63rd Ohio Infantry. The lot included several letters he wrote to his parents David and Susan in Germantown from September to December 1862. This is the last letter in that collection, dated 7 December 1862, written from Mississippi where his regiment expected to face off soon against Confederate general Sterling Price: “Sunday we could hear the cannon roar all day. There are troops enough around here to eat old Price and all his men. A deserter from Price’s army came in here yesterday. He says that the most of the soldiers’ time is up, and they won’t fight any more.”
Laughlin died of dysentery in camp later that month (19 December 1862). The lot included two letters from men in his regiment to his grieving parents. Francis Emley tries to give his best account of Laughlin’s final days: “He did not appear to suffer much pain and he died very easy. . . . Thank God he died in a glorious cause, that cause was for the old flag, that ower forefathers fought for. . . . Alford was buried very nice, for I helped to dig his grave, and I know that it was don right.” The company captain George Wightman followed up in September with advice on securing Laughlin’s effects and final pay.
[Near Holly Springs, Mississippi]
December 7, 1862
Dear Father and Mother,
I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well and in good heart and hoping you [are] the same. We had a fine time on Thanksgiving Day. The officers had a dinner for the whole regiment and treated us with a snort of punch. The next morning we left camp and marched all day. The next days march we passed through Holly Springs. It is a nice town. The people were sticking their heads out of the windows in every direction. We encamped here last Sunday and have been here ever since.
Last Sunday we could hear the cannon roar all day. There are troops enough around here to eat Old Price and all his men. A deserter from Price’s army came in here yesterday. He says that the most of the soldiers time is up and they won’t fight anymore.
We have plenty to eat. We get beef every day and have good water. We could get plenty hogs and chickens if we would darst take them [but] if a fellow takes anything, he is put under arrest. There was fifty-two prisoners passed here the other day. If you get this letter before Ed Hoffman leaves home, if you can get a pair of gloves and send them along with him. If you have not got my dress coat yet, go to Coblent’s. We boxed them up and was going to the quartermaster to be started away and we thought we had better send them home. It is tied with a twine string and has my name on a piece of paper,
I will send you a few cotton seeds and you can plant them and see if it will grow up there. Nothing more. Write soon. — A. A. Laughlin