1862: William R. Steel to Solomon Steel

Lithograph of Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck on James Gates Co. Stationery

This letter was written by a barely literate soldier—most likely a private—named William R. Steel, if I have transcribed his name correctly. He wrote the letter to his father who I presume was “Mr. Solomon Steel” as was written near the bottom of the letter. Unfortunately I cannot find any soldier who fits the profile of this soldier with a father named Solomon.

The letter was penned in early August 1862 but no location was given. Again I’m going to presume it was written in the East by a soldier who participated on the Peninsula Campaign but I might be mistaken. The hand writing is actually more suggestive of an Indiana soldier but I cannot find any early war soldier from Indiana with that name. There was a William R. Steel who served as a private in the 1st Indiana Cavalry but he did join as a recruit until 1863.

The letter was written on stationery with a lithograph of Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck who was named Lincoln’s General in Chief after McClellan’s failed Peninsula Campaign. The stationery was produced by the James Gates company of Cincinnati, Ohio.


The 6th of August 1862

Dear Father,

I sit down to let you [know] that I am well at present and hope that you are the same. I got your letter the 4th of this month. You wanted to know if I was wounded or not. I was in the right leg below the knee but it is well now.

I guess I will get my discharge. My arm is very lame now.

William R. Steel

[to] Mr. Solomon Steel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s