1865: Lewis Aaron Egolf to his “Respected Friend”

From the book, The Signal Corps in the War of the Rebellion by J. Willard Brown, p. 640

The following letter was written by Lewis Aaron Egolf (1842-1898) of Perry county, Pennsylvania. Lewis was a 21 year-old carpenter when he enlisted on 26 March 1864 to serve in the U. S. Signal Corps of the Regular Army. He served until 23 August 1865 when he was honorably discharged.

Lewis was the son of Joseph Egolf, Jr. (1814-1867) and Susannah Mickey (1818-1886) of Carroll, Perry county, Pennsylvania. Lewis’ older brother, John Francis Egolf (1838-1864), served as a private in Co. D, 47th Pennsylvania Infantry until he was killed in action at Cedar Creek, Virginia, on 19 October 1864.


Winchester, West Virginia
January 29, 1865

Respected Friend,

I am now seated to answer your welcome letter which I received last eve. In your letter you stated that some of the one-year men were at home and were catching deserters. Now my opinion is that if they were at the front and could not get a furlough, they would go home too. They do not know what it is to be in the army. Their laying back on their bounty in Pennsylvania ain’t that brave and they wish the war would last, I suppose, as long as they can stay where they are now. I would like to see them put in the front where they would be of some use. They could be used to better advantage here for they might stop a ball from hurting some good man.

Well, the thing that I don’t like is that those men are getting furloughs and men who has been in the army for more than a year cannot get a furlough. For my part, I do not intend to try for one as I have been away from the corps pretty near three months and there are men who have not been off duty all summer and I would as soon see some of them go home as to go myself. There is one of my tent mates going home tomorrow.

Well, there is nothing going on very fast here just now. Last week there was a skirmish between our cavalry and the rebs and our men found one of our boys [in the rebel army] at Staunton. He left the [signal] station he was on about three weeks ago and was not heard of since until one of our scouts saw him. I would not like to be in his place for he will be shot if our men get him though he never was of any account in the corps for he could neither flag nor drill. But he will be kept on account of if he is caught for an example.

I have had no letter from William for more than a month and do not know where he is at present. Well, the weather is very cold here at present but I hope it will not last long. There are no news so you will please excuse this short letter. Answer if you please and direct as before. goodbye for the present, — L. A. Egolf

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