1862: Edward Williams to his Sister

I could not find an image of Edward but here is a gemtype of Eber D. Herrings who began his service in the 10th Kansas Infantry (Kansas Historical Society)

The following letters were written by Sgt. Edward Williams of Co. E, 10th Kansas Infantry. Edward had enlisted in Co. E, 3rd Kansas Infantry under the command of the notorious jayhawker Col. James Montgomery, but when the regiment failed to raise the required number of men to form a regiment, they were combined with the 4th Kansas Infantry (also short recruits) and the consolidated unit was named the 10th Kansas Infantry and mustered in for three years service under Col. William F. Cloud.

These three letters describe in some detail the movements of the regiment as it saw its first action in company with the 2nd Ohio Cavalry on what has been called the Indian Expedition.

According to muster records, Edward enlisted on 23 July 1861 but he did not survive the war. He died of disease on 6 March 1864 at Alton, Illinois. At the time of his enlistment, he gave his residence as Mound City, Linn county, Kansas.

Companies A, B, C, D, E and F of the 3rd Kansas Infantry retained their original designation until the date of the consolidation. The members of the Third and Fourth Kansas Volunteers were accounted for in the new organizations to which they were transferred as though they had served with the last organization from the beginning of their original term of service, no reference being given to the fact that the first part of their service had been rendered as members of the Third and Fourth Kansas regiments, or that such regiments ever existed.

Edward wrote the letters to his sister Mary J. and her husband, Charles Payson or Paxson—I can’t be certain. More research would be required to identify this couple and their residence at the time. There are no accompanying envelopes.

[The following letters are from the private collection of Rob Morgan and were transcribed and published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]

Letter 1

Camp Buel 
Ft. Scott, Kansas
May 31st 1862

Dear sister Mary,

It has been quite a long time since I heard from you—more than a month, and as we have received orders to march tomorrow at 10 a.m., I thought I would write you a few lines. I will keep my letter open until tomorrow and let you know if we do march or do not.

Since I wrote to you, we, the infantry the 3rd Regiment, was consolidated with the infantry of 4th Regiment by the skullduggery of Gov. Robinson. But I understand we are to be the 3rd again very soon. 1

We left Camp John Brown and moved to Mound City. Stopped there one week, then moved down on Mill Creek, 5 miles from here. Stopped there one week, and then moved here, and have been here since—a little over 3 weeks.

James Montgomery was commissioned Colonel of the 3rd Kansas Infantry (New Hampshire Historical Society)

The boys are now hurrahing for Montgomery as they have heard that he had orders from the War Department to take his regiment wherever he can find them. I say three cheers for him.

You will address me for the present as Co. E, 10th Kansas Regiment via Mound City in care of Captain [John F.] Broadhead. If it’s sent in his care, there will be no danger of miscarrying if they change regiments every day.

Enclosed you will find a silver ring which I made. I send it to you not for the worth of the ring, but because I made it and I thought you would like it better on that account. I have worn it for more than a month on my right little finger and I have one on the left very near like it and we will compare them when you see me so that you may know me.  

I had a letter from Mary Tucker a few days ago and in it was a note from Lizzie stating that she was to be married in about a week.

There is four companies ordered to march tomorrow—the four companies of the old 3rd. That looks to our speedy recognition as the 3rd regiment again. We are to march down toward—if not into—the Indian country. At least we are to go with [the] Indian Expedition.  

There was a couple of soldiers violated the person of a young girl 3 miles from here on the night of the 27th instant. One of them was of this regiment; the other of the Ohio 2nd Cavalry. They were brought into the camp the next morning prisoners. The military not being able to deal with them, they were turned over to the civil law and night before last, were sent to the county seat of this county (Marmaton City). After the guard left and [they] were guarded by the sheriff’s guard, a mob came at 12 o’clock at night [and] took them from the guard and hung them to a tree close [to] town as a warning to all young men.  It is seven miles to the county seat. 2

I am glad we are going to leave this place as I perfectly detest this place.  It is one of the most God forsaken places in ten states.

Mr. Durbin’s were all well when I heard from them.  Casandra is teaching a school in a house about 40 rods from Mr. Durbin’s.

I guess I must close for the present as I have to go on guard duty. Write often.  Give my love to Charles. I remain your affectionate brother while life lasts. — Edward Williams

[To] Mary Paxson

June 1st.  I understand it is to be a general move south from here of all the troops going from Kansas. We will have a train of over 100 wagons besides the company & regiment wagons.  9 a.m. Tents are struck ready to march.  Hurrah for the Cherokee Country.  — Ed Williams

1 The following article on the origins of the 3rd & 4th Kansas Regiments explains: “The Third and Fourth Kansas volunteer regiments were neither at any time complete organizations, and after the danger of an invasion by Price had passed recruiting for these organizations became very slow; the regiments being organized under state authority were securing most of the new enlistments. The new organizations presented more promising possibilities for position or promotion, and, beside, were cavalry regiments, and the experienced horseman of the West preferred to ride when an opportunity to do so was at hand. In the spring of 1862 the War Department ordered the reorganization and consolidation of the Third and Fourth Kansas regiments. This was done, the infantry companies forming a new regiment, thereafter known as the Tenth Kansas Volunteer Infantry. It would have been very proper to have designated the new consolidation as either the Third or Fourth Kansas Volunteers, instead of the Tenth, but both regiments thought their regimental designation the one to adopt, and to settle the contention, the next vacant number was assigned to the reorganization. The cavalry companies were transferred to the Fifth, Sixth and Ninth Kansas Cavalry regiments, and the artillery companies were consolidated into the First Kansas Battery.” For excellent full article, see The 3rd & 4th Kansas Vol. Infantry Regiments.

2 Under the title of History of Lynchings in Kansas, the lynchings of the two soldiers is listed as having taken place on 9 June 1862. They were identified only by their units: “2nd Ohio Cavalry and 10th Kansas.” Their crime: “Rape.” Almost all of the other lynchings in Kansas during those years were for stealing cattle or horses.

Letter 2

Camp Spring River on the Government Strip
1 mile south of the Kansas line
June 26th 1862

Dear Bro & Sister,

I received your most welcome letter some 10 days since and should have answered it sooner but we marched from Ft. Scott the next [day] after receiving it and have been on the march since except two days, and as I am cooking for the mess, I got but very little time.

I will now try and scribble a little for your edification. If not that, them for] your information. As I wrote you last that we were going to leave Ft. Scott, we came down here 60 miles south from Ft. Scott, stopped here a couple of days, and then a detachment of our command, about 1000 men & 4 pieces of artillery, went down some 40 miles farther south on Grand River to attack some secesh. Our whole command here at that time was about 2000 men and 6 pieces of artillery under command of Col. Doubleday, Colonel of the 2nd Ohio Regiment.

We came on the enemy 500 strong, on Grand River just at dark—the worst time we could have chosen to attack an enemy, and Doubleday, instead of surrounding them as he might have done, and then have shelled them, he came up on one side and after our spy Capt. Brooks (long may he live for the good he is doing in this section) found the enemy’s position, he commenced shelling them, and they just got right up & left without showing any fight as we had nothing to hinder [his escape]. So much for poor commanding. 1 

We returned to camp in four days. Stopped here one day and our battalion from the 10th Regiment returned to Ft. Scott. Got there on Friday, and on Saturday we were paid 2 months pay, and on Sunday we marched. We marched to the Osage Mission 40 miles southwest of Ft. Scott. From there to Humboldt in Allen Co., 25 miles northwest from the mission. Stopped there 2 days and marched down here about 80 miles from Humboldt, making all some 300 miles since the 1st of of June. We have here forces as follows: 2 batteries 6 pieces each, the 9th Wisconsin Infantry, 2 the 2nd Ohio Regt. (Cavalry), 4 companies of the 9th Kansas Regt. (Cavalry), the 10th Kansas Regt. Infantry, and 2 Regts. of Indians—one cavalry & the other infantry. In all, 2000 Indians & near 3000 white soldiers. We are in what is termed the Indian Expedition. There has gone out 300 infantry and the same of cavalry and 2 pieces artillery to have a little skirmish. I hardly think they will get any.

When we move from here or how long we stop here, I cannot say but I think when you hear from me next I will be under my old Col. (Col. Montgomery).  Things are working in that direction. You will direct to me for the present in Co. E, 10th Kansas Regt. via Mound City, in care of Capt. Broadhead.

We are having a very dry time—almost bordering on a drought—and if we do not have rain soon, crops will be injured. We had a nice shower last evening but the ground was so dry that it done but very little good. Wheat is quite good and is being harvested.

Capt. Young Black Dog of the Osage Battalion who fought with the 10th Kansas Vols.

The Indians have given us a couple of war dances since we have been with them. The Osage Mission is a little village made the headquarters of the Osage Indian Nation. It is on the Neosha River. There is about 500 of the Osage Indians in our Indian Regiment. I must close for the present as I have to help get dinner and then go out on guard.

Excuse my hurried epistle as I look over all mistakes. I will quit cooking in 5 days more and then I will have more time to write. I remain as ever your brother—Edward Williams

Charles Paxson

Mary J Paxson

1 This expedition was described in The 10th Kansas Volunteer Infantry as follows: “The first action noted is the attachment of four companies of the 10th being assigned to the 2d Ohio Cavalry. This expedition formed for the purpose of attacking a force under the notorious Col. Waitie, of the 1st Cherokee Rebel Regiment. The command was all cavalry and artillery. The men of the 10th were compelled to keep pace with the cavalry in the burning sun keeping 30 miles a day and marching 120 miles to be before the rebels camp ready and willing to attack the enemy. Another testament to the “true metal” of the 10th. Marching from Fort Scott to the Osage Mission, and from the Mission to Humboldt, and then with 4 companies of the 9th, the Indian Regiments, and the 1st Kansas Battery marched to the Neosho River and thence to Baxter’s Springs. From Baxter’s Springs, now also with Solomon’s Brigade, marched to Cowskin Prairie. With the purpose of engaging the forces of Waitie, the advanced Brigade skirmished with the rebels. This failed to bring on a general engagement with the badly frightened rebels who fled in great confusion to the south.”

2 The 9th Wisconsin Infantry was raised in Milwaukee in the fall of 1861. It consisted predominantly of recent immigrants from German-speaking countries. An article appearing in the Muscatine weekly Journal on 23 May 1862 described the camp of the 9th Wisconsin at Fort Scott as “beautiful…in the streets of which are to be seen beautifully arranged flower beds, planted with a variety of early flowers and their tents variously and beautifully decorated…From the pains taken by the German to beautify and adorn their homes, it is evident they expect to rremain here for a time. Acting Brigadier General Doubleday is in command of the post. The forces there are the Wisconsin 9th, Ohio 2nd Cavalry, and Rabb’s Indiana Battery. Camp Marmaton is five miles northwest of the Fort, on the south side of Mill Creek, in a beautiful and healthy situation.”

Letter 3

Camp on Horse Creek
1 mile west of Grand River
Cherokee Country
July 3d 1862

Dear Sister Mary,

Your letter of the 13th of June was gladly received by me day before yesterday and I was very glad to hear from you and to hear that you were well. I thank you very much for that likeness. I will have to say for your encouragement that you have got a very good looking man for a husband—much better than I had expected you had got.

Since I wrote to you, I think we were at Humboldt. At the time of writing we came down from Humboldt to the Osage Mission, from there to the camp on Spring River, from Spring River down to Grand River, 40 miles farther south, and our present camp is 25 miles down the Grand River. Our yesterday’s march, my company and two other companies of the 10th Regiment remain here today. As an expedition went out yesterday or last night and 7 wagons went out from our regt. to carry the infantry that went with the expedition. The expedition was to take in some secesh 15 miles from here. I have not heard from them.

Since we left Ft. Scott the 1st of June, we have marched over 400 miles. We have four regiments of white men and two regiments of Indians & 12 pieces of artillery. Will have in a little more time 4000 men more & 12 more pieces of artillery. We will go down as far as Ft. Gibson & Ft. Smith and I do not know how much farther. Ft. Gibson is 35 miles from here in the Indian Country & Ft. Smith is about 80 miles in the edge of Arkansas.  We can hear of secesh and see the signs of camping but to get a fight seems almost impossible.

Old [James Spencer] Rains is said to be figuring here and in the western border of Arkansas and the corner of Missouri 5000 or 6000 strong but we do not get a fight with him yet.

We are having quite a dry time but not as dry as it was. The dry year crops will be very good. I have seen some nice pieces of wheat. I saw some of the handsomest county yesterday and night before last that I have seen in a long time. It was really beautiful and then the soil was deep, would compare with any country. Plenty of good timber and good water but it is Cherokee Country.

Do not worry about me for I never enjoyed myself any better in my life but still I should like to be out so as to visit some of my friends, but while on a march I see new scenery enough to interest me so do not worry for me but remember me.

I should have written to Henry on this but he said he would give me his address which he has not. I got it the other day and now I will write to him as I want to hear from him. Mr. Durbins were all well when I heard from them. I must close for this time as I think my letter is long enough.

Give my love to all. I remain your affectionate bro—Ed’d

Mary J. P.—

July 4th   Independence Day

Well I spent my 4th far different to any fourth ever spent before. We marched 15 miles and caught up with the brigade. There was 34 guns fired for the Union just as we were coming in camp and one for Old Abe. The expedition that went out the other night surprised 150 secesh under Col. Clarkson. Killed 18, took 102 prisoners & 40 wagons and a lot of horses and camp equipage. We had 3 killed, one of them accidental. 1


1 From the regimental history: “After a couple of days they marched south with Weer’s Division in the direction of the rebel Clarkson’s camp, hoping to surprise that precious cut-throat and his ragamuffins. A detail was formed and marched all night arriving before the rebel camp about sunrise on the morning of July 3d, 1862. The enemy was situated on a hill, the ascent being steep and rocky, and the only practicable road being a narrow track leading up on the south side. Weer, however, determined to throw his forces around the hill in order to capture the enemy if possible. The two companies of the 9th were moved to the northeast side, the 1st Indian Home Guard to the south and southeast, and the infantry of the 10th, supporting the 1st Kansas Battery, was ordered, after the artillery was found not to be of much service, owing to the abrupt rising of the ground, to fix bayonets and charge upon the enemy’s camp from the west. The attacking column coming from the west, the 9th and Indians being mounted, swept around on each side of the hill, driving the pickets, and then charged up the heights, while the command of the 10th, leaving a few Indians to support the artillery, charged up the western side of the heights, almost completely enveloping the enemy’s camp. Had it not been for the extremely rugged condition of the ground, and the density of the woods on two sides, the whole rebel command, amounting to about seven hundred, would have been captured. At the first dash, the enemy fired one round, and then broke in hopeless confusion over the two rough sides of the hill. Sixty or seventy of the rebels were killed or wounded, mostly killed, for the loyal Indians having but little quarter for their rebel brethren, and one hundred and fifty-five, including Col. Clarkson, their leader, taken prisoners, besides a large amount of camp and garrison equipage. The 10th’s loses were light with only a few men wounded.”

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