The following letter was written by Charles Wesley Harrison (1837-1931) of Victoria, Knox county, Illinois, who served in Co. K, 83rd Illinois Infantry during the Civil War. Charles’ parents were Alfred Harrison (1808-1866) and Margaret Cherrington (1816-1846). He wrote the letter to his sister, Delilah Harrison (1843-1907).
When Charles enlisted in August 1862, he was described as a dark-haired, dark-eyed 5 foot, 11-inch single farmer. He entered the service as a private, was promoted to corporal, and finally to sergeant in March 1865, just before mustering out of the regiment on 26 June 1865 at Nashville. During most of their time in the service, the 83rd Illinois was garrisoned at Fort Donelson which they successfully defended in an attack by Forrest and Wheeler on 3 February 1863.
Fort Donelson, Tennessee
May the 16, 1864
It is with pleasure that I sit down to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope these few lines may find you receiving the same kind blessing the last letter that I had from any of you was dated April the 24th. The health of the company is good though there is several of the new recruits complaining. There is several of the new recruits complaining—none of them very sick. I have no war news but what you will hear before this reaches you. The news is good from every place though we are getting men killed by the thousands. Sherman is now fighting at Dalton or on the other side. There was seventeen hundred of our wounded came into Nashville yesterday and they are going to have a hot time there. There is a Captain here right from there that used to belong to our regiment. He was a Corporal when he belonged to the 83rd. He [is] now [a] Captain in a Darkey Regiment. He says that we have two men there to this one and that we are sure of success. Our regiment will send out about thirty commission officers.
L[ucian] S. Lambert has got a Captain’s commission in the First Kentucky Colored and still there is three more in the company that will get commissions. 1 I think that we are sure of staying here at this place this summer again. Colonel [Arthur A.] Smith says that he has done his best to get us away and he can’t do it and we can make up our minds to stay this summer at Fort Donelson.
The weather has been very cool for this time of year so far but it now looks as though we are a going to have some warm weather as I have nothing of interest to write. I will close hoping to hear from you soon.
— C. W. Harrison
When this you see, remember me, while down in Tennessee. — Shakespeer
1 According to Fold3, Lucian was commissioned Captain of the 8th Regt. U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery on 18 April 1864 at Paducah, Kentucky.