Category Archives: 112th Illinois Infantry


A sixth plate tintype of an unidentified member of the 12th Illinois Infantry, famously known as the 1st Scotch Regiment. He’s wearing the early-war state-issued tunic cut from gray fabric with blue cuff facings, six button front, and the Scotish tam or bonnet widely worn by the regiment. (This image was sold on WorthPoint)

[Insert bio (yet to be written)] of J. Frederick Hammerly, born 1834 in Koenigreich, Wirtemberg, Germany. Came to America on 3 October 1852.

This is the second diary of J. F. H. I have transcribed. It is identified as “Vol. 3” but Vol. 2 is missing. The first diary may be found here:

1861-62 Diary of Frederick Hammerly, Co. B, 12th Illinois Infantry

Frederick’s brother, Jacob Hammerly, enlisted on 25 August 1861 in Co. B, 12th Illinois Infantry. Drowned 15 September 1861 Residence place give: Amboy, Illinois.


J. Frederick Hammerly. Bought at Corinth, Mississippi, October 10th 1862

October 1862

October 10, 1862. Friday. Yesterday and ever since the 2nd, it has been very warm but today it is raining and growing cold. Fires feeling very comfortable.
October 11 & 12. Saturday & Sunday had been very cold for the Sunny South this time in the year. Prisoners are being paroled ever since the 6th. Received two letters—one from Mr. Brigham, another from (Mich).
October 13 Monday had been quite cool last night but it’s now warm. Sent a letter to Michigan
October 14. Tuesday. Weather fair. We are on duty every other day since the [2nd] Battle of Corinth doing Provost or Picket Duty.

October 15 & 16. Wednesday & Thursday. Nights are cold. Guards are surrounding the fires. Received a letter from New York.
October 17 Friday. Moved our camp northeast of Corinth. I am on Camp Guard.
October 18 Saturday. Weather fair. Received a letter from M. B.
October 19. Sunday. Cold nights and warm days. Guarded prisoners. Sent a letter to Rushville.
October 20. Monday. I came off from guard this morning. The guards we relieved let a prisoner run away, consequently the orders were strict. Had a frost this morning.

October 21. Tuesday. Has been quite windy today. Sent a letter to George. Saw Charlie Dykeman in the 21st Missouri. They are talking of going home.
October 22. Wednesday. I am on camp guard. It is very warm. The 21st Missouri left Corinth for home before daylight. Co. K of our regiment have orders to take charge of artillery. Sent a letter to Helena, Arkansas. Received a letter from George.
October 23. Thursday. Weather warm. Our stove feels comfortable this evening.
October 24. Friday. Moved our camp a few rods in order to let them build a fort. Commenced clouding up before sundown. Had a very cold night. Co. K is going to stay.
October 25. Saturday. It is a very cold day—cold enough to snow. 4 o’clock it snows like blazes. Cold enough to freeze. Am on Provost Guard.
October 26. Sunday. Very cold this morning. The ground is covered with snow and frozen hard. Come off from guard this morning at 10 o’clock. Sent a letter to brother.
October 27. Monday. Had a very heavy frost this morning. Suffered much from cold last night. The troops are breaking down houses like everything. The breastworks are growing fast in front of us. I went on Camp Guard this morning. Received a letter from Mother.
October 28. Tuesday. Weather warmer. Came off from guard at 9 o’clock this morning. Heard from [brother] Martin through Glick. Sent a letter to Conrad mother, to sister Katie, a third to M. Page.
October 29. Wednesday. Weather growing warmer. Am on guard.
October 30. Tuesday. Had a frost last night but is warm today.
October 31, 1862. Corinth, Mississippi. Am on guard. It is warm. Had muster for inspection in general. Received a letter from George.

A sample of Frederick’s handwriting

November 1862

November 1, 1862. Saturday. It is quite warm today. Had a letter from Ch. Alf[red].
November 2. Sunday. It had been cloudy last night. This morning it is quite foggy. Troops are on a move ever since 2 o’clock this morning. Their destination is reported to be Bolivar. 11 o’clock a. m. It is now real warm. Have been on guard camp.
November 3. Monday. Had been warm today. Sent a letter to George and one to New York enclosed.
November 4, 1862. Tuesday a.m. on Provost Guard. It is real warm today noon. Sent a letter to Ch. Alf.
November 5. Wednesday. It is getting cold. This evening the wind is blowing big guns. Many have to hold their tents down. The dust blowing through our tent. The night it commenced raining. It did no rain much. Received a letter from M. Northway.

November 6. Thursday. Had been very cold this morning. A fresh breeze blowing all day. Was on ordinary fatigue.
November 7, 1862. Friday. The wind is again blowing heavy guns. Received a letter from Lew Roff.
November 8, 1862. Saturday. Am on Provost Guard. More hopes of leaving here. Drawed a pair of socks and one overshirt. Sent a letter to Benton Barracks to Martin.

November 9, 1862. Sunday. Corinth, Tishomingo Co., Mississippi. It has been warmer today than its been for weeks back although last night was a severe one. The ground was white in the morning with frost. Went as an escort to help bring Trover of Co. C.
November 10, 1862. Monday. Has been quite pleasant today. Went on the sick report. Had several chills last night.
November 11, 1862. Tuesday. Windy towards evening.
November 12. Wednesday. Rained nearly all last night and part of today. Cloudy this evening. Took medicine three times today.
November 13. Thursday. Was cloudy and frost this morning but now it is clear and warm. Received a slip from Martin.

November 14, 1862. Friday. Weather fair and pleasant. Sent a letter to Cousin Fred.
November 15. Saturday. Weather fair. Sent a line to Martin. After sundown, received a letter from him and another from R. M. Brigham.
November 16. Sunday. Went on Camp Guard this morning. Has been real warm last night. Looks like rain.
November 17. Monday. It is sprinkling at intervals, warm and calm.
November 18. Tuesday. It’s cloudy all day. Commenced raining several times. went after rails about 3 miles out.

November 19. Wednesday. Rained this morning. I was on Provost Guard. Cloudy nearly all day.
November 20. Thursday. Has been cold and windy last night. The majority of Companies C & B went off guarding a train of wagons to some place. Has been clear and cloudy today. The artillery had a shooting match today. Some thought it an attack.

November 21. Friday. Clear, cloudy, cold and windy.
November 22. Weather clear and warm. Was on Water Fatigue.
November 23, 1862. Sunday. Weather fair. Helped get some wood. Sent a letter to Brother John and Martin.

November 24, 1862. Monday. Weather fair. Had review yesterday. Received a letter from sister Maria. Another from C. Alf. Hammerly told me of the unexpected death of cousin William. Sent a letter to M. North [?]
November 25, 1862. Tuesday. Clear and cloudy alternately but cold all day. Received intelligence of a forage train being captured. Also of our correspondence between here and Columbus being cut off. No train came in the night. Am on Camp Guard. Received a letter from Rushville, Pennsylvania.
November 26, 1862. Wednesday. Weather clear and cold. Rumors afloat of the rebels again advancing on here with the intention to siege it. The road is fight again and a train left here for Columbus this afternoon.

November 27, 1862. Thursday. Had been very cold last night bu it is warm today. Had Battalion drill.
November 28, 1862. Friday. Weather cold, clear, and cloudy. Sent a letter to Ch. Alfred. Another to Rushville.
November 29, 1862. Saturday. Weather fair. Received two Watchman’s. Sent a letter to No. 2. N. Y. had a regimental drill.
November 30, 1862. Sunday. Weather warm and cloudy. Looks like rain. Noon, sprinkling now. I am on patrol. Sent a letter to Mr. Brigham.

December 1862

Capt. Henry Willard Allen of Co. G, 7th Illinois Infantry was shot by Sergt. John Myers on 3 December 1862. According to Hammerly’s diary, the captain died three days later, 6 December 1862.

December 1, 1862. Monday. Weather wintery.
December 2, 1862. Tuesday. Had a cold rain last night. Today it is quite cold. Rains and snows at intervals.
December 3, 1862. Wednesday. Weather fair. Am on camp guard. One of the 7th Illinois shot a captain while discussing politics.

December 4, 1862. Thursday. Commenced clouding up early this morning. Part of three companies—B included—went to guard a train of wagons to LaGrange. Had several small rains through the day.
December 5, 1862. Friday. Had a considerable rain last night and snowed nearly all the forenoon. 4 o’clock p.m., seems to be clearing off. One of the 7th Illinois shot a Captain [Henry W. Allen of Co. G, 7th Illinois].
December 6, 1862. Saturday. Had a very cold night. Froze hard. I am on provost patrol today. I am guarding the Sergeant [John Myers] of the 7th Illinois who shot a Captain [Henry W. Allen of Co. G] in a quarrel. The Captain died this morning.
[Sgt. John Myers was hung for his crime on 28 April 1864.
December 7, 1862. Sunday. Weather clear but cold. Had a very cold night. Had general review.
December 8, 1862. Monday. Weather fair. Sent a letter to No. 1 N. Y. The detailed guards came back tonight from LaGrange. One of Co. I was shot through both legs by an accidental discharge of a musket on the cars. Drawed a pair of boots.
December 9, 1862. Tuesday. Weather warm. Have been out 10 to 12 miles foraging.
December 10, 1862. Wednesday. Corinth, Mississippi. Another warm and comfortable day. Had Battalion Drill. Sent a letter to Mo.
December 11, 1862. Thursday. Had been very warm today. Helped get some fire wood.
December 12, 1862. Friday. Weather warm, cloudy and sprinkling at intervals. Went down to Glendale with a telegrapher on a handcar. Received a letter from Martin. Another from Charles Dykeman (Mo.), a third from N. Y. No. 2. Co. I man who had been shot through the legs had them both amputated (is alive).
December 13, 1862. Saturday. Had been very warm and comfortable but windy. This evening looks like rain. wind increasing. Several detachments left here for Iuka.
December 14, 1862. Sunday. Corinth, Mississippi. Another warm and fair day. Had some rain and considerable wind last night. Wrote a letter to Mich. and received a letter from Bithe and a paper from W. Bingham.
December 15, 1862. Monday. Had several rain storms today mixed with heavy winds. Is quite warmer. More rain towards night. Is growing cold. Am on guard.
December 16, 1862. Tuesday. Weather clear and cold. Received a letter from Cousin Fred. An attack on Jackson, Tennessee is talked of tonight.
December 17, 1862. Wednesday. Had been real cold last night and is clear but cold today. Co. I man who was shot through both legs and amputated coming back on the cars from LaGrange was buried today. His sister, the Captain’s wife of the company, had been here to attend to him. 1

1 The soldier who had both legs shot accidentally while returning to Corinth from LaGrange was wagoner Jacob W. Butt (1842-1862) of Princeton, Illinois. His sister was Alice Butt, was married to William D. Mills (1838-1906), Captain of Co. I, 12th Illinois Infantry.

December 18, 1862. Thursday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather clear but fresh. I am on patrol. Sent a letter to Mo.
December 19, 1862. Friday. Weather fair and nice today. Three companies of our regiment with the 90th Illinois and others—also some artillery—left last night for somewhere, supposed to harass the Rebels marching on Jackson, Tennessee. They say they are fighting there. The 9th Illinois and 31st Ohio came back with a lot of prisoners from Alabama. No train, no news tonight.
December 20, 1862. Saturday. Weather fair, nice and warm. Am on Provost Guard. Considerable excitement here on account of Jackson being taken by the Rebels. Had strict orders in regard to the last group of prisoners. A mounted infantry company was organized.
December 21, 1862. Sunday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather fair. Received about one hour in the guard house of Corinth for the complaint of letting a prisoner off. This evening they are moving all Commissary and Quartermaster goods to the main fort. The question–What’s Up? No news tonight.
December 22, 1862. Monday. Had been real warm today. No attack has been made on this place yet. Our forces whipped the Rebels at Jackson the day before yesterday. No reliable news from there has as yet been received although tis only 50 miles from here. A train left for the North but not come back. Today we were put on half rations.
December 23, 1862. Tuesday. Another [day] like summer. Two trains came in with two days mail and some papers. Also the most of the troops that had left this place a few days previous. I am on Provost Guard.
December 24, 1862. Wednesday. Had some rain early this morning but cleared off towards non. Another train came in tonight but only from Jackson. No news and no mail. We have splendid weather. Sent a letter to Peters.
December 25, 1862. Christmas. Weather like summer. Our half rations are felt. Those who have money can have whole. The same are buying their whiskey. Many are having their drinking sprees. This has been a hungry Christmas. A train from Jackson again but no news.
December 26, 1862. Friday. It commenced raining this morning about 9 o’clock and rained most all day and all night. Capt. Sharp—a secesh—got away last night.
December 27, 1862. Saturday. Had considerable rain again today. This evening it cleared off and clouded up alternatively. No news at all. Am on Provost Guard. Drawed a pair of pants.

December 28, 1862. Sunday. Had a real pleasant day today. Had company inspection. A train from Jackson arrived but no news.
December 29, 1862. Monday. Another warm and nice day. No news yet (cut off yet). Am on patrol.
December 30, 1862. Tuesday. Rain almost all day and the biggest part of the night.
December 31, 1862. Wednesday. Clear and cold. Two trains arrived from Jackson

January 1863

January 1, 1863. New Year’s Day. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather has been very warm and agreeable all day. Cut off yet, consequently no news. Living on half rations ever since the 19th. Such a Christmas & New Year’s I never saw!
January 2, 1863. Friday. Had been very windy and clouding up alternatively and [rained] hard all last night. Several regiments left for places unknown—some say to Pittsburg Landing. Co. G went on picket and on Camp Guard.
January 3, 1863. Saturday. Rained much all night and considerable today. The Tennessee River must soon be rising. It is pouring down in torrents this evening.

January 4, 1863. Sunday. Cleared off this morning and proved to be very fine day. Had company inspection this morn. Received a big mail tonight over which was great rejoicing. The mail was carried over the burned and destroyed bridges. Vicksburg is said to be ours sure. Received a letter from Rushville. Another from John Amboy. Third and fourth from camp near Fredericksburg. What a splendid moonlight night!
January 5, 1863. Monday. It is cloudy and windy today. The few papers came in last night was sold for one dollar apiece. According to papers, Burnside is whipped.

January 6, 1863. [No entry]
January 7, 1863. Wednesday. Air cold but clear and sunshine. a large train of provisions arrived here last night. Sent a letter to Alford.
January 8, 1863. Thursday. Weather fair but chilly. Martin arrived tonight. Am on patrol.
January 9, 1863. Friday. Weather fair but is clouding up this eve. The long roll beat today. After we had fallen in, we were dismissed. Sent a letter to Benton Barracks with $1.

January 10, 1863. Saturday. Had some rain last night. Had been very comfortable all day. Some cloudy. Heard heavy thunder all night. Sent a letter to Rushville.
January 11, 1863. Sunday. Looks like spring. Am on Headquarters Guard. A small mail arrived here. Drawed a dress coat, a pair of pants for [John] Griffin, [coat] $6.70; [pants] $3.05.

January 12, 1863. Monday. Weather fair like spring. A train with provisions from Pittsburg Landing arrived here. Had Battalion drill. A letter from Conrad.
January 13, 1863. Tuesday. Warm but windy. Some cloudy. Draw whole rations again.
January 14, 1863. Wednesday. Commenced raining early this morning and it rained hard all day and all night too.
January 15, 1863. Thursday. The rain turned into snow this morning. Snowed most all day but partly melted. am on Provost Guard. Guarded the sharpshooters hospital. Sent a letter to John Church and brother George.

January 16, 1863. Friday. Snowed and blowed the bigger part of today. Found George. Camp of the 72nd Ohio.
January 17, 1863. Saturday. Cleared off last night. The sun shines nice this morning.
January 18, 1863. Sunday. It is clouding up again. the mail consisting of 4 letters came to the regiment, very unfrequent and small. Am on Provost Guard. The snow is melting.
January 19, 1863. Monday. Commenced raining early this morning. Rained all day and part of the night. The snow is gone.
January 20, 1863. Tuesday. It is cloudy, chilly and damp. Rains at intervals. Was detailed for Train Guard. Was dismissed.

January 21, 1863. Wednesday. Is cloudy, damp and the streets are very muddy. Went on Headquarters (Paymaster) Guard, Our paymaster came in this evening.
January 22, 1863. Thursday. Has cleared off this morning and it looks again like spring. This evening at 5 o’clock an expedition left here for Pittsburg Landing or Hamburg Landing.
January 23, 1863. Friday. Cloudy today but warm. went on picket [but] a few hours after were relieved. Got marching orders with three days rations in our haversacks. Ready to start early in the morning.

January 24, 1863. Get our breakfast by candlelight and ready to start. Marched down i town, stacked arms in front of the Corinth Music Hall. About 9 o’clock we left town as a rear guard of a forage train to Hamburg. About noon it commenced raining and rained till after midnight. Arrived at Hamburg about sundown. The train was loaded through the night.
January 25, 1863. Sunday. Left Hamburg about 8 o’clock. Halted about an hour on the hill back of Hamburg, took a different road, arrived at Corinth two hours after dark. Was cloudy and windy but did not rain. We had plenty of mud to tramp through.
January 26, 1863. Monday. Early this morning the 7th Illinois and 81st Ohio were loaded on the train to Hamburg. Had some rain and much wind this afternoon. The paymaster paying the 90th Illinois.
January 27, 1863. Tuesday. Rained much last night. Today is cloudy, damp and chilly.
January 28, 1863. Wednesday. It is cold and cloudy. Was on Fatigue [Duty] last night until 11 o’clock to help unload a train from Hamburg Landing. Snowed some last night. Sent a letter to Cincinnati, Ohio, with $1 D. C.
January 29, 1863. Thursday. Whether fair. Rather windy. Am on Provost Guard. Cut off again below here and Jackson. A train only stove up!
January 30, 1863. Friday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather fair. were paid for two months. Received a letter from Michigan.
January 31, 1863. Saturday. Weather nice and fair. Had monthly inspection. It sprinkled some on Dress Parade. Voted for to stand by the government. Martin received a letter from Ch. Church.

February 1863

February 1, 1863. Sunday. Drawed blouse and forage cap. Rained last night and part of the day today. It’s warm. Sent $50 to Mr. Bingham by Lieut. Cook and $5 to Martin.
February 2, 1863. Monday. weather clear and comfortable. Turned cold and cloudy towards night. Am on Patrol.
February 3, 1863. Tuesday. Had been very cold last night but cleared. First US Infantry leaves this morning for Vicksburg. Co. G takes their places at Fort [Battery] Williams.

The Memphis & Charleston Railroad facing west with Battery Williams on the left and Battery Robinett on the right.

February 4, 1863. Wednesday. Corinth, Mississippi. Had been cold last night. Came off from Patrol. Is growing colder this morning. Five o’clock p.m., the ground is covered with snow and it snows like everything. went after nails to fix our tent.
February 5, 1863. Thursday. Considerable snow fell last night. Is very cold this morning. Moved our bunks and altered the looks of our tent. Received a letter from Ch. Alf.
February 6, 1863. Friday. Was detailed for taking off condemned horses and mules to Henderson. Went 15 miles and stayed over at a plantation. Quite a number of mules gave out. Had a hard time of it. Was freezing cold.

February 7, 1863. Saturday. Corinth, Mississippi. The snow is melting fast. Went through Purdy. Is a very fine town. Arrived at Henderson after sundown. Got left behind with three more. Stayed over at the telegraph office.
February 8, 1863. Sunday. Slept pretty cold last night. Now waiting for the train from Jackson. Had breakfast with some teamsters. 4 o’clock the train has come and is going. Arrived at Corinth after dark. Up in camp I am. Heard of another fight at Fort Donelson. The rebels whipped. The snow seems to have disappeared from all places but Oh! so windy
February 9, 1863. Monday. Weather moderate. Looking again like rain this evening. Considerable trading done in town. The Adams express is open again. A lot of Christmas boxes received here but everything is spoiled in them.

February 10, 1863. Tuesday. It is very muddy today and is raining at intervals. Two trains arrived from Jackson, Tennessee. Got a check from our money sent by Lieut. Cook.
February 11, 1863. Wednesday. It is very warm today but muddy yet. Am on Camp Fatigue. went after rails for the regimental bakery. Got stuck several time [in mud].
February 12, 1863. Thursday. Rained last night and had two or three showers today. Thundered hard. It is growing cold this evening.
February 13, 1863. Friday. Cleared off last night. Is growing warm. Was detailed to guard a train. Went after wood beyond Chewalla, 11 miles from Corinth on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad.Had been very warm. Sent a Valentine.

February 14, 1863. Saturday. Corinth, Mississippi. Thundered and commenced raining early this morning. Was a rainy day. This eve it thundered hard and heavy dark clouds approaching.
February 15, 1863. Sunday. Weather damp and cloudy. Am on patrol. Rained and thundered hard tonight. Only one letter for the [entire] regiment.
February 16, 1863. Monday. Weather damp and cloudy. Commenced raining on Dress Parade. Our Colonel was going to have us meet at Headquarters in regard of their being the anniversary of the surrender of Fort Donelson [but] on account of the weather it was postponed. Received a letter from Cincinnati.
February 17, 1863. Tuesday. Weather damp and cloudy. Rained last night and this evening it is again raining. Sent $5 to O. A letter to 21st Mo.

February 18, 1863. Wednesday. Corinth, Mississippi. Rained much last night. Today it is damp and cloudy. Went after wood beyond Burnsville.
February 19, 1863. Thursday. Weather damp, windy and cloudy.
February 20, 1863. Friday. Clear but awful windy. Growing warm and nice. The roads are getting dry. A nice moonlit night.
February 21, 1863. Saturday. It commenced to raining this morning early. It’s been raining all day. Am on patrol. A detail left horseback for the Shiloh.
February 22, 1863. Sunday. It is very cold today. The wind is rising. Very dark this evening. Big guns were fired today in honor of Washington’s Birthday. Sent a letter to Chicago with $30.

February 23, 1863. Monday. Corinth, Mississippi. It is rather cold this morning but looks like clearing off. In p.m., the sun shines and the sky is clear again. Sent off a letter to Mich. and to Church and George. A third to Ohio with $2.
February 24, 1863. Tuesday. Weather fair. P. M. is warm and nice. Evening clear and moonshine. Am on camp guard. Received a letter from George and another from N. Y.
February 25, 1863. Wednesday. Commenced raining early this morning. Thundered hard. Considerable rain fell.
February 26, 1863. Thursday. An immense sight of rain fell last night and today it is raining continually. 5 p.m. it looks like clearing off. Am on Provost Guard. Signed the payrolls for two months pay.
February 27, 1863. Friday. Corinth, Mississippi.Today it has been warm and nice. Sent a letter to Ch. Alf.
February 28, 1863. Saturday. Weather fair. Some cloudy in a.m. Considerable wind. Had general muster. Am on camp guard.

March 1863

March 1, 1863. Sunday. Weather had been fair and warm today.
March 2, 1863. Monday. Weather warm and clear and cloudy and windy part of this afternoon. Sent a locket to Katie Henrick.
March 3, 1863. Tuesday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather fair. Some windy. What a splendid moonlight night. Send a letter to Jim Dy. Amboy Martin to his. 200 Rebels were brought in. Am on camp guard.
March 4, 1863. Wednesday. Weather fair. Nice moonshine. The capture of the Indianola and the Queen of the West is talked of and believed here. Received $4 of the $5…[See The Indianola Affair]

March 5, 1863. Thursday. Weather is cold and cloudy. Snows lightly. Got two months pay.
March 6, 1863. Friday. Weather changeable warm, cold, sunshine and rain. Am on Provost Guard.
March 7, 1863. Saturday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather the same as yesterday, Considerable rain fell last night. Thundered hard. Sent a letter to Rushville and to Cincinnati, Ohio.

March 8, 1863. Sunday. Weather cloudy but warm; sunshine at intervals. Had an awful hailstorm this evening. Received a letter with negative note paper. Sent off a letter to Brigham.
March 9, 1863. Monday. Cleared off last night. was quite fresh this morning. Went to Chewalla after wood. One car ran off the track.
March 10, 1863. Tuesday. Weather cloudy and considerable rain. Rained much last night. Sent a letter to Chicago
March 11, 1863. Wednesday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather clear but is rather fresh and windy.
March 12, 1863. Thursday. Weather about the same as yesterday. Am on Camp Fatigue. Sent a letter to Cincinnati.
March 13, 1863. Friday. Weather fair and very nice. Received a letter from Cincinnati.
March 14, 1863. Saturday. Weather warm and nice. Went on extra patrol this afternoon. Received a letter from George’s wife.
March 15, 1863. Sunday. Commenced clouding up early this morning. Looks like rain. Went on weekly inspection.
March 16, 1863. Monday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather like spring. It cleared off this morning. Sent a letter to George. Another to Cincinnati…
March 17, 1863. Tuesday. Weather fair. very warm all day. Am on patrol. Had two shows and two balls in town.
March 18, 1863. Wednesday. It’s very warm today.
March 19, 1863. Thursday. Very warm—yes, hot. was beyond Glendale as guard to a wood train. Received a letter with S. C. from Cincinnati, Ohio.

March 20, 1863. Friday. Weather fair. Sent to Chicago to Hilton for books to Philadelphia.
March 21, 1863. Saturday. Corinth, Mississippi. Weather warm. Like summer. Am on Paymaster Guard to Chandler.
March 22, 1863. Sunday. Weather foggy, windy and damp. Received a gold pen from Chicago.
March 23, 1863. Monday. Is raining mostly all day, Went after some medicine. Sent to Philadelphia $1. S. C.
March 24, 1863. Tuesday. Weather foggy, damp, and rained at intervals. Received a letter from Michigan. Am on forage guard.
March 25, 1863. Wednesday. Has cleared off but is pretty chilly all day. I received news of being detailed to escort prisoners to Alton, Illinois. Much pleased. A fair show for a short furlough.
March 26, 1863. Thursday. Memphis, Tennessee. Left Corinth at 8 o’clock this morning on board the cars for Memphis. Arrived at 8 in the evening. Have 21 Union prisoners to guard. marched them through the streets up to the Memphis Prison. Took our quarters n the same building. It is growing cold and a change of weather is eminent. Hear of Rosecrans fighting. Are anxious of further news.
March 27, 1863. Friday. Commenced raining this morning and had several thunder showers through today. Not much news from Rosecrans nor from below here. The 190th & 130th left this eve. for Vicksburg. Slept cold last night.
March 28, 1863. Saturday. Memphis, Tennessee. Had a heavy rain storm last night. Is cloudy and damp but warm. Slept comfortable last night. About sundown we marched our prisoners to the landing but as the boat could not leave before Sunday morning, we had to counter march them back to the same place.Two of them threw their shackles off, consequently they were put in the cell. One of them escaped but the secret police brought him in after two hours. Hear of the morning train being cut off by a rebel raid near Moscow.
March 29, 1863. Sunday. The wind blew big guns last night. Is growing very cold. This morning it looks cloudy and may snow. Later, it is snowing and raining. 8 o’clock a.m., our prisoners are safe on board the boat, Mary Forsyth. 11 o’clock, she is pushing out. Later, are going a pretty good speed.

March 30, 1863. Monday. On board the steamer Forsyth. Slept about two hours upon two barrels. Had the colic all day ad last night. Tuesday arrived at Cairo about 3 o’clock a.m. Left at 8 a.m. Stopped at Cape Girardeau at 4:30 p.m. and met an old acquaintance.
March 31, 1863. Tuesday. Slept sound and comfortable on some bags of wheat.

April 1863

April 1, 1863. Wednesday. Is nice and clear today. arrived at St. Louis at 3:30 o’clock p.m. [Robert] Donnelly and myself arrested three persons (passengers of the Mary Forsyth) who were suspected of having stolen money on their persons. Stayed over night at [ ]field’s Barracks. Pretty hard place.

Hammerly’s Diary

1865: Coles Jackson Brown to James B. Brown

This letter was written by Coles “Jackson” Brown (1815-1895), the son of Abram Brown (1777-1862) and Mary Purdy (1783-1873) of Putnam county, New York. Coles was married to Sarah Mary Cowl (1811-1894) in January 1836 and worked as a carpenter in Putnam county, New York, until sometime in the 1850s when he became a farmer in Burns township, Henry county, Illinois.

I feel certain that Jackson wrote the letter to his son, James B. Brown (b. 1844) who enlisted on 9 August 1862 as a private in Co. D, 112th Illinois Infantry (though there seems to be some discrepancy between his census record age and his enlistment record age). James served his full three years, mustering out at Greensboro, North Carolina, on 20 June 1865. In his letter, Jackson responds to his son’s complaint about not getting any letters from home by informing him that: “Well, it is not that there has not any been sent for we send one every week. I think you will get a big mail if you ever get the half of what letters that have ben sent to you.” Of course the 112th Illinois was engaged in the Carolina Campaign at that time and mail was slow to catch up with the regiment.

Coles Jackson Brown, ca. 1865


[Henry county, Illinois]
March 26th 1865

Dear James,

I now take a few moments to write a few lines to you to let you know that we are all well and enjoying good health. You say you get no letters from home. Well it is not that there has not any been sent for we send one every week. I think you will get a big mail if you ever get the half of what letters that have ben sent to you. Well this will do for this time.

Vails folks have broken up. The old man 1 is going East. Sarah teaches in Kewanee this summer. Mrs. Vail is a going to live in Kewanee. Ed Furst 2 sold the place a few days before he was to make the dead out. The chap backed out. They had a sale which amount to about $1500.

Benjamin has got home from court. That woman Mrs. [Mary] Ferris who shot William Pike had her trial. 3 It occupied nine days. She was cleared. I suppose you heard of the prisoners breaking jail about four weeks before court time. They had caught two but the two that was in for murder, they have not yet been found. There were Irishmen. They killed a man in Annawan.

Samuel and Artemas, ca. 1865

Smith has moved. Parker is a going to build this side of the first holler south of ours. This will get to be a nice street if we ever should build a house and Jonathan should build too. Oh, I must tell you before I forget it, Sam[uel J.] Murphy is married to a Miss [Artemas] Welland 4—a renter on Feslar’s place. Murphy bought a half section of land up of Suthard—paid six thousand dollars. I think he must be some in debt. Also one of 120 acres in Iowa.

Emmaline starts for this place one week from tomorrow. She may be here before this reaches you. It is reported that George is to be married. We do not know how true it is nor to who. Jim don’t come nigh us at all. He has rented Bill Henry Conner’s farm. Bill went away to avoid the draft but has since got back.

This town has been trying to fill her quota by buying men and having them credited to the town. They raised eleven thousand dollars. Because they lacked about $1300, they came home and paid about all of the money back. They have made about four or five efforts to raise men and failed each time. Now I believe they are a going to show bonds on the town and raise the men. This town had 36 men to raise. Burns [township] has put in nine which she thought would be more than her quota but Cambridge got the credit for the men that we had ought to have had credit for. Cambridge had 9 men to furnish. It comes hard on Burns. It takes about one in every three. I think it will take more for there will be a great many that will go away and stay till the draft is passed. Then will return.

George Hamilton 5 has been gone for two or three weeks. I believe he is in Indiana. There has been five left they say last week so you see how patriotic folks are. Rosco is doing first rate. Grows some. Fly and Daisy make a nice little team but I think it best to sell them if they will fetch anything nigh what they are worth. They are small and always will be small. As they are matched, they will I think fetch all they are worth.

Write whenever you can. We have had awful wet and cold weather. We have done nothing yet this spring. I believe I have give you all the news. I remain as ever yours &c., — Coles J. Brown

1 I believe Jackson is referring to Alexander Vail (1804-1894) who lived for a time in Burns township, Henry county, Illinois, with his wife, Sarah Marie Sebring (1805-1867). When Alexander went back to his home state of New Jersey, Sarah remained in Kewanee and taught school to earn income. She died two years later in 1867, her youngest child then 20 years old.

2 Edward Furst (1834-1905) was a German emigrant, his surname actually spelled Fuerst. He was married to Louise Krouse.

3 Information about the trial can be found in the following Evening Argus newspaper article (interesting). Click to enlarge.

4 Samuel J. Murphy (1843-1902) grew up in Washington county, Pennsylvania. He married forst Julia Artemus Welland (1843-1874). After her death he married Julia Florence Hill (1848-1884).

5 George W. Hamilton (b. 1843) was the son of William Hamilton, a farmer in Burns township, Henry county, Illinois. George was one of the local boys identified by name that Jackson claimed had left the state in order to avoid the military draft. He was enumerated back in Burns township at the time of the 1865 State Census in July.

1862-65: Elijah Foster Benedict to his Children

112th Illinois Infantry, Company G

These letters were written by Elijah “Foster” Benedict (1825-1888), the son of Elijah Benedict and Dolly Foster of Atkinson, Henry county, Illinois. On 24 June 1848, Foster was married to Mary Jannette Follett in Knox county, Illinois.

On 9 August 1862, Foster enlisted as a Sergeant in Co. C, 112th Regiment Illinois Infantry. He was mustered out on 20 June 1865 at Greensboro, North Carolina, with the rank of 1st Sergeant. His muster records indicate that he stood 5 foot 8 inches tall, had black hair and black eyes. It should be noted that while on duty in Kentucky in 1863, six companies of the 112th (D, C, E, K, G, and B) were mounted and remained so until February 1864.

Serving with Foster in the same regiment was his younger brother, George Whitfield Benedict (1836-1904) who entered as a musician and emerged three years later as the leader of the regimental band. Also serving was Foster’s brother-in-law, William Follett who did not survive the war. He was killed in the Battle of Resaca on 14 May 1864.

Most of these letters were written to his two oldest daughters, Mary and Susan Benedict, or his eldest son Charlie. While it is clear that he wrote to other family members, including his wife, none of those letters are in this collection.

To read other letters written by members of the 112th Illinois Infantry that I have transcribed and published on Spared & Shared, go to:

Lemuel Fordum Mathews, Co. D, 112th Illinois (2 Letters)
Bradford Foster Thompson, Co. D, 112th Illinois (1 Letter)
Aaron Ridle, Co. F, 112th Illinois (2 Letters)
Albert Pierce Lanphere, Co. I, 112th Illinois (1 Letter)
Henry Capron Lanphere, Co. I, 112th Illinois (2 Letters)

Letter 1

Addressed to Miss Mary L. Benedict, Atkinson, Henry county, Illinois

Lexington, Kentucky
Camp Ella Bishop 1
November 16, 1862

Dear Daughters Mary & Susy & all the little ones,

In the last letter I wrote your mother I promised to write the next to you and now on this pleasant Sunday afternoon I fulfill that promise.

I was very sorry to hear that the little ones at home were so unwell but hope the next time I hear from you they will be well.Mary, you and Susy must help your mother all you can for she has a great deal of work to do and every little you do lightens her labor very much. You must be good-natured to all and not fret if everything does not suit you. By so doing, you will be beloved by everybody and be the pride of your parents.

We are yet encamped near this city and no prospect of our moving on that I know of. It is one month tomorrow since we left Covington and the time has passed very quickly with me but there has not been a day passed in which I did not wish that I could see the dear little flock at home and listen to their voices in their plays. My health continues good and has ben good with the exception of a cold ever since I came into Kentucky.

George is not so fortunate for yesterday he had a severe attack of the ague but feels very well today. I do not think he will have any more attack. I sat up last night and gave him medicine and I do not feel much like writing today. I still perform the duties of orderly. How much longer I shall, I can’t tell. The orderly has been very sick but is now getting better. His foot was run over coming from Covington to this place and is not well yet, and it may disqualify him from marching again as it was hurt very badly.

William Follett, Co. C, 112th Illinois, killed at the Battle of Resaca on 14 May 1864

Uncle William marched past our camp the middle of last week and is ow about 16 miles from us at a place called Nicholasville. He is still orderly for Gen. Coburn and likes his place first rate. He does all his marching on horseback and hass a very easy time. I am glad he has the place on his account, but on my own, I would much prefer to have him with us as he is one of the best men I ever knew. The boys all like him first rate and would be ver glad to have him back again.

I am very busy now and have been for the last three weeks and shall be until I get all the orders copied which issue from the Headquarters of this army so if you do not get more than one letter a week from me, you need not be surprised. I have not written to Father’s folks since I have been here and to Abel but once, I believe. And the next letters I write must be to them. However, I will write you next Sunday anyhow and I want Charley to write in your letters because you cannot fill them out without help. Write about everything you can think of. By that means, you will learn to write letters and very soon you can write without any trouble.

Rufus Pratt had a letter from Lucius a few days ago. He was at Bowling Green, Kentucky, and was well. Your mother seems to think that because Charley did not get a letter from me when she expected one, that my great love of euchre prevented me from writing. I have not played a dozen games of euchre since I have been in this camp. Have been too busy other ways. In my next I will write the amount f labor I have to perform each day and I know you will excuse my not writing oftener. My sheet is about filled, therefore, I must close. Kiss the little ones for their Father and kiss your mother about 25 times for, — Foster

1 Camp Ella Bishop was named in honor of the “spirited Union girl of Lexington who, a short time before, had defiantly waved the Union flag in the faces of the Confederate troops who occupied the city and proclaimed her self for the Union, now and forever.” [History of the 12th Illinois, page 20]

Letter 2

Lexington, Kentucky
February 11, 1863

Dear Children,

I promised to write you last week but didn’t do it so I will endeavor to write today. My health is good yet and I feel first rate. George is well. Also your Uncle William. He was in our camp Sunday and likes his place first rate. He ranks as corporal and expects to have a sergeant’s place soon. I don’t know all of a corporal’s duty in a battery but the principal part of it is to sight the gun.

We are having very bad weather yet—first it snows, then melts, and then comes rain, and of course the mud is very deep and sticks to ones boots like the mischief. Illinois mud is nothing compared with it for stickiness.

The military authorities have had a big scare for the last week. The reports came in thick and fast that John [Hunt] Morgan was marching on this place from Tennessee. One of the Michigan regiments have received marching orders several times to go to Danville 35 miles south of this place to reinforce the troops stationed there and the orders have been countermanded each time, and the regiment is still here and likely to remain as there was nothing in the reports at all.

We are doing nothing at all but eating and sleeping. There is so much mud it is impossible to drill and do not have dress parade more than twice a week. So you see I must be getting very lazy or I should have written you before. I can’t find anything in camp worth writing about and it is almost impossible to fill out one of these small sheets with anything that is readable.

Abel wrote that you are getting along finely in your studies and that you get your lessons well. It makes me feel proud to hear that you are doing so well in school and improving so fast. You must improve all your time when you are in school because if you don’t, you will be sorry when you grow older and look back to the time when you were going to school and did not study as much as you might have done. However, I think you will do all you can without my saying much about it.

When you write, tell me all about the things at home, how the horses, cattle, and hogs are doing, and if you have killed your pork yet. And write about everything you can think about as all you can write will interest me.

We have no Major yet but expect to know who is the lucky man in a few days. I expect Capt. [Tristram T.] Dow will be the Major and he will make a good one. 1 Our captain [John J. Biggs] expected to be a Major but his heels were tripped up slightly as he stood no more chance of being the Major than 800 other men in the regiment did. He is not very popular with the Colonel nor anybody else that I know of. I believe that this is all that I can write today and will have to close with this page left blank.

Mary, you kiss all the little ones for me and Susie, you may too. Write often [even] if it is not very much, but you can all write together and fill a sheet without much trouble, can’t you? Charlie, how do your pants fit? I will send you a coat in the spring if I can get a chance. Goodbye little ones for this time. Your affectionate Father, — Foster

1 On account of a severe injury caused by a fall from his horse, giving him a hernia, Major James M. Hosford had to resign his commission. Captain Tristram T. Dow of Co. A was promoted to succeed him.

Letter 3

Addressed to Miss Mary L. Benedict, Atkinson, Illinois

Somerset, Kentucky
May 24th 1863

Dear Children,

I now write to all of you without exception, instead of each singly, because if I write to each, I would soon be out of postage stamps and they are hard to get here.

My health is first rate and I am contented where I am, notwithstanding you are all so dear to me. You know not how hard it was to part with you so soon after being home but honor and duty forbade my staying any longer. I have written to you mother telling here when I arrived in this camp so there is no need of writing it again. Also received a letter from her saying that you were all well which is as good news as could be written. She also said that Charlie had finished planting corn and I must say to him that I am pleased with the way he has worked this spring and in fact ever since I left home. And Charlie, I hope you will write and let me know how you get along with the work, and what you have done since you finished planting the corn. Write how the crops look and all about everything on the farm.

Mary & Susie, I hope you will write all about your progress in school and write anything else that you think I would like to hear.

I have not sent my money home yet but will send it to Cambridge by a Corporal of our company who is going home in a few days and my clothes which are partly worn out will be sent to the same place as soon as we can get a box to put them in as several have things to send. I promised your mother when I left that I would subscribe for the Cincinnati Times. Did not do it because I did not arrive there until 9 o’clock Saturday night and had to leave at 5 Monday morning. Therefore, you see there was no opportunity for me to do so. I hope she will send for some newspaper because I do not wish my family to be without one.

When I got back, found my things in good order—nothing lost. Have a new [ ] and pantaloons and if I do not [ ] too much, shall not be obliged to get any more clothes until winter and shall not have to ride much I guess until I have a horse. The one that was drawn for me was left at Millidgeville lame and there is none here for me. How long before I can get one there is no knowing. I hope before we march from this place. If not, I will have to be left or go into some other company which of course I would not like very much.

On Friday we had a regimental inspection and as a prize for the best guns—or those which were in the best condition—furloughs were to be granted as follows: to one private in each company, to four line sergeants, to two orderly sergeants, and to two commissioned officers whose companies presented the best appearance on the inspection. Well, Lieut. [Alexander P.] Petrie goes home as one of those officers and the orderly of our company was selected as one of the two orderlies. [ ] was selected as one of the line sergeants. I would have been one of those if I had not got a furlough the [ ] I could have gone home now. One of our boys heard the Inspector say that our was in the best condition of any of the sergeants and that I was the first choice among them. So you see that my pride has not all left me yet and I do not mean to be outdone by anyone as far as doing my duty is concerned ad keeping my arms and accoutrements in good order. I should have been well pleased to have gone home again but the distance is so far and the expense so much that I could not afford it and another reason was that I had only just come from hoso another sergeant was selected in my place which I did not think was quite right because if I was lucky enough to win the prize, I ought to have the privilege to give it to whom I pleased but it was not allowed and so George missed the chance of going home.

The way the Orderly got his was by borrowing a gun from one of the boys instead of using his own which is habitually in poor order—rather a small way of getting a furlough, I think.

My sheet is full and I must close. You can let whoever you are a mind to read this. Write often all of you. This is the fourth letter I have written since I got back but only one to those at home but presume you have heard from me by those to Albert and Abel. With love to each and all. I am your affectionate father, — Foster

Letter 4

Danville, Kentucky
August 5, 1863

Dear daughters Mary and Susy,

In my last letter to your mother I promised to write you next. It is one week since I have written home and the reason is that we were moved from this place to Hickman Bridge on account of a rebel raid into this part of the state under the command of Col. Scott. Last Sunday, 30 men from our company left camp for Richmond together with about 120 men from this regiment and 200 from different regiments of our brigade after going two miles south of the place, they met Scott’s Brigade of rebel cavalry 1500 strong and fought them two hours and were compelled to retreat on Lexington. Two of our company were wounded and seven taken prisoner. None that you know. After reaching Lexington, our forces were reinforced and then came the Reb’s turn to run—and they did run as fast as their horses could carry them. Did not make but one stand for a fight in going 120 miles and then they were scattered like chaff before a whirlwind.

You will look at the map and see the route gone over as I describe it. After leaving Richmond, the Rebels went to Winchester where our forces had a sharp fight with them, capturing a number of prisoners. From thence they went to Irvine on Red river and then to Lancaster where our forces overtook them and captured 250 prisoners. From there they went to Stanford where they were overtaken again and a number taken—I can’t tell how many—and from there to Somerset. From there to Mill Springs where they are reported to be this morning with heavy reinforcements. How true it is, I can’t tell. We have destroyed as fine a brigade of cavalry as there is in the rebel service. How many prisoners were taken, I can’t tell but a great many are being sent to Hickman all the time. As we were coming from there to this camp, we met 250 in one squad besides lots of others in wagons. That was on Friday. Since then a great many others have passed up to the bridge and there is no doubt that the force which invaded Kentucky is destroyed almost entirely, and in all probability this state will not be troubled much more this summer. And if that is so, we shall have nothing to do the balance of the summer unless we move into Tennessee. I did not go out with the expedition because my horse was too lame to travel.

My health is good now—nearly as good as ever. George enjoys good health at present. He is leader of the Regimental Band. We have German silver instruments. Eleven in number and cost $550 and it is a splendid band, I tell you.

I have not had a letter from home for more than a week but suppose that you have written, and in in hopes to get a letter tonight. I received a letter from Abel last night and he said that the wheat was all cut, but was hurt very much by the cinch bug. I am sorry to hear it. The wheat looked so well when I was at home. I expected you would have a good crop. But it cannot be helped. There is no news to write and will close with love to all at home. The next I will write to Charlie and I hope you will answer this as soon as received. Kiss the little ones for me and I am your affectionate father, — Foster

Letter 5

Addressed to Mary L. Benedict, Atkinson, Illinois

Mossy Creek, Tennessee
December 30th 1863

Dear Daughter Mary,

I have received two letters from you enclosed in your mother’s and today I will answer them. We are now in camp which is something unusual. Our regiment is in motion nearly all the time—hardly ever camp twice in the same place of late—are kept in the saddle so much that it seems to me that I am part of a horse. However, I like it better than going on foot.

Yesterday morning two divisions of cavalry were sent out on a scout to Dandridge 10.5 miles southeast of here and while they were gone, the Rebs pitched into our force hoping to drive them back. They failed however, and got a good thrashing themselves. Took 60 prisoners and killed and wounded a considerable number. How many I don’t now. The fighting was done by cavalry alone. The infantry are several miles in the rear of the cavalry forces and it is seldom we see any of them. We have been in the front in every advance and in the rear on every retreat, and it is a wonder that we have not lost more men than we have since we came into Tennessee. As it is, we have lost 165 men killed, wounded, and prisoners. We have now about 275 men for duty mounted; the rest of the regiment are in hospitals except the dismounted and they are back about 20 miles. How many there are I don’t know but suppose about 100.

The regiment make a very different appearance now from what it did when it first came into Kentucky. Then it was nearly full. Now, not more than three or four full companies of men out of 964. It would puzzle anybody to tell where the men are but as I said before, nearly all the men who are not killed and prisoners are in hospitals. I have been lucky—never have been sick enough to be obliged to go to a hospital and hope I never shall. My health is very good at present though I have sick spells occasionally. But they seldom last more than three or four days at a time and they are occasioned by the miserable rations we are compelled to eat or get nothing at all.

For the last twi weeks we are having all we want in the shape of flour and pork, nothing else until day before yesterday Will was lucky enough to buy a few dried apples and they relish first rate. I shall be glad if I ever get into a land of plenty again and where everything I eat does not swine [ ]. But it does no good to grumble. We have to take things as they come whether it suits or not. But we cannot help but growl when one week we are starved and the net filled with grease. However my time is about half out and I guess I can stand the hard knocks and hard fare.

The weather now is very pleasant and like the weather is pleasant, soldiering is not so very disagreeable but in rainy and cold weather it is hard. Have to sleep on the wet and frozen ground. But I have got used to it and it does not hurt me in the least. I generally sleep warm no matter what the weather is. Not much danger of fevers. Your mother writes that you wish to work out next summer and asks what I think about it. I have no objections to your working out if you think you will be able to. I don’t wish you to hurt yourself as too much work might as you are growing fast and a young person ought to be very careful of themselves or they might regret it after years.

Capt. [John B.] Mitchell has gone home on a sick furlough and I should have sent some money home by him if he had been with the regiment at the time he received his leave of absence. He was at Strawberry Plains and we were at New Market 16 miles from him. Lieut. [Alexander P.] Petrie expects to go home soon and if nothing happens I shall send by him. He says he will take anything the boys wish to send. There is no other way to send money home except by private hands and that seldom occurs. The money I brought into Tennessee with me I have paid out for clothes in order to keep from going naked as the government does not furnish us with anything until about a month ago. I had to buy a pair of boots, a shirt which I have to pay $5 for and a cap. It did not take all I had but I paid out the rest for something to eat while I felt unwell. I will send $60 the firs opportunity. I know you need it this winter for the purpose of buying clothes to keep you warm.

Have you got the corn all picket yet? And what are you going to put on the posts between us and Mr. Hart?

The last letter I write home was to Charley and I hope he will answer it as it has been a long time since I have had a letter from him. Write often no matter how often as letters are anxiously looked for all the time. We have not had a mail for two weeks and don’t know when we shall again. Tell Grandfather Benedict that George and I got the paper, envelopes, postage stamps, pencils, that he sent by Sergt. [Robert F.] Steele. Also his letter, and one from your mother at the same time. Will is in good health, also George.

With much love to Susie, Nellie and all the little ones for me, I am your affectionate father, — E. F. Benedict

Letter 6

Hospital No. 19
Nashville, Tennessee
August 4th 1864

Dear Susie,

In the letter which I wrote your mother since I came to this hospital, I promised to write the next to the children. Because this is directed to you, you must not think it is all yours. It is written as much to all the rest. It is now almost one week since I came here and I feel just about the same as then—only I am not as tired. The ride here nearly tired me out and now I am so nervous that I write but slowly and with difficulty. However, I have a tolerable appetite and as long as one can eat, there is not much danger of dying.

The hospital fare is very good but not in great quantity, We have for breakfast meat and coffee. For dinner today, potatoes boiled, tomatoes, baked pudding made from the pieces of bread left at breakfast, boiled meat beef with plenty of gravy which was much better than we get every day. For supper we have bread and molasses and tea. The fare varies somewhat each day from the above but not very much. The patients in this ward are doing well without any exception that I know of. There is today 139 men in the ward in which I am in. How many in the hospital I can’t tell but presume about 4 or 500.

The weather has been very warm until yesterday since which time it has been very comfortable. There is lots of mosquitoes on the hospital and they bother a great deal nights—so much so that one cannot sleep half of the time. I suppose you are going to school again and I hope you will study well and learn all you can (I no I need not to have written that because I know you will). And Charlie, I hope you will do the best you know how. When there is any work to be done, do it without dreading it, and be kind to your mother, sisters, and brothers. And children, be kind to each other and do not quarrel, but do right and you will all be happy. You know not the love I have for each and all of you, and if you love your absent father, I hope you will be nice good children.

I understand there is to be a general examination of the patients in this hospital tomorrow and those who are fit will be sent to the front. And some will probably be transferred to the Invalid Corps. What disposition will be made of me, of course I cannot tell, but if I am sent from here, I will write immediately and let you know. It is hard work to make a readable letter and fill the sheet full here in this place so you must not think that the sheet ought to be full. I have written but two letters since I came here—one to your mother and one to father. Tell Abel I will write him soon. Oh, I’m mistaken. I have written to Brother George. You need not write until you hear from me again as I may leave here in a day or two. Can’t tell you know.

Kiss mother and the little ones for me and you have no idea how I wish I could be with you all this time but that is impossible. Don’t forget to kiss Mary for her father. Goodbye dear children. Affectionately your father, — Foster

Letter 7

Addressed to Miss Mary L. Benedict, Atkinson, Illinois

Hospital No. 19, Ward 2
Nashville, Tennessee
August 14, 1864

Dear daughter Mary,

I have deferred writing today until afternoon hoping that I might get a letter from home, but none came I am sorry to say so I will write to let you know how my health is and that is all there is to write about here. I am very glad to be able to say that I am getting better but not very fast but slowly and steadily. Do not take any medicine at all now and that is significant that I shall shortly take my departure for the front I suppose. Whenever that time comes, I shall go cheerfully and gladly. I do not like hospital life at all. It is too much like being shut up. I have not been out since I came here but shall endeavor to obtain a pass tomorrow.

Well, Mary, how do you do? Is your health better than it was? I hope so and hope too that you may have good health for it is a blessing to be prized which I have found out. Be very careful of yourself because you are growing fast and very liable to spells of sickness incident to rapid growth, and I need not say to you be a good girl for I know you will be for my sake as well as your own.

Oh you know not how hard the parting from you and your mother and all the dear flock at home. It did seem as if my heart strings would break but there was no help for it and I had to go. But I earnestly hope and pray that in one short year you—but long, very long to me—I may be permitted to be with you once more, not to be separated again by any cause whatever. If anyone cannot prize the joys and comforts of home, let him go to war and I will be bound he will know how to enjoy them when he gets home.

I do wish that this horrible and terrible war was over, but I cannot see that there is any prospect of its closing this year and may drag alone one or two years longer.

I hardly know what to write so I guess that I will tell you what we had for dinner today. Boiled pudding and molasses, bread, tomatoes, potatoes, and water—a great deal better than we usually have for our dinner. But I would give more for a dish of bread and milk at home than I would for all the grub there is in the hospital. There is not much chance for a fellow to get very fleshy here if his appetite is very good, it is hard work to get enough to satisfy it. But in my case there is no trouble as I am not troubled with very much of an appetite. But it is some better than it has been.

Have all our folks forgot to write to me or what is the matter? I have had but one letter since I have been here and that was from Charlie and your mother, written August 4th. This is the 8th letter that I have written and I hope to get some in return before long. But if I should leave here, I don’t know as I would ever get them but think they would be sent to me wherever I am.

Will you write as soon as you get this and if you can’t fill a whole sheet, get somebody to finish it. Anything that you will write will interest me so you need not study very hard what to write for fear that I will care nothing about it. My next letter will be written to your mother and will be written within a day or two. Give my love to Abel and Harnity and Clara. Kiss your mother for me and all the children too. Affectionately your father, — Foster

Letter 8

Addressed to Miss Mary L. Benedict, Atkinson, Henry county, Illinois

Alexandria, Virginia
January 31, 1865

Dear daughter,

In my last letter I promised that you should have the next one, and now I proceed to fulfill that promise. You will see by the caption of this letter that we are still on our way to join the armies of Grant or Sherman—nobody knows which, but I hope we are going to Sherman’s which seems to be the prevailing opinion. I received a letter from your mother last night written January 12th and is the only letter that has reached me since leaving Clifton, Tennessee, I believe.

Was very glad to hear that all were well at home and do most sincerely hope that all of the family may continue to enjoy that precious blessing. We arrived here one week ago tomorrow night expecting to leave the next day but was prevented by the freezing over of the river. The river is still closed by the ice without much prospect of its being clear for some time to come. The weather have been very cold since we came here until yesterday when it moderated some but not enough to affect the ice in the river. The vessel which is to transport us lies here at one of the docks and is the steamship Atlantic which once run between New York and Liverpool and is a vessel of 2,000 tons burthen—the largest by all vessels of any which I ever saw.

There are several ships here but they do not present so large an appearance as I expected. One is now loading with railroad ties for Spain. On think of that—this county sending railroad ties to a foreign country. It looks a little out of the regular course of things but I suppose there is a speculation in it.

This city is six miles below Washington and on the Virginia side of the river. It is one of the oldest places in the state and one of the dirtiest I guess. Dirty as it is, I would much rather stay here until spring than move this cold weather no matter by what conveyance we are transported. It is always very uncomfortable [with] so many being crowded together and if the weather is cold there is no chance for a fire and if warm there are always too many together to keep cool. So it don’t make much difference whether we move in cold or warm weather so far as the comfort of the soldier is concerned. Well, I have one consolation and that is I have but little over seven months to remain in the army and then will be a free man once more and shall endeavor to remain so in all the future of my life.

I have not received any pay yet and think we will not be paid here. If not, there is not much probability of my receiving any until my term of service expires and I hope that the money which you now have will be sufficient to last until next fall and it will together with what the corn will bring. I was in hopes that Charlie would be able to buy a riding plough this winter but am afraid it cannot be done. But if it is possible, I hope he will get one because he can raise so much more corn with one than without—enough more to pay for a plow two or three times over.

My health is tolerably good yet. Rheumatism does not trouble me as much as I expected it would this winter, but enough to make me feel miserable nearly all the time. George is now in hospital in this city laid up with the rheumatism and if we move from here soon will not be able to go with us. His attack is not very severe but enough to incapacitate him from doing anything. He is in Queen Street Hospital, Ward No. 2, Bed 605. The hospital in which he is in is very nice and clean with good nurses and surgeons so I guess he will get along all right. Have not seen him since Sunday but am going to the hospital this afternoon to carry him letters from home which came last night.

Write often and let me know what studies you are pursuing this winter. Also everything you think will interest me. And Susie, I wish you to write too and I will soon write a letter to you. With love to all the little ones, your mother and yourself. I am affectionately your father, — E. F. Benedict

Tell Charlie I wish he would write oftener if he will.

Letter 9

Addressed to Miss Susie D. Benedict, Atkinson, Henry county, Illinois

Camp of the 112th Illinois Infantry
Three miles from Kinston, North Carolina
March 17, 1865

Dear Susie,

After waiting a long time after m promise to write to you I will now send you a few lines. I have nothing new to write and so you need not expect much of a letter this time. We are encamped near the railroad running from Morehead City to Goldsboro and are repairing it or rather making a new one except the grading; new toes and rails have to be laid and of course it is slow work. The Johnnies had carried off all the road they could but I guess we will not be delayed very long. The whole force of the 23rd Corps is here and a division of other troops beside composed of the garrison of Newbern and other places below us. This place is about 30 miles above Newbern and is on the Neuse river. A railroad bridge crosses the river at this point—or did. It was burned when the rebels left.

My last letter home was written on the 13th and I gave all the incidents of march from Wilmington to the camp in which we were then. We have only moved a few miles since and nothing has happened worth writing. We will probably remain here a few days longer and then move forward again. Where to, of course I can’t tell, but think up the railroad toward Goldsboro. I shall be glad if we ever get to a place where I can get letters from home. We have had but one mail since we came here but there came no letters for me. The last I had from home was dated February 9th and it does seem as if I never would get another letter. But I must posses myself in patience and letters will come after awhile, I guess.

I heard by the way of George that Charlie has been so very foolish as to enlist and that he has gone into the 9th Cavalry. I wish to know what company and where the regiment is so that I can write to him. I was very sorry to hear that he had goe and left the family because I don’t see how you are to get along without him. He cannot be held in the service without his mother has given her written consent for him to enter it and I am waiting to know all the particulars before I write much about it. George wrote that he got $400 bounty. Why did he not get more as the sum generally paid was $600. Who enlisted him and where and when? I have forgotten his exact age. Will you write immediately and let me know. Whoever enlisted him, if he did not have the consent of his parents is responsible for all the costs which may accrue in getting him released. I don’t know as it is the wish of the family to [have] him taken from the army but my own feelings are that he must go home again without unnecessary delay. He will be entirely ruined in morals in the army and especially am I afraid of it in the regiment in which he enlisted. That regiment has a very hard name but I hope he will conduct himself like a true soldier if he stays and then I will not be ashamed of him.

What did he do with his bounty? Did he go in anybody’s place? If so, who? I wish to know all about it and I wish nothing left out. My time will be out in six months and then home once more if I am so lucky as to escape the perils of field and camp. I send in this letter $10 bill which you will divide with Mary. After awhile I will send another. I have sent to father for your mother $200 by Lieut. Griffin of Cambridge which I hope she has got by this time. He did not go directly home but did not stay any length of time on the way, I guess. He had been a prisoner since May 1863 and must have been anxious to see his family.

My health is about the same as when I wrote last. I don’t like to send any white paper but there is nothing new to write. Direct your letters to Co. C, 112th Illinois Infantry, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 23rd Army Corps, via Newbern, North Carolina.

Kiss all the little ones for me. Affectionately your father, — Foster

Letter 10

Goldsboro, North Carolina
April 7th 1865

Dear Mary,

You have written two or three letters to me without receiving any reply. I will now make amends for my neglect. The last from home was written March 19th from you and your mother. I was very glad to know that all were so comfortable and in good health. My own is not very good but am able to do duty which is not very hard. We are still in the same position as when I wrote last. Expect to leave the first of next week. Where to, I will not pretend to guess. I hope the summer’s campaign will be short and think it will. Lee has received such a terrible thrashing at Petersburg and Richmond and lost both places together with so much of his army that there is not any probability of much more fighting, I guess. The rebellion is played out entirely and no one except a madman or a fool can expect to overcome and defeat the Union armies now closing around the remnant of the rebel army. I hope that peace may speedily come and it is the impression of the army that their occupation os about gone, and that no more hard battles will be fought.

The news of the fall of Richmond and Petersburg reached the army yesterday morning causing a general rejoicing throughout the army. All drill was suspended and a general holiday was observed. The officers went into the punch bowl rather steep. Some of them were very merry long before night and this morning I suspect their hair pulls some. The rank and file were all sober for the reason that they could not get the liquor to get tipsy on (which was a very good thing).

Are you not lonesome without Charlie? Nobody to both you now, is there? Guess you had rather be bothered than have him go into the army. Have not had any letter from him since he left home. Don’t see why he cannot write. Hope every mail to hear directly from him. I learned yesterday that he was in Co. B, 9th Cavalry. Was told by young Porter who is in the 57th Infantry and in the same company with Alex Hanna.

I see by the papers that produce is very low in Illinois. I hope the corn you have will not be sold yet. It had better be sent to market next July or August unless the prices advance sooner. Are you going to school this summer or not? Guess you will have to stay at home. Are the little ones all well? Do they often speak of me? It will not be many months before I will be with them again if nothing happens and then we will have a jolly time.

When you write, tell me all about things at home and write everything else you can think of that will interest me. It don’t make much difference whether you write sense or nonsense—only fill the sheet. Had a letter from George dated March 26th. He was getting well. Presume you have heard from him since. I cannot put in practice the advice I have just given you—that is, to fill the sheet full. My head aches very badly today, so much so that I cannot write a decent letter but thought the dear ones at home ought to get a few lines from me every few days. Tell Grandfather Benedict that I will write him before we leave this camp. Ought to have written some time ago but have put it off from time to time. I wish to know who has enlisted from our town and if there has been a draft. Who of our friends drew a prize in Uncle Sam’s army lottery?

Write often and if you can’t fill a sheet, have Susie help. Kiss all the little ones for me. Don’t forget to write Charlie often and write kind and loving letters, and then he will keep in mind the home and friends he has left and it may save him from straying away into paths which will lead to his ruin.

Ever your affectionate father, — E. F. Benedict