Category Archives: 13th Indiana Infantry

1863: Richard S. Thomas to Hannah Jeffrey

An unidentified Union soldier, possibly from an Indiana Regiment, wearing a faux zouave jacket
(Will Griffing Collection)

The following letter was written by Richard S. Thomas (1839-1864) of Huntington, Indiana, who enlisted as a recruit in Co. F, 13th Indiana Infantry on 13 September 1862. He was killed on 10 May 1864 in the fierce hand-to-hand combat that ensued when the regiment was attacked unexpectedly by two Confederate brigades led by Major General Robert Ransom while on an expedition to cut the line of communication on the Richmond & Petersburg Railroad (see Battle of Chester Station).

Richard addressed the letter to his cousin, Hannah Jeffrey (1838-1886), the daughter of Willis Jeffrey (1807-1886) and Zilpha Achsah Thomas (1811-1865) of Mount Etna, Lancaster township, Huntington county, Indiana. She died unmarried at the age of 48.


Addressed to Hannah Jeffrey, Mount Etna, Huntington county, Indiana

Camp Suffolk, Virginia
April 30th 1863

Dear Cousin,

I have nothing of importance to write but I concluded I would write a few lines to let you know that I am still alive and well. I have no doubt but you have heard before this time that we had a few rebs in our immediate neighborhood and that we have been giving them a Lincoln pill occasionally and that they have been returning the compliment with Jeff Davis drugs.

On the 11th inst. there was one hundred men went out in front from the Old 13th to feel of their pulse but we had not advanced but a short distance outside of our pickets till we found our patients was prepared to give us a warm reception. We exchanged shots with them for about an hour but finding them too strong for our small force, we returned to camp with a loss of three men wounded. Barney [Bernard] Conron, our 2nd Lieutenant, was amongst the wounded and has since died. We sent his body to Huntington.

“Our regiment…made a charge into a piece of woods where the skirmishers said the rebs was drawn up in line of battle but they was either mistaken or else when we raised the hoosier yell and went in on double quick with bayonets fixed, they thought it was more than they could stand and skallyhooted out of that in a hurry for when we got there, there was not a greyback to be seen.”

Robert S. Thomas, Co. F, 13th Indiana Infantry, 30 April 1863

On the 24th we went out in force on another road and had a little fight. Our regiment was on the right and made a charge into a piece of woods where the skirmishers said the rebs was drawn up in line of battle but they was either mistaken or else when we raised the hoosier yell and went in on double quick with bayonets fixed, they thought it was more than they could stand and skallyhooted out of that in a hurry for when we got there, there was not a grey back to be seen. I shall not attempt to give any particulars as you will get it sooner and more correct in the paper than I could give if I should try.

Our company was out on a reconnoissance yesterday up the Jericho Canal, or rather the Dismal Swamp Ditch. We was about three miles above our outpost pickets and did not see anything nearer like a rebel than mud and water and canebrakes. we went till we had to wade mud and water knee deep and the further we went, the worse it got. We talk of going again tomorrow in skiffs and if we do, we will go through to Dremen [Drummond] Lake unless the rebs stop us before we get there.

There has not been any fighting for several days except by the sharpshooters. They are popping away every day but I don’t think they are accomplishing much. There is more or less artillery firing every day by our men. They are shelling the woods to keep the rebs from planting their batteries. The cannonading has ben pretty heavy for an hour or two over on the river. I think perhaps they are trying to blockade the river again.

A person that did not know anything about war and would see our fortifications and number of men and the amount of artillery we have here, they would think the whole Southern Confederacy could not whip us. I think myself it will take a good portion of them.

Well, I guess I have gassed more now than you will care about reading and I will quit for the present. Lesel [?] and Sam Williamson sends their best respects and Sam said he would like to hear from you.

Yours of the 28th of last month come to hand in due season and was read with pleasure. Give my compliments to all my friends if any there be and write soon. As ever, your cousin, — R. S. Thomas

[to] Hannah Jeffrey

1863: Samuel W. Madison to Nancy Madison

I could not find an image of Samuel but here is an unidentified Union private approximately Samuel’s age.

This letter was written by Samuel W. Madison (1840-1864) while serving in Co. F, 13th Indiana Infantry. According to muster records, Samuel enlisted as a private on 19 June 1861 and he died of chronic dysentery at Davids Island, New York, on 14 February 1864.

A claim for a widow’s pension was filed by Samuel’s mother, Elizabeth, after she received word of his death. She contended that relied upon the wages of her son, her husband Robert having died in 1853.

The 13th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment was originally accepted for state service for one year and was organized at Indianapolis for the U.S. service by volunteers from the companies in camp. It was one of the first four regiments volunteering from the state for three years.


Camp 13th Regiment
Folly Island, South Carolina
September 8, 1863

Dear Sister,

I seat myself this morning to write you a few lines to let you know how I am getting along. In the first place, you will excuse my ragged paper as I have no other here in the tent and the sun is very hot and I am too lazy to go to the sutler’s shop to get any.

I have not got altogether well yet and I would state here that you may hear that I got wounded which I did but it was so slight that it is hardly worth mentioning. It was by a small piece of shell—not bigger than a pea. Went in my shoulder. It is about well now. It was on the first night of this month. We was laying in front of Fort Wagner and a shell from there burst over our company and wounded two besides me, but none of us bad enough to stop from duty. So if you hear about me being wounded, you need not be uneasy for it is as I say. It don’t amount to much. I would of not said anything about it but I thought you might hear it and think it is a good bit worse than it is.

There has been five in our company wounded since we are here but only two that is shot bad as to stop from duty. Fort Wagner and Fort Gregg and all Morris Island is now in our possession and today the gunboats have been keeping up a heavy fire all morning—to what effect, I don’t know.

I will close for this time hoping these few lines may find you all enjoying good health. Write soon. I am your brother till death. — Sam Madison

Company F, 13th Regiment, Indiana Volunteers
Foster’s Brigade, Folly Island, S. C.

Please send me a few stamps.