Category Archives: 31st Indiana Infantry

1862: John Newton Silverthorn to J. O. Jones

This letter was written by John Newton Silverthorn (1821-1883) of Brooke, Virginia (now West Virginia), the son of Henry and Hannah (McCracken) Silverthorn. At age 15, John learned the millwrighting and carpentry trade, then went steamboating on the Ohio river. In 1845 he attended Florence Academy in Pennsylvania and then taught school at the J. B. Anderson’s Collegiate Institute at New Albany. In 1849 he married Harriet J. Dinwiddie of Hanover, Indiana, and then took charge of the Ripley County Seminary. His next job was editor of the American published in Terre Haute. After a number of other jobs he finally became editor of the Journal in Evansville, Indiana.

Also adding a note to the letter was James H. McNeely (182801902) who was a printer and newspaper publisher in Lawrenceburg, Dearborn county, Indiana. In 1859, McNeely purchased the Evansville Daily Journal.

The letter was directed to J. O. Jones, the postmaster at Terre Haute, Indiana. There is a reference to the wounded soldiers from the Battle of Shiloh arriving at the hospitals in Evansville.

Masthead of Silverthorn’s letter


Evansville, Indiana
April 11, 1862

Mr. J. O. Jones, Terre Haute, Dear Sir,

At request of Mr. J. H. McNeely, I have made diligent inquiry at the hospitals & found there are but three (3) soldiers from your city or vicinity now in this city & they are convalescent & need nothing. The balance have all been furloughed or having regained their health have returned to their regiments.

We expect some of the wounded from Pittsburg Landing tonight or tomorrow for whom the kind offices of your loyal-hearted citizens are invoked. Prepare such things as you know will be needed & have them ready to send when required. Our people here are alive to the work.

Yours for the glorious old flag, — Silverthorn

[in a different hand]

Friend Jones,

I handed your letter over to Silverthorn, he having more time to spare than I have and a better opportunity. I hope his letter is satisfactory.

The “Commodore Perry” has just arrived with about 250 of the wounded from Pittsburg, Tennessee. Major [Frederick] Arn and Capt. [George] Harvey of the 31st [Indiana] are killed. 1

Yours respectfully, — James H. McNeely

1 The after action report written by Col. Charles Cruft of the 31st Indiana Infantry mentions the deaths of Arn and Harvey: “It grieves me to report the loss of two gallant officers. During the first charge of the enemy on the morning of the 6th Maj. Fred. Arn fell mortally wounded. He was a true soldier and accomplished gentleman. No more gallant soul ever “took wing” from a battle-field. Capt. George Harvey, one of the best officers of the regiment, was killed upon the field while bravely leading his company in the afternoon advance.

1864: James Ebenezer Cornelius to J. O. Jones

James Ebenezer Cornelius

This letter was written by James Ebenezer Cornelius (1832-1881), a carpenter from Muddy Creek, Butler county, Pennsylvania, who served as the Captain of Co, C, 100th Pennsylvania Infantry (the “Roundheads”) from August 1861 until he was wounded at the Battle of Chantilly on 1 September 1862 and discharged from the regiment on 4 March 1863. He led the regiment in the Battle of 2nd Bull Run. After he was discharged, he was transferred to the 15th Veteran Reserve Corps where he was breveted a Major for his bravery.

Major Cornelius wrote the letter to J. O. Jones, the post master at Terre Haute, Indiana, informing him that the body of Capt. Jeremiah Mewhinney (1825-1864) was sent to Terre Haute under the charge of Capt. Hastings. Capt. Mewhinney was a successful farmer in Vigo county, Indiana, when he volunteered to serve as the Capt. of Co. C (the “Noble Guards”), 31st Indiana Infantry. He died of disease in Chicago on 24 June 1864.


Camp Douglas
Chicago, Illinois
June 29th 1864

J. O. Jones, Esq.
Dear Sir,

Yours of the 27th inst. has just come to hand. Your telegram of the 24th (Friday) never reached me. Your dispatch of Monday morning reached me about 4 o’clock p.m. Monday and I returned an answer with the messenger who brought the dispatch. I sent the body under charge of Capt. Hastings yesterday.

I am sorry that we did not get your first dispatch as it would have prevented so long delay. Yours respectfully, — J. E. Cornelius, Major, 15th Regt. V. R. C.

P. S. Will you please send the enclosed resolutions to Mrs. Mewhinney. The Captain was very highly respected by the officers here. — J. E. Cornelius