This letter was written by 26 year-old Charles R. West of Nicholasville, Kentucky, who enlisted as a sergeant in Co. K, 20th Kentucky Infantry in October 1861 at Lexington. He was appointed 1st Sergeant in the spring of 1862 and then commissioned a 1st Lieutenant in October 1862—his commission received directly by the Governor of Kentucky. He received extra pay in the spring of 1863 for commanding the company in the absence of the captain, and then was finally named the captain of Co. K with his commission back-dated to 7 February 1863. He served in that capacity and was with the regiment until mustering out at war’s end in 1865
Charles’ parents were Wilson Hunt West (1812-1877) and Stella Elizabeth Overstreet (1815-1889) of Nicholasville, Jessamine county, Kentucky.
[Transcribed by Stacy Cookenour; researched & edited by Griff.]
May 26, 1863
Mr. James Overstreet
Your letter of the 16th came to hand today. I was glad to hear from you and to hear that all of my friends are all well. I regret to hear that Uncle James is dead but I hope that when we are called to go, that we may be as well prepared as he was. You wish to know if I have received my mess chest. I have, and am well pleased with it. There is nothing worth writing about at this time for you see the papers and they keep you posted as to what the army is doing. The news from Vicksburg is good for Grant has whipped the rebels badly.
What do you think of the administration raising Negroes to fight? I will give you my view on the subject. The administration will raise the Negro regiments and try them. They will soon find out that the Negro will not fight then they will muster them out of the service and carry on the war on conservative principles. Then we will soon whip the South.
You wrote that you had some papers for General Carter to sign. The General is out front at this time on the Cumberland River. If you will send the papers to me, I will send them to Gen. Carter and have him to sign them. Then I will return them to you. Do you think that would be safe way to do? You can direct them—that is, if you send them, [to] Capt. C. R. West, Co K, 20th Kentucky Vol. Infantry, Lebanon, Kentucky. I will forward them to Carter and when he signs them, return the papers to you.
I would like to spend a week with you this summer very much but will have to forego that pleasure but if I shall come home, will visit you. I will ask you to write to me. I will take pleasure in answering your letters. It is late so I will close. Give my love to all my friends and remember me kindly. Have the kindness to excuse the many mistakes in this.
Yours Truly, — Capt. C. R. West
Co. K, 20th KY Vol. Infantry. Lebanon, KY