Category Archives: First Battle of Corinth

1862 Diary of J. Frederick Hammerly of Co. B, 12th Illinois Infantry

This diary was sent to me for transcription under the assumption that it was written by Martin Hammerly of Co. B, 12th Illinois Infantry. His name appears on the inside cover and he claimed the book belonged to him. However, once I began to transcribe it, I realized rather quickly that it was actually kept by Martin’s brother, J. Frederick Hammerly who served with Martin in the same company and regiment.

In fact, this diary (Diary 2) turns out to be the segment missing between the two earlier diaries of his I had transcribed last year:

Frederick Hammerly, Co. B, 12th Illinois (Diary 1)
Frederick Hammerly, Co. B, 12th Illinois (Diary 3)

J. Frederick Hammerly, born 1834 in Koenigreich, Wirtemberg, Germany. Came to America on 3 October 1852. Frederick served with two brothers in the 12th Illinois—Martin, as I mentioned earlier, and Jacob who drowned on 15 September 1861, not long after his enlistment.

Hammerly’s Diary and Keith Rocco’s Painting of the Battle at Corinth featuring the Tishomingo House

[Note: This diary is from the personal collection of Greg Herr and was transcribed and published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]


This book belongs to Martin Hammerly from Amboy, Lee County, Illinois

General Smith died the 18 or 20 of April at Savannah (Tenn). Let Paducah on the 11th. Days march. January 15, 1862 arrived at Paducah again the 25th of January. Left Paducah again for Fort Henry February 5th. Fort Henry was bombarded ad taken February 6th. Left Camp Heiman for Fort Donelson February 12th 1862. the bombardment of Donelson last three days, February 13, 14, and 15th. Sunday morning February [paper torn] they surrendered. Left Fort Donelson February 22 and arrived at Clarksville (Tenn) in the night on board the Memphis. Arrived at Nashville, Tenn. February 27th on board the Woodford. Came back to Clarksville again March 1st, 1862. Left Clarksville March 6th, arrived at Paducah March 7th, 1862. Stayed a few hours and then went up the Tennessee River. Arrived at Savannah March 11th 1862. Arrived at Pittsburgh Landing March 17th. Camped at 18th. Battle of Pittsburg April 6th and 7th.

Continued from Vol. 1, page 89-90.

Wednesday, April 23, 1862. Nice and warm.

Thursday, April 24. Warm, afternoon commences clouding up. Rained towards evening. There was a skirmish out towards Corinth.

Friday, April 15. Rain almost all day. Received marching orders but after some of our tents were struck, the orders was countermanded.

Saturday, April 26. Fresh but clear this morning. It remained clear and proved to be a fine day.

Sunday, April 27th 1862. Weather fine all day. All of Co. B were vaccinated on account of the small pox in and around our camp.

Monday, April 28th. It has been warm all day but this evening it looks again like rain.

Tuesday, April 29th. Rained last night. Have marching orders. 8 o’clock heard heavy cannonading but about an hour after, it could not be heard anymore. 10 o’clock, are ready to march. 1 o’clock p.m. are halting near the breastworks (consisting of logs &c.) where we received a heavy fire from the secesh on Monday, April the 7th. Quite dark. We are now fixing our camp fire, Midnight, are putting up our tents for it commences raining.

Wednesday, April 30th 1862. It is sprinkling yet but seems to be clearing off. We had breakfast early and left camp right after. The cannonading yesterday was Pope shelling out a rebel camp. We marched about 4 miles and camped. A salute was fired in two places, they say in regard to the victory at New Orleans. Weather had been good and nice to march. Cloudy through all day.

Thursday, May 1st 1862. It had been quite cold last night. Had orders to leave at 11 o’clock. 3 o’clock we are again in camp two-three miles in advance. It’s very warm. Our camp is a place of romance. A bed of oysters must have been here.

Friday, May 2nd 1862. Weather very nice. Had to strike tents at 5 o’clock p.m. and left immediately.

Saturday, May 3rd. We marched last night until about 8 o’clock. Camped on an open field near a few houses. they call it Monterey. I am now on picket since 8 or 9 o’clock a.m. About 4 o’clock p.m. we heard heavy firing on our left.

Sunday, May 4th 1862. It commenced raining this morning at 10 o’clock and rained almost steady until the next morning. The cannonading yesterday was the capture of Farmington with 1500 prisoners.

Monday, May 5th. It is clearing off now. The sun is shining. Sent a letter to John Church.

Tuesday, May 6th. Weather fine. Drawed new Enfield Rifles. Received a paper from Penn,

Wednesday, May 7th. Got a letter from John Dykeman from Mo. Had brigade drill.

Thursday. May 8th. Weather good, quite warm. Left camp Monterey at 10 o’clock a.m. advanced about two miles. Camp on an open field. It is a natural prairie. Heard three or more cannon shot towards the river after sundown.

Friday, May 9th. It looks again like rain. At 11 o’clock a.m. heavy cannonading was heard towards Corinth and lasted two-three hours. This evening we hear that Gen. Pope scattered a number of secesh who came out to drive him out of Farmington.

Saturday, May 10th 1862. It has cleared off again and is getting very warm. An attack was expected all through the day.

Sunday, May 11th 1862. Breastworks were built last night a small distance from our right. Everybody is on a look out for the enemy. We heard some cannon fire way off. Some think it near General Mitchell’s Division. It is hot today. We had a little thunder shower.

Monday, May 12th. Weather quite warm. Our Colonel told us on dress parade that Memphis is taken by Commodore Porter and the Monitor sunk the Merrimack for which news three hardy cheers were given. Received two letters—one from Cousin Fred and the other from brother John M.

Tuesday, May 13th 1862. How warm it is. We left camp and advanced two miles further toward Corinth. A letter from S. Reff. Sent a letter to Rushville, Pa.

Wednesday, May14th. Weather very warm. This evening we moved our camp a few hundred rods to our right in order to cover the space between ours and Hurlbut’s Brigade. Considerable firing was done through the day and night by the pickets. three of Hurlbut’s Brigade were brought in wounded.

Thursday, May 15th. Weather a little cooler. The pickets on both sides are keeping up their fire. Water is now a very scarce article and as there is a creek between the two picket lines and both parties are determined to get their water there, it causes them to fight. Had roll call 4 times today.

Friday, May 16, 1862. Weather warm. It looks cloudy. Night cleared off again.

Saturday, May 17th 1862. Weather cooler. Advanced a half mile. Laid in an open field ready for any emergency. Had a little rain in the night. General Hurlbut drove the enemy back towards night and gained a hill.

Sunday, May 18th. We are now throwing up breastworks on a ridge on the edge of a wheat field (the wheat is ready in the milk) 5 o’clock, Martin and I are detailed for pickets.

Monday, May 19th. It is rather too much firing going on here. 10 o’clock, three companies of Sharpshooters have come to our assistance but they do the most of the firing. Secesh bullets though are coming frequently. A sharpshooter got killed by one of them this afternoon.

Tuesday, May 20th 1862. Was relieved today at 6 o’clock p.m. Had quite a rain shower last night and several showers through the day. Some firing to our left, both muskets and cannon. Several distant volleys were heard in front of our pickets. They say this evening that four Irish regiments rebelled against their secesh army and consequently we heard the firing in front.

Wednesday, May 21st 1862. Rain again last night. Left camp and went out to our picket line. The pickets had to be moved with our artillery. They were driven back twice by force before we had our breastworks done, but dared not venture to give the brigadier a call. Our pickets are advancing on them. Before night our breastworks were completed. Numerous times we had to fall in. Sent off two letters—one to Cousin Fred, another to Michigan.

Thursday. May 22nd. it was quite cool last night but today it is again very warm. It seems to be clouding up. We fell in several times but nothing but picket firing at each other was the alarm. Some cannonading was heard again to our left. Isaac Camp shot off his thumb whilst on picket.

Friday, May 23rd. For over a week we are falling in on the color line ready with two days rations and packed for a march. This morning it has been cool and damp. It commenced raining this forenoon and is raining yet (most nights). Much firing has been done today on picket.

Saturday, May 24th 1862. Army before Corinth. It has been pretty cool again last night but is quite warm today. This has been a very still day although our pickets say they heard some cannonading off to our left. For some reason or other we had to leave our supper and put on our accoutrements and stack arms on the color line. I suppose there is an attack expected. The artillery too harnessed their horses. One of our Co. C shot a part of his finger off whilst on picket.

Sunday, May 25th 1862. Cool again last night. Quite a number of the regiment out on the color line on their own hook because of a few musketry by our pickets. They are fixing a signal tree in front of our regiment. Then commenced on it yesterday.

Army before Corinth. May 26th. This has been an unusual still day until three o’clock p.m. when there was cannonading heard 4-5 miles off to our left. Later. I now hear that a brigade in Pope’s Division had advanced and with cannons had to move the enemy’s lines. The lookout tree was mounted by several men this afternoon.

Tuesday, May 27th. I am now on picket a little over half mile from camp. It has been still this forenoon (with the exception of hearing the cars and locomotives and some secesh drums) but now (nearly noon) volleys of musketry are heard a mile or two to our left. Later. Some distant cannonading can be heard way off to our right, probably on the Mississippi river.

Wednesday, May 28th. It was quite still last night. This morning early several large cannons were heard seemingly o Pope’s Division. 9 o’clock a.m. Hurlbut close to our right came out as far as the picket line and shelled out the Rebels close to our picket line. I could not hear any reply. I am now relieved. Coming to camp, orders were given to be ready to march any moment’s warning. Great cannonading now again is heard a few miles distant to our left. 12 o’clock, the cannonading on our left is increasing. A distinctive fire was kept up all the afternoon. Quite a little battle was fought where i was on picket this afternoon. 7 killed and wounded. On our right 420 are reported to be killed and wounded on our side where the great cannonading was today.

Thursday, May 29th. It has been quite warm. Yesterday and last night a few cannons were fired in front of us by Hurlbut at 2’clock last night. Considerable cannonading again since 11 o’clock a.m. Left camp and advanced half mile where some other regiment had thrown up breastworks last night. We relieved them. Instead of 420, there were only 70-80 killed and wounded & some taken prisoners.

Army before Corinth, Friday, May 30th. Two sky rockets waked me up about two o’clock last night (this was considered by all who saw them a signal of something). At daylight some peculiar explosions were heard by all the troops in the direction towards Corinth. The evacuation and the blowing up of their magazines was immediately expressed. A short time after this we heard the assurance of all this news and more, “that Beauregard had left the place in the afternoon of the 29th in a one-horse wagon and his army left in different directions.” It is the opinion of many now (as we have left our camps or position and are marching towards the left wing) that the rebels design to turn our flank right and left. We heard a few cannons this evening. Perhaps Pope and Mitchell are interfering with them.

Farmington, May 31st 1862. Camped in a wheat field on the south side of the town. Had a pretty warm time marching yesterday. Started on a new march this morning at 4 o’clock. We are suffering from heat and thirst a great deal. Water is a very scarce article this 4-4 weeks. This afternoon as we rested, we heard a few cannons and some distant musketry seemingly south of us and either in Pope’s or Mitchell’s Division. We are now south of Corinth.

Sunday, June 1st. I was detailed to help remove the old camp, Went through Corinth twice. Saw many of the evacuated breastworks and burned buildings and other property. Corinth is (or rather was) a nice place. Coming back I saw several families moving back to their old homesteads. Received four months pay. Fifty-two dollars. Martin received a letter from Amboy.

Bear Creek, Mississippi. Monday, June 2nd. Rained a considerable today. Martin and I went over to the 36th Illinois. They and many other regiments went out on a light march. It has been a pretty still day. Heard the cars come in Corinth. Three to four hundred prisoners are reported to have been taken by Pope. Two days rations were ordered to be cooked.

Tuesday, June 3rd. Several showers last night. This morning it is pretty warm. It has been a still day. We heard the news of Memphis being ours.

Wednesday, June 4th 1862. Left camp and marched about 7 miles. Went through Danesville [Danville] , Miss., passed a rebel battery where several of the 7th Illinois Cavalry were killed a few days before. [Abner] H. Jordon, Co. I, Illinois 7th Cavalry is buried there. 1

1 Corp. Abner H. Jordan was indeed in Co. I, 7th Illinois Cavalry. He was killed while on a scout on 30 May 1862 on Tuscumbia Creek. Abner was the son of William W. Jordan (1805-1853) and Philena Harris (1806-1884) of Macon county, Illinois.

Camp south of Danville, Miss., Thursday, June 5th 1862. This morning I picked two cups of ripe blueberries. Saw some wheat cut and shocked. Went on fatigue to build bridge and cut road through the woods.

South of Danville. Friday, June 6th. Weather fair. This has been a remarkable day. 3:30 o’clock orders to pack up and march immediately.

Saturday, June 7th. Left Camp about 4 o’clock yesterday and marched until midnight. Marched through a town called Rienzi. Stayed by side of a main road in thick underbrush a few miles from Booneville.

Sunday, June 8th 1862. Weather fair. Received orders to be ready with three days rations to march early the morrow morning.

Monday, June 9th 1862. Orders to march were countermanded early this morning. 5 o’clock five companies on picket this evening.

Tuesday, June 10th 1862. Weather dry and warm.

Wednesday, June 11th. Many of the troops are passing by on their way back (Very warm).

Thursday, June 12th 1862. Had a hard march today. Has been very dusty and hot. Marched through Rienzi and Danville. Camped in a large open field 4 to 5 miles south of Corinth. Memphis taken June 6th.

Friday, June 13th. Arrived at our old camp (Bear Creek) where we have been paid off. The 1st inst. a little before noon we took our quarters a little nearer toward the railroad. A locomotive and an open car passed by soon after run by our soldiers.

Saturday, June 14th. The fixing up of our quarters indicate that we may stay here for some time.

Sunday, June 15th. Weather very warm. All quiet here and vicinity. No more rebels to be heard of.

Monday, June 16th. In the afternoon we had quite a rain shower.

Tuesday, June 17th 1862. Camp at Bear Creek. Rain again last night mixed with heavy wind.

Wednesday, June 18th. Weather fair. Received a letter from Rushville, Pa. Borrowed 5 dollars of Isaac W. Camp.

Thursday, June 19th. Weather cloudy and cool.

Friday, June 20th, 1862. It has been chilly last night and night before, but today it is real warm.

Saturday, June 21st 1862. Cold last night but warm again today. Sent a letter to Rushville, Pa.

Sunday, June 22nd. It has been cold last night but is hot today. Had brigade dress parade.

Bear Creek Camp near Corinth, Miss. June 23rd 1862. Monday, it has been very warm all day. Received a letter from Chris. Alfred.

Tuesday, June 24th. It is a little cooler.

Wednesday, June 25th. Weather very warm. Later. Oh how hot.

Thursday, June 26th. Hot, hotter, hottest. Oh, how hot.

Friday, June 27th. Had a shower towards evening.

Saturday, June 28th 1862. Rained most all day.

Sunday, June 29th. Weather clear and comfortable. Got some wild cherries and blackberries. Had Brigade dress parade. Four of our sick left at Pittsburg and other places arrived.

Monday, [June] 30th 1862. Weather fair. Were mustered for two months pay. Received a letter from George and a picture of his lady. (Ch. Peterson arrived.)

Tuesday, July 1st 1862. Had several showers.

Wednesday, July 2nd 1862. Warm.

Wednesday, July 3rd 1862. We are going on picket. Had a first rate time. Had a taste of milk. Sent off a letter to George.

Fourth of July. Came back from picket at 10 a.m. Had quite a celebration, a visit and several speeches by our old Col. McArthur and Adj. Dickson and others. Also a dress parade superintended by them. They informed us of the good news of Richmond being most surely in our hands.

Saturday, July 5, 1862. Had been very war all day. Sent a letter to Mr. Brigham. Richmond is not taken yet.

Sunday, July 6th. Weather hot. Had Brigade Dress Parade. Co. B and H received marching orders but Co. E went in their stead.

Monday, July 7th.

Tuesday, July 8th. Move our camp in front.

Wednesday, July 9th. Martin and I had our pictures taken.

Thursday, July 10th. It rained a considerable.

Friday, July 11th. Had a severe rain shower.

Saturday, July 12th. Been quite warm.

Sunday, July 13th 1862. Weather hot. Had Brigade Dress Parade.

Monday, July 14th. Hot. Had several rain showers mixed with heavy showers. Received two letters—one from Conderman and one from Christian.

Tuesday, July 15th. Very warm.

Wednesday, July 16th. Weather cloudy. Had a few showers.

Thursday, July 17th. Rained most all night and had a number of showers today. Sent a letter to Mother.

Friday, July 18th. Quite cool and comfortable.

Saturday, July 19th. Had been quite breezy. Martin sent a letter to C. Church.

Camp near Corinth, Miss., Sunday, July 20th 1862. Weather warm. Had Brigade Dress Parade.

Monday, July 21st, 1862. Pretty warm. Some call it hot.

Tuesday, July 22. We (Co. B, A, and K) are out on picket again. Had been very warm.

Wednesday, July 23. It rained pretty much all last night and had been so dark for the relief to get lost (received a letter from Michigan).

Thursday, July 24th 1862. Weather cool.

Friday, July 25th

Saturday, July 26th. Weather comfortable. Sent a letter to Rushville.

Camp near Corinth, Miss., Sunday, July 27, 1862. Weather comfortable. The few last night had been rather cold. Had Brigade dress parade again.

Monday, July 28th. Weather fine. Our Brigade Drill is changed to five o’clock p.m. Received orders to have 40 rounds of cartridges each. Brigades and Division are changing their positions. Some have left all together. Some trouble is expected.

Tuesday, July 29th. Had a shower towards evening. A number of bridge burners have been caught and two who were recognized taking the oath of allegiance several days since were strung up. Sent a letter to Ed Bridgeman.

Wednesday, July 30th 1862. Had a considerable rain. Went on Brigade guard.

Thursday, July 31. Cloudy but warm. Had Division Review.

Friday, August 1st 1862. Rain fell in torrents last night. Sylvester Church had been here.

Saturday, August 2nd, 1862. Some cloudy. Rained a little. Received two letters—one from Chr. Burch, one from George. I went again on Brigade guard.

Sunday, August 3rd. It has been very warm today. Companies A, B. & C wet on picket. Sent off two letters—one o Cousin Fred and the other to G. G. Evans.

Monday, August 4th. Pickets retuned. It is awful warm.

Tuesday, August 5th. It is very warm today. Received a letter from Mother.

Wednesday, August 6th. Am on Brigade Guard. Weather hot.

Camp near Corinth, Miss. August 7th 1862. Weather more comfortable than it has been the few last days.

Friday, August 8th 1862. Weather is comfortable. Sent a letter to Michigan. Another to Mother. A third to George. Martin sent one to Hattie Conderman.

Saturday, August 9th. It has been hot today. The 13th Missouri left for Corinth. Brigade guard.

Sunday, August 10th. Hot. Martin sent a letter to J. C. Church.

Monday, August 11th. Our whole regiment on picket. Nothing transpired but the cutting of the telegraph by a person dressed in U. S. soldier’s clothing.

Tuesday, August 12th. It was ten o’clock when we came [in] this morning and how we did sweat.

Camp near Corinth, Miss. Wednesday, August 13th 1862. I was detailed to go with the foraging party. We went about 6 miles beyond the picket line. Found lots of peaches, apples, pears. Also a load or two of green corn. Women talked much S—- and too much secesh. It has been a very hot day and we were much fatigued.

Thursday, august 14th. It has been very warm today.

Friday, August 15th. We had a little rain but much wind last night after it growed cool and continued all day. Received two letters—one from Mr. Brigham, another from M. Northway. Many up home fear of being drafted.

Saturday, August 16th 1862. It is comfortable and breezy today. The papers yesterday rather give Rebel Jackson the best hand. Today we hear that he had to run. Received a letter from S. Bridgman.

Camp near Corinth, Miss. Sunday, August 17th 1862. We, the 12th Illinois Regiment, went on picket. Weather cool. Heard from G. G. Evans.

Monday, August 18th. The pickets of the 16th Wisconsin were fired on but no one hurt. The 18th Missouri started after the offenders early this morning. Heard cannonading seemingly towards Grand Junction or Jackson right after sunrise. Had general muster.

Tuesday, August 19th 1862. Weather cool and comfortable. Martin and I went to Corinth and sent off a box. Co. I received marching orders but afterwards countermanded.

Wednesday, August 20th. Weather fair. Sent a letter to M. N—-ay. Received two months pay—$26.00.

Thursday, August 21. Went on picket this morning.

Camp near Corinth, Miss. Friday, August 22d 1862. We came in after 10 o’clock this morning. Received a letter from Christian. Saw the comet for the first time. [See Comet of 1862]

Saturday, August 23d. It is pretty warm today. Sent for watches to Hubbard Brothers.

Sunday, August 24th. Weather comfortable.

Monday, August 25th. Fine weather. Sent a letter to John Dykeman.

Tuesday, August 26th. Fine weather, Came off camp guard this morning. All the guards shot at a target. I made the best shot. Received two letters—one from Mother, another from Ch. Alf from Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, Pa.

Wednesday, August 27th. Went on picket again. Weather fair.

Camp near Corinth, Miss., August 28th 1862. It was 10 o’clock when we came in from picket. The regiment had all been ordered out on the color line last night. Ten years ago today I left home. One year ago today, I joined the 12th [Illinois] at Bird’s Point, Mo. Eight years ago today my folks came to Illinois.

Friday, August 29th. Weather fair. Received a letter from George.

Saturday, August 30th. Went on picket again. Had a new position. Martin received a letter from Ch. Church.

Sunday, August 31. Came in from picket. Soon after were mustered for pay. Had quite a rain shower this afternoon. It is now cloudy and cool. Received a letter from Rushville, Pa.

Camp near Corinth, Miss., Monday, September 1, 1862. Had been quite cool today. Mosquitoes are getting bad. Sent a letter to Uncle Martin.

Tuesday, September 2nd. I am on guard today in camp. There is much excitement about the news of the Battle of Virginia [2nd Bull Run].

Wednesday, September 3rd. Had been quite cold last night. Co. B the most of them went on picket. Were ordered out for a review. 6 regiments were there. A man was said to be shot for shooting his Major but his execution is postponed. Received a letter from M. N.

Thursday, September 4th. Weather fair. Started with the teams to Hamburg, La. Sent a letter to Mr. Brigham (and George).

Friday, September 5th. Arrived at Hamburg 11 o’clock. They are preparing for an attack. Roads are very dusty.

Camp near Corinth, Miss., Saturday, September 6th 1862. Left Hamburg about 2 o’clock yesterday and arrived today at Corinth about noon. At camp at 2 o’clock.

Sunday, the biggest part of our company went on picket. Weather quite breezy. Received letter from Cousin fred.

Monday, September 8th. They came in from picket. The regiments around here received orders at 3 a.m. to be ready for action. Something was expected but as yet nothing has transpired. I went on camp guard. Sent a letter to Camp Curtin, Pa.

Tuesday, September 9th, 1862. Came off camp guard this morning. Made the best shot again. Weather comfortable but is fixing for rain. Received a letter from J. Dykeman.

Wednesday, September 10th 1862. Weather breezy. Received our watches.

Thursday, September 11th Went on picket this morning. Had some milk.

Friday, September 12th. 1862 Came in before 10 o’clock. It looks like rain. Sent a letter to Rushville.

Saturday, September 13th, 1862. Weather fair and comfortable. Rumors are afloat of an attack on this place.

Sunday, September 14th 1862. I went on Division Guard at 7:30 a.m. Had a exceptional little rain.

Monday, September 15th 1862. This morning at 3 o’clock an officer on horseback brought in some reports to Capt. Lovell (Gen. Davies’ Aide-de-Camp). Said officer had been at Iuka and Booneville. He did not see any rebels. Rosecrans’ Division came in a few days ago. They are keeping a strong look out in an easterly direction.

Tuesday, September 16th 1862. Weather cool, cloudy, and windy. I been over to see the 14th Wisconsin with Brewer. Could not hear of the 21st Missouri. 3 o’clock p.m. received ,arching orders and to be ready in 15 minutes. Sent a letter to M. N. W.

Wednesday, September 17th 1862. Got our breakfast before daylight and orders to be ready to march at 6 o’clock but it was nearly 9 o’clock a. m. before we left. Took a south easterly direction. It commenced raining about 11 a.m. and rained nearly till night. Camped at Glendale near the M & Mobile Railroad. Marched about 8 miles . As we crossed the railroad, the cars run over a team, overthrowing the wagon and killing two horses. Was on fatigue.

Thursday, September 18th 1862. Left camp about 8 o’clock and marched southeast again. Camp at Burns or Barnesville. Good news from the East. The rebel army entirely cut off. Several thousand taken prisoners. Harper’s Ferry in Burnside’s possession.

Friday, September 19th. Were ordered to get ready to march early this morning. Had inspection of arms at 6 o’clock. Stacked our arms and are now waiting for two hours to fall in. 5 o’clock p.m., we now are again on a move toward Iuka. Camped at the edge of an open field an hour after sundown.

Saturday, September 20th 1862. Were roused early this morning partly by its being so cold and partly for an early start. Left about 5 o’clock a.m. and marched until 7 when we and all the rest of the regiments formed in line of battle. A quarter of an hour afterwards, several cannons were heard in front of us but now all seems to be still. 9 o’clock all is still yet but now we have orders to advance. We advanced by the right flank on the road to Iuka. Skirmishers on the left and right. The advancing regiments arrived at Iuka about 1 o’clock when we heard of the battle fought two miles from town the day before. I saw the Iuka House full of dying and wounded, both C. S. and U. S. soldiers. They report from 1,000 to 1,200 killed & wounded on both sides and about equal on either side. Left Iuka in the afternoon. After we stayed about an hour or more, arrived at Burnsville after dark and camp a little east from town.

Sunday, September 21st 1862. Left our night quarters and marched through Burnsville. Halted west of the town about an hour when we marched back through the town again. Halted on a hill northeast of Burnsville. We were informed to garrison this place. Later, we were making ourselves comfortable gathering up all the boards and slats scattered around here. Our tents are expected tomorrow. After Peterson, Martin and I had a comfortable shed, we were ordered on picket.

Monday, September 22. It had been quite cool on picket last night. I could hardly keep from sleeping but the dogs kept up a continued fighting yell.

Tuesday, September 23rd. Had a little rain today. This forenoon we piled up scattered lumber at Burnsville. Our tents and part of our mail arrived.

Burnsville, September 24th. Weather fair. Had been quite cool last night. Went on Camp Guard this morning. Received a letter from the 141st P. V. and Martin one from R. Conderman.

Thursday, September 24th 1862. It had been very cool last night standing guard. Was relieved at 9 o’clock. Had dress parade the second time since we came here. Received a letter from brother.

Friday, September 26th 1862. Cleaned our company streets this afternoon. We had a rain shower. After supper we went on dress parade.

Saturday, September 27th 1862. Weather cool and cloudy. Had a speech from Hon. Mr. Washburn after dress parade. Received a letter from George.

Burnsville, September 28th 1862. Commenced raining about noon and rained till night. They had meeting in th Baptist Church today. Also in the evening. I was on camp guard. The 11th Ohio Artillery passed through town on the way to Desoto.

Monday, September 29th. Had been cloudy and sprinkled some. Cleared off this afternoon.

Tuesday, September 30th. Had ben cold last night but it is very warm today. Martin and I went out into the country and got persimmons and our dinner in a secesh house. I spoke to their clock and made it run.

Wednesday, October 1st 1862. 15 of us went out as picket or vedette at three in the morning. At 8 we were relieved.

Thursday, October 2nd 1862. Burnsville, Miss. Had a little rain this afternoon but a heavy wind before. Sent a letter to George and slip to Mr. Brigham.

Friday, October 3rd. Received marching orders this morning at 1 o’clock. Left Burnsville at daybreak on an open train. When we arrived at Corinth, we heard distant cannonading. Were told that the rebels was advancing on to Corinth. After an hour’s halt, we marched about 5 miles on the east side of the Memphis Road and took possession of the rebel’s old breastworks. Had fairly arrived within them when we saw the rebels through some open spaces of the timbers about 300 rods distant, marching by the flank. Our artillery discovered them and threw shell and shot among them, but nothing seemed to affect them.

Hammerly’s handwriting

Soon after about 12 o’clock p. m., they appeared in line of battle marching without faltering seemingly not to notice the deadly volleys which we poured into them. Soon they had a crossfire on our whole division. We consequently were compelled to leave the works. After falling back about two miles, we formed, advanced a few rods. We, the 12th [Illinois] supported a battery. Their men gave out and some of our regiment assisted them. I volunteered for one but had scarcely stepped out when they had to fall back. Afterwards we had a brisk fire of musketry, falling back again. The artillery from the forts finished the day’s work. Grant’s reinforcements were expected the coming morning.

I lost my hat, was run over by a man who fell on my knee with his gun, was struck in the heel of my shoe. All this was done in and within a few steps of the ditch. A few hours after, I was struck in the cartridge box, the bullet lodging in a bunch of cartridges. I was nearly gone from the effects of the hot sun and the shock. About p. m., I hunted for a hat and water. Got a hat of U. S. Artillery. Found the regiment in the morning on the right centre.

Saturday, October 4th 1862. Cannonading commenced early—before daybreak—the rebels throwing shell and shot in town. Several houses were struck. Also the Tishomingo House which was filled with the families of the officers. But soon it was deserted. Stragglers took everything they could lay their hands on. I was separated from the regiment in the evening before and in the morning coming up to headquarters was detailed as a guard over the Tishomingo House between 9-10 o’clock & was relieved and just as I joined the regiment, a terrible battle commenced. The rebels succeeded to get in town in numbers but after a hard contest, they were repulsed. Our forts had a splendid crossfire on them. One of the forts threw shell among them from our rear and as we had the rascals on a fair retreat, had to fall back to let the shells play over us. Three of our own men were killed by our shells. One of Co. A, Co. k, and Co. G. Gen. [Pleasant Adams] Hackelman was killed Friday. Gen. [Richard James] Oglesby dangerously wounded. Our company lost killed—Sergeant Hale and private Ed Jeffs. Wounded—Dewey, Donley, Barnes, Mart. Clink, Lieut. Cook, Ward, John Towner. Prisoners—Clink, Martin Hammerly, Ben West, Peterson, J. Long, Goodrich. Our regiment counts 14-15 killed, 80 wounded, and some taken prisoners.

Sunday, October 5th 1862. A portion of our regiment stood picket last night. As we came in orders were given to fall in. After taking a few rations, we marched and came through a portion of where we fought the first day. The maggots were to work on the dead and could hardly be recognized. After marching about 6 to 7 miles, we were hurried back to Corinth again. Rebels were reported in the rear but turned out to be a few guerrillas.

Monday, October 6th. We are laying a few rods from a new store or freight house filled with prisoners. Weather has been very warm since the 2nd and 3rd inst. Sent off letter to Mother.

Tuesday, October 7th. We struck up a few tents until further orders. Are expecting to move to a camp. Sent a letter to R. M. Brigham and to M.

Wednesday, October 8th. It is very muddy and dusty this morning. Are yet awaiting orders for a camping place. Went on picket.

Thursday, October 9th. Come in from picket. Had been very warm. Squads of Negros passed by on their way to their corral. They say they had the day before finished burying the dead.

1862-64: Henry P. W. Cramer to Catherine Burkholder

Capt. Henry P. W. Cramer, Co. A, 50th Illinois Infantry

These letters were written by Henry P. W. Cramer (1824-1899) of Mendon, Adams county, Illinois, who entered Co. A, 50th Illinois Infantry as the 1st Lieutenant on 12 September 1861 and was promoted to Captain on 5 February 1862 when Capt. Edgar Pickett resigned. Cramer remained as captain of the company until he resigned his commission on 15 September 1864 after three years service.

Henry was the son of Christian Cramer (1779-1852) and Mary E. Pitts (1791-1857). He was married to Jane Anne Dean (1825-1900) and the couple had three children born prior to Henry’s enlistment: William (b. 1849), Jessie (b. 1858), and Elmer (b. 1861).

All nine of these letters were addressed to and saved by Henry’s older sister, Catharine (Cramer) Burkholder (1822-1906), the widow of Daniel Burkholder (1815-1858). Catharine’s children included Christian Burkholder (1845-1864), Mary Elizabeth Burkholder (1846-1921), William Burkholder (1848-1922), James Wesley Burkholder (1850-1915), and Phoebe Ann Burkholder (1858-1937). Mentioned in the final letter of this collection is the death of Catharine’s oldest son, Christian, who enlisted on 31 March 1864 in Co. K, 116th Pennsylvania Infantry. He was wounded on 3 June 1864 at the Battle of Cold Harbor and died at the 1st Division, 2nd A. C. Field Hospital.

Henry’s older brother Adam K. Cramer (1809-1868) is also mentioned throughout these letters. Adam lived in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, with his wife Catherine Zufall (1810-1889). They had at least seven children, three of whom gave their lives for their country. Adam G. Cramer (1837-1863), Enos R. Cramer (1839-1863) and Samuel Cramer (1843-1863) all served in Co. B of the 142nd Penn. Vols. and all three were killed or mortally wounded on 1 July 1863 at Gettysburg while fighting in the area south of Herbst’s Woods. Enos and Adam died on the field but Samuel had an arm and leg amputation before he died on 9 July. [See: Video]

Letter 1

Camp near Corinth, Mississippi
May 26th 1862

Dear Sister Catharine,

I received your letter of the 11th of May yesterday & was glad to hear from you & that you were all well & getting along well, but I was sorry to hear of our nephew White being killed at the Battle of Winchester. You say Samuel & Uriah Massena are in the army in Virginia and that Uriah was shot in the hand. You did not say what army they are in—whether it is the Rebel or Union army. Please let me know, but I suppose it is the Union army they are in. But then you know how easily Sam is persuaded to anything that I did not know but that he living in Virginia, the rebels might have persuaded him into their army. If they have, I almost wish he may be killed, but I hope he is all right on the Union question. How does sister Barbara get along while he is in the army? Does she have anything to live on or not For I do not suppose that he saves anything of his wages in the army to send home for her to live on, he being in the habit of drinking & there being so many ways to spend money in the army that I fear he will not save any of his money & that she will suffer.

I am also sorry to hear that the Imel boys fared so badly in the army but I am glad to know that they were willing to die for the old flag & the old Constitution. I am sorry to hear of the death of cousin Bacon. I think he was a good man. Where did he live? You spoke of sister Elizabeth. Where does she live? Does she live with Martha or where does she live & does she still own that land she bought? What is her post office address? Please let me know. I cannot tell whether Jane have answered the letters you spoke of or not but I think she has. You must keep on writing to her for it does her good to get a letter from a friend in her lonely condition for she is very lonely in my absence.

I understand from Russell and from Christian also that they have quite a correspondence with each other. I am glad to hear it for it will tend to improve their minds as well as keep up a friendly feeling between them. Christian said I should write to him as soon as I got your letter. Tell him I would be glad to do it but I have so much writing to do & so little convenience for writing that I will have to make this one do for you & him both this time & I do not have very much spare time to write letters either for I am kept busy nearly all the time with one thing or another connected with the company. You say you hope the time will soon come when war and bloodshed will come to an end & that I may be spared to return to my family. Catharine, you cannot wish so anymore than I do. It is my daily—yes, constant wish & prayer for I am heartily tired of war & its horrors & of being absent so long from my family. But I think the time is not far distant where those of us that are not killed will be permitted to return home if we are successful at this place & I cannot but help thinking we will be although I expect it will be a desperate struggle if they fight at all & I suppose they will. But I cannot tell when it will come off any more than you can.

There is skirmishing all along the lines all the time between the two lines of pickets for our lines are now within two miles of each other and occasionally a man taken prisoner, wounded or killed on both sides. We have now two hundred thousand troops here. Gen. Halleck is here in person. They have also got a large force but from what we can learn of deserters from their army & of returned prisoners to our army, they have not got so large a force as we have into many thousands. Neither have they near so much artillery as we have. We may have to lay here a month or move yet before the fight comes off for I do not think that General Halleck intends to fight until he has everything just to suit him & he may not intend fighting them at all but trying to surround them and starving them out for they are said to be quite short of rations.

I have passed through several conflicts unhurt & pray God that He may spare my life so that I may return to my home in safety. I want you to remember me in your morning and evening prayers that I may come out of this contest unharmed. It is as you say, this may be the last time I may write to you in this world. God only knows what the result will be. I wish you would see brother Adam and tell him to write to me & give me his correct post office address so that I can write to him if my life is spared to do so. I have written to him a number of times & have got no answer from him. I have concluded that I must not direct my letters to the right post office for him to get them or he would answer them…

How is the Harbough’s getting along? Is Uncle Leonard dead or not? If I did know, I have forgotten. I will have to bring my letter to a close. Write as soon as you get this. Direct as you did before & tell Adam to direct in the same. When you write to Elizabeth again, tell her to write to Jane and Jane will write to her. Tell her and Martha and Rebecca to write to me. Also tell Barbara to write to Jane & I both & we will write to all of the, if they will give us their post office addresses. Give my love to Lena and my respects to all enquiring. No more. God bless & protect you all. Goodbye dear sister.

Your brother, — H. P. W. Cramer

To Catharine Burkholder

P. S. Just now there is heavy cannonading off on our left a good ways. The engagement may be coming on now. but I do not think it will be general yet for a few days.

Letter 2

Addressed to Mrs. Catharine Burkholder, Drake Town, Somerset county, Pa.

Camp near Corinth, Mississippi
June 28, 1862

Dear Sister Catharine,

It is with pleasure that I sit down to write you a few lines away down here in Dixie & to let you know that I received your letter of the 16th June last night. I was glad to hear from you and that you and your family are all well. I also had a letter from Jane last night stating that they were all well for which I am truly thankful. My family has been blessed with exceedingly good health ever since I have been away from home. I am in my usual health. Hope these lines may find you and yours still enjoying good health.

We are now encamped about two and a half miles south of Corinth on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad. I and my company have passed through the Corinth affair unharmed although we were under fire of the enemy several times before the evacuation. Our regiment was kept in the advance all the time we were moving on Corinth from Pittsburg Landing. The last engagement our regiment had with the Rebels before they evacuated was the last day but one before they left. In it we had one man killed & four or five wounded in the regiment, but my company came out without a scar, although the leaden hail flew thick around us. In this encounter our regiment as usual was thrown out in advance (it being the centre regiment of the Brigade) some two hundred and fifty yards. We came out of the brush into a road by an open field. The Rebels were on the opposite side of the field & opened fire on us as we emerged from the brush. We could not see them. We then fell back into the brush again about 20 paces and halted to see whether they would come out or not. They then charged on us across this open field with about three times our number & with a yell. When they got fairly out into the field, we opened fire on them with our artillery which very soon stopped their noise & drove them back with great loss. They never came out after this.

I cannot tell how long we will remain here but the prospects are that we will stop here nearly all summer. We have been some thirty miles farther south than this since the evacuation but were ordered back to this place where we have been ever since. This is a hard climate on us northern men. It is very warm & debilitating—so much so indeed that we cannot drill any, only in the cool of the morning & evening. The water we get here is so poor & unhealthy, it being mostly surface water.

I hope Mc[Clellan] will succeed in flaxing them out at Richmond & that soon so that they will move us farther north, if not home. In my opinion, the result of the Richmond battle will be the decisive one in a great measure. This is a poor country down here. I would not give 20 acres of our Illinois land for a whole plantation of it & be obliged to live on it. In fact, it is hardly worth fighting about, niggers and all. But then that is not what we are fighting about. We are fighting for the Constitution as our father’s made it & for the Union & republican principles. I do not mean the principles of the Republican party, but principles of a republican form. The Rebels are contending for the principles of anarchy & despotism. God forbid that they should ever succeed in establishing them in this fair land of freedom. My prayer to God is that the Old Stars & Stripes under which we as a nation have been so prosperous may forever continue to wave all over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Our regiment has become considerably reduced in numbers through disease and battle. When I went into the service, my company was full, 101 men all told. Now it is but seventy and will not be that long for I have quite a number of men that will have to be discharged in a short time on account of disability. The other companies have lost at about the same ratio & if we remain down here all summer, I fear we will lose still a great many more. I do not want you to understand that these men are all dead that have left the regiment. About half of them are.

I am sorry for Sam Massena 1 that he has had such bad luck, but he will not remain a prisoner long. He will either be exchanged or released on parole. Poor wretch. I pity him. Tell Uriah for me that he must not become discouraged fighting in so good a cause as ours is, but that he must keep up his spirits & fight the harder. A soldier’s life is a hard one, I very well know, but if the troops will only keep up their spirits & fight bravely, it will be over much sooner than if they allow themselves to become disheartened, for then they will not fight half so well. When you write to Uriah again, give him all the encouragement you can. Tell him to fight bravely if called upon to fight and avenge his father’s capture.

I will quit for the present. Write soon. Direct as usual. Remember me at a throne of grace. My regards to all enquiring, &c.

Your brother, — H. P. W. Cramer

To his sister Catharine Burkholder

P. S. What has become of the Aughinbough’s?

1 Samuel Massena (1820-1874) married Henry’s sister, Barbara Cramer, and lived in Aleppo, Greene county, Pennsylvania. He served in Co, A, 12th West Virginia Infantry (Union). Their son, Uriah Massena (1842-1908) served in Co. K, 26th Pennsylvania Infantry. Uriah’s biography claims he “loyally and bravely served his country for three years and three months.” See 1861-62: Uriah C. Messina to Catherine Burkholder published on Spared & Shared 16.

Letter 3

Camp near Corinth, Mississippi
August 19, 1862

Dear Sister Catharine,

I sit myself down to write you a few lines in order to let you know of my well being & that I received your letter the other day with great pleasure. I am glad to hear that you and family are all well, or were at least all well at the writing of your letter. I am sorry to hear that you have so much sickness in your neighborhood. You say you should have answered my letter sooner that you did but for the reason of your having so many sick patients to visit. Well it seems that both of my sisters have turned Doctoresses for you said in one of your other letters that sister Barbara had taken up the practice of medicine. Well I guess if I get sick, I will send for someone of you to come and doctor me—that is, if I can raise money enough to pay the bill for the bill must be pretty high at the rate that other doctors charge for visits when you take into account the distance that you would have to travel to attend me. But I hope I shall have no occasion to call on you. At present I am very well & tolerably comfortable in my situation for the situation of a soldier is changeable like that of other people—sometimes more comfortable than at other times.

We have had no trouble with the secesh since the evacuation of Corinth. Yesterday morning we were called into line before daylight to be ready to march at a moment’s notice, but the alarm that had been given proved to be a false one so we did not have to go this time.

I had a letter from Jane yesterday. They were all well when it was written the 11th. In it they stated that they had got the report somehow at Mendon that our regiment had been engaged in a skirmish with the enemy & that we had been badly cut up. Now that was all false. I cannot see how such reports get started. They certainly do no good. But on the other hand a good deal of harm—that is, if you take into account the grief and anxiety of mind occasioned by such reports to the friends at home who have connections in the army on account of their safety. I think there is a better prospect now of bringing this war to a close than there has been at any time since it began—that is, soon as all those new troops are got into the field & that will not be long. It looks now as if the government was determined to sustain itself & this is the way to do it for the more men we have in the field, the sooner the rebellion will be crushed & it will cost the government less also. The Confiscation Act is also another grand move toward ending it; so also the emancipation of the slaves of Rebels & employing them in our army. Every slave we take from them weakens then one man and strengthens us one man for they employ them constantly against us.

I am sorry to hear of the deaths of T. Aughinbaugh & T. Lightlider. Where is Thad’s family? Had he squandered all the property Mr. Boose had given him or not? You say Sam Massena has got home. How did he get away from the secesh? Was he released on parole or how? I am glad that Uriah is in better spirits than he was. What kind of a young man is he? Is he wild like his father or is he steady in his habits? Why does Adam not write to me? What is Frank Long doing in Springfield? I will have to close with this.

Your brother, — H. P. W. Cramer

Write soon. Give my respects to all friends.

Letter 4

Addressed to Mrs. Catharine Burkholder, Drake Town, Somerset county, Pa.

Camp near Corinth, Mississippi
September 26th 1862

Dear Sister Catharine,

It is with pleasure I take my pen up to write you a few lines, but I am so nervous it is with difficulty I can write at all. I cannot account for it. I have been so for some time by spells. I received yours of the 14th on yesterday. I was truly glad to hear from you, to know that you were all well and getting along well. I trust these lines may also find you all in good health. It does me good to hear such a favorable report from Uriah. I was fearful he would be led off by the example & bad influence of his Father, but I am glad it is not the case. I hope he will be spared to get out of the army & become an honorable man. I am glad to hear that Sam has grit enough to go into the army again. Was he exchanged or was he only paroled. If he was only paroled & the rebels capture him again, it will go hard with him. How comes it that Uriah is staying in the hospital? Is his health poor, or has he been detailed as a nurse? What regiment and what company does Frank Long belong to and where are they posted now? Let me know. I want to write to him.

We had another engagement with the Rebels a few days ago at Iuka—a small town about 22 miles from here. Our men whipped them soundly. Our loss in killed and wounded from 150 to two hundred, killed about 70. Rebel loss 800 to 1,000 killed & wounded, killed about 300—at least our forces buried two hundred and seventy of the Rebel dead & of course they had not found them all at that time yet. Our regiment was not in the fight. Neither was our Brigade but the balance of our Division was there but was not engaged. It is a wonder that we were not in it for they have kept our regiment in the advance whenever there was any trouble on hand ever since we left Pittsburg Landing. But I am not sorry at all that we were not in it. I have been in all the fights that I care about being in.

“I am not an abolitionist by a long shot, but if freeing the slaves will tend to end this war, for God sake, free them, & in addition to that, we can never have lasting peace in the United States while slavery exists in it.”

—Capt. Henry Cramer, Co. A, 50th Illinois, 26 Sept. 1862

Our army has been doing some good execution in the East of late. If they will only keep on doing so, the Rebellion will be crushed in a short time. I thank God that the President has finally proclaimed the slaves of Rebels free. I think it will go farther towards putting down the rebellion than any other one act that could be done. I am not an abolitionist by a long shot, but if freeing the slaves will tend to end this war, for God sake, free them, & in addition to that, we can never have lasting peace in the United States while slavery exists in it.

It is strange that I do not get brother Adam’s letters. He must certainly not direct them right or I would get them. Instruct him how to direct. Do you know anything about Josiah Philippi—how he is getting along? Has he ever rebuilt the house and shop, has or is likely to get out of debt? There is still a matter of 50 or 60 dollars coming to me from him on that property. Is there any prospects of him marrying again & if there is, who to? I have written to him several times since I am in the army but never got an answer. What ever became of Jeremiah Philippi? Is old Christian Philippi still alive and does he still preach? How does cousin John Cramer, Betty Shoff, Aunt Lizzy, & all her boys & the children of all these get along?

Catherine, there is one thing I want to speak of to you and probably you may think it is none of my business. You are now a widow with your children all around you & they appear to be good children. Your boys seem to work well & you appear to be getting along very well. I do not know what your intentions are with regard to marrying again, but my advice to you would be to remain a widow unless you can better your condition very much by marrying again. You might get a husband that would ill treat your children which certainly would be a source of great annoyance to you and your children also, & in addition to all that, he might squander what you & your children have gathered. I do not want you to think hard of me for these suggestions, I merely make them as such.

I would like to hope you get your own & your three oldest children’s likenesses taken & send them to me. Have yours and Mary Elizabeth’s on one plate and the two boys on one. You can have them put in a double case; then it will take but one. I would like o have the pictures of all the children but perhaps it would cost more than you would like paying out. Get good ones taken. If they are not perfect the first sitting, make them try until they do get good pictures. If you send them, have the case well done up in paper and sealed or pasted & directed the same as you would a letter. I will send you mine some of these days.

How is Lena and her family? Give them my love. I also had a letter from Jane yesterday. They were all well with the exception of sore eyes & Russell had cut his foot pretty bad.

We are a good ways south but the nights are getting so cool that it is quite uncomfortable in our tents. Is there many chestnuts and cranberries this season? If there is, I wish I had a bushel or two of each, but that cannot be. They might be sent to my folks but they cannot be to me. I had better quit for I have already asked you more questions that you will be able to answer in one letter. Write soon as you get this & answer my questions if you can. Goodbye &c.

Your brother, — H. P. W. Cramer

Letter 5

Camp near Corinth, Mississippi
November 3rd 1862

Dear Sister Catharine,

I received yours of the 20th of October. I was happy to hear that my letters reach you as promptly as they do. You are now the only blood relative with whom I am in communication. I can get no answer to my letters from brother Adam, & I have written to cousin S. K. Cramer in Iowa & get no answer from him either so that it leaves you my only correspondent of the Cramer stock. If you will give me Adam’s proper post office address again, I will write him again. I keep forgetting his address all the time. I send your letters that I get from you home to Jane so I have nothing to refer to to find it out again, only by asking you. Give me the proper name of his post office & county is all I want and tell him again to write to me at this place. Let me know how he is getting along, whether he is making anything or not, how his sons & daughters are doing, & all about them, & whether Adam’s wife is as she use to be.

Well, Catherine, we have passed through another bloody battle at this place since I last wrote you. It commenced on the 3rd of October, just one month ago today, & ended on the 4th of October. I have again been spared without a scar for which I am truly thankful but I came very near being wounded. Our regiment made a charge on the enemy on the 3rd. While we were in the charge, the enemy turned our right flank and we were obliged to fall back. In this retreat I was struck by a ball in my left coat sleeve. It entered a little above the wrist and passed out over my hand. It caused my wrist to smart so much that I at first thought I was wounded, but on examination I found it was not. Pretty close cutting, was it not? I feel convinced that it is nothing but God’s protecting care that preserves me in these hairbreadth escapes, while at the same time I do not deserve the least of His notice, but instead, thereof His just displeasure.

I lost out of my company on the 3rd, one killed, two wounded & one missing. On the 4th, three wounded. The Rebels came very near defeating us several times. In fact, they did drive us at nearly every point on the 3rd (we fought in the woods on the third) & it was the charge that I have spoken of that saved the day to us on the 3rd. On the 4th, we fought in the edge of town. They had to come out into open ground to attack us. We killed large numbers of them in their attempt to cross this open ground but still they drove us back a short distance. But we soon rallied our men again & drove them from the word go, slaughtering them at a fearful rate & taking great numbers of them prisoners. After the battle, we buried between 13 and 14 hundred of the Rebels. Our loss was 350 killed. The loss in wounded on both sides was about 5 to one killed. Our loss in prisoners was about 400. Theres was upwards of two thousand. We followed them 35 miles. Our advance followed 45 miles. In their hasty retreat, they threw away immense quantities of arms, ammunition, tents, wagons, cooking utensils, cannon, & in fact, the greater portion of all they had.

“If the Rebel Price & his army ever had a trouncing, they got it here on the 3rd & 4th of October 1862. It is said they are advancing on us again. All I have to say about that is that if they do come, they will get whipped worse than ever..”

—Capt. Henry Cramer, Co. A, 50th Illinois, 3 November 1862

If the Rebel Price & his army ever had a trouncing, they got it here on the 3rd & 4th of October 1862. It is said they are advancing on us again. All I have to say about that is that if they do come, they will get whipped worse than ever for we are now fortified at his place [such] that fifteen thousand can resist 60 thousand successfully. But I shall not be sorry at all if they do not come for I certainly have fought them as often as I care about. But if they do, I will try it again. I am better of my nervousness.

Sometimes we fare first rate on account of provisions, at other times we are rather hard up. Officers are not furnished grub by the government but have to buy it so when we are in a place where we can get anything to buy, we live pretty well, but I have saw that when we could get but little of anything, the men fare rather slim sometimes. Also on account of being so situated that the Quartermaster cannot get rations for them. My bed is a couple of blankets & the mother earth. My two Lieutenants [Sergeant Moody and Henry C. Bissell]and I sleep together, each of us have two blankets. We spread two on the ground to lay on & use the others for covering. A soldier’s life is a hard one at best.

I am sorry to hear of the deaths you speak of. What was the matter with cousin Joseph Pritz & what condition is his family left in? At one time you know he had become very intemperate & squandered nearly all his effects. Had he been doing any better lately? What Jacob Miller do you mean? Is it Levi & Jonathan’s brother or some other Jacob Miller? If Capt. F. Long has been captured by the Rebels, I am sorry for it. I used to think a good deal of Frank although he was a wild fellow. Yet he had some very good traits about him. If he is at home & you can get to see him or get word to him, tell him to write to me. I am pained to hear of the affliction of cousin Henry Cramer. What occasioned the tumor on his back that you speak of & how long has it been there? Has he ever tried to have it cut out? I am glad that my suggestion to you in regard to a certain matter were not taken as an offense by you & that our thoughts corroborate so very nearly with each other on that subject. It is encouraging to me to know that Adam’s sons are willing to stand by the old flag of our country. God grant them success & a safe deliverance.

I received a letter from Jane yesterday. They were all well. It was accompanied by her own & the children’s likenesses. I was happy to receive them yet I could barely restrain myself from shedding tears at the sight of them, not knowing whether I shall ever be permitted to see the originals of those pictures in life again or not. These thoughts make me feel sad. I have not got mine taken yet to send to you but will do it soon. Send yours and the childrens along as soon as you can for it may be all that I shall ever see of you & perhaps not even that for life is very uncertain & especially in the army. Tell cousin John Cramer & cousin Betsy Shoff or John to write to me occasionally. Write soon, &c. Your brother as ever, — H. P. W. Cramer

To my sister Catharine Burkholder

This American Battlefield Trust Map shows the location of the 50th Illinois positioned in the center of the Union line just to the right of the 10th Ohio Battery.

Letter 6

Camp near Corinth, Mississippi
February 11th 1863

Dear Sister Catharine,

I sit down this afternoon to address a few lines to you. I received yours of December 14th some time ago but have been so busy ever since that I did not get it answered. You will please excuse me. I have still not had an opportunity of getting my picture taken to send to you but I will send it just as soon as I can get it taken. I want you to send yours along & not wait for me. You are differently situated from what I am. You can go and come when you please. I cannot. Military rule is very strict. It necessarily must be. I cannot get away at all nor anyone else without getting permission & that we cannot always get.

I have had some pretty hard times since I last wrote you. About the time I got your letter, the Rebel Forrest made a raid across the Tennessee River for the purpose of cutting our communication off & did succeed in doing it. We were ordered out in pursuit of him & his gang. We started out at 10 o’clock at night on the 18th of December & marched all of that night & the four succeeding days & till 11 o’clock each night. We marched 130 miles in that time. I had a pair of new boots on. Oh but they did hurt my feet. I believe I never traveled in so much misery in my life. That is about the biggest marching on record for an army. The usual distance for troops to arch in a day is from 10 to 12 miles, but this was a forced march—at least my feet felt like it. Well when we got back to Corinth again, we were put on half rations on account of the Devils cutting our communications off. We were on half rations about three weeks. I tell you, we almost suffered for the want of something to eat. I tell you, it seems hard when men have to be denied enough to eat. The Rebs did not take much out of this raid after all, although we did not find them. But Gen. Sullivan with his forces did and gave them a sound drubbing, taking quite a number of them prisoners and all of their artillery but two or three pieces, & drove them back across the Tennessee River again. Within a few days, this same gang under Forrest was whipped again at Ft. Donelson. They lost 150 killed & 300 wounded. I think Forrest had better give it up for a bad job.

We now have plenty to eat again, communication having been opened again. I went to Memphis, Tennessee, on last Friday in charge of some prisoners of war from this place—Rebs of course. I had 38 of them. Memphis has been a beautiful place & still is, but the ravages of war are visible all over it. A great many very fine buildings are entirely demolished. The court house square is the most beautiful place I believe that ever I saw. It is still unmolested. It is set full of evergreens. A cedar and a magnolia tree are alternately [planted] with quite a number of forest trees interspersed. In the centre stands he monument of that Old Hero & lover of the country, Andrew Jackson. One one side of hte monument is inscribed these memorable words of his—“The Federal Union must be preserved.” These Devils, although professing to be Jackson’s disciples, have really undertaken to deface this inscription. The word “Federal” is very much defaced but is still legible. The engraving is so deep they could not deface it entirely without spoiling the entire monument. But the greatest curiosity about this square—to me at least—was the squirrels that are in it. There must be at least one hundred grey squirrels in it. They are as tame as cats. One can walk up to them & nearly lay their hand on them & they do scarcely notice you. It is a beautiful sight to see them gamboling about through this square. There are boxes placed on those forest trees in which they have their nests. The whole is enclosed with a very neat, ornamental iron fence.

You said Jerry Philippi had been in the Pittsburg Landing fight. How I should have liked to have seen him. You say we are near together if we only knew it. We may have been then, but may not be now. The troops that were in that battle have since been wonderfully scattered & it is almost impossible to find a person in the army unless you know what company & regiment he belongs to & what state he enlisted from. I would stand the treat as the saying is if I could get to see him. I wish you would find out the letter of his company, the number of his regiment, & what state the regiment belongs to & let me know it forthwith.

I had a letter from Jane the other evening. They were all well. I have some notion of resigning and going home. My health is not so good as it has been but still I suppose I could stand it. It is on Russell’s account that I think of doing it. He always was a hard boy to manage. It was all I could do to keep him under subjection. Jane writes me now that he has got entirely beyond her control—that she cannot do anything with him. I am well convinced that I owe a great deal of duty to my country, but if I am not mistaken, my first duty is to my family. He is now about the right age to be ruined forever if he is spoiled now. The old adage says that charity begins at home and I think if everyone will take hold & do as much as I have done toward putting down this hellish rebellion, it will be dried up in a short time, so I think no one can blame me for resigning if I do.

I am tolerable well with the exception of a very bad cold. Hope you and yours are all well. Give my respects to all the friends. Write soon as you get this &c.

Your brother, — H. P. W. Cramer

Letter 7

Camp near Corinth, Mississippi
February 22nd 1863

Dear sister Catharine,

I sit down on this the birthday of the Father of his country (viz) Washington, to address a few lines to you. Although there is no letter due you from me at this time, I sent you one some 8 or 10 days ago to which I have got no answer yet, but as I have now my picture taken, I thought I would send it along without waiting for an answer to my last. I wonder what George Washington would have to say about this hell-begotten rebellion if he were now living. I think he would make some of those God forsaken traitors, both North and South, quail before him. I think they will begin to shake in their books ere long as it is. In their boots, did I say? Well, if I did, that is a mistake of mine. So far as the South is concerned for the southron army has neither boots nor shoes to shake in, or else they are lied on most scandalously.

I had a letter from Adam the other day in which he said that Uriah Massena had been to see them & that he (Uriah) said he had been taken a prisoner at Vicksburg & paroled. How is this?—he being in the eastern army and taken a prisoner at Vicksburg? There was none of the eastern troops sent to Vicksburg that I know anything of. It looks mysterious to me. He must have been in th Rebel service if he was taken at that place as he said he was, or he has deserted from the eastern army & has hatched up this prisoner & parole story to screen himself. If he has done that, if if he has been in the rebel service, I hope he will be arrested and punished severely for it. It makes no difference with me if he is my nephew. A deserter should be punished for forsaking his country and flag. Of course I had much rather it were not so—if indeed it is so. At any rate, it looks smutty to me. You may be able to explain it all satisfactorily to me. I wish you would if you can.

The picture I send you is a photograph likeness. I like them much better than I do the other kind. They are much more correct and cost but little more by getting half a dozen, they will not cost so much as the others, but one alone will cost more, and sitting will do for a hundred or more after they have the negative as it is called (for that alone the sitting is required). They can print a hundred or more from it, consequently the first two or three they are cheap. I wish you would have yours. A photograph instead of the other kind if you have not already got it. I suppose you would have to go to Connellsville or Somerset to have it done but that would only be a pleasure trip for you seeing you have your own horse and conveyance & in addition to all that, you might come across some good-looking widower (grins).

I will send out in this letter for Lena also, give it to her if you please & tell her that I want her to send me hers and her husband’s in photograph, hers alone if she does not feel able to get both. I want you to send them right along now. If I am spared to have the opportunity of getting the picture of my whole family taken, I will send it to you also, but at present it is out of my power to do so. I have sent one likeness to Adam & if you will again give me the correct Post Office address of my other sisters in Green county, I will send one to each of them. I mean Rebecca, Marth, Elizabeth, & Barhary. I believe they are all living yet—at least I have not heard of the death of any of them…

There is some talk of us having to leave here but I cannot tell yet whether it is true or not. I hope it is not for I do not want to go into the field until the weather gets better for we have horrible weather here. It averages about three days rain to one of sun & cold too. It is like the correspondent said of Virginia, water 6 inches and mud the balance of the way. But it is not as I like in this matter of moving. When we get an order to move, we have to go, rain or shine.

I am well with the exception of the cold that I spoke of in my other letter sitting on my breast or lungs but is getting better. I had a letter the other evening from Jane & the children. They were all well except Jane. She had had a bad spell again and that miserable sick headache. It appears that is going to follow her through life. I guess I had better quit for I have about run out of material. Now don’t forget those photographs & tell Lena not to forget here either for I will look for them certain now. You wil l have to be careful about handing them. A little scratch or anything of that kind will spoil them. Give my respects to all enquiring. Who lives now where Thad Aughinbaugh did live? Write soon & answer all my questions both in this and the other letter. May the good Lord protect and preserve you all. Goodbye. Your brother, — H. P. W. Cramer

To his sister Kate.

P. S. That is the fashionable name for Catharine.

Letter 8

Rome, Georgia
June 5th 1864

Dear Sister,

I received your kind letter some days ago but was on the march at the time, consequently I could not answer it. I will now try to do so. I was glad to hear from you as I had not heard from you directly in a long time. I was glad to hear that you and your family were well and that Christian has gone into the service of his country. You say it was a hard trial for you to part with him. I have not the least doubt of that. I have had some experience in that line myself. It has always been a trying time with me when the time came for me to leave my dear family and return to the army, but after all we have a duty to perform which we owe to our government which we, if we are loyal citizens of America, will perform regardless of our inclination for ease and comfort which we would enjoy at home. I say it is our duty to go forth to protect and sustain the flag of our country—the glorious old Stars & Stripes, long may they wave over a land of freemen. Our families and family connections are pretty well represented in this war, I think it can hardly be said of the Cramer family that they have failed to show a spirit of patriotism in the time of their country’s need.

In a letter that I had from Jane a few days ago, she tells me that [our son] Russell has also enlisted in the hundred days service. I was sorry to hear it on account of his youthfulness (he is only 15 years old), but I hope he will stand it that length of time. Poor fellow. It may do him good if he lives. One thing it will do, it will cut his eye teeth for him, as the saying is. There are hard things to contend with but we must endeavor to overcome them manfully.

I saw Uriah Massena since we are on this campaign about two weeks ago. He is in the 4th [West] Virginia Regiment, 15th Army Corps. We have been near each other before but did not know it. I should not have known it then, not knowing what regiment he was in. He knew from some source that I was in the 50th Ills. Regt. & enquired for the regiment, It happened that we were moving in the same column and were close together at the time. We had halted for rest & dinner one day on the bank of a creek. I was very dirty & had gone to the creek with my Lieut. to wash. When I got back, I noticed a young man talking with one of my men that looked strange to me. He approached me & addressed me in the familiar term of Uncle. I looked at him for some time & asked in my mind, who in thunder are you. He extended his hand to me. I took it and told him that he decidedly had the advantage of me. He then informed me who he was. I was perfectly taken aback, I had not had the least idea of meeting with him in the Western Army. He was well & looked well. I may be mistaken but I think he is a better boy than I expected he was. All that I judge from is his appearance. I had formed and idea that he was a chip off the old block, but his appearance does not bespeak that for him. Am I right or am I wrong? He told me that [his father] Sam had quit drinking. Is that so, or is it not? Well, I also saw Jerry Philippi & Absalom Pile this day two weeks ago. They are both in the same company and regiment, Co. B, 76th Ohio Regt. They were well. They both knew me. I knew Pile at first light, but I should not have known Jerry if he had been pointed out to me. He looks so very old. I was astonished to see him look so old. I was never more pleased to see an old friend than I was to see Jerry. He was equally pleased to see me. He is still the same warm-hearted Jerry as of yore.

Well, I have again through the protection of God passed through another desperate battle, or series of battles, without being harmed. I thank God for it. One man of my company only was wounded. Our Division, the 2nd of the 16 Army Corps under General Dodge lost about 200 men. We are now doing garrison duty at this place. The balance of the Division is in the front 35 to 40 miles south of this. They have been charged upon 7 times since we left them but have never faltered but repulsed the charge every time. It is a fighting division of the true metal. Cannot tell how long we will stay here.

You say Elizabeth has a bastard but do not say what Elizabeth. I am ashamed of her whoever she is. Do not say anything to Jane about it in writing to her. I am well. Must quit. Have no paper but what I get out of old rebel books. Goodbye, — H. P. W. Cramer

God bless you all.

What Co. & Regt. is [your son] Christian in? Who is his captain and who his Colonel? Tell him to be a good soldier & to write to me. God bless him and protect him.

Letter 9

Rome, Georgia
July 10, 1864

Yours of the 26th June was received yesterday evening. I am truly sorry for to hear of the death of your dear [son] Christian. I have not the least doubts about his being a good boy. I sympathize with you in your bereavement but you need not, or at least you have no cause for doing so, mourn as those that have no hope. In the first place you say he had been regenerated in heart & that you think he was steadfast. I think so too from the tone of his letter to you. In the second place, he fell at his post in the discharge of his duty, nobly defending Liberty, and the cause of oppressed and downtrodden humanity & the best government the light of the sun ever shone on. God surely will not cut off those who die in the cause of right. He is a just God & loves those who do right & labor for the cause of right.

It is a severe blow, it is true, to be bereft of one so near and dear as a son in the bloom of youth—one just stepping into manhood. But when we think of the cause in which he died and the probable trouble, annoyance, vexations of spirit with which he would in all probability have been beset in this sin stricken world had he lived, that he has escaped all these things, they are calculated o ward off in a great measure the blow which under other circumstances would have fallen much heavier, you must strive to bear your affliction with Christian fortitude. God will not forsake the widow, neither do I believe He will forsake those whose main stay & support is slain in defending the cause of Liberty.

I had hoped that he & I would live to see each other. I had been as it were instinctively drawn towards him from the letters that he used to write me occasionally, but my hopes are all blasted. I wish I was near you so that I could render you some comfort and assistance. I am sorry to learn that my opinion of Uriah was incorrect. What trifling habits does he have? You say there has five of our nephews [been] killed besides Christian who is the 6th one. I recollect of none but Adam’s three sons, Christian, & P. Whipkey—5 in all.

Where is Elizabeth living at? What on earth does she mean to act the way she does? I should have thought her first lesson ought to have taught her enough of this kind of conduct. It is an old saying that children that have had their fingers burned are afraid of fire. It is a pretty true saying too, but it does not hold good in her case. She must not have as much sense as a child. Enough of this. The subject is mortifying to me.

How does your other boys do? Are they industrious and obedient? I forget which is the next oldest. I think it is William. He must be nearly grown by this time. Tell them that I want them to be good boys, to obey their mother in ll things & to take for their example their brother who has fallen in defense of his country. Tell them to write to me,

The regiment that Russell belongs is the 137th Illinois. It is stationed at Memphis, Tennessee. I have not heard from him directly since he is in the service. Old ex-Governor John Wood of Quincy, Illinois, is his Colonel. he is the Father of Quincy. He is quite an old man, near 70 I should judge.

It is very warm here at this time—the thermometer averaging about 95 degrees. No news worth speaking of. Sherman has got Joe Johnston on the run again. Will take Atlanta in a short time if he has not already got it. There is now a General Hospital established at this place. There is about 2,000 sick and wounded soldiers here set from the front. Three of my boys died of disease during the month of June. Russell has grown very large. When I was at home last winter, he was nearly as tall as I am. I am well. Hope you are the same. God bless you. Goodbye. Your brother, — H. P. W. Cramer