117th Illinois soldiers writes about post-Franklin

I recently acquired a letter written by a 117th Illinois Infantry soldier named Thomas A. Whitesides. It is dated Nashville, Tenn., December 6th, 1864. Whitesides wrote this letter to his wife who was living in Belleville, Illinois. This letter was written just six days after the Battle of Franklin (30 November 1864).

Thomas A. Whitesides enlisted August 12, 1862 as a Corporal. On September 19, 1862, he mustered into Company H of the 117th Illinois Infantry at Camp Butler in Springfield, Illinois. He mustered out on August 5th, 1865, having served nearly three years in the service for the Union.

Whitesides would have seen action with the 117th in places like Vicksburg (summer 1863); western Tennessee chasing after Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry (Dec 1863); the Red River expedition and the Battle of Pleasant Hill (Feb 1864); and the Battle of Nashville (Dec 15-16th, 1864).


Nashville, Tenn
Dec 6th, 1864

Dear wife,

I seat myself to fulfill my promise in my last [letter]. I told you I would write the first opportunity. Thies [sic] few lines leave us well and I hope to find all of you the same. We have moved our position to the left and thrown up breastworks waiting an attack. Skirmishing is kept us all the while night and day by the picket. Shelling is quite common all along the line. I suppose hood [CSA Gen. John Bell Hood] is going to seige us out of here as he don’t advance only at night. They have thrown up [breast] works every night and still getting closer. Their line and ours are one mile of each other. Hood sent a flag of truce [end page one] yesterday wanting to exchange prisoners that were taken in the late battle [Franklin: 30 Nov 1864]. I suppose he is short of supplies and don’t wish to feed men that are not fighting for him.

The prisoners say they don’t get fourth rations and if they don’t take this place before long they will be without any as they are so far from base of supplies and no railroad to ship on. It is rumored round camp that Rosecrans is commencing with reinforcements for us. I don’t credit the report though I would like for some good General to get in the rear of them and close in so they would have to get up and dust. I see in yesterdays paper that Sherman had got through to the coast. I would be pleased to know he had released our prisoners at Antietam [probably means Andersonville]. [end page two]

I hear that Don Morrison has gone to France as he couldn’t stand for the Stars and Stripes to float over him.

Olive, I have been tempted to ask a favor of you for some time past and I fear you will not be so free to grant it. I will make all fair promises imaginable. I wish your photograph. I will pray for a half dozen and I promise to return it if you should call for it. Tell me at once if I can have it.

I must close for present.

I remain as ever your affectionate friend,

Thomas Whiteside


Our Co [Company] is on picket tonight. I guess we may have a good time with the Rebs.


Copyright 2009, The Civil War Gazette. All rights reserved.

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