85th Illinois letter – May 1863

Source: The Excelsior Brigade

Jas. P. Walker, Brig Surgeon, 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, 14th Army Corps


Original Civil War soldier’s letter. 2 pages, written in period ink. Refers to Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Brentwood, Tennessee
May 23rd 1863

Dr. Jas. A. Walker

Dear Brother,

I wrote you this morning to let you see that I was still in hand and doing the best I can to make time pass swiftly.

I had the pleasure of receiving a letter from you dated 14th inst. Glad to hear that you are well; that Eliza and the rest are well, but very sorry to hear that the children are down with measles. But hope that the very favorable time of the year and good care will have brought them through safely by this time. I am sorry that you did not see Mr. Straight as I am ashamed to write to Ritchy until that matter is fixed up. I don’t care very particularly about Rankin’s case but want him paid as soon as you can conveniently do it. The tax matters I want settled, i.e., all that I own.
I wrote to Annie about it some time ago; but she might have forgotten to ask you to see to it. I want you to ask Bill Walker or someone else how you can pay the tax on the Missouri land; and the lot in Springfield must be paid for soon. It has been sold for city, county and state taxes.

The health is very good here now. In fact, there is no sickness really – a few cases of ague and diarrhea. We have 1900 infantry, 4 pieces of artillery and 750 cavalry here now. We look for some fun here every day almost. Old Forrest is in command of the forces of Van Dorn in our front – a rather troublesome neighbor, we think. They blaze away at our pickets nearly every night. Night before last, one of the sentinels shot his fellow guard dead. He was buried last evening at sundown. One of the 104th Illinois was wounded in the leg severely a few nights since. One of the 85th Illinois shot off two of his fingers not long since while getting over the fence.

N. Patterson is fat as a hog.

We get fresh butter 40 to 50 cents a pound; milk 20 cents per quart; strawberries ditto. Young chickens will soon be plenty. We draw fresh bread, beef, potatoes, &c. I went to the city two weeks ago and drew from the Sanitary agent 55lbs. and six boxes of various sorts of vegetables – mostly potatoes, onions, dried fruit and pickles and 6 dozen canned fruit.

The weather is quite warm now but cool night. This Harpeth Valley is nearly a paradise but damned with Secesh. But they will take the oath. We call it, “iron sheathing them;” then they are “Iron Clads.”

I must close. Give my love to sister Eliza and cousin. Tell Annie I will write soon again. We have not got the Mason City mail this week. Good bye. Write soon. How is the boy?

Jas. P. Walker, Brig Surgeon, 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, 14th Army Corps

I send a white rose and a sprig of arbor vitae to Eliza and Red rose and arbor vitae for Annie.

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