Category Archives: Earl Van Dorn

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.

1863 Civil War Letter – 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry – Van Dorn Attacks Franklin, TN

Camp of the 9th Penna Cavalry

Franklin Tennessee April 14th 1863
Dear Parents, I now apply myself to the pleasant task of writing to you again to let you know that we are still enjoying good health. We received our letter on Sunday last and was surprised that you had not received our last letters but suppose you have got them by this time. I was sorry to hear of Grandmother sickness but I am afraid her days are about numbered, although I hope she might survive at least untill this terrible rebellion is over. We have moved our Camp since I commenced writing this letter and it rained all day, which is another more than it has done every time we have moved camp since we came here. We have a pretty camp but no shade, although we might as well get use to the hot weather gradualy. The rebs made an attack on us the other day. They came a charging into our Picketts and five came right up to the Pontoon bridge and undertook to take an officer prisoner when the infantry guards shot three and took the others prisoners. I tell you it was a dear charge for Van Dorn. He intended to take this Place that day and the next he was to take Nashville. His men were all drunk & he thought there were only about there Thousand men here and was shure of taking this place, but he slipped up on it slightly. I suppose we will stay here quite a while as I do not think Rosecrans will attack them, but wait for them to attack us:
I D Landis
[now written in Gideon’s hand] as Isaac had to go out with the forage train I will send this off: We are enjoying good health wich is the greatest Blessing that a Soldier Can have: We have a great deal of duty to do here. But that has been our lot ever since we have been in Service and is nothing new: Van Dorn made a sorry Charge on us the other day: our Loss was 3 killed 3 wounded and 4 taken Prisoners (all of the 40th Ohio Infantry). The Rebel loss was heavy. Wee took 70 Prisoners, Buryed about 20. But their Loss is not known. But deserters say their Loss is over 300: I wish you would send a Silver Pendon (watch pendon) with a screw and a Mainspring the size of the piece I enclosed and Charge them with the hands and we will pay you on pay day: We expect to be paid in a few days. Wright often and we will do the same: They will not go for forage. Isaac is back: yours
G W Landis

Source: eBay auction