Freeman S. Dunklee of the 36th Illinois Infantry, Co. A
On 3 August 1864, Dunklee recounts an incident of a Negro soldier killing a civilian who wouldn’t obey orders, seguing into Dunklee’s thoughts on slavery, arguing that uneducated Negroes, by virtue of their population size, influence the habits of the white Southerners. Lengthy letter reads in part, “…a Negro soldier on guard ordered a citizen to not cross his beat and was told that a ‘southern gentleman was not to be imposed upon by a ‘nigger’ if he was a soldier’, whereupon the soldier obeyed his instructions and shot the citizen. There was a loud fuss raised of course, and the Negro arrested and taken to Gen. Milroy, who released him, saying he liked to see a soldier do his duty, whether black or white; and if they did not, he would punish them. This is very different to what it was here a few short years ago. One can hardly believe that so great an evolution could take place in so short a time, but it is even so, and I hope it will continue until slavery is entirely wiped out. Most of the interior duty of Nashville is done by the black soldiers, and they make good soldiers and can be brought up to the regulations in discipline. I have seen them in almost every sphere, and that becomes them best. Their ambition will carry them just far enough. I listened to a speech the other evening that just suited me every way. It was proven conclusively that slavery was a damage to the South itself, and many of the large planters with 40 or 50 slaves on their hands will admit it and say if it had not been so popular, they would have broken up the institution years ago. A certain man of this city who was considered wealthy and has been judge of the County Court…has five hundred acres of land and generally had fifty in his family, 40 or 45 of which were slaves working his plantation, has been heard to say that not a year passed without the necessity of his taking from this own salary to make up the deficiency of his family expenses that could not be met by the proceeds of the farms. This is not an isolated case but a sample of the whole South. This is not the only way in which the institution has been sapping the South; for it has ruined its morals, encouraged ignorance, overthrew its politics and in short degraded the whole population in every way. What satisfaction is there for an educated person to encourage familiarity in a family where he is met by a young lady with a snuff swab in her mouth and accosted with some of the many vulgar expressions you so often hear repeated by the returned soldier when rehearsing a ‘southern tale’. These phrases are all vulgar and ungrammatical, many even not to be found in the English language. Where the charm, although she be arrayed like Solomon in his glory, if you are obliged to behold her when she talks, to be assured ‘she ain’t a nigger’? Where is the pleasure in a conversation that displays no more learning than the foolish babbling of a southern belle? Where is the beauty of a dwelling that has been kept for years by those that have no more interest than a slave…A northern farmer would be called a fool to expect a crop after tilling his land with a little cast iron plow propelled by a little mule, that merely rooted not plowed it, yet it is the universal custom here. Many of them [the white people] have been interrogated to know why they talked so much like a Negro who was too lazy to speak a whole word at a time or why they allowed their family to grow up in ignorance & their farms to weeds and failed to keep apace with the improvements of the age. To which they answer that in any place the ‘majority rules’ and in a family where nine tenths are Negroes, their dialect and habits will more or less become the custom; and ignorance was the key wherewith they thought to fasten more securely the chain of bondage, and it was not safe to have more than one or two in a family who could read and write…[I] stand ready to welcome the day when slavery shall be wiped out…”
December 1: “Soon after sun up we started in the direction of Nashville. Found the Block house Station deserted and troops moving in direction of Murfresboro no telegraph wire cut Stoped a while in Mur. and then for Nashvill wich we made without anything occuring. Camped in front of a battery. Rained.”
December 2: “Put up tents after the rain was over and soon had to pull down. Went out about a mile formed in two lines and put up one line of works. Picket firing commenced and some artillery in the direction of Murfersboro but no news from there. Some rebs wer visible…”.
December 3: “ Rolled out at 11 AM and stood in line till day light amidst wind and rain and I shook considerably….Fort Negley spoke a few times. No musket firing near…”
December 4: “Strengthring [sic] our works. We have very good ones….Some skirmishing and cannonading on our left and front but no sign of an attack from Hood neither do I belive he intends to do so.”
December 5: “Made a line of pickets (sharpened sticks stuck in the ground) and a line of brush work in our front twenty and fifty steps from the main line. Saw something of Gen. Steadman that I did not like. If he can manage an army he can not his own temper and he that governs his own temper so great than he that gaineth a victory.”
Of the item Cowan says, “Green Southard enlisted in the 121st Ohio Volunteer Infantry as a 21-year-old private in February 1864. His brother, Wesley, was also in the 121st, having enlisted in the summer of 1862. Green began keeping this diary at the end of February and maintained daily entries until being wounded on December 14. Most days have some entry, but very occasionally he used an ink that has faded with time and is nearly unreadable.”
Gen’l Hospital No 13
Sept 27th 1863.
Dear Sister Harriet
As I have a few moments leisure this pleasant Sunday evening I will try to improve them by writing you a few lines. although I have nothing of any importance to write. I am here at Hospital 13 on duty as Commissary Serg’t and now as all the Hospitals are filled up with wounded and we have a large Hospital I have a great deal to do. Our Hospital is capable of holding between five and six hundred and I have charge of drawing and issuing all the rations, liquors, fuel so you can judge for yourself whether I am busy or not. but I have got an Asst now So that helps me a great deal but there is one thing that I am quite certain of and that is that I am doing more good here than I could in the field, although if I were ordered to the field I would go withut saying one word for I have always obeyed orders since I have been a Soldier and intend to but there is another very evident fact that is that these sick and wounded Soldiers (or Uncle Sams Children) must be taken care of and anything in my power to help them they will get. I can assure you that the Soldiers that are in Nashville in hopsitals are getting extraordinary good care taken of them(as they deserve) tonite we send alot of boys to Louisville KY those that are slightly wounded in the late battle in Northern GA for the purpose of making room for those that are daily arriving from the front that are worse off than these. I have talked with a number of the boys that have come in from the late field of action, they were all in good spirits and confident of the success of our brave Army of the Cumberland. In my opinion the ? Copperheads and the Southern Traitors will have to wait awhile longer before they have a chance to boast or crow over the success of the Rebels for they have not made anything in this last battle for our Army under “Old Rosy” have held their ground against greatly superior numbers. I saw George day before yesterday, he was with the Mr. Hoss, he was looking very well with the acception of his eyes, they continue to be bad. I rather guess worse than common. I have received two packages of papers from you written a few days for which I am much obliged for they looked so much like former better days. I sent you a Nashville Weekly Union a few days ago, which contained a short piece about me and my Asst perhaps you noticed it. I marked around it, but it did not come out to any particular sum. It was intended as a joke on us but rather fell through itself the cause of it was we had an invitation to call and see the ladies of the other building(one of which is a Mich lady) and because we accepted the invitation and some of the others did not get invited they were jealous and tried to be smart. but instead of accomplishing it, they made more enemies than friends in the operation ? is not going to require me in the least, anyway that is what the Surgeons of this Institution told me. I have been a little unwell for the past two days with a sore throat but am better tonite and do not apprehend any further trouble. I was out to see George last Sunday one week ago today, he has a first rate place with one exception that is he has to sleep in a tent which I should not like, although he has a very nice one, far superior to anything he could have in camp, still it is a tent and is not a house. the weather here has been quite changeable for the past ten or fifteen days, but it is now quite cool, which it makes it favorable for the wounded. I have not heard from Spring Arbor in so long that I begin to think the Follks have forgotten me, for my part I should really like to correspond with some “fair celestial” from that part of our beloved “America”but I do not expect any good luck as that for I have about made up my mind that they all got “Sweet Hearts” in the army or somwhere else for I shall not look for anything of the kind. I guess I have written enough of this nonsense, but no one but Home Folks will ever see it, I shall not care so much. I must write something you know and as I am one of Uncle Sams Gay and Festive Children it may as well be nonsense, as any other sense, or amy other man. Company H 1st Mich. Engers. & Mechs. were all usually well when last heard from. It is now bedtime and I have to be up in the morning I will be under the painful necessity of closing hoping you and all the rest of the folks are well. please give my best wishes to Mary, Mr. Ward and Mrs. Ward and the young ladies, Mrs White, Mrs Haddock and all the rest of the folks. If any of them think enough of me to ask of me. I am looking over this letter I notice considerable bad spelling and some mistakes, but you must make due allowance for me as you know that I am young and “unsophisticated” but as you are pretty well posted, perhaps by a choice? you will be able to make it out, part of it suffice it to say that it all means well anyway, no more tonite, only write when convenient. I remainas ever
Gen’l Hospital 13 Nashville Tenn
Engineer Co. H 1st Rgt Of Michigan
eBay auction ended 1/16/13
Camp near Nashville, Tennessee
March 28th, 1864
I wrote to you last while at Louisville, but have never received a letter from home. I wish you would write sometimes, it does a fellow good to receive a letter. I have not received a letter since I left Camp Lindsey from anybody. We left Louisville last Friday evening at six o’clock, and arrived at Nashville last Sunday morning at 3 o’clock. We were just 33 hours running 185 miles. We are using the shelter tent, they are made for two persons, but John Matson and I and John Williams and Bob Williamson and John Goddard and Emit Goddard have spliced our tents and bunk together. I like the place very well, much better than Louisville, but we will hardly remain here very long. We are under command of Gen Hovey and he is not the man to remain inactive very long. In giving the name of the Colonel of our regt., I mistated it, it is Mcquiston instead of Mchiston.
My health is excellent, I was around the outskirts of the city taking a view of the fortifications. The City is very strongly fortified. There are a number of new Indiana regts here, they are encamped around the City, every place wherever the ground is favorable for a camp. Several regts have arrived and encamped near us yesterday and today. We are having a splendid times here, but I want to go to the front as soon as possible. I like soldiering not only as well as I ever thought I would, but much better. It seems to agree with me in every respect. We are a gay set, Father I wish when you write, you would send me some postage stamps, as I am out entirely, and have no money to get any with.
Give my love to all the family, tell Pres I would like for him to write to me.
Please write soon.
Your affectionate son,
John R. Miller
(to his father)
John R Miller
Company “F”, 123rd Regt. Ind. Vol.
Source: web site
Dear Father and Mother I thought I would write a fiew lines to let you know that I am well and I hope this will find you the same.. The first days fight just before dark I got a little tap on the sholdier with a piece of shell it was not a bad hurt but it was bad enough So I had to come to the Hospital the same piece hit All Cowden [i.e., Pvt. Albert Cowden, Co. K, 84th Illinois Infantry] on the leg so he can hardly walk.. Will Stockton [i.e., Pvt. William H. Stockton, Company K, 84th Illinois Infantry] was wounded with his own gun he shot the end off of his four fingurs of his right hand at the first joint. I havnot herd from the regiment yet I suppose they are after Hood yet you will see in the papers how the thing went. I think old Hood is gon up Salt Crick. their was lots of our men hurt they had to charge the rebs works their is some men here nearly shot all a way. Their is some wounded rebs here they are used the same our men is. It has bin very wet here since the fight begun I guess it will turn cold… They got all of our men that was wounded at franklin and all the rebs.. this Hospital is the best fixed thing I ever saw. We have very good grub and git enough of it.. I was in the fight until the first line of works was taken. we took one stand of collers and two guns we was forming when I got hit.. I suppose they will send me to the regiment in a day or so
I have wrote all I can think of so I will bring this to a close Write often to your Hoapeful
H H Maley
Wm M and
E A Maley
Source: Univ of Notredame
Company D, 4th Regiment, Kentucky Calvary Volunteers
April 9th, 1862
I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am tolerable well at present and hope these few lines may find you are enjoying the same blessing. We have got to this place after a long and tedious march. We got here last Sunday. The country through which we have passed is the worst torn up country I ever saw. The fences are nearly all burnt along the road and lots of the houses deserted and some of these torn all to pieces. We find some Union men down here but they are very scarce in this part of the world. This is a fine country about Nashville. There is some of the finest houses here that I ever saw and plenty of Negroes. We have had two or three insurrections in the regiment. When we fixed to start from Bardstown all the regiment except our company refused to go until they were paid off. But our company took the lead and the rest followed after. Then when we got to Munfordville and got our money they refused to go any further until we got arms and the Colonel went and got some guns that had been refused by several other regiments and told us when we got to Gallatin we should have better arms but we come to this place and this morning the Colonel ordered us to march on to Columbus 45 miles from here and selected our company to take the lead. But they told him plainly they would not go any further without better arms and I have heard that there is no more arms to give out to cavalry. I do not know what will be the result. I have not heard from you since I sent you that money but I hope you have got it. I would like to be at home with you all but I don’t know when I can come. There is no chance to get a furlough now. You must write as often as you can and direct your letters to Nashville, Tenn. until I write again. You must be contented as you can and stay where you are until I can get back again and trust to Providence. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
we are in Tennassee about 3 miles from Nashville it is a pretty large place the rebles has tore up the bridg so we hafto cross in a boat it is a pretty place round here but in Kentucky is a pretty hard place the fences is all burnt down and houses some has left thare house and every thing in it and run away but thare is some left yet thare is 4 rigements here in our brigade
[Original Civil war letter from occupied Confederate Nashville, Tennessee, under the military governor, Andrew Johnson] 4 page letter with original envelope from William Henry Ruse of the 97th Ohio Volunteer Regiment to Maggie Stewart of Adamsville, Ohio. W. H. Ruse worked in a hospital (No.8) in Nashville, Tennessee (possibly as a pastor). Ruse talks of William Gannaway Brownlow’s sermon just 400 yards away (preacher and future Tennessee Governor) and the transfer of Clement Laird Vallandigham to Confederate lines (on direct orders from Lincoln)
Pleasant Sunday Eve
I have just come in from preaching and now I am going to try to write to you a few lines in answer to yours which I received two or three hours ago. Last Sunday evening you was writing to me. It is slow work talking at such a long distance. For my part I would prefer having the distance shortened. But don’t know how to accomplish it… you say you read my letters often. I don’t think you read them as often as I do yours. For that is the way I past my time reading letters and looking at those treasurable pictures… Monday Evening May 25th.
Well as I did not finish yesterday I will now try to write a little more. It is so excessively warm today that I can scarcely write. Parson Brownlow preached in this City yesterday at 12 A.M. the Church in which he preached is not more than four hundred yards from this hospital, but I did not know he was going to preach until it was all over. I tell you I was spited. To think I didn’t get to hear him when he was so close. It was not generally made known that he was to preach till an hour or two previous to the hour for preaching… The Northern Traitor (Vallandigham) arrived in this City on last evening. On his way south of our lines. He was strongly guarded. I don’t think his punishment was half severe enough.”
Last page contains a poem about death, entitled:
“How, where and when”
(This poem has been attributed to Mrs. Abdy, 1842, Church of England Magazine, Vol. 12)
When shall I die?
Shall death’s cold hand arrest my breath?
While loved ones stand in silent watchful love to shed.
Shed tears around my quiet bed?
Or shall I meet my final doom far from my country and my home?
Or shall my fainting frame sustain the tedious languishing of pain?
Please write soon and often.
Source: eBay auction, March 2011
Hospital No. 12, Nashville, Tenn.
May 7th 1863
Once more with great pleasure I embrace a few moments to write you a short letter. I wrote to you a short time since and shortly after I started mine I received a very kind letter from you. It seems that all our letters pass each other on the road. “speck” they say “How do you do” or make use of some familiar phrase.
Wish the writers could meet as often as their letters do. strange wish, “ain’t” it. and not very strange neither. You know we can’t refrain from wishing, but I wish that our wishes could come to pass. Oh! Maggie! I have written so often to you that I expect you are getting wearied reading my disinterested letters. but let me assure you it is not so with me. Your letters are received by me with the greatest pleasure, and a beating heart always waits a reply. I have written a good many letters to other girls. Letters of friendship, but those I write to you. I want you to receive them for more than mere friendship. For let me say that your memory is ever dear to me and if we never again meet on Earth I shall ever Cherish the fond remembrance of Thee, and think of the pleasant hours passed in your society, but let me indulge the hope that we may again meet ere long.
I cannot yet see much sign of the war Closing but I always try to hope fo the Best.
I suppose You was a thousand times glad to welcome the returns of your soldier Brothers.
I imagine I see Maggie when she first got a peep of Nixon. I want you to give me the particulars of your first meeting. I was glad to hear of Nixon getting his discharge. I received a letter from him when he was about ready to start home. I was somewhat surprised when I received the news of his going but he did his duty in the army. And I know his discharge is an honorable one. I have not yet answered his last letter. And I beleive I will wait till I get a letter from him at home if he has not yet written tell him I want him to write immediately.
A great many left no. 12 day before yesterday for Louisville. I could have gone had I so desired but I thought it not a very desirable place from Nixons description of affairs there. We have a new surgeon in Charge. He is quite a young man + I presume a very fine man + skillful Physician but I must stop. Now dont forget to write often. I will pledge myself to answer Your letters immediately on their reception if you will do the same “Aint” that fair?
Well goodbye Dear Maggie hoping to hear from you soon.
I am every Yours
farewell oh no it cannot be
Direct as before