A Letter from War

As mentioned in the first post, my grandmother, Margaret McKinley, had a collection of family history treasures. She was the family historian before me & had a wealth of information. I am grateful to her for sharing some of her knowledge with me and for giving me most of her collection before she died in 2007.

Allen Erp, my 3rd Great Grandfather, served in the 86th Regiment, Company G, of the Indiana Volunteers from August 2, 1862 until June 6, 1865.

Grandma had a copy of a letter that Allen sent home from the war. According to Grandma, Allen and his wife, Sarah, were not able to read or write. So the letter was sent to a family member. She said the original was given to descendants of that family member. The copy that Grandma had was old and dark, very difficult to read. But here goes:

The letterhead is a graphic of soldiers fighting with the caption, “Desperate Bayonet Charge at Battle of Winchester, March 23, led by Gen. Tyler.” (I think this is referring to a battle of Winchester, VA)

The letter reads as follows (with lack of punctuation and capitalization as common in letters of the time period):

Murfreesboro Tn, June the 4 1863 Co. G. 86 Ind reg vol (2nd) ) Brigade 9th division 21st Army corps Dep of the cumberlain / brothe and sister it is with pleasure that i write to let you no that i am well and hope that this will find you in joying good health allso amberson i thought that i would rite you if you did not to me i think you ought to write for you donte have to git some boddy els to write for you and have plenty time and have every thing proper to your hand. there is a move here now sertain and i donte no where nor wich way write if you please if you donte hold eny mallis againste me and if there is any thing betwix us i donte no it so write enny how emberson i would like to see you verry much but i cannot so i wante to keep up communication with you for resons that i will tel you when i get an answer to this write all of the times of the neiborhood and country and of the people in genarl i am a ambulance driver it is a good birth a good plase eassy i donte have to cook enny and see a good time of it but i have not received enny pay since i have left indiana but expect every day when i will the loss of my fingers is painfull in boddy and mind and i am lost when i go to take hold of enny thing for i forgit that thare are gone i am sure to hit them againste enny thing when i go to take hold of enny thing if i am in a hurry but if i coud be there talk with you and see my family and no how there a gitting alonge i woud be rather [hole in page] in the army but as it is i am not if i was there i coud tel you a great menny things to that you cannot write i coud contain you a weak or more and it woud all be interesting to you and it woud pay enny man that has got the money to spare to come and see for himself it woud not take much for a person to come here i send this letter to this office to see which wone tha come to the quickest and if tha come to that me sooner i will send my letters there so write and let me no about it do be sure to answer this letter for it might pay you to write for i can find out [too faded to read] regiment you may rest a shurd of that it come from an nother and i wante you to tend a little to my family and i will reward you for it for i put conffidcnce in you for i no that you will not see enny thing go to loss if it can be hope so no more at preasant but ever remain your brother and sister until death Allen erp to emberson cox and milly cox milly i woud like to hear from you

Well, I guess it is a little hard to get through, but a few things stood out to me. Allen has been in the Army for just under a year, and has already lost his fingers. He was most likely no longer able to fire a rifle, but worked as an ambulance driver. Hard to imagine what that was like.

He also hasn’t been paid since leaving Indiana. He’s concerned about his family back home and would like to hear any news.

There is a history of the 86th Regiment available free on Google Books: The Eighty-Sixth Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, by James A. Barnes et al., published in 1895. It indicates that the Regiment became part of the Army of the Cumberland. They had been in Murfreesboro, TN for about 6 months when this letter was written. They continued on through Southern Tennessee and North Alabama for most of the War. It is a little awkward living in the South & discussing Civil War ancestors, knowing that one of my ancestors was a part of what was considered the invading and occupying forces down here.

So to whom did he write? “brother & sister” Emberson and Milly Cox. Who were they? More to come…

©MJMcK 2016

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