1862 May 10: Homer Levings Writes Home from Fort Riley, Kansas
The original letter is in the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO), in the University Archives and Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
Fort Riley, Kansas, May 10th, 162.
Dear Father, and Mother.
After a long silence, I take my pen in hand again, to write you a letter. I commenced to write in Eds last letter, but he got in a hurry and sent it off before I had finished. We are living rather an easy life for soldiers. We have been practicing target shooting for a few days past. Higbee1 has gone to Leavenworth City to get his new clothes as he could not get them here. We had a letter from David Burr2 this after-noon, he is in Tennessee, they were not in fight at Corrinth [sic], were about 50 or 60 miles from there, their boys are all well. There was a man died in Co. B. of this Regt. the other day.3 We can get plenty of bufalo [sic] meet [sic] for 2 and 3 cts a pound. Some of the boys have had letters from Prescot [sic], stating that Norman,4 had got home, and had a commission, either as Lieut. Col., or Major in the 18th Wisconsin Regt. I should not be surprised, if it was true, for he had a recomendation [sic], signed by all the commissioned officers in the Regt, except Co. A’s officers.
We just received your letter dated, May 2nd. were glad to hear from you again, you asked Mother, about our Chaplain, where he was, and if he ever preached. He is here now, he was taken sick when we were at Ft Scott. I have never heard him preach but once, that was at Camp Randall last Thanks-giving day. he preached once or twice in Weston, since then I beleive [sic] he not has not preached I guess about all he does is to get the mail for the Regt. His name is L B Mason.5 We expect to leave here next the week for New Mexico, but we do not know, as the privates generaly [sic] get the orders about a week before the Col. does. We ha[v]e the best kind of bread now, we draw our flour and take it to the bakers and get it baked, pound for pound. We have been signing the pay-roll, this evening, we shall be paid off to-morrow morning, to the Amt. of $26, we shall send part of it home. Lieut. Higbee arrived this evening, from Leavenworth, the boys are getting better, he said Louis Reynolds, and Mr. Gibson, had gone home, and George Goodwin would go soon.6 The health of the Co. and Regt. is better now than ever it has been since we left Madison. There is only one of our Co. in the Hospital. As the Tattoo is beating for roll call, I shall have to stop writing.
1. Chester B. Higbee, from Hudson, had been the 1st sergeant with Company A and was promoted to 2nd lieutenant of Company B on March 19, 1862. His “new clothes” that he needed would have been an officer’s uniform.
2. David C. Burr, from River Falls, was in Company F of the 1st Wisconsin Infantry (3 years)—the Saint Croix Rifles.
3. Henry Dearhold, in Company B, died at Fort Riley, Kansas, on May 6, 1862. He was from Westfield, Wisconsin.
4. Norman McLeod did not join the 18th Wisconsin Infantry. The 18th was one of the Wisconsin regiments at the Battle of Shiloh and its colonel, James S. Alban, was killed at Shiloh; its lieutenant colonel, Samuel W. Beal, was wounded at Shiloh; and its major, Josiah W. Crane, was killed at Shiloh, so perhaps this report is just the result of speculation that the 18th needed both a lieutenant colonel and a major.
5. Lemuel B. Mason, from Madison, was the chaplain of the 12th Wisconsin Infantry.
6. Lewis Reynolds and Sergeant Arrington Gibson, both from River Falls, were both discharged April 29, 1862. George H. D. Goodwin, also from River Falls, was discharged June 7, 1862.