1862 October 20: Edwin Levings Writes to Phineas Flint
This is Edwin Levings’ second letter for today. He is here writing to Jerry Flint’s brother, Phineas, who joined up in the Saint Croix Guards, or Dill Guards (will become Company A of the 30th Wisconsin Infantry). They had just left Hudson on October 12, 1862, along with the Salomon Tigers, headed for training in Madison. From Jerry’s letters we know that Phineas’ health has never been good, and in fact he will not last long, being discharged on December 22, 1862. 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.
Bolivar Tenn. Oct 20th, 1862
You are perhaps looking for a letter from me and I guess I will have a brief chat with this morning. Your last was received some time since and I will not delay longer. Dickinson states in a letter to Jack you had been sick in Hudson and did not learn whether you went to Madison with the Co. or not. I hope you are well now. You will have to take the best care of your health and your knowledge of Physiology and best Judgement will be necessary. A great many break themselves down by their own indiscretion and carelessness and are of no use to the army nor Country. —
Perhaps you are solicitous to know how or for what purpose we came here. Well we were ordered here on the evening of the 4th inst. to go and reinforce Gen’l Hurlburt’s [Stephen A. Hurlbut] Division which, on the 5th fought Price’s [Sterling Price] Army 18000 strong and whipped them completely. It was expected Price would attack in the morning and we started for the battle ground 25 miles south east on the Hatchie River on the evening of the 5th, marching nearly all night, but we arrived too late to participate in the struggle.1 The victory to our arms was complete—11 pieces of artillery & 800 prisoners captured and a large number of rebels killed & wounded captured our troops driving the enemy from their positions & holding them. I went over a portion of the battle field & the destruction & confusion presented showed how completely the rebels were flogged. Our loss was about 260 in all. We are now here in the great army of the West and have been assigned to the 1st Brigade, Col. Pugh [Isaac C. Pugh] of the 41st Ill., of the 4th Division Gen’l McPherson [James B. McPherson]. Our Regt. is in splendid condition now and excellent health. We have nearly a 1,000 men well disciplined and ready for any thing that means fight. That we shall soon have. An advance is likely to be made soon,—now is the time to wipe out Price and invade Miss[issippi] to the Gulf, which we can do if our Gen’ls will just say the word. But I fear the Tories at home—they are bent on the dismemberment of the Union and trying to defeat the prosecution of the War to put down rebellion. But I think their hopes are destined to be frustrated. [paragraph break added]
Winter is coming on and the miserably clad and half starved rebels are giving a doleful cry. They admit that their prospects are dark & hopeless and so, I say, let us crowd them to the last extremity, now, now is the time. I am glad the troops of Wis., Minn. & Iowa are going to vote. I have not seen the Wis. papers lately to know how the feelings of the people are nor who are up for Candidacy. I hear Hanchett2 is representative for the 3rd District as Congressman that is all. But when the time comes my vote will accord with what I have all along expressed about the war, & policy of the government. I heard from Frank Snow the other day he is still on his farm, he went to Cincinnatti [sic] to help defend the City,—is living in Windham, Portage Co. Ohio.
I must close now. Write soon and often. Direct to Bolivar Tenn. Remember us to the boys of the Co. Yours &c Edwin
Let me know how you like Madison & what drill &c you are doing, your progress in. Excuse the brevity of this epistle for I am hurried. Will do better next time.
1. We haven’t really seen anything about the Battle of Hatchie’s Bridge in the Prescott Journal. The battle took place on October 5, 1862, the final engagement of the Iuka-Corinth Campaign. Corinth and Iuka are in northern Mississippi and the Memphis & Charleston Railroad’s bridge over the Hatchie River is just north of the Tennessee-Mississppi border, with Bolivar, Tennessee, being north of that. Confederate General Earl Van Dorn’s Army of Tennessee was defeated at the Battle of Corinth on October 4, but the Union army did not pursue Van Dorn’s retreating troops until the morning of October 5. General Hurlbut’s 4th Division participated, but the 1st Brigade was then led by General James C. Veatch, who was wounded at Hatchie’s Bridge.
2. Luther Hanchett (1825-1862), Union Party nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1862 election. In 1848 he moved to Wisconsin, settling at Plover where he practiced law, engaged in lumbering and mining enterprises, and served for several years as district attorney of Portage County. A Republican, he was a state senator from 1857-1860. In 1860 he was elected to Congress and served from March, 1861, until his death. (From the Luther Hanchett entry in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History.