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1862 April 8-9: The 12th Wisconsin Marches to Lawrence, Kansas

April 8, 2012

Homer and Edwin Levings write from Lawrence, 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.

Lawrence Kansas, Apr 8th

Dear Parents,
It has been so long since I have writen [sic] a letter, that I am at a loss to know how to commence.  We had a pretty good time coming through from Ft Scott.  It took us one week to come through.  The 13th Wisconsin, Started from there, for this place the day before we did.  We caught up with them, with in [sic] two miles on the second day, where they had camped, but when they heard of our approach they pulled up stakes and traveled a dozen miles farther that night, so that we should not pass them, they traveled most of the way with out [sic] there [sic] tents, as they had rather do with-out [sic] them, than bee [sic] caught. We traveled come on a different road from what we went to Ft Scott on, The roads were good most of the way, and there was some on the road which we came nice country on the road which we come.  But most I should not care much about living in many of the places which we passed.  This country is suited to marching, for we find good camping grounds, where there is plenty of wood and water generaly [sic] about a days march apart.  we [sic] expect to leave this place before long, probably for New Mexico, most of the boys do not want to go there, but I do not but what I should like as well to go there as down the river, for it will be more healthy.  We have had orders to leave this place, this week, for Fort Riley.  It is about 90 miles from here, on the road to New Mexico.  There was a man died in Company G, the other day.1  There is only one man in our Company that is in the hospital, in this place.  The health of the Company is better now than it has been since we left Camp Randall.

Affectionately yours,

Note: Following Homer’s letter is one from his brother Edwin, who did not include a salutation.

Your three feet of snow, I guess, is liable to be a precursor of evil to the Rebels as Island No 10.  I learn that the river has risen to such a hight [sic] as to cause them considerable trouble.  Good, for the snow.  I hope it will continue to rise till they are obliged to abandon it entirely.  I have just been looking at their position and our forces, in Harper’s Weekly.  They will catch it if Comodore [sic] Foote2 manages right.

Tuesday the 8th — This evenings paper state that the gunboat Corondolet [sic]3 ran the Rebel blockade at Island No. 10 and went down to New Madrid in the night without injury from their batteries which, opened upon them furisously.  Good.  The farmers say the season is very backward, but in many localities they are ploughing and preparing ground for the seed, fruit trees are being set out in large numbers, which thrive well in this climate.  I have seen some most beautiful Peach orchards, even as far down as Fort Scott.  Spring wheat looks fine everywhere—the greenblades [sic] of grass are shooting forth from the ground and the trees are fast budding out; and in less than ten days will be clothed in their foliage of green.

Well I shall have to encroach on Homer’s side of the sheet to finish.  We have a daily mail and I hope you will write often.  As to the bandages Homer will write you.  Shall write you again soon.  Yours Affectionately

Note: Edwin adds more on April 9th.

April 9th — With regard to the box of bandages, the Colonel tells me the better way to send them to us, would be to direct to Madison as follows.  To the Sanitary Commitees, in the Care of Mrs L. P. Harvey.  It would be well, I think to address her a letter, specifying the Regt for which it is designed.

We are ordered to Fort Riley to start when the Q. Master [Quartermaster] is ready which will be in 3 or 4 days.  They have a lot of provisions for us there to eat and I suppose we shall have to go & eat them, anyway I will write before leaving.  Yours Affectionately

1.  Oscar Crampton, from Company G of the 12th Wisconsin Infantry, died April 6, 1862, in Lawrence, Kansas.  Company G is where many of Company A’s men, like Wilber P. Dale, were transferred to.
2.  Commodore Andrew Hull Foote commanded the Mississippi River Squadron from 1861 to 1862.  He organized and led the gunboat flotilla in the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson, and Island No. 10 .
3.  The USS Carondelet was a Cairo class ironclad river gunboat, built at Saint Louis, Missouri, for the Union Army’s Western Gunboat Flotilla.

Homer and Edwin Levings letter of April 8-9, 1862, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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