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1862 September 21: “Our Victory is not without great loss of life — It was dearly bought”

September 21, 2012

Edwin Levings briefly describes the Battle of Munfordville and the Battle of Iuka, along with a lengthy description of the clothing he and Homer will need for the winter.  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.

Humboldt, Sept 21st/’62

Dear Parents, and Grandmother,

Yours mailed the 16th inst we have just received, inclosing $2.00, and I can truly say no letter from you in a long time, caused us so much pleasure and satisfaction.  It was good news, indeed, to learn that Grandmother had come home, an event I have longed for on your account a great deal.  Don’t let her go away again.  And we should like to see you again!  It would be a happy moment to meet once more, but we are in the hands of the Disposer of all things and shall hope for the best, whatever our lot.  But I desire to see this rebellion squelched more than to be at home, and if the government would destroy the institution of Slavery I would willingly go on to the battle field and take my chances.  If I am to return to you, I hope it will not be till that end is attained, but the present aspects of the war are much more favorable than they were and certainly look encouraging.  I refer to the War in Maryland.  McClellan has hurled the whole rebel army back except what he has not killed , wounded & captured & drove driven them back into Virginia.  But our Victory is not without great loss of life — It was dearly bought.

Ky. is the scene of Federal disaster.  Mumfordsville [sic]1 has at last been surrendered to Bragg [Braxton Bragg] — report says through the treachery of officers.  Severe fighting is in progress below Corinth.  The news from there to-day is that at Iuka Price [Sterling Price] was surrounded by our troop from Corinth, but that last night Price cut his way out, losing however a whole Regt. of Cavalry, and his whole ammunition & provision trains.  Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] did not get to Rosencrans [sic: William S. Rosecrans] in time to prevent the escape of Price.  We had lost up to last evening about 600 men.  They are fighting to-day.  Price had 40 or 50,000 men.2

I was sorry to hear of the fate of Homer Loomis.3  Uncle Edwin has the right idea and I glory in his patriotism.  The Battery boys say he was a good soldier & well liked & spoke highly of him.  We shall be glad of the stockings, Mother, — one pr. of your make is worth two of the gov’t.  All we shall need then to make us comfortable next winter will be gloves (lined) & boots.  If you can find some buckskin lined gloves that are not clumsy so that we can easily handle a gun we shall be very glad of them & we will send you the money next payday.  They will be just the things next winter especially when on picket duty.  Homer thinks we had better send for some woolen shirts too, as the government does not issue any now, the demand for wool taking all in the market for other army clothes.  Cotton shirts are issued now and we had much rather have woolen.  We have just drawn some tip top under shirts which are all cotton.  If you can make any woolen shirts for us in time (say 4), or buy them ready made nothing will be more acceptable & we will forward money to pay.  The boots we shall get Mr. Newton of Prescott to make.  That is all, I believe.  We mean to be comfortable next winter, any how as they have all kinds of weather down here in the winter & unfavorable to health.  Homer got a splendid heavy blanket down at that old secesh’s, Beadle, when we were off on that scout, larger than any you have got certainly.  When marching we throw all such heavy stuff and other traps into the tent.  I must mail this immediately.  Write us soon, all of you, and be assured of our cordial remembrance of you.  Let us know what is going on and so forth.

Yours Affectionately

Edwin Levings
Co A 12th R.W.V. [Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers]
Sept 22nd 1862
10. A. M.

1.  The Battle of Munfordville took place September 14-17, 1862, in Hart County, Kentucky. At first refusing to surrender, after two days of siege Union Colonel John T. Wilder did surrender to Confederate General Simon B. Buckner (he was part of Bragg’s invasion force). Munfordville was an important transportation center, and Confederate control hampered the movement of Union supplies and men.
2.  The Battle of Iuka was fought on September 19, 1862, in northern Mississippi. It was the opening battle of became known as the Iuka-Corinth Campaign. Union General William S. Rosecrans stopped the advance of the army of Confederate General Sterling Price (only a little over 3,000 men).
3.  Homer E. Loomis, from Hustisford, Wisconsin, was in Company I of the 7th Wisconsin Infantry. He was taken prisoner on August 8, 1862.

Edwin Levings letter of September 21, 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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