1863 January 5: “We had two of our company taken prisoners by the rebel cavalry”
The following letter was written by E. O. (Edmund O.) Cleveland, who was serving in Company A of the 12th Wisconsin Infantry—Prescott’s Lyon Light Guards. The letter is addressed to John Todd in Prescott. Cleveland wrote his letter from Lumpkin’s Mill near Holly Springs in Mississippi, where the 12th had been camped when not marching around, since late November of 1862.
Lumpkin’s Mill was built by William Blanton Lumpkin. Family tradition says that Lumpkin’s Mill was burned by the Yankees, including 100 bales of cotton stored within, in 1862. The Union troops also burned Colonel Lumpkin’s home and stole all his cows, horses, chickens, hogs, and turkeys, and killed his dogs.
The UWRF Archives has only a photocopy of the letter, which is in the Jonah Todd Letters (River Falls SC 59), in the University Archives and Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
Lumpkin’s Mill, Miss.
January 5th 1863
I received your kind letter of the 16th ult. a week or two ago, but have been on the march so much that I have not been able to answer it untill [sic] now.
We have been having very pleasant weather so far this winter, have had but very little cold weather & then not cold enough to freeze water standing in the tent, it does not seem to me like winter.
We have been as far south [as] Yacona [sic: Yocona], which is twelve miles below Oxford.1 While camped at Yacona the rebels under Gen. Van Dorn [Earl Van Dorn] made a dash on Holly Spring and captured our army stores, they also captured $1700. worth of goods for our sutler, then on leaving the place they set fire to it. It is generally believed here that Col. Murphy [Robert Creighton Murphy] of the 8th Regt. Wis. Vol. sold the place. He is now being court marshaled [sic] at Holly Springs.
On our march back to this place we destroyed everything that we passed, the road all the way back was in a blaze—fences, horses, &c all on fire and it made our hearts rejoice to see it.
I am sorry to say that on the 29th last month we had two of our company taken prisoners by the rebel cavalry. They were out with a forrage [sic] train and got taken when a squad of cavalry came upon them and they had to give up. Their names were J. M. Copp & E. ___.
The company are all well and in the best of spirits.
Please … for I have not time to write any more at present.
Direct E. O. Cleveland
Comp. A. 12th Regt. Wis.
Vol. Holly Springs, Miss.
Via Cairo, Ill.
M. O. Cleveland.
To Jonah Todd.
1. Oxford, Mississippi, is the home of the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”), founded in 1848. During the Civil War, federal troops under Generals Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman invaded Oxford in 1862.
2. Joseph M. Copp, an original Company A recruit from Prescott, and very probably Elgreen C. Pierce. Because the letter is a photocopy, the surname of the second person is really difficult to read, but the first name is definitely the initial “E.” Elgreen C. Pierce was taken prisoner on December 25, 1862, and is the only person in Company A whose first name starts with “E” and who was a prisoner. The date in the official record does not match the date given by Cleveland, but that is not unusual.