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1863 January 22: “It is enough to discourage any man, the way this war has been carried on”

January 22, 2013

Homer Levings’ letters are always interesting, and not just for their spelling! In this letter we learn what Homer’s brother Edwin hinted at regarding Homer, at the close of his letter of January 21, 1863.

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.

Colliers Ville   Tenn,  Jan
22nd / 63

Dear Parents,

                            As Ed. has finished writing I thought I would write you a few lines, to not that I have any news to write, for Ed. has told you every-thing that is of importance, but I thought would let you know that I am well, and in the land of the living, and also how I am situated.  I came off from guard this morning.  I have stood guard two nights in succession since we came here, a-guarding the Colonel’s horses it was intended for punishment, but I did not have to stand in the day-time, so it was not verry [sic] hard but of course you will want to know what it is for, so I will tell you at once.  When we left Layfaette [sic], to come to this place, you will remember it rained verry [sic] hard as Ed. told you in his letter.  We were ordered that morning to strike tents about two or three hours before we started so four of the boys in our tent, besides my-self, started on a head [sic] of the Regt. and took the R. R. track, it being much better traveling, so we got ahead of the Regt. got and arrived in town as soon as the advance of the brigade and as we were tiered [sic], hungry, cold, a[nd] wet, we immeaditly [sic] commenced a search for some emty [sic] building in which to stow our selves away for the night, but we did not find such a place, but we chanced to run across a house in the outskirts of the town, where there was a family living in it, by the name of Jones, who were verry [sic] nice pepol [sic], for they had not the heart to turn us out of doors into the storm, so they give us the use of their parlor so we stayed all night with them.  The soldiers had taken about all that they had to eat, so we joined our rations with theirs, we furnished coffee and hard bread, and they furnished the rest.  So now you know what we were put on guard for, which was for staying out of camp over night.  But as Father used to say, “those that dance must pay the fiddler.”  So with those that get ahead of their command to get good dinners, they have to stand guard for it.  But I do not think I lost any-thing by it, for if I had went round by the road and stayed with the Regt. I might have come out as Ed. did caught a severe cold in the bargain, so I do not think that I was the looser [sic] by the opperation [sic].  [paragraph break added]

Our Comp. went on picket this morning, but I could not go, because I had no pants to put on, and there are three or four others in the tent that are in the same fix.  You see we have been marching so steady, and have had so much bad weather, that we have got dirty, and lousy, so we are having our pants boiled, while we lay or sit up in bed, as we prefer.  [paragraph break added]

Now Mother you must not worry about us thinking that we are suffering, for we have plenty to eat and we expect to draw more clothes in a day [or] so.  There is talk of our being paid off before long.  Some say that the 4th Divission [sic] will have to pay for the property destroyed, much by the Generals, that they have become discouraged.  A good many of the soldiers would desert at once, if they only had their pay.  I have heard a good many of of [sic] the soldiers say as much.  I do not think it any disgrace for a soldier to desert, for it is enough to discourage any man, the way this war has been carried on.  But  I don’t know but  you will think by this letter that I am getting discouraged.  As Dwight says I have seen enough of soldiering, but I am not so hard up that I cannot wait a while longer, to see how the thing will turn up.  I would am willing to serve my time out, if they will only go ahead and do something, but I don’t beleive [sic] that the war will last so long as that, for the pepol [sic] will not submit to have the thing run a long as it has, much longer. [paragraph break added]

But I can not write much more as it is getting late, we have not heard anything from Copp, and Pierce yet, and I am afraid we won’t.¹  We should like to have you send us R. F. paper occasionaly [sic].  You must write often tell us what is going on and what you are doing. [paragraph break added]

Capt. Maxon [sic: Orrin T. Maxson] had a letter from Kelsey,² stating  that Higby [sic]³ wrote a letter to some one in Prescott, stating that in that little we skirmish our company had near cold watter [sic], that we fiered [sic] one round and run; then he took Co B, and drove them a mile and a half.  But I don’t supose [sic] you would take stock in any such report.  There was only a few of the company that got near enough to shoot at them, and company B did not get to see the rebels.  [paragraph break added]

Mother you and Grandmother must both write.  But it is getting late so I will close, with my best wishes for your welfare.  From your obedient son


1.  Joseph M. Copp and Elgreen C. Pierce, as we learned in the January 5, 1863, letter by Edmund Orlando Cleveland, had been taken prisoners.
2.  Wallace Kelsey was a sergeant in Company A and was back home recruiting.
3.  Chester G. Higbee was the 2nd lieutenant of Company B at this point. He had been the 1st sergeant in Company A before being transferred to Company B.

Homer Levings letter of January 22, 1863, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Homer Levings letter of January 22, 1863, 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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