Volume 2, Number 12, Summer/Fall 1967


Civil War Letters

by Cletys R. Ackerman


Letters from Josiah McGuire to his wife Elizabeth (Ball) McGuire, during the War Between the States. Josiah and Elizabeth McGuire were my Great grandfather and Great Grandmother. Josiah evidently raised his family near North Vernon, Indiana in Jennings County. He was a member of Company "E", 82nd Regiment, Indiana Volunteers. He is buried in the National Cemetery at Vicksburg, Tennessee. After the war his family moved to Missouri and settled in Christian County near Billings and from there scattered throughout the Ozark region. Josiah and Elizabeth had 8 children; Nancy-1848, 1866, Anna-1850, Sarah-1851 1858, William-1853 1854, Edly-1855, Alexander-1857 1864, John-1859, and Rebecca Morris-1862 1930. Rebecca married my Grandfather Charles Anthony DeWtt (9/17/1854 -10/ 1919). They had 9 children; My mother Lydia Josephine, Robert Armstrong, Minnie, Clara Abigale, Louise Teresa, Franklin Thomas, William McKinley, Alma Elizabeth, Charles Joseph and Annie who lived less than one year. Anna McGuire married Robert Armstrong Copp. They had 4 children; Judge , Julia, Elizabeth, and Jep, and lived in Calico Rock, Arkansas. John McGuire married Katherine West and they had 2 children; Mamie and Hazel, they lived at one time in Rodgers, Arkansas and John served as mayor of that town. Edley McGuire married Sally West and they had 3 children; Ida, Henry, and Ora.

These letters from Josiah McGuire to his wife were faded and some words were blured so badly it was difficult to read and I have had to leave some blanks where the words were completely obliterated. In all there are 7 complete letters and a portion of another.

Sept 12th 1862
Dear Wife:
I take this oppertunity (sic) to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and doing so fare (sic). I rec’d a letter from you last Sunday night and I can tell you that I have not bin (sic) better pleased since I have bin (sic) in camp. We camped near Lewisville some days, but I was on pickett (sic) guard 4 days and served one nights tremendis (sic) hard march but I have payd for it since. We left our camp at 2 o’clock in the morning and marched till about 2 or 3 o’clock that day towards Covington and incamped (sic) for the night, three regiments of us. We lay till about midnight when we was roused (sic) up with a charge to be silent and was marched out of camp and formed in line of battell (sic) and lay till the sun was about 2 hours high when our scouts came in and reported that our enemy had skedaddeld (sic) instead of attactin (sic) us. We then came back to our camp and lay for one night and then we rec’d marching orders and we did not know where but we filed off towards Lewisville and through town to the river and formed on the bank of the river. The hole Brigade, 3 Regiments. Directly we saw the ferry boat turned to for us and we was marched into her and steamed for Indiana shore, and I wash you could have heard the boys halow (sic) when they came on shore in Jeffersonville. We are still here, but I don’t know how long we will stay here. I am makin (sic) 15 dollars a month and I think I will make more before long. I am a mess cook for ten men, and I buy and sell and live by the pass. There is no man in camp that has it better than I do. Your 25 dollars will soon be ready for you and I want you to write to me often and tell me about every thing. I could read your letter first rate and would be glad to get one every day. This makes the fourth letter to you and but one from you direct to the 82nd Reg., Company "E", Ind. Volunteers, in the care of Captain Hindrick.
We have a perfect good captain, and as well beliked as he could be, and a good second Lieutenant (sic), Mr. Almon. But I don’t like Mr. Roop, the 1st Lieutenant (sic), nor I dont think there is many that does. We are all uniform nice black frock coats, blue blew pants, high crown hats with a brass eagle on the side, and a brass bugle in front of them. It looks nice
Josiah McGuire

Oct the 16th 1862
Dear Wife:
I take this oppertunity (sic) of writing you a few lines to let you know that I am well at this time. Hopen (sic) these lines may find you in good health. I have not rec’d any letter from you since yours of the 1st of this inst wich (sic) I answered and then rote (sic) 1 the 8th in the morning before we was ordered to the field of battle and then I rote one the 11th and now I will rite (sic) another one. We are near Craborchard and our advance has bin (sic) fiting (sic) Brag (sic) ever since the 8th till today. I have not heard any firing today and we have not marched to day yet, and it is the first since we left Lewisville and it is not too late to move yet, but I don’t think we will move

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today for we were told this morning that we mite (sic) wash our clothes. So, I went at it and washed my own and some 30 cents worth for the other boys before dinner. If you want to know our travell (sic) I will give you the towns and you can look at the map. From Lewisville to Sheppardsville and then to Barge town, then to Perrysvill (sic) and then near Harods burg, and then to Dan vill (sic) then to Lancaster. We are on the road to Cumberlain Gap. We heard in camp this morning that our advance had whiped (sic) old Brag this morning but I dont believe it, but I dont know as much as you do, only what I see myself. I rote (sic) you a letter with an order in it for you to get your money and if you did not recd (sic) it take this letter to Mr. E. Whitcomb in North Vernon and he will pay you the 25 dollars that is cuming (sic) to me from Jennings County for my bounty. Our Captain left it in his care to pay to you. I have more to write to you than I can find paper to write but I think I will get to come home before long then I can tell you all. I want you to write to me as often as you can. If you want to know what Army I am in. I am under Colonel Hunter, and he is under Colonel Walker, acting Brigadier under General Thorn, and is under Buell. Our Brigade is called Shepp Brigade, but he is sick and the comman (sic) falls on Walker of Ohio. I saw a man that came through the battlefield 4 days after the fite (sic). He said that there were rail pens full of Rebbels (sic) that was not buried (sic) yet. I came through the second day and they was not gathered up yet.
So good by
Josiah McGuire

Oct. 23rd 1862
Dear Wife:
I take this oppertunity (sic) of writing you a few lines to let you know that I am well at this time and has had good health all the time since I came in to camp with the exceptions of the rumatism (sic) a little, but I marched all the time. I hope these lines may find you and all the children well. I rec’d three letters from you day be fore yesterday and to day I got the one you sent by Walker’s boys. We have moved back some 45 miles to Lebnon (sic) or not far off some 2 or 3 miles____ ____ into a fite yet (sic) ___ nov I don’t ____ we will. Now the things you was, a talking of sending me. You need not send me any socks or boots. I should like to have a pare (sic) of mittens. I can get all the clothes I need here, but a few lbs of tobacco would not come a miss, but I dont know how you could send them to me, with out the people ar North Vernon sends a box of such things to the company. I am glad you have got your money and I recon (sic) you have heard
all about the battle of Perrys vill (sic) or Haplin Hills and if you have the full account of it in such a shape that you could cut it out of your paper I wish you would send it in a letter to me for I have not bin able to get the pertickulars (sic) of it yet, though I saw some of it and was almost in range of the guns, and there was so many killed that I dont suppose the dead is all buried (sic) yet or ever will be. As we came back we came where the rite wing of our army faut (sic). The fences was all tore down as far as I could see and the trees cut up with shot and as I went through Ferrys vill I saw houses riddeld (sic) with cannon shot. It was a hard site but I have wished since that I had went all over the field the next day, but I did not want to then, but I did want to be led in when they was a need for me. There 10 or more thousand men that lay in site, and was refused the liberty of helping their bleding friends. We have been on the march nearly all the time since we left Lewisville, and some of the boys feet is nerly (sic) a sollid (sic) blister, but mine stand it fine. I expect we will leave tomorrow for parts unknown to me. Some says one place and some says an other, but we can’t tell. I want you to write all the particklers (sic) news to me, for reliable news is skers (sic) here and hard to get. You said in your letter that you wanted me to come home and see you. I cant without taken (sic) a fence furlow (AWOL). There is several of our boys has went home and has paid very dear for it. I would hate to be lost from my regiment, for it is the hardest matter to find it in the world. Our Ordley Sergent and 1 or 2 others got behind us and got lost and did not find us for 2 or 3 days. They went 25 miles a past us and no one could tell them where we was. I will have to send my letters without postage and you had better send the money to pay the postage on them, for postage stamps is a bout plaid (sic) out here with me. You must excuse me for writing with a pencil, but it is all the chance. Tell Beck that I would be glad to have some of her cabbage for I have not had a mess since I left home and it would be a grate (sic) treat. We have coffee, sugar, beef, and bacon and crackers and when we are not on the march we have beans, rice, and potatoes and vinagre (sic), safe candles and so-forth. Tell the children that I have not time to rite them a sepparate (sic) letter and they must not think that I am a sliting (sic) them, for I like for them to rite to me, but I cant read anna’s letters, she must learn to spell better. Mary does very well. Tell Edley Thart I want him to learn to rite so that he can send me a letter. Now, I will send him the bugle from my hat before I loose it and I want him to take good care of it. I intend to rite to John W. and Max Moncrief and unkle

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(sic) Charlie as soon as we get in camp to stay any length of time, but I hardly have time to write to you. So, no more at this time but remain, your husband.
Josiah McGuire

Nov. 8th 1862
Dear Wife:
I take this oppertunity (sic) of writing you a few lines to let you know that I am well at this time. Hopen (sic) these lines may find you in good health. I have not read a letter from you since yours of the 27th of last month, and this is the third letter that I have rote (sic) since rec’d that. We are a beating South, I expect we will go to Nashville, but I dont know. We are now 37 miles from that place. It is tolerable (sic) cold yesterday and snowed a little, but is now clear and pleasant. We have not got all our winter wuipmens (sic), we lack overcoats and oil cloths and some 2 or 3 tents to our company, but it said we will get them before long, but it is uncertain whether we will get them till we get to Nashville, though we get enough to eat. I draw a to do nearly all of us if you had it to cook. I am certain (sic) the coffee that I get would do all the family, for I eat a quart of it, very strong, 3 times a day when in camp and 2 times a day on a march, and sugar a plenty to sweeten it. I draw of a lb of bacon or salt pork or 1 lbs of fresh beef, generally 2 times a week. I get 1 lb of crackers per day and when in camp we get beans or rice or potatoes, and some vineger (sic). Sometimes molasas (sic) and some time we forage a little and get something fresh such as sweet potatoes and soforth. I don’t suppose that we will go in to winter quarters at all this winter. I think we will move all winter and put things through generaly. We are rid of Bueli and I am in hope we will do something now. We have not drawn our pay yet and I don’t know withor (sic) we will till the first of January, that is our next payday. Some of the regiments in our brigade drew their pay that time but we got one month pay in advance, and that will throw us till next payday. I think though, some thinks we will be paid yet this time, but I dont and I dont care much noway. I think I can get along and I hope you can. If there is any news in your paper that is interesting send it to me some way. We don’s get much news here that is reliable, but more rumers (sic) than you could imagin (sic). This country is desolate, all the fences are burnt along the road, in places as far as you can see. All the grain eat up and distroyed (sic) and all the property killd (sic) that will do to eat, houses deserted and all kinds of destruction.
So, good by
Josiah McGuire

Nov. 23rd 1862 At horspitle (sic) Gallatin, Tenisee (sic)
Dear Wife:
I take this oppertunity (sic) of writing you a few lines to let you know that I am in the horsepittle (sic) with the measels (sic). I came here the 19th, but had begun to brake out before I came here. I think I am a getten (sic) a long first rate. There is a bout 80 here in one house with measels. We have a water (sic) to every room. We have as good a fellow to wait on us as could be got any where. I dident know that he had a thing to do with the horsepitle (sic) till I was brought to it and met him and he told me that he should wait on me. I told him then I had some prospect of being taken care of and he has done his dewty (sic) nobly (sic). I got a letter from you on the 18th dated 13 which gave me grate satisfaction to hear from you one time more. You would like to know how we fare. We have straw skattered (sic) thick on the floor then we lay down and cover with our blankits (sic) and when want to go out we wrap our blankits (sic) a round us and drives a way. I never heard such in my life. There is over 20 of us in one room. It tires me to write, I recon (sic) I will be apt to write one more letter from here before I go back to the battery so send your letters to the battery direct. First division, first brigade, Forth Michigan Battery, Capt Chirch, Army of Cumberland. I am tired and will quit, so good by.
Josiah McGuire

Nov. 30 1862
At Gallatin Horsepitle (sic) Tenisee (sic) Note; Ink faded, letter spotty, hard to read.
Dear Wife:
I take this oppertunity (sic) of writing you a few lines to let you know how I am getting along. I took the measels on the 18th day and I think i have had a many a bad cold that hurt me more, but I took a very bad bowel complaint that has reduced me to a very weak state. Still, I can go a bout and wait on myself and if I had some little things to soot (sic) my taste I could soon be well. We have one of our own company for a nurse and I never have a better one. He bought me a half a gallon of very small Irish potatoes and they cost a 15 cents. Last nite he went and bought a peck of corn meal and gave a quarter out of his own pocket for us, and this morning he bought me a quart of good sweet milk which cost 15 cents. I cant bisquit (sic) cost 25 cents per doz, pickell (sic) cost 25 or 43, and all such things a corden (sic). It is the hardest matter in get such things I ever saw. Fresh pork is worth 10.00 per hundred. I dont know how those people in the South is going to live much longer. The rebbells (sic) take their properly and pays them in scrip, then we come a long and confiscate the rest and dont leave the cittesens (sic) much to

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Family of Charles A. and Rebecca (McGuire) DeWitt, Billings, Missouri, 1903
Family of Charles A. and Rebecca (McGuire) DeWitt
Billings, Missouri, 1903

Back row left to right - Thomas Rector, Minnie (DeWitt) Rector, Franklin Thomas DeWitt, Robert Armstrong DeWitt, Charles Burton DeWitt (Son of Robert A.), Carrie (Brown) DeWitt (Mother of Charles B.), Clara Abigale DeWitt, Frank Fally Ackerman, Lydia Josephine (DeWitt) Ackerman.

Front row left to right - Elizabeth (Ball) McGuire (Mother of Rebecca DeWitt), William McKinley DeWitt, Alma Elizabeth DeWitt (Babe in arms), Charles Anthony DeWitt, Louise Teresa DeWitt, Rebecca Morris (McGuire) DeWitt.

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live on. Old Morgans men are a prowlen (sic) a round here. We have some little skermish (sic) with them ti no importence (sic) I still live in hopes that this thing cant last long. Though I cant tell like I could it was where I could get the news. I want you to write to me what you think, and the general belief of the women, men of that county. I see letters from all parts of the state that think the war is near a close. I never have bin homesick till now and now I would like to be at home, but there is no chance. I am not sick enough to get a discharge. If I was well again I would rather
them at home. In these unsettled times I have not got any letter from you since the 18th dated 13. I wrote a letter to you the 12th and another 15th and another 23rd. Write as soon as you can. so, no more, but remains your husband till death.
Josiah McGuire
Dec. 2nd 1862 Gallantin Hosepittle (sic)
Dear Wife:
I take this oppertunity (sic) of writing you a few lines to let you know that I am still mending. I wlaked about a mile this morning and I think it helped me. Hopen (sic) these lines may find you in good health. There is a chance to send me a box of things. I expect to stay here some 15 days yet. Now, let me tell you what I want. I want you to get a box that will hold some 25 lbs. made nice and lite, then put in some 5 lbs of tobacco and skour (sic) up one of them quart cans and send it full of butter, for I have not tasted butter since I left home. I all so want you to send me quart bottell (sic) full of your molasses, send me some dried blackberrys and some dried appels (sic) and a few onions and tell Becca Morris if she has it to send me a pint of appell butter. I all so wish you wnuld send me a half quire of paper and some in vellops (sic) for they are hard to get here. Send me a pare f socks and a pare of mittens if you have them reddy (sic), but if not, dont take time to make them, and if them dont fill your box send me some little thing to eat for I am burnt out on our fare here. Those things will come in 3 or 4 days. Mite hear since I have returned me over to my regiment a gain sodirect tithe regiment a gain like you have here to fore. Direct your box to Gallatin, Summer county, Tenessee Division hospital number 2 in care of dr. Jossie. I want you to send me a letter wich you direct the same way, be quick it will I expect 1.00 and I would be 5.00 if I had it now. I dont expect to draw any money before the first of next month, that is our draw day. There will be 39.00 dollars dews (sic) us, then we are all nearly out of money. There has bin no cold wether here yet. So, no more this time, but remains your affectionate (sic) husband until death.
Josiah McGuire
I am a gitten (sic) on easy about you I cant get no letters from you anymore since the one dated the 13th. So, good by.

Note; This letter of Dec. 2, 1862 might have been the last letter that my great grandmother received from her husband as he died Dec. 12, 1862.
Note; The following are pages 2 and 3, 5 and 6 of a letter.
Pages 2 & 3; then to Campellsville, then Greensburg and then to cave city, we landed here near sundown and where we will go next I don’t know. There is a site of men here a past my numbering. I heard to nite that the 6th regiment is here and if it is I will see them. I heard that two or three of the 6th was taken, but I don’t know. I have got our second lewtenent (sic) to get me a pare of boots from North Vernon. Him and James May-field has a shew (sic) shop there in pardner ship. Nearly all the boys are a sending by him. I can get sox here, so don’t put yourself out for me for I can get such things easyier than you can send them to me. We get all our clothing at holesale (sic) prices. We will draw our pay in a few days and I will send you some more money. I want you to get your house fixed so you can live in it cumfertable (sic) this winter, and be in good spirits for I think that Lincons Procklamation will do something. It will either make them fite harder or end the war.
Pages 5 & 6; march today very well and I think it was a benefit to me if I could have a feat of cabbage or a dozen onions. I would live well but things is so high that it would take all my money to buy such things. Small is worth 10 or 15 cents a peice, chickens is 25 cents a peice and small appels is worth 1 cent a peice, cheese is worth 25 cents a lo, butter, I have nown some sold at 1.00 a lb and cant be got at that. Milk is worth 15 c6nts a pint. We have plenty of meat and crackers, coffee and sugar and sometimes potatoes, rice, and beans. I rote a letter the day before I left and have not had time to write sincc md now I ought to be a sleep for we will have to march to morrow I suppose at 6 o’clock. It must be now some 10 o’clock (end page 6)

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Charles Anthony DeWitt and Rebecca (Morris McGuire) DeWitt
Charles Anthony DeWitt and Rebecca (Morris McGuire) DeWitt

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