Monday, August 10, 2009

John Morgan to Garrard Morgan, Feb. 12, 1863

Before getting to the contents of this post, I will mention that Bessie is currently posting a lot of excellent information about John Morgan on her blog.

Here is a Civil War-era letter from John Hamilton Morgan to his father, Garrard Morgan III, as found in Richardson's Life and Ministry of John Morgan. The book reproduces an actual copy of part of the letter, and also provides a transcript. The transcript altered spelling, punctuation, and even changed or left out words. For example:
scattered all along the Cumberland River.. and they also occasinly make a raid betwen here and Nashville?
was altered to:
scattered all about the Cumberland River. And they also occasionally make a raid between here and Nashville.
The edited version of the letter in the book removed a reference to John's red-headed brother Will who also served in the war. How very curious. Nothing at all is said in the biography about any of his brothers or sisters except a list of names on page 589.

I will include as much as possible from the original letter, then change to the edited book version, then finish with the original.

Feb 12 1863
Camp Near Murfreesboro Tenn

Mr Garrard Morgan

Dear Pa Your kind favor came to hand after considerable delay. Mail facilities are verry uncertain now. Wheelers and Morgans Cavalry infest the road from Munfordville south on the R.R. and are scattered all along the Cumberland River.. and they also occasinly make a raid betwen here and Nashville? they are defeated and captured on evry hand but it [change to edited version] appears as though every cedar thicket and hollow along the road is alive with Rebel gorillas! They are led on by bold, daring men who are not paid by the Confederate Government but depend entirely on what they plunder to pay them for their trouble and danger.

They will attack a train out foraging and if they can overpower them, they disarm them and drive them on the double quick 8 or 10 miles—parole and set them loose to take care of themselves. Such instances are very common.

There is a perpetual skirmish fight going on all along the line in front; some of them terminating in an engagement that would have been counted bloody in the beginning of the war.

. . .

They are moving rebel wounded and sick from Murfreesboro almost every day.

We start on scout this evening by ourselves—that is, our Regiment is going out by itself.

I do not know how long we will be out but expect some 8 or 10 days. We intend to bushwack it—march [resume original letter] night and lay by in the day time.

The Col intends to take 200 of his best men along with him.

There was one of our 60 boy's discharged the other day his name is Charles Linder he lives a Robert Waggoners he could give you a good deal of information and is a good clever boy.

but I must Close I have not seen Will [his oldest brother William Woodson Morgan] for some time he is out as a scout. I must get ready for the Scout Write soon and give me the News
Write soon

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John Morgan was listed in the Illinois Civil War Records Database as follows, including the interesting fact of his height:

Name: John Morgan
Rank: Pvt
Company: I
Unit: 123 IL US INF

Personal Characteristics
Residence: Mattoon, Coles Co, IL
Age: 20
Height: 5'5"
Hair: Light
Eyes: Gray
Complexion: Fair
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Farmer
Nativity: In

Service Record
Joined When: Aug 1862
Joined Where: Mattoon, IL
Joined By Whom: Cpt Adams
Period: 3 yrs
Muster In: Sep 6, 1862
Muster In Where: Mattoon, IL
Muster In By Whom: N/A
Muster Out: Jun 28, 1865
Muster Out Where: Nashville, TN
Muster Out By Whom: Cpt Hosea
Remarks: Mustered out as sergeant

Letter as found in Richardson, Arthur M., and Nicholas G. Morgan. The Life and Ministry of John Morgan: For a Wise and Glorious Purpose. [S.l.]: N.G. Morgan, 1965, pp 12-13.

See for a list of the men in company I, 123rd Illinois US Infantry Regiment and Morgan's service record. Charles Linder, mentioned in this letter, was from Summit, Moultrie, IL, and also joined the military in Mattoon, IL. He was "discharged Feb 3, 1863 at Murfreesboro, Tenn for disability." This "good clever boy" was seven years older than John Morgan. I also wanted to look up the service records for John Morgan's companion in his first trip to Salt Lake City, but do not find a name for him in the John Morgan biography. John's brother William was listed in the service records as "William H, private company E, 38 IL US Inf, from Mattoon, Coles, IL, age 22, 5'5-1/2", red hair, blue eyes, light complexion. Single, farmer, born in Decatur Co., In. He joined Aug 2, 1861, in Mattoon, IL, and was mustered in on Aug 21, 1861, at Camp Butler, IL, and no further records available except the note "promoted sergeant trans to signal corps Nov 27, 1863."

Photo of Stones River in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, from

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