A Letter Home from an Adams County Civil War Veteran

From the Friendship Reporter, July 10, 1919

A Letter From Long Ago

Transcribed by Linda Cates

NOTE: For more information on Wisconsin Veterans of the Civil War and World
Wars I and II, check the Wisconsin Veterans Museum They have a database of
all WI Civil War Veterans and will do look-ups. If you are able, please send
a small donation with your look-up request and SASE to: Wisconsin Veterans
Museum, 30 West Mifflin Street, Madison, WI 53703

Then, use the information found on this page or from the Wisconsin Veterans
Museum, and send for your ancestor's pension and service records from the
National Archives. Check here for information on cost of copies and how to
submit your request: National Archives Forms

Printed in the Friendship Reporter, Friendship, Wisconsin, Thursday, July 10, 1919

A Letter From The Long Ago
Mrs. S. W. Ferris of White Creek, sends us the following letter which was 
written by Frank Ferris to his family at White Creek, during the dark days of
the Civil War. The writer was killed soon after leaving the hospital and 
returning to duty. Augustus Hill mentioned in the letter, was a brother of J. 
B. Hill of this place, and the Reid family, were wartime residents of White 
Creek, the Ennis Reid Post of that place, being named after one of its 
members. Than White was also an early settler of this vicinity. The letter 
                                                    St. James Hospital,
                                              New Orleans, Aug. 7, 1862
Dear Parents and Friends;
     I am once more able to write to you. I have been sick too, I was taken
sick while at Vicksburg, but as Nat White and I were in the Commissary 
department and had very good quarters, I did not go to the hospital nor take 
any medicine until we moved to Baton Rouge. In fact, I toughed it out until 
the battle, when I was carried to the hospital whether I wanted to go or not.
Well, in the morning we were aroused from our downy beds and pleasant dreams.
A merry time we soldiers have; none of them to be merry over for a week, and,
if we have, nobody to tell them to. Well, we were aroused from the hard side 
of a pitch pine board on which we had rolled and tumbled all night by the
wave of cannonading, and then came the distant sound of musketry. Nearer and 
nearer came the sound, and thicker and faster came the cannon's reports. We 
rise and look in the distance, but a dense fog hides the picture, but as we 
watch, we can see large columns of smoke arise above the fog a half a mile 
away. But we are faint, and have to lie down, so here we are. But we did not
stop our ears with cotton to shut out the noise. Soon we are brought to our 
senses by the whizzing and hissing of shot and shell from the gun boats. We 
rise up and crawl out to take a peep at the boats, and lo, what a sight met
our view. Directly below us is a cart drawn by four mules, and in the cart 
are several soldiers, blood gushing from their wounds. Stop-who is that noble 
looking man with the officer's dress. Do our eyes deceive us? No, it is our 
brave and daring general, Thomas Williams, and he is dead. Yes, he fell while
leading a charge by an Indian regiment in the evening. The fight continued 
until 10:00 A.M. when the rebels retreated in great disorder. To make sure 
retreat and not get caught, they sent back a flag of truce, asking for six
hours to bury their dead, and then they wanted to try us again. Their request
was granted and they made much of it, and when the six hours were up, they 
were many miles away leaving their wounded and dead to our men. Among the 
wounded is a General with his leg off. I have a rebel for a roommate. He is 
also shot through his leg. It took our men three days to bury the dead. They 
buried over three hundred rebels and have a great many wounded ones. I do not 
know our exact loss, but think it does not exceed two hundred killed and 
wounded. The next day after the battle all the sick and wounded were sent to 
New Orleans, your humble servant being one of the number.

And now to the way I feel and fare. Well, when I left Baton Rouge I was most
tarnation sick, that I was, and wasn't any better when I arrived in New 
Orleans. I most died. Now that was what I had been doing for two weeks for I 
had no appetite. Then they began to pour the pills and quinine and whiskey 
down me. But hold,-my diet consisted of a piece of dry toast for breakfast 
made of bread flour enough to make a pig squeal, a plate of rice with sour 
molasses for dinner (which I never did eat) and a piece of sour toast dipped 
in water for supper. Such was my living. I stood that one week, and then I 
made a break. One morning after taking my regular whiskey and medicine, I got 
up and dressed me, which took about two hours, and started down the stairs. I
soon found myself in the street, and people staring at me as though I was a
ghost, and some even called me a ghost. Well, I found my way to a coffee 
house, and planting myself at the table, called for some baked potatoes, a 
plate of oysters and a cup of coffee, which was soon brought and as soon 
devoured. I then told them to bring me a half dozen baked potatoes to take to
my room, which they did, and I started back again. It took me some time to 
get there. But the nurses did not miss me, so I was all right. From that day 
I have gained all the time, but it is very little I eat here. They keep me on 
the same diet yet and do not know that I get anything else. It costs, to be 
sure, but there never was a Ferris born to starve while he has money in his 
pocket. I suppose the war fever is as high as ever up there, is it not? Let
it rage. I am glad there are no more of us to go. One is plenty from a 
family. Tell Smith to keep his finger off the machine until he is older, and
then I have no objection to his trying it, but think he had best run the farm
and raise grain for those that do go. Everyone can do something if they can't
soldier. I have seen the time within the last three months that I would have
been glad to have got what you feed the dog for a meal, and so has many a 
brave soldier. When you write, which I hope you will do soon, direct to the
St. James Hospital, New Orleans. I shall go on duty here as soon as I am able
to do anything. Put 4th regiment, Wis. Volunteers on it and then if I am not 
here, it will be sent to me. How are all of Mr. Hill's? I suppose they feel 
very bad about Augustus' death. Such is the lot of us all. My respects to 
them and all the rest of them. Write one, write all, do not wait for me, for 
I am lazy and don't like to write.
                                                   Frank C. Ferris

Transcribed by Linda Cates

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