His Civil War Letters
December 27, 1863 (Camp Lindsey, IN) (written to his father)
February 16, 1864 (Greencastle, IN) (written to John from his brother Hiram)
February 21, 1864 (Camp Lindsey, IN) (written to his father)
March 10, 1864 (Camp Carrington, IN) (written to his father)
March 18, 1864 (Greensburg, IN) (written to his father)
March 22, 1864 (Camp Taylor, Louisville, KY) (written to his father)
March 28, 1864 (Nashville, TN) (written to his father)
April 2, 1964 (Nashville, TN) (written to his father)
April 10, 1864 (Greencastle, IN) (written by his father to John)
April 21, 1864 (Chattanooga, TN) (written to his father)
May 28, 1864 (In the field near Atlanta, GA) (written to his father)
June 26, 1864 (near Marietta, GA) (written to his father)
July 13, 1864 (Bridgeport, AL) (written to John from his uncle)
July 20, 1864 (Greencastle, IN) (written by his father to John)
August 22, 1864 (before Atlanta, GA) (written to his father)
September 28, 1864 (Decatur, GA) (written to his father)
September 29, 1864 (Decatur, GA) (written to his father)
September 29, 1864 (Decatur, GA) (written to his younger brother)
November 7, 1864 (camp near Chattanooga, TN) (written to his father)
December 4, 1864 (Nashville, TN) (written to his father)
December 12, 1864 (Greencastle, IN) (written by his father to John)
December 14, 1864 (Nashville, TN) (written to his father)
December 25, 1864 (camp near Columbia, TN) (written to his younger brother)
December 27, 1864 (Camp Nelson, KY ) (written to John from Henry Cowgill)
February 5, 1865 (camp near Washington, DC) (written to his father)
February 20, 1865 (Greencastle, IN) (written by his father to John)
February 27, 1865 (Fort Anderson, NC) (written to his father)
February 27, 1865 (Fort Anderson, NC) (written to his younger brother)
March 14, 1865 (In the field near Kingston, NC) (written to his father)
March 30, 1865 (Camp near Senior Institute, NC) (written to his father)
May 15, 1865 (Greensboro, NC) (written to his father)
June 5, 1865 (Greencastle, IN) (written by his father to John)
June 16, 1865 (Charlotte, NC) (written to his father)
July 2, 1865 (Charlotte, NC) (written to his father)
December 27th, 1863
I have been waiting all day to get a chance to write home, but the noise and jostle has been so great I couldn't, so I waited until to night after all the boys have gone to bed, and I can write without being jostled all the time.
Well I am well and hearty and enjoying myself finely. We are having rather a hard time of it just now, it has been raining all the time for the last few days, and the camp is horribly muddy. But we make the best of it and have a merry time in our quarters. I have not been outside of the quarters but once today. I hope it will turn cold soon and freeze up hard. There is very little of interest going on in Terrahaute or in camp. The recruits we got when we were up have not yet been mustered, they probably will be tomorrow or at least sometime during next week. We will probably stay here all winter, though there is some talk of our going to Indianapolis in a few weeks, but I place no reliance on the report. Though I would not care if we did go to the Capital, we have good quarters here, every thing comfortable, but I am getting tired of Terrahaute. I wish our regiment was full, and we had orders to leave for Georgia tomorrow morning, but our regiment will hardly be organized until after the draft, it will then be filled up with drafted men. I guess that when the draft comes on, some of the Butternuts will awakin to the fact that they will be compelled to do their duty to their country.
The noncommissioned officers of our Company have not yet been appointed, when they are I will stand a good chance. When the draft takes place there will probably be several regiments composed entirely of conscripts, and I intend to try for an appointment among them. If it was offered me, you may rest assured that I wouldn't refuse it, and there is no harm in trying.
The health of the company and the whole camp is very good, there is scarcely a case of sickness. I hope you are well at home and enjoying yourselves. Tell Preston that I have bought him a book which I will send up by some of the boys next week, tell him to go to school and learn all he can, be a good boy, and write to me. Give my love to mother and Preston, and my kind regards to Mary. Give my respects to all who might happen to inquire after me. Write soon and tell me all about home and how you enjoyed Christmas. I was on guard duty Christmas day and didn't enjoy it much.
From your affectionate son,
John R. Miller
(to his father)
P.S. address John R. Miller
Capt Cowgill's Company
Camp Lindsey Barracks
I have been witing all day to get a chance to write to you. I am well and hearty. Father is not as well as he was having a pain in his neck. The school will be out in three more days and I will go to work. If you have not sent me your photograph I would like for you to send it to me on the first chance you get. I forgot to tell you how mother is we are as well as Common. We have got some could wether again but I hope it will not last long.
Will Landis has got home and is hearty. A few days ago a report came that he was dead but it was not so, he got home on last Friday night. David is going to stay with us all summer but Father give him 20 dollars a month. I have not got much to say to night. I want you to write to me soon.
February 21st, 1864
I received your letter last night, and was glad to get it. I was very sorry Father was not as well as usual, I hope he will be well again soon. I was glad all the rest were well. You say your school will soon be out and that you are going to work. I hope you have learned a good deal while you have been going to school.
I am glad that David is going to stay with you as he is a good hand. I am glad that Bill Landis has got home safe. Tell him that I will write to him before long and that I am coming home in about a month when I expect to have a good time with him.
I have not got my photograph to send to you now Preston, but I hope I will have it soon. We have not been payed off yet, but expect to be soon, though maybe not till the first of March. I am well and hearty and have first rate times. There has been a good deal of sickness in camp lately mostly measles. Prestin tell the folks to send me a box of grub this week sometime, some beef or chicken, butter and bread. They can send it by Adam's Express it won't cost more than 50 cents anyway. Give my love to all the folks at home. Write to me soon.
March 10th, 1864
You will perceive by the date of my letter, that our quarters are changed. We came to Indianapolis last Tuesday and were marched at once to Camp Carrington where ae are now encamped. We have splendid quarters here, everything is comfortable and arranged convenient and systematically. The camp here looks somewhat military, besides we have disipline. The boys are a little sorry they can't have such easy times as they had at Camp Lindsay. They don't like to have the reigns drawn quite so tightly all at once.
For my part I am glad I am where disipline can be enforced, it must come sooner or later and the sooner the better. I am in a military business, I like to see things conducted in a military manner. I don't like half way measures.
If I were an officer, I should enforce the strictest disipline and while I am under officers I wish them to do the same. The non-commissioned officers were appointed this morning. I am a Corporal, high office that, but it will do to begin with. Newt Matkin is a Corporal, Tom Anderson did not get anything, and I think he was somewhat disappointed, but I was not surprised. There are about 5 or 6 thousand men in Camp Carrington, besides there are a number of men in the other camps around the city. The 31st Regt is here besides a number of other veteran regts. It is not probable that we will remain here any length of time. Unless the order is countermanded, we will leave here next Monday for Greensburg in this state where the rest of our regt is at present stationed, we will there be organized and payed.
I would like to remain here for awhile, at least until we were sent into the field, but then in the army a fellow has to obey orders, and if a fellow wants to win the favor of his superiors and promotion for himself, he must do his duty first and think of other things afterward. I never yet saw the man I couldn't please if I wanted too and I do not intend to let any opportunity to advance my own interests slip by unheeded, it is not my nature. For I believe I do posses energy, but it takes a military life to call it forth.
Well I will close, give my love to all the family, tell Pres to be a good boy.
Your affectionate son,
(To his father)
Address John R. Miller
Care of Capt Cowgill
123rd regt Ind. Vols
March 18th, 1864
In the midst of the hurry and bustle of preparation for departure, I sieze the few minutes of leisure I have to write a few lines home.
We have been here since last Monday night, and are quartered in an old deserted hotel, there not being barracks enough in the camp to accomodate us. But we have been having a very good time, as we have had no duty to do and could stay in town or at the quarters just as we pleased. I have slept at the _______ ever since I've been here.
Yesterday evening we received orders to be ready to leave for Lawrenceburg at six o'clock this morning, but we have not yet started, but will go some time today, as the cars are ready at the depot for us. We will go to Lawrenceburg and take the boat for Lewisburg. I think it probable that we will go to Cumberland Gap or Chattanooga. I hope we will go to Chattanooga, as I had rather go there than any place else, except Texas. There is one thing certain we're in for it, and I am glad of it, I had rather be in the field than laying around in camp here or any place else in Indianapolis.
There service so far seems to agree with me finely, as I was never in better health than at present, and I am stouter than I ever was in my life before. I gain in strength every day. I have no symptom of a cough or any thing of the kind, my lungs never hurt at all and in short I am getting to be one of the stout men of the Company. I can handle nearly any two of the boys of my size in the company and am more than a match for a good many of our largest men.
I don't want you to think I am bragging, but I want you to know how I am getting along so that you won't be uneasy on my account.
We have a splendid Col. Mcchriston, he has sure a good deal of service and is every inch a soldier. Our Adjutant is an old college classmate of mine and we both left college at about the same time, he is a splendid fellow and we are on the best of terms.
Well Father I am hurried and so I must close. Give my love to all the family. Tell Pres to write to me. Tell Bill Landis to write to me, I shall write to him soon. Please write soon Father.
From your affectionate son,
(to his father)
John R. Miller
123rd Rgt. Ind. Vols'
March 22nd, 1864
Since I last wrote to you, we have, as you will perceive from the date of my letter, changed our quarters.
We left Greensburg last Friday evening for Lawrenceburg where we arrived about sundown and immediately took the boat for Louisville where we arrive about noon Saturday, and immediately marched out to the camp where we are at present quartered. I do not like our present quarters very well. Our whole regt is quartered in one barrack we number one thousand.
We have probably one of the best Colonels in the service, McChriston is his name. Our Lieutenant Colonel Collen seems to be a first rate man also. We have as yet no Major, though it is very likely that Cowgill will obtain that position, I hope he will at any rate.
We were reviewed yesterday by General Hovey, he announced our Company the best in the whole Brigade. There were three regts on review, the 130th, our own (the 123rd) and the 124th. They made a fine appearance. There are quite a number of Indiana regt including the 120th, 123rd, 124th, 129th and 130th.
Louisville is rather a rusty looking place, I have no desire to remain here very long and I don't think we will. There is bound to be very hard fighting during the coming campaign and I think we'll have our share of the hard knocks. I want to see some of the war business at any rate. I think it very probable that we will go to Nashville or Chattanooga before long.
You need not look for me home very soon, furloughs are "played out" but I am very well contented. I am in fine health, I get stouter every day, the army seems to agree with me. If I improve as I have been doing I will look somewhat like a man by the time I come home again.
I have been interrupted twice since I commenced this letter, once to go on battalion drill and the second time to go on dress parade. I guess I will get to close it now. We have not been payed yet except 13 dollars that we were payed while at Greensburg. We will hardly be payed of monthly wages for a month yet. I have never had my photograph taken yet to send home, but I will as soon as I get the money. Well I must close, give my love to all the family. Tell Pres to write to me, write soon.
Your affectionate son,
John R. Miller
(to his father)
P.S. Address John R. Miller
Company "F" 123rd regt Ind Vols
Camp Taylor, Louisville
Camp near Nashville, Tennessee
March 28th, 1864
I wrote to you last while at Louisville, but have never received a letter from home. I wish you would write sometimes, it does a fellow good to receive a letter. I have not received a letter since I left Camp Lindsey from anybody. We left Louisville last Friday evening at six o'clock, and arrived at Nashville last Sunday morning at 3 o'clock. We were just 33 hours running 185 miles. We are using the shelter tent, they are made for two persons, but John Matson and I and John Williams and Bob Williamson and John Goddard and Emit Goddard have spliced our tents and bunk together. I like the place very well, much better than Louisville, but we will hardly remain here very long. We are under command of Gen Hovey and he is not the man to remain inactive very long. In giving the name of the Colonel of our regt., I mistated it, it is Mcquiston instead of Mchiston.
My health is excellent, I was around the outskirts of the city taking a view of the fortifications. The City is very strongly fortified. There are a number of new Indiana regts here, they are encamped around the City, every place wherever the ground is favorable for a camp. Several regts have arrived and encamped near us yesterday and today. We are having a splendid times here, but I want to go to the front as soon as possible. I like soldiering not only as well as I ever thought I would, but much better. It seems to agree with me in every respect. We are a gay set, Father I wish when you write, you would send me some postage stamps, as I am out entirely, and have no money to get any with.
Give my love to all the family, tell Pres I would like for him to write to me.
Please write soon.
Your affectionate son,
John R. Miller
(to his father)
John R Miller
Company "F", 123rd Regt. Ind. Vol.
April 2nd 
I wrote to you a few days since, but as we are to leave here tomorrow for Knoxville, I thought I would write again.
I am well, stout and hearty. Living in a tent with nothing between me and the ground but an oilcloth and a blanket seems to agree with me. We have been Brigaded, we are in the 2nd Brigade of Gen. Hovey's division. The division is not yet numbered. Colonel McQuiston of our regt. Commands the Brigade. Lieutenant Col. Collin commands the regt. Our Brigade is composed of the 123rd, 124th, 129th and 130th regts.. I suppose that in going to Knoxville we will go by railroad to Chattanooga and march on foot from there to Knoxville.
Just as I finished writing the above, I had to go onto dress parade. From the fact that no orders were published to the regt. I am inclined to believe that we will not leave here as soon as expected, though there is no doubt but that we will leave here very soon, and it is possible that we may leave here tomorrow. I am tired of staying here, I have seen enough of Nashville to satisfy me.
We have heard of the trouble with the butternuts in Illinois. There is to be an Indiana regt. Sent from here to Illinois and Col. McQuiston has been trying to have our regt. sent there. I would like to have a chance at the butternuts, but I am afraid that if we should go there we would have to stay there a good while, but there is no danger of our going there, as we will see Knoxville sooner than Illinois. You need not expect us at any rate. We have been having fine times here. I can go out past the guards at any time and go where I please. Nashville is rather a hard looking place. I don't admire it by any means. I have seen enough of Nashville and want to leave it.
Gen. Hovey's whole division is encamped around the city. There are regts. On every side of ours, our regt. numbers about 950 men. Well it is getting late so I will close. Give my love to mother and Preston and Mary and my respects to every body that happens to enquire for me. Tell Henry Cowgill to write to me. Please write soon.
Your affectionate son,
John R. Miller
P.S. Don't forget to send me some postage stamps
John R. Miller
Company "F", 123rd regt. Ind. Vols.
To be forwarded to the regt.
April 10th, 1864
I received your letter written from Nashville some days since and you may be sure that I was glad to hear from you, especially to learn that you was enjoying good health and spirits. May God bless you with good health and spirits and protect you in the camp and in the field and amid the din and carnage of the battlefield. May his protecting arm shield you from the shapes of death and enable you to return home to your friends, sound and safe. Put your trust in God and if you fall in defense of your country, he will take you to a better country where war and the humor of man are not known, or heard.
We are all well, or as well as usual, my own health is rather bad. Your friends often inquire after you, do not forfeit their esteem or solitude by any bad conduct of your own. Be sober, moral and upright in all your intercourse with your brother soldiers, be governed at actions by correct principals.
The 31st Regt has been at home on furlough 30 days nearly all reenlisted. They took back with them a good many new recruits, 45 or 50, from the neighborhood of Greencastle. Our union boys are most all gone. Mas Boone enlisted and was sworn in but did not go, his father objected.
We are getting along slowly with our farming opperations being very wet. We have not had a fair day for 2 weeks.
William Stoner is dead, he died in KY. All quiet at Charleston, IL. 8 dead and more lingering. The Butternuts commenced the fight, my neighbor, John Jenkins, lost a son in the fight, his youngest son, a good union boy.
I send you some post office stamps as requested in your letter, write home often. I will furnish the stamps. Do you owe Doe Boone one dollar, if you do say so and I will pay it.
Now my dear boy, I will bring , my letter to a close by urging you to be careful of your health, do not expose yourself unnecessarily. Remember that you have friends at home who feel a great deal of solitude for your success in life, but with impaired health you can not accomplish much. Be regular in all your habits, be very mindful of your duties to your self and your fellow soldiers. And love and reverence that great and good being, who has hitherto and will continue to bless you if you will obey his laws, both Temporal and Spiritual.
I would urge you further to take care of your money. You may be placed in a situation when it will be very much needed. You may be sick or wounded so that you can be of no service in the army. Then if you are in the hospital or furlowed you will want money. I have seen a good many boys sent home without a cent and they were in a very bad fit. Spend nothing, only what is absolutely necessary, keep it safe about your person. Then if you have the misfortune to be sick or wounded you will have your own means to depend upon. If you should be disabled in any way so that you can not be of service in the army, come home if you are able and can get a furlow.
If you should be in a battle, do not expose yourself to much, but give the rebs thunder. Do not turn your back to them without positive orders, a brave man is less apt to be killed than a coward. In a word my dear boy, be a man in every thing that it takes to make a man.
May you live and prosper is the earnest wish and prayer of your Father,
April 21, 1864
I received your letter last night, and you may be sure that I was glad to hear from you, and that you were all getting well. I am sorry your health is not as good as usual. I hope you may soon be stout and hearty. I am well and hearty, but have been having some pretty rough times.
Our division under Gen. Hovey left Nashville on the 5th of April and have been on the march every day since. This is the 16th day of the march and we resume it in the morning. Our destination is Loudon about 50 odd miles from here near Knoxville. It is probable that we will have some fighting to do in marching there. We passed through Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, Tullahoma and other noted places in Tennessee, Stevensen and Bridgeport, Alabama. Murfreesboro has been a nice place, but they are all in a ruined condition. We had a pretty rough time crossing the Cumberland Mountains but got over safely. We camped last night in Lookout Valley, today we crossed Lookout Mountain and passed through Chattanooga. We are encamped on the plain a little east of the town. We stopped about noon to draw rations.
It is pretty tough work marching with a mule load though. When I left Nashville I carried beside my gun and acoutrements and forty rounds of cartridges, my knapsack and in it one overcoat, one blanket, one oil blanket, a half a tent, 2 or 3 shirts, drawers, socks, a pair of boots, portfolio and other little articles. I didn't carry but a day or two though, I lightened my load considerably yesterday. I and one of the boys of our company fell behind, sliped past the rear guard and took the railroad on our own hook, stoped at the different camps along the railroad, got our dinner and in the evening we as unexpectedly as agreeably stumbled on to the camp of the 20th Battery, Capt. Osborne's and found Charly Laggy, Fred Mcgaughey, Henry Stevenson and others and had a good time. Got in to camp about dark.
I owe Doe Boone one dollar, I borrowed it of him last winter and have never had an opportunity to repay him. When I got your letter last night it had either been broken open or become unsealed for it was open when I got it, and the postage stamps had disappeared. Well I must close so good bye, give my love to all write soon.
Your Son Truly,
To his father
Direct to the 123 Regt. Chattanooga, Tennessee
Camp in the field
May 28th, 1864
I sieze the first opportunity of writing that I have had for some time. Being constantly on the move, we have not been able to get any mail or send any.
We left Charleston, Ten. May the 3rd and have rested but 4 or 5 days since. We are now within about 35 miles of Atlanta. Our division is on the extreme left. It is reported that our right is between the rebels and Atlanta thus cutting them off from their communications. We are driving them eastward. Our division has done a great marching part of the time on the right then on the left. We were first under fire at Buzzard Roost and have been along the whole line through Snake Creek Gap and Resaca.
We have been resting now for two or three days. I am stout and hearty, and in good spirits. I like the army finely as well as I ever thought I would. I have seen the Six Cavalry a good deal for the last week or two. Will Sands and all those boy look finely. I think the destruction of the rebel army inevetable. There has been very heavy cannonading and musketry firing about two or three to the right of our position all morning but ceased about an hour ago. I suppose the rebs retreated as usual.
We were expecting an attack last night but none was made. Wheeler made a cavalry raid in our rear a few days ago and captured some of our waggons. Newt Moss who was with the train was captured, Newt Matkin is well and Billy. We have had hard times but it agrees with my constitution. I am as stout as a mule. I expect to be home next fall.
Well I must close as my time is short. Please write often give my love to mother and Pres. and all friends.
Your aff' son,
123rd regt., 2nd Brigade
1st Division, 23rd Corps
June 26th, 1864
I received your letter of the 12th inst. This morning, you may be sure I was glad to get it, as I had not received a letter from home since I was at Chattanooga last April, I had almost ceased to expect one. You have no idea how much good it does a soldier to get a letter from home and how eagerly he looks for the mail.
We have a poor chance to write, sometimes in the rear, sometimes at the front and nearly always on the move. Besides, writing material is very scarce and hard to obtain at any price. I paid 10 cents for the sheet I'm writing in and had to hunt all over the Brigade before I could get this. I wish you would send me a package of paper and envelopes, and a few stamps for often when I have a chance to write I have nothing to write with.
My health is excellent, we have had some very hard times. The last 3 days have been the only days it has not rained for nearly a month. Now it is awful hot, hard marching. The rainy weather and short rations have made a great many sick men. I have frequently had nothing for 36 hours but a cup of coffee and a few green apples. We have rations now however, nothing seems to hurt me. I am stout as a mule all the time.
We have had some fighting to do lately. Last Friday week the 17th we attacked the rebel lines and drove them about 3 miles. Since then the army has advanced several miles. On the evening of the twenty 2nd the rebels charged our lines but they went back faster than they came up. The next day eight hundred rebels were buried just in front of our lines. In two charges the rebs have made lately, on the 20th and 22nd, the rebs lost about 5 or 6 thousand men. It is reported that Ewell has joined Johnston. If he has, he is just the man that will fight this rebel army in front of us to death, for he would mass his forces and try to break our lines. That is what we want, we could kill that faster that way than any other.
We are now lying behind breast works, within 8 hundred yards of the rebel works. Skirmishing is going on just in front of us all the time. The balls from the rebel skirmishers whistle over us occasionaly but don't scare any body. Since the resignation of Gen. Hovey, our division (the 1st) has been split up. We now constitute the 4th Brigade, 2nd Division, 23rd Corps. Col. Swayne of the 89th Ohio commands the Brigade. Gen. Hascal of Ind. Commands the division. As to our company our loss has been light. We had one man wounded the other day by a shell.
The boys are all well. Capt. Cowgill is hated by the whole company, he is a scondrel. Joe Donohue is the favorite not only of the company but of the regt. Well I must close, give my love to all. Write often.
133 Reg. Ind.
July 13th, 1864
I have just seen Cap. Cowgil & learned where I could reach you by a letter. I was much pleased to hear your Captain speak so favorably of you as a brave soldier. Indeed he speaks in the highest terms of you. Don't be rash do your duty as a soldier, but dont necessarily expose yourself. Many a brave man has loss his life by an unnecessary exposure of his person. Be brave but not reclesly, dashing but prudent, heroic but always exercising sound judgement & discretion.
I have been here, at this port, for near two months, in command of the 133 Reg. one hundred days men. I will be in Chattanooga in a few days and will try & get down to the front. However this is very uncertain.
We leave here, on our return home about the middle of August & in the mean time, I hope to get a letter from you. But if you do not get this soon, direct to Terre Haute, for I will be there after September.
I do not forget the talk we had when I last saw you & in proper time will exert all the influence I have in your favor.
Hoping you are well, and will continue well, I remain
July 20th, 1864
I received yours of the 26 June, July 14 but have delayed writing until now as my time has been taken up in attending to my harvesting.
I was very glad to hear of your continued good health. May you be blessed with life and health and be permitted to return safe and sound to your home and friends. We have finished our harvesting, all but a few late oats. David and Preston will finish them today. We have our wheat and rye stack. We suppose that we will have 200 B. Wheat, 75 or 80 B. Rye, 400 B. Oats. We did not but one half of the Rye. Our corn crop never looked better, but the drouth will use it up of it does not rain soon.
Your friends at home are all well. Joe Siller is at home with one leg off just below the knee, he is doing well. You requested me to send you some paper and stamps. I can send you stamps but I can not send you paper or very little of it in a letter, however, I will do the best I can for I want you to write as often as you can.
Mr. Donohue received a letter from Joe and he spoke very favourably of you as a soldier. He also received a letter from the Col. Of your regiment who spoke very highly of Joe as an officer. Give my best wishes to Joe, Nute, Willie and Tom and every body that you are acquainted with in the army. May God bless you all and enable you to give the rebels thunder.
Write immediately as I am very anxious to hear from you. Tell me how you fare in relation to water and grub. I have just been to the spring and taken a drink out of that old _____ and how delicious it is. I wish you could be supplied with such water all the time.
We have very hot weather and very dry, our pastures are burning up. Our corn crop can not make anything if it does not rain soon.
On the 14 of this month, we gave the 143 Regiment a diner in Greencastle, had a fine time. That Regiment has most all reenlisted, they return to their post soon. Your mare Nell has got the finest horse colts in the County, not one fault about it.
I send 3 sheets of paper, 3 envelopes, 3 stamps. Please write soon and oblige
August 22nd, 1864
I received your letter in this morning, and was glad to hear from you. I was sorry to hear that your health was so bad, I hope and trust that you will be well and stout when you get this. That you may soon be well is my most earnest wish and hope. I am well and hearty, and expect to continue so, at least I hope I shall.
It is the general opinion among the soldiers here that the voters will all go home in the fall to the election. This opinion prevails among officers as well as men, officers high in rank.
Newt Matkin is well and hearty and makes a good soldier. Willie Matkin went back to the hospital with Joe when he was wounded to nurse him. Joe has gone home now, and I suppose Willie is still at the hospital. Willie's health has always been very good and he makes a brave soldier. Tom Anderson you know was wounded about the 28th of July. Tom is now, I suppose, on his way home, I suppose Joe Donohue is at home by this time. I hope he will soon be able to regain the company, we miss him very much. Joe is, by far, the most accomplished officer in the regt. He had the respect and confidence of the officers and men of the whole regt. Lieut. Tyler is an excellent officer and the boys all like him. He is a brave man, but his health is not good. There are but 7 officers (company officers) with the regt now.
I got a letter from Uncle Bob Hudson some time since in which he said he should exert all his influence to procure me a comission, or words to that effect. I hope he won't delay very long, I would like a comission in one of the new regts. If necessary, I could procure recommendations from the regt. I think I could in some sort of way fill an office.
Tell Will Landis that I got his letter and answered it. I suppose though he has got my letter by this time. Father, if you got the money I sent you, I wish you would pay George Wells $1 money I borrowed of him last winter. If we get home to vote, the Butternuts had better be 'scarce' all Co. 'F' wants is a chance to "go for them". I wrote to you day before yesterday and shall write again in a few days, so I will close for the present. Give my love to Mother and Preston and my respects to all my friends. Please write often.
Your affec' son,
John R. Miller
123rd Regt Ind Vol
3rd Brigade, 2nd Division
23rd Army Corps
Sept 28th, 1864
I have intended to write for several days, but the constant rains for the past week have prevented me.
We do not live in houses here you know, and our tents will leak some. But yesterday the weather cleared up, and today is as beautiful a sabbath as I ever saw. I am well and hearty, and in good spirits, and when this reaches you, I hope it will find you in much better health than when you last wrote me.
We are getting comfortably "fixed up" in our camp, and have drawn new clothing, camp equipage & we also draw soft bread instead of "hard tack" and we are all together having a nice time. But there is nothing of interest going on whatever, we dont even get any mail scarcely at all.
The folks at home seem to have forgotten us almost entirely. The talk about going home to the election has about ceased, "going home to the election" is considered by the boys as about "played out". It appears that Lincoln left it to Sherman's division and he (Sherman) decided that the troops could not be spared. Lincoln may yet order us home, but it is extremely doubtful about our going, I have no idea of it at any rate.
I saw John Sellers two or three days ago, his regt lies about six miles beyond Atlanta, he was at our camp, he is well and hearty. I never saw him looking better, it was the first time I had seen him since I saw him at Cleveland, East Tennessee last spring. I expect you are having exciting times about the election. I am afraid Morton will be beaten if the soldiers do not go home. The Ind. Troops are for Lincoln almost to a man, while the Kentuckians are nearly all for McClellan.
Well I must close, give my love the family and friends. Please write soon.
Your affec' son,
John R. Miller
Decatur Sept 29th
Sept 29th, 1864
I received your long wished for letter today, I am glad your health is better than when you last wrote and I hope it will keep improving. I am sorry to hear that mother is sick, but when this reaches you, I hope that she will be well. My health is excellent, I was never stouter than now. I am glad to hear that the draft has been enforced, the Butternuts will now have an opportunity of showing their mettle.
I see by a letter that John Matson got from his Father today, that John & Wes Gilmore were drafted. Well it will only give them a chance of proving their loyalty. Tell Boone if he is still at home when you get this, to be a brave Soldier and never get homesick, for I've known more than one fellow to die of that same disease since I have been in the service.
We are still at Decatur and expect to stay here for some time, untill the next Campaign at least. A good many will leave for home on furlough in a few days. Some 3 or 4 from our Company, but none that you are acquainted with. They are only furloughing those that are sick and have been back at the Hospitals, "rear bummers" we call them, for many of them are as stout as I am, though some are really sick. "Going home to the election" is about played out among the boys, though there are some who still believe we will go, but I have no idea of it, if any goes, it will be the voters.
Father, I don't know that I want anything that you could send me, unless shirts. If Joe can bring them, I would be glad. If you would send me a couple of checked shirts, and a hand kerchief or 2, also a pair of suspenders, and a tooth brush. They are things we can't get down here for love or money. I have written two letters to you since we have been here, I hope you got them. Give my love to all the family and friends. Write soon.
Your affec' son,
John R. Miller
Sept 29th, 1864
I received your welcome letter today and I was truly glad to get it, but sorry to learn that mother is sick, but I hope she will soon be well.
Well Preston, I dont remember exactly how many fights I have been in, but I think some six or eight. I am sorry the old milk house has "gone up", I wish I had some of that milk for supper to night. How I could relish it, but then I can do very on coffee.
I was sorry to hear of uncle si' jones' death, I heard of it about a week ago. You want to know how many have been killed out of our company, our company has been very fortunate in that respect, we have had none killed in battle out of the company, but we have had some 10 or 12 to die in hospitals.
I hope you will catch lots of coons with Troy, kiss the dear little fellow for me, and when you write tell me how Lion gets along and Nell too. Well Pres I must close now and get my supper. Please write soon.
Your affec' brother,
(Preston Miller) (be a good boy)
Camp near Chattanooga
Nov 7th, 1864
I have not heard from home for so long a time that I am getting anxious to hear. I wrote to you several times while at Decatur but as I have received no answers to my letters I suppose you did not get them.
We left Decatur, GA on the 4th of Oct. Since then we have marched about 350 miles through GA and Alabama. We lay at Gatesville & Cedar Bluff, Ala about a week. We did some very hard marching. The day we left Cedar Bluff we marched about 27 miles, the 2nd day the regt marched about 20 miles, but I was out foraging that day and with 5 or 6 others camped about 5 miles from the regt, and did not catch up with the regt till about 10 o'clock on the night of the 3rd days march, but I had plenty of forage in the shape of fresh pork, potatoes, honey, molasses. The 3rd day the regt marched about 23 miles while I marched about 28 miles. We reached this place (Chattanooga) on the 4th of this month, just one month from the day we left Decatur. We will probably have to march from here to Nashville.
I do not like the idea of having to march through by any means, but I did it once and I guess I can do it again. All the rest of our Corps has transportation by R.R. Our Brigade has to go through with the train, Col. Strickland (commanding our brigade) has sent a dispatch to Schofield asking of transportation, I hope he will succeed. We are now waiting for orders.
I would like to go home this winter, but I do not expect to, though if we get stationed any place this winter, I may get to go. It has rained nearly all the time since we left Resaca. It rained very hard last night. To day is a gloomy and dismal one. Newt Matkin & Billy Matkin & all the boys are well and hearty. My own health is splendid. We will probably be paid off when we get to Nashville.
Every thing is very high here. I paid $1.50 for a small coffee pot, and a $1.25 for a frying pan, 75 cents a pound for butter, 60 cents a pound for cheese, and $2.00 a half can for oysters, apples 25 cts a dozen, tobacco in proportion.
Give my love to all the family and friends, write soon.
Your affec' son,
John R. Miller
(direct to Nashville)
I have not written to you since I was at Chattanooga but we have been run about so that I have scarecly had time.
I have not had a letter from home since we left Decatur, GA and I am anxious to hear from you. I received the articles you sent me by Busley, I was glad to get them and thank you for sending them.
We had a pretty hard time for a few days. We were at Columbia about 8 or 10 days. At the time the rebels advanced on that place. Our regt was laying on Duck River guarding the fords. Six companies under Col. McQuiston were at Williamsport and 4 companies 'B' 'C' and G and our company under Col. Walter were at Gordon's ferry 4 miles farther down the regt., while the 91st Ind. Was at a point farther down the river. When our army fell back to Franklin, we were cut off from it. The army evacuated Columbia in the morning and we did not receive notice of it till 12 o'clock that night, we immediately started. We marched till day light when we halted about 30 minutes for breakfast and then resumed the marched, we marched all day and in the evening found we were cut off from our army and in the rear of Hood's army.
We marched around the rear of the rebels, passing within 2 miles of their camp fires and stopped past his flank. All this time they were fighting hard at Franklin, had they not been we could not possibly have escaped. About 10 o'clock that night we reached the Big Harper river and were safe. We marched 47 miles that day. The next day we came to Nashville. It was reported and believed here that we were captured. I suppose you have read at home that we were. That day I had more expectations of being in some southern prison by this time.
We are laying in the trenches here expecting an attack at any moment. We have got to fight here and fight hard. I hope they will at any rate, for I would fight them here than any place else. We have got to fight them sometime and I would just as big to it now as any other time, and rather do it here than any where else.
They are fighting on our right today, I do not know how the fight is going. I am as well and stout as ever and expect to remain so. Newt & Billy Matkin & Tom Anderson are all well.
You need not look for me home this winter, as I have not the least idea of being able to get a furlough, as long as the fighting continues.
[This is where the letter ended]
Dec. 12th, 1864
I received ours of Dec 4 and was very glad to learn that you was well and that you was neither wounded, killed or captured in the battle at Franklin. Son, you can form no idea how anxious I am to learn who was wounded, killed or captured after a battle fought by the army of which you are a member. I look over the list of casualties with fear and troubling, not but what I have an abiding faith that you will never be killed or wounded by a rebel. I have reason to believe that you have heretofore and still will be protected by an overseeing providence. May you always by worthy of the kind care and protection of that great and good Being who throws a protecting shield around those that love him.
I believe that God looks with peculiar favour upon the brave soldiers that are fighting to defend and perpetuate the institution of this God favoured country, and that the brave devotion that our soldiers exibit in defence of our country will cover a multitude of sins, but will not save the soul. They must be rejuvenated by the influence of the Holy Ghost, and accept of salvation, as offered in the gospel of Christ. That will save the soul and nothing less.
We are getting along at home after the same old sort. Lizie has regained her health in a good measure. My own health is better than it was in the summer. Preston is stout and hearty, a fine boy for business, he is going to school. We have done pretty well this season. I sold 20 hogs which brot me $503.13, $200.00 worth of cattle, $17.50 worth of wood, $100.00 worth of wheat and $200.00 worth of wheat to sell yet. These things I have sold and got to sell which will run up my sales for the year to near $1200, but expenses has been pretty heavy. Labour is very high.
Fran Matkin is living with us, tell Nute and Willie that their folks are all well. Give my respects to Nute and Willie and all the boys. God bless them and you.
Our prospects for the future are pretty fair. I have 14 head of steer for next season, 10 head or horses, little and big, 4 of them large enough for use but have not been broke. Old Charley and _____ are still on hand, Nell is the same as ever. She had a fine colt last May, which we call Buck, he will make a fine horse.
I have a fine horse, 4 years old next spring (we call him Clip), which will suit you when you come home. He will make you a fine riding horse. Preston's horse Dick is a substancil young horse, very gentle. I sold old Black, was it not a shame to sell the good old cow.
Troy is still living and as fusey as ever. Lion is the best dog in the state, he can not beat the Butternut Irish, dont blame him.
Joe Donohue is getting along slow, his wound was very severe. He will not be able for duty for some time or I do not supose that he will. I must close, be careful of your self do not expose your self unnecessarily.
God Bless You
It has been so long since I had a letter from home, that I've almost ceased to look for one. I have not had a letter from home since we were at Decatur, GA last September. We are still here at Nashville though how long we will remain here I have no idea. I think there is some probability of our going to KY, I hope we will at any rate.
It has been very cold here for the last week or 2, but it is now moderating and the mud is awful. My health is excellent.
The rebels are still around the city. There is hair raising nearly every day, but no movements of importance have taken place that I am aware of. I think though that the rebel army is falling back. I would much rather they would fight us here, we will have to fight the someplace, I would rather fight them here than follow them for a week or two and then fight them. Besides the sooner the fighting is over, the sooner the war will be over. Still I hope I will not have to go thro' a campaign this winter. I would like to rest awhile.
Father if you send me any thing by any of the boys, when they come to company, I wish you would send me a pair of gloves, it is rather cold handling a gun with naked hands. We were paid off at Columbia, we drew 2 months pay. I have no money now, but I have about 50 dollars coming to me next pay day.
We were paid up to the first of September, we will be paid again I suppose in a few weeks. Newt & Billy Matkin & Tom Anderson are all well and hearty. Give my love to all the family and friends, give my respects to Bill Soulls (?) & Joe Donnohue, write soon.
Your affec' son,
Tell Preston to write to me, I got a letter from him at Decatur, GA. I answered it , but I guess he did not get it. I want him to write and I want him or you to write to George, perhaps he would get the letter and write. Write to him at Volcano, Cal. I intend to write to him too.
Preston take good care of Troy.
Dear Brother Preston,
I was glad to get your letter the other day, I am glad you are going to school. You must be a good boy and learn all you can. I am well and stout, Father said you was quite a business boy, I am glad to hear it, you must please him all you can. Old Lion and Troy are getting along all right are they, I am glad of it. Take good care of them for my sake.
I am glad you have heard from George, I wish he would write, I am going to write to him before long and I want you too. I wish I could be at home tomorrow to eat a Christmas dinner, but you must eat a double portion so as to have enough for me and you both. But you will have to eat a lot of it, for I think I could eat about a bushel. You must write and tell me how the girls are all getting along. Oh! Yes, Preston how is Laura?
Well, I must quit writing. Write often and tell me all the news about the folks. Tell Ell Boone to write to me and every body else. I will write often.
Your affec' Brother
Camp Nelson, KY
Dec 27, 1864
Dear Friend John,
I received your welcome on Christmas Eve from the hand of father, I had begun to think that you had forgotten me, but then it was all the better for the delay perhaps as it had all the more news in it, and some that surprised me greatly. I thought volunteering had played out.
In your letter you say that you answered my letter before, I didn't receive a line from you till I got the one you sent by Father. I thought all the time that you had written and the reason that I didn't write again was that I actualy had not the chance as we have been on the move all the time.
While at Cumberland Gap and I there saw Co. I 71st but Dan Donohue had been left at Crab Orchard sick, I seen Scott Matson, Will Sandy and all the rest of the boys. I believe they were escorting Gen. Foster through to Knoxville. All the boys in our Co. getting tolerably now, at one time they were almost all sick, broken down, hard marching and starvation. Lost Smith while we were at Greenville. Germ. was sent Knoxville to the hospital and I think there is no doubt but that he is dead. Our Co. has lost 12 men already and I am afraid there will be more of them die if they are not treated better.
All the three years that have seen our six months regts. Say they have seen more hardships than they have in their whole service.
John you better believe that I was pleased to hear that matters were progressing so favorably with you at the Farm. When I left I was afraid it was a bad _____, long may you wave and when this cruel war is over praying that you meet again _____ _____ _____ also, is my prayer.
Were you at home Christmas, I understand that there was a big festival Christmas eve at the Town Hall.[don't let Joe Donohue see this letter or any other man] If you were I want you to give me the particulars, as they must be very interesting. I hope that your company will be in camp at Terre Haute when we are discharged as I would like to see them very much, and beside you needn't want to be sent to the front this winter for if you do you will see times you never dream of.
There is so little news that I don't know what to write about. Besides I have a severe headache and don't feel much like writing and so I think I will close my letter, or note as it may be. Hoping you may live a long life, kill many Rebs, write me longer letters than this and that the war may close by next spring. Give my respects to all the boys, tell them to write.
From your friend,
To John R. Miller write soon
Camp near Washington, D.C.
February 5th, 1865
I wrote to you the other day but as I have made a raise of some paper I will write again. We are still in camp about two miles east of the city, it is not likely that we will remain here long. I think North Carolina is our destination & Wilmington will be the object of our next campaign. It does not matter to me, one place is as good as another.
The peace question has been agitated considerably of late, but it dont amount to anything. The failure of the mission of Stevens dont amount to anything, it didn't amount to any thing in the first place.
Negotiation cant end the war, it has to be settled by hard knocks. After we have completely destroyed the rebel armies we may begin to talk of peace with some prospect of making peace, to talk of peace now is simply nonsense. But I believe the present year will end the business, but it will take hard fighting to do it.
So far as I am personally concerned, I dont care whether the war ends soon or not, though for the good of the country I would rather it would end. I am doing very well, my health is excellent, spirits ditto.
I think we will be paid off before we leave here, though it is by no means certain. If we are not paid here, we will not get any money for six or 8 months, if I had tobacco money I wouldn't care. We are drawing soft bread now for the first time since we left Ind. With the exception of two days rations of soft bread we drew at Decatur, GA. It is quite a luxury to us. As we have scarcely any duty to do, we are having quite a jolly time. Well the boys have got dinner ready so I must quit. Give my love to the family & all the friends, write soon.
Your affec' son,
John R. Miller
Co F 123rd Regt Ind. Vols.
2nd Brigade, 1st Division
February 20th, 1865
I received yours some days since and was truly glad to learn that you still enjoyed good health. May you still be blessed with goof health and spirits. You have passed through enough trying scenes to try the stoutest constitution and bravest spirits. I glory in your bravery and unyielding disposition. I am told that you are a very brave boy. You are fighting in a good cause, and may God bless you for doing your duty so nobly.
We are all as well as usual at home. My own health however has not been good as you know for sometime, But I am able to be about. Your uncle John Miller and his wife has been with us for some 2 weeks, but they started home this morning.
Your friends are all well and often enquire about you. There is considerable excitement in relation to the draft. Most of the townships in Putnam County will fill their quota by hiring substitutes. The Butternuts has had a sweet time of it. They are willing to take a niger or anything if they can only be left at home. How they beged union men for money to help them pay for some body to go in their place. I was not willing to do anything for them. They have been cursing the government and cursing the soldiers and doing all they could to _____ the government and favour the rebels and a good number of them guilty of treason, and would have overthrown the government if they could have mustered strength enough. But when they found that Uncle Sam was a little to strong for them and was compelled to submit to the authority of the government and take their chances at the draft wheel, why there they cryed out for help. O help with money to hire some body to go in our place, O help for we cannot go and fight our dear friends of the south, miserable scoundrels.
You spoke of being straped but thought the paymaster would be around soon. When you receive this if the paymaster has not been around, write immediately and I will send you some money. Direct how you want it sent and how much. You must have tobacco!
I had several things to send you by Capt. Joe D., but I did not know he was gone until some days after he had left.
Now my dear boy, I must bring my letter to a close. Take care of your self, do not expose yourself unnecessarily. I understand that you are aware of dainger and in battle expose your self to rebel bullets too much, not that I would have you run, no sir, but give them thunder.
May God bless you and protect you in the hour of dainger and enable you to return home safe and sound.
Fort Anderson, North Carolina
Having a little spare time, I improve it by writing to you. We left Washington City one week ago Saturday last for Alexandria, VA, the next morning (Sunday) we sailed in the steamer Therman Livingston for North Carolina, we landed at Smithville at the mouth of Cape Fear river last Tuesday. The same evening we reembarked and came up the river about 8 miles to this fort, where we have been ever since, though we are expecting to leave at any hour. Wilmington was captured the day we reached here, where we will go from here I have no idea.
We are having quite a nice time here, all the oysters we want, all we have to do is to go down to the beach when the tide is out and gather them. It is about 10 miles from here to Wilmington. The only draw back upon us here is that it has been raining almost the time since we have been here.
While we were at Washington City we were paid off. I had intended to have sent some money home, but Joe Donnohue, on account of not having been mustered with the regt Jan 1st, did not draw any pay, so I lent him the money I otherwise would have sent home, but I will have the more to send home the next time. We drew 4 months pay, we were at Washington 3 weeks lacking one day.
We had a good time while we were there, we had good quarters, plenty to eat, and plenty to spend. But while we were at sea, we were about as sea sick a set of fellows as you ever heard of. I got sick and got well in about 3 hours, so afterward I could afford to laugh at the others, but while I was sick, I think I threw up all I had eatin for the last six months, and a good share of what I expect to eat for the next six to come, not to exaggerate at all.
I suppose that the draft is creating quite an excitement just now. I hope so, put 300 thousand more men in to the field and the war will soon be ended.
Not wishing those patriotic young men at home any harm at all, I hope every one of them will be drafted. I would do me good to see some of them trudging along through the mud carrying a gun and knapsack.
My health is excellent, spirits ditto. I expect that this year will end the war, and when it is over I shall return home and be proud that I helped end it. I have been in 8 or 10 fights and expect to be in some more. I have had many fair shots at rebels but never hit but one that I know of. The first time I ever shot at a man I was so excited at the thought that I trembled like a leaf, but I got used to that kind of business, and I can draw a 'bead' on a rebel now as coolly as would on a squirrel and be as glad to see him fall.
It is curious how careless of life war will render any man. Before I came into the army, it would have shocked me to see a man cut with a knife, or knocked down with a club. Now I can see any number of men killed and never give them a thought, or glance. Ah well, such is war and it can't be helped.
Well I will close for the present. Give my love to mother and Preston and all my friends. Please write soon and often, and give me all the news. We have not had any mail for more than a week and don't know anything.
Your affec' son,
Co, "G" 123rd Ind. Vols.
2nd Brigade, 1st Division
23rd Army Corps
Wilmington, North Carolina
P.S. I forgot to tell you, I am 20 years old to day.
Feb 27th, 1865
Dear Brother Preston,
You must excuse me for not writing to you sooner.
Well here I am in the State of North Carolina at Fort Anderson on Cape Fear River near the sea and 16 miles below Wilmington. Right here where we are encamped used to be a town called Brunswick, it was one of the first settlements ever made in the State. The town was burnt by the Brittish under Lord Cornwallis in 1780 (during the revolution). The town was never rebuilt. The walls of the old brick church are still standing almost as perfect as ever, large cedar trees have grown up inside the walls. In the church graveyard there are some tomb stones nearly 150 years old. Brunswick was one of the first towns in North Carolina to take up arms in the cause of independence in the Revolutionary War.
We expect to leave here at any hour. I do not know where we will go, we may go to Wilmington and we may go to New Bern, but I do not care where they send us, but we will be very apt to go where we will have some fighting to do. I think the war will be ended this spring and summer, and I expect to be at home next winter.
Do you think you would know me if I were to come home then Preston, I think you would, I have not changed much. Well I will quit now, I will write again soon, I am twenty years old today. Write soon and write often.
Your affec' brother,
John R. Miller
PRESTON MILLER WRITE SOON
Camp in the field near Kingston, North Carolina
March 14th, 1865
I received your welcome letter last night, it did me good to hear from home once more, and that you were all well.
From the date above, you can percieve that we are once more in the field. We can see the spires of Kingston which is just on the opposite side of the Neuse River, the rebels will not fight there. We moved up to our present position today and are waiting for the pontoons to be laid across the river.
We were in two engagements last week, the first was last Wednesday. Our advance was attacked and driven back by the rebels, who took a large number of prisoners. Our division which was in camp on the Po, about 5 miles farther back, we were moved up hastily in time to check the advance of the rebels.
Our company, as usual, was thrown out as skirmishers with companies of the 129th Ind on our right, and companies of the 130th Ind on our left, and moved through the woods to uncover the rebs with a line of battle supporting us. We struck the rebel skirmishers who were advancing at the same time, and charging with a yell drove them through the thick pine woods, until coming to a narrow opening, we found ourselves within less than 300 yards of two lines of battle. The line of battle opened a heavy fire on us, but tho' the right and left wings gave way at first, we held our ground without giving an inch all evening till night when we were relieved.
I had that day just 50 fair shots at a distance of less than 300 yards and if I didn't hurt anybody, why, there is no virtue in powder, and lead and Springfield rifles, thats all.
On the 10th (Friday) the rebels made a desperate attack on our position but met with a bad defeat, our regt and the 129th Ind passed out of the works and turned the rebel right, taking a large number of prisoners. The loss of the rebels was very severe, our own loss was very slight. Our Brigade has the credit of the victory. The rebels largely out numbered us , but since then we have been reinforced and are ready to advance. I do not think the "Johnnies" will make much of a stand this side of Goldsboro.
In the action of the 8th, we had two men wounded. John Goddard in the leg, flesh wound, and Bob Brannock in the neck by a piece of shell, slight. I, as usual, came out all right, tho' I had several pretty close cuts. I have been in 14 knock downs, and come out unhurt, and I think I'll come out all right. My health and spirits are excellent, and I expect to be at home by next winter. I think the rebellion is about "played out", the rebs think so themselves. They are greatly discouraged. They said they thought they were fighting eastern last Friday, but soon found out their mistake.
Joe Donohue, John Matson, Newt Matkin, Billy Matkin, Tom Anderson and all the rest of the boys are all well and hearty, and in the best of spirits. I wrote to you of having been paid off, I have plenty of money. Give my love to Mother & Preston and all my friends. Write soon and often, very often.
Your affec' son,
John R. Miller
Direct your letters to Newbern, North Carolina
March 30th, 1865
I was glad to get your letter yesterday, it found me well and hearty as usual. We are camped about 8 miles west of Kinston, guarding the R.R., our corps is stationed along the R.R. from Kinston to Goldsboro.
We will probably remain here until the Campaign opens, the boys are all well. We are living finely, as we have all the forage we want, fine ham & shoulder meat, chickens, sweet potatoes, meal, molasses, in fact every thing that the country affords. The boys go out foraging and come back with wagons, carts, buggies & horser & mules loaded with forage of all kinds, nothing is left untouched. I have been out and come across houses where a few hours before every thing was plenty, utterly striped of every thing, scarcely a mouthful of food left in the house and it is that way all over the country for miles around. The people of the north can imagine, but this imagination can form no idea of the terrible desolation that follows in the path of an army in an enemy country.
May a kind heaven preserve my native state from ever being the battleground of armies. I love the profession of army and the excitement of battle is not without its charms for me, but I never want my own loved state to be the scene of the devastating marches of hostile armies. I have seen in the papers several versions of the battle of Wise's Cross Roads near Kinston, none of which are correct. The fact is, the fighting was done almost entirely by our division. We held the extreme left of the lines & it was upon our position that the rebels made their most desperate assaults. It was Hoke's division that our Brigade attacked in the flank and routed. We have very heavy pickett duty to do here, 7 men every evening, as we have but about 35 men for duty it comes pretty heavy.
Now father I want you to quit working so hard. I believe you would enjoy better, much better, health if you would take better care of yourself, please take care of yourself.
I do not expect to be in the army longer than another year at the most, as I have not no doubt the present year will end the war. I wish that Butternut County board were all drafted and had to carry a knapsack weighing about 50 pounds, I think it would do them good. When the soldiers get home they will have to keep low.
Well I must quit writing as the boys have supper ready & if I don't eat now, I won't get any. Give my love to Mother and Preston and all my friends. Write soon and often.
Your affec' son,
John R. Miller
May 15, 1865
Thinking that perhaps you would like to hear from me again(tho' it is but a few days since I wrote) I will try and tell you where we are, what we are doing, where we are going and all about it.
We left Raleigh on the 3rd of this month for this place, a distance of 80 miles. We reached here on Sunday the 7th after 5 days rather hot marching. We have been waiting here since for transportation to Charlotte, 96 miles southwest of here, we will probably leave tomorrow. I am glad we don't have to march through for the weather is very hot. I hope to have to do no more marching while in the army.
The election for state officers comes off on the 20th of this month and it is the intention on that day to have the troops stationed at different points throughout the state to prevent any difficulty, tho' no disturbances are apprehended.
The 3rd Division of our Corps remains at this point, the 2nd Division goes, or rather, has gone to Salisbury about midway between here and Charlotte. The latter place is near the South Carolina border and on the line of great railroads connecting Richmond with the Gulf States and the Mississippi Valley. It is the point from which Jeff. Davis took his flight westward.
I do not think that we will be left longer in this state longer than it will take to organize the state government & get it in proper working order.
Our next move from Charlotte will be, I think, homeward. The humilliation of the rebels is complete. Occaissionally we will find a defiant one, but they are "few and far between". The North Carolinians are glad enough to have quiet and order restored once more. They think they are able to take care of themselves now without any further trouble. If Holden is elected Gov., as I have no doubt he will be, they will have a man who has from the outset, been firm and unswerving in his devotion to the Union and one who will have neither sympathy or mercy for rebels. I notice that the fanatical journals of the north, such as the Tribune, Gazette, Commercial and others are down on Sherman like a "thousand of brick", a month ago they were lauding him to the skies. I wish such papers were burnt, but nothing can ever shake the hold that Sherman has it upon the hearts of his army. We who have followed him & known him so long, know what he is and we believe his error was of the head not of the heart, an honester man never lived, bribe Sherman! There is not enough gold in the world to buy one iota of his principles and Sherman's name, spite of efforts of fanatics, will go down to posterity as a great and good and honest man.
I have noticed that the wheat crop between here and Raleigh looks fine, with a good prospect of a plentiful harvest. Corn does not look as well on account of the operation of armies through out the state during the planting season. I do not think there was a great deal planted. There is some as fine country to look upon between here and Raleigh as I ever saw, but the soil is not rich.
Greensboro is a town of some size and importance on account of the R.R's, there are parked here 118 pieces of artillery that Johnston surrendered.
Father when you write to me I wish you would stick a 5 dollar bill in the letter for me to buy writing material, stamps and tobacco with. I do not think now that we will be paid off until we are mustered out of the service. I do not like to send for money, but my writing material will soon be gone and I have no way of getting any more. I am well and hearty and so are all the boys. Give my love to Mother and Preston and all my friends. Take care of yourself. Please write soon and often.
Your affec' son,
John R. Miller
(To his father)
Have you heard from George?
June 5, 1865
I did not receive yours of the 15 May until the first day of June.
Your letter found us all as well as usual. I see from the heading of your letter that you was at Greensboro, N.C. but was on your way to Charlotte, N.C. to which place I will direct my letter and enclosed you will find a 5 dollar bill.
You think that when you leave Charlotte it will be for home. I trust that such may be the case for I am anxious for you to come home. You have passed through so many hardships and battles and come out safe and sound. When you was passing through the hardships of long marches and severe battles, I was prepared to hear of any misfortune that might happen to you, but now that the War is virtually over and dainger has almost disappeared, I feel more anxiety about you if posible. There even for fear that some misfortune may over take you after having performed your duty so nobly as a soldier in the service of your country. May God still protect you and enable you to return home safe and sound.
We have had a very wet spring, so much so that the farmers are not done planting yet. We finished on the 22 day of May. The prospect for a corn crop is very poor, wheat looks fine.
You wanted to know if we had heard anything of George, we have not. I wrote to him 3 or 4 months since but I have recd no answer.
We have no held on the farm this season. Preston is tending some 16 or 18 acres of corn and he is doing it well. He is a splendid boy to work. We have done very well on the farm the last 2 or 3 years, prices have been very high for all kind of farm products. I sold 20 hogs last fall for $503.00, wheat $1.87 and $1.90/B.
Great numbers of the boys are returning home. Mose Boon, Will Landis, Wes Landis, Charly Gilmore and Will Thornburgh will have to serve their time out as they go into Sheridan's army.
Your friends are all well. We have very hot weather and I suppose that where you are it is extremely hot. Lizie has chickens big enough to fry, hope that you may soon be at home to help eat them.
I am in your room writing and it is Sabath, very warm. Preston out killing snakes, Lizie is getting dinner, May is washing her face, Liz Perkins is nursing her baby, old Charly and ______ is eating grass in orchard.
Lynn and Troy are laying panting in the shade. The old hens and their chicks have kicked up a row about the hen house, the cock struts as if he was Lord of Creation, the birds are singing in the trees around your room, such is home.
Write us soon
June 16th, 1865
I received your letter yesterday evening, while on pickett. Some of the boys brought it out to me. I was glad to hear from you and to get the five (5) dollar bill. The first use I made of it after I came back to the Co this morning was to buy some soft bread for dinner, it ate first rate.
We are getting along here after the usual manner of camp life. No expectation of getting home before fall, but hope we will. Of course the camp is filled with reports all the time, but not worth repeating. My health is excellent.
Business is reviving somewhat through out the country. But it is rather hard for the people to realize that slavery is abolished. They don't like it a bit, tho' they all proffess to be union men, of course they are a little like the northern Butternuts, tho' not so mean. I was in town to day, every body is trying to do something to make a living. I bought this paper there the last I could find, but I could not find a postage stamp in the whole town. The weather is intensely hot here, there is a very good prospect for a corn crop. I have seen several fields nearly as high as my head. Wheat in this part of the state was rather poor, I say was because wheat harvest is over here. About 8 bushels being the average yield. I was out in the country 7 or 8 miles last Sunday after black berries, they are very plenty here, I saw several very fine fields of corn.
We had plenty of green beans and young potatoes. John Matson - my bunk mate - is cooking a mess of beans while I am writing, and we will have young potatoes for breakfast. John Matson and I have bunked together ever since we went into the service, and expect to bunk together till we get out of it. All of the other bunks have from three to five in each, but John and I are by our selves and have been nearly ever since we have been out. We could get plenty of bunk mates but we don't want them.
Joe Donohue, Newt Matkin and all the boys are well, Billy Matkin is detailed as courier at Corps H.Q. he runs between Greensboro, Raleigh and City Point, Virginia. There are no indications of us leaving this place. If we are to stay in the service six or eight months yet, I wish they would send us to Texas, but, I guess we'll have to stay here. Give my love to Mother and Preston and Mary and all my friends. Write soon and often.
Your affec' son,
John R. Miller
Camp at Charlotte, NC
July 2, 1865
As I am in a writing mood this evening, I will try to write you a letter, tho' there is actually nothing to write or write about. I have been intending to write for some time - but like [unreadable] in the play, I have been waiting for something to "turn-up" - but as that "something" hasn't turned up yet, I will write any how. My health is excellent, appetite ditto. I am always "able for my rations". Since blackberries, potatoes, beans came into market, I'll been living fat.
We go out and pick the blackberries our selves, but trade for the potatoes & John Matson and I trade nearly all our coffee for vegetables. I drink scarcely any coffee at all now. Last year when down in Tennessee & Georgia and Alabama I drank from 6 to 8-9 pints of coffee every day and then didn't have enough but this summer some way or other I don't drink it at all. I don't use cream or milk in coffee of course - because I can't get it - but I can't drink coffee with sugar in it anymore - I can't bear it. I haven't used sugar in coffee for over a year. I guess you will think it quite a change in my taste.
Newt Matkin started home last week on furlough, I guess you'll see him before you do this letter. I know of nothing that I need for you to send me by him, but if you would send me 2 or 3 or 4 books, I would be very glad to get them. You can choose the books yourself, you know about what would suit me, something that is interesting and at the same time useful.
The indications are that we will hardly get out of this service before next fall or winter. I may be able to get a furlough this fall, probably in September or October. I learn that the "Bloody 43rd" has has been mustered out, I am glad of it. It was a disgrace to the service. I suppose that discharged soldiers are rolling into Greencastle every day, very well Co "G" of the 123rd - Wild Hoosiers" - will be along some of these days. I don't like to have to remain in the service, but if I must, I must. I remember the old adage "theres no use crying over spilt milk" so I must "take it as it is".
I wonder if I would know Preston. I expect he has grown so much I would hardly recognize him. Tell Preston that I want him to write to me and tell me all about the hogs and every thing else about the farm, and tell him that he must be a better boy than his brother 'Jack'. How I would love to see the Black-eyed rogue, give my love to mother and all my friends, write soon.
Your affec' son,