This letter is unsigned but the author appears to have served in the Battery of Light Artillery commanded by Lt. Charles Carroll Parsons (1838-1878), an 1861 graduate of West Point. Parsons was in command of Co. H, Fourth US Artillery, Army of the Ohio, early in the war, serving in the campaigns in Tennessee and Mississippi till June 1862 when his health broke down and he returned home to recuperate. When he attempted to return to his battery at Nashville, he found himself cut off from his command by Bragg’s army invading Kentucky. He offered his services to the general commanding at Louisville and was given an 8-gun field battery manned by raw recruits plucked from various infantry regiments of new volunteers—particularly the 105th OVI. Other soldiers were recruited from the 80th Illinois, the 123rd Illinois, and the 101st Indiana, but it is my hunch that the author of this letter came from Capt. Kee’s Co. B of the 105th OVI as that is where he asks for his letters to be directed. Unfortunately the company rosters do not indicate those who were detailed to Parsons’ Battery in September and October 1862.
During the 8 October 1862 Battle of Perryville, with only partially drilled infantrymen, Parsons’ “Improvised” Battery” gave a good account of itself until its position was overrun. The battery lost almost forty percent of the whole number engaged and seven of their eight guns.
[Near Bardstown, Kentucky]
October 3, 1862
I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well. I received your kind letter—yours & father’s both. I cannot say what day of the month bit I believe I received yours on Sunday. I hardly know when Sunday comes as we have the same work to do every day. we are now near Bardstown on the Bardstown Pike. It is rough country here.
I have had good times since I joined the battery. We was routed up on Monday night at midnight. The rebels had advanced and fired three shots on our pickets. I don’t know whether they killed any or not. We followed them to Bardstown and gave up the chase.
I had some fun today. There was a negro run off from his master and came to us for to cook and his master came seeking round here hunting for him. Two or three of us and the negro went after water and his master sprang out from behind a tree and ketched his negro and threatened to shoot him if he did not go with him. I picked up a rock as there is no scarcity of them here and before the old cuss knowed what he was about, I struck him and knocked him down and smashed his nose. He went after I let him alone to the captain with his nose bleeding and laid in a complaint against me. The captain called me up and asked me about it. I told him about it and I told him that he had threatened to shoot the negro and he said it was a lie. He said he had nothing to shoot with and the captain said he would search and if he had nothing to shoot with, he would punish me and they found a revolver in his pocket. They have him under guard. The captain said I would have done right if I had half killed him.
I saw John Cartwright. He is in the 73rd Indiana. I saw Joseph Ormsby. It was him that showed me John C. and James Cartwright. I saw Weston the other day.
I must now close. This was wrote the 3rd and I could not finish it till the 11th.
October 11, 1862
Dear brother—I am well at present. Was in the fight the other day [at Perryville, Kentucky]. I did not have a mark. It was an awful sight to see the dead and wounded. We had light guns and lost 7 of them.
Direct to the 105th [OVI]. We are back to their camp near Taylorsville [Kentucky]. Direct care of Capt. [Ephraim] Kee, Co. B, 105th Regiment, Louisville, Kentucky. What is left of the battery is back.