These letters were written by Asa Mulford (1845-1895), the son of Job Mulford (1817-1904) and Catherine Emmons (1821-1852) of Middletown, Lemon township, Butler county, Ohio.
The following information was compiled by Pamela Omelson and Mae L. Jacober:
“Asa graduated from Miami University at Oxford, Ohio on 5 July 1860. He enlisted as a private at the age of 19 in the 11th Ohio battery of the Union Army and served from 4 September 1861 until 5 November 1864. He fought along the Mississippi in the battles of Corinth, and Iuka, participated in the Yazoo Expedition, and was captured near Pine Bluff, Arkansas with others of his party while foraging. He was held prisoner for three months at Little Rock until exchanged. His army discharge papers describe him as five feet six inches tall, fair complexion, hazel eyes, and light hair.
Asa kept a store after the war, the business failed, and the family moved to Illinois sometime between July 1875 and May 1877. “This family lived in Sugar Creek, Clinton Co., Illinois in 1880, T9-0182, p.455D. They apparently moved there c. 1876-77.” They stayed for about ten years near Trenton in Clinton County. In 1886 they moved to Bond County where they farmed in the vicinity of Greenville until Asa’s death.
ELEVENTH OHIO BATTERY.
This was recruited in Hamilton, Athens, Butler, Vinton, and Wyandot counties, August 20th to September with 15, 1861, and mustered in at St. Louis October 27th, one hundred and fifty-seven men. It had two six-pound rifles, two six-pound smooth-bores, and two twelve-pound howitzers, with full equipment. October 26th, at department headquarters, the battery was presented by Mrs. Fremont with a superb silk guidon. Its earlier service in Missouri was severe, but not particularly eventful. It was in the affair at New Madrid and Island No. 10, and brought in two rebel six-pounders as trophies. It went with General Pope to Hamburgh Landing and Corinth, where it was heavily engaged, and participated in the chase to Ripley. At the battle of Iuka it was charged three times, and lost two officers and fifty-five men killed and wounded, more than half of the entire number it had on the field, besides all their horses and all their harness and equipments. It was subsequently engaged in the siege of Vicksburgh, and the battles of Raymond, Clinton, Jackson, and Champion Hills, served in Steele’s expedition to Little Rock, where it became sharply engaged; and thereafter was occupied with train-guard and garrison duty, and comparatively unimportant expeditions, until the expiration of its period of service, when it was transported to Columbus, and there mustered out November 5, 1864.
~ 1 ~
November 13, 1861
Dear Father, Mother, Brothers & Sisters,
I again commence another letter from Tipton. Do not now fix your ears or eyes to meet in this any glowing account of a great fight by us, or great exploits & hairbreadth escapes of my own, for we have settled down here and been as harmless as so many sheep—never once having the least occasion of bringing out a gun. I tell you this in advance to relieve your expectancy caused by my writing that we were expecting an attack soon in my last. That was the word when we came, but I guess was gotten up by the people & soldiers here more for the purpose of getting us to stop with them than anything else. Misery loves company, you know.
I am writing at the Prairie House. Davidson is sick, taking measles, and I am staying with him tonight. It feels much more comfortable these cool nights in a good house than on the ground under a piece of drilling for walls & roof. The measles are more likely to make an attack in us than any of Gen. Price’s men. Some two or three have already had them and [are] about well, but Davis for one—and some others—are pretty sure candidates now. I have not been right well since the day we left the arsenal. The first night after we camped here I caught a heavy cold by sleeping on the damp ground. It settled on my lungs & I have had a bad cough ever since. It is some better tonight. I think it will leave soon.
The weather has been most very fine ever since leaving St. Louis, having been no rain at all, and the air at a good temperature. Some days a good deal of wind and it was not quite so pleasant—especially at first. But you know on a large prairie it is expect[ed] to be windy. The worst objection is the scarcity of good water—nothing but cisterns are dreamed of here to hold water—there not being a well in the whole town and they are nearly emptied, so we have to go a good ways to a kind of springy creek with the water tanks and haul our drinking & cooking water. There is a pond close by at which we get the most of our stock water,
We are in new tents—great deal larger than those at the arsenal—they very comfortably holding 16 men—just a detachment—the sergeant, 9 cannoneers, & 6 riders. My sergeant’s name is Kelton, 1st Corporal Alonzo [A.] Kimball, 2nd Peter [D.] Staats. We have been drilling some and getting things in order generally since stopping here.
All our mail matter that came to St. Louis after our leaving was sent on to Springfield—that being where we expected to make the grand stop. It was sent for yesterday to come here and I suppose we will get it before very long. Changing [Gen. John C.] Fremont has made a good many other changes. For the better, I don’t know, but think not, for he was the soldier’s favorite. He made a splendid campaign for the time he was at it, so that [Gen. David] Hunter had nothing to do at Springfield and is now drawing his forces away. I think Fremont was the man for the West and they have done a very wrong thing in taking him away. But I think he virtually ended the war in Missouri and there will be but very little more trouble here.
I am getting pretty sleepy (was on guard last night & lost some sleep) and must go to bed. Write soon for I have not received a letter for a long time and I want to get one awful bad. Yours affectionately, — Asa
Direct to [Archibald G. A.] Constable’s Ohio Battery, Tipton, Moniteau county, Mo.
Send some postage stamps for they don’t keep them out here in this queer place and I am pretty near out. Thursday morning—Davidson is some sicker this morning. The measles have not made their appearance yet. I am afraid they will be hard to get out of him. — A. Mulford
~ 2 ~
Camp near New Madrid, Missouri
Sunday, March 16, 1862
Dear ones at home,
Yesterday I received a letter from Jimmie written on the 1st and one from Asa Emmons. I was mighty glad to once more hear from home & learn that you were all well. Those letters were the first I have received the 26th of January. And I suppose you are all anxious to hear from me as no doubt you have heard before this we were down among the enemy, and, we have had a fight and whipped the rascals too. I hardly knew how to tell the events of the past two weeks in a letter scope. To go back and commence where I wrote the last letter at Commerce [Mo.] will give a better history.
We camped there for 3 or 4 days and the 28th of February started on our march here with a strong force of infantry, cavalry, & light artillery. The cavalry during the March gave [Meriwether] Jeff Thompson and his band [of “Swamp Rats”] a hard chase, capturing some prisoners, and took his little 2-pound cannon. We arrived here on Monday 3rd March and that day made a reconnoissance in force and found they had some big guns, for as soon as we came in range, they opened up on us [with] sixty-four pounders from their gunboats and hurled the shot and shell around us as if they wanted to hurt somebody. That day they killed 2 of the infantry and wounded 2 or three cavalry.
The first rebel cannon I ever heard was just 5 minutes after 2 o’clock on the third of March. It threw a shell which bursted high in the air before it reached us and from that on kept up a continual bombardment for two hours until we withdrew out of their range and went into camp. That night we all expected sure to have a battle the next day and we were prepared. I slept as soundly as I ever did, but we were disappointed in getting battle so soon for it had been found that the rebels were pretty strong and well fortified by two forts mounting 25 heavy siege guns besides their gunboats—4 or 5 in number which out little field guns were no match to at all—and we could not take the town or forts without a tremendous loss. So we just held them in siege without making any general attack until heavy siege guns could be got here from Cairo. Four of them came last Wednesday and that night we dug entrenchments and put the pieces in position after dark, within 800 yards of their large fort without their knowing what we were doing. The guns were two 32-pounder, one 24-pounder, and one 68-pounder.
The two rifled pieces of our battery were detailed by Gen. [John] Pope to escort the big guns from camp to the entrenchments and guard them while they were placed in their positions for we expected, if discovered by the rebels, to get shelled like everything. I was present during the whole night and when the attack was opened in the morning at daylight. The first firing was done by the rebel pickets and answered immediately by our men from muskets and grape from the big guns which must have taken them by surprise. In a moment, rebel gunboats and fort opened fire on us and I was right in the midst of a cannonading. Musket balls, cannon shot and shell were flying thick above our heads, making most horrid music. They shot too high. Our little guns were of no use there and we were ordered to fall back out of range. But as we went back, the more danger we were in for we got right where shot struck the ground—plowing deep and scattering the mud over us until we got clear beyond out of their reach where we turned to the right apiece and then advanced in a strip of woods where several regiments of the reserved force lie and there halted to await orders.
We were there an hour before the rebels found us but we were spied and an old gunboat run up the river a little piece to get range of us, and how she did shower the shot and shell at us, striking trees and the ground close and right among us. Gen. [David Sloane] Stanley ordered us to fall back again, and as the movement was being made, a bounding 24-pound ball followed or passed along our column and struck the head driver of our first piece, killing him instantly. I saw the ball coming behind me and when it passed and killed the man. His name was James [W.] Bibby. ¹ After that we kept pretty well out of danger when we could do no good for the fighting was all done on both sides by heavy guns.
The cannonading ceased a little while before sundown and we came back to camp, found the boys all ready with the other four guns to go at a moment’s notice. We have not fired a shot from our guns at the rebels yet although Thursday with our two pieces we were in as much danger—if not more—had we been firing. It is a trying place to be in—such danger remaining passive and being fired into as we were the greater part of that day. But not one of the boys flinched from his duty nor appeared to be very much frightened. Several of the balls we had to dodge as they would come crashing among us. It is natural to dodge such fellows. Whole regiments were commanded to lie down when a shell would be heard or seen coming. I cannot begin to describe all the incidents of the day in a letter but will do it when I come home, and probably this [is] just the beginning, for we are bound to take Memphis.
At night we knew the rebels held the town and forts ² and it was determined by our Generals to take it the next day by the point of the bayonet. So Friday morning we were on the march to take our position long before daylight. But lo! when morning came, it was discovered Mr. “Secesh” picked up traps & “skedaddled” in the night during a heavy thunderstorm leaving things in appearance that they had gone in a desperate hurry. They attempted to spike the guns of the fort but did it so poorly our men had them ready for action in two hours after we got them. They also left powder, provisions, mule teams on the wharf already hitched, clothing, pistols, guns, and even some of their picket guards that had not come in yet—so those say that have been down there. ³ I have not seen the place yet. For some reason the soldiers are not allowed to go down town reconnoitering.
The rebels retreated up the river and joined, I suppose, those at Island No. 10. There are rumors today that the Island is evacuated and if so, we may have some fun stopping their retreat yet, for they will have to come by us or surrender. Our killed and wounded in this engagement was probably 75. The number of rebels, I cannot say, but there must have been a good many for there is a great many fresh graves there.
I would have written soon after we came here but heard that all letters were stopped at St. Louis until this little affair would be over and thought it no use to write. My health has been good since writing before. Did you get my picture I sent just before leaving Otterville?
I must close this for the present, hoping this war will be ended in a few more good strikes and I home with you again. Yours truly, — A. Mulford
P. S. Direct your letters in care of Capt. Sands of the 11th Ohio Battery, 2nd Division of Army of the Mississippi.
¹ In his scholarly paper, “A Battery at Close Quarters,” author Henry M. Neil (1909) wrote that “poor James Bibby….was literally cut in two by a thirty-two pound ball” in the battery’s first battle at New Madrid. The horse he rode was a “fine strong bay who always worked as near leader” and “kept his place [in spite of being] covered with the blood” of the fallen artillerist. According to enlistment records, James W. Bibby was 24 years old when he enlisted in September 1861 in the Ohio 11th Light Artillery.
² The earthen forts were named by the Confederates as Fort Thompson and Fort Bankhead. Together they housed 21 heavy guns protecting New Madrid and nearby Island No. 10.
³ Unable to hold New Madrid against siege guns, the Confederate commanders ordered the evacuation of the position during the night amidst a rain storm and much confusion. The next morning the Federals entered the deserted forts to discovered an immense quantity of stores that had been abandoned in the hasty retreat. Thirty-three cannons, several thousand stand of small armaments for an army of 10,000 men, and other materials fell into Pope’s hands.
~ 3 ~
New Madrid, Missouri
Tuesday, March 25, 1862
Dear Parents & Brothers,
Since writing last week I have received my back letters. The well-filled family letter, and also the one of circulars of somebody’s sewing machine, which was considerable of a puzzle to me for a little while. It was among the first letters I got and of course eagerly opened, but what was my chagrin in taking out one after another 3 circulars, confidential letters, &c. of some New Yorker. After thinking a little, I supposed they had been sent to me. The fellow had got my name from some list, I suppose, as I used to answer some of the Eastern advertisers, just to see what kind of a humbug they had, and they keep a list of the names of those who write, and this list is passed around from one firm to another, and they rain their circulars on a fellow ever after. You need not go to the trouble of forwarding anymore. They are of no account to me.
Well we are still in camp at the same place and are very comfortable, within hearing of occasional cannonading at Island No. 10 last night and this morning. We hear a good deal of thunder out that way. Well, the boys are getting up a game of ball and yelling for me and recon I must go.
Saturday, 29th. I left off writing the above the other day to play ball and somehow have not finished this letter yet. By the way, we have some interesting games of ball down here in “Dixie,” to pass away these beginning to be long, warm days. But between reading the news and play ball, time does not die on our hands. We get Cincinnati, St. Louis, [and] Chicago dailies the next day after they are printed regularly and also a daily mail.
We are in a few miles of Island No. 10 [and] plainly hear the booming cannon but never get any particular news from there until it has gone to Cincinnati, printed in the papers, & sent back here the next day, and when they come are eagerly sought and the stiff price of ten cents per copy cheerfully plunked down. Every day brings news of either new victories or interesting details of recent ones. Our many successes make cheerful soldiers. We are all in high spirits. Nothing would suit us better than to go and help Gen. [Flag Officer Andrew H.] Foote take this little Island which we are only hindered from doing by being unable to cross the river here. Island No. 10 must fall and that too before very long. That once out of the way, Memphis is ours in two days.
If we meet with the same success from this on as of late, I cannot see how the war can be prolonged a great while. I do not expect to get off without a long and hot southern summer campaign. I will be fully satisfied if I can get back home by next fall. The rebels have everything to discourage them and we have everything to encourage us and I think ‘ere long they will find it madness to resist.
Have you heard yet in what Regiment & Company John V. is? I would like to know. I wrote him a letter at Otterville directed as you advertised but never received any answer. Don’t think he ever got it.
We have most beautiful, warm, spring weather. Peach trees are out in full bloom and some trees begin to put out their green plumage. Our army here have most beautiful camping grounds—the tents stretching for two miles or more over the level & fertile farms. I am expecting every day a letter from you and hope you will write soon. Direct as I said in the other letter, or direct to New Madrid, 2nd Division, Army of Mississippi, 11th Ohio Battery. Postage stamps can’t be got here. I use my last one on this letter. Would like for you to write and send me some as soon as you get this.
Yours affectionately, — A. Mulford
~ 4 ~
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Onboard Steamer Emilie
Port Metropolis, Illinois Shore
Ohio River. Sunday
April 20, 1862
I am nearer home now that before for a long time. We are laying up to the Illinois shore taking on rations and forage. We have been steam boating during the whole of the past week. Nearly all of Gen. Pope’s army embarked last Sunday morning for Ft. Pillow—some 25 or 6 transports. We went down within a few miles of the fort and tied up to the Arkansas shore. The Gun & Mortar boats took position about 2 miles in advance of us and occasionally presented the rebel fort a huge shell with the Commodore’s compliments. And sometimes the rebels would return shots making the water fly close by our gunboats as their balls would strike the water.
The country round about is all swampy and impassable. And “Musketoes” so bad we could hardly stand them. We only staid 3 days and then left Commodore Foote with his war vessels to blockade the river and watch the rebels, while we go round to Pittsburg Landing to reinforce their half-whipped army, and help take Corinth. It is considered certain Pittsburg Landing is our destination, and it certainly looks very much that way from our withdrawing from Fort Pillow come way up here and take on four days ration, as it takes that long to reach Pittsburg Landing. Probably before mailing, I will be able to state without a doubt.
There will have to be another hard fight before getting Corinth—probably exceeding the recent one [at Shiloh]. I hope to come across John V. down here.
I saw Island No. 10 as we came up, but passed Columbus during the night. We stopped Friday night and part of yesterday at Cairo. This place is 40 miles above. It has been raining incessantly for 3 or 4 days and no prospect [of] its quitting.
Our fleet is all here and we are about ready to start again. As it is pretty late in the afternoon, I expect we will stop over night at Paducah. The sick are to be left there. We are bound for Pittsburg Landing without a doubt but I will write you as soon as getting to our landing.
My health is good. I am surprised at how well I stand it. Very poor fare and on a crowded steamboat—a good many are getting sick. How well I should like to go on up this beautiful Ohio [river] to Cincinnati and up home to see you, but expect I’m nearer there now that I will be for a good while.
If we can get them whipped out at Corinth, and their army disorganized, the fighting will be over in the Southwest. I have a very poor chance here for writing and must close.
Direct your letters to Gen. Pope’s Division.
Your affectionate son, — A. Mulford
~ 5 ~
May 22 
Your letter of the 10th was gladly received day before yesterday. I have thought for the last three weeks I would not write until after the battle which has been daily expected every since we landed at Hamburg, but mysteri[ous]ly does not take place although our whole army lies entrenched within 3 miles of Beauregard’s and the picket guards keep up a continual bush fight only one mile in front of us and almost every day a small battle is fought by skirmishers somewhere along the line. So it has been since last Saturday—the day we advanced to this present position—and during the same night rifle pits and heavy breastworks were thrown up.
Our battery is in a stong position—well-protected by earthworks. The whole line of battle is in trenches and if we could succeed in drawing Beauregard out to attack us, he would most certainly get badly defeated. But I do not believe he will fight outside of his own entrenchments and wait for us to make the attack. In that case, it may yet be a good while before the battle comes off. And since the success of our arms in the East, a big fight here will be avoided if possible, or delayed until there can be some cooperation from the Gulf, thereby surrounding the West at Corinth with such numbers that fighting will be unnecessary and end the war at once. But this is all conjecture and tomorrow here may be the scene of the greatest battle ever fought in America.
Every day we are put in battle array by some alarm until it is no novelty to expect a fight two or three times a day without getting greatly excited at hearing the long roll. Capt. [Frank C.] Sands went home sometime since and the last we heard from him he was very low. Lieut. W. K. Perrine has been quite sick but is getting better. Dr. E. Kimball has been with us 10 days and intends staying until this thing is settled. My health continues good. You had better believe it is getting pretty warm down here in Mississippi. Wheat will do to [be] cut in 10 days.
If this battle is not put off too long, I will not write again until it is over. I expect to come through it safely but should I fall, I hope for pardon and mercy in the next world, and there to meet you all with others that have gone before us. My love to all. Your son, — Asa
Write soon & often.
~ 6 ~
Camp 20 miles south of Corinth
Sunday, June 7th 1862
Since writing before the great and important place called Corinth has almost passed from view & forgotten. The fight we expected to see did not come off and consequently we—as the rest of the world—were disappointed. The particulars of the evacuation you have [no doubt read] before this through the newspapers. They were compelled to destroy and leave an immense lot of property but succeeded remarkably well in getting themselves away from “Yankee” clutches. We found sugar, molasses, old guns & camp equipage in abundance. The cavalry gave them a pretty sharp chase but they rather outwitted Halleck and made good their escape.
We followed leisurely until we got to this beautiful woods not far from a little town on the M&O [Mobile & Ohio] Railroad called Booneville [Mississippi] and here went into camp. The present appearances are we are likely to stay here for some time—probably waiting for Gen. McClellan to end the war by his battles in Virginia. The latest papers we have had were of the 3rd and only know they have had some pretty rough work. The results we do not know. If we could have had a fight and thrashed them out here, I think the war would be ended sooner. But probably all is for the best.
This is a delightful country here—somewhat wild—but the climate is very pleasant. My health is very good and I think it will be so through the summer. I have found John V. at last. I saw him last Sunday. He is well and looks fine. At that time I did not see him long and since [then] we have been here on the move & have not had an opportunity. If you write to him, direct to the 18th [U.S.] Regular Infantry, 2nd Batt[alion], Co. A. Gen. [Thomas W.] Sherman’s [First] Division [Army of the Ohio].
I await with great eagerness to hear the Eastern news. I don’t think much will be done here for some time—not until we get Memphis so that we can get our supplies by the railroad. Write soon. Your affectionate son, — A. Mulford
~ 7 ~
Camp “High Hill”
August 17, 1862
I don’t suppose you have much more than got my last letter but we have made another move and to keep you well posted to my whereabouts, I write again.
Last Friday (after we had just got one camp at Jacinto most snugly fixed, in came marching orders and off we went before noon, leaving behind our pretty leafy ‘bowers’ with regret at first, but they were soon forgotten. A soldier likes to be moving. It makes no difference how well we get camp fixed. Marching orders are always hailed with joy—but not so much this time because it was only a short distance we were to go—three miles toward Riensi, and we landed on the top of his hill and no tree near to protect us from the sun. But we all went to work and constructed good bowers that evening and now we have the coolest camp of the season. In fact, [we] suffered a little from the cold the last two nights as there was a change in weather Friday. Still the days are hot enough and would be insufferably so if it was not for the almost constant breeze that is remarkable of the South and on this hill we get the benefit of it all.
I am on guard duty today. During the last week I was off duty two or three days on account of the scurvy but am getting well of it now. If we could get more onions & vegetables generally the health of soldiers would be much improved. Such things are hard to get down here. The country in thinly populated and besides, if there was plenty, the regulations of the army would not let us get them for no soldier is allowed to go outside of the lines of his brigade unless accompanied by a commissioned officer. And for the soldier, they don’t take any trouble as to what he gets, so they themselves are supplied.
What is the feeling generally among our Radical Democrats in regard to the draft? I suppose the most of them would rather be excused!!
Monday 18th. I have just received your miniatures. I can’t tell how glad I was. It seemed almost as if I had paid you a visit—or you me—for the pictures are so natural. Mother looks as if she was just going to speak! and Frank is the cutest and prettiest little picture I ever saw. And little Laura almost as fat as ever with her greatly interested look. That group I don’t thnk could be taken better in fifty trials. Pap’s, John’s & Jinnie are very good. I would not take anything for that case of pictures. It almost serves me a visit. And you may be assured I will make you many visits! and still be in Mississippi.
You have my sincere thanks for them and I hope it won’t be long until all of us can go home, through a land of peace & happiness to see those dear ones at home that we have been separated from so long.
This is Jinnie’s birthday—12 years old. How times is flying. A few days more and I will have been a soldier for one year! and another year will not be long and I think by that time, I can come home. I wish I could much sooner but at present the prospect is gloomy for a speedy termination of the war.
There is no news to write. I am in good health. My love to all. Your son & brother, — Asa
~ 8 ~
Camp “High Hill” Mississippi
Monday, September 1, 1862
I received your letter yesterday. Am glad to hear of the general prosperity and the activity in the recruiting business but I would rather a large army raised by draft than altogether by volunteering. Nobody but patriotic and loyal men to the country will enlist and consequently the loyal have the greater part of the burden to bear. And more, the heavy drain will embolden the rebel sympathizers. Patriotism at home is what sustains our armies. And if all the patriotic men are put in the army, there will soon be seditious and hostile uprisings in the North for I am satisfied the opportunity is the only thing wanted to bring about such a state of affairs. A draft will disturb these organizations and probably prematurely expose them. A draft is certain but I am afraid there has been too much volunteering already. But I hope for the best.
If the course as taken in Taylor Webster’s case is followed up in every instance, Toryism will not dare to raise its head. ¹ I suppose Old Dr. Webster finds a great deal of consolation in the position he has secured to his son Taylor by his encouragement the curse that confines him to a felon’s cell and that brings down eternal disgrace on himself and his family. I am not certain but the guilt lies on Jimie [James K. Webster (1835-1894) Webster’s and his father’s heads. They snatched him from the path of duty which when left to his own judgment & conscience had chosen. Yet Taylor was as patriotic and loyal at the beginning of this war as any man in Ohio. But alas! his nearest relatives and friends have disgraced him and he them. I am sorry for Taylor. We have heard here that he has been sentenced to Ft. Warren [Boston] during the war. We all approve of the sentence and hope it will have a wholesome effect [on] all who are in sympathy with rebellion in that section.
I have nothing new to write of. We are in the same place as my last writing. Our position is in the advanced line and when there is any fighting to be done, we expect to have a hand in it. I think there will be a forward movement before long to open the fall campaign.
I am troubled with sores on my legs so that I have been unfit for duty for the last ten days but I think they will save me a severe spell of sickness.
The papers you sent I have not received yet. Suppose they have got detained some way. I received Jinnie’s letter day before yesterday.
[Lt. William King] Perrine has returned and all the vacancies are now filled. I do not know where John V. is. He promised to write to me but I have never got any letters from [him]. His regiment was with McCook ² when he was killed but I have not since learned where they are.
We had a heavy rain yesterday but it is as hot as ever again this afternoon. I have an idea this will be the hottest month of the season. We have had considerable of target shooting in our brigade of late. And the practice shows that somebody would be very likely to get hurt appearing against us as an enemy.
And so at last you have got a trade out of Uncle Job. I am very glad of it. It will bring matters into a more satisfactory condition.
Peter Smith ³ has enlisted under a good captain. I am well acquainted with him having been his school mate.
Well, I will close for the mail. Write often & send me plenty of papers. My best to all. Yours as ever, — Asa Mulford
¹ Taylor Webster (1841-1882) was the son of Dr. Elias Webster (1805-1891) and Mary Kain (1809-1867) of Middletown, Butler county, Ohio. Elias was a homeopathic practitioner who also made a living as a farmer. He was a Peace Democrat during the Civil War. Shortly after the war, Elias relocated from Butler county to Connersville, Indiana.
² Probably Robert Latimer McCook who was a Brig. General of volunteers in the Army of the Ohio who was killed in a skirmish with Confederate guerrillas near Huntsville, Alabama, on 6 August 1862.
³ Peter Smith was enumerated as a 28 year-old “day laborer” on the Job Mulford farm at the time of the 1860 US Census.
~ 9 ~
Iuka, Mississippi ¹
Monday, September 22 
I take this opportunity to write you a few lines that you may know I am safe and uninjured for I suppose you will have heard of our fight last Friday eve before you receive this. I am so fatigued and there is so much work to do in taking care of our wounded and getting things straightened out again that I cannot give you a very detailed account of the affair. For ten days before we left “High Hill” we were in readiness to march at a moment’s notice and last Wednesday we sent all our baggage, knapsacks, and tents to Corinth, were ordered to prepare for a rapid March. That night we were soaked in the rain and started Thursday morning before daylight in the rain & we continued our march until noon & then laid over until Friday morn and again resumed our march, our brigade in advance. We moved quite slowly for Price’s pickets had to be driven in for 8 miles. This took us all day until about one hour before sundown. We marched right into Price’s forces one mile from Iuka where the ground was very hilly and covered with undergrowth. Here we fortified a short line of battle in the woods. The trees were so thick we could hardly get our battery into position but did so under the fire of the rebel sharpshooters on the right of the 5th Iowa Regiment & on the left of the 11th Missouri. ²
We had not more than got our position until the rebels made a charge. We poured double charges of canister into their ranks, just mowing them by swaths. The underbrush was so thick that we did not fire a shot until they got within a 100 yards of us and the fighting soon came to close quarters. We were charged on the front by three regiments and succeeded in checking their advance twice by our murderous fire, but they would close up their ranks & on they came. Our men were falling fast by their sharpshooters and in 15 minutes they succeeded in reaching our guns, driving us away by a charge bayonet. Our boys fought nobly. 16 were killed & 40 wounded, making ½ the force we went into the fight with either killed or wounded. The battle was short but fierce. They took every one of our guns but subsequently abandoned them and we have them all back again. Our horses were nearly all killed and crippled. ³ All our lieutenants were wounded except Perrine. Only one of our Monroe boys was hurt & that was John Ike—wounded in both hands. How I escaped unhurt, I do not know for the bullets whistled around me as thick as hail.
When night came, the battle ended—our men holding the ground. During the night, Price skedaddled leaving his dead & wounded. He was pursued next morn and I guess has been roughly handled if reports are true. The battleground was a desperate, sad, and sickening sight—the ground strewn with dead men & horses. Alas! that men will fight one another. I cannot now give you any idea of the sight. I am thankful that God in His goodness saw fit to preserve me.
It is getting dark and I must close this hasty letter. Tomorrow morn the first mail goes out since we came here. We will not be in a condition for service again for several weeks. In the engagement, the loss was heavy on both sides for the time it lasted but the heaviest on the rebel side.
Write soon. I have not heard from you for a good while. Yours son, — Asa
² First Lt. Henry Neil entered the fight at Iuka second in command to Lt. Cyrus Sears, acting for Capt. Frank Sands who was ill and on leave. Neil was wounded four times but assumed command when Sears went down. Speaking of the battle years later, Neil wrote, “As we emerged from the cut, this sudden concentration of rifle fire gave me the impression of being in a violent hail storm. Riding at the head of the column, I turned my head to look for the men, expecting to see half the men and horses down. To my great joy I found all uninjured. The storm of bullets was passing just over our heads. We hastened to get into position and unlimber before they could get in range. Just in front of us the road turned to the right. We turned to the right into the brush and took position facing this road. As our men were clearing a hazel brush for positions for their guns, a Wisconsin battery appeared about three or four hundred yards to our left and unlimbered; but it suddenly limbered up and galloped to the rear without firing a shot. It had been ordered back, leaving the Eleventh the only Union battery in the battle.”
³ Lt. Cyrus Sears, who took a musket ball in right shoulder, would later write of the Battle at Iuka: “Before the end it became clear that the position of the guns of this battery had become so much the bone of contention in that fight, that everything else, both flags, the Union and the Confederacy, and even the ‘damned nigger’ were forgotten in that all-absorbing, hand-spike and ramrod, rough-and-tumble, devil-take-the-hindmost fight for those six guns.” The batteries guns were captured and recaptured several times before dark and the battery men never abandoned them voluntarily. One Confederate prisoner afterward said, “Those battery boys had so much spunk that we took pity on a few who were left.”
~ 10 ~
[November 25, 1862]
Where an army is encamped, the fences there about soon disappear and what had lately appeared a highly cultivated piece of country with large pine plantations subdivided into beautiful and well laid off fields, is one vast waste—all traces of its beauty obliterated. I know of no greater scourge that can be visited upon a section of a rich, good country than to have an army “in the field” as we are to encamp upon it for two or three weeks. The track of these armies can be traced for years after the war is closed by the destruction and misery they leave in their wake. You that are so far away from these blasting influences can have but a feint idea of the reality. Many wretched beings will suffer this winter for the most common comforts of life who had an abundance before the armies traversed their lands and destroyed their homesteads. I have seen the licking flames doing its work on house, barns and fields. Woe! woe! to the guilty ones for this war. This country will hereafter be too hot a hell for them to stay in. I pity individuals that suffer so, but taking the South as a nation, I believe it but a just punishment for their inciting this monstrous and wicked rebellion.
Would that the South could see the error of their ways and return to their allegiance for their own sakes, for if they persist in carrying on this was, hundreds & thousands more of their fair lands must be desolated and so many more made to suffer. It is not pleasant for us to destroy & desolate their country, but if driven to it by themselves, we will over run the country to the Gulf of Mexico and show no mercy.
I do not believe there can be peace until they submit and submit they must for we have the power to crush them and it will be done if it takes five years or more. We have the power and wealth to far outlast them.
We now only wait for success in the East to shortly close the war. If Burnside will “left dress” with us, we will lead them tight through the Southern Confederacy and reach the Gulf of Mexico triumphantly sometime next spring. But if he does not whip them out of Richmond and Virginia, our line will be broken and we cannot very well continue our advance southward successfully unless we stick pretty close to the Mississippi river.
It is only one month from today until Christmas and O! but wouldn’t I like to be home on that day. But I know it is no use to entertain any expectations of that treat for it is utterly impossible to obtain a furlough. In fact, I have but little hope of getting home until the war is ended or my time of enlistment expires unless some misfortune should overtake me. 3 months more and one half of my term of enlistment will have expired, The last fifteen months have passed away quickly and if I have good luck, the end will not be long. I am well and warmly clothed, sufficient to eat, and as contented I suppose as I should be under the circumstances. I endeavor to take everything as easy as possible and get along very well.
Your advice against the dangers of temptations of camp you may be assured will be hereafter strictly adhered to. I think I have learned to be a better boy than I used to be and can now see thousands of my past errors. I can now see & have endeavored to conquer my ungovernable and independent spirit that used to blind & lead me astray so much contrary to the best of advice.
I do not know that there is anything you can send me except letters. I expect I shall have to call for some postage stamps pretty soon as my stock is running pretty low.
Our army is now known as the “left wing of the Army of West. Tenn.” — we having joined the Tenn. Army. Well my letter has got quite long—more so than I expected it would today when commencing. Give my love to all and write again soon. Your son, — Asa
Direct to 11th Ohio Battery, 1st Brigade, 3rd Division (Gen. Quinby’s), Left Wing Army of West. Tenn.
~ 11 ~
January 6, 1863
I received your letter yesterday evening containing stamps & New Year’s present which was very acceptable for I was nearly strapped. Our paymaster does not get around very often. There is six month’s pay due us. We expect to be paid off this month sometime. Well, we have looked around to pretty near what I anticipated in one of my letters sometime ago, guarding & building up the M & C [Memphis and Chattanooga] Railroad. We tried a trip down into Mississippi but found it would not win. The rebel cavalry got in behind us playing a heap of mischief—nearly starving us out so that it made it impracticable for us to stay where we were or to go further south.
The last two days of the old year we marched from Holly Springs to Lafayette where we laid on New Years Day. I had a sumptuous dinner on fresh pork & mush and mighty glad to get that. During the Holly Springs days we had to live off of the country & use corn coffee. Our train from Memphis met us New Years Day & since we have had plenty to eat. We marched there on the 2nd.
This is a dingy railroad station 15 miles from Memphis. We draw rations at Memphis, the cars run through, but mostly construction trains and they don’t carry much freight. I think that we will lay here for some time and if you can come and see me, this will be the best opportunity that you can get. Come to Memphis by water [and] from there by rail. Nothing would please me so well as to have you visit me. I would have given anything to have been homer last week but it was impossible. You could get some of the Monroe folks to come with you down. Old Mr. Clark, Dr. Kimball, and others that have sons here would come and you would have company. The trip would well pay you for what you would see. Several boys in the company have had visits from their fathers. Come as soon as possible as the chance will be so much better of finding us. I don’t believe I can get home until the war is over and I am afraid that will be a good while yet.
We have a good deal of rain of late. I guess the rainy season is about set in. The weather is warm. In fact, we have not had any cold weather down here yet and I guess won’t have.
My eyes are took weak to write with any pleasure. Otherwise I am in good health. Write and tell me if you can come and see me. My love to all. Your son — Asa
11th Ohio Battery
General Quinby’s Division
Army of Western Tennessee
~ 12 ~
February 5, 1863
I have been looking for to see you every day for the past week and also for a letter, but neither have appeared yet. From letters written at Monroe on the 24th of January, I have learned that you expected to start on the 25th and as it is now 10 days since that time, I am uneasy as to what is detaining you. I have not written sooner on account of waiting until you came or receiving a letter.
We stayed at Germantown until the last of January when we marched here and went into camp about two miles southeast of Memphis. Some three or four weeks ago, a general order was read to us designating our division as destined to reinforce the army at Vicksburg but when we will or whether we go at all, I can not say. I think that we will hardly go before spring at any rate.
We have had a good deal of winter down here since New Years. About the middle of January, snow fell to the depth of 12 or 15 inches, but did not last long. Mud is in abundance. Snow fell seven inches in depth last night and it has been so cold today, not much of it has melted yet.
My eyes are somewhat better. Otherwise I am in excellent health. I want you or somebody to write immediately for I a very anxious to learn why Father has not arrived here yet. My writing accommodations are not very good and I will close for the present. My love to all. Your son, — Asa
11th Ohio Battery, Quinby’s Div. of the 17th Army Corps, Memphis
~ 13 ~
Camp near Memphis, Tenn.
February 15, 1863
Dear Folks at Home,
Another week is ended and another begun on this beautiful Sabbath morning. The sun has again smiled upon us which he scarcely deign to do last week. Nearly every day we were refreshed by copious showers which has caused “Mother Earth” to be extremely tender so that one is almost afraid to let down his whole weight while standing upon her for fear his legs might go clear through and his feet get fast on the other side, or in other words, it is most desperate muddy.
To protect myself from the foul weather, I bought me a pair of boots with legs coming above the knee so that I can bid defiance to my common mud hole. Shoe leather is a pretty good price in Memphis. Good cavalry boots cannot be got for less than $8.00 or $10. I gave $8 for mine.
We have at last been visited by that always welcome personage—the paymaster. We were paid two months dues while at Germantown and the same again yesterday. There is still nearly four months pay still due. It is said we will be paid again soon. If so, I will have some money worth sending home.
The boys are all much pleased with the Valentines received yesterday. Old Abe’s, Chases, and such pictures make very acceptable Valentines with the soldiers.
There is still some talk of going to Vicksburg but the precise time is not known—even at our brigade headquarters. I was doing some writing there yesterday and day before and from the conversations of the “Notables” learned that they did not know a great deal more of the Vicksburg movement than I did. I have not the least doubt but what we will spend the next summer with the Vicksburg mosquitoes which are said to be extremely abundant. If you know of any good antidote for them, I wish you would send it.
I do not anticipate a very happy time in the coming campaign, but shall go into it with a straight heart, hoping for the best. I have been exceedingly fortunate so far and all I ask is that my good fortune may be continued until the end. My eyes are getting a great deal better and I think will be entirely well before very long. I do not now of anything that could be more inconvenient than blindness.
I received father’s letter of the 1st a few days since which set me more at rest for we had [heard from some of the Monroe folks that he had started. I think there will be ample time to pay me a visit before we leave and I have not given up altogether a visit yet.
From the papers I fear the agitation that is rising in the Northern states will do a great deal of harm if it is not shortly stopped. I believe that the government is a great deal to blame in preventing such characters as Valandingham to belch forth their treason all over the country. If such leaders had been choked down without exception in the stars, there would not be such a turbulent faction as there now is. The great error of our government is being too easy with its traitors & enemies. If an outbreak should occur in the North, our country could be drenched with blood far worse than France in her revolution. Anything but total ruin, anything but war up there by your firesides before such state of things should occur. I would be willing to recognize the South on their own terms.
Men are surely mad that try to precipitate the northern states in a war among themselves. It is bad enough as it is. And to be made any worse should not be entertained for a minute. In time, without a disturbance at home, we can conquer the rebels, but time it will take and a long time under the most favorable circumstances. They occupy a large scope of country, are a brave, proud and intelligent people, and will not give up until completely subjugated and this it will take years red with blood to accomplish. This war is a great pity, but I think if carried through successfully unto the end, it will result in a great good. In fact, it is absolutely necessary to the prosperity of our country the rebels be subdued. But whether the people will allow the government time to do it, I doubt very much. We can live without the South, but cannot prosper or become a great nation. I would not be surprised though, under the existing circumstances, if after we get complete possession of the Mississippi, there would be a compromise if not a recognition of the Confederacy extending within bounds of the territory which they hold and by next fall the country would be at peace.
I am tired of soldiering and would like to get home but would dislike to go acknowledging we were whipped by the rebels.
I have been in Memphis only once and then on duty since we have been here. Business appeared to be quite brisk, stores, groceries, & shops in full blast, and the usual rattle & clatter of a business city. If Memphis was built as compact as Hamilton and Rossville, I don’t think it would exceed them very much in size. Well, I must close.
All of you must write soon to your son & brother, — Asa Mulford
11th Ohio Battery, 3rd Brigade, 7th Division (Quinby’s), 17th Army Corps, Memphis, Tenn.
~ 14 ~
Bound for Vicksburg
On board Steamer Tigress,
March 2, 1863
Yours & JOhn’s letter of the 20th Feb. has just been received ad I have time to write a short note to let you know we have at last embarked for Vicksburg—the place that people have endeavored to make a terror to soldiers. But our boys are all in good heath and spirits and that report of the troops being unwilling to fight is a base lie & slanders on or army—the one that has done the most and best fighting of any of the West. And I don’t believe there is one man that would refuse to fight whenever called upon unless it is the one that sent the report to Monroe—who ever he may be. You can contradict it with perfect security.
I received that book a few days since for which I am much obliged. I am and have been for the last two or three weeks acting as company adjutant or clerk, and have nothing much to do but write.
I must close for fear I don’t get this off in time as they are getting up steam. Will write again soon after reaching our destination. My health is good.
Your affectionate son & brother, — Asa
~ 15 ~
On board Steamer Lady Jackson
Near Helena, Arkansas
April 10, 1863
The Yazoo Pass expedition has again returned from navigating rivulets, creeks & small streams, once more to the broad bosom of the “Father of Rivers” and what effect it may have had in other quarters, I do not know. But I do know that we are all glad to get back with sound skins, and unfractured necks for between the guerrillas and danger of being crushed or drowned, there were slim chances of getting out again. We started from our landing on the Tallahachie river last Monday morning and arrived here this morning when mail matter once more greeted our eyes and your letter was gladly received.
The reason we came back was from an order to that effect from General Grant. Yazoo Pass is a few miles below Helena on the Mississippi side of the river.
My health has been excellent during the whole trip and is very good at the present. Where are destined for now, I do not know. Some say down the river, and some up. But I think we will go down again somewhere about Vicksburg. You would laugh to see our fleet. Some of the boats are stipped to the cabin and all more or less ragged.
I am sorry that Ed & Bob can’t content themselves with what they have got and I think are acting very foolish in trying to get what does not belong to them.
I got a letter from Pete Smith a few days ago. He was at St. Louis getting along finely.
I haven’t time to write a long letter at present as we are expecting to be paid here and I have to fix up the pay rolls.
Give my love to all. Write soon & often to your son, — Asa
Direct as heretofore. Excuse haste.
~ 16 ~
Little Rock, Arkansas
November 12th 1863
I shall drop you a few lines more because it is my duty that that I have anything new, strange, or interesting. I would have written sooner but we have been very busy building log houses for winter quarters. They are all pretty much finished and we are fully prepared to stand a hard winter very comfortable. The whole army has so prepared itself.
Little Rock presents a far different aspect now than what it did under Secesh rule when I was here a prisoner. Instead of the deserted streets, empty store rooms, and dirty, ragged, and sneaking rebel soldiery, one will see exactly the opposite. The streets are thronged both by citizens and soldiers, stores filled with nicely assorted goods, and the hun of business is heard on every side. I was into town today and could not but contrast Little Rock of three months ago with Little Rock of the present. Hand in hand with the Union army go the finest arts of civilization. Called in a picture gallery and got my phiz. which I send as it may give you some idea of what for looking chap I am by this time. It is a very fine and true likeness and so pronounced by all who have seen it. Such pictures are procured here for 50 cents.
We were paid four months pay last week and I am now clerking for our sutler at a dollar per day. So you see, I shall not want for money, notwithstanding my mishap with the rebels. I am not in debt a dollar and have $40 in cash in my pocket.
Now is the time for you to come and see me as I feel safe to say we will remain here a good while and the sickly season is now past. I almost expect to see you step in every day and shall look strong to see you come this winter. The sooner the better so as to have good weather for the trip. It is now most fine and my health is excellent. Would rather than anything in the world to go home on furlough but that is forbidden (the giving of any more furloughs even to sick men by Gen. Steele). So I never expect to get home until mustered out of service.
I have not yet received a letter since writing but expect it every mail.
I am going to send a picture just like this I am sending you to Aunt Julia. I found a letter from her & Uncle Jim’s when I was exchanged and have not answered it yet. Jim did not write much but from what he wrote, I think that he belongs to the Valandingham persuasion. I missed getting to cast my vote by two days. There is no man in the world I should like to cast my first vote against as Valandigham but you did well. Such a rebuke he surely can understand. But I am sorry Old Butler [county] has got so many unpatriotic men. I suppose the Old Valandigham clique in our neighborhood were willing to commit themselves to infamy by supporting Val. and his traitorous schemes. I am sorry and did not think it. We had three or four men in our Battery that voted for Val. I think they feel ashamed of it yet—at least they look rather sneaking. Three of them were from the vicinity of Monroe—[Peter D.] Staats, [Samuel] Stickles, and John Davis. The other vote was by a man detailed from the 22nd Ohio Regiment.
I am anxious to learn your trials in proceeding. It is certainly a most dishonorable attempt on the part of Long & Co. to make a raise that they are too lazy to do honestly.
Well I must close by wishing you all good night. Hoping for an early reply. Yours affectionately, — A. Mulford
~ 17 ~
Little Rock, Arkansas
March 11, 1864
I received your letter several days ago and have delayed answering on account of having just written a day or two before receiving yours. I also received lately four “Telegraphs” from some of you. I had given up all hopes of ever getting any, but better late than never. They afforded me a great deal of pleasure and would like for you to send them as often as convenient. Everything that transpires in connection with one’s own county after upwards of two years absence is of great interest—even just the paper itself brings up a hundred associations of honor and it makes one feel almost like he had seen one of the family to get hold of a Hamilton paper. It reminds me of hundreds of trips to Lesourdsville for the sheet and of often having to wait two or three hours for the tardy mail boy and of going to swim or engaging in some kind of amusement with the town boys to while the time away, and dispel the eagerness to see what the mail brought.
There is no time so often repeated but what loses some of its interests except upon the distribution of mail. And since this war broke out, the mails has become doubly interesting. The mail has been a great blessing during these trying times—when so many thousand have been called from all that is dear at home to the privations of a soldier’s life and it shows the admirable system of our mail business that it never requires but a few days for us to hear from home which palliates in a great measure the complaint of not being allowed furloughs.
I believe there have been a few cases of small pox here this winter, and I suppose it would be difficult to point to a period in the history of Little Rock when it was entirely free from the pestilence.
There is beginning signs of coming active operations in this section so that probably by the 1st of next month, we will be on the line of march again. We have received orders to have everything in marching trim as soon as possible.
We have time yet to make another campaign before we are mustered out and have no doubt they will try and get as much service as possible during the rest of our stay as there seems to be no prospect of getting us to stay any longer than our present enlistment, and if there is any marching and fighting to do out here in the next six months, you can look for us to take a full share in it. But I prefer active service this summer as the time will pass faster than if we were laying in camp all the time. And besides, I should not mind penetrating into Texas just for the name of the thing—adding one more state to my invasion of the sacred soil of the great Souther Confederacy. Texas will make the seventh state our company have visited in overrunning.
I had an offer of a clerkship at General [Nathan] Kimball‘s Headquarters yesterday but I declined, preferring to remain with the battery as I have been with it all the time from the first and want to see it through until the last. I have not missed a march or a battle in which our battery was engaged except while a prisoner.
I hope John V. will soon be exchanged for I am sure he will suffer a great deal while he is confined in Richmond by those barbarians. I am expecting to receive those shirts next mail. Well, supper is ready and I must close. My health is good. Write soon.
My love to all. Yours son, — Asa
I send you a sketch of our cabin—one of my first productions—our cabin.