1863: Oliver C. Wilson to Florence Burlingame


This letter was written by Corp. Oliver C. Wilson (1843-1863) who served in Co. K, 68th Indiana Volunteers. Oliver was the son of Artis Wilson, Jun. (1816-1873) and Elizabeth Clem (1818-Aft1850) from Milan, Ripley county, Indiana. Oliver died of disease on 2 May 1863 at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Oliver wrote the letter to his cousin, Florence Burlingame (1842-18xx) of Sparta, Dearborn county, Indiana. Florence and her brother Stephen (mentioned in this letter) were the children of Stephen W. Burlingame (1816-1902), a house carpenter in Sparta, and Mary Gibbs (1818-1864). He later moved to Milan, Ripley county, Indiana.


Nashville, Tennessee
Camp Mitchell ¹
February 6, 1863

Cousin Florence,

CDV of Brig. Gen. Robert Byington Mitchell (1823-1882)—a “free-stater” from Kansas—commanded the Union garrison at Nashville during the winter of 1862-3. He used his men to stamp out spying, contraband trading, and oath evasion in the environs of Nashville.

I received your letter dated January 30th on the third. I got a pass and went down to the hospital and seen cousin Stephen. ² He was a little better that day. He said that he had been gaining for three days. He is not able to sit up yet [but] he is out of danger. He looks a good deal better than he did the last time I seen him. He wrote a letter home that day. I expect that you will get it before this reaches you. I told Stephen that I would write a few lines and send it by Robert Wilson. He is going to Washington [Morgan county, Indiana] and is going to stop at home a few days. I wrote a few lines but I did not have a chance to give it to him. He was to start yesterday and our company was sent out on picket duty and I had to go with them. We was relieved this morning about ten o’clock. I come into camp and as soon as I found that Robert did not come into camp yesterday, I sit down and wrote this. I will try and go and see Stephen every week and oftener if I can, and if he gets worse, I will write and let you know.

We have all the duty to perform that a regiment would have if they was 1,000 men in it. We have to go out on picket duty twice a week. They was a heavy detail to go and guard some Rebel prisoners to Louisville today. It will make that much more duty for us that is left here.

We have been out on a scout once since we have been here. It was a very unpleasant one too for it rained all night and the principal part of the day. The best of it all was we did not do any good.

It was reported yesterday that the Rebels made a dash on Fort Donelson night before last and we whipped them out very nicely and captured 400 prisoners. I have not seen this morning’s paper and I would not be certain that it is true. ³

I am as well as usual. I will have to close for the present. You must excuse bad writing and spelling. From your cousin, — O. C. Wilson

To Florence Burlingame

Write when it is convenient for you to do so. Address to Co. K, 68th Regt. Ind. Vols., Care of Capt. H[anson] D. Moore, Nashville, Tenn.

¹ The encampment was named after Brig. Gen. Robert B. Mitchell who was commanding the Union troops at Nashville.

² Stephen Burlingame—Oliver’s cousin—served with him in Co. K, 68th Indiana Volunteers. He was from Dearborn county, Indiana.

³ The attack on Fort Donelson turned out to be true. According to the Alley Diary, “The defense [of the fort] was one of the most gallant affairs of the war. Part of the 83rd Illinois Volunteers—some 450 effective men and five guns—defended the place successfully against some 25000 men and eight guns…They kept back the 13th Wisconsin and part of our regiment several hours as they had to advance cautiously skirmishing a good deal of the way. Our loss was about 13 of the 83rd killed and 2 of Flood’s Battery. It certainly was a glorious victory as the rebels acknowledged a loss in all of 1,000 men…”

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