1863: Andrew Cathcart Duncan to Sister

Though this letter is only signed “Andy,” I feel reasonably confident it was written by Andrew Cathcart Duncan (1839-1864) of Co. K, 49th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). “Andy” was the nephew of the regiment’s colonel, William (“Bill”) Harvey Gibson (1821-1894), of Seneca county, Ohio. The 49th OVI had a proud and distinguished record of service, participating in 42 Civil War battles. Another of Andy’s uncles, Dr. Robert McDonald Gibson (1812-1878), is mentioned in this letter—strengthening my conviction that the letter was written by Andy Duncan. Most likely Dr. Gibson came to Murfreesboro to visit his brother, Col. Gibson, following the Battle of Stones River.

Andy was the son of Washington Duncan (1810-1888) and Eliza Gibson (1810-1890) who had a farm in Texas township, Crawford county, Ohio, at the time of the Civil War. Andy was captured in the fighting at Chickamauga on 20 September 1863 and died in Andersonville prison on 1 October 1864 of starvation. He is buried in the National Cemetery at Andersonville, Georgia. Andy’s younger brother, John Kendall Gibson (1841-1863)—who also served in the 49th OVI—was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga, the same day Any was taken prisoner.

49thOVI
Andy’s January 1863 Letter with image of unidentified member of the 49th OVI

TRANSCRIPTION

Camp 3 Miles from Murfreesboro [Tennessee]
January 29th 1863

Dear Sister,

I take this opportunity to answer your letter of the 31st. I was overjoyed to get one from home—especially as good a one as you sent me. You can’t imagine how glad a soldier is to hear from home. Well, since the Battle [of Stones River], we have been enjoying camp life some. We don’t suffer from cold much as we have fire in our tents and enjoy ourselves like Arabs.

We hear a hundred and one reports every day concerning the war, peace propositions, &c. I heard that England and France were going to send us some troops. If that is the case—and I hope it is—and get all the Negro Regiments we can—then perhaps we can whip the South. There is a report that a fleet is now going up the Tennessee river to take Chattanooga. If it is taken, the rebels will soon be out of men.

You will know all about the Big Battle of Stone River before this time. We have prisoners out of 145 regiments and 19 batteries. They must of had an awful big force. I am in hopes that the worst fighting is over in this Department. It is supposed that Burnside is fighting. I hope he will be successful this time. If he is repulsed—woe be to us all. Something big will be did in the Mississippi soon. I look for a great change in war matters soon. It will be settled one way or the other soon.

I hear that Crawford county talks of resisting another draft if there is any. The South hangs together and the North flies to pieces. Are we ever to conquer the South? I fear not. I sometimes think that fighting makes the case worse. I won’t say anything more on war matters for it is old and dry to me.

Uncle Robert Gibson was here a few days and saw the battlefield last night. Was the coldest weather we have had this winter. The ground barely white with snow. I hear that you have a big snow in Ohio. Oh, how I would like to be there. We have had a very wet and muddy time here. Well, I can’t think of much else. Nothing but war soon, war soon, drum, drum, drum and bugle, bugle, fall in for roll call &c. Write soon and give me the news.

I heard last night that Squire Griffith was dead.

From your sincere brother, — Andy

Colonel_William_H_Gibson_with_horse_named_Morgan
Andy’s uncle, Col. William H. Gibson stands besides his horse

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