This letter was written by Pvt. Asbury Leaming Fouts (1845-1929), the son of Eri Wright Fouts (1815-1892) and Philathea Leaming (1823-1907) of Gravity, Taylor county, Iowa. He wrote the letter to his brother, Pvt. Milton Nelson Fouts (1843-1864), who served in Co. G, 4th Missouri Cavalry. Milton was killed at the Battle of Westport in Jackson county, Missouri, on 23 October 1864, just a couple of weeks after this letter was written.
Asbury entered the service as a substitute for Eleazar Flinney, a drafted man from Washington township, Taylor county, Iowa. He was mustered into Co. I, 9th Iowa Infantry on 19 October 1864 at Des Moines and was sent immediately to Nashville where he joined the regiment and subsequently accompanied them on their march through Georgia and up into the Carolinas. He was discharged from the service at Louisville on 18 July 1865.
October 5th 
Here I am at headquarters in good health. I will, or expect to, leave here in 2 or 3 days for the South. I do not know to what regiment we will go [to]. Will be either sent to Georgia or Texas. We have no choice of regiments. Harvey Garner is here but not in the same barracks. There is no man in the barracks that I am acquainted with—all strangers to me but brothers in the same cause of which we are all proud and ready to defend.
Day before yesterday, I was in the cook house when my name was called in front. There stood a man who asked me if I knew him. I told him I did not. Says he, “My name is Elisha Leaming. I am drafted and have to try Dixie again.” We did not speak more than 10 or 15 words until he had to go. He looked hearty.
We are shut up in close quarters on account of so many deserters. Some young fellows get from 300 to 1,000 dollars and [then] desert the first chance they get. Every man who deserts under such circumstance or any other ought to be shot, so says I who has to stay in this bullpen as the boys call it on their account. The drafted men have a little more liberty. They guard us substitutes. Just wait till we get out in the field. We will feel a little more like we was not prisoners.
I left home a week ago today. Have not heard from there since. It is getting so dark I cannot see the lines so goodbye until morning.
Tuesday. There is a man to be shot today, so says rumor. He deserted 3 times.
I do not think it is necessary for you to write until you hear from me again. This is a poor pen and a poor place to write. Tell me how you like the service.
From your brother, — Asbury Fouts