1863: Samuel Henry Gruver to Alfred Griffith

Samuel Henry Gruver in later years

This letter was written by Samuel Henry Gruver (1841-1903), the son of Henry C. Gruver (1819-1886) and Anna Eliza VanHorn (1823-1872) of Fayette county, Illinois. Samuel enlisted at age 20 in Co. G, 117th Illinois Infantry, on 12 August 1862 to serve three years. At the time of enlistment, he was described as having blue eyes, black hair, a fair complexion, and standing 5 foot five inches tall—a farmer by occupation.

This regiment was organized at Camp Butler and was mustered in Sept. 19, 1862. It moved from Camp Butler on Nov. 11 and arrived at Memphis, Tenn., on the 17th. Its first participation in actual hostilities was in Dec, 1863, when it was sent after Forrest in western Tennessee, and lost 3 men killed in a skirmish at LaFayette. On Feb. 5, 1864, it was again engaged in a skirmish, losing 2 killed and 5 wounded. On the Red River expedition it assisted in the capture of Fort De Russy and was engaged in the battle of Pleasant Hill. On April 14 it was sent to the relief of the gunboats and transports at Campti, La., being engaged at Cloutierville, Cane river, Bayou Rapides, Moore’s plantation and Bayou Robert. It then continued on the return march to the Mississippi river, skirmishing daily. It participated in the battle of Yellow bayou, arrived at the Mississippi river on May 20, and at Vicksburg on the 27th. It took part in driving Marmaduke from Lake Chicot and Columbia, Ark.; arrived at Memphis on June 10; was engaged at Tupelo and at Old Town creek in July; at Hurricane creek in August; and returned to Memphis on Aug. 30. It was engaged at Franklin, and participated in the battle at Nashville, capturing a Confederate battery on the first day of the fight and turning the guns upon the retreating enemy. It then moved south and was engaged at Spanish Fort from March 27 till April 2, and at Fort Blakely until the 9th, taking part in its capture. It then marched to Montgomery, and then returned to Camp Butler, where it was mustered out on Aug. 5, 1865.

Wrote the letter to Alfred Griffith (1845-19xx), the son of Daniel Griffith (1793-Af1845) and Nancy M. Brown (1799-Aft1845) of Vandalia.


Addressed to Mr. Alfred Griffith, Vandalia, Fayette county, Illinois

Fort Pickering
Memphis, Tennessee
January 30th 1863

Dear Friend,

I take the present opportunity writing you a few lines to let you know that I received your letter today and was glad to hear that you were all well. I had a hard spell of the diarrhea and flux but I am getting stout again. I don’t think there is a man in our regiment but what has had the diarrhea more or less. We buried one of our men today—the first that has died in our company. ¹ There has only nine died out of the regiment since we have been out.

We have had very rainy weather for the last three or four weeks but it has cleared off now and looks like we will have a spell of weather yet if it don’t rain any more.

You said you was having a fine time at the schoolhouse. I would like to be with you and enjoy your fun but here I am and expect to stay here for some time. I don’t think that we will leave here during the war by all appearances. There was some talk of us going North again but that has played out. There was a part of our force had a skirmish with some guerrillas yesterday about five miles from here. There was two of our men killed and about thirty of the Secesh. We heard firing this evening but have not heard from them yet. There is prisoners brought in nearly every day. You may think they have no money but there has none come in here but what has plenty of money—more than any of Uncle Sam’s men ever have had yet. They buy boxes of cigars and sit and smoke like gentlemen.

You must take good care of the girls while I am gone for it may be a long time before I get back. It is hard [work] but it is honest. Tell William I want him to write to me [and] not hold off for me to write first for I have so many to write to and for him to write and I will answer. It does me good to get a letter from anybody. I have not got two letters since I have been here and I have written more than a dozen since I have been here.

I have very near run out of post stamps. They are mighty hard to get here. I must close for tonight. Give my love to all the friends and think of me when you are having good times with the girls in particular and just talk right up to the school miss for me. No more but remain your friend, — J. H. Gruver

[to] Alfred Griffith

¹ The member of Co. G that died was Pvt. Andrew J. Hayes of Pocahontas, Illinois. He died at Memphis on 29 January 1863 and was buried on the 30th.


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