This letter was written by Private Franklin (“Frank”) Lesley (1836-1864) who enlisted in Co. K, 33rd Indiana Volunteers on 16 September 1861. The roster for the regiment does not indicate when he mustered out of the regiment. It isn’t known if he was among the 400 members of the regiment taken prisoner in March 1863 by Van Dorn’s forces near Columbia, Tennessee. Most of the members, including the paroled prisoners, re-enlisted in January 1864 but we don’t know if Pvt. Lesley was among them. Curiously, his headstone is located in the Old Thorntown Cemetery, in Thorntown, Boone county Indiana. The headstone application, placed in 1886, indicates that Frank died on 30 November 1864.
Frank was the orphaned son of Aaron Lasley (1808-1856) and French emigrant, Louisa Dis Jorden (1814-1859), of Gallia county, Ohio, and later of Washington township, Warren county, Indiana. He had several surviving siblings, however, one of whom was Nancy Jane Lesley (1844-1902) who was living in Clinton county, Indiana, at the time she received this letter in 1863. Nancy married in 1868 to Alexander White Sims (1842-1922) and later moved to Washington county, Illinois.
[Note: Most military records spell Frank’s surname “Lasley” but I have spelled it Lesley as that is the way he signed it and that is the way it appears on his headstone.]
Addressed to Miss Nancy J. Lesley, Jefferson, Clinton county, Indiana
Camp near Danville, Kentucky
January the 16th, 1863
Company K, 33d Regiment Ind. Vols.
Dear Sister Nancy,
It is with much pleasure that I seat myself to answer your kind and interesting epistle which I received and perused last evening. I was much pleased to hear from [you] and of your good health. Your letter found me well and hope these [few lines] may find you enjoying the same blessing which is the happiest enjoyment of the human event. Sister, there is nothing that can surpass health and happiness.
Now I suppose you had a good time at Christmas and New Years but as far as myself, I had a dry time. There was nothing here to interest me. Everything was still except some mule races but I did not go to see them so the day passed and nothing to amuse me and I stayed in quarters all day.
Nan, I expect you and the school marm has a big time in playing tricks on each other and that young man that boards at your house. Nan, I would like to be there to help you play off some of them tricks for I was pretty good at such things once. I think I could help you yet of some good things some time.
Nan, I have not heard from David for some time. He was at Helena, Arkansas, the last time he wrote to me. Nan, I have no news of any importance [so] I will close. So goodnight and write soon. Your brother, — Frank Lesley