1862: Henry Lane Markham to Sarah Annette Markham

These letters were written by Pvt. Henry Lane Markham (1840-1883) of Co. H, 2nd Illinois Cavalry. He later served in Co. F, 4th US Regular Volunteer Infantry. According to the Illinois Veterans Index, Henry was 21 when he entered the 2nd Illinois Cavalry on 6 August 1861. He was discharged on 11 August 1864 after three years service. He was described as standing 5 feet, eight inches tall, with light hair and grey eyes. He was a farmer from Macomb, McDonough county, Illinois, when he enlisted. He gave his birthplace as Laporte county, Indiana.

Henry was the orphaned son of Lane Markham (1810-1846) and Margaret Griffin (1800-1840) of Laporte county, Indiana. After their death, he was raised by his uncle Horace. In these letters, Henry often mentions two other cousins of his that served in  Co. H, 2nd Illinois Cavalry. They were Archibald (“Archie”) H. Markham (1835-1911) and his brother, Daniel Markham (1837-1910), the sons of Uriah Markham (1803-1848) and Elizabeth Adams (1803-18xx) of Brown county, Ohio. And yet another Markham cousin served in the same company—Aaron J. Markham (1835-1864) who was the son of Charles B. Markham (1800-1882) and Barbara Harsh (1800-1862) of Prairie City, McDonough county, Illinois. Aaron died of disease at Baton Rouge on 23 October 1864.

Henry wrote all of these letters to his cousin, Sarah Annette Markham (b. 1840), the daughter of Horace Marcum (b. 1791) of Knox county, Illinois.



Hickman, Kentucky
March [April] 6th 1862

Dear Cousins,

After so long a time, I have again concluded to write to you but I have [not] received a letter from you since I wrote you last. But I have hopes that it was miscarried and that it has not been your—what is it, not “diligence” but I will say negligence. See if that will suit. But I must tell you where we are and what we are doing.

We are at Hickman, Kentucky—40 miles below Columbus (that once proud rebel stronghold—the boasted “Manassas of the West”—but alas for them, they had to leave it. We were there for about a week before we came here. I saw all of their fortifications, torpedoes, gun carriages, and also some of the heaviest guns. We have but a small force here merely to keep down the bands of rebels who have hitherto been allowed to roam through the country unmolested.

But about about a week after we got here, we run into their calculations considerably. Perhaps you have read it in the papers but for fear you have not, I will try and give you some of the particulars. On Sunday last about noon, Colonel [Napoleon] Buford landed here from Island No. 10 with a part of two regiments of infantry and was joined by three companies of cavalry and one battery of artillery consisting of four pieces and then we all started for Union City, Tennessee—a place about 14 miles from here where there was a rebel camp about 2,000 strong. We camped that night within four miles of them and attacked them the next morning [31 March 1862] just as they were at breakfast, taking [them] altogether by surprise. The cavalry was drawn up in front and fired a few shots at them but hardly one man out of ten had a chance to fire. I did not get a shot. The reason is we were not allowed to fire & while we were waiting for the artillery to get in position, they all fled, leaving almost everything behind them—even hot biscuits were on the table & I suppose they thought we were very ill mannered fellows to not allow them to finish their breakfast but we could not well help it. The artillery, however, fired a few shots at the enemy’s retreating cavalry. They killed two or three horses and one man left a piece of his leg with his dead horse. One or two of the pickets were also killed. None of our boys were hurt by the enemy but two of the artillery were badly burned by the gun being discharged too soon. There was one man badly wounded by one of their muskets going off in one of their tents while it was burning. Our boys got a good deal of plunder and much more was burned. Everything that could not be taken away was burned on the spot. Most of the tents was burned without ever looking in them. Some had guns, cartridges, and many other valuable things and it is said that they was going to burn one tent and a fellow hallowed inside and told them not to burn him and they went in and found a man tied in the tent. He was a man who had deserted from them and was to be shot in a few days but luckily for him, he was saved. We took about 90 horses and mules, and 15 wagons, and about 15 or 20 prisoners and a good many deserters came in and took the oath the next day.

Island No. 10 is about 25 miles from here by river but on a straight line it is much less. The bombardment has been slow but constant for the last three weeks and today the firing has been very rapid and it [is] thought that that engagement will be brought to a close in a few days. The troops are now generally well. I was sick at Columbus and the doctor said I had the measles but I always thought I had had them before.

I want you to be sure and write soon as it has been a long time since I have heard from you. I do not expect to see any of you soon and I can tell you that you need not be afraid of me running into the vices of camp life. But I must close. Yours until death. — H. L. Markham



Addressed to Sarah A. Markham, Henderson, Knox county, Ills.

Groves Plantation
State of Louisiana near New Carthage
25 miles below Vicksburg
April 21st 1862

Dear Cousin,

I received your kind letter of the 5th inst. a few days ago and embrace this the first opportunity to answer it. All the boys are well & all the regiment is in unusual good health. Sarah, I hardly know what to write but let me tell what kind of a place I am in. It may be of interest to you.

I am sitting under some kind of a tree I could not tell you what (for I do not know half the names of the trees here), sitting on a board writing on a box in what I judge has been an old garden. The day is a very fine one. The birds are singing, the bees humming, and all is beautiful, showing most strongly the magnificent works of our Divine Creator. A few feet in front of me is something that puts me in mind of the old garden at home—that is an old bed of asparagus, but Sarah I might fill this sheet describing this old garden but I had not best do it. There are some flowers here. I will send some in this! Oh, how I do wish that I could send you a bouquet of them—fresh and nice. But Alas! that I cannot do. But I will come as near it as I can. I send you some roses. They are the running rose. When they are once started, the grow the same as wild. The small flower with part of the flowers not yet open is from a large tree like the locust that the negroes call the China Tree. The other two I have no name for. I would send you a peach but they are most too large. I will mark [trace] around one to show you the size of them, but you see I could not mark it right. So I took and eat the peach in halves and hollowed out one half and inked it and stamped it on. You see that gets the thing exact. But I must write about something else.

We moved here yesterday from about four miles back. We were at work all day yesterday fixing camp. We have got a nice camp now. About a week ago the rebels attacked our Cavalry pickets about a mile from this place. They crossed over the bayou in the night. About 500 men attacked our picket of about 25 men. They result was they wounded 2, captured 4 of our men, and some arms and horses and made good their escape across the bayou before we got to them. You will have doubtless heard before this reaches you of the gunboats & transports running the blockade. There was one of the transports that ran through came up this bayou day before yesterday and landed at our camp. I believe she did not get struck at all.

Since I wrote you last, I got another likeness from the North. I will not tell you whose but perhaps you can guess. Oh yes, you said you wanted some orange flowers. I have not see any yet. As to Johnson, you will probably see him before this reaches you for he is discharged and gone home. When I first found out he had the smallpox, I did not write it for I thought it would not be best. The next time I forgot it entirely. But I shall have to draw this short epistle to a close. Please give my best wishes to all enquiring friends hoping that this will find you all well both physically and spiritually. I will bid you goodbye. May God bless you. — H. L. Markham



Addressed to Sarah A. Markham, Henderson, Knox county, Ills.

Trenton, Gibson county, Tennessee
July 26th 1862

Dear Cousin Sarah,

I received your welcome letter about two weeks ago and should have answered it before this time—but better now than never. You see we have again changed our location. We are now in Dixie, sure enough. This place is on the railroad running from Columbus, Kentucky, to Corinth, Mississippi. The cars run daily but they carry nothing but supplies for the army so everything is an enormous price here. I cannot say that I like the country for I think it is unhealthy. The hot weather lasts so long here too. I tell you, I could not be hired to live in this “nigger” country for all the wealth of a Croesus. If I ever get home, I have a great deal to tell you about the South, their institutions, and people. But I shall not attempt to write about them for it would be tedious.

Oh how I would like again to see prairies and be free for I have not seen a bit of prairie for more than ten months. I think perhaps we may get home this fall for there is a good deal of talk of this regiment being mustered out as it costs the government an enormous sum of money and unless they can use us to a pretty good advantage. I think we will be discharged but you must not think that it is by any means certain.

I hope you had a pleasant time of it on the fourth for I tell you I had a rich time of it on that day for I staid in camp and feasted on hard crackers, bacon, and coffee. The only way that I could see [that] it differed from other days was that we did not have quite so much to eat as common and a salute of 34 guns was fired at sunrise. I am now driving the mule team and that excludes me from all other duty.

Wheat was about all out by the middle of June here so you see there is quite a difference between here and there. The boys of your acquaintance are all well at present. I do not know as I can think of anything more that would be of interest to you and I will close. Give my best respects to all enquiring friends (especially the female portion). So goodbye. Yours as ever, — H. L. Markham



Trenton, Tennessee
August 15, 1862

Dear Cousin Sarah,

I received your letter a few minutes ago just as I had sat down to write a letter to Martin and I thought while I was at it I would answer yours also. I do not know as I can think of anything that would be very interesting to you. The boys are all well but Daniel and he has a lame _____ so that he cannot ride and if it does not get well soon, he will have to have a discharge, Our boys have had some exciting work here hunting “Secesh” but they cannot catch them—they are so good at running. We are camping out in tents and do not have things quite so convenient as we did in Hickman. Oyes—that good scribe that wrote a letter for Daniel to you—he is sitting by me now writing a letter to Charles for Daniel [Markham]. He is some pumpkin, I tell you—at least in his own estimation. He answers to the name of J. G. Atkinson.

I hope this war will soon be over and we all can get home soon. The boys are making so much noise I can hardly think of nothing at all so I guess I will have to quit. So goodbye. Write soon. Direct as before. Frm your goodest cousin, — H. L. M.

P. S. Excuse the shortness of this letter and I will try and do better next time. — H. L. M.



Addressed to Miss Sarah A. Markham, Bushnell, McDonough county, Illinois

Bolivar, Tennessee
October 12th 1862

Dear Cousin Sarah,

I received your kind and welcome letter a few days ago and I now haste to answer it. There is nothing of great interest to write as you get all the general news before I could send it to you. Daniel [Markham] has been unwell but is now better. I suppose you heard of my hurting my arm and killing my horse. I have got another horse without having to pay for and my arm is nearly well. Johnson got a letter from Lizzie today. I understand the secesh are getting very bold up in Old Knox [county]. If you will agree to shoot the first one that talks secesh to you, I will send you a pistol the first chance I get and I think you had better do it for it will save me the trouble of doing it when I get back.

We were not in any of the fights that has been in this part of the country. The weather has been colder here for the last three days than anytime this season but there is no snow yet. I think the secesh cannot hold out much longer here. I am a good deal better satisfied here than I was ten months ago and I expect to stay as long as the war lasts.

As Dan wants to write some in this and I can think of nothing anyhow, hoping that this will find you in the best of health [and] hoping also that peace and prosperity may soon visit our now distracted country, I will bid you goodbye. — H. L. Markham

October 12th

Miss Sarah Makham
Dear Cousin,

I take this opportunity to answer your kind and welcome letter. You said you was at father’s helping to make molasses. I wish I cold have been there to help. I think we could of had a happy time. But as our country is in danger, it may be that I can do more good here than I could at home. I don’t know of any news that would be of any importance to you. I have not been in any battle yet. I have had one spell of sickness since I have been here but I am about well now and I am glad of it for this is a poor place for a sick man.

Sarah, I have not seen a pretty girl since I left Illinois. The girls that is here does not look pleasant like the girls does up in Illinois. Suffice to say that they are a poor class. I long to see the pleasant girls in the North. It would do my heart good, but I must trust in the future. Cousin, I would like to have some of them molasses that you made to eat on our slap jack. I think that would be a good substitute. You will have to eat my share until I get home. I do not like this country. The climate does not agree with me at present. Sarah, write often and I will do the same.

—Daniel Markham



Addressed to Miss Sarah A. Markham, Bushness, McDonough county, Ills.

Lagrange, Tennessee
November 14th 1862

Dear Cousin Sarah,

As I now have an opportunity of answering your letter which you sent in Ellen’s as it was rather short, my answer may not be very long.

We have see the enemy’s back twice since we have been here and the last time we took over one hundred prisoners, killed & wounded about 40. I fired at one butternut but do not think I hit him. After we fired, we had a fine chase and there were some of them so badly scared that they surrendered to one man whose firearms were empty when theirs was all loaded. Some say that they are as brave as we but I have never seen any of it yet. The regiment Israel [Markham] is in camped not more than a quarter of a mile from here and we see them everyday. The 45th [Illinois Infantry] is also here—that is, what is left of it, but it is a mere skeleton of a regiment. I was up to see the boys in Co. K [45th Ill.] but alas! how many that I knew in that company have passed away from this world to one that is better. I saw [William H.] H. Arnett [of Galesburg] and also that other man J. C. [the “fifer”] but I suppose you have heard that he saw me before this time. He was here all this forenoon. He played the fife for us and took dinner with us. He looks very stout and healthy.

It is a very nice place here. The trees about camp are nearly all pine and they look very nice and green. I do not know how long we will stay here but I do not think we will stay long. I suppose you will answer my other letter before this reaches you. If not, you can answer them both in one. As Dan [Markham] in waiting for his pen, I will quit. So goodbye and may God bless you. Yours in haste, — Cousin Henry



Addressed to Sarah A. Markham, Henderson, Knox county, Ills.

Lagrange, Tennessee
November 24, 1862

Dear Cousin Sarah,

I received your kind and welcome letter a few minutes ago and I hasten to answer it. There has not been much of importance going on since I wrote you last. We are still at Lagrange but Israel’s regiment [7th Illinois Cavalry] has left here but the 45th [Illinois Infantry] is still here. It is Provost Guard of this place and heir Colonel is Provost Marshal.

I have been to dinner and had some chicken that the boys confiscated and just as we got through, Israel come. His regiment is at Moscow—about eleven miles from here. I suppose he will go back soon.

The weather is very nice here at present. The boys are all well and in good spirits. I was up to the 45th [Illinois] just after I wrote to you and saw George [W.] Saner and [Henry] Frank Sweet that I had not seen before, they being absent when I first visited the regiment. Richard Hawks was here in the hospital so I did not get to see him. I will go up there again soon if I can get the chance. Johnson sends his picture to Elizabeth and one to Ellen Huffman today. If I could think of anything more that will be of interest to you in the way of news, I would write it but I can’t.

Now in regard to those questions you spoke of, I am somewhat surprised to think that you should be afraid to place confidence in me. I do not think you ever knew me to tell things that was told confidentially to me by my friends. If you have anything to say, speak out and I can pledge you my word before God that nothing will ever be found out by anyone from me and I have confidence in you that you will do the same by me. I have always looked upon you the same as a sister and perhaps I feel nearer to than I do my sister.

Sarah, there has been some change in my ways in the last few months. I have seen so much wickedness here that it makes me shudder and I am determined to be a better man and thank God I have succeeded tolerably well since I commenced to try to do better. I never touch a card anymore. I have also about broke myself of using bad language. Perhaps you did not know there was a young lady in the south part of Warren county that has been writing to me ever since I have been in the army. She is a very nice young lady and a good Christian and perhaps she has had more good influence over me than anyone else. I am going to send her my likeness when we get our pay and she will send hers in return. Her name in Cynthia A. Ratekin. ¹

But this sheet is about run out and I shall have to quit. Let strict confidence be our “rule.” So goodbye and may God bless you. — H. L. M.

¹ Cynthia Ann Ratekin (1842-1926) was the daughter of Jonathan Ratekin (1811-1873) and Nancy Cannon (1816-1882). Cynthia never married.



Addressed to Sarah A. Markham, Henderson, Knox county, Ills.

Holly Springs, Mississippi
December 10, 1862

Dear Cousin Sarah,

I received your letter of the 2nd instant this morning and I hasten to answer it. You see at last we have got down in the native state of Old Jeff [Davis]. We left Lagrange about ten days ago and have been on the go almost constantly since that time until now. We have stopped here and I think perhaps we will stay here some time. We have been as far south as Abbeville which is about 20 miles south from here.

The weather here is warm and pleasant today. We have pretty good frosts here of nights but it has not frozen ice over a quarter of an inch thick here yet so you see we have not suffered very much with the cold. We have not got a sight of the rebs since I wrote to you before.

The cars now run to this place from Columbus, Kentucky. The rebels left this place in force but a few weeks ago. They had this place fortified but it is no use for me to write such news as this for you or course read the papers.

The health of the boys is excellent at the present time. This is a very rough county and the land looks as though it would not raise white beans and it is all timber so you cannot see more than a foot before your nose. Once in awhile you can see across a man’s farm perhaps a mile or so. Oh what would I not give to see the old prairies of Illinois. But it is of no use to fret so I guess I will take it easy.

Tell Uncle Horace [Markham] he must not work so hard but must take good care of his health and not go out so much in the cold for I would like to see him alive and well once more. You must try and take good care of him for you will not be apt to have him with you many years more.

There is no regiment near us now that we are acquainted with any of the boys. That, you see, is the fortunes of war. Today we are together, tomorrow we part—perhaps forever. We cannot tell. Dan [Markham] got a long letter from his father today. The health of the folks there is good with the exception of the Doctor’s and he said that he was very low with the diphtheria. Solomon talked of coming to see us but I do not know whether he will come or not but I would like to see him very much.

If I could think of anything more that would be of interest to you, I would write it but I cannot. Hoping that I may see you all once more soon at your home, but if not, I hope to meet you all in that brighter and better world above. So goodbye and may God bless you all.

Sincerely yours, — Henry L. Markham




Memphis, Tennessee
January 2nd 1863

Dear Cousin Sarah,

I now take this opportunity of writing you a few lines to let you know that I am still alive. You have doubtless heard that we were attacked at Holly Springs on the 20th of last month by the rebels under [General] Van Dorn and [Colonel] Jackson, 6,000 strong. There were about 300 of our cavalry there. There was some infantry there but they did not do any fighting worth naming. Our boys fought them about 2 hours and left the place to the Rebels. They staid there only about 5 hours and the place was occupied by our troops the next morning. There was eight killed in our regiment but one in our company [Jacob Oertel] was mortally wounded. He died just a week after the fight. He was from Macomb. There was eight wounded in our company. Dan [Markham] was shot through the thigh—a flesh wound. I think he will soon get well. He was sent to the hospital at Jackson, Tennessee. Aaron [Markham] had a ball pass through his hat scraping his head clear to the skull but it did him no material damage, He also had his horse wounded so he is not fit for service. Archey [Markham] lost his horse and escaped on foot. They took Daniel prisoner but we charged back into our camp and released him and several others and took about a dozen of them prisoners. Got our overcoats and blankets and left the camp. I saved yours and Charles’ likeness but lost it the next day out of my pocket which I regret very much. The rest of the boys of your acquaintance got through without a scratch but I tell you, the balls whistled a little closer than I like to have them. I would have written before but I could not send a letter until we got here. We came here to draw clothing and perhaps we will get our pay. I think we will go back to Holly Springs soon. We came from there yesterday but as I have such a poor place to write, I will have to quit. So no more. Write soon. Your cousin, — Henry L. Markham




Memphis, Tennessee
January 23rd 1863

Dear Cousin Sarah,

I now seat myself for the purpose of answering your letter of the 21st ult.  You see it has been a long time coming for I did not get it until about three days ago. You know the railroad was torn up a good deal by the rebels just after you wrote and that accounts for the letter being delayed so long. When I wrote you before, we were expecting to leave the next day but we did not. We moved out in the country but the weather got so bad that we moved back to town day before yesterday and we are now living in the 4th story of one of the largest houses in the city. We got an old stove and set up and it smokes worse than a tar kill [kiln]. If we cannot make it do better, I guess we will have to throw it downstairs.

I will now try and give you a sketch of the weather for the last ten days and see if you do not think that it is doing pretty well for Dixie. After raining for about two days on the night of the 14th, it snowed so much that by morning it was about 8 inches deep. Then it snowed all the next day so that by night, it was a foot deep. But it was all gone in less than a week so you may know that it [is] considerably muddy by this time.

There is nothing of importance going on here. A part of the boys have gone out on a scout today. Dan [Markham] is still in the hospital at Jackson but he is doing well. He wrote a letter to Archey [Markham] the other day and he says he will not be able to ride for some time. Daniel has been unwell for some time. I fear his constitution is about broken down.

I will not say anything about the fight at Holly Springs for I suppose you have heard all about it before this but I send Grant’s order on this sheet and you can see what he thinks of our regiment. I send ten dollars in this for Johnson. He wishes you to give it to Elizabeth. There is nothing of any interest going on here, Mud and soldiers is two of the most plentiful articles that is to be seen. The [Mississippi] river is now very high. Troops are embarking here to go below almost every day. I think perhaps we will stay here for some time but of course I cannot tell.

Direct your next to this place. Those eatables you send we have never been able to get and suppose we never will but we are as much obliged to you as if we had for it was not your fault that they did not reach us. But I will have to quit. I remain yours, — Henry L. Markham




[near Haines Bluff in Mississippi]
June 3rd 1863

Dear cousin Sarah,

I am almost at a loss to know where to date my letter but I guess I will say on a log down in a big hollow near Haines Bluff, State of Mississippi. I would like to tell you all I have seen in the last five weeks but it would make a good sized book. But I will say that I have seen more sights and more of war than I have all the rest of the time since I have been in the service. I for the first time have rode over a great battlefield and have seen all its horrors, viz: the battlefield of Baker’s Creek. I also was not far off when the battle was going on but we were not engaged. There has not been a day for five weeks but what we have been in our saddles and that is harder riding that we have ever done before. We have met the enemy frequently but have had no fight to amount to anything. But our boys and horses are pretty near “played out.”

Aaron [Markham] is not well. Daniel [Markham] was left back at the river unwell and missed all the great sights but he came up with us yesterday. They are shelling Vicksburg night and day. I think the rebs cannot hold out long. There was a great many men killed in trying to take it by storm. I think it will have to be taken by a regular siege. You will get all the news by the papers.

I see they give a glowing account of what our army is doing down here but I do not think it is exaggerated but very little, if any. O yes, I saw the Old 45th [Illinois Infantry]. They are band heroes—what there is left of them. They were in four fights in a week. The boys said fighting was like the ague—it came regular every other day. They had lost but few men and none that I know up to the investment of Vicksburg. What they have lost since, I cannot tell but I do not think it has been in any hard fight there. I saw J. C. [the “fifer”], talked with him a few minutes [but] had no more time. He was driving team for the company for they would not allow any music in that command for they were constantly making stolen marches.

Sarah, I am again without your picture. Poor thing. It could not stand the hardship of his long march. We can carry nothing—only what we take on our horses. I had it in my saddle bag but it got wet when we first started. The case came all to pieces. Then I wrapped up the likeness but it got broke all to pieces. The other picture that I have has a gutta percha case and is not spoiled but the case is cracked and one corner broke off. A case ought to be made of cast steel or something about as durable for a cavalry man.

Sarah, I am like some of the rebel artillery that has been captured of late—that is, I have a poor position. I will try and write more next time. Be sure and write soon. Yours as ever. In haste, — Henry L. Markham




Vicksburg, Mississippi
Sunday, August 2, 1863

Dear Cousin Sarah,

I received a letter from you some 3 or 4 weeks ago and I really do not know whether I answered it or not. Well, you see we are here in Old Vicksburg—that much talked of stronghold of Rebeldom—and it is a stronghold too, It is by far the strongest fortification by art & nature that I ever saw but it could not stand the leaden & iron hail of our brave western boys, And worse than all, they had to knock under on the glorious old Fourth [of July].

Well, Sarah, I have seen the 45th [Illinois Infantry] again. It is camped right in the heart of the city. They are the Provost Guard. I found the boys all well and in good spirits.

Oh yes, I liked to forgot about the wedding. I tell you, I had a notion to tear up my old hat but I did not. Well, I will wish them much joy, the best of luck, and a—-but hold, or I might say something that would not sound well.

We are encamped about 3 miles below the city, only three miles from Young’s Point—the place where we were last spring. But there is a good deal of change in affairs here since that time. It is rumored that we will go to Natchez but I do not know how true it is.

I think we will be paid in a few days. I am going to send home about $200 (two hundred) dollars. I am going to send it to you to take care of for me. If you can lend  it to good responsible men than can and will pay it at any time, I want it for 10 percent interest, do so. If not, let it lay. If I should be so unlucky as not to get through this war, I would like to have what I have divided equally between sister Orinda’s child and Polly Putnam—that is, sister Putnam.

The weather does not seem overly warm to me but I suppose it is because I am getting used to it. I expect I would freeze if I was up there in the winter. There is some of the boys getting furloughs but I hardly think I will ever be so lucky as to get one. But if I do, I think I shall come and see you. I want you to watch out for that money. I will send it to Watoga by express. But I am tired and must quit.

From your cousin and faithful friend until death, — Henry L. Markham




Army in the field near the town of Vermilion
State of Louisiana
October 18, 1863

Dear Cousin Sarah,

I received your letter today. It has been with the other part of the company for a long time. You see there was a part of the company sent up the river from New Orleans the 20th of last month to make a feint on the enemy. We did not get back to New Orleans for five weeks. Found the boys all gone. Just caught up with them today. We had a good deal of fighting up the river. The rebs surrendered. A lot of our men took over 300 of them prisoners. They got but very few of our cavalry. I have no time to write particulars.

If Martin wants that money I sent you to buy me a span of mules, let him have it but if not, you had better keep it for the present.

The boys are all in good health. I saw some of Uzzial Putnam’s company [Co. K, 6th Michigan Infantry] at Port Hudson as we went up. They said he was in the hospital at New Orleans yet. When I was back, I did not stay long enough to hunt him up or I should have done it. I was very sorry to hear that there was any rebels by the name of Markham. But it is bed time and I shall have to quit.

Yours in great haste, — Henry L. Markham



Vermillionville, La.
November 12th 1863

Dear Cousin Sarah,

I now seat myself for the purpose of answering your letter which [Oscar] Yaple brought three or four days ago. When I wrote you before, I scarcely had time to write at all so you must excuse the extreme shortness of it. You see we are still at the same place we were when I wrote to you before. The army was advanced a good ways beyond here but it has now all fell back to this place. The rebels have a large force in our front. They are the best fighters we have ever met but our boys do not run from them very good.

Our boys were out yesterday and had considerable skirmish with them. Our regiment had several men wounded—one man from Co. A was killed. Henry C. Calvin of our company was severely wounded and left on the field. Capt. March—brother to our Major [Benjamin F. March]—of the 118th Mounted Infantry was killed instantly. A flag-of-truce has gone out this morning to get the dead & wounded.

The weather here is delightful. The boys are in very good health generally speaking. I forgot to tell that Archey [Markham] was taken prisoner about three weeks ago. He was sent back to camp with a dispatch but never got there.

Now in regard to that money, I hardly know what to say but perhaps you have disposed of it before this. I wrote to Martin a good while ago that I would like to have him buy and keep for me a span of mules for I thought they would increase in value and pay me better than to put my money out on interest. Besides I would have to have a good team when I got home. I will write to Martin about it today and if he can get the mules for me at a reasonable price, I would rather he would do it but if not, you can lend it to Ansel or any other responsible man but have it so that I can get it when my time is out if I want it. I shall tell Martin to write to you about the matter immediately—that is, if the money is not already disposed of.

Sarah, I would like to write you a long letter about this country, the people &c., but I have no conveniences for writing and it is very tiresome so you will have to put up with a short letter this time. Hoping that this will find the family in the best of health, I must bid you goodbye. From your faithful friend & cousin, — Henry L. Markham




New Iberia, Louisiana
January 5th 1864

Dear Cousin Sarah,

I received your kind and welcome letter a few days ago and I hasten to answer it. I have not much that is of interest to write. They are making a great effort here today to get the old troops to reenlist for after today, their bounty is reduced from four hundred to one hundred dollars. I do not think they will get many converts. One thing I know, I will get out before I get in again anyhow.

I got a letter from Uzziel Putnam the same day I did yours. He is still at New Orleans. His foot is not well yet. If I get a chance, I will go and see him. As to that money, I am very well satisfied with its disposal. I expect it is safer than the bank—Mr Dunn’s bank at any rate.

The boys are all in good health at present. The army has not been doing much of late. There is a part of it gone back toward New Orleans and I think we will leave soon. The weather has been uncommon cold for this country (so the citizens say). Ice has frozen about one inch and a half thick. There has not been any weather cold enough to freeze for nearly a week. It is now very muddy. I think it will freeze a little tonight.

We had a very dry Christmas down here. They only ask $2.50 for a turkey here so we did not buy any. I hope you had a good time with that dear friend of yours Chistmas and New Years but I am afraid you did not get to see him for I have been a soldier long enough to know that all who expect to go home do not get to go (as the saying is)—“not by a jug full.”

Now as to my staying mute in the corner so long, I thought I explained that to you before the company was divided and the letters all went to the part that I was not with. I have never got a letter yet but what I answered it the first opportunity (except one and that is not answered yet).

Oh yes, you wanted to know how a certain young lady got along. Well, I don’t really know. I got a letter from her the same time I did yours and I am sorry to say the lady did not state how she got along but I suppose is on her feet of course. There is some pretty good-looking women here but they are all French and can scarcely talk English at all. Well, I am getting cold and I guess I had better quit for I can think of nothing more that would make good sense anyhow. So goodbye for the present. From your faithful friend and U. S. Cousin, — Henry




New Orleans, Louisiana
January 24, 1864

Dear Cousin Sarah,

I received your kind and welcome letter a few days ago and I hasten to answer it, You see we are again back to the Old Crescent City. We are here in garrison and are doing nothing but dressing up and putting on what our boys call, “Potomac Style.” We all had to draw new clothing whether we wanted to or not. Our company all went out out this morning with white gloves on—a thing they was never guilty of before.

I have seen Uzziel [Putnam] several times since we have been here. His foot is not near well yet but his discharge is now on the way and I suppose he will get it soon.

The boys are all well at present but I have been troubled for some time with a very bad cold. Archey [Markham] is now back to the company. He escaped from the rebels at Alexandria and went to Natchez and was sent down here and was here when we came.

I hope you gave Polly the desired information about me. I should have written her a long time ago but when they first went there, I wrote them three successive letters and never got a scratch of a pen from them and I shall never write to them until they write to me.

The weather is very pleasant here today but as it is dinner time, I had better quit for this time.

From your devoted cousin. In haste, — Henry



New Orleans, Louisiana
February 18th 1864

Dear Cousin Sarah,

I received your welcome epistle of the 31st ult. and I was very glad that you was so punctual in answering my last and I hope will continue to be so in the future. The boys are all in good health at present. Archey and Aaron have reenlisted  and started home [on a vetern’s furlough] on the evening of the 15th. But perhaps you will see them before they come back.

We have been treated very meanly by someone since we have been here. Our horses have been branded with “U.S.” against our will and they were appraised and the Quartermaster gave us vouchers to the amount of the appraisement which we can get our money on whenever the Quartermaster gets in. When that will be, I cannot say. Or we can sell the vouchers at a discount of ten percent or—in other words—they have forced us to sell our horses to the government at their own prices and hereafter we will get but 13 instead of 25 dollars per month. I don’t know who is to blame for the transaction but it is between the War Department & General Banks. If we get our pay before we leave here and get pay for our horses, I want to send you some more money—perhaps the same amount that I sent you before.

Cousin Uzziel [Putnam] has got a discharge and has gone home more than a week ago. He said he would not stop in Illinois as he wanted to get home as soon as possible. I believe his foot will never get entirely well.

The weather has been quite pleasant ever since we have been here with but few exceptions. As we went out on drill yesterday, I saw peach trees in full bloom and men in their gardens plowing but it is very cold today for this place. It snowed a very little and it clears off. It may freeze some tonight.

I was glad to hear that that friend of yours got to come home and see you. You said that the people of Old Knox [county] said you were married but who should know as well as yourself. But you did not deny what they had said so that leaves me worse in the dark than ever.

As to those questions that you asked me, I am sure I cannot answer them with any degree of certainty for you know “there is many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip.” Now will you please answer me this question, are you married? If not, when do you expect to be?

I do not think we will stay here long as we have had orders to have all the horses shod by the 25th of this month. Of course I cannot tell where we will go to. As I am getting rather chilly & can thing of nothing more at present that would be interesting to you, I will draw this hasty letter to a close and remain your ever true cousin, — Henry



Baton Rouge, Louisiana
May 14th 1864

Dear Cousin Sarah,

I received your kind letter a few days ago and now hasten to answer it. We are having a pretty good time here. It is a very nice place and we do not have much to do. We are with the veterans and recruits. We staid at New Orleans until they came back [from veteran’s furlough] and then we went to them and we [were] ordered up here to garrison the place and are now playing “dough boy“—or in other words, acting as infantry.

The other boys are still up Red River—that is, what is left of them. There was 13 wounded out of about 33 that was in the fight on the 7th of April of whom two was left on the field and have perhaps since died. One has since died in the hospital at New Orleans. I believe that [Oscar] Yaple is the only [one] that [you] are acquainted with. He was badly wounded in the shoulder but has now gone home on furlough. There was 22 horses shot, some of which was killed dead on the field. Perhaps it was lucky for me that I was not there for it is said that Divine Providence wills all things aright.

I was glad to hear from our old friend and teacher once more. I had not heard anything from him since I saw him in Paducah over two years ago and I am very glad (Oh! Arch throwed the tent down and nearly upset my desk) to hear that he give the rebs the slip for they do not treat men very well. As to the son, I cannot sing it very well but I can try.

We have great advantages here that we have had nowhere else. We have preaching here every Sabbath and prayer meeting twice a week. There is also a library of very good books kept here by the U.S. Christian Commission. I have read a good many of them.

Sarah, I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing lasting in the pleasures of this world but we must look to a higher sphere, throwing ourselves at the feet of our divine protector, trusting in Him and Him alone. And my prayer is that we may all look to Him for help to guide our feet in the path of rectitude. We can find no friend like Him. He  will be with us at all times and Oh! that we may learn to love him more & more each [day] and if we have that love for Him, we can be truly happy. Oh pray for me that I may be nearer to my Savior each day.

I do not know as I can think of anything more of interest at present but I hope I shall be able to pay you a visit before many months. Write soon. From your ever true friend & cousin, — Henry



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