These letters were written by James Hall Smith (1839-1909), the son of John W. Smith (1808-1877) and Electa A. Jackson (1810-1864) of Boone township, Porter county, Indiana. James served early in the war in the 4th Indiana Battery but was discharged for disability in 1862. He later enlisted on 21 January 1865 in Co. B, 151st Indiana Infantry. He was promoted to corporal on 18 February 1865 and mustered out of the service on 19 September 1865.
James wrote these letters to his wife, Mary (Cunningham) Smith (1841-1879) whom he married on 13 April 1864. Mary was the daughter of Horace Cunningham (1784-1882) and Caroline Elizabeth Tree (1810-1880) of Porter, Porter county, Indiana.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
March 20, 1865
Mary, I received your letter yesterday and was glad to hear that you was well. It is the first letter I have got from you since I left home. I was getting pretty mad but I am all over that now.
We are now in camp at Tullahoma, Tennessee 75 miles southeast of Nashville. They have put us right through since we left Camp Carrington. I was corporal of the guard last night. I am rather sleepy today. We are drilled pretty hard here. I have to drill 5 hours a day. It is warm weather here. I think we will stay here about six weeks. We have got a nice camp here. We get plenty to eat now.
I wrote for you to send me 20 dollars but I haven’t got it yet. Send it in a letter if you hain’t sent it yet. The boys are all out of money. I have lent 40 dollars to the boys in the company and I can’t get it till payday and I don’t know when that will be.
I haven’t been sick a day since I left home. There are a good many getting sick now. Bill Stevens is well.
Mary, I have just eaten dinner. I had beans and bread. I feel bully now. I want you to write every week. If you don’t, I will see to you when I get home. I can’t think of anything more this time. Goodbye, — J. H. Smith
To Mary Smith
Direct to 151st Regiment, Company B, Indiana Volunteers, Tullahoma, Tennessee
In care of Capt. [Anson H.] Goodwin
There was an alarm night before last. The regiment was ordered out [but] some of the men was so scart that they had to wash their drawers the next day.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
May 6, 1865
Well Mary, I have just received a letter from Louise and she says that you have got a fine boy. I think that is doing well for the first time. Louise says that it is a regular beauty. I expect to be home by the 4th of July to name it. ¹
We are having good times here. We don’t have to drill very hard now and have plenty to eat and a good place to stay. Me and Bill Stevens and [ ] Smith and [Alonzo] Dow Smith have got a log house to live in and we have bully times. I think we will stay here till we start North.
Mary, if you want any money, go to Father and get what you want. I don’t think I will get any pay till we are mustered out of the service. Our officers say that we will go home in two months. I am a good deal better than I was when I left home. I think by the time I get home that I will be a pretty good man.
Mary, I wish that you could see the place that I have to write in today. There is no drill today and our house is just cramped full of the boys, some of them is singing and some of them are swearing and some of them are playing cards and they make such a noise I can’t half write.
Tom Kitchin is sick and is in the hospital.
Mary, I want you to write and tell me all the news and what the folks are doing. It is very warm weather here.
The boys got mad at the Lieutenant-Colonel [John E. Sweet] for drilling us too hard so they went in the night and shaved his horses tail and mane and cut his saddle all to pieces. I told the Colonel [Joshua Healy] off pretty well.
I wish that I could take dinner with you today. I am getting sick of bean soup and hard tack. Well, I can’t think of any more to write so goodbye.
— J. H. Smith
to Mary Smith
¹ The boy was named Willard Smith.