1863: Charles Elliott Morfoot to John Jefferson Morfoot

This letter was written by Charles Elliott Morfoot (1823-1899), a 40 year-old bricklayer from Bucyrus, Crawford county, Ohio. Charles was married to Elizabeth Boyer (1823-1910) in 1844. He wrote this letter to his eldest child, John Jefferson Morfoot (1845-1912).

Charles enlisted in August 1862 as a corporal in Co. C, 101st Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). He was promoted to 1st Sergeant a year later, and to 1st Lieutenant in November 1864. He mustered out of the service in June 1865 at Camp Harker, Tennessee.

[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Jim Doncaster and is published by express consent. The header image is a scene of Murfreesboro in 1863 that appeared in Harper’s Magazine.]



Murfreesboro, Tennessee
April 8th 1863

Dear Son,

I will this morning write a few lines to you to let you know what we are doing and how we do it. I am well and hearty and most of the rest of our company that us here. We have only 32 in all in camp. The rest of our 95 are sick, dead, wounded, or discharged. We are in good spirits and as jolly set of fellows as ever you saw. We have to go picketing once a week and drill and work in the fortifications. We are on duty about one half of the time. The rest of our time we play ball, pitch horseshoes, box, wrestle, jump, &c.

We have very nice weather. The roads are dusty but the weather is changeable. Some days are cold enough to wear our overcoats and the next is warm so the shade is comfortable. We have visitors from the 10th Ohio Cavalry frequently. John and Andy Stoner [of Co. B and Co. L, respectively], Ben Morris [of Co. L], Jorden have been here. They seem as though they had been to a funeral—so dry. There is no life about them. Well they say you are to work for Mr. [Josiah] Koler. You know how to work and attend to things. Be faithful and keep a good name. I have heard the neighbors say you were a good boy and they write the same to me. Do the best you can for the family until I return. I can’t do much. I will send some more money as soon as I draw it. I think it will be in a few days. We signed the payroll last night. I will keep some to buy extras. I can get anything to eat here by paying 5 or 6 prices. We get plenty of Uncle Sam’s kind of grub but that is course and hard to take when there is better to be bought.

I suppose you had Easter at home. We have none here. Eggs can be got here for 60 cents a dozen. I got a box Caroline, Mother, and Ellen sent me containing onions, butter, and tea. They came very good. I sent sis 10 dollars of secesh money. I will send you some too. I have no more now or I would send George some too. If I get more, I will send him some.

I will tell you what happened to a man here t’other day. He was at our camp at Nashville and also here singing patriotic songs and selling them. He claimed to belong to the army as army poet and singer. He went to get a pass to go through our lines and they suspicioned him and searched him and found in his boots a draft of our forts and everything complete. They arrested him and he got away from the guard at night and got to the picket line and was trying to pass [when] the sentinel halted him. He did not stop [so] he fired one shot and halted him again, but no stop. The next time he shot him dead, the old cuss. He won’t carry anymore news to Dixie.

Screen Shot 2020-05-19 at 6.48.07 AM
A notice posted in the Milwaukee Sentinel on Thursday, April 16, 1863

The Rebs are catching fits every few days. We send out Divisions scouting all the time. Sheridan’s Division and the 3rd and 10th Ohio Cavalry came in yesterday after a scout of 5 or 6 days. The brought 152 Rebs, 5 mule teams, and 50 or 60 horses, and killed 30 or 40 Rebs. I expect our turn to go again in a few days.

I am going in town tomorrow to loaf around and see things and have a chat with Doc Tailor. His wife is here with him He has been promoted and is now head surgeon. I must close. Write often. You can once a week. No more.

— C. Morfort


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