ILLINOIS in the CIVIL WAR

Three letters from Company H soldiers

submitted by Jan Strasma, strasma@mcs.net


On July 30, 1862, William Temple of Wilton, Will County, enlisted in Captain Godard's Company of the 100th Illinois Infantry Volunteers. A week later, his brother, Ira Temple, and nephew, James T. Douglass, also from Wilton, enlisted in the same company. All three were privates. The company later became Company H.

Ira Temple was captured during the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863. William Temple was wounded during the same battle. He was captured and then paroled. Ira Temple was imprisoned at Andersonville Prison where he died June 10, 1864. William Temple was discharged in June 1865 and later received a disability pension. He died in 1903 in Nebraska.

James T. Douglass, who was 16 when he enlisted, was wounded in the arm during the Battle of Dallas, Georgia, in June 1864. He apparently remained hospitalized until the end of the war. At the company's muster out on June 12, 1865, he was in the military hospital at Keokuk, Iowa. He returned home and died in 1867.

These three letters -- two from James to his mother, Sarah Douglass, and one from Ira Temple to Sarah Douglass, his sister -- describe some of the conditions and concerns faced by soldiers of the 100th Illinois Volunteers.


From Ira Temple to his sister Sarah Douglass:



Murfreesboro, April the 22nd, 1863

Well sister, as I have time to write, I will spend a few minutes in writing to you. My health is poor. I have nearly lost my speech. I am not been able to do anything for the last two weeks, but I am a getting better. I think all but my speech, but I am in hope I will get that again. There have been some that has not spoke a loud word the last three months so it hard to tell.

James is well as usual. William has some poor spells, but is well now. They are both out on picket today. If you can let James some money, I will take it and pay him ten per cent on it and pay it in one year from next February. If you can do any better with it than that for I want that you should do the best that you can for him with it.

The last letter that he got from you said that you had let the first [money] that he sent. I wrote to you before that I would take his money, but I suppose that letter was taken by the Rebels for they stopped the mail train.

If you let me have it you may send it to Stephens and have it paid on the big note we have sent home over boats. We sent them to Manteno to Soll Seaver. They are in a bag. The top one is Harry Doncaster's. It has a piece of rope tied into the button hole. The others you keep. Have Seaver look for them. As I am a getting tired, I will close for this time. Write to me if you please. It has been a long time since any of you has written to me. So goodby for this time.

From Ira Temple

Well, I will try to write a few [words] to you. Got your letter and was glad to hear from you. It was a good letter. I answered you a time ago, but I do not know that you received it, so I will write again. I don't write much this time for I am sick. So you must let me off with a short one this time. James is well well now and so is Uncle William. He is out on picket watching for the Rebels, but they are a little afraid. We have [been] watching for them ever since the battle, but we have not [seen] them yet. I guess that we shant see them very soon. I guess that they are afraid that we will kill them so they stay away.

Write as soon as you get this. So goodby for this time

From your Uncle Ira Temple





From James T. Douglass to his mother:


Camp in Chattanooga

Nov the 3rd 1863

Well, Mother, it was with pleasure that I received and read your kind letter We are in Chattanoga yet and I guess we shall be here for the next six months. We are transfered into the reserve corps now. We are in General Waggoner's brigade of General Sheridan's Division of General Granger's corps.

A part of our brigade is [standing] guard in Chattanooga and the rest is detailed to build fortifications around town and on the hills. Our brigade has got it pretty easy now. If General Palmer ever gets back we are out in front ---- in his place. He has gone to drive the Rebs off from Lookout Mountain if he can. He went a week ago last Sabbath. I don't know how long before we will be back.

We have to go on picket every third night now. Our pickets and the rebs are in plain sight all the time. They are about 80 rods from us in the day time and they move their pickets up within about 20 rods of us at night to keep their men from deserting and coming over to our lines. There is lots of them come in every day. Last night one of the rebs' pickets went out to relieve their sentinel and got lost and got out over almost to our lines and our sentinel hailed him and said who comes there. The reb said, "relief" and our man said, "advance relief." He come up to relieve him and our man see he was a reb. He told him that he was his prisoner and kept him till the relief come and then took him to the post.

He said that the rebs was all drawn up in line so we had to sleep with our cartridge boxes on. I have not seen Uncle Will but he was wounded. Uncle Ira was taken prisoner. I have not much more news to write now so I will stop. Write soon.

from James to Sarah Douglas

One of our boys was over to the field hospital the other day and Uncle Will sent over a book to send Jamsey. I have got it. Write as soon as you can.



From James T. Douglass to his mother:


Company H, 100th Regiment, Illinois Vol. Infantry

Camp near Loudon Tenn Feb. 15, 1864

Well Mother I will try and answer your letter or letters that I received from you last night. I got one with two dollars in it. I guess that we will have two months pay in about a week more. If we do I guess that I will send you 20 dollars. That will be all that I can spare for we don't get much to eat and what we do get is sick flour and when we do eat it it makes us sick. So we have to buy most all that we eat and that mounts up pretty fast on 12 dollars a month. I wrote five letters yesterday and I guess that I will write two to day and when stop for a while.

It rained like everything all night last night and all day today. I wish that Lieutenant Nelson would hurry and hunt up that box before long for I want my boots and overcoat to keep me dry and I should like to have some of the grub to eat. When you write again, I wish you would let me know whether you [put] my name on the things that you sent me or not. I hope you did for I don't want anything only what is my own.

I guess that I will stop this.

from James to his Mother. Write soon.



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