Genealogy and History
Part of the Genealogy Trails History Group
Civil War Letter
Written September 27, 1861 By James E. Derrick
The following old letter written, by a Stephenson County soldier will be found of interest. The writer, James E. Derrick, while at Camp Butler, was taken sick with measles which turned to typhoid fever but he recovered in time to be with his regiment within supporting distance at the battle of Fort Danelson. He was also at the hard-fought battle of Pittsburg Landing, but shortly afterwards, on the march to Corinth, his strength failed and his physician and friends advised him to return home to regain his health. He then started for home but died on the way, in a Military Hospital at Cairo, on June 9, 1862. His brother Enos W. Derrick, soon afterwards enlisted, but he also fell a victim to disease and died in a U. S. Hospital at Memphis, Tenn., January 27, 1863. Their names are engraved on the Soldiers' Monument and their memories are sacredly revered in the hearts of their friends. Those were days of privation and suffering to the patriotic soldiers, and of sorrow and bereavement to their friends. Alas! how many brave "boys in blue" suffered, and died that their and our country might live. [Contributed by Karen Fyock]
Camp Butler 46th Regt. Ill., Vol., Co. A.
Springfield, Ill. Sept. 27, 1861
Having entered the "tented field" in defense of the Government established by our fathers, and trusting that a few lines might not be uninteresting to you, I avail myself of this opportunity to write. The Company in which I enlisted, J. Musser, Captain, left Freeport on the 19th inst., for this place. We started at 10 o'clock at night on the Illinois Central Railroad and arrived at Decatur and took breakfast at 12 o'clock the next day, then got aboard the cars for Camp and arrived here at 2 o'clock p.m., pitched out tents, got supper, then rolled ourselves up in our blankets and were soon in the "land of dreams," enjoying the luxury of "tired natures' sweet restorer, balmy sleep."
At sunrise the next morning we were aroused from our peaceful slumbers, and fell into ranks, till the roll was called, then had breakfast. At noon we again formed into ranks to see the Governor pass by, then march up Musser street and were examined. Thus we were mustered into service and thus began our career as a soldier. Our Camp regulations are: Roll call 5:30 o'clock in the morning, breakfast at 6, drill from 7 till 8:30, and from 10:30 till 12 noon; after dinner, drill from 1 till 2:30 and from 5 till 6 p.m., supper at 6:15. After supper till 9 p.m. we enjoy our selves in various ways, and make all manner of noise that was ever heard such as singing, laughing, talking, hallooing, imitating the barking of dogs, mewing of cats, howling of tigers, bellowing etc., and this is accompanied with gymnastic exercises -- but I have got so accustomed to the noise that it does not disturb me in the least when I do not wish to participate in it. At 9 o'clock all is soon hushed in the stillness of the night and quiet prevails throughout the camp. I enjoy camp life well, All the boys are full of fun and life, and it is moral, as the most of this company have pledged themselves to not use any profane language.
We have plenty to eat of good substantial food, consisting of light bread, bacon, fresh beef, a small portion of sugar, rice, molasses, and coffee. We hired three of our boys to cook for one month for $10 per month each extra of their wages. There are five or six in each tent which is called "a mess." Our mess is S. A. Frank, Franklin Arnold, A. Fellows, D. A. Scovill, D. W. Gavison and"ourself." At the hour of Half-past eight we read a chapter in the Testment, verse about and have prayer, this is a resolution passed by our mess, as we wish to serve our Master while in the services of our country. There are about 5,500 soldiers in camp here and they make a fine appearance when the regiments are on dress parade, especially when they are going to preaching.
Yesterday was Fast Day and we had preaching in camp -- had a good sermon and everything passed off pleasantly. Camp Butler is situated about seven miles east of Springfield in a beautiful grove beside a small clear lake, about half a mile long and one-fourth of a mile wide, the land is level about here and nearly all timber land. The timber is principally ash, walnut, hickory, with some mulberry, paw paw and persimmon, and there is plenty of fruit in this vicinity. Perhaps you would like to know how we keep our camp in trim: Each company has its street and all try to see how nice they can keep it. The boys take brush and make what we call brooms, and after breakfast, sweep before their tents (the tent mates taking it by turns). Sweep the dust and trash into little piles and about once a week "Uncle Sam" sends around a cart and hauls it off. So you see, if we are not allowed women to do our sweeping, we can do it ourselves.
I do not know how long we will remain here, as our regiment is not full yet, but we are expecting some more companies soon. Three regiments Infantry and two Cavalry left here since we came. They left in good spirits and said they did not intend to return till the victory is won and the rebellion put down. They are brave fellows and they mean business.
I have just received a welcome letter from home, informing me that some of my old friends and neighbors have gone to fight for the good and just cause. May prosperity and happiness go with them, and if duty calls them in the battlefield may they fight their country's battles with brave hearts, knowing their cause is just and good. I hope to meet them again. No one can tell how it cheers the heart of the volunteer to receive letters from friends who are dear to him. How it encourages him and fires his determination to conquer or die! To those who have friends in the army I would say, write to them often and your letters will be kindly appreciated, though you may not receive answers to all your letters, for the soldier has a very inconvenient way of writing and you must excuse him.
Civil War Letter Written June 21, 1863 By Lalon Zophar Farwell
Private Citizen Visits Vicksburg Battlefield
Your letter of June 10 was rec'd yesterday. I intended as soon as I got home to write you something of an account of my journey, but I found not time to do so, and now that a week has gone by, I do not feel much like writing a history of what I have been obliged to talk of almost constantly since my return. I will, however, give you something of an account of the journey though you will know that I am not gifted with descriptive powers.
I did not know that Mrs. Putnam was intending to start for Vicksburg until 9 o'clock in the evening (Monday, May 25) and she was to start at 9 o'clock. I heard that she wanted to see me and went to her house and found her anxious that I should go with her. She said that she was well acquainted with Genl. Hurlburt from whom all passes going below Memphis must come and she was positive that she could get a pass for me. (Alice Horner's Note: General Hurlburt's name is misspelled Hurlbutt in the carbon copy letter; I have corrected it here.) I know that no one was permitted to go to the army unless belonging to the U. S. Sanitary Commission or with an order from the Secy. of War, but thought Mrs. Putnam being the wife of a Col. and acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Hurlburt could easily get along and I concluded to go. I packed my clothes and some articles for Sewall, but arrived at the depot one minute too late for the train. I left my carpet bag at the store but gave up the idea of going.
The next morning I thought the matter over and thought perhaps I could overtake Mrs. Putnam at Cairo. I considered that Sewall had been in great danger as we heard that Stokes division (originally misspelled as Stutes) had suffered greatly and I felt as tho' it was more than probable that Sewall was wounded if his life had been spared and that if I did not go then I was losing the only possible chance of getting to him. I again made up my mind to go but only about half hour before train time.
I procured some clothes for Sewall and started for Memphis on the boat Liberty No. 2 at 8 o'clock Wednesday morning. Another boat was going at the same time and we had some exciting races. Arrived in Memphis early Thursday morning. The first boat with wounded soldiers from Vicksburg had just come up and I soon got a list of the wounded officers and was glad to find neither Sewall's name or Col. Putnam's. I found the Major and two captains of Col. P.'s reg. and of course Mrs. Putnam was relieved.
On Friday and Saturday we tried in vain to get passes to go below. Mrs. Putnam and Mrs. Hurlburt called on the Gen. and he told Mrs. Putnam that he would give no one a pass and that as for her he would not have her there at Vicksburg at all. This settled the question with Mrs. Putnam and she started home Saturday evening. I stayed until Monday night hoping every day that I would be able to get a pass. I had letters to Gov. officers in Memphis and some had told me they knew they could get me a pass if I would wait a day or two.
I spent a good portion of the time going through the hospitals. It was very difficult getting into them, but I went through several and found a few acquaintances and several who knew Sewall. The first man I saw belonging to Sewall's reg. said that S. was wounded" - that he saw him come into the hospital where he was" - that he had his arm in a sling" - that he talked with him there, and was well acquainted, etc.
I soon found another man who said that some of Sewall's Co. came up on the boat with the wounded, and he heard them say that Capt. Farwell was wounded. This I considered positive information and sent Marcus a message by telegraph. The next day, however, I found others from the 31st who were sure S. was not hurt. I noticed that nearly all of the wounded men were unable to recollect when the fight took place or when they left Vicksburg but had in the excitement forgotten the day of the week or month. I saw Alonzo B. He was walking around and feeling first rate but had a stiff neck of course. I liked the appearance of things in the hospitals. The rooms were mostly large and well ventilated, and the wounded seemed to have the best of attention.
On Monday night, June 1st, a fleet of 5 boats was to start down the river. Four out of the five were loaded with troops. I made up my mind to go on one of them" - pass or no pass. Those who had tried to obtain a pass for me had given it up and told me that it was impossible. Just at this time Grant was asking for reinforcements and movements were being kept quite secret, and it was almost impossible to approach Gov. officers. I therefore made up my mind to"run the blockade," and guess I should have succeeded but it proved to be unnecessary. Just before the fleet was to leave I thought I would try and see General H. myself. Went to his headquarters and sent a note to him asking for the privilege of seeing him one moment. Fortunately he was not busy and told the guard to let me in. I found him very pleasant and told him who I was, where from, and where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to go for, and wound up by asking very plainly for a pass to go down on the hospital boat"Alice Dean." He took his pen and wrote one and handed it to me without a word, and I thanked him and retired.
We started at 6 o'clock and upon going up to the pilot house, I found the following regulations were given to each pilot, which convinced me of a fear on their part of danger.
1st "Tycoon"" - loaded with soldiers
2nd "Atlantic"" - loaded with soldiers
3rd "Alice Dean"" - hospital boat
4th "Luminary"" - soldiers and sanitary goods 5th"Jacob Strader"" - soldiers and sanitary goods
1 whistle - go slow 2 whistles - keep proper distance
3 whistles - close up 4 whistles - do stop
5 whistles - do come within hailing distance
1 short and 1 long - drop back
1 short and 2 long - an attack
2 short and 1 long - want assistance
1 long and 3 short - get under way
1 long and 2 short and 1 long - stop and tie up
Boats will repeat the whistle so they can be heard the whole length of the line.
Boats are expected to keep ¼ of a mile apart.
I copied the above so as to understand matters in case we got into trouble.
We arrived at Helena, Arkansas about two o'clock Tuesday morning and were wakened by an officer who examined our passes. I went to sleep again but in the morning found we were still there waiting for some of the passengers to obtain passes from the Provost Marshal. While they were doing this I went into a store and bought some preserved peaches and cherries and some sardines to take with me. I stopped in the store only a very few moments and was about to pay for the articles when the boat bell rang. I ran for the boat but they did not wait the usual ten minutes after ringing, and I found myself too late. The boat was steaming away and of course with all of my goods, carpet bag, linen, and overcoat. This left me in the most contemptible town that I ever saw.
Fortunately a Govt. boat, the"Chancellor," came along about three hours after. She was crowded with soldiers and had no accommodations for me, but I did not care for this and went board and took my favorite position in the pilot house. We proceeded down the river about 35 miles when the Capt. said there was danger of being fired at by guerrillas and that the pilot house was the most dangerous position. Everybody left except the Capt., pilot, and myself. The soldiers were ordered to load their guns and as many as could stood on the hurricane deck ready to return any attack. The pilots on all of the boats going below Memphis are protected by old boilers being unriveted and a half placed each side of the wheel. I had just made the remark, in sport, to the Capt. that I"guessed I could dodge any shots fired in that direction." He replied by advising me to get behind one side of the boiler which I proceeded not to do. We were then nearing island #63 and in going around a bend in the river where we were obliged to go within 20 rods of the shore a volley of musketing was heard and a storm of bullets came rattling around our boat. I could see the smoke of the enemy's guns but only saw one man, they being protected by a thick growth of bushes. Our soldiers replied rapidly, and I quite enjoyed my first experience of real war.
The rebels suddenly opened on us with a small canon, the first shot striking the water very near us. I saw that this frightened the Capt., and that the pilot was shaking with fear as he remarked,"my God! Are they opening on us with artillery?" The Capt. thought one shot had struck the boat and asked me if I would go below and tell the mate to go down into the hold and see if any damage had been done. I ran down and upon getting into the cabin found two wounded men being brought in. I was startled at seeing them, not having dreamed of any real danger and only feeling as though we were having a good, lively time. By this time we had got out of range of the enemy's guns and our boat was not injured. Four soldiers had been wounded, one of whom died in a very few minutes. His father was on board and Capt. of a company.
We proceeded down the river about two miles when we met a gun-boat. We told our story to the commander, and he wanted to go and shell the woods in that vicinity and see if he could not capture their canon. He asked our Capt. to go back with him and show the place, etc. The Capt. made some excuse and refused to go. I told the Capt. of the gun-boat that I could show him the place and asked for the privilege of going back with him. He consented and I went on board a gun-boat for the first time. Before starting back, however, they concluded to take some soldiers along, and we went to our boat and about 50 of the soldiers came aboard the gun-boat and away we went.
The gun-boat had eight 24 ft. brass canons. They were beautiful pieces, and I soon found that the crew knew how to handle them. Some 1500 20-shots were fired into the woods, the shells making a terrific noise as they went through the timber tearing trees a foot in diameter to pieces. They then fired three shots at a house standing some 12 rods from the shore and ran the boat up to the bank. I jumped ashore and ran for the house. One or two of the soldiers had got the start of me, but I reached the house first and bolted in at the open door. I found it deserted of course, the furniture, etc. taken away. I picked up a piece of one of our shells which had gone through the brick chimney and through two rooms and burst in the third room. This I saved as a trophy of my first experience in war.
The soldiers landed and searched the country for a mile or so back but found no enemy. We found the tracks etc. of their horses and judged that there were about 50 of the men" - all mounted. There was a large plantation about a half mile from the river, the houses on which we burned" - also a large crib of corn. We then returned to the boat and went back to the"Chancellor." The Capt. of the gun-boat asked me to take dinner with him saying that he"knew that I belonged to the Press." I told him I was only a private citizen, which made him believe all the more that I was a newspaper reporter. I took dinner with him and was introduced to two southern ladies who had taken the oath of allegiance and were going North.
The next day, June 3rd, passed very quietly, the gun-boat keeping with us, which probably prevented the rebels from making an attack at any point when they were in force. I saw many beautiful plantations on the river bank, the houses on which had quite the appearance of small villages. Sewall has given you a description of these things, and I know you don't want any from me. Sufficient to say that they were all deserted except a few which were being worked by negroes.
We arrived at Young's Point about midnight, and I kept a sharp lookout for the"Alice Dean" feeling very anxious to find my carpet bag. We stopped only a moment at Y. P. but were ordered up the Gazor River. (Transcriber's Note: I could find no reference to a Gazor River. It is probably the Yazoo River.) We arrived at the landing near Chickasaw Bayou about two o'clock in the morning and fortune seemed to favor me once, for our boat landed by the side of the"Alice Dean," and I found my goods all right. I had slept but very little for two nights" - sometimes getting a little sleep in a chair which was the nearest thing to a bed which I could procure. I obtained a berth and lay down but sleep was far from me, and I was out on land long before light. I found I was some six miles from Stokes division and about eight from Putnam's Reg. I could hear the sound of artillery and see the smoke of shells bursting over the city. I could also see the bluff on which the charge so fatal to many of our soldiers was made last winter.
I was of course anxious to get out to Sewall as soon as possible, but it was 8 o'clock before I got my pass. I found no means of going except on one of the transport wagons drawn as they all are by a team of six mules. I started on one loaded with ten barrels of potatoes, taking my seat on top of one of the barrels, the head of which soon broke in and the smell of decayed potatoes led me to remark to the driver that I guessed they were spoiled."Of course," said he,"they are never rationed out until they get rotten." There were two men with each wagon and those with whom I was riding were very pleasant, sensible fellows. In company with us was a string of perhaps ten or twelve teams similar to ours carrying provisions and ammunition. We were constantly meeting teams going to the landing, indeed it was one continuous line of teams, and the dust and heat excelled anything that I ever before experienced. Still I enjoyed every inch of the journey. I kept a good look out thinking I might meet some of my friends, but the dust was often so thick that I could not have recognized my own brother had he passed within ten feet of me.
I rode to Gen. Stokes headquarters and then proceeded on foot, getting a man to carry my carpet bag and show me the way. I found the distance to Sewall's tent about two miles - a warm walk considering that I had an overcoat and a heavy undercoat to carry. Arrived at Sewall's tent a little before noon, June 4 (Thursday), and found a good many whom I knew in Sewall's C., but I was away and at Stokes headquarters when I passed that place. He soon returned, and although he said he had heard all along the lines that his brother had arrived - still he seemed astonished to find it really true. He was dressed in his fatigue suit, which I had made for him here, his best suit having been left at Young's Point. That he was glad to see me I had no reason to doubt. He was looking quite well" - much as in the picture last sent, only perhaps not quite so fleshy. His mustache gives him an odd look. It is about three inches in length. Just imagine a brother of yours wearing such a thing!
Amos, Marvin, and Jones mess with him and sleep in the same tent. Marvin is the cook, and he soon had dinner ready and I sat down for the first time to eat in a soldier's tent on a battlefield with bullets whistling over our heads and occasionally a shell bursting near us. We had a large chest for a table and small boxes for seats. The food consisted of good, sound potatoes, beef or ham, I have forgotten which, bakers bread baked on the ground in a large iron bakery such as I never before saw, good butter from Monticello, and I think from Mrs. Marvin's or you, horse radish, which Mother sent them. Apple sauce, crackers, molasses, good coffee, etc.
The bread was first rate - fully as good as I am in the habit of eating, being sweet and new. You will see that the dinner was a good one. I was surprised to find it so good and enjoyed it hugely. They had tin plates, tin cups for coffee, and of course knives and forks to eat with.
Thursday, June 25 - - I intended to have finished my letter last Monday but became tired writing, and I have not yet found time to finish. I must do so now or you will not get it this week. I presume Sewall has given you a description of their camping grounds and their situation with regard to the enemy's fortifications, and it is quite unnecessary for me to attempt a description of anything regarding which he has written you. Stokes division, you know, is on the extreme right, and the 31st reg. is encamped very near the river (Mississippi), and were at the time I was there, quite as near the enemy's work as any other reg. After dinner Sewall and I went up to our advance fortifications and looked over at the enemy. We could see no part of the town, but the enemy's works were within rifle shot and several pieces of their artillery pointing in our direction, the most of which were being kept silent during the daytime by our sharpshooters, from one of whom I borrowed a gun telling him that I"wanted one shot at a rebel." I rested the gun on the bank, took off my hat, and waited until one showed himself over the opposite bank when I fired away" - with what effect I do not know. We went in plain sight of the great water battery, which commands the river and which had, a few days before, sunk one of our boats" - the"Cincinnati," while she was attempting to run by.
We spent the afternoon looking around and in going to Col. Smith's headquarters, which were over a mile in the rear. Towards evening we went up around the bend of the river about a mile and a half to a point from which we could get a view of the city. The rebel sharpshooters saw us as we were dodging through the bushes and honored us with a few shots" - the bullets coming within hearing distance. We staid until after dark, hoping the mortar boats would through shells into the town, as they usually did every night.
For some reason they did not do so, and we returned to camp about ten o'clock having had a very difficult time getting through the brush and fallen trees" - trees which had been cut to interrupt the march of our army. I found upon my return that my pants" - a new ten dollar pair" - and the only ones I had with me" - had a rent in them a foot long. Marvin, however, proved himself not only a good cook but a good hand with a needle, and he repaired it very neatly for me. Sewall was taken quite sick that night" - something like cholera morbus. He had a very sick night but was better in the morning. Sewall had a camp bedstead and insisted on my sleeping on it while he slept on the ground with the boys. I refused to do so and wanted to sleep on the ground with blankets of which they had plenty, but the boys would not let me saying that I would get my clothes dirty etc. I was tired and slept first rate. There was a good deal of firing during the night" - some grape shot striking quite near the tent and shells bursting sufficiently near to waken the boys in the tent, but I was disturbed only once and then by Sewall.
Friday morning S. and I went to Col. Smith's tent, and he gave us the use of his horses. He gave me his best horse, a beautiful sorrel, one of the best I saw in the army. We rode around the lines to McPherson's division, some six miles and arrived at Col. Putnam's Reg. a little before noon. I was well acquainted with several in his reg. from this place, and a warmer welcome I never wish to have. We staid all of the afternoon taking dinner and supper with Col. P. I took a long tramp with Putnam, who done everything in his power to make my stay interesting and pleasant. The eatables were much the same as at Sewall's, and I done full justice to them" - the boys getting off the joke that they could not keep me very long without getting extra rations. They had a can of peaches for supper, (they being kept by settlers for sale). Also some wine sent by Mrs. P. There was but very little firing in their region compared with where S. was camped. They urged me to stay all night, but I got away by promising to come the next day and stay over night with them. We then rode back to the 31st arriving there after dark. Col. Smith offered us the use of his horses at any time, and the next morning we again availed ourselves of his offer and rode around to Col. Putnam's regt. Sewall staid until after dinner when he returned with the horses with the understanding that he would meet me at Chicasaw Bayou the next day, when I proposed to start homewards. S. said that he liked the appearance of the officers who went from here better than of any others whom acquaintances he had formed. I spent a very pleasant day with them.
Towards night Col. P. and I went out and cut 16 cane fish poles, which I succeeded in bringing home with me and gave to our fishing friends. They were the finest ones that I ever saw and coming as they did from the battlefield near the famous city of Vicksburg our friends fully appreciated the favor. At night Col. P. took his mattress from his camp bedstead, laid it on the ground with a blanket and told me to take my choice, that or the bedstead without a mattress. I chose the mattress on the ground. He remarked that he did not much like the idea of putting a guest on the ground but thought there was little choice in the beds. I never slept sounder in my life and did not take cold or anything of the kind while I was there.
Sunday morning I started homeward, Col. P. taking his horses and going with me to the landing - 8 miles and staying with Sewall and I all day. On our way a man at the roadside called out" - "don't you want a glass of ale?" I replied yes, and we turned our horses and drank. I paid the man 50 cts. for the two glasses! While at Chickasaw Bayou I paid 15 cts. a pound for ice" - 50 cts. getting a piece just large enough to make a pail full of ice water. No boats were going North that day, so I could not get off. Col. Smith was at the landing that day, and at night they all started for their camps, and I bid Sewall goodbye once more. I found no boat starting North until Monday night. At which time I left and arrived home the next Sunday morning.
Some things of interest occurred on my trip up the river, but I cannot take the time to write them. There are many things which transpired while I was with the army and many sights which I would like to write you about, but I have already written too much and must come to an abrupt close. I enjoyed my trip and visit in the army very much indeed. It was a very eventful trip, and one that I shall always look back upon with pleasure, although I was witness to scenes of suffering such as I never before saw and such as I cannot describe. I wanted to stay longer and should have done so, but it was very necessary that one of us should go East after goods and for this reason I returned when I did.
I took to Sewall a linen coat, 1 fine shirt, 1 doz. hose, some hdkfs., a good pair of boots, 2 Mosquet bars, collars, a light wool hat, etc. I suppose you have got a good idea of the country and situation of our army from Sewall. Marcus wrote me that he had sent you Sewall's account of the fight near V. I would like to have you send it to me, and I can return it. Have you heard from him since I was there?
I am not surprised that Vicksburg has not fallen. It was my impression that we would not take the place for several weeks. The matter seemed to be settled that there would be no attempt to storm the works again if it were possible to starve them out. Still I am confident that our army could take the place any day, if there seemed to be a necessity for so doing. The loss would doubtless be great, but an attempt to take it would I think be successful. I saw and talked with a good many rebel deserters nearly all of whom saying that they had been on short rations for sometime and that their only hope was in being reinforced by Johnson's forces" - that they were expecting him daily etc. Many of the deserters were desirous of returning to their homes saying that they were forced into the service under the Conscript Act and against their wishes. Of course they were not allowed to go back but were treated as prisoners of war and sent North.
It is mail time, and I must bring my letter to a close. I have written in great haste, and my writing I see is hardly legible. I fear that I have not written much that will interest you, but one thing I am doing" - that is sending you a sufficient amt. of paper to start a good fire with which purpose I hope you will immediately put it to.
Lalon Z. Farwell
[Transcribed By Alice Horner
Special thanks go to Jack Kavanagh for his help with bios of some of the men named in the letter. He cites "Generals in Blue" by Ezra J. Warner, Louisiana State University Press, as his source.
Alice Horner's Notes: This letter was written by Lalon Zophar Farwell, an early Freeport resident who was a personal friend of Col. Holden Putnam and his wife, Leonora Ormanda (Robinson) Putnam. The letter indicates its author was not serving as a soldier in the Civil War, but traveled to the Vicksburg area as a private citizen during the Battle of Vicksburg, initially to accompany Mrs. Putnam on a trip to visit her husband. A week after returning home, he wrote this letter to his sister, Julia Farwell, who lived in Monticello, Iowa.
Lalon Zophar Farwell was born in Keene, Ohio on June 3, 1836 and died August 11, 1913 in Freeport. His wife was Louise Aurand. He was co-owner (with Orlando B. Bidwell) of the Freeport Wholesale Notion Company. Before the war, Col. Holden Putnam had been a Freeport banker, but he was elected Colonel by the line officers in September 8, 1862. He commanded the Third Brigade, 7th Division of the 93rd Illinois Infantry at the Battle of Vicksburg. (He was later killed in battle November 25, 1863 at Mission Ridge.) He and his wife are buried in Freeport City Cemetery. The man named Sewall who Farwell visited was his brother, Sewall Spaulding Farwell, who was serving as captain of a group of volunteers he'd raised from Jones County, Iowa who were incorporated into the 31st Iowa Infantry Regiment. The man named Marcus was their eldest brother, Marcus Augustus Farwell, who ran a wholesale grocery business in Chicago. Also named in this letter was General Hurlburt, who was in charge of granting passes to travel into the war zone. (His name was incorrectly spelled Hurlbutt in the letter; I have corrected it.) He was General Stephen Augustus Hurlburt, who'd moved to Illinois in 1845 and was a Republican in the Illinois State Legislature when the war broke out. Another officer named in the letter is General Stokes, whose name was misspelled as "Stutes." He was probably General James Hughes Stokes, who graduated from West Point in 1835 and served in the Indian uprisings before resigning in 1843. He'd been an executive with the Illinois Central Railroad. Another officer named is a Col. Smith, who is likely to have been William Sooy Smith; he commanded a division of the XVI Corps at Vicksburg. He'd graduated from the Military Academy with Philip Sheridan and General James Birdseye McPherson (named next), and before the war was a construction engineer for the Illinois Central Railroad. The man named McPherson was General James Birdseye McPherson, also a West Point graduate, who was a 1st Lieutenant when the war broke out and had been promoted to Major General by October 1862.
This letter was transcribed from the original and typewritten. A carbon copy of it was loaned to my mother, Florence L. Horner, by Mrs. Roy Knight (Jessie) Farwell, probably in the late 1950s, but possibly earlier. Roy Knight Farwell was the son of Lalon Zophar Farwell; Roy had died on August 25, 1933. Jessie Farwell died September 10, 1966 leaving no immediate survivors. They are buried in Oakland Cemetery in Freeport.]
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