Letter from Erastus H. Reed, January 25, 1863

In this letter from January 25, 1863, Erastus H. Reed, one of the enlisted brothers of Samuel Reed, writes home chastising his family for not answering his letters. He offers some details regarding the first fight his regiment engaged in and the damage it caused to the land, comparing the destruction it wrought to that of the tornado which hit Camanche, Iowa in 1860. He states that the things he saw made his "blood run cold" and believes that "if the feelings of officers & men wer [sic] consulted" the war would quickly be brought to an end, but ultimately the fate of the soldiers rests in the hands of "a few politicians at Washington."

Murfreysboro [sic] Tennesee [sic]

Dear Friends at home

As I have a chance to send a letter home by our second lieutenant I thought that I would write you a few lines not that I am indebted to you a letter but that I may provoke a reply from you. For this is the third letter that I have writen [sic] & no reply except some half dozen words from Jennie in Samuels letter and she requests me to write her one in return for it & I suppose that I must doe [sic] it but it will be short like hur [sic] own & the last one that I will write to any of you unless you can doe [sic] as you agreed to when I left home & that was to write as often as I did. But this idea of writing and receiveing [sic] none in return is not what it is cracked up to. Espesialy [sic] as we have to pay 5 a sheet for paper & 2 for an envelope & no money to buy with at that but enough of this. Our rigement [sic] has at last after all our marching ben [sic] in a fight that is what few of them is left after marching some 6 or 7 hundred miles. & they get more praise than all the rest of the army put together & our Col is in the estimation of his men a heroe [sic] for 5 hours & the 100th Reg lay flat on their faces in the mud & raining all the whole time. Also the shot & shell from 7 batteries flying over them all the whole time 4 Rebel & 3 Union bateries [sic] so I will leave you to judge of their feelings I was not in the battle haveing [sic] ben [sic] sent back to Nashville in charge of the teams. Where I remained one week then was ordered to the front where I saw sights that made my blood run cold it was enough to make any one [sic] wish that this infernal war was at an end. I thing think that if the feelings of officers & men wer [sic] consulted it would end very qick [sic] and we would be at home in a short time but that remains for a few politicians at Washington. & God only knows when they will stop it for I do not. But I will give you a short discription [sic] of the battle field [sic] that is as good as my abilities will pennit [sic] . For you all know that I am not very much of a writer but will try that is as much as any one [sic] can doe [sic] . The two armies comencd [sic] skirmishing some 12 miles from Nashville and here comencd [sic] the work of destrucksion [sic] and from there to this place is one complete wreck of every thing [sic] . Houses blown to peices [sic] by shells bursting inside of them or burned down fences torn down & burned up trees all shatered [sic] to peices [sic] it looks as though there had ben [sic] one of these tornadoes her [sic] such as passed over homes the town of Camanchee [sic] in Iowa some 3 years ago. I suppose that you remembe [sic] it at lavergne [sic] 15 miles from Nashville is a little town about as large as Chanahon there is but 3 houses left in the town all are burned here was also killed some thing [sic] like 50 or 60 horses I counte [sic] 36 in one place. This is what the war has done for this country. At this place the rebles [sic] made a stand & here is where we lost our men. After 5 days the rebels were routed at evry [sic] stop and our forces wer [sic] left in posession [sic] of the city of Murfreys Boro [sic] . With all their sick & wounded to care for they mad [sic] the rebel prisoners bury their own dead. The [sic] put them in the ground just wher [sic] they fell some are not buried mor [sic] than 12 to 18 inches deep and I heard the planters say that some of them would be plowed up in the cotton fields when they come to plow. Now when you get this I hope that some one of you will try & answer & tell me all the news. I received Samuel's letter two or 3 days since. Glad to hear from him. I answered it imediatly [sic] . Now dear aunt I wish that you would show this to Charles & Lusious. For I can not write to them all. Give my love to all of the friends and for your selfe [sic] acepet [sic] the love & best wishes from your nephew.


Erastus H. Reed

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Erastus H. Reed to Friends at Home
  • Extent: 3 pages
  • Citation: Yale University Library, Manuscripts and Archives, Samuel Reed Family Papers, Box 2, Folder 29
  • Date: January 25, 1863