Letter No. 16
We will send you by West a few lines
to let you know the state of our health. John Samuel has had a very
sore finger. It has broke and is mattering and is getting better.
I have felt some better since we came over than I did while I was at home.
My eyes however are quite yellow. We will probably move to another
camp ground about 4 miles from here, today. No news of interest in
camps. John Samuel drew him a stump jacket. A happy Christmas
to you all.
W. H. H. & J. S. Shibley
Camps on Piney Pope Co.
Jan. 6 1863
I embrace this opportunity to let you know that we are both well. We camped on the river Piney 14 miles below Clarksville and 2 miles from the Ark. river. All the boys are well but Mr. Spoon. We left him at a place 7 miles south of Roseville. He was better the last we heard from him. We have not heard from you since we saw Father on Sunday morning and we are very anxious to know what has become of you. The West boys came to us Tuesday evening. Whit Thomas and Hannibal Stephenson also came to us. Alvis Smith has not been heard from. Robert Stephenson requests me to say that he and Cam are well. We arrived at this place yesterday evening and we suppose we will probably remain here some time.
Wednesday morning Jan. 7th / 63. We will finish our letter this morning and start it to you by Ed Scott’s son who is here and going to start for Van Buren. We have but little news to write as we have been marching nearly all the time since you saw us. As John Samuel says we are very anxious to know how the Feds used you. It is strange that we can hear but little from the neighborhood in any way. We have heard that the enemy took G. Austin and nearly all the negroes in the country. You can imagine how our hearts sank within us when we heard the roaring cannon at Van Buren.
The boys from the neighborhood are well with the exception of Wm. Bushong and Abraham Spoon. Bushong had a chill or two though he is better now. Abraham was left as already stated. The probability seems to be that we may stay here for some time unless the enemy [illegible] us. We will bring our letter to a close hoping that we will soon have the great satisfaction of hearing from you all.
Quint Bailey is still with us. He is trying to get a pass to go home but has not succeeded as yet.
Affectionately your Sons
W. H. H. & J. S. Shibley
Letter No. 18
Little Rock Ark Tuesday Jan. 20th, 1863
Beloved Parents & family.
We once more have the great privilege of writing to you. We are both in as good health as could be expected from the exposure and hardships that we have endured for the last 8 or 10 days. We wrote you a few lines by Scott’s son when he and Quint Bailey left us at Piney. After they left us we took up our line of march for Lewisburg but before we got to that point we received orders to push on to Little Rock as quick as possible; then commenced hard times as our road laid down the river passing through a great deal of low swampy country. The night before we got here a rain set in which wet us and all our bed clothing and rendered the roads impassable for anyone except soldiers; but we waded through arriving here last Wednesday evening. The rain still continued to come down without cessation. At night it turned into a snow which continued without interruption until next evening.
We encamped just at the edge of town that night and passed one of the worst nights I ever experienced as we had left our tents and the train failed to get up. Saturday we started for Pine Bluff to meet as we supposed the Federals. We arrived there Sunday morning, found everything quiet and the Feds reported gone out of the [illegible]. They took Arkansas Post and about 4000 prisoners which you have heard probably before this.
We stayed in Pine Bluff long enough to cook our breakfasts and then reshipped again for this place and arrived here yesterday evening. We are quartered at present in a large dwelling house. Others are in churches and the state arsenal &c. We heard from you by a letter written to Wm. Bushong, learning that the Feds had taken Charley. We hope they have taken nothing else. We will have to close. R. W. Stephenson wants me to state that he and Cam are both in good health. This you will please try to convey to his parents. W. Thomas, W. Bushong, Abraham Spoon are all well.
We send you the Bulletin giving an account of the fight at the Post. Where we are to go next we know not but every chance we have we will write. Give our love to all and remember us in your prayers. We would write more if we had time but must close.
Yours as ever
W. H. H. & J. S. Shibley
Camp 1½ miles S. W. Little Rock
Tuesday Jan. 27th / 63
Dear Father and Mother
We have an opportunity of sending a letter by an old gentleman that thinks of trying to go to Van Buren and we of course embrace the opportunity. We are both well and trying to keep in as good spirits as possible although the times are rather unpropitious as we have hardly been dry for the last two weeks. The rain has come down in abundance. Last night the clouds blew off and the sun is again shining this morning.
My health is much better than when you last saw me. John Samuel had something like the jaundice occasioned we supposed by the exposure we have went through. We saw Uncle William about a week ago. He was not very well, exposure and fatigue had given him a swelling of the feet and legs like dropsy. He got his money for his mare that he sent to Texas.
One month ago this morning we left the line branch above the May farm. What we have passed through since then would make quite a volume could it be carefully narrated; but we will not attempt a narration here, trusting that through the mercies of God we may see you all face to face once more. We have heard nothing from you except by the letter of Miss Bushong stating that the Feds had taken Old Charley. If they took nothing else we are glad. The loss of your horse will seriously interfere with your farming operations. But I fear not but what there will be a way provided.
We have but little army news. The talk is that we will remain here the balance of the winter unless we are disturbed by the Yankees. If we go into winter quarters here it is said we will floor our tents and remain in them. It was also rumored in camps yesterday that the Feds were again ascending the river.
We generally get the Democrat every week. We are told here that the mail line is entirely suspended from here to N. W. Arkansas. If this be so you get no papers. Last weeks paper gave an account of a terrible battle between the forces of Bragg and Rosecrans near Murfreesborough in Tenn. The Federals admit a loss of 30,000 men killed wounded and prisoners. Bragg fell back 5 miles to Talahoma. Our loss was not given. Bragg took 200 waggons, 4000 prisoners and thirty odd pieces of cannon.
Gen. Van Dorn has been put in command of cavalry. He has lately made a very successful scout in Tenn. and Miss., taking and destroying a great deal of property. Butler the Beast has been relieved of command at New Orleans. He has gone north and it is thought he will be appointed Secretary of State vice Seward resigned. H. Greely has been tendered the command of a Negro Brigade. Lincoln has made his threatened proclamation declaring the Negros free and to be received into the U. S. service. Public men in the north no longer fear to express their disapprobation of Lincoln’s doings.
We have not time to write much more as this a day of inspection and some of the other boys want me to write for them. Mr. Spoon says to tell Mr. Gill that he is well and would be very glad to hear from him. He says he is out of money out of clothes away from friends and among his foes. Give him also our respects as well as all the other neighbors particularly Charley Bailey if he has got home and living.
We probably should say something about Little Rock and country. The City is a beautiful one, some larger I think than Hannibal though more scattering, built houses hardly as substantially built. The City is lighted with gas and there has been great attention paid to ornamental shrubbery and shade trees which a great deal to the beauty of the City. The City contains some very generous and kind people but as a general thing they are of the middle and poor classes. The rich set back and seem to regard a wet and hungry soldier as something beneath their notice. They will certainly receive their reward.
This is the third time we have written to you and we shall continue to write when we have opportunity, not knowing however whether you ever see them or not. Scarcely anything would be more acceptable to us than a letter stating you were all well and giving us the news. We bide our time.
We must close always hoping for the best. Fearing not what man may do unto us, but trusting in him who is able to preserve us through all dangers. Our love to all.
W. H. H. & J. S. Shibley
Camp near Little Rock
Friday evening Jan. 30th / 63
Dear Father and Mother
It was but the other day that we wrote you but not knowing whether you ever got our letters or not; we will aim to write every chance. We have just returned from a visit to Uncle William and also Dudley Onstot. They are both well and send their best respects. Dudley sends his respects to Uncle George and Aunt Malissa. Uncle Will is in much better health than he was when I last wrote.
We are both well as are all the boys generally from the neighborhood. M. West has been complaining but is better now. Till, John, Whitfield Thomas, Wm. Bushong, A. Spoon, Dick and Cam Stephenson and J. Davis are all well. John McCurdy is complaining slightly. We have heard by the Julia Roane of her capture in V. B. last Sunday. So we suppose the enemy has again scoured our country. We send you in this envelope the Democrat which if you ever get will be interesting. We have made arrangements to take the Gazette out of the Office while we may stay here or the mail to you be suspended. I must close for lack of time.
Our love to you all
W. H. H. & J. S. Shibley
Camp near Little Rock Ark
Tuesday Feb 10th A. D. 1863
We again write you a few lines to say that we are in tolerable good health. John Samuel is complaining some with cold and dysentery and I have been complaining with cold myself.
We still have had no word from you and we know not how to account for it. We humbly trust that you are still in health and circumstances that permit you to live without suffering. This is the third or fourth letter we have written since we have been here. We are still encamped near the city and the probability is that we may stay here until spring. Our mess have built us a cabbin and moved in so that we are very comfortable. We wrote you in our last of having seen Uncle William and Dudly. We have not saw them since.
Things here are quiet. The latest news say that Bragg and Rosecrans had had an awful battle at Talahoma Miss. Feds utterly routed, our victory complete. Also that the Feds had given up Vicksburg as a bad egg.
Wednesday morning 11th. William is on guard this morning so it falls to me to finish this letter. About a week ago we drew our pay to the 31st Oct. We got $96.50 for both of us. We now have $100.00 in Confederate money and some pocket change. We would be very glad to send you some of it but we fear it would be lost.
All the boys from our neighborhood are well except John Jackson. He is at a private house in Little Rock. He is some better this morning. Robert Stevenson grows bigger and fatter every day. Cambell Stevenson, Francis Neal, Abram Spoon, W. H. Bushong, L. W. Thomas, John McCurdy, three West boys, John Davis and others are well as before stated. We have had no news from you except a line to Wm. Bushong from his sister stating that the enemy had taken your horse. However we commend you to the protection of an All Wise and Gracious Providence who has brought us this far through all trials and dangers. We should be very glad to see you but we are not homesick. We trust that we shall meet you all in peace at the close of this war.
Enclosed we send you a fine tooth comb. It cost us two dollars. If we had convenient opportunity we would send some other articles. I believe I have written all the news. Give our best wishes to Mr. Gill and Mr. Coleman. As to those in your neighborhood who belong to this Army we think they have not done their duty. Remember us in your prayers.
W. H. H. & J. S. Shibley
We get your paper from the Office.
P. S. We would send you a lot of notions like pins, needles, pat. thread, cotton cards &c if we had a chance.
Camp near Little Rock
Saturday Feb 21st 1863
Beloved Parents and family.
We have a few minutes to write a few lines and send by Joseph Clegg who is about setting sail for Van Buren. We are both in very good health as is the case with the balance of the boys from the neighborhood. Capt. Wallace started up a few days ago by whom we sent $75.00 and our greetings though he started so suddenly that we had not time to write. We earnestly hope you have seen him before this and heard from him of how we were getting along.
We haven’t heard directly from home as yet. We hope and pray to God who has sustained us in all trouble that you are still under his fostering care. You have but a faint idea of the satisfaction and relief it would be to hear that you were well and unmolested by the enemy. This we will modify (You have a very good idea, but we can not express the emotions of pleasure it would awaken in our hearts.)
There is stronger indications of peace I think now than there has been before. The men are generally considerably elated with the idea shortly returning to their families and homes. The Feds have given up Vicksburg again. No other news of importance in the papers except the general tide of feeling and expression throughout the North. We hear no news or indications in our part of the army. The health of our army I think is as good as armies generally have. Our company has been quite lucky as to health since we have been here.
I called upon Elder Platenburg of the Christian church in the city and found him a very sociable and kind. If the day will permit I expect to go in to meeting tomorrow. I think he will probably loan us some books as he has a very extensive library. If we succeed in this we will spend many an hour profitable that would be otherwise wasted.
The irreligion and profanity of the army is very great, but I hope that we will keep in mind your admonition and nurture and deport ourselves as men in the fear of the Lord.
We must close for want of time. Remember us kindly to all the children. I dreamed of seeing them last night while sleeping upon our cot of boards. And to you our dear parents we send our unchanging love.
W. H. H. & J. S. Shibley
P. S. Excuse all bad spelling and writing. I have borne the rank of 2nd Sergt since we have been here.
Camp near Little Rock
Sunday evening Feb 22nd / 63
Beloved Father and Mother,
We address you a few lines to say that we are still enjoying mercies at the hands of our heavenly Father in the way of health and the right exercise of our minds. God grant this may find you all equally as well.
We write this evening particularly on one account viz: Capt. Pain sends by a gentleman by the name of Bates (of our company) an order for the horse, saddle and bridle he left in your possession in Dec. I will confer with Capt. Pain in the morning and if he will sell said horse I will send you his price and in case you should think the horse worth it and necessary for your use you can send word the first opportunity and we can pay him for it. Knowing that the Feds took your horse we thought it might be of importance for you to have the use of the Capt’s. Recollect if you want the horse. We can pay for him.
Furloughs are being granted for the time of 30 days. John Samuel and I have considered the propriety of one of us coming up on furlough and have deemed it hardly prudent as we have already done you all the good we could at present, that is if you have received the money we sent you by Capt. Wallace ($75.00). There is some talk of our getting our bounty. There is also a rumor that our Brigade will be ordered to that country to protect it from the depredations of the enemy. It is by no means, dear Father and Mother, because we have no desire to see you that we think it proper to defer coming for a while any how but we thought there would be a better time.
We were at church today and heard a very good sermon. The Elder invited us home with him but we declined–promising to call some other time. I am writing by fire light therefore you can look over mistakes. Be of good cheer and may the good Lord who has preserved us thus far grant to shield you from all danger.
Monday morning Feb. 23rd / 63
I have saw the Capt this morning and found him in first rate health. He says in reference to the horse that if you still have him and the saddle and think them worth $115.00 one hundred fifteen dollars to keep them. Or the horse at $100.00. And in case you don’t want to purchase and can make other arrangements for a team to keep him anyhow.
W. H. H. & J. S. Shibley
Capt. Pain is connected with the Commissary Dept and needs a horse but says he would not deprive you of a team under any considerations. He didn’t know the Feds had taken Charley till I told him this morning. He rather expects that they took his saddle also, if not horse also.
Yours most affectionately
W. H. H. & J. S. Shibley
(Small home-made envelope addressed
Van Buren Crawford County Arkansas)
Camps near Little Rock Ark
Feb. 24th 1863
We embrace this opportunity to inform you that we are both in good health. We started a letter to you yesterday morning by Mr. Bates of our Company who has a furlough for 30 days. Mr. Daniel also has got a furlough and expects to leave for home tomorrow. So we thought it best to write again as we suppose you will be glad to hear from us. At least we should be very glad to have a letter from you as we have not heard directly from you since we saw you. But we commend you to the protecting care of a kind providence knowing that He is able to deliver us from all evils. And while we think it strange that we have got no letters from you, we know that it is not your fault.
We have no news of importance to write. It is rumored here that the Federals have again abandoned Vicksburg. We are comfortably situated here in our cabins and tolerably plenty to eat. We get meal, peas, beef and sometimes a little pork. Also sugar and some molasses. We are not wanting for clothing. We have a good supply yet and have occasionally an opportunity to draw more. Our company has been recruiting some, 4 came in today among them two of the Mullen boys.
We have not seen Uncle William for some time. His regiment is below here on the river. He was tolerably well when we saw him last. William is on guard tonight. He requests you to do nothing by which you may get into difficulty. We should be very glad to see you all and be at home with you once more. Yet we are not homesick. We put our trust in God hoping that this war will soon close.
Health is good in camps. All the boys from our immediate neighborhood are well. We sent you 75 dollars by Capt. Wallace which we hope you have received.
J. S. Shibley
Camp near Little Rock
Sunday evening March 1st / 63
Beloved Parents and family:
We have opportunity of sending you (by Capt. Pat May) another short letter. We are both in very good health for which we can not be too thankful. We earnestly hope this may find you equally blest. The boys from the neighborhood are generally in very good health; indeed they are beginning to jump and wrestle as they used to do. The health of the army is generally I think very good and in buoyant spirits with our prospects.
It is said that Gen. Hindman is to be transferred from this to the east Miss. dept. and that Gen. Price is coming west most likely to this part of the District. The change will I think have a good effect as the name of Gen. Price goes a long ways with the soldiers here. I got the Gazette yesterday evening. It says the Feds are still working in the ditch or canal at Vicksburg by which they expect to flank Vicksburg. The mortality of their men is said to be very great amounting to a 100 per day. I also saw the Democrat Bulletin of yesterday evening stating that our forces had cut the levee above the ditch by which the Feds were obliged to take their forces out on boats to Providence. There has also been a battle of some note on Blackwater, Va. between the forces of Pryor and Cochran. The Feds were worsted and lay the cause of their defeat to running of the Pennsylvania militia.
There are several U. S. Senators and Representatives that no longer fear to denounce the administration and its measures. The Chicago Times and N. Y. World expose its tyranny and corruptness. The Times says that H. Greely is the ruling spirit of the administration and that he is now for peace and the recognition of the Confederacy. So we are all greatly in hopes that there will not be more than one more summer campaign at most but it may be otherwise.
This has been a very beautiful sunshiny day and the little birds and frogs herald the advent of Spring. Peach trees are blooming out and it seems that we ought to be making preparations for a crop but it is our lot to still be in the service of our country and as long as this is the case we will try to do the best we can and quit ourselves like men.
We have bought us two books, one Goodrich’s 6th Reader, the other Johnson’s Chemistry. We think they will be valuable to your library if we get them home. We have had review today by which we were hindered from going to church in the city. We afterward went to meeting in our regiment so we have been busy. We devote some time to reading and we find nothing so fraught with instruction and advice as Mother’s Bible. Often do we think of you all and wonder what may have happened to you by this time as we hear the Feds were in VanBuren the first of the week. May you be shielded from all harm. A kind Good Night to you all.
Monday Morning, March 2nd / 63. We will add a few lines to our short letter and bring it to a close. We are still in good health. Mr. Gill is in fine health and desires you to say the same to his family. We wrote you a letter after his arrival acknowledgeing the receipt of your letter and the prs of socks. -- We write every chance we have but not knowing whether you get them or not. We sent you by Capt. Wallace $75.00 which we expect you have received before this. We also sent by letter a paper needles and a fine tooth comb. Mr. Gill has made no definite arrangements about soldiering. He still has the horse he bought as he came down. He had the one he started with stolen by Jayhawkers. -- Capt. Payne has sent up for his horse by a man from our company. He said if you could make no arrangement for a team to keep the horse. His price is $100.00 if you want to buy him. We can pay for him. We will draw our bounty in a few days, also we expect 3 mos. pay by which means we will be able to pay Mr. Gill some too. We must close for lack of time. Yours until death.
W. H. H. & J. S. Shibley
P. S. We want to write to Uncle
Wm. He is at a fortification below here on the river above Pine Bluff.
P. S. I slip in the Bulletin which you will read and then give to J. Gill.
Camp near Little Rock Sunday Morning
March 8th A. D. 1863
Dear Father, Mother and Family.
As Tilghman West will start for home on furlough in a few days we thought it best to commence writing in time. We are both in ordinary good health for which we should ever be thankful. We trust that when you receive this you may be equally well and comfortable. The health of our army is very good; indeed the health of our company has rarely been better.
We have heard nothing from you since the arrival of Mr. Gill. Mr. Gill is still with us and in very good health. He has made no certain arrangements yet as to what he will do. He is waiting to hear from our neighborhood to see what the Feds are doing with you all. We hope for the best but fear that the best is bad enough. If we know that you would have a sufficiency to eat and wear we would be well satisfied.
We have been in the habit of writing you a few hasty lines by nearly every opportunity giving you such news as time would permit. So that if you have received all our letters you have an outline of our general news. We started to you last week by Capt. May of Van Buren a short letter and last Wednesday’s Democrat by which if you have received you will see that we have made important changes in the way of Generals.
Gen. Hindman has been relieved of command here and ordered to report at Vicksburg. Gen. Frost has temporary command of the army at this place. Who will be our subsequent Genl we can not say for certain, though it is said to be Gen’l Price. I hope that this may be the case for I certainly think that no man would suit this army better than Price. If this be so I hope that we will be led to drive back the ruthless invaders and pillagers and free our homes from the dangers that now beset them.
We have nothing very definite from the east. It has been reported for several days that a battle was in progress at Vicksburg, rumors of success were very favorable until yesterday morning when the rumor was that the city had been taken. This may or may not be true. If we receive any further particulars before we start this we will give them to you.
Our army affairs are the same dull monotony or every day sameness which generally attend the camps of large armys. We are drilling daily with reviews and inspections for a rarity of at least once a week. There has been one man executed here since we have been here. He formerly belonged to Col. Brook’s Regt which he deserted and was taken co-operating with the jayhawkers. One Brigade of our army is below here on the river fortifying; it is the Brigade to which Uncle William belongs. We wrote a letter to him last week but have receive no answer as yet. He was in very good health the last time we saw him. I haven’t saw Capt. Pain since the morning I wrote you of by Mr. Bates.
I am sorry that the Capt. sent for his horse and by what Mr. Gill says asks too high a price for him. I think he ought to have taken into consideration the condition the horse was in when you first took him. If you get this before you see Mr. Bates you will be at the first of the arrangement. The Capt. asked $100.00 for the horse and $15.00 for the saddle. He says the horse cost him $140.00. He also said if you didnt want to buy and could make no other arrangements for a team to keep him any how. If you conclude to keep him we can pay for him as the Capt. said he would wait for the money. You will see that we often write one thing several times; we sometimes forget what we have written and then again we don’t know that you get all our letters, therefore we often repeat one thing.
We must give you the price of some of the necessaries of life. Flour $1.00 a lb. Bacon $1.00 do. Pork 35 cts. Sugar 50 cts. Coffee $7 a lb Salt 50 cts a lb and other things in proportion. Cotton cards are selling at $25 and if we knew that you thought it best we would try and send you a pair. We are sure you need them; in order to buy them we would have to borrow money; I rather think we could do this as it is nearly certain we will draw our bounty before long. If this should be the case we then could replace the money. We will consider the propriety of such a step.
We are not in need of any clothing as we have frequent chances to draw more. We have drawn a factory shirt apiece since we have been here and I think I will draw a pair of pants the next opportunity. Our socks hold remarkably -- we yet have 4 pairs in wearing condition including those received by Mr. Gill. John Samuel’s boots are not much worn, but mine were long since thrown away and I now have a very good pair of shoes. We write this particularly that you may know that we are not in need of any articles of clothing.
We have great concern for your safety. But we rely greatly upon Psalm 46 “God is our refuge and strength; a powerful help in trouble.” Therefore we will not fear though earth change. He quieteth wars to the end of the earth; the bow he breaketh in pieces and cutteth asunder the spear.”
The preceding week has been very pretty weather; today however is a rainly drizzly day. Peach trees I suppose are in full bloom as I saw them bloom near two weeks ago. I have not been out in the country any since we have been here; but it is said that the big farmers are preparing for a large crop of corn.
We get as a general thing enough to eat although we have had no meat for a day. This was occasioned however by the meat spoiling on the hands of the commissary. We get Meat and Beef and Pork 3 days rations alternately of each. Some Sugar and occasionally Molasses. Our cooking is now done by a regular detail consisting of one cook to every ten men. The plan is not a good one.
I think of very little else to write at this time but we will probably fill up the other page before we finish. The Gazette has suspended publication for lack of paper.
Tuesday morning March 10th 1863
We are in very good health. We have made arrangements to send you a pair of cards and some thread and other things as pins and needles. We can not go to town ourselves but will send Mr. Gill to buy the articles for us providing Till gets a boat today.
Tly Yours in haste
W. H. H. & J. S. Shibley
Camps near Little Rock March 27th 1863
I believe it to be a duty that we owe to you to keep you advised of the state of our health &c. And although I have no very good news for you this time yet I shall tell you the plain truth as it exists.
William is still quite sick though the doctor says he is not dangerous. He now has the Typhoid fever which you know is a very slow kind of sickness. The doctor says he can see no dangerous symptoms but that he will probably be confined for some time. As I wrote you before he was first taken with Dysentery or Cholera Morbus which made him very weak. When this apparently cured and he had gained some little strength, he took the fever. This was about six days ago which was about the date of my last letter to you. He has no particular pains and rests very well for a sick man.
Mr. Gill is here and does every thing in his power to render William comfortable. He is now gone to the bottom for some slippery elm bark. I am excused from all duty so that I have nothing to do except to nurse William. Bro. John West has assisted me greatly in many ways, and offered me the use of money which however I have not yet found necessary. Mr. Bates went into the country the other day and got some Irish potatoes of an excellent quality and butter. Of these he very kindly gave us a portion quite sufficient for our purposes. Lieut. Howell has done very kindly for us a well as many others. So that although far from home we are surrounded by kind and willing friends. I feel safe in saying that William shall not suffer for any accomodation that can be obtained at this place.
William has now been sick thirteen days and has borne it with truly Christian patience and fortitude, placing his trust in God who doeth all things well. Now a few words to Mother: Do not grieve yourself about William but place your trust in God who we are told hears the young raven when they cry unto him for food. We know that this sickness cannot be unto death except it be the will of God. We shall endeavor to profit from these afflictions and be more thankful for the blessings we enjoy.
General Price arrived day before yesterday and was received with demonstrations of great joy. Yesterday Gens. Smith, Holmes and Price reviewed the troops at this place. Mr. Gill heard Price speak in town yesterday. He said that he had a written document from the Secretary of War transferring his old division now at Vicksburg to this department as soon as the crisis at that place shall be past.
We have not had any word from you since
the arrival of Mr. Bates on the 21st. Mr. Daniel and Estes who are
on furlough have not returned. Their time was out day before yesterday.
We are looking for Captain Wallace soon so we expect to hear from you soon.
Captain Payne came to see us last Sunday. He is in fine health and
weighs 180. He said he was entirely satisfied with the arrangements
made about his horse. Yesterday morning there was quite a sharp frost
here though not enough I think to kill peaches or young corn. Today
is fas-days, the churches in town extend particular invitation to soldiers.
There is also divine service in camps. I will write to you again
in a few days and let you know how we do.
As ever Yours &c
Jno. S. Shibley
(Envelope addressed to:
Henry Shibley, VanBuren Crawford Co. Ark.
By the hand of Mr. Brownfield, to be left
at VanBuren P. O.)
In Camps near Little Rock April 2nd 1863
As we now have an opportunity of sending a letter to you by Mr. Slack we thought it best to send you a few hasty lines although it is only two days since we wrote to you. William is now decidedly on the mend for which we are truly thankful. I have written you three times since he has been sick besides this. This is the 19th day that he has been confined to his bed. Today he has sat up a half hour or more. He appears to be doing well in every way.
Mr. Gill is here. He has been troubled with his neck for several days, but that is getting better and he does not apprehend any danger. All the others from your neighborhood are well.
Alvis Smith and Porter Davis and others
arrived night before last. By Smith we received yours of the 27.
We are pleased with your horticultural enterprise for when the war is ended
we shall not want to wait for fruit trees to grow. I suppose you
are planting your corn by this time and I believe it will do about as well
as if planted earlier. You must excuse this hasty scratch for I have
not time to write you a letter. I will write again when I am at leisure.
Until then, believe us as ever
Your Affectionate Sons,
W. H. H. & Jno. S. Shibley
Enclosed with this is a letter to Mrs. Gill from her husband. In that letter are two papers assorted needles. One is for Mrs. Gill, the other is for Mother. We sent you a paper needles and a fine tooth comb by Mr. Slack some six weeks ago. We should like to know whether you received them or not.
Saturday morning Apr. 11th 1863
Dear Parents and Family.
By mismanagement we did not get this letter started by Mr. Slack. We now have an opportunity of sending it by Mr. Brownfield of Frog Bayou. We have great reason to be thankful to our Heavenly Father for his great mercies. My health and strength is improving slowly but I think surely. I am now able to walk about some and sit up most of the time. I lost over 30 lbs during my sickness, was confined to my room 25 days. I was as well treated as I possibly could have been in the army. My friends deserve my lasting gratitude. John Samuel is as true a brother as any one ever had and a most excellent nurse. His health is better than it was at our last writing since he has partially been relieved of the great care he had of me. Mr. Gill is well and doing some business by which he cleared expenses and a little over.
Yesterday was pay day. We drew 4 mos wages and our bounty. John Samuel drew $80.00 and I $97.00 making $177.00 which a part we shall be ready to send to you or pay Captain Payne as you shall order. We must close for the present. Our most affectionate love to you all. May the Good Lord shield us from dangers and sin is our prayer.
W. H. H. & J. S. Shibley
In Camps near Little Rock
Monday April 6th 1863
We received yours of the 27th ult. by the hand of Alvis Smith who arrived here last Tuesday. Since then I have written you a Very Hasty letter enclosing two papers needles, one for Mother and the other for Mrs. Gill.
William has recovered fully as fast as I could expect. This morning he is sitting up by the fire in his chair or walking about the house with his cane. Mr. Gill was troubled with the swelling on the side of his neck for several days, but yesterday he turned it out and pronounced it well. Otherwise he is in very good health. Mr. John Jackson has another attack of fever. He was sick for several weeks after we first came to this place. He mended very slowly but had at last got about well again when he was taken down again. All the rest of the boys from your neighborhood are well.
The weather has been fair and springlike with the exception of cold northerly winds. It has been very propitious for planting corn for the last week and we suppose you have got yours in before this.
There is a rumor here that there has been a great battle in Tennessee and a great victory for southern arms, but this lacks confirmation. There have been some considerable disturbances in the vicinity of Springfield, Ills. The Military undertook to arrest some deserters when the people made resistance. The Military then procured a stronger force and succeeded in arresting the deserters. The people afterwards raised a mob and rescued the prisoners and had them at last account.
Gen. Price has taken command in the place of Gen. Hindman. Every thing here is quiet. They are building a pontoon bridge across the river at Little Rock. Men have been sent out to rebuild the Rail Road bridge across White river which was destroyed by the Federals. It is also said that a party have gone to work the roads from here to Forsyth in Missouri. From these facts you may be able to form some conclusion relative to the movements of the army. But at present there seems to be but little indications of a move at a very early day. Some of the troops have been paid off within the last few days and it is said that we will receive some pay before long probably tomorrow.
Capt. Payne has visited us several times since William has been sick. I think he is a gentleman and every way entitled to your confidence and esteem.
Perhaps you felt some uneasiness about William but you now see that our God has not forsaken us yet. More than this He has said “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” My health has not been very good since we have been here although I have done duty most of the time.
Tuedsay 7th. Since writing the above Mr. Tilghman West has arrived and we learn that you have not had any letters from us lately. But that has not been our fault for this is the fifth letter I have written to you since William has been sick. In those letters I gave a detailed account of his sickness not endeavoring to conceal anything from you. He had an attack of the Typhoid fever and was confined to his bed for 21 days. This is now the 25th day. He walked out of the house today for the first time.
We received your letter of the 1st inst. and are glad to learn that you are getting along so well. Mr. Gill requests me to say that he has got employment by the government in gathering up government mules and horses that are scattered through the country. He is to get $12 per head and deliver them at Little Rock.
W. H. H. & J. S. Shibley
I am walking about a little this morning. I will try to be very careful. We were glad to hear that you were all well and getting along so well. May the good Lord still continue his kindness to us all.
Three of the letters I wrote to you were sent by express via Fort Smith. I am very sorry that you did not get them.
In Camps near Little Rock
Wednesday Apr. 15th 1863
Beloved Parents and Family.
We again have an opportunity of sending you another short letter. We have abundant reasons to be thankful to our heavenly Father for his great blessings. My strength is returning and I now enjoy very good health. I think I am free from all disease and am now able to walk about without my cane. John Samuel is improving in health also. All the boys from our neighborhood are well. Mr. Gill was well day before yesterday when I last saw him. I said the boys were all well. Tilghman West has had the tooth ache severely for some time until yesterday when he had it extracted. Marion has also been complaining some though to no great extent.
Our last word from you was by Till West dated Apr. 2nd. We also received by Capt. Wallace two letters, one of Feb. 28th, the other March 21st, last two though were nevertheless interesting for the good advice they contained and the expressions of that sympathy and regard that bind us so closely to you. We have both resolved that we will by the Lord’s help try to so walk and keep ourselves that whether we should fall in the din and carnage of battle or by disease that we may be ready for the summons whenever it shall be his gracious will. We earnestly hope and pray for the end of this unholy war; but we are fully assured that the end will be in due time; it therefore becomes us as loyal soldiers and citizens to wait patiently that time and to do all we possibly can to forward the cause of Liberty and personal rights.
We have nothing in the way of army news more than vague rumors that are not worth your attention. Our army here is in very fine condition and excellent health for so large an army. We have heard nothing from Uncle William for a long time. We wrote to him but have received no answer as yet. John Samuel was in the Missouri part of the army last Sunday visiting Capt. Payne and Dudly. He did see Dudly although his messmates said he was just stepped out some place. Monday and Monday night we had a long and continued rain sufficient to raise the streams. Yesterday was cloudy and cool; cleared off last night and today is a beautiful day. Elder Platenburg speaks in our brigade on Sunday when the weather permits. My sickness has prevented me from hearing him. He is no doubt a talented man. We have a man in our Regt that officiates as chaplain of very ordinary or common abilities.
Please write whether Mr. Rivis got you a pair of cards. And also what we shall do with our money. I havent any idea that Capt. Payne needs that money for the horse from what he told me at the time I bargained for him. Tell Emeline Bailey that the Accounts of her Husband can not be settled here. Such Acts are settled by the War dept.
You can say to Mrs. Coleman that I do not know whether her brother is still in Brookes’ Regt or not, as I havent been able to go to see. If I should ever see him I will speak of it in our letters. Fredric I suppose deserted or something else about the time we crossed at Morrison’s Bluff. Tell Smith we depend mightily on him and to be a good boy, stay pretty close at home and avoid the company of bad boys or others. In fact tell all the children to be good and recollect us until we come home when we hope to find them all improved with their books. We have a book, Goodrich’s 6th Reader, to send the first good opportunity. Which we hope will be a useful book for Smith and Edna. We must close for the present. Our Love to you all. May God shield you from the dangers of the enemy.
W. H. H. & J. S. Shibley
In Camp near Little Rock April 30th 1863
It is now two days since William left Little Rock on the steamer Tahlequah bound for home. I suppose therefore that ere this reaches you he will be with you. I regret that it was out of my power to accompany him but as it was I could not. Perhaps however it is all for the best. I should like very much to be at home and spend a few happy days with you. However I shall be content to remain where I am, knowing that although absent from the family circle still I am not forgotten there. I hope you will all enjoy yourselves in the best possible manner and not let my absence cast any blight upon your happiness.
I have improved in health a good deal since William left me. I am now as well as I have been for the last six weeks. I still continue to use Townsend’s Sarsaparilla. The bottle I have is almost exhausted. I intend to get another bottle before we leave here. I think it has been a very good effect on me and I hope by continuing its use that I may be restored to health. Yesterday I did a pretty large washing for myself.
On Sunday last Richard Martin was taken sick with Pneumonia fever. He is doing very well I think. His case is not a very bad one. Marion West has Diarrhea tolerably bad. Mr. Baxter is able to be walking about again. Besides these cases the health of our company is very good.
To William I would say that things go in in camps very much after the old fashion. We have been talking of moving since you left but we have not moved yet. I do not believe that we will stay here very much longer. Last night the Captain received orders to the effect that -- The time having arrived that the army must again take the field, he (the Captain) was to collect all surplus clothing, leaving two suits to the man, and all surplus bedding leaving one blanket to the man, and make them into a bale and leave them at Little Rock. This it is said is done on account of the lack of transportation. So you had not better bring any more clothing from home for me. I shall retain my big quilt for myself and our other light blanket for you. You need not send me any more clothing for I have as much as I can manage.
Our Lieutenants Howell and Miles are quite out of sorts about the petition to Gen. Fagan. Lieut. Miles had a falling out with Andy Hays about the same subject. Hays has left the Captains mess. Mr. Eastus is now cooking for them.
I have bought me a knife since you left for two dollars. The ring I sent to Edna I wish her to wear and by it remember me.
I have no news of much importance to write. We have had some slight reverses in lower Louisiana but to what extent is not known. Some of our boys are giving themselves a great deal of trouble about going to Louisiana or Red River, but these fears I think are entirely groundless.
When Tilman West came back here he said that John West had written a letter when William was sick stating that he was quite sick and instructing his folks to conceal the fact from you. I desire to say that I had nothing to do in that, and that I never tried to conceal the truth from you. In haste,
Jno. S. Shibley
In Camps near Little Rock Ark May 2nd 1863
Dear Parents and family.
I received your of the 25th ult. yesterday evening. I was truly glad to learn that you were all well and that times were quiet with you and I hope that the same state of things still exists. I wrote you a letter day before yesterday and started it by express. But observing that yours came by mail I have concluded to write you again.
When William left me I had been sick for several days but I am now well again, that is to say as well as I have been for the last six weeks. I still continue to use the Townsend sarsaparilla which I think is benefitting me. The bottle I had is nearly gone. I mean to get another before we leave here.
The health of our company is tolerably good now. Richard Martin had an attack of Pneumonia but the doctor broke it up in a few days. If he takes proper care of himself he will be well in a few days. Mr. Baxter is up and about again. Marion West has been somewhat unwell for a good while but he is better today. Robt Stevenson is a little unwell but is up going about. Porter Davis is unwell this morning. I fear he is going to be sick. Maples has been a little unwell for a day or two. All the rest of the boys from our neighborhood are well.
The weather is cool and cloudy. It is now raining with a fair prospect for a full days rain.
I have but little news to write. Things go on in camp very much after the old fashion. We are still talking of moving but have not moved. We have received orders to turn in all our surplus clothing leaving two suits to a man and all our surplus blankets leaving one blanket to a man. The Captains of companies have orders to make them into a bale and leave them at Little Rock. This is done on account of the lack of transportation. Most of our boys are giving themselves a great deal of trouble about going to Louisiana. But I think these fears are entirely groundless.
Our two Lieutenants Howell and Miles have been considerably down in the mouth since William left about a certain petition sent to Gen Fagan. Lieut. Miles had a falling out with Andy Hays about it and Hays has left the Captain’s mess. Mr. Eastus is now cooking for them. Lieut. Simons is still under arrest. Several days ago a party of soldiers broke into a house by night, some 4 or 5 miles west of here on the Camden road. Some of them caught the old man and his wife and held them until the others searched the house and found between 2 and 3 thousand dollars in Confederate money which they carried off. Ten of the men have been arrested in Grinstead’s regiment our near neighbors.
There is but little war news here now. There have been some slight reverses in lower Louisiana. Loss Unknown. Rosecrans is falling back toward Nashville. No battle with him yet.
I am glad to learn that David Parks is learning to spell. This is effort in the proper direction. I hope all the children will improve their time and learn all they can, and especially the larger ones. I think I can fully appreciate Jacob Irving’s happiness with his chickens. I should like very much to be with you all and spend a few happy days with you. Remember me in your prayers.
Jno. S. Shibley
To William: I shall keep my big quilt for myself and our light blanket for you. Perhaps you had better bring back your other blanket and we can sew the two together. You need not bring me any more clothing for I have as much as I can manage.
The pay rolls have been made out to the first of May and I suppose we will be paid off again. If we should perhaps we would be able to pay Captain Payne for his horse. However do as you think best.
I am now in about the same state of health that I was in when William left me. I have been sometimes worse and sometimes better but on the whole about the same.
As you perceive from the dating of this letter we have moved our camps. We moved yesterday. We are now encamped 4 miles from town on the Camden road and in a very nice situation.
I received your letters and presents by Mr. Gill. Thank you for the cakes and for the paper which will be of great benefit to me. I also received a letter from William a week ago today stating that he had arrived safely at home. I wish I was there too. I have applied for a sick furlough. It has been signed by the Captain, the Colonel and the Surgeon and sent up for the General’s approval. I do not know whether I shall get it or not. However, I trust to the providence of God that all things will yet work out for the best whether I get a furlough or not. For we are told that all things work together for the good to them love the Lord. And I trust that I am one of that number.
I have discontinued the use of Townsend’s Sarsaparilla. At first I thought it helped me but afterwards I could not perceive that it did me any good. If I should get a furlough you need not look for me before the 22nd and from that to the 25th, for I shall not be able to get a boat until the Tahlequah goes up again. Mr. Gill will give you all the news so I need not write any on that hand.
I should like very much to be permitted to come and see you but if I cannot I shall still be content. I am not given to despondency though I say it myself. I have been unwell a good deal in the army but I have never been out of heart or homesick. This morning it is cloudy and looks like rain. Give my love to the little children. Tell them I have not forgotten them. I dreamed of some of them last night. I remain as ever
Your most affectionate son,
Jno. S. Shibley
I have not heard from Uncle William for a long time. Capt. Payne came to see me Sunday.
Camp Price Ark May 15 1863
I did not succeed in getting a furlough so I shall have to be content to remain where I am. My health is somewhat better for a few days past. My furlough was signed by our Captain and Surgeon and approved by Col. King. It was then sent to Gen. Fagan for his approval and has not been heard from since. Two others, one for Jack Coleman and one for Mr. Hines, were sent up at the same time and with the same result. Mr. Abram Jackson is here. He has been trying to get a furlough for William Jackson but I fear he will not succeed. He talks of starting for home tomorrow and I expect to send this by him.
It is Sunday morning and there is meeting in Camps near by so I must leave off writing to attend preaching.
Well preaching is over. Had a very good sermon, the best I have heard since I have been in the army.
There are no new cases of very serious sickness in our company. William Jackson, Marion West, Mr. Coleman and myself have all been under the weather for some time. I believe it is Dyspepsia or something of that nature that ails me. The general health of the army is good. First Lieut. Miller of Wright’s Co. of Frog Bayou died last night.
Our Camps are pleasantly situated in a tall shady grove of pines and oaks about 4 miles from Little Rock on the Camden road. We have plenty of good water which is an advantage we did not have at our old Camps. The news here is rather important and cheering. I suppose you have heard before this of the battle of the Wilderness near Fredericksburg in which Gen. Jackson lost his arm. That was on Sunday. On the next Tuesday Gen. Lee following up his success attacked the Army under Hooker driving them back across the Rappahannoc leaving their killed and most of the wounded in our hands.
I should be very glad to hear from you as I have not had a line from you since William’s letter of the 3rd which is two weeks ago today. I hope that you are getting along well with your farm work and enjoying yourselves with William. I should like very much to be with you all and enjoy your society for a time. But it seems that this must not be so. And so it becomes me as well as all other true philosophers to be content with our lots, be they what they may. I have every confidence in the management of our heavenly father. We cannot perish on the battle-field or die in camps without it be his will. And if it be his will should not we submit without a murmur? I hope that the children will all be good from first to last and not forget their books. Remember me in your prayers. “The effectual fervent prayer of the Righteous availeth much.”
Jno. S. Shibley
Dear Parents and Family:
It was my good fortune to arrive safely in camps last night about 11 oclock and find John Samuel considerably improved in health to what he was when I left. He says he thinks he is as well as he had been since we have been down here.
I had some delay in getting down, the cause of which I shall relate. We arrived in Dardanelle on Tuesday evening dark having been hindered by the breaking of the rudder and low water. At Dardanelle we were told by the Officers in command that our Regt. was expected to be in there on the evening of the Thursday following, and we were advised by them to wait there for it. We accordingly waited there and missed the opportunity of going on down on the Leon. On Friday it was rumored that it was Morgan’s regt instead of ours and finally the rumor became certain news. There we were without regiment or transportation and waited until Sunday evening when the Steamer Ben Cousin came along and we embarked arriving here as above stated. I am truly thankful that I have been attended with the good luck to get safely back and find my brother in as good health as he is and that I have seen you all and had such a pleasant visit which I can revert to at any time with the greatest of pleasure.
My health is quite good considering the rough times for the last few days. I have been busy talking with John Samuel and the other boys since early this morning. I will give place for John Samuel to finish.
W H H S
Last night I was made glad by the return of William. Indeed I was getting quite anxious for his return not that I was lonely or out of heart but because I was anxious to hear all about home and to receive the presents which I knew you would send, not for their real value but as a token of your love.
I was glad to see that William had improved so much in health during his absence. I also am much better than I was when he left me. I have been steadily improving for the last two weeks and I hope that by taking good care of myself I shall be able to make it through until the wheat crop is harvested when I hope we shall draw flour, for although I preferred corn-bread at home it does not agree with me in the army.
I am grateful to acknowledge the receipt of your presents. By William’s delay at Dardanelle the potatoes and radishes were spoiled but I appreciate your gift as much as if I had received the articles. The cakes and sausage were duly received. The sausage is in fine keeping apparently as sound as it was when it was put up. Thank you for the hat and the shirt and all the other little tricks to tedious to name. I shall wear the ring that Edna sent me and remember the loved ones at home. May God shield you all and bring us safe home again at the close of this war is my constant prayer.
J. S. Shibley
Camp Price Arks Sunday Morning May 31st 1863
This is to acknowledge yours of last Sunday which was received yesterday evening by the hand of Lieut. Howell. We were glad to hear that you were all still enjoying health. We are both as well as any one could reasonably expect, considering we have both been unwell this Spring.
We are glad that Mother has got a pair of cards. There is none here that can be bought for that. We were both in town yesterday and tried to get the material for making Blk Ink but the extract logwood could not be bought. I suceeded in collecting Mr. Marrs’ money which we send enclosed. Mr. Coleman and William Jackson expect to start for home this morning on sick furlough by whom we send these lines.
Health in camps is tolerably good. The pneumonia has been prevailing here to some extent though it seems to be abating now. John Davis of our mess has been quite sick. He is convalescent now. There are no new cases in our company. Marion West has been quite sick with diarreah at his sisters in town. We were in to see him yesterday. He looks very bad though they say he is improving. Till and John are both well. McTurner came in two or three days ago and is now here alive and well so that Mr. Turner can be assured that he is safe.
You will probably get the news of the present before you get this. The battle of Vicksburg was raging Friday evening. Our troops had been successful so far. The Gazette resumed publication yesterday which you will probably get and learn the news up to the present.
I have not seen Capt. Pain since my arrival. There is talk of our drawing money soon. If we do we shall be able to pay him some any how. No definite news about our moving in any direction. John Samuel could have had a sick furlough now I suppose if he had not have got better. I think furloughs to well men are not granted now. I am greatly in hopes that with proper care John Samuel may regain his full health and strength. I am quite sure that his general health is better now than it has been for two months. If he should be so unfortunate as to get down again I will try and get a furlough for him to come home and recruit his health if we should think it practicable.
We have but little else to write at present and as the boys are nearly ready to start we will close for the present.
Affectionately Your Sons
W. H. H. & J. S. Shibley
P. S. We also send yesterday’s Patriot. WHH & JSS
If you have any questions or comments or if
you would like to have more information about the Civil War and
Pension Records of the men who served in these Companies, contact Jeri Helms Fultz or Bryan Howerton
Back to the Letters Index Page
Back to the Edward G. Gerdes Civil War Page