Absolom A. Harrison
Company D, 4th Regiment, Kentucky Calvary Volunteers
Absolom A. Harrison and his brother Joel (Jo) were mustered into Captain George Welling's Company as Privates on the 24th day of December, 1861, at Camp Anderson, KY. At the time of their enlistment they resided in Hardin County, Kentucky.
A. A. Harrison sent the following letters to his wife Susan Allstun Harrison. Susan's grandmother was Nancy Lincoln Brumfield, Thomas Lincoln's sister and President Abraham Lincoln's aunt.
These letters were transcribed by A. A.'s great-grandson Ronald A. Harrison who introduces the letters with the following background:
"A. A. Harrison and his brother Jo (Joel) apparently got caught up in a recruiting drive and enlisted in the Fourth Kentucky Calvary, U.S.A., without even going home to tell their wives, Susan and Martha. The first letter appears to be letting Susan know what has become of her husband. The two brothers served honorably for roughly a year. At the end of that time A. A. was medically discharged. At roughly the same time Jo died in a military hospital in Nashville. Only recently has anyone in the family known Jo's fate."
Letter # 1
Camp Anderson, Jefferson County, Ky, December 12th, 1861.
Letter # 2
No date or location given for this letter.
Letter # 3
Camp Morton Near Bardstown, Nelson County, Ky Jan. 19, 1862
Letter # 4
Bardstown, Ky March 11th 1862
Letter # 5
Munfordville, Ky, March 28, 1862
Letter # 6
Nashville Tenn. April 9th, 1862
Letter # 7
Nashville, Tenn. April 14th, 1862
Letter # 8
Wartrace, ( No date given )
Letter # 9
Wartrace, Bedford County, Tenn. Apr 27,1862
Letter # 10
Wartrace, Tenn. May 10th, 1862
Letter # 11
Wartrace, Tenn. May 19, 1862
Letter # 12
Wartrace, Tenn. July 9th, 1862
Letter # 13
Nashville, Tenn. July 16th, 1862
Letter # 14
Manchester, Coffee County, Tenn. August 2nd
Letter # 15
Manchester, Coffee County , August 2nd, 1862
Letter # 16
Tullahoma, Tenn. Aug 12th 1862
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #1
Jefferson County, Kentucky
December 12th, 1861
I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines. I am not very well and have not been well since I left home. I have enlisted and been sworn in. I have the promise of an office of some kind as soon as the regiment is organized. We have not been mustered into the United States service yet but we expect to be today or tomorrow and as soon as we are mustered in we will get our horses and uniforms. The boys from our neighborhood are all well but they are dissatisfied about not getting their uniforms sooner. Tell father to do the best he can with my corn. I have not rec'd any money yet but will get some in a few days and I will either bring or send you some. I want to come home if I can as soon as we get some money. You must do the best you can and take care of the children and if any of you get sick let me know it immediately. If I do not come home before next Thursday write and let me know how you are all getting along. This is a big day with us as one Captain is to be married today and two other officers are to fight a duel today. There is five artillery companies camped in sight of us having about forty cannon. They are firing with their cannon every day. When you write direct your letter to Camp Anderson Jefferson County Ky care of I. O. Donnell. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
P. S. Tell Martha, Jo is well
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #2
( No date or location given )
You wrote to know whether you must sell that corn or not. I expect you had better sell it at whatever you can get for it if it is wasting and manage the best you can. I would like to be at home to manage for you. I want you to stay where you are at and be as content as you can. And put your trust in One who is able to guide us all through all our difficulties. I think if the Lord will spare me to get home once more I will do better than I ever done before. I never go to bed without a prayer at heart that He will permit me to see my lovely wife and children once more and if it is His will He is able to carry us all through all difficulties and if it is His will that I shall never see you again I pray that He will take care of you and the children. I must bring my letter to a close so nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
P.S. You must write as often as you can and tell all inquiring friends that I would be glad to see them all. Be sure and take good care of our sweet little children. God bless their little hearts. Bardstown.
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #3
Near Bardstown, Nelson County, Kentucky
Jan. 19, 1862
I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines. I am tolerable well at present and I hope these few lines may find you and the children and all the rest of the folks well. I started to write to you the other day but I had only time to write a few lines. I had to expedition and I had been out two days so I concluded to write again. There is a good many of our men sick and there will be a good sick yet for we have been laying on the wet ground ever since we have been here without any straw under us. And the water runs under us every time it rains. There is only about two thirds of the men fit for duty at this time. The boys from Hardin are all well but David ________. He is at the hospital sick with measles. There is some talk of being disbanded but I don't know whether there is any such good luck for us or not. If we are not disbanded I reckon I will stay here until March. Our camp is four miles from Bardstown on the turnpike leading to New Haven. It was very nice in a woods pasture place when we first came here. But it is knee deep in mud now. You must write as soon as you get this if you have not already wrote. I would like to know how mother is and how you and the children are and if folks are getting along. I would like to be at home but I have got myself in this scrape and I will have to stand it. But if I live to get out of this I will never be caught soldiering again that is certain. We did not know what hard times was until we come to this place. We don't get more than half enough to eat and our horses are not half fed and everything goes wrong. I will tell you what we have to do so you will know how much idle time we have. We get up at 6 o'clock and answer roll call. Then we feed and curry our horses and wash which takes up the time till 7 when we eat our breakfast. Then we water our horses. Then drill on foot until dinner. Then at 1-1/2 o'clock we go out and drill on horseback until four. Then water, feed and curry our horses. Then get wood for the night. By this time it is after dark. So you see they keep us pretty busy. When you write direct your letter to Camp Morton near Bardstown, Nelson Cty., Ky Cal, Boyles Reg., Company D. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
P.S. Tell Martha, Jo is well.
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #4
March 11th 1862
I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well at present and hope these few lines may find you all well. The boys from Hardin are all well. We are in Bardstown at present. Our company and ---- are acting as provost guards. We moved in here last Thursday. I expect we will stay here for some time. We are camped in a vacant lot in town. We have to stand guard here every other night. We are all so glad to get out of the mud and to get here on the dry street even if we were to stand guard every night. The talk about disbanding has nearly died away. I don't think there is any prospect of being disbanded. Yet I would be very glad if they would turn us loose and let us all go home. Jo rec'd Eliza's letter last night and we were glad to hear that you all was well. We have not got any money yet. They keep telling us we will get our money in a day or two so I don't know when we will get it. But I hope it wont be many days more before we will be paid off. I don't know when any of us will be at home. The Captain has not let any of the men go home since I came back. Although he has promised Jo that he might go home as soon as we were paid off. We have one very unpleasant duty to perform here and that is burying the soldiers that die in the hospitals. There is about six hundred in the hospitals at this place and they die at the rate of about four per day. We also have to put out patrols of 5 or 6 men to walk around town and arrest every soldier without a pass or drunken men and put them in jail till they get sober. Tell father he may go on and sow them oats if he can get the seed for I will not be back in time enough to sow them no how. And if you can sell any of that corn for a good price you had better sell some of it and manage things the best you can until I can get back. You must write as often as you can. I looked hard for a letter yesterday but was disappointed when the mail came in and nearly all boys got letters but me. The war news from everywhere is cheering. The federal troops are gaining ground everywhere but it may be some time before peace is made. I must bring my letter to a close for it is nearly time to go on guard. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
P.S. Kiss the children for me.
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #5
March 28, 1862
I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well at present and hope these few lines may find you and the children and all the folks well. We started from Bardstown last Sunday and got to this place on Wednesday evening, a distance of 45 miles. And yesterday we were paid off up to the first day of March and tomorrow we start for Gallatin a little town on the Nashville railroad 24 miles this side of Nashville and I don't know how long we will stay at that place. Perhaps not more than a few days and I don't know where we will go to from there. I hope that peace will be made by that time & we can all go home. I send you twenty dollars in this letter and I don't want you to be too stingy with it when you need anything for yourself or the children. I expect we will be paid off again the first of May if we are in the service that long. I tried to get to come home before we started for here but the Col. would not let any of the men go. The Col. still says that I shall have an office of some kind in the reg. We are to get our arms today and then we will be ready for a fight if we can find anybody to fight. I want you to be contented and I will come home as soon as I can. Although it may be some time before I can get to come. I am not afraid of anything but sickness and the worst weather is over now. And there will not be apt to be much sickness now until July or August and I hope not then. Our neighbor boys are all well that are here with us and the health of the regiment is very good. You must write as soon as you get this and direct your letter to Gallatin, Sumner Co., Tenn. The balance of the directions as before and if we should leave there before the letter gets here the PM at that place will forward all the letters for our regiment on to wherever we go to. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #6
April 9th, 1862
I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am tolerable well at present and hope these few lines may find you are enjoying the same blessing. We have got to this place after a long and tedious march. We got here last Sunday. The country through which we have passed is the worst torn up country I ever saw. The fences are nearly all burnt along the road and lots of the houses deserted and some of these torn all to pieces. We find some Union men down here but they are very scarce in this part of the world. This is a fine country about Nashville. There is some of the finest houses here that I ever saw and plenty of Negroes. We have had two or three insurrections in the regiment. When we fixed to start from Bardstown all the regiment except our company refused to go until they were paid off. But our company took the lead and the rest followed after. Then when we got to Munfordville and got our money they refused to go any further until we got arms and the Colonel went and got some guns that had been refused by several other regiments and told us when we got to Gallatin we should have better arms but we come to this place and this morning the Colonel ordered us to march on to Columbus 45 miles from here and selected our company to take the lead. But they told him plainly they would not go any further without better arms and I have heard that there is no more arms to give out to cavalry. I do not know what will be the result. I have not heard from you since I sent you that money but I hope you have got it. I would like to be at home with you all but I don't know when I can come. There is no chance to get a furlough now. You must write as often as you can and direct your letters to Nashville, Tenn. until I write again. You must be contented as you can and stay where you are until I can get back again and trust to Providence. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #7
April 14th, 1862
I take my pen in hand to write you again. I am well at present and all the boys from Hardin are well. I hope this letter finds you and the rest of the folks well. We are still at this place yet having been here ever since yesterday and I expect we will leave this place tomorrow for some place further south. We have not got arms yet except the old guns that I wrote about in my last letter and no prospect of getting any other kind. So I don't think we will go to where the main army is. But we will be left to guard our bridges or something of the kind. There has been a tremendous fight near Corinth, about 100 miles from here, and the Secesh got badly whipped as usual. They lost 40 thousand men. And our side lost from 15 to 20 thousand. The rebels fought ----- had to retreat and ----- our main army. We are further from the seat of war now than when we were at Bardstown. I was appointed quartermaster sergeant last Saturday. My wages now are 21 dollars a month. I am exempt from all kinds of duty except weighing out the rations to the companies and a good deal of writing although I have a good deal of leisure time. And I have to go to town every day as our camp is about 3 miles from Nashville. Our Colonel was thrown out today and a man by the name of Smith appointed in his place and also one of our doctors was discharged for drunkenness. I think there will be a chance to get a furlough in two or three weeks. Do not go too far ----- back. I would be very glad to see all of you and to stay with you if I could but I will have to be contented until I can come. I send you some more money in this letter. The whole sum of 10 cents. It is what they call southern scrip. This country is full of them of all sizes from 5 cts.. to $1.00. And they are both sides are fixing for a big fight at Corinth but we will not be there if they fight very soon. We did hear today that the rebels were leaving Corinth but we don't know whether it is so or not. I am writing this by candle light in the quartermasters tent. And the bugle has sounded for us to blow out our light. So I must bring my letter to a close. You must not fail to write as often as you can and trust to Providence that we may meet again soon to part no more.
A. A. Harrison
P.S. Tell Lissy if she don't write to me I sha'nt bring her a beau when I come home. Dear wife I could not write all I want to write in a week. If I could be with you I could find enough to talk about to last a month. But I will have to content myself to writing some of the most important things and leave the balance. I have got a very good office. It is nearly the same as keeping store. I can go where I please, stay as long as I please and sleep as long as I please. I do not have to drill or stand guard or go out on scouting expeditions. In fact I am in very little danger if the whole does not get killed or taken prisoner. We cannot hear of any rebel troops nearer this place than Corinth which is 110 miles from here. Just as currant (?) here as silver. This is a pretty country here and everything is earlier than in Ky. The trees are all green and now some of the leaves are nearly as large as my hand. The dogwood trees are out in full bloom and other things in proportion. The weather was very hot the day we got here. I thought it was hot enough for July but it has been cooler since until----- getting hot again. There is a lot of corn planted down here and some of it coming up. You must write as often as you can for I would like to hear from you every day if I could. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #8
( No date given )
I take my pin in hand to inform you that I am well at present and hope these few lines may find you all enjoying the same blessing. We left our camp near Nashville last Tuesday the 10th and arrived at this place on Friday last. We are now on the Tennessee River about 50 miles south of Nashville. We are now pretty close to some of the enemy. They have got about two thousand men here in 12 or 15 miles. Their scouts have been right up to our camp. We have taken about a dozen of them prisoners. There was a fight here a few days before we come here between the rebels and a regiment in which the rebels got badly whipped. We have been expecting a fight ever since we have been here. We have had alarms several times since we have been here and you ought to see the men get out of their tents in double quick and grasp their guns for a fight. There is a good many Union men down here but they are almost afraid to own it yet for fear they will suffer for it when we leave. There was several of them hung around here by the rebel troops. It has been raining here for 4 days. A very cold rain. The quartermaster and myself and two others have taken possession of a store house to stay in and we have got a nice place. But the others have an awful place in the tents for the mud is 4 inches deep in there. This place is situated on the Nashville and Chattanooga railroad and it is made up of a depot, 2 taverns, 3 stores, a blacksmith shop and about 12 or 15 dwellings. It is a right pretty place and is situated in a rich country. You must write as often as you can. I rec'd one letter from you while we were at Nashville. It is the only one I have rec'd since we left Bardstown. It is a great treat to hear from you and the children and rest of the folks. Although I know you have a bad chance to mail your letters. But you must write when you can and I will do the same. You must kiss the children for me and tell father & mother and the children I would be glad to see all of them. Tell Eliza that I will bring her a beau for writing to me. You must manage the best you can until I get back and if I should not get back pray for the Lord to guide and direct you through your troubles and have mercy on you is my humble prayer. So nothing more at present but remain your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
P.S. Jo is well and Billy Atcher has got well and over taken again.
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #9
Wartrace, Bedford County, Tenn.
I take my pen in hand to write to you once more to let you know that I am well at present and hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. I read your letter today and was very glad to hear from you and to hear that you was doing so well. I wanted to be at home with you but I could not and so I had to try to be content. But I have watched every day for a letter for about ----- and was afraid to -----. I feel greatly relieved knowing you are now safe. I want you kiss the baby for me. Bless its little soul. I would give anything to see it. We are at this place yet. I believe I told you in my last letter where this place is situated. It is 55 miles from Nashville on the Nash & Chattanooga railroad. You can find it on the map. It is a rich country but not a very healthy one. We have had several alarms since we have been here. Sometimes we hear that the enemy are coming toward us with a large force and in a few minutes the regiment is formed in line of battle but so are getting used to it so it is no ----- more than setting down to ----- so often they get very ----- because they cannot get into a fight with the rebels. I expect we will leave this place in a few days for some place further south but I don't know exactly where. You had better direct your letters to Nashville until I write again. We will get our letters just as soon that way as if they were directed to the very place where we are at. One of our men, a German, was poisoned and died in about 15 minutes after he was taken sick the other day. Several others have been poisoned but got well again. We have to be very careful where we eat or drink in this country. Some of the Secesh around boast that if they cannot kill us one way they will another. Jo has been complaining but he is about well again. The rest of the Hardin boys are all well. Eliza wrote for me to find the baby a name. I don't know what you will call it without it is Susan Alice. However I leave it you to name it whatever you please so it is some pretty name. You must take good care of it until I can get home which I hope may not be very long. Tell Eliza & Melissa., Mother & Father & Bruce & Bet I would like to see them all and that they must write to us. Tell Aunt Sissy I would like to see her too and John & Kitty too. You must write as often as you can and take good care of yourself. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #10
May 10th, 1862
I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well at present and hope these few lines may find you and the children and all of the rest of the folks well. I rec'd your letter of the 4th of May this evening and was glad to hear that you was getting along so well although it brings the tears every time I get a letter to think that I am so far from you and the children. Yet I think that if I die in the struggle that I will die in a just cause. Our regiment just got in yesterday from Lebanon, Tenn. where they had a desperate fight with a body of rebels under a notorious Ky. robber by the name of Morgan. The rebels were about 800 strong while ours did not amount to more than 600. But our boys whipped them badly, killing seventy odd and took 200 prisoners, 155 horses, 180 stand of arms and chased the balance of them 18 miles. All of the Hardin boys were in the fight except me & John (Vine?) & Wm. Branch & Hugh Patterson. There was one of our company killed and 5 wounded. The one killed was from Spencer Co., Ky. Among the wounded was Wm. C. Smith & Henry Rose both from Hardin. Jo took a splendid pistol in the fight worth about $30. Some of our boys had their clothes shot all to pieces and some had their horses killed under them. Our Col. was shot in the knee. The fight took place about 40 miles from here. When the regiment started the quartermaster could not spare me or I would have went with them. The wagoners had to stay behind too with their teams. There is no chance for me to get into a fight unless the rebels come to our camp to fight which they will hardly do. I don't know how long we will stay at this place but I don't think we will leave here for some time yet. I have just now found some use for Masonry. I have got acquainted with several citizens by that means who would do anything in their power for me. Last week there was one, a Secesh too, came and warned that we would be attacked that night and I told the Col. and he had everything prepared for them which they found out some way and did not come. There was another one of our men got poisoned today and will die tonight and we have to be very careful about eating and drinking about here. I would have wrote sooner but I waited for the boys to get back from that fight so I could give the particulars. You must write as soon as you get this and write every week if you can for I am half crazy if I don't get a letter every week. Take good care of yourself and the children and kiss them all for me. I never go to sleep without thinking of you and them. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #11
May 19, 1862
I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am tolerable well at present and hope these few lines may find you and the children and all the rest well. I have not heard from you since I wrote my last letter although I have been anxiously watching the mail. It appears to be a month between times that I hear from you. I try to write once a week but sometimes I do not get time to write when I am in the notion. We are still at this place yet and doing nothing except scouting once every day or two. Everything appears to be at a standstill waiting for the fight at Corinth which will take place in a few days I think. And everybody thinks that will be the winding up of the war and I hope it may for I would feel proud to be at home once more with you and the children. I don't know whether I will get home any more until it is over without it lasts until next winter. Our boys that were wounded in that are doing very well except Wm. Smith, he is right sick yet. One of them, Henry Rose, has come back to the regiment today. He was shot in the arm as he was carry the colors and another shot struck the staff of the flag just above his head. Wm. Atcher and two others that were wounded have got a discharge and will go home in a few days. There has been some of the hottest weather that ever I saw in May. I don't know whether it has been so everywhere or not but it has been scorching down here until yesterday it turned a little cooler. I don't know when we will leave this place. Some say we will leave in a few days and others think we will stay until the war is over or until fall. I want you to write as often as possible and manage the best you can. Take good care of them sweet little children & especially the baby and if I never get back there is One who is able to protect you and I pray to Him to do it. Tell Mother and Father and the children that I would be glad to see them and that they must write to me and tell John & Kitty they might drop a few lines to Jo & me. Jo has been complaining for two or three days but he is getting better all the rest of the Hardin boys. Well, there is not much sickness in the Regiment and all that is just diarrhea. That is about all the sickness that the soldiers have had down this way yet. We hear that Col. Boyles takes command of this reg. again and it causes a great confusion in the regiment. All the captains & lieutenants talk of resigning. The officers & men all thought there was nobody like Col. Smith. He is a nephew of old Henry Clay. I expect father has met him. He is from Bourbon County, Ky. I must bring my letter to close. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #12
July 9th, 1862
I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well at present and hope these few lines may find you all enjoying the same blessings. The boys from Hardin are all well except Jo & Hugh Patterson. They are both right puny and have been for some time. They have got a discharge and will be at home in two or three weeks. There is a new doctor now and he says they are disabled and that they shall both be discharged and the Colonel and Captain are both willing. The men here are very healthy as yet but it is getting awful hot down here. I lost my office sure enough but I have got an easier one although there is not so much pay in it. I have got the office of Colonel's Orderly and mail carrier to Nashville. I go to Nashville every other day and come back the next day. The cars leave here at 11 o'clock and get to Nashville at 3. Then they leave Nashville at 10 a.m. and get back here at 2 p.m. There was 4 soldiers killed near Murfreesboro day before yesterday by guerrillas. Two of them belonged to the regiment. We have been expecting to be attacked for some time. But no rebels ----- as yet. The Col. and Captain ----- but very little about ----- me staying away so long. And the Capt. A ----- been better than com ----- since I come back. I don't know when I will get home again. I don't expect there will be any more furloughs given to anybody. There is a general order from the Secretary of War to grant no more furloughs. We learn from the papers there has been some hard fighting at Richmond and I am afraid our men got the worst of it and I expect the war will last two years yet or longer. You must get along the best you can and try and be contented until I can get home again. You must write as often as you can. I would like to hear from home every day if I could. Jo has not got a letter for 3 or 4 weeks and he don't like it a bit. We are expecting the paymaster every day and as soon as we are paid I will send you some more money. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #13
July 16th, 1862
I take my pen to hand to inform you that I am well at present and hope these few lines may find you all enjoying the same blessing. I came up here last Saturday after the mail and Sunday morning the rebels attacked the Federal troops at Murfreesboro and whipped them out and they have yet got possession of the place. It is on the road from here to Wartrace so I cannot get back until our men retakes Murfreesboro. The rebels were 4000 strong and all cavalry. I have not heard from our boys since Saturday as Wartrace is 23 miles the other side from Murfreesboro. The troops here have been lying on their arms for 2 or 3 nights expecting an attack. The rebels are attacking our troops at every point since the fight at Richmond. Jo & Hugh Patterson have a discharge signed by our Doctor, the Col. and the Captain and it only has to be signed by the Medical Director at this place which I think he will do whenever they are presented to him. They came very near starting home Saturday as I came up here. They will start as soon as I get back to camp. I see in the paper this morning that the rebels are playing the wild in Kentucky. I expect we will have to come back yet and clean them out. I am afraid they will ruin all the Union people if there is not some troops sent there. There is a report here that McClellan's army has been cut to pieces. And also that the rebels have retaken Baton Rouge again. I am thinking this war will last a long time yet and I don't know whether we will whip them at all or not. I have wrote one letter to you since I got back and I have been looking every day for an answer. You must write as often as you can. I would like to hear from you every day. These ----- times I would like to see you all but I don't know when I will get home again. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
Since I closed my letter I have heard that the railroad bridge at Murfreesboro has been burned so I don't know when I will get back to the regiment. It is too dangerous a road to travel by myself. All our troops at Murfreesboro were taken prisoners that were not killed. And some folks here say they were all killed after they surrendered but I don't believe that. I will write again as soon as I hear from our camp. The boys were all well when I left but Jo & Patterson. The Doctor says they are not dangerous but he thinks it is best for them to go home where they can be taken care of. You must get along the best you can and try and be satisfied and write as often as you can and don't forget to kiss the children for me. Tell father & mother & the children I would to them all. We have not been paid as yet and I am afraid the paymaster will not come while the rebels are cutting up. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #14
Manchester, Coffee County, Tenn.
I want you to get along the best you can where you are until I can get home again and be content as you can. And if you should go anywhere else write and let me know immediately but you don't know how it would grieve me to think you would go any place else after you promised me to stay where you was. Take good care of the children and kiss them all for me. I would be glad to see you all again for it appears like it has been 3 months since I left home. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: It looks like there was something called the Blackberry Patch war going on between neighbors in Hardin County, Kentucky.
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #15
August 2nd, 1862
I take my pen in hand to write to you once more. I am well at present and hope these few lines may find you & the children and all the of the folks well. The boys from Hardin are all well but Jo & Patterson. They were right puny when I seen them last. They are at Tullahoma, 12 miles from here. We left them 10 days ago and came to this place and I have not seen Jo nor Patterson since. They were both going about they have got their discharge and they were sent on to Gen. Buell for his signature and as soon as they get back Jo & Hugh will be at home. This place and Tullahoma is on high dry hills and as cool and healthy as any part of Hardin and there is plenty of the best kind of spring water here. I wrote a letter while I was a Nashville that I was cut off from the regiment by the Rebels at Murfreesboro. I was at Nashville ? days when Jim Nelson started to Murfreesboro with his Brigade. I slipped on the train with them and came out to Murfreesboro and from there I rode part of the way in a country wagon and I walked the balance of way. I saw two or three bands of guerrillas on the way but I managed to dodge them and got to camp safe. I tell you I have been in dangerous places before but I never want to take such a trip as that anymore. This country is lined with bands of roving guerrillas and if a soldier pokes his head outside of the guards he is almost sure to be shot at if not killed. Nearly all of our regiment has been captured except the three companies here. Our pickets were fired on last Sunday and two men killed and fifteen taken prisoners all belonging to the 7th Penn Cavalry. I tell you our pickets don't sleep much on duty here. I lost my office when I came back but I am company quartermaster now which is a much easier place and I get the same pay as in the other. It is the next highest office in company to Orderly Sergeant. I would have written sooner but we have had no chance to send any letters since we have been here until now. And we have only got one mail since we have been here. I saw Wm. Smit as I came out from Nashville. He was at Murfreesboro then but he is at Nashville now. He is getting well and will be at home soon. From what we can hear our men are rather getting the worst of it here lately and I don't know how the war will terminate but I think peace will be made some way in a few months and I hope it may. We have not been paid off yet. It has been rather to dangerous for a paymaster to venture out here. But the officers say he will be here in a few days now. I will send some money home if I can find a safe way to send it as there's not much safety in anything here now. This is the hardest place to buy anything I have ever found. Tobacco sells for $2.00 per lb. Whiskey 75 cts. to $1.00 per pint. Boarding $1.00 per meal and other things in proportion. And you cannot get a bill broken unless you take scrip in change and hardly then. There is still some talk of taking us back to Kentucky yet but I reckon there is not much hope of that. I would like to be there next Monday if I could. Nick Gabon has not got back yet and I reckon never will. He took about $3.00 of the boys money with him when he left to take home for them and kept it all. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.
A. A. Harrison
Aug 2nd, 8 o'clock P.M.
Since writing the above we have moved back to Tullahoma. I have just seen Jo and talked with him. He looks better than he did some time ago but he will come home as soon as his papers comes back. I hear the Cesh in Ky. are going to raise and kill the Union men next Monday. But I hope it is all a mistake. Write as soon as the election is over and let me hear all about it.
TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: This letter is especially poignant as I know in 30 days Jo will be dead of pneumonia in a military in hospital hospital in Nashville and A.A. on his way home with a medical discharge.
A. A. Harrison
I have seen some papers here lately which state that Morgan is tearing up everything in Ky and I heard the other day that there was a band of 200 guerrillas at Garnetteville (?). I am afraid you are in danger there in Hardin and I have not heard a word from you since I left home. I watch for the mail every time we get mail for a letter but no letter as yet. I want to know what is the matter all the other boys have got letters since I came back but me. If you have not written yet write as soon as you get this and write often as you can and tell Father and Mother and all of the children to write and maybe I will get some of them at least. I will write again in a few days if nothing happens to prevent.
TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: The danger in Kentucky is either underrated or misunderstood by A. A. He will not be home long before the guerriallas chase him and his entire family to Lebanon, Indinia.
Absolom A. Harrison's Civil War Letter #16
Aug 12th 1862
I take my pen in hand to write once more. I have been sick for about a week but I am now getting better. I hope these few lines may find you & the children and all the balance of the folks well. Jo is about like he has been. He is going about all the time but he looks right puny. He is waiting for his discharge to come back from Gen. Buell where it was sent to be signed by the Gen'l. He will be at home as soon as his papers comes back. I have not received a letter from you since I come back. I can't tell what is the matter. It cannot be that you have forgotten me as soon as I was out of sight. If so I will quit writing. The other boys here are getting letters all the time from the same neighborhood and it is strange that my letters can't come as well as others. If you have not wrote yet I want you to write and tell me the reason and if you have wrote you must write again and keep writing until some of your letters gets through for I cannot endure the suspense. I have written four or five letters since I came back. I don't know whether you have got them or not. Lieu't Barrett and Sarg't Shanks of our Company started to Louisville yesterday to recruit for our company. If Barrett comes out in Hardin I want you all not to notice him for he has got so proud he don't notice his old friends down here. If he sees Jo or me since we have been sick he never stops to ask us how we are and I don't want anybody that thinks anything of me to notice him at all. Meyers boys got letters today which state that all the Secesh candidates were arrested in Hardin except Eli Sheets. I am glad to hear it. I was in hopes they would be arrested. We also hear that there is strong talk of drafting men in Kentucky. I hope they will draft some of the Secesh and make them fight one way or the other. We see in the paper that congress has passed a confiscation bill to take the rebels property away from them. We first heard that the slaves of the rebels were to be set free which caused a good deal of confusion in camp. But we find they are to be sold to pay the expenses of the war and all the soldiers are in favor of that. One of our men died last week of the fevers. There is not much sickness in our regiment at present. We have been at this place most of the time for a month. It is on the same railroad 15 from Wartrace lower down toward Chattanooga or Huntsville. It is higher than Wartrace by 200 or 300 feet and is dry barren land and mostly well water although the water is very good, about like the water at Bloomington and limestone at that. I don't know how long we will remain here but I don't think we'll ever go much further South. At least we will not go very much farther until there is some fighting done for it is only 40 miles from here to the enemy's camp where they are said to be 40,000 strong. Our pickets and theirs are in sight of each other nearly all the time down there.
TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: A. A. apparently doesn't know it but he is actually on his way home. He will be bedridden for weeks at a time off and on for years from the illness he contacted in the service. His letters from Susan didn't come often enough to suit him. We don't know the story on that. We do know she cared enough about the letters he wrote to hang on to them until her death on Dec. 30, 1920. She bore him 5 children up to this point plus an additional 8 children after he returned. Contrary to his concerns she stayed with him until his death on March 13, 1914. Maybe that is all we need to know about her side of the story.
As to Joel. He died in service & until recently all anyone knew was he went to the war and didn't come back. His descendants are presently in Brandenburg, Kentucky. I'm sure there is a heck of a story about how their Great-Grandmother kept her family together in the midst of her ordeal. Maybe someday one of them will be able to tell us that story.
The Harrison's remained in Lebanon, Indiana until 1871 when they returned to Hardin County, KY. Ten years later they removed to Sikeston, Missouri. A. A. died there March 13, 1914 and was followed in death by Susan on December 31, 1920.
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