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Hermann's Letters

Hermann Obreiter lived a short but interesting life. He was born about 1844 in Baden, Germany, and immigrated to the US with his parents in 1848. He then moved to Washington D.C. in 1863 (aged 19 or so), and never moved home. He wrote his parents and brothers regularly, and many of these letters survive. In our family we have 26 of these letters, which describe Washington during the civil war, his experiences on a river boat on the tributaries of the Mississippi (both in and out of "rebel" territory), and finally his journey across the great plains along the Oregon Trail. They describe civil war battlefields, the draft, daily life, the destruction of cities, and Indian relations.

The letters end on August 9th, 1867 in Cheyenne, Dakota Territory - what is now the capital of Wyoming. He describes the population as "about 15 men". Here he describes the constant Indian attacks, which as family lore passes down, resulted in his ultimate death. He would have been about 23 at the time.

These are scans of copies of the originals. In each case, there is a transcription of the letter below. As much as possible, Hermann's spelling is maintained. In many cases, Hermann folded a paper, and used it as four sheets - in these cases, the pages are ordered 4, 1, 2, 3. Each scan is fairly high resolution - click on it to see it in more detail. You can also look here for a directory listing of the images.

Letter 1: Washington D.C. May 3, 1863
Letter 2: Washington D.C. May 19, 1863
Letter 3: Pittsburgh, PA, May 29, 1863
Letter 4: Cincinnati, OH June 10, 1863
Letter 5: Nashville, TN September 8, 1863
Letter 6: Cincinnati, OH, November 1, 1863
Letter 7: Cincinnati, OH, December 4, 1863
Letter 8: Clarksville, TN, May 24, 1864
Letter 9: Cincinnati, OH, June 7, 1864
Letter 10: Paducah, KY June 13, 1864
Letter 11: Cairo, IL, July 18, 1864
Letter 12: Cairo, IL, August 1, 1864
Letter 13: Cairo, IL, August 14, 1864
Letter 14: Cairo, IL, August 28, 1864
Letter 15: Cairo, IL, October 15, 1864
Letter 16: Johnsonville, TN, October 25, 1864
Letter 17: Johnsonville, TN, November 1, 1864
Letter 18: Cincinnati, OH, November 9, 1864
Letter 19: Cincinnati, OH, November 17, 1864
Letter 20: Leavenworth, KS, August 2, 1865/1866
Letter 21: Cottonwood, Nebraska Territory, September 16, 1866
Letter 22: Cottonwood Springs, Nebraska Territory, October 14, 1866
Letter 23: Cottonwood Springs, Nebraska Territory, January 25, 1867
Letter 24: Cottonwood Springs, Nebraska Territory, March 12, 1867
Letter 25: Julesburg, Colorado Territory, June 19, 1867
Letter 26: Cheyenne, Dakota Territory, August 9, 1867

A google map of Hermann's approximate path.

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