This letter was written by Sgt. Samuel Day (1831-1895) of the 8th Indiana Battery. He was born in Walsoken, Norfolk City, England in 1831 and married Mary Spencer in 1850. They came to the United States about 1855 and Samuel became a naturalized citizen in 1857. Moving sometime thereafter from Ohio to Indiana, Day enrolled in the 8th Indiana Battery, Light Artillery, November 16, 1861 “to serve three years or during the war…” He served initially as as the bugler of Battery F, but was later promoted to sergeant and second lieutenant before being discharged from service January 25, 1865 “at Chattanooga, Tennessee by reason of Expiration of term of service.” He was commissioned as U.S. Marshall in Indianapolis on October 4, 1867 and elected Justice of the Peace for Vanderburgh County, Indiana in 1876 with reappointments in 1880 and 1885. Samuel Day died November 2, 1895 in Evansville, Indiana. [Source: Lilly Library Manuscript Collection, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. Sgt. Samuel Day’s diary (1857-1895) is included in their collection.]
Sgt. Day wrote this letter from Hillsboro, Tennessee, where the Battery was encamped for some time during the summer of 1863. The battery moved to Chattanooga in early September and was the first Union battery to pass through the streets there on 9 September 1863. The battery was severely engaged at the Battle of Chickamauga in the days that followed, losing two officers wounded, two men killed, seven wounded and seven captured, and forty-three horses killed and disabled. The battery was captured by the Confederates briefly but recaptured by Bradley’s Brigade of Sheridan’s Division.
Camp in the ____
August 13th 1863
Dear Brother, Sister, Nephew & Nieces,
Your ever welcome letter came to hand this evening. I had just received a letter from my wife & child, was in the act of reading it, when up stepped Perry O’Neal and he handed me yours. And I was truly delighted to know that again you was partially restored to health. Also that your family is well. And tell Mead that I am enjoying very good health at this time.
You must tell Laura Ann & Martha that Uncle does not forget them and that I am proud to hear that they so often talk about me. Tell them that when I come home, I will kiss them both. Also that dear boy who I know not — neither does he me. But I promise them all that when the time comes so that they can see me in person, then the first that meets me will be the first kissed. They must be good children all of them to you both.
Dear sister. You ask for some small trophy from the South as a remembrance of me and the place I have been in. Well at this time I have nothing to to send. Stop. A thought strikes me. This sprout which is enclosed I have pulled off of the stake of my tent. The stake I cut when we first came into this camp and not a bud was visible on it. Well I erected my tent and in a fe days the stake commenced showing buds. They growed to sprouts and I have watched them from every day. I term them my bedroom flowers. Now when you look on it, remember that I slept under it many a night, and it up to this time has never been out of the tent. Perchance at some future time, ’twill be that I can send you something else but the greatest trophy that I now think of bringing for you all to gaze on is myself unmaimed. That I shall think a great trophy for my wife, child, mother, brothers, & sisters, and their children. So that in after years when the present gigantic rebellion is mentioned as a thing of the past, then each and all can say my brothers risked their lives to put it down and to perpetuate the Union.
I am pleased that brother William gets along so and hope he will continue to get plenty of work and well paid for it. Give my love to sister Mary and tell her I think a deal of her but I would like to hear from her through her own exertions by the pen for should she move from you, why I would hear nothing about her.
I have but little news to send you from this place. There is no fighting going on at all. We are as quiet as though laying at home. We have to drill every day an hour — generally from 4 till 5 in the morning. Then the day is spent in performing our usual camp duties. Tomorrow we are to be inspected by the Division Inspector of Artillery so ’twill be a busy day with us. And we are making preparations for some long march. I expected last week not to have been here now but it takes a long time to get ready. We are right at the feet of the lofty Cumberland mountains and the weather has been very hot for some time now.
I shall now bring my letter to a close. You must give my love to all brothers, sisters and mother and accept the same, yourselves and children.
I remain your affectionate brother, Samuel Day
Sergt. Sam’l Day, 8th Indiana Battery F
or Woods’s Division, 1st Brig, 1st Division, 21st Army Corps