This letter was written by John W. Ingram (1844-18xx) of Ohio, Spencer County, Indiana. He served with Company K, 25th Indiana Infantry, and rose eventually to the rank of First Lieutenant. In the 1860 Census, John is enumerated in the household of his widowed 50 year-old mother, Matilda, and his siblings included 24 year-old William, 21 year-old Francis F., and 19 year-old Nancy. In 1864, John married Anzetta Powell (1845-18xx) in Spencer County, Indiana.
The 25th Indiana Regiment was organized at Evansville on 17 July 1861 and was mustered into three years service in August. It left the state Aug. 26, and was in camp at St. Louis until Sept. 14, moving from there to Jefferson City and thence to Georgetown. It marched to Springfield with Fremont’s forces and back to Otterville, 240 miles, in 16 days. It remained in the vicinity of Otterville until December, when it moved with Pope’s division south of Warrensburg, forming part of the force that captured 1,300 of the enemy at Blackwater. The 25th guarded the prisoners to St. Louis and went into Benton Barracks until Feb. 2, 1862. It was sent with the expedition against Fort Donelson and joined in the first attack, losing 16 killed and 80 wounded. It was part of the force which stormed and captured the outer works the next day and occupied the fort after its surrender. It left for Pittsburg landing on Mar. 5, reaching there on the 18th, and in the battle of Shiloh, lost 27 killed and 122 wounded.
For a good history of the remainder of the regiment’s service, see This Mighty Scourge by Michael Noirot. See also the Biography and Letters of Private Joseph Saverton of Co. C, 25th Indiana Infantry. I’ve included a transcription of a letter that Ingram wrote in 1862 following the Battle of Shiloh. That letter is in the Indiana Historical Society Archives.
Camp near Otterville, Mo.
October the 30th 1861
It is with pleasure I sit down to write you a few lines to let you know we are well and getting along as a soldier. Well, we have left Georgetown and are in camp 10 miles back but I think we will march from here soon. We know not where. We have got our new uniforms now and they are having us to _____ old clothes. They say when we get in winter quarters the old clothes will come to us. I don’t know whether they are going to take us inside or not.
The Indiana Cavalry gained a great victory. Lost several of their high officers. Then the privates just fighting and cut them all to pieces. The Indiana boys can do all that.
I got a letter from William — the 12th I believe — and he said he was going to write once a week and I have not got a letter since from him. Marion & I wrote several. We got one from Loury yesterday with 9 stamps in it and got a letter from Wayne Thurman. He wrote that Doc. Tyler was shot and two ladies near Grandview [Indiana] was murdered. And Atha Meeks shot both of them. He did not know the names.
I want you to write as quick as you get this letter and write all the particulars. Write how much corn there will be and tell Biggs he has acted a perfect nobody for I wrote him three letters and never got any answer from him yet and he promised to write sure. Tell him that I shall not crop with him next year on that account. It would do me a heap of good to get a letter from him.
— [John Ingram]
The Indiana Historical Society has a letter from John W. Ingram to Marion Thurman dated 18 April 1862 written just after the Battle of Shiloh:
April 18, 1862 Direct to Pitsburgh Landing, Tenn.
In Camp Near Pitsburgh, Tenn
I hav the present moment to inform you that I am well and I hope you as much good luck. I guess you hav herd before this time that I hav see the monkey dance. I did not enjoy the 6 of April as much as I have enjoyed some Sundays as we had to brake the Sabath by shooting and shooting at men. Becids that wasont all they, they could shoot darn nigh a fast as we could. So that was a too handed game. Well they had more men than we did and took a running dart at us and you know if a small man runs at a big man the big man will sorter give back. We they got a bull dart at us and we hat to give back, well they took that kind of darts at us all Sunday and bout 5 o’clock Sunday evening they could not dart us any more for we had no ground to dart back on if we had went back much further. We would went in Tenn. River but Buels forces was on the opposite side of the River and the gun boats let loose and socks another time of cannonading. Yeu never herd but the darn dare devils had to crawfish and we laid on our arms all night—well we dident lay much for we had to stand up to keep from getting washt off. I never seen it rain harder in my life than it did that night—I thought day light never would come. I was hungry enough to eat a man off his horse. We had nothing to eat cince Sunday morning and got nothing until Monday evening.
We got back and had Roll Call Monday night. On Sunday when the secesh was getting the beter of us they would holer Bull Run. The old 25 [Indiana] had to face the Alibama Souazes but we hav bin drilled in the Souazee drill as much as any other. We let loose one voly and laid 123 low and we lost 23 men but they was but Six Regt deep and we had no support and we was obliged to fall back. Well darn the fight. I will quit writing bout the fight but it aint the thing it is cracked up to be.
Amos Camel was here in Camp yestady. I want you to rite and let us know where Floyd is at. I hav not herd from him since we left Benton Barracks Marion us[ed] to get a letter ever week but since we left there we hav never herd much of the 1 Ind. Cavalry. The forty second Ind. is at Nashville. I guess they was under buel but was left for guard. I herd but I don’t know it to be the case. It seames like every body ought to be at work now the leaves are half green here now but it is uncertain when I will get work it is [owen?] to how long this darn Rebellion holds up. I hav bin in the cervice 9 months yestady I only hav 2 years and 3 months to serve now our Regiment is nearly gone up. We only report 255 men able for duty. There was 646 killed and wounded in our brigade in this fight. I under stood yesady that Col Neatch had Reported this regiment unfit for marching and we was going to stay here for gard. I guess our Brigade will stay to guard the landing here but give me the marches always.
We have several cases of smallpox in our Regt. There is too from our company in the hospital now. I am afraid it will be bad in hot weather but as for my part I aint a fraid of the disease. I slep with Allen G. Ellis at St. Louis and he was taken to the hospital next day. He had it badly. He go here bout a week before the fight and got wounded. Well I guess I had beter close.
Give my respects to all, — John Ingram
F. M. Thurman Mr Marion, Friend sir, John can’t finish the sheet but I know he has not opend out. I will just say I am not tired of soldering yet. I am a little beter satisfied than I use to be from the fact that I am a good cook now and can wash my cloths and dern my socks but the privation of the other sex renders me som what on esy at times. But hope for beter days. The batel fields does not suit me as well as som other fields. We will have a fight nere here soon. Your cosin Dick is grunting som now.
Yours, — F. M. Ingram
Just no 100 Rebels came in and give themselves up to us as prisoners of war. Such is frekenly [frequently?] the case.