1862: James Hervey Mitchell to Cousin Amanda

This letter was written by James “Hervey” Mitchell (1841-1915) who enlisted at age 20 in September 1861 at Peoria, Illinois, to serve three years in Co. I, 47th Illinois Infantry. He mustered out of the service as a sergeant in September 1864. Hervey was the oldest son of Samuel Mitchell (1809-1890) and Eveline B. Howard (1819-1898) of Whiteside county, Illinois.


Camp Rienzi, [Mississippi]
July 20, 1862

Dear Cousin Amanda,

I sit down to answer your kind letter. I am still enjoying good health for which I am thankful for there is nothing that is requisition for country more than perfect health. We are still encamped at Rienzi, 20 miles south of Corinth. The rebels are getting saucy around this region. There is great talk that they are going to attack us in our present position. All I have to say is that they will meet with a warm reception for we are prepared for them and are well fortified. I think the war is about on the turning point If energetic measures are adopted, I think the war will soon come to an end. But if our men continue as they have done previously I am afraid that the Rebels will get some advantage which will prolong the war. I hope that the Government will come down on the Rebels now and show them no mercy. That is the only way to bring the war to a successful conclusion. I look with great anxiety for the result of operations before Richmond. If our men succeed in taking that, I think that the war will soon be over. But it is hard telling. If the Rebels are sharp, they will take advantage of our present state and make all their mischief before that 300,000 men are equipped and sent into the field for we can then fight them once more on equal terms. I hope that they will soon be in the field for we have not men enough to successfully cope with them for we have to guard every little town that we take which of course must weaken our force. And the Rebels feel around till they find the weakest point and then they will concentrate and attempt to break our lines. But I think that our generals are wide awake. They will not attack us unprepared.

I should like to hear from Calvin. War is uncertain and there has been terrible fighting at Richmond and I cannot be without my fears but that he may have fallen among thousands of others.  But my fears may be ungrounded. I hope so. I suppose that he writes often to you. Give him my love and tell him to give them fits.

Is there any excitement up North about enlisting? I hope that we will come up promptly to the cause and emulate the example of thousands of her citizens who have gone before. This rebellion must be crushed or it rendered valueless. All our noble countrymen and our pleasant firesides and farms will lose their attractions to us when we are deprived of a government of which we so much love and respect. But I have no idea that the Rebels will succeed in their designs but I cannot help having some misgivings at times as to the length of the war. Sometimes I think that the war will close in 3 months and then again I think we will have to serve our 3 years. It is a perplexing subject. But I think that everything wise and proper will be done by the President about the war.

Give my love to Will’s folks and tell them I answered their last letter—also Dan’s. Give them my love and send all them men that they can spare to help us out of this little scrape. Tell John that he must save that Morgan horse for I expect after we finish this war that we will have to fight England a round and I think that I will try it a horse back next time. I am about tired of tasseling [?]. Give my love to Martha. Tell her that I received a letter from Uncle Sam. Their folks are all well. I must close for want of more room. Write soon.

From your cousin, — James H. Mitchell

to Amanda

Give my love to Belle & Hattie and to be good girls and mind their mother and father. I should like to have them learn to write so they can send me a letter….your cousin, — Hervey


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