This letter was written by Pvt. William F. McConnell who enlisted at age 28 in Co. B, 82nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) on 7 December 1861 to serve three years. He died at Nashville, Tennessee, on 5 August 1864 of wounds. He was buried in the Nashville National Cemetery (Section J, Site 14066).
It is believed that William was the son of Hugh and Mary (“Polly”) McConnell of Chatham, Medina county, Ohio. In the 1860 US Census, William was living with his widowed mother on a farm in Buck Township, Hardin county, Ohio, with his sister Mary E. McConnell, born 1840 (to whom he wrote this letter), and his younger siblings—one of whom was named Alpheus McConnell (b. 1843). Another sibling, Thomas McConnell (b. 1847) is also mentioned.
Mary E. McConnell—the recipient of this letter—married Robert Stevenson in December 1866.
[near Bridgeport, Alabama]
October 22, 1863
Well, Mary, I thought I would write you a few lines this morning to inform you I am well at present and inform you I received your letter. I was happy to hear from you once more again and to hear you was well and doing well. I received a letter from Alpheus this week. He said they was all well and Mother and Thomas had gone East to be gone six weeks. Mother sold the old cow to Layton for nineteen dollars and fifty cents and bought another one.
Well, Mary, I hain’t sent home much money yet. All I have sent home is $1.75 dollars. I suppose I could of sent home more. We get tired of living on hard tack and fat pork so we spend our money any time we see good [things] to eat. Everything is awful high here. I must tell you we have left Virginia and are now in the state of Alabama. Our duty is very heavy on us since we came here. We have to do a good deal of scouting to keep the rebels away. They are considerable many of them here among the mountains. We are guarding the railroad to prevent the rebels from destroying the railroad. The citizens here has a hard time of it—nothing to live on—only what the Union army gives them. They look hard and very poorly dressed. We don’t fare as well here as we did in Virginia. We had been living on one-third rations until last week [when] we got full rations.
We left Virginia the 27th of September and landed here the 2d day of October. They way we went through on the route coming here—we went through Columbus, Ohio, and went to Indianapolis, Indiana—from there to Jeffersonville, Indiana, and there we crossed the Ohio river to Louisville, Kentucky. From there into Tennessee to Nashville, the capitol of Tennessee. We changed cars there and run where we are now. We are in Camp Alabama near Bridgeport.
I don’t like it as well here as I did in Virginia. I don’t like the country as well and the grub won’t be as good and it is more sickly here along the Tennessee river. The boys has been considerable unhealthy since we came here.
Well, Mary, if nothing happens [to] us, our time will be out the 20th of September. We have eleven months more to serve yet. That and order from the War Department the first three hundred thousand men came out will be discharged at that time. But I hope the war will be over before that time come around.
Well, I hain’t much to write at this time. I will have to bring my writing to a close. You said Robert [Stevenson] had gone away. You tell him I hain’t forgot him. He must excuse me this time for not writing to him this time. You tell him I send my best respects to him. I send my best respects to them all.
I hope these lines will find you all well and in good spirits. Write soon, soon, soon.
— Wm. F. McConnell
Direct your letters to William F. McConnell, Co. B, 82nd Regt. OVI, 11th Army Corps via Nashville, Tenn.