James last wrote from Leavenworth, Kansas, on May 27, 1862. He and his company then traveled to St. Louis, arriving on May 31, where he finally had an opportunity to see Molly. While in St. Louis, his company learned that Federal troops had already captured Corinth, Mississippi. The men left St. Louis and went first to Cairo, Illinois, then took a steamboat to Columbus, Kentucky, arriving there on June 2.
James ponders his future after the war, as a farmer or storekeeper. He is happy to hear that Molly got a sewing machine, and tells her that he received the deed for land in St. Francois County, Missouri, south of St. Louis, in her name. In war news, James mentions that the regiment was almost sent to Corinth, Mississippi, but hoped to stay in Kansas as home guard. Finally, James discusses relations between the United States and England, or “Johnny Bull” as he calls it.Read more »
James remained in Kansas on border patrol, primarily dealing with guerrillas—groups of independent men not affiliated with a regiment—who stole horses, food, and other supplies. As quartermaster, it was James’s responsibility to return items stolen, or left behind, to the owner or sell them for the army. On a personal note, James encourages Molly to visit her brother, R.B.M.Read more »
Oh that I could take unto myself wings like a dove & fly to you for I am a weary, aweary positively for a sight of your pleasant face - aweary of hard work - under the depressing influence of this lazy camp life - When shall I see you? When shall we meet to part no more? (in life) Questions often asked in though ever recurring, but echo only answers when? Read more »
I am and have been thundering busy & I aint agoing to bore you with a long letter this time that I know of at present.
The 1st of the month always brings its toil in the shape of an immense amount of calligraphy & calculating. So it has been for a week of preparation but that it is over now, and yesterday it also brought muster day in due course, & in time again the paymaster comes around. Read more »
The men of Company K, 8th Kansas Infantry regiment remained in camp at Aubrey, Kansas. To fill the time, they had guard duty, dress parade, target practice, and played games, including football, baseball and quoits, which is similar to horseshoes. James says that he hoped to receive more issues of the Illustrated London News so he could read about the exhibition in London. The London World Exposition of 1862 was held from May 1 to November 1, 1862.
While in Kansas, James heard news of Union victories at New Madrid and Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River, and at Pittsburg Landing in Tennessee. The Confederate forces set up positions at New Madrid, Missouri, and Island No. 10 to block the Federal troops from navigating the Mississippi. On March 3, 1862, Union forces laid siege on New Madrid, until the Confederates evacuated the town on March 13 and moved to Island No. 10. On April 8, 1862, the Confederates on the island surrendered, giving the Union control of the Mississippi River down to Fort Pillow, Tennessee.Read more »
In early 1862, James and the other men of his company gathered at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, as part of an expedition to New Mexico to fight rebel troops led by Confederate general Henry H. Sibley. The territory of New Mexico seceded from the Union in March 1861, and the Confederates claimed the southern half as the Confederate Territory of Arizona. The territory was important because it would open access to California. Union troops from Colorado stopped Sibley’s forces during the Battle of Glorieta Pass on March 26–28, 1862.Read more »
While Company K, including James, remained in Leavenworth, Kansas, awaiting orders, Company E marched from Olathe to Aubrey, Kansas, on March 13, 1862. Several days earlier, on March 7, Confederate guerrilla William Quantrill had come into Kansas from Missouri for the first time. Quantrill led an independent band of guerrillas, or bushwhackers, who raided pro-Union towns in Kansas and attacked Union soldiers and civilians. On March 13, 1862, 42 men from Company E skirmished with some of Quantrill’s men near Aubrey, Kansas, killing two. Read more »
After a reorganization of the 8th Kansas Infantry regiment, James and the other men in his company officially mustered in as Company K of that regiment, and received their arms and pay. Colonel Robert H. Graham and Captain William S. Herd commanded the men. The regiment originally had both cavalry and infantry companies. The cavalry companies were transferred out as part of the reorganization, but the regiment continued to have several men detailed as mounted rifles. James explains this situation and refers to a dream of Molly’s younger sister, Sallie.Read more »
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