120+ Civil War Letters by 4th Indiana Cavalryman Who Pursued General Morgan -- ''...We had a grand fight...The colonel was shot in the head but did not kill him...the bullets flew thick and fast...''

Nice lot of 123 Civil War letters by 2nd Lieutenant John W. Peck of the 4th Indiana Cavalry, Co. F, most written to his mother and sister. Peck enlisted in August 1862. and was an active combat soldier in the beginning of the War, from pursuing General John Hunt Morgan throughout Kentucky to raids (and looting) on Secesh sympathizers, and even to an unfortunate friendly fire incident leaving a Union soldier dead. Dated 23 August 1862, he writes, ''...We are in dixey land now...There is plenty of darkeys here. We made them all hollor hurrah for the Union as we passed through town. One old n***** woman got converted. She hollored and claped her hands and danced and hurrahed for Indiana. Some of the men looked like the secesh enough they looked like they would rather hollor for Jef Davis. When we got here the officers told us to confiscate any thing we wanted so we got peaches and apples and oats for our horses from an old man that they say is secesh...John W Peck...until Death, Doth us part''. A few days later he writes, ''...We had nothing to eat but what we pressed. When we got hungry we broke ranks and went up to the house and told them to bring out something and if the refused, we went in and tooke it. We took about fifty prisners, some took the oath and some we took along. We captured four good horses, one revolver that is our company...'' On 2 September, he writes, ''...We pressed 10 wagons and 40 horses myself and John Urie went to an old secesh house and told him we wanted his team. He said we could not have it. John told me to take care of him and we went and harnessed the team and took a darkey to drive. I thought I would have one so I made another one get in the wagon to clean my horse. We have about twenty five contrabands in camp...I am tired of riding after old Morgan. We are taking horses and n****** every day and night. The Rebels are pretty thick out here. Me and another fellow took a fellow and he said he was a Rebel and he had a good revolver. We took it and took him to head quarters. I paid him seven dollars for his share of the revolver and took it. I want to kill about a dozen Rebels with it. The captain says for us to take any thing we want so the aint Union men...John Peck''.

On 7 September, he describes a friendly fire incident where one New York soldier was killed, ''...about ten oclock we heard thare was six thousand Rebels within 8 miles of here and we started double quick for to meet them at the junction. You ought to have seen the boys get sick and say they could not keep up. They was afraid they would smell powder. Some fell off their horses and hurt themselves prety bad. I was out on a scout fifty five hours. I took four men out of Co B. They told me to go and find all the secesh I could and so I went where ever I could hear of them. We got several and brought them to the general. He let them all but one take the oath. He was one of Morgan's Men. I was gone so long the boys all thought I was dead or taken prisner, but I got thare just in time to go with the rest...thare was a report came in the camp the Rebels was coming on to us. The colonel said to be ready in three minutes. So we got ready and started. We got about six miles. The advance guard came back and said they was right close. We started in post haste and comenced firing into them and killd one man and one horse, but we found out it was a NY squad of Union boys...'' On 19 September 1862, Peck describes a raid near Shepherdsville, Kentucky: ''...we had another big battle the other day...our company was detailed to burn all the breast works and hay, in short, every thing that was left at the junction. We don't so and done it in good stile. The report is in the Louisville journal that we are taken prisoner but it is not so yet, but we run for the first time in my life. I don't like it a bit. I would rather fight a little before I run but the general knows better than we do. I guess he is a first rate old fellow. We have the best kind of officers, they let us do as we please...J.W.P.''

On 3 October 1862, Peck describes a ''grand fight'' leading up to the Battle of Perryville. In part, ''...we had a grand fight...We was going along double quick and run in to them and we went at it hot and heavy. They shot our colonel and several of the boys but killed only two. The colonel was shot in the head but did not kill him. I tell you the bullets flew thick and fast. Thare was horses shot under the boys and they had to go on foot. Thare was about four to one of us, we killed 7 or 8 of the Rebels and wonded 10 or 12 but we had to retreat back to load and then we made them cut dirt yesterday. We run them about 8 miles. We had heavy fire to stand under that had 2 canon and shelled us. They burned close to us and they pieces flew all around us. We sent for our cannons and placed them and shot about 9 shots and they took to a leaving and sent a white flag. It was at a town by the name of Mount Washington. One of the shells went through an old house and ridled it prety good. The people in town was prety badly scared. We followed them and had another round with them. We fought about half an our and killed about a dozen of them. We had two horses shot right close to me. Thare was two holes shot in the blanket that was traped behind my sadle and never touched me, nor none of our company got hurt. Thare was not more than half of our co with us. We had just turned our horses over. They was run down. Thare was a good many sick boys they was afraid they might shoot bullets. They said last night we could not see them and they kept shooting at us and our captain said to make it charge so we drawed our sabres and put spurs and yelled like wild boys but they would not stand, they run like white heads till they got to their cannons and we could not get over the river. Thare was seventeen hundred of them. Our whole army is moving on to them at Bardstown...''

On 24 October 1862, Peck describes almost catching the elusive General Morgan, ''...I had just got back from a force march of six days. We have been after Morgan and had a little brush with him. We fired on his pickets and killed 3 or 4 and taken seventeen prisners, then a Illanois general orderd the artilery to fire on them like fool instead of letting some of us surround him and the others make a charge. It was old gen Dumouts arrangements for some of us to start him and then flank him on the right as we knew he would make for Bardstown. He passed the road just a half hour before our men got thare and I suspect he is out of Kentucky buy this time...JWP''.

In late December, Peck writes of the continued chase after Morgan as well as only being able to get a furlough from a bullet: ''...They have passed a law that thare shall be no furloughs and no discharges granted. Gen Rosencrantz says that all the way to get a discharge is for a bullet to give it to him...I was on picket last Sunday night on the Cumbeland River bettween Gallatin and Nashville. The Rebels was just across the river and come across to spy around and we say him and took after him and took him in and brought the gentleman to camp. He said that Morgan was four miles from thare. Thare was fifteen out of every com sent out to find wher the Rebels...''

On 8 January 1863, Peck describes guerillas killing their stragglers, ''...Our division occupies 39 miles of the road from Memphis to Calliersville. The gurrllars runns in to us ever now and then a travling from Warterford Missisippi to Memphis. We had to guard a train of wagons through to Memphis and as we crosed coal warter 25 miles from Memphis. Our rear guard was runin to and some straglers that was stragling behind there rigments, the gurrillars shot some 3 of them so bad so they could not get off the ground and paroled the rest. They are all ways a trying to catch a fue men in a squad and make a rade on them. Shoot in to them and kill as many of them as they see fit and parall the rest. There was 4000 of VanDorns cavalry run in to our force at Holly Springs and captured the town. The infantry did not make any resistance what ever there was, two co of cavalry there of the 2 Ill, they fought them six best out of eleven. They was surrounded 4 times and cut there way out ever time. There close was 23 killed wounded taken prisioners. The reason was that the commander of the port was a traitor. Grant warned him that they was a going to make a rade on the town and if he wanted any more men he could have them No he did not want any more, he could hold the place withe what force he had that is all true enough, but he did not git his men out in line. The cavalry was up in line during the night 3 times and went and warned old Collonel Murphy, the commander of the post, that the Rebels was a going to attacked the town. He says go a long away an put your horses in the stable and I will let you know when to get out. They parolled thirteen hundred and 50 prisioners. They went up in to the hospital and got the rool book and parrolled ever name was on it wether they saw them or not and destroyed a half of a million worth of property for Uncle Sam. Our old General Sulivan that used to command our brigade is in command at Jackson. He has had two fights with generals Forast. The Rebels first made the attack on Jackson and old Yankey Sullivan whipe them out with 8000 men. He made breast works out of cotton bails and made ever sutler take a musket and news boys and citizens one and all fight. The news is that G Sulivan attacked G. Forast somewhere below Jackson and cut him all to pices. Killed old Forast and taken 400 prisioners...'' A few weeks later, on 23 January, he finds the grave of a fellow Indiana soldier who was killed at the Battle of Stone's River, and describes killing more of Morgan's men: ''...A couple other boys have gone to battle ground to day to find Joseph Newman's grave. He got killed in the battle on the second day. Henry Calvin and Thomas Deniston is supposed to be killed...We just got into camp last night from a big scout after Old Morgan. Ther was about twenty thousand cavelry and several regments of infantry and some artilery. We had a little skirmish with them that is our men our battalion was about 3 hours two late. It was a pretty hard march. We started from camp at sundown and went up to head quarters and set on our horses for 2 hours and heard a verry nice band of music to cheer us up then we started and rode nearly all night. Then we stoped and fed our horses and rode all day. Every body we met on the road that we asked said Morgan is about five miles ahead. I think he is like the milk sick allways ahead. Our men killed some of his men. Some of our men got wounded...''

On 26 January 1863 writing from Louisville, Kentucky, Peck seems to resent having to share a rail car with slaves, so he and his friends force them into another car with citizens, ''...We had quite a lively time coming. The boys got boozey enough to make plenty fun. We took posesion of one car and the conductor put a lot of darkeys in it, women and men. We thought we was as good as citizens so we told Mr. Nigers they had to clean up so we put them out into the other car with the citizens. That did not suit verry good, but thare was no use to say anything about it for it done no good...JW Peck''. In March 1863, Peck writes an intriguing letter implying that Union officers are making money off the war, ''...I would like to go ahead and kill the last rebel in the country or let them kill us all let the war close, but some of the big officers would not make money enough. Some of them don't care how long the war lasts. Old Rosecrans is putting the officers through about right lately. Thare has been one of the captains in our batalion dismissed from the service for encouraging his boys in their rascality. They stole $75 worth of China ware and he espressed it home for them. They boys are in irons now...They are fighting at Franklin a short distance from here. The report is that the rebs had two regments of nigers...''

On 20 March 1863, Peck desribes some fighting at the Battle of Rutherford Creek, TN: ''...Our boys had a scratch with the rebs a few days ago, nobody hurt in our company. Thare 2 killed in Co. B. One shot in the in Co A but not killed. They say it made old black dad dodge as we call him. He was allways wishing he could get to shoot at some rebs and when they got to shooting at him, he layed on the first one side of the horses neck and then the other...JW Peck''. A few weeks later, he writes again about ''old Black Dad'' again, ''...It was verry thoughtful of old Black Dad to send word about me being sick. You must not tell any body what I wrote to you about his dodgeing the bullets because he would not like it to be sent home. We tease him nearly to death about it in camp. I guess he did not want to be killed...''

In the spring of 1864, Peck recounts Wilson's Raid: ''...We have had quite a big raid, shure had plenty of fighting, but none of our co. got hurt. We captured about 9 or ten thousand prisners, four or five hundred pieces of artillery & a great many other articles two worthless to mention. I expect you will know more about it than I do. The papers will give a detail of the big cavelry raid under Major General Wilson. You can tell witch division done the work. Ours is the 1st Division, Second Brigade. It has the honor of taking Montgomery Ala. & Fort Taylor at West Point Georgia & taking quite a number of prisners at this place. Some of our brigade is after old Jef Davis now. Thare is a big reward offerd for him & I hope they will get him...''

Additional battle content includes a letter from 24 August 1864 where Peck describes a raid under General Edward Hobson near Canton, Kentucky, ''...Well I must tell you about the Rebs. Old Johnston, the men that commanded the Southern part of KY was going up the Cumberland with 6 or 7 hundred men and if it had not of been for the fog raising so, we would not run. They would of taken us out of the wet, we not knowing thay were thare. We know it was a bad place for the Lt. sent 25 of us on foot to come in on the rear of the town, when we got around we saw the town full of cavelry. Some of them thought we was gone up shure, but we soon saw the Blue Pants and we knew they were our men. They had run in on the Rebs at daylight and killed old Johnston, 2 Majors, and the Adjutant and capturd about 100 prisoners. They were a hard looking lot of men. We may thank our stars that we did not go thare before our cavelry did but the Rebs are not in a bad snap now. Our boys are after them from every direction and General Payne ishued orders to them to take anything they wanted and last night one regment came in here mounted on horses, mules, and some in buggies. They had four bongies and about half of them had women sadles. They looked gay...JW Peck''.

Peck closes out his letters with some intriguing content, including pretending to be ''rankest kind of Democrats'' in order to get a nice home-cooked meal, and hoping that General Grant will ''close this little family fuss with the Southern traitors & Yankeys of the North''. He describes the hanging of Rebel guerillas, and taking in a ''a nice little boy...He is twelve years old and a fine little feller two. He has no parents and no place to stay...'' He also composes what appears to be an original poem entitled ''The Old Union Waggon'' 7 stanzas long. In another letter he's dismissive of substitutes, calling them ''400 dollar men...We call them four hundred men all together and it makes them verry mat. Thare is a lot of hundred days men here as guards. We don't call them soldiers at all. One said the other day he had been out 2 months and neve had a furlough yet. He thought that was mighty hard. We have fine times with them when we are here. If we want to steal anything we just get five or sixe with our guns and relieve them and let them go to their quarters and we get what we want and clean up for the boat...'' In one of his last letters, on 15 May 1865, he writes of seeing the newly-captured Jefferson Davis, ''...I must tell you we had the honor of a visit from old Jefferson C Davis in the city the other day. I did not see the old cuss, but several of the boys of the co. saw him. They say he looks rather down in the mouth. I feel for him but cannot reach him. I hope they will hang him & all others of his stamp & that will keep them out of all other mischief...'' Letters are in very good, legible condition with typical folds, averaging 3pp. on 5'' x 8'' stationery. Many of the letters are on patriotic stationery, nearly all with original envelopes. With near complete transcriptions.

Price: $50,000
120+ Civil War Letters by 4th Indiana Cavalryman Who Pursued General Morgan -- ''...We had a grand fight...The colonel was shot in the head but did not kill him...the bullets flew thick and fast...''
120+ Civil War Letters by 4th Indiana Cavalryman Who Pursued General Morgan -- ''...We had a grand fight...The colonel was shot in the head but did not kill him...the bullets flew thick and fast...''
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