This letter was written by Pvt. Samuel W. Myers (1845-1884) of Co. F, 49th Illinois Volunteers. According to the Illinois Veterans Index, Samuel entered the service at age 19 as a recruit to the regiment on 12 March 1864, enlisting for three years. He stood 5 feet 8 inches tall, had light hair, blue eyes, and a fair complexion. At the time of his enlistment, he gave his occupation as “farmer” which is consistent with the 1860 US Census where he was enumerated in the household of his father, a Kentucky-born farmer in Marion county, Illinois. He mustered out of the regiment on 9 September 1865.
Samuel was the son of John Myers (1822-1886) and Margaret Jones (1821-1877) of Centralia, Illinois.
This is one of the few letters I’ve found from a soldier participating in the series of skirmishes and battles occurring in Missouri that came to be known as “Price’s Raid“—a late war attempt by the Confederacy to replenish the ranks of its dwindling army with recruits from Missouri and at the same time restore a pro-slavery government in the state. The Confederate raid was led by 55 year-old Maj. Gen. Sterling Price who was known to Union and Confederate soldiers alike as “Old Pap.” The raid failed to accomplish its objectives and received a death blow at the Battle of Westport near Kansas City on 23 October 1864.
October 14, 1864
Dear father and mother,
It is with pleasure that I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well at present and hope when these few lines comes to hand, may find you the same. Well, we have been on a hard march for the last week and we all stood it first rate except our feet. My feet got so sore that I could hardly walk and I guess we will start out in the morning again after Old Pap Price. He has been a cutting round here through Missouri and we are going to see if we can’t stop him. They say he is out at Boonville. That is about 25 twenty-five miles from here. We marched from St. Louis to Jefferson City and then we got on the cars and came out here to California and we will march through to Boonville. It is very hard marching through Missouri over the hills and rocks.
Well, you must excuse my bad writing and spelling for you know that I am tired after a long march. Well, I got a letter from Atlanta, Georgia. It was from William Snider ¹ and he said he was well. It was dated September the 22nd and I got it the 30th. It came through from Atlanta in eight days and Will said the Old Stars and Stripes waved over Atlanta. I wrote a letter and started it to him as soon as I got his. I guess he has got it by this time if it went straight through as his letter came to me.
Well, I want to know what has become of John and Bill Shelton ² and Arthur Leonard. ³ They have stayed about a month over their time and I think it is about time for them to be a driving up. Well, I guess I will stop for this time for I have nothing much of importance to write. So no more at present. But write soon.
Yours truly, — Samuel W. Myers
To John Myers and family
¹ This was William R. Snider (B. 1838) who served as a corporal in Co. G, 111th Illinois Infantry. He entered the service in August 1862 at Centralia, Illinois. The 111th Illinois Infantry participated in the battles before Atlanta and then after Hood’s army evacuated the city, they were part of the occupation force until November 1864.
² John W. Shelton and William V. Shelton were both recruited to Co. F, 49th Illinois from Centralia in 1864; John in April and William in July. They both mustered out of the regimen on 9 September 1865.
³ Arthur C. Leonard was recruited into Co. F, 49th Illinois on 25 April 1864. He died on 9 January 1865.