This letter was written by Henry Taylor Semans (1837-1909), the son of Solomon McKay Semans (1806-1888) and Hester Ann (“Hetty”) McIntyre of Randolph County, Indiana. Henry attended Liber College (1858–59), but left after three terms and took a clerk’s position with McKee and Keener—a general supply store in Farmland (Randolph County), Indiana In August 1862, he enlisted and was commissioned a first lieutenant in Co. A, 84th Indiana Regiment. He served until the regiment was mustered out. Semans returned home and was appointed Deputy County Clerk. In 1868, he was elected to a four-year term as Clerk of Randolph Circuit Court. After he completed his term, Semans became active in the grain trade. He married Mary J. Edgar in 1867, and had three sons.
The 84th Indiana Regiment was formed in Richmond, Indiana (Wayne Co.), and mustered into service on 3 September 1862. It left for Covington, Kentucky, where it was assigned to defend the city and Cincinnati, Ohio. Throughout 1862–63, the regiment saw action in Kentucky and Tennessee. It took part in the Battle of Chicamaugua (19–20 September 1863), where it suffered casualties of 125 killed, wounded, or missing. In February 1864, the 84th Indiana camped at Cleveland before joining Gen. Sherman’s campaign toward Atlanta in May. After reaching the city, the regiment served in various southern states, including Tennessee, Alabama, and South Carolina. It camped at Huntsville, Alabama between 5 January and 13 March 1865. The regiment was mustered out in June 1865 at Nashville, and returned to Indianapolis.
The WHSML at the Indiana Historical Society in Indianapolis has a receipt dated 23 February 1865, for three boxes from J. S. Addington to Lt. H. T. (Henry Taylor) Semans of the 84th Indiana Volunteers, Company A, in Huntsville, Alabama. The receipt reads “Adams Express Company, Western Division, Army and Soldiers Package Express.” [Manuscript and Visual Collections Department, William Henry Smith Memorial Library, Indiana Historical Society, 450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis]
February 9th 1865
Respected Father and Mother,
I seat myself this morning for the purpose of making a requisition on you for a box of eatables. I think we will remain here and if you have an excess or overplus wouldn’t care you would send us some, and if you haven’t, send some anyhow. There are seven or eight of us messing together and as there are boxes coming to the regiment every day or two and we came to the conclusion that we might as well have one as any of them—not that we are in particular need of anything but because it’s something from home. The names of the boys that I am messing with are Thomas James, H. B. McNees, John W. Macy, Samuel Huffman, John W. Dudley, and Wilson C. Rouch. ¹ They are all writing for some things and you can put them all in one box together. Don’t send any apples or pies unless can be separated from the rest of the stuff as they are apt to spoil the whole shebang. Butter, fruits and molasses or something of this kind are the most relishable.
By us ordering this bill, you may risk [rest] assured that we are in good health. If send us anything, can have the box directed to me—Co. A, 84th Regt. Ind. Vols., Huntsville, Alabama and oblige &c.
— H. T. Semans
¹ The company roster indicates that Wilson C. Rouch of Winchester, Indiana, was killed by accident on 9 April 1865.