1861: Hiram Curtis Luther to Friend Emma

This letter was written by Hiram Curtis Luther (1841-1863), the son of Jonathan Luther (1804-1864) and Grace Spence (1800-1896) of Wyocena, Columbia county, Wisconsin. Hiram enlisted on 19 September 1861 to served in Co. D, 10th Wisconsin Infantry. He was wounded in the Battle of Perryville in October 1862 and went missing in action, presumed dead, at the Battle of Chickamauga on 20 September 1863.

The 10th Wisconsin left the state on 9 November 1861 and arrived in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, 20 miles south of Louisville, on 11 November. They were put to work guarding the vital Louisville & Nashville (L&N) Railroad bridge that crossed the Salt river at that place. When the regiment left Shepherdsville on 5 December 1861, their place was taken by the Third Minnesota Infantry.

Hiram wrote the letter to his friend “Emma”–otherwise unidentified. My hunch is that it was Emma Jevons (b. 1843), the 18 year-old daughter of English emigrant farmer Samuel Jevons of Wyocena.

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TRANSCRIPTION

Camp Abercrombie
Shepherdsville, Kentucky
December 1st [1861]

Friend Emma,

I thought that perhaps you would like to know how we were all getting along in this part of the world and as today is Sunday, I thought that I could not improve the time any better than to write to you. The most of us are well and in good spirits. Hobert is in the hospital. He has got the measles. He has been pretty sick but is getting better.

It is raining this morning and has been for the last three or four days. It snowed before last and the ground froze a little. It is very muddy—so much so that we have not drilled any since last Wednesday except yesterday afternoon. Our tents do not leak much so we have kept pretty close in them for the last three or four days. We have been here most three weeks and it has rained about one half the time since we came here.

There is a rumor in camp that we shall leave here in a day or two but I do not think that anybody except our officers know when we shall leave. I suppose that you are having cold weather there about this time.

This is quite a large village. It is the county seat of Bullitt county but there does not seem to be much business done here. Quite a number of the houses are falling down and everything seems to be going to ruin. ¹

Our carpets are not very nice for they are all made of straw. Our kitchens have to answer for week days and Sundays too. I cannot write any news for there is none here. We manage to keep warm very well for the most of us have made fireplaces in our tents.

But I must bring my letter to a close. Please write as soon as you get this. Give my love to all the friends. From your friend, — H. C. Luther


¹ “I have found out since my last [letter that] this place is where Daniel Boone first stopped in Ky.  About ½ a mile from [place] is the far famed Sulphur Spring where he pitched his tent. It is the prettiest place that you have ever seen. It is in a hollow and surrounded by red cedar, and about four miles from here is the Salt Springs where he got his salt. This is the oldest place in State. The buildings are of made of red brick and they are all falling to pieces. Some are deserted and that makes them look awful shabby.” [Frank M. Phelps, 10th Wisconsin Infantry, to his aunt Lydia C. Tibbits, 25 November 1861]

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