1864: Francis M. Clemans to Elizabeth (Huff) Clemans

This letter was written by 25 year-old Francis M. Clemans (1839–1875)—a native of Ohio who later moved to Turkey Creek, Kosciusko County, Indiana, in the 1840s and lived with the Hess family. In April 1861, he married Elizabeth Huff (1842-1869). In April 1864, he joined Co. I, 74th Indiana Regiment. In June 1865, he was transferred to Co. G, 22nd Indiana Regiment where he remained until he was mustered out in July 1865. After the war, the Clemans family moved to Beagle, Miami County, Kansas.

Frank Clemans’ Letter with a tintype of John Zimmerman of Co. G wearing the uniform of the 74th Indiana Infantry

Addressed to Mrs. Elizabeth Clemans, Syracuse, Kosciusko Co., Indiana

Camped in the front of the rebs
about six or seven miles from Atlanta
August the 10th, 1864

Dear Wife,

It is with much pleasure that I take this present opportunity to inform you that I am well and hope this may find you the same. Your kind letter came to hand August the 2nd, bearing date July the 27th, and I was glad to hear that you was well. I want you to keep in good heart.

The rebs still stay at Atlanta. They don’t like to leave here. I guess the talk is that we are a getting reinforced by 20,000 men. If that be so, we will flank them out.

Col. Myron Baker

There is not much [news] that is good. Our Colonel ¹ was shot dead the 5th day of this month sitting about three rods from our breastworks. He was shot through the head—the ball entering a little to the right of the forehead. He is sent home. We have no man that will make as good a Colonel as he was. ²

Samuel Weaver is dead. He was sent back to Chattanooga and there he died. I did not think he was dangerous when he went back. He took my watch back with him—a watch that I bought at Ringgold—a Hunter case patent lever. I suppose if he did not lose it or have it stole while he was sick, I suppose it will be sent to his wife so I want you to go to her and tell her the circumstance and get the watch if it is sent to her. She won’t think hard of you I reckon. If it don’t run, get it fixed so it will run.

So I guess I will close.

From Francis M. Clemans

to E. Clemans

[P.S.] I got them envelopes.

¹ Col. Myron Baker of Goshen, Indiana, was killed on 5 August 1864 at Utoy Creek.

² The death of Col. Myron Baker is detailed in a letter written by E. F. Abbott to John Baker, the colonel’s brother, on 6 August 1864: It reads in part:

“Our regiment had just advanced and constructed breastworks upon a hillside, facing the enemy, whose picket line was nut a very short distance removed. We were exposed to a fire from rebel pickets, and also a rebel battery in close proximity to us, but had escaped with the loss of but one man. Our works were well advanced, when Myron passing along the line, stopped at my company and engaged in conversation with me upon the events of the day. We sat down—he by my left side—a couple of rods in the rear of our breastworks, but upon ground considerably higher that that on which they were constructed, so that they, as the sad event proved, furnished little protection. Myron was conversing cheerfully and at the moment was expressing his confidence in the unimpaired bravery and determination of our army, when the fatal musket was fired, the report of which I scarcely noticed, owing to the continued firing which had been kept up. Leaving a sentence uncompleted, Myron raised his arms quickly, fell backward, straightened his body, gave one gasp, and without a groan or struggle, his brave and noble spirit had taken its flight. The ball had struck in the center of his forehead and passed quite through the head, lacerating it badly. I hesitate at reciting these mournful particulars, and as I write the picture of that face of him I cherished as one of my dearest friends, with the life blood gushing through the cruel wound comes before me, but too vividly.”


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