Though signed only as “Henry,” I believe this letter was written by Henry C. Baxter (1841-1863) of Co. E, 36th Illinois Infantry who enlisted on 20 August 1861. He was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga on 20 September 1863.
He wrote the letter to Cornelia Elizabeth Boomer (1842-1924)—also of Bristol, Kendall county, Illinois. Cornelia (or “Nellie)”) was the daughter of James Boomer (1795-1876) and Lucy McClallan (1800-1872). Cornelia married William Gardner Putney (1842-1919) in 1873.
Cornelia’s brother, Michael Boomer (1839-1863), served with Henry in the same regiment.
See: The 36th Illinois Infantry at the Battle of Stones River on Iron Brigadier
March 14, 1863
Your welcome letter of 27 of February arrived here on the 7th inst. Your brother has gone down town this morning. I thought I could not better spend my time than in talking a little to you (I wish it were with you) for I feel rather lonesome. Our regiment has been gone ten days now and I have never been away from them so long before. We did not think they would be gone more than three days when they started. ¹
When I last wrote you, I felt oppressed no doubt on account of the heavy loss we had just sustained and if I were to consult my own feelings merely, I should be willing to make the exchange you mention. But I feel it my duty even more now than I did the day I enlisted to stand in defense of our noble government. Perhaps I may never see it, but it surely will come out a more united and an entirely free government. It will take longer perhaps than most of us expected. The reason for that is because the South have been underrated. We thought at first it would be a mere nothing to whip them but we have found it to be some [different].
I am very glad to hear that you are having so nice a time at school. It is quite a comfort to us to know that others enjoy the benefits & pleasures of good society [even] if we are for a time taken away from them. You described everything so well that it seemed as though I could almost see you sitting in your nice little room. I think if I were to pass that station, I should know about where to look to see you.
You have heard no doubt before this that Dr. [Delos W.] Young has left us and gone home—also [Col. Nicholas] Greusel. The Chaplain’s [William M. Haigh] health is very good. Our meetings have been somewhat broken up for the last few weeks, the regiment has been on duty so much. What few boys are here are well. Alfred Dixon is improving slowly. I saw Solon the other day. He was not very well. Aaron [Darnell] ² is some better. William Willitt ³ wishes to be remembered to you.
As ever, your friend, — Henry
¹ The 36th Illinois was called out on a ten day expedition toward Duck River.
² Aaron Darnell served in Co. E, 36th Illinois Infantry. He was discharged on 15 May 1863 for wounds received in the Battle of Stones river.
³ William J. Willett served in Co. E, 36th Illinois Infantry. He was promoted to sergeant before he was killed at Chickamauga on 20 September 1863.