These four letters were written by Isaac D. Landis (1841-1929), the son of Isaac Landis (1816-1881) and Catharine Weidman (1817-1897) of Shippensburg, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania. In the 1860 US Census, the Landis family household included five sons and one daughter. Two of the oldest boys, Gideon (age 22) and Isaac (age 18) were identified as silversmiths like their father. Esrom (age 20) was identifed as a “coach trimmer.” The other three children were Emma (age 14), Henry (age 9) and Charles (age 1).
Isaac enlisted in Shippensburg on 26 August 1861, and mustered into federal service at Camp Greble, Roanoke, Virginia, October 29 as a corporal with Co. H, 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry (92nd Pa). He was promoted to sergeant major May 23, 1863, and reenlisted as a Veteran Volunteer January 1, 1864. He again was promoted to 2nd lieutenant July 1, 1864, and to adjutant July 7, 1864, at Nashville, Tennessee, but never mustered at the latter rank. He was wounded at Griswold, Georgia, November 11, 1864, and honorably discharged with his company July 18, 1865. He stood 5′ 7″ tall and had dark hair and blue eyes.
Isaac’s older brother Gideon Weidman Landis (1838-1913) also served in the same company. He was promoted to Commissary Sergeant in January 1864 and mustered out with company, 18 July 1865 as a veteran.
All four of these letters were written from Camp Andy Johnson which was located on the farm of Sen. Jesse D. Bright of Indiana outside of Jeffersonville, Indiana, on the Ohio river. Jesse Bright was the only Senator thrown out of the US Senate because of his outspoken support for the Confederate States of America.
See also—1863: Isaac Daniel Landis to Parents on Spared & Shared 17.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
December 2, 1861
I now hasten to let you know where and how we are. We are now laying at Jeffersonville, Indiana. We are just at the outskirts of the town. We encamped on the farm of Jessie D. Bright—late Senator from this state but now a prisoner at Fortress Monroe for his secesh principles. Our camp is just opposite from the Louisville Water Works and close to the Ohio river.
We left Camp Cameron on last Sunday one week ago in the morning, marched into Harrisburg, got into the cars and then did not get off until night because the horses were not loaded in time. There were 3 trains of horses and our company had to guard them. Well we left Harrisburg on Sunday evening about 6 o’clock with three days rations in our haversacks and arrived at Altoona on Monday morning, staid there about an hour, and then started for Pittsburgh. Arrived there on Monday evening about 7 o’clock. We then undertook to take the horses out of the cars. We got about 350 off when they marched us down to the steamboat and went on board the Dacotah which was to he the flag boat. We left Pittsburgh on Wednesday at two o’clock and we had a pleasant trip down the Ohio. Passed Cincinnati Saturday morning about 5½ o’clock but it was too dark to see anything of it and we arrived at Louisville at Saturday evening. Laid there until yesterday morning when we left Louisville for this place which is nearly opposite.
We had a pleasant trip down the Ohio. There were 7 boats to our fleet. We passed Guyandotte, Va.—the place where our troops were massacred. It looked quite desolate. We have the Sibley tent to bunk in. There are 18 in our tent. We are to get our saddles & boots tomorrow. We have our horses tied in front of our tents to a picket rope. There is snow on the ground.
Give my love to the rest of the family & my respects to E. Landis, Geesman & to all enquiring friends, and write soon to yours affectionately, — I. D. Landis
N. B. We have a furnace in our tent underground built of brick.
Direct your letter to I. D. Landis, Co. H, Lochiel Cavalry, Camp Andrew Johnson, Jeffersonville, Indiana
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Camp Andy Johnson
December 24th 1861
I now take the privilege of answering your letter to Gideon. I am sorry that Gideon is not well. He has got the measles but the Surgeon says he will be well soon as they have broken all over him. He is in the hospital and is well cared for. The letter I received from home you wanted to know if I was well yet. I was not well when I received the letter. I still had the cold and had taken a pain in my left side so that I could hardly breathe but I got a mustard blister on it and brought the pain out. It cured me right away and I am as hearty as a brick now.
There is considerable smallpox in camp but we have all been vaccinated. There us one man out of our company that has got it. The way he got it was by running through town, There is a great many cases in Louisville & Jeffersonville.
We have got all of our horses. The horse that I had at first got the distemper and was taken to the hospital at Louisville but I have got another good one. Our company has all got grey horses. I can hardly get time to write I am kept so busy. Reveille sounds at 6 o’clock when we get up and 10 minutes after the stable call when we feed them oats and curry them, and hour after breakfast call. I have mine & Gideon’s horses to clean which keeps me busy to get through with until breakfast. And at half past eight we have to saddle up for drill. Go to drill at 9, come in at 11 when we ride them to water. Come back when it is dinner time. Drill again at 1. Come in at 3½. 4 the stable call sounds when we feed & curry them & at 5 we water when supper is ready. At 9 the roll is called 10 minutes after the lights are out.
Sunday, December 29th 1861—Dear Father, since I wrote the above I received your letter of the 25th inst. and was very glad to hear from you that you are well and have plenty of work.
On last Friday I was over in the hospital when the surgeon came in to look at the sick. There was two of our men in besides Gideon and when he looked at them he said that one had the smallpox. His name was [Peter] Hoover. ¹ He was all broken out over the face, you had better believe. I was scared a little—not so much for myself as for Gideon, but I just came from seeing him. He is getting along very well. He has such a bad cough and his throat is very sore but otherwise he feels very well. the surgeon says there is no danger at all of his catching the smallpox. We had both been vaccinated in Camp Cameron but it did not take and I was vaccinated on Friday again but I don’t think it will take.
We are to be mustered tomorrow by the paymaster to see if there is anything that we have lost. If we do not have everything that we drawed from the Government, we will be charged for it and it will be kept off of our wages. I have nothing lost except a shirt but I don’t think they will charge me we that as I have a flannel one. I expect they will pay us this week. The Colonel told us that we would be paid from the time we enlisted up to the 31st of December so we will draw 4 months & 5 days pay. But they always keep one dollar back. We will draw about $62.00 apiece. It is about time that they pay us as we have been broke for about three weeks. We will send the most of our money home when we get it.
The 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry, Col. [George C.] Wynkoop, arrived here on last Thursday. The 4th Ohio Cavalry left here for Kentucky this morning. They had been encamped here some time. We expect to go to old Kentucky pretty soon. We are getting to be pretty well settled on our horses. I would like to be home now for a little while to help you to eat some of that pork of yours although we live right well now. We have a sutler and he gives out scrip or shin plasters so that we can buy bread, pies, molasses, &c. &c. All the trouble is in getting postage stamps. We cannot hardly get them for love or money although we can get letters franked.
I must bring my letter to a close as it is about feed call. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year. Write soon. Give my love to Mother and the rest of the family. This is a great letter but Gideon wanted me to answer Esrom’s letter so I commenced on Friday but did not get it finished (I was on guard on Friday), then I received your letter yesterday evening and I now answer both at once. My respects to Geiseman & to all enquiring.
Respectfully your son, — Isaac D. Landis
Direct your letter to
Co. H, 9th Regt. Lochiel Cavalry
Camp Andrew Johnston
near Jeffersonville, Indiana
¹ Peter Hoover enlisted as a private in Co. H, 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry on 29 October 1861. He died at Louisville, Kentucky, on 10 January 1862, He is buried at the National Cemetery there in Section A, Range 9, Grave 1.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
[First part written by Gideon W. Landis]
Camp Andy Johnson
January 5, 1862
I take my pencil to scratch a few lines to you. I am getting along right well. I am near over the measles but they won’t let me go down to meals yet. At first we got tea and bread & butter but on Saturday morning they brought some meat friend which went well. Nice for a change. This thing of being sick in the army is not what it might be. Isaac comes over to see me every day which makes me feel more like home.
The regiment has marching orders. They go somewhere to Kentucky. They go on Monday or Tuesday. I don’t know whether I will go with them or not. I can’t say what they will do with us sick.
I am now writing in Louisville, Kentucky. Soon after I wrote the above, there was an ambulance wagon stopped before the hospital and I and 4 others were ordered to get ready to go over to Louisville to the hospital there. Isaac had been in to see me about 20 minutes before. Well we got in the ambulance which is a wagon larger than an army wagon with room for 5 men to lay—3 above and 2 below. There is mattress fastened on board which slide out and in on rollers, something like a hearse, and it is all close and dark. We went about 2 miles to the ferry and came on here and were put up in this hospital. There are about 500 sick in this hospital—most measles, some fever. I don’t know how many there is in the other where they keep the smallpox and other dangerous diseases. This hospital is not as nice as the one I left but still I can get along fine and I hope I will be able soon to follow the regiment. There is men here whose regiments are 50 & 60 miles from here.
[Remainder written by Isaac D. Landis]
I was over to see Gideon in Saturday morning and in the afternoon I took some things over for him when they told me that he was gone to Louisville, Kentucky. So yesterday (Sunday) I went over to see him. I had quite a time until I found him. I was to four hospitals before I found him. He is at the hospital on the corner of 15th Street & Main. Louisville is a large city. There are some splendid buildings in it. There are 8 or 9 hospitals in it. I found him writing this letter. He commenced it on Saturday and we did not have long to stay so that we could not finish it and he told me to finish it and send to you. He is well situated where he is. I was there when he eat dinner. He had beef & gravy, bread, coffee & stewed peaches.
We have not been paid off yet but expect it tomorrow or sometime this week for sure. I hope we may get it soon as I will have to get this letter franked.
I just received your letter of the 3rd inst. and was glad to hear from you but sorry to hear of the death of Mrs. Geesaman. You say you have not heard from us for 3 weeks. I wrote to you last week but I suppose you have received it by this time. I have 2 horses to attend to. My horse is young yet. He has never been broke to riding. He has throwed me twice but I am getting him broke in right well. I am getting fearless among horses. I am not afraid to ride any horse in the regiment. There is quite some talk of leaving soon but we cannot know when we may leave until we get started. We got our wagons last week. They all have six mules in them.
There were two of our men went out last week for water and they were attacked by about 8 men. They slipped up behind them and truck them—one behind the ear and the other between the eyes with a sling shot and nearly killed them. Their intentions were to rob them. They thought they had their money.
I must bring my letter to a close. I will write more again. My love to the rest of the family. Remember me to G. K. G. & all enquiring friends.
Direct to Co. H, 9th Regiment Pa. Cavalry.
Affectionately your son, — Isaac D. Landis
Camp Andy Johnson, Jeffersonville, Indiana
We are in my brigade yet. There is no truth in that report about Buell giving up 8,000 prisoners. There has been no advance made yet but expect there will be soon and when there is, I am sure we can rout them. I feel first rate. I just feel as though I had always been in the service. We have pretty hard fare here. We only get meat once a day and that is all fat and that is at noon. In the morning & evening we get coffee & crackers. Yours, — Ike
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
Camp Any Johnson
January 16th 1862
It is with pleasure that I now write. I should have written sooner but I have some reasons. We were paid off on last Saturday and I could not get over to Louisville to see Gideon until Tuesday last. He was quite well. He had his discharge from the hospital on last Tuesday one week ago but he was waiting for a nice day to come over and he was taken with the cramp colic and was pretty bad with it but he was expecting to be over here yesterday or today. He was not paid off yet so I did not send any money home. Yet we only got paid for 2 months & 22 days. We drawed $39.66. We were paid off in Treasury Notes.
We got our rifles on last Sunday. They are a short rifle and you can run your thumb in the muzzle. I sold that pistol that I got from you. I got $13.25 for it. I would not have sold it but I can buy a Colts Revolver for $15.50 [with a] six inch barrel worth from 22 to 25 dollars in any place. They are contraband. They are sold at the Custom House. We presented Capt. [David] Kimmel with a saber, sash, & belt worth $75.00. The saber alone was worth $50.00. We had an inscription on the blade of the saber which was as follows, “Presented to Capt. D. H. Kimmel, Jan. 13th 1862 by the members of his company, Lochiel Cavalry, 9th Pa. Vol.” and we bought our Orderly Sergeant a guitar worth $25.
I will send $20.00. Twelve you may pay to Geo. Briges & the rest will make us square on the pistol & sundries.
It is pretty cold here now but we don’t mind it much with our big overcoats on. I will have my likeness taken and send it home. I bought a splendid pair of boots for $5.00. The legs of them comes up to my knee with a cap to come above my knee. It is a cheap pair of boots. I can live pretty well since I got paid off. I have fired eggs nearly every morning.
I must bring my letter to a close as I must feed my horse. Write soon and I will give you the particulars. My love to Mother and the rest of the family. Tell Charley that I call my horse after him because he is such a cunning little fellow. He puts me in mind if Charley whenever I look at him. My respects to George K. G, Alex Landis, & to all enquiring friends. Affectionately your son, — I. D. Landis
Quite a thunderstorm tonight. It is raining quite hard. Now (3 o’clock) one of our tents is flooded over with water. The boys began to get wet and when they came to look, they found the water all over the tent.
N. B. Since I wrote the above, I hear that we have marching orders. We are to leave on Sunday. I do not know where we go but I expect we shall leave for Bardstown, Kentucky, which is about 40 miles from here. I am on guard tonight. You may send your letter to this place and I will get it. I will write as soon as we leave and let you know the particulars.
I was much obliged to you for them stamps that you sent me. I will now return them with interest and I would like if you would send me the Enquirer nearly every day and oblige. — Ike
I will try and send my likeness home soon.