This letter was written by 38 year-old Samuel Estill (1824-1900), the 5’9″ blue-eyed captain of Co. K, 114th Illinois. Infantry. Samuel mustered into the company on 18 September 1862 and resigned his commission on 8 August 1863—just one month after this letter was written from the vicinity of Back River, east of Vicksburg.
Samuel was the son of William Estill (1794-1885) and his first wife, “Miss Williams.” Samuel had a younger brother named William John Estill (1826-1891) who was the captain of Co. F, 114th Illinois Infantry. William was wounded on the second day of fighting at the Battle of Shiloh.
In 1860, Samuel was farming in Menard county, Illinois. His farm was located in Township 18, Range 6. He was married to Martha Jennison (1837-18xx) and had a young son named Joseph Arthur Estill (1857-1865). Living in the household with the Estill’s was Martha’s 19 year-old sister, Mehitable Jennison. Samuel and Martha were married in 1855. Samuel was, by trade, a carpenter and after the war entered into the lumber business.
See also—1863-64: William C. Johnson to Samantha (DeWitt) Johnson on Spared & Shared 10.
Addressed to Mrs. Samuel Estill, Petersburg, Menard county, Illinois
Black River, Mississippi
July 6th 1863
I received a letter last night from you wrote while you was in Jacksonville. I was glad to hear you had got your teeth fixed. You don’t say where Arthur is. I suppose he was left at Jer’s or Off’s. You must not think that I wanted you to take him with you. I want you to do just as you think best with him or anything else and I will be satisfied for I believe I have got the best woman in all the country. This is no flattery but from my heart.
I am well and hope this will find you the same. Jesse Knoles is unwell. He was right sick yesterday. I am afraid he won’t be able to march with us. L[afayette] McAttee is sick and will have to be left. The rest of the boys are well that are with the regiment. There are ten or twelve left back about ten miles. Some of them are sick. All that are able will be sent up to the regiment today. Foster is there. He is no better. The Division Surgeon is going to see if he can’t have all of the sick that are likely to remain sick for sometime sent North which ought to be done by all means.
Jo[h]n Trumbo’s ¹ remains was sent home. His brother started with them yesterday morning.
Martha, you say in your letter you have been told I was opposed to the President’s Proclamation. That is not true. I have said the Confiscation Act would answer all purposes as the Niggers could not be freed until we got possession of the country but I have always been in favor of anything that would stop this rebellion.
You want me to come home with the Colonel [James W. Judy]. I would like to the best kind, but I can’t if he goes right away before he offers his resignation. He told me yesterday he intended to resign but wanted to go home first. I have some business to settle up before I can resign. It wouldn’t take long if I could stop a few days and have my books and papers. I could make all my reports in two days and then I would be ready to resign which I intend to do just as soon as I can get my business wound up. I thought all the time when we got through this Vicksburg affair we would get to rest—then I would wind up my affairs. But instead of stopping, we are ordered out on another march. I hope it will not be long until we stop as it is extremely hot and dusty.
From your affectionate husband, — Samuel Estill
¹ Private John W. Trumbo’s date of death in the company’s roster is recorded as 17 July 1863, yet this letter was written on 6 July 1863. John’s parents were Andrew Trumbo (1801-1854) and Mary Elizabeth Sears (1811-1902). John’s brother, Charles Adams Trumbo (1841-1920) served with John in the same company and is the brother who undoubtedly took his remains home to Illinois for burial. Charles returned to rejoin his regiment and was taken prisoner at Guntown, Mississippi. He was taken to Andersonville Prison were he suffered for many months. He escaped the prison by feigning his death and was carted out of the prison with other dead bodies. Once outside, he crawled a short distance at a time until he reached a river where a passing steamer picked him up. He was finally discharge on 23 January 1865. [Story of his escape published in The Greenview Review, January 19, 1920]