This letter was written by David Bergen Rittenhouse Hildreth (1843-1917), the son of David Bergen Hildreth (1806-1858) and Jane Ann Hickman (1810-1882) of Buda, Bureau county, Illinois, who enlisted as a private on 23 August 1861 in Co. H, 12th Illinois Infantry for three years. In January 1864, he re-enlisted as a veteran and mustered out at the rank of sergeant in July 1865.
The 12th Illinois Infantry—also known as the “1st Scotch Regiment”—was commanded by Colonel John McArthur who immigrated to the United States from Erskine, Scotland. He had served with the Chicago Highland Guards, a pre-war militia unit.
Addressed to Mr. Charles Witherel, Sheffield, Bureau county, Illinois
Postmarked Paducah, Kentucky
December 22nd 1861
I take this present opportunity to inform you that I am well at present and hope these few lines will find you the same. I have been thinking of writing to you for a long time but I have never got at it till now. I will try to write a few lines to you now. If you can read this letter, I shall think you are a pretty good scholar.
We have had no fighting yet and I am afraid we never shall have as long as we are in the 12th Regiment. We have very good times here now. It has been pretty cold here for a day or two but it is raining all day.
We took a Southern Colonel a few days ago.
Let me know where John Hachet is now.
You will please excuse this short letter and give my best respects to all enquiring friends. Write soon. From your friend, — David B. Hildreth
[to] Charles Witherel