1862-65: Thomas Conley to Kate (Conley) Gabriel

These letters written by Thomas Conley (b. @1830) who enlisted in Co. B, 33rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). He enlisted in 1862 and served for the duration of the war.

Thomas wrote all six letters to his sister Catherine (“Kate”) Conley (1834-Aft1880) who married Joel C. Grabriel (1830-1891) in March 1861 in Brown county, Ohio.


Camp Jefferson, Kentucky
January 28th 1862

Dear Sister,

I received your letter 2 hours ago and was so glad to hear from you [that] I stopped writing a letter to Mary Jane. I received your letter and then finished writing her letter and against I got it done it was drill time and I had to go out and drill 2 hours. I have just got in from drill and am writing in an old tent where no one stays. It is used to keep the sick men’s guns in. I get in here so no one will trouble me while I am writing. I cannot write when there is so many around me. I am well now and hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing.

I have got well of the mumps. They made me very sick for 2 days. I was not able to get out of the tent. I sent for the doctor. He came and gave me a puke. It made me sick for a little while but I soon got over that and as soon as I got over that the mumps was all tight.

They have gone on dress parade. I slipped them this time but if the captain knew I was writing he would have me in dress parade but I am too sharp for him. If it was not for Ed DeBruin, I would not like this company. ¹

Ramsey is just like he was at home. He is as quarrelsome as ever and a heap more big feeling. The captain is the same way but him and Ramsey has always treated me with respect and I treated them the same way. But DeBruin has not got the living of a cat in hell with them. They quarrel with him all the time. But he is the best fellow that ever lived. He treats me like a father and I treat him like a son. When the war is over, it will be like breaking up families and that is bad to part one another.

There is nothing going on in camp now. Only the talk about the fight at Bowling Green and that will not be much for we will whip them easy. The generals say the war will be over against the first of May.

They are coming in from dress parade and I must stop to eat my supper so no more at present but answer as soon as you did the other one and I will think you are a good girl.

Direct as same as before. Remains your affectionate brother, — Thomas Conley

To his sister Kate

¹ Edwin M. DeBruin (1830-1899) enlisted as 1st Lieut. of Co. B, 33rd Ohio Infantry in August 1861. He was promoted to Captain on 16 January 1864. He was from Winchester, Adams county, Ohio.



Addressed to Miss Kate Gabriel, Georgetown, Brown county, Ohio

Huntsville, Alabama
June 2nd 1862

Dear sister,

I received your letter on the last day of May and was glad to hear from you all and to hear that you had left Old Winchester and to think you had gone to the country where you can have everything. We are in the prettiest country that I ever saw. This is the prettiest town I ever saw. It is all shade. It is all in a grove.

The news has just come in to town that Richmond is taken and Jeff Davis too and a lot of prisoners. They have been shooting the cannon all day down in town. That Harvey Liggett that you wrote to me about was a good, clever fellow in camp. Me and him was intimate for a better fellow in camp that he was none of the boys wanted. All the boys liked him first rate. I expect he is no account at home.

The rebels were plenty when we came here but we made them get up and dust. They don’t like the looks of the Yankees and they run so we can’t get to see them—only them that we can outrun and take prisoners.

It is warm here. We have new potatoes and beans and peas. Everything is very high priced. I paid forty cents for one pound of butter. Blackberries is ten cents a quart. I must stop writing to you as I want to write some to Joel. I am well.

Your brother, — Thomas Conley

This letter will not be very interesting.

[reverse side in pencil]

Well Joel, I must write you something about warfare. We are in the sunny clime of the South now. We are at Huntsville, 12 miles from the Tennessee River. We can hear the boats whistle plain here. We have a nice camp. It is in a grove and we have the ground clean. We don’t know how long we will stay here. It is a pretty country here. We get plenty to eat here and think the war will soon be over. The news came here that Jeff Davis was taken prisoner at Richmond and Beauregard with him. I wish the was was over till I get home once more and see all the folks and get to run around some once more, I think in the course of 2 months I will be at home all right again and I can come and see you living in a farm and having plenty of everything good to eat. That is the main thing now-a-days.

I must bring my letter to a close by telling you that I am well and hope this may find you well as Kate wrote to me you was not well. So no more at present but remain your brother, — Thomas Conley

Direct your letter to Huntsville, Alabama



Murfreesboro, Tennessee
May 12th [1863]

Dear Sister,

I received your kind and welcome letter yesterday and was glad to hear that you was well and well satisfied with your new home. I am well but cannot say that I am satisfied with my new home but am better than I expected I would be when I left home. The boys were all glad to see me when I came back to the company and treats me well but that does not make it as pleasant as home yet. But it [paper creased]…for the camp is in a nice grove and we do not drill but 3 hours a day. We go out in the morning at half past four o’clock and come in from drill half past 5 o’clock.

Well Kate, I wish this war would come to a close soon so I would get away from this place. When I was at home, I was a butternut for I thought it was wrong to free the niggers but now I am in the army and I say take everything they have rather than stay out here always. But when I come home, I will be a democrat again. But now I am in for putting down this rebellion. No man can be in the army now without acting out the abolition principles but they are not my choice but the nature of the case compels me and a good many others to differ in principles. We are not of the same opinion here as we are when we are at home but I am down on the abolition wherever they may be—that is, them at home who are the first to tell everybody to go but they will not go themselves nor their friends if they can help it. This thing of neighbors not being sociable on account of politics is nonsense for they ought to be friendly and go to church together for if they should happen to go to Heaven. they would not be friendly there.

But as for my part, the abolitions will have to mend their ways or they will never see the happy shore. I suppose you know as much about Vallandingham’s case as I do. There is great rejoicing over it here. Well that is about all about politics.

It is very warm here now. The sun shines as hot here now as it does in August in Ohio.

The 24th Ohio is in sight of us and I see the boys every day. Lupton [said] to me to give you his respects and I saw John Shinn and George [P.] Tyler. John is Second Lieutenant and George is First [Lt. in Co. H] in the 59th Ohio. If we stay here, I will send that pretty girl of yours a present because she looks like me. Give my respects to Joel. Tell him I will write him a letter one of these days. Give my respects to John Moore when you see him and I don’t [mind] if you give them to bet.

Give my love to mother and Jim and all the rest of the friends and a portion for yourself and to all that wants to know anything about me. So no more. Write soon.

— Thomas Conley



Crow Creek, Alabama
August 12, 1863

Sister Kate,

I have waited so long for you to write and you have not wrote. I thought I would think enough of you to write to you if you don’t of me but I hope you do. I think it has only been neglect. I hope this letter may find you and your little group all well and doing well as I know you will. I am well at this time but have been sick a few days back. I have plenty to eat now. I will give you the bill of fare. Corn, peaches, apples, potatoes, chicken pies, and biscuits. That is all I and Billy Collins has at this time. We will have more in a few days. Then if you wish, you can come and see us and bring your knitting along and stay awhile. But you had better not come until we get closer home.

Well Kate, from what mother wrote to me, if Morgan had come back through there again, Joel would’ve been with out a wife for he was at mothers nearly crazy hunting you. That is another reason you had for not writing for when we get among the enemy, we cannot write but aim to write before we get in with the enemy.

Well Kate, I suppose you was frightened when you heard Morgan was in the country. I know I would if I had been there but I would liked to been there to seen the fun. But I have seen him once and that is enough for anyone. Well Kate, I am getting close to my Old Huntsville. We are in 75 miles of there but I don’t think we will go there. We will go to Chattanooga or that way into Georgia. Where we will go to from there, I know not but I think to Atlanta. The war is progressing favorably in all parts. I think when we get 2 or 3 hundred thousand conscripts, we will have plenty men to guard a place when we take it and let the rebels have it again.

Well, I have wrote all the news, I believe, but give my love to Joel and tell him I will write to him in a few days. I want you to go and see mother as often as you can and keep her from spinning. Tell her I saids so. Tell her to use all of that money I sent home if she needs it for I will send her some every 2 or 3 months. Tell Jim not to kill himself making rails but tell him to go ahead, work his tobacco, and I will have a final settlement with him. No more. From your until death but remains your affectionate brother, — Thomas Conley

Write soon. Direct to Murfreesboro.



Addressed to Mrs. Kate Gabriel, Ash Bridge P. O., Brown county, Ohio

Crow Creek, Alabama
August 25, 1863

Dear Sister,

I received your kind and welcome letter which came to hand yesterday which gave me much pleasure to hear that you was well. I am well at this time and hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. Well Kate, this is the first letter I have got from you for a month. I thought you never was going to write anymore. I wrote you one not long ago, I don’t know whether you have got it yet or not. Hi [Hyman Israel] DeBruin has got home. You say resigned. I suppose the quartermaster business pays well. I suppose he has made enough money to do him awhile and has got the name of been in the army. They talk about Ramsay but there has never as good an officer left Winchester yet as he is. Ed DeBruin is Captain of this company and he is gone all the time. Ramsay has to be here all the time.

I had plenty of green corn to eat July here. They issue corn to us like other rations. Six ears a day. Peaches are ripe here and sweet potatoes are large enough to eat. I went about 2 miles last night and stole a bushel of them and while I was digging them the old woman came out and cried out to get out of that patch you damned thieves. You are the raking of God’s earth and all I said was for the old lady, “Keep your shirt on.”  I am worse than a camp nigger to steal potatoes and chickens from the Secesh.

We are going to be mounted in a few days. We will ride the rest of our time out. I have nothing to tell you concerning the war at this time—only there is plenty of rebels down here yet. I have nothing at all to tell you but to write often and a little at a time like I do. I will quit for this time as I know nothing of importance to write. Give my best respects to you and Joel.

Write soon, from Thomas Conley




Headquarters 1st Division, 14th Army Corps
Alexandria, Va.

May 21, 1865

Sister Kate,

I received your kind and welcome letter the day we arrived here. It was the first one that I had got for some time. I was glad to hear from you to hear that you were well. I was sorry to hear that Ann was so sick but I am in hopes she will be well in a short time. I wish I could see all you and mother more than all. I don’t know whether I will get home soon or not as is reported the Veterans are going to be kept and if they are, I am going to North Carolina with a captain on Gen. Kilpatrick’s staff but it is supposition about the Veterans. Gen. Sherman says he is going to have his army mustered out soon as they get their papers made out. Gen. Sherman’s army is going to be reviewed on the 24th of this month in Washington City. It is going to be one of the grandest things of the war.

I left Raleigh, North Carolina, on the first day of this month and have come over three hundred miles since that time. You may know I have traveled since that time. I was in Richmond four days. I saw all the houses where all the rebel leaders used to occupy. Richmond is a fine city and everything looks prosperous. I saw the battlefields that have been fought over for four years. I also saw where George Washington was buried and the bed he died on and the trunks he had with him in the army.

Alexandria is a fine place six miles from Washington. I have not been there yet but I intend to go today.

Well Kate, as I am coming home shortly, I will not write any more now. Give my love to all and I will in a short time give them my hand and heart.

All from Tom

If you want to write, direct to Headquarters 1st Division, 14th Army Corps, Washington D. C.


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