1863-64: Erastus Winters to Family

These letters were written by Erastus Winters (1843-1925), the son of Amos Winters (1793-1875) and Mary Ann Pine (1802-1875) of Hamilton county, Ohio. Erastus enlisted in August 1862 in Co. K, 50th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) and served throughout the remainder of the war.

Erastus had survived the battles at Perryville, the Atlanta campaign, but was taken prisoner on November 30, 1864. He then survived the Cahaba prison and the April 1865 Sultana steamboat explosion that killed ¾ of the released Federal prisoners on board. Using his many war-time letters home to his family and friends, Erastus wrote and self-published the book entitled, “In the 50th Ohio serving Uncle Sam,” in small quantities (since re-published).


Fort Sanders, Hardin County, Ky.
Big Run Trestle
July 28, [1863]

Dear Father,

I have just returned from Elizabethtown where I have been all day. I expressed $35 to you from there and I want you as soon as you get the money to write to me and let me know without delay. If you do not get the money, let me know soon so I will know how to act.

All is quiet here at present. We just finished our Fort yesterday so we will not have anything to do now but drill. There is a rumor that we will have to go to Mobile but I do not believe it.

Well, I suppose they have got Old Jonny at last. I hope they will take good care of him now and keep him where the dogs won’t disturb him. I wish you would send me a box of something nice and useful. If you get the money, let Mother have $5 and the rest I hope you will make good use of as I worked hard for it.

Write soon and tell me all the news from your affectionate son, — Erastus Winters


Louden, Tennessee
April 24, 1864

Dear Sister,

I embrace the present opportunity of answering your kind epistle which came to hand on the 22nd of this month. I was truly glad to hear from you once more and to know you was in as good circumstances as you were. I was very glad to hear that mother was recovering. I hope by this time that she has fully recovered her health. And so you want me to write you a big letter? Well I can try but how far I will succeed, the sequel will show.

We had a nice shower of rain here this morning after which it cleared off very pleasant and warm. We have had a great deal of rain down here this spring and a great deal of cold weather too but it seems to be more settled now and I think we are going to have nice weather.

We have the prettiest camp here that we have ever been in yet. We are camped on the banks of the Tennessee River within about 500 yards of where the new railroad bridge spans it. We can see the steamboats and cars passing every day which looks more like living than it did in Wheeler’s Gap, Cumberland Mountains. Where we are camped in very gravelly. I don’t care how much rain falls, it will never be muddy. We have nice houses to live in. The houses are just large enough for four men to stay in, Take it all in all, we are fixed up very nice for soldiers. It looks like we might stay here all summer but I don’t know how it will be.

I saw George Blim yesterday and had a small talk with him. He is at work on the bridge at this place. He expects to go home by the first of May. Louden is not much of a town. It is not as large as Ludlow. There is an Express Office here very convenient. If you have any canned fruit, you might express me a few cans—anything for a change. A soldier gets tired of the diet he gets, There is no change. It is one thing over and over all the time. So if you could send me a few notions, it would be very thankfully received. If the folks makes up their mind to send me a box, you can get Sophia and Hiram to put in something and Lucretia [too] so it won’t come so hard on you folks at home. I want Frank to send me two or three plugs of good Ohio chewing tobacco for his share. You need not send a very big box if you conclude to send it post haste so it will get here before we move away but I think we will stay here two or three months.

James Lacy never came back. He may be in some other regiment for all I know. William Sparks deserted from this regiment when we were at Lebanon, Kentucky, and has never returned. Lieutenant Pine is on detached duty at Knoxville. Lieutenant Anderson is in command of our company at present.

It surprised me to hear of so many marriages since I came away. I am afraid all the girls will be married before I get back. Can’t you get some of them to wait till I get home? Tell them it’s only 17 months yet. That is not long to wait. Surely some of them can wait that long. But what surprised me most was to hear you talk of getting married. Is it possible that my little sister has grown up big enough to get married in so short a time? It astonished me but I suppose it is so. No wonder you think I would not know you, but you must not get married till I get home for I want to be at your wedding.

Give my respects to Mr. Sweet and Mr. Harris and tell them I would like for them to write me a letter. I am a great hand for letters you know. But where is Mary all this time? She never sends me any word. What makes her so distant? I would like to hear from her sometimes. Enclosed you will find a song entitled, “What’s a home without a sister” which I think is very appropriate.

Well, it is after taps and I must go to bed for I think I will be on guard tomorrow. Write soon and often. I wrote to Father and Frank last week. Direct to Louden, Tennessee, 50th Reg. O. V. I., Co. K. Give my love to Mother and Father, Frank, and Mary and all enquiring friends if any there be and don’t forget to reserve a portion for yourself hoping you are all well and in good circumstances, I subscribe myself, your affectionate brother, — Erastus Winters

Miss Phebe Winters

Do they miss me at home. Do they miss me? It would be an assurance most dear to know at this moment some loved one were saying I wish he were here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s