This letter was written by Jeremiah Fennesy (1838-1905), a native of Philadelphia, who enlisted at the age of 23 in April 1861 to serve one year in Co. F, 12th Indiana Infantry. He was mustered out of the service on 19 May 1862. Jeremiah stood 6 foot 1½ inches tall. He was a good Irish catholic and resided most of his life in Tippecanoe county, Indiana.
Jeremiah wrote the letter to William P. Henderson (1821-1888) of Lafayette, Indiana. William was a native of Dayton, Ohio. He was a partner with David Ross in the wholesale grocery business in Lafayette.
Addressed to Mr. William P. Henderson, Lafayette Post Office, Tippecanoe county, Indiana
February 4th 1862
Mr. W. P. Henderson,
This morning between nine and ten o’clock, a squad of twelve cavalry made their appearance opposite my picket house. They remained only a few minutes when they started off on double quick. I can hear firing across over the hills all the forenoon. These are the first rebels [that] I have been seen from this post.
We had a heavy snow storm here for the last two days. Our mail was lost the night of the first. The postmaster gave it to one of our boys. It’s supposed he lost it. The paymaster was here on the 3rd and paid off the regiment. The boys are doing all [their] trading in Sharpsburg. One merchant says he has made 10,000 dollars off the 12th Indiana Regiment in the past three months and half this state is getting their share of the trade.
If you have written to me in the last week, the letter is lost with the rest of the mail.
There are three breaks in the canal between here and Williamsport. There won’t be no boats running on this canal until the middle of March or the first of April.
There is a man here carrying on blacksmithing. He wanted to know if I was acquainted with Mr. Ross in Lafayette. I told him I was. He says he was raised with him in Ohio. Used to go to school with him. He says he used to work for Yarber in Lafayette for six months.
The forces on the Potomac won’t move for 70 days. The whole of the army will move across the Potomac at once. It’s very lonesome here at night on picket. By day all we can hear is the rebel cavalry bugler and by night the different signal lights from the Observatory built on the heights ____ of our army and the Confederate army. The signal lights are red and white. There is one on the Maryland Heights [and] one on the Sugar Loaf Mountain. We can see the rebel signal lights ever night.
There is some talk of recruiting this regiment for two years longer after their time is out.
Respectfully yours, — Jeremiah Fennesy