Andrew Downing
11 Mar. 1838 - 17 Dec. 1917

7th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry
Civil War Letters

Wyanet (Bureau Co IL) Nov. 22nd, 1860

Cousin Norman:

Your letter was rec’d in due time and today is the first time I have had an opportunity to reply. I was glad to hear from you as I am always from any of my Carroll friends.

Neither have I anything new or interesting to write this time but I will try and make a readable letter at least. What a pity it was for you to cut off such a promising pair of whiskers as you had when I last saw you. I hope the new land you talked of striking out will prove both prosperous and profitable and produce a very large crop. As for me it is somewhat uncertain whether I go into the business very soon or not. If the price of Dr. Bodley’s Hair Chincher should fall quite likely the next time you see me I will have a t-r-e-m-e-n-d-o-u-s pair.

Owing to the low price of all kinds of grain, trade is not very brisk in our little town at present, but we hope for better times shortly. My partner Mr. Cass has gone to Michigan and Joe (our clerk) and I keep things about straight in Wyanet you may be sure.

A good many of the Ill. Banks are going down but I am so fortunate as to have but one $1.00 note of the broken banks on hand. (Note: I think he means $1,000 here; otherwise the next sentence doesn’t make sense.) Mr. Cass took nearly $100.00 of it with him when he left but I presume he disposed of it as soon as he reached Chicago.

We have elected "Old Abe" here certain - sure.

We are all swell and prospering finely; the weather is quite cold so much so that we burn considerable coal in the course of a day. I must close now. Please write again soon. I shall always be glad to hear from you. Give my regards to all. Good Bye.

Sincerely Yours,
Andrew Downing

P.S. Just as I was finishing up the last page the most conspicuous "old maid" of Wyanet, who is exactly like "Miss Shimmens" told me to give her love to whoever I was writing so please accept it and I hope it will do you a great deal of good. She thought I was writing to some lady. But enough of this -- A. D.

Wyanet July 13, 1861

Cousin Norman:

Your letter was rec’d some time ago and this is the first opportunity I have had to answer it. I was glad to hear from you as I always am.

I wish I could have been with you the 4th and went to that picnic. As it was I went over to Princeton where they had a rousing celebration and military parade, there were about 10,000 people present including a regiment of soldiers who went through the various military evolutions in grand style. Wyanet sent a cavalry company commanded by Capt. Barry there but I did not go with them. I saw a great many old friends there and had a good time generally although I was pretty tired when night came.

Business in our town is awful dull and I have half a notion to sell out and go to the war as soon as I can.

The 19th Ill. Regiment, Col. Turchin from Chicago passed through here about an hour ago there were 18 cars crowded full of them they stopped about 20 minutes and we all went down to see them. The Col. (John B. Turchin) offered me a good place if I would go with them but I could not. They are a hardy sett of fellows and look as if they could do some tall fighting if necessary. They are on their way to Missouri.

Stephen saw the Freeport Regiment and the Carroll boys when they passed through Amboy sometime ago and he and Zack had quite a chat with Milo and others they knew. (Note: Ellen Eliza Preston Downing, made a hand which were handwritten onto the bottom of the letter: Stephen was Stephen Downing, Andrew’s brother. The Milo mentioned here was Milo Cummings, uncle of Ross Cummings. He enlisted in the 15" Illinois.)

I expect there are plenty of girls left yet in your section of country but I don’t want to marry till the war is over. Wyanet is literally running over with young women and every fellow has to wait on two or else some of them will not get waited upon at all. Poor Dud! I know a gall that would just suit him if he would come down this way. (Note: The handwriting really looks like Dud, although it must be some other name. Gall is clearly "gall" too, although he must mean "gal")

But I must close now as it is Saturday and we will have more trade than on week days. Mr. Cass is farming this summer so I do most of the business in the store alone although we have a clerk. All the farmers are "strapped" completely now a days.

Give my love to all and believe me as ever.

Sincerely Yours,
Andrew Downing

Wyanet, Sept. 7th, 1861

Note: Ellen Eliza Preston Downing wrote the following notes on bottom of the prior letter (July 13, 1861) but they really apply to this letter, since explain why Andrew Downing enlisted in Kansas. She wrote: "Andrew told me he went to Kansas with a load of horses. Bridges went out so he couldn’t get home so he enlisted there, which was why he was in a Kansas Regiment.

Cousin Norman:

You may perhaps by this time begin to think I have forgotten you but such is not the case however and the reason I have not replied to your letter before is that I have enlisted for the war and have been recruiting for the last three weeks, as hard as I knew how. We have held meetings in nearly every school house in this part of the country and succeeded in raising a full company but when we came to start for Quincy (Illinois) last Monday a good many of the boys came up missing.

We went to Quincy however and 51 of us were sworn in for 3 years and I have come back to get more men. I am getting along finely and the beauty of it is I swear them in when they enlist and they can’t back out. I expect to start with what men I get for Quincy next Friday. We will probably leave that place in a few days afterwards for Fort Leavenworth where we will join Gen. Lane’s Brigade and go into service. I have sold out my interest in the store to my partner and am now going to put in my best licks to help wipe out secession in Missouri. Our boys are all young fine fellows and were in the best of spirits when I left them.

I have six men ready to go with me and several more under convictions. We have one of the best Captains Illinois has yet sent out I am certain; he is six feet 2 inches in height well formed and looks splendidly in his uniform. The Lieutenants are also over six feet high and if we don’t fight it will be because we don’t get a chance.

The folks are all well. If you want to enlist come on and I will be glad to take you or any other men. Give my love to all and tell them "goodbye" for me till the war is over. I would like to have your write as soon as you get this so I may receive your letter before I leave Wyanet. Ed wants to go very bad but father can’t spare him. (Note: Edwin Downing, brother of Andrew Downing)

In haste -
Truly your friend & Cousin,
Lt. A. Downing
Kansas Brigade

Independence, MO Nov. 25th 1861

Dear Cousin,

Your very welcome letter of Nov. 15th was rec’d a few days since and with pleasure I reply. We are now fully armed and equipped for the service and on the move nearly all the time so I don’t have but little time to write. Our company has sorrel horses and they are splendid ones too and mine is I think as good a one as there is in the Regiment. We are styled Independent Rangers or First Regiment of Kansas Cavalry and Col. C. R. Jennison who gave the Border Ruffians such particular fits in ’56 is our commander. (Note: The Border Ruffians were trying to get Kansas to enter the Union as a slave state in 1856). He is a small man but all grit and go ahead. We have been here once before in this secession hole of Independence; we burnt several rebel houses and the Col. issued a proclamation warning the citizens that if another Union man was disturbed here or another government train stopped by the rebels he would return and burn every shanty in the city. Independence is quite a large place and there are but 4 or 5 Union men in it.

We have gone into camp here on the county fair grounds. There are ten companies of us and we make quite a show_________ (a small piece of the paper is missing)..... the march. Young John Brown is Captain of one of the companies; he is a splendid officer; so is our Capt. and I shouldn’t wonder if he was promoted before the war closes. Last week we were out towards Sedalia some 30 miles right in the heart of a rebel county in Price’s army and killed 13 of the scamps before we came back. I led several scouting parties and took 6 or 8 horses from the secesh (Seccessionists) and turned them over for the benefit of Uncle Sam. One day I was out with 20 men. We saw 3 men with 4 horses trying to get away us so we gave them chase but before we got near enough to reach them with our rifles they left the horses and got into a corn field. We down with the fence and scattered in every direction so as to be sure and head them off but somehow or other they got out into the thick timber and underbrush where we couldn’t follow them. We brought the 4 horses into camp. Our Regt or parts of our Regt have had several battles with the enemy in one we lost 7 men and the enemy 32 and 75 horses. Our company was not in the fight. We have one 12 pound howitzer now attached to our company; it throws shells and canister shot.

You cannot begin to imagine the state of affairs in this part of Missouri. The rebels rob and oppress the Union men whenever they have an opportunity and if you catch one of the scoundrels he pretends to be the most loyal citizen that ever lived. This is what makes it so hard work to fight them for they never will meet us unless they know they have all the advantage in position and strength of force. Thank God we have settled the hash for a few of the worst of them and if they don’t overpower us we will fix a few more of them this winter. We are armed with minie rifles and Colts Navy revolvers. (Note: The CivilWar@Smithsonian describes the minie ball in detail and states that the type of ammunition most used during the Civil War was the minie ball.)

Tell John Kinney to come for his help is needed now if ever. I should like to have you in our company very much and I presume there will be room for you in the spring. I mean to try and go home on a furlough by that time. I am glad to hear that the people of Preston Prairie are so patriotic; the object for which their society was formed is a worthy one and we soldiers fully appreciate the kindness and generosity which prompted such efforts. I forgot to tell you that I have a darkey to take care of my horse and do my chores for me. I took him from a secesh. Write soon...my love to all. Direct letters as before to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas care Capt. Merriman and believe me as ever Sincerely Your Cousin
A. Downing

Leavenworth City, Kansas
April 25th, 1862

Dear Uncle:

(Note: This letter was written to Sumner Downing, the brother of Heman Downing, who was Andrew’s father. Sumner was Norman Downing’s father, and the previous letters were written to Norman Downing.)

Having a little spare time and thinking that a letter from me might interest you. I will endeavor to write one. I have been on the General Recruiting service for the Kansas regiments for the last two months and consequently cannot tell you much concerning the operations of the army in this Department from personal observation. However I will soon be in the field again as all recruiting officers have just been recalled. Our regiment is now stationed at Fort Riley. We expect to form a part of the expedition to New Mexico which will probably start from Fort Riley about the first of May. I will leave here for the latter place next Monday.

My wife (Martha "Mattie" J. Gibon) was with me all the time I was recruiting and will go back to Illinois in a day or two.

Our Col. C. R. Jennison has resigned and there is a fair prospect that the Capt. Of our Co will soon be made a Major which will also of course help me a little although I do not seek promotion. A Lieutenant’s pay is good enough and I find I can clear a little over $100 per month by being economical. We have got our horses pretty well trained now - so well that most of them will take their places in the rank without riders and go through all the movements correctly. I like the cavalry service but presume we will have a long hard trip to New Mexico although probably not much fighting to do.

Our old friend D. B. Emmert called on me yesterday. He is at work in the "Times" office in this city.

The last I heard from home the folks were all well. Mother is considerably anxious about me for fear I will get sick but I am sure if she could see me she wouldn’t worry for I am as rugged as ever I was in my life; this outdoor exercise just suits my case and I like it extremely well.

The rebels in Missouri are very quiet now and will not probably trouble the Kansas borders any more. There are but few troops stationed here at Ft. Leavenworth now most of the regiments having left for Ft. Riley and other points west.

Give my regards to Aunt Isabel (Thompson. Wife of Sumner Downing) , the boys and all friends and acquaintances. I should like to see you all and if I ever get through helping Uncle Sam do his thrashing I mean to pay you a visit.

Please write if you have time also tell Norman and Harvey to write. Direct letters to Lieut. A. Downing 7th Regt. Kansas Vols. Fort Riley, Kansas and I will be sure to get them and further they will always be welcome and promptly answered. It has been a long time since I have heard from any of my Carroll friends.

No more at present. Please accept my best regards and pardon this uninteresting letter while I remain, as ever

Sincerely Yours
Andrew Downing

Camp near Rienzi, Miss. Aug 18th, 1862

Dear Cousin:

(Note: He is probably writing this to Harvey Loomer Downing, Norman Downing’s brother)

Your letter reached me in due time and I will answer it now when I have time although I have not much now to give you. We are lying idly in camp here with the enemy not more than 20 or 25 miles off but the weather is so warm that neither side cares to make a move. I was out on picket guard last night with Co. D about midnight - 15 darkies who were running away from their secesh masters came to the pickets where we kept them till morning and then brought them into camp. They seemed very glad to get away from their masters and inside the lines of the Union army for they know they are safe here. I got a letter from Ed (Note: This is probably Andrew Downing’s brother Edwin) not long ago; he thinks he will enlist. Everybody in Bureau Co seems to be going to the war. Eli Shugart, Angela’s husband talks some of going. (Note: Angela is Rosetta Angela Downing, Andrew Downing’s sister)

Marshall Cooper who used to live on the prairie is in the Iowa 2nd Cavalry camped close to us he and his brother who belongs to the same company came to see me the other night. "Way down south in Dixie" is a great place to grow whiskers and all our boys are trying experiments in that line. If Norm wants to raise a pair that will almost make him round shouldered to carry them around tell him to come down here and spend a few months and raise a military hair. I wouldn’t advise anyone to enlist for I think there will be no danger of a draft in Ill. We mean to thrash the rebels good and strong when that 600,000 gets into the field. I am glad to hear you have got the care of that family off your hands. I am glad that railroad is finished at last. Wish I could take a ride upon it. I lost one of my horses today but will try and get another from the secesh. We have plenty of peaches, apples, potatoes, and green corn now that we take from the rebels and always forget to pay for. Please write again soon and tell me all the news. My best respects to all. Direct letters to Corinth, Miss. Excuse haste and believe me as ever

Sincerely Your Friend & Cousin
Lieut. A. Downing
7th Regt. Kansas Vols.

Germantown, Tenn. March 22, 1863

Cousin Harvey:

Your letter of March 10th was rec’d in due time and I will try and answer it today although I have but little news to write. My wife is now with me; we have a very pleasant stopping place at a planter’s house close to camp. We expect to remain here some time and she will stay until the regiment moves and I am obliged to move too. We made a raid upon a guerrilla camp a few days ago and captured quite a number of Confederate officers among them a Brigadier General and others. My Co. took all the prisoners but one. We are having splendid weather here now. The planter’s (those that have not left the country) are planting cotton and the peach and plum trees are in full bloom. So I think there will be an abundance of fruit in Dixie this year.

The 15 Ill. Regt. passed by our camp on their way to Memphis a few days ago. I believe there are some Carroll boys that I know in it but I did not think to find out until after they had passed by. Perhaps they have not yet left Memphis and I shall see them when I go there. Father’s folks were all well when I heard from them last. I have not heard Lil and Zack for a long time. Perhaps they have forgotten their soldier-brother. (Note) When he refers to his father’s folks, I don’t think he means his grandparents, but more likely his father’s [Heman Downing’s] relatives in Bureau County. His grandmother, Emerancia Preston Downing, died in 1859, so he couldn’t have been referring to her. I don’t have a death date for his grandfather, Abner Downing, but I believe if he was still alive then he was living in Carroll County, not in Bureau County. Lil and Zack are his sister, Elizabeth Downing, and her husband Zachariah Shugart, who had married in 1858.)

I will send your mother my picture the first chance I get to have a good one taken. Please give my best respects to all friends and acquaintances. When I get out of the war I mean to pay you a visit - wife and I both but when that will be I cannot tell.

I hope Gen. Grant will get his "big ditch" done soon for it is about time we had something going on down there.

Please write soon, and tell me all the news. Direct your letters as before via Memphis, Tenn. I am always glad to hear from my old Carroll friends. No more at present.

Everly our Friend & Cousin
A. Downing
Co. D 7th Kansas Cavalry

Corinth, Miss., June 1st, 1863

Dear Cousin:

I believe I owe you a letter but I have only a few minutes time to write it in so you must excuse me if it is poorly written and not very interesting.

We have been scouting almost the whole time for the last two months - have been in nearly a hundred cavalry fights and skirmishes and still the rebs have not hit me yet but they have shot very close several times.

I expect we will be sent to Vicksburg soon perhaps in two or three days at the farthest. I promised to send your mother my picture now I have had several taken and here is the best I can get in Corinth. Perhaps it will not please her I am so badly sunburnt that it is dark; then I wear my hair short (so the rebs can’t get a good hold of my top knot) and it don’t look very smoothe; my whiskers and mustache I will say nothing about, as they are old enough to speak for themselves. I am rather thin in flesh now too; this also shows itself in my face and makes it look longer than it really is. If I can ever get a better picture I will send it to her.

When I get home from war I want to get a picture of each and all of my uncles, aunts, cousins, and conslinges.

I have not rec’d a letter from home for some time, but I learned from one of the boys who rec’d a letter from our neighborhood last night that father’s folks are all well.

I expect a letter tonight from home.

Give my love to all friends and acquaintances and no not forget to write soon. Direct letters to Corinth, Miss.

Excuse haste and I will try and do better next time. I am well and it is generally healthy here now.

Tell Norm to write if his whiskers do not take up too much of his time. Good bye.

Sincerely Your Friend & Cousin
Andrew Downing

Corinth, Miss. August 3, 1863

Samuel Preston, Esq.

Dear Sir:

Being off duty today and having a leisure hour, I thought that a letter from my pen, written in Dixie, might not be uninteresting to you.

Our regiment (the 7th Kansas Vol. Cavalry) has been stationed at this place for the last three months - i.e. we have had our camp and headquarters here although we are almost constantly in the saddle hunting down guerrilla and roving bands of plunderers that infest the northern portion of this state. Our brigade is now out with eight days rations somewhere in West Tennessee whither they have gone with the hope of bagging Forrest and his boasted riders who are there, mercilessly enforcing the odious conscription law of Jefferson I - forcing even loyalists into the ranks. If an encounter takes place, I have no fears as to the result. The 7th Kansas is armed with Colts Revolving rifles - the most perfect arm in the service - and with these weapons one hundred of our boys are more than a match for three times their number of the enemy - as has been clearly demonstrated in several engagements.

The country around Corinth has suffered terribly from the ravages of war, there not being hardly a flourishing plantation, or a respectable planter’s house in Tishomingo County. Nearly all the men are in one of the armies - some in the Federal, some in the Rebel - and in many cases neighbors oppose neighbors, and brothers fight against brothers in this cruel and unnatural war. Within twenty five miles of where I sit, four great battles have been fought, namely Pittsbury Landing, Iuka, Corinth, and the battle of the Hatchie, besides innumerable fights and skirmishes of lesser note, so that all the ground within a circumference of 150 miles (with Corinth for the center) is a veritable Golgotha, thickly strewn with graves of Union and Rebel dead. (Note: Andrew Downing called the first battle as Pittsbury Landing, but it was officially called either Pittsburgh Landing or Shiloh.)

We have raised two negro regiments here and they are becoming very proficient in the drill and already display soldierly qualities that even veteran white soldiers might well be proud of. Experience has demonstrated that Sambo will fight, and no one who has ever seen them in battle will for a moment doubt the wisdom of the government in calling these sable, "native Americans of African descent" into the field to fight under a flag whose protecting fold -Thank God! - now save alike over the black man and the white.

The soldiers of our army here are now looking hopefully forward to an early and honorable peace. The many brilliant victories won by our arms during the last month have given a tremendous impetus to our cause, encouraging our troops, and, of course, correspondingly depressing the spirits and disheartening our enemies. Quite a number of Bragg’s troops have deserted, and arrived at this post, avowing that as soon as the news of the fall of Vicksburg reached them they would no longer follow the fortunes of the sinking Confederacy. A spirit of depression and discouragement amounting almost to despair prevails pretty generally over the whole length and breadth of the South, and , if our arms meet with no reverses (even though we gain no victories) the tottering temple of Rebellion and Despotism which Jeff Davis and his Co-friends have built will soon crumble to atoms with not "one stone left upon another."

While the poor blind fools who have worshipped there aloud shall utter a hopeless prayer:

That never the hosts of the Lord shall pray

For the rocks to fall
And cover them all,
In their guilt and shame from the light of day.

"Godspeed the day" is the prayer of all our hearts. I have now been in the army two long years, taken from the best part of my life, and yet I do not regret the sacrifice I have made - even though my poor life should be offered up to secure to others the liberties of a free and perfect Union.

My wife is now with me enjoying a little of the romance, and enduring some of the discomforts and hardships of camp life. The weather here now is cool and pleasant with an occasional thunder shower to break the calm monotony and sweeten and purify the air.

Are there any Copperheads in Carroll or rather were there any before the glad tidings of victory pealed from a myriad bells and thundered from a thousand cannon all over the jubilant North? If so I suppose they soon became noticed, cooling themselves upon their shiny dens until they hear of another defeat of the Union Army when they will come boldly forth and hiss and show their forked tongues although they dare not bite.

I rec’d two Nos. of the "Carroll Co. Mirror" a few days since - the first I have seen for nearly two years. It seemed like gazing upon the face of a long lost old time friend to read its familiar heading once more.

I was quite unwell when the command left camp or I should not now be writing this letter; I am much better in fact about well now.

If you have the time and inclination please write me soon. With best regards to yourself and family I remain as ever

Sincerely Your Friend
Lieut. A. Downing

Corinth, Miss. August 4, 1863

Cousin Harvey:

Your letter was rec’d in due time and having but little else to do will answer it right away. Our regiment has gone out on a long scout. The reason I did not go is that I was quite unwell when they left camp but I am much better now and will soon be able for duty.

The weather here is quite cool for this time of year, and considering we are so far South. I have not heard from home for some time. Ed has not written to me since he was married. I suppose the cares and duties of his family are so numerous that he cannot find time to do so.

You may tell Zake Shugart that Dr. Crossley and wife are still here although I have not seen them for a long time. Their camp is about a mile and a half from ours. The guerrillas are very bad and troublesome here but they always "skeedaddle" whenever the "Jay Hawkers" get after them. (Note: The Seventh Kansas Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Charles R. Jennison, was known as Jennison’s Jayhawkers.)

There seems to be some prospect of a close of the war soon. I am anxious to have it close and the sooner the better so the peace is an honorable one.

We have had any amount of blackberries here as large as pigeon’s eggs but they are about all gone now.

There was a man shot here for desertion a short time ago. I saw him shot.

Please write again soon. I have not seen any of the Carroll boys in all the two years that I have been in the Army.

Excuse haste as I have nothing more to write. Give my regards to all and believe me as ever

Your Friend and Cousin
A. Downing

P.S. Much obliged for the "Carroll Co. Mirror" you sent me.

Corinth, Miss. Oct. 4th, 1863

Samuel Preston Esq.

Dear Sir:
You have doubtless by this time begun to imagine that I have consigned both you and your last letter, which came to hand in due time, to oblivion. That such is not the case, however, it shall be the office of this little "bird of passage" to demonstrate. I thank you for your friendly encouragement and earnest sympathy. I know your heart is in the right place, and your influence on the side of the universal, God-given rights of humanity and against tyranny and despotism in whatever form it may lift its hydra-head, whether beneath fostering rule of a bigoted and bloated oligarchy, or in the shadow of a monarch’s throne, and on this very account I should have replied to your very interesting communication immediately upon its receipt had not my wife been very ill at the time. Standing by her bedside and ministering to her many wants, I had not the heart to write to anyone even though I had the time. Then when she recovered and finally went home to Illinois, I was immediately detailed by Brig. Gen. (Benjamin) Grierson as a member of a General Court Martial convened in the City of Memphis in which capacity I have been serving for several weeks past. The court has just adjourned sine die, and how I am with my regiment again with both the time and inclination to resume the pen. (Note: The two words "sine die" are difficult to read, and could be incorrect.)

While I was sojourning in Memphis, it was my good fortune to be the guest of J. A. Signargo, well and favorably known all through Dixie as the "Memphis Poet", a young Italian exiled from the "Sunny Clime" and the home of his youth by tyrannical proscription several years ago, but whose heart still retains the warmth and sunshine of his native valley, and whose songs glow and sparkle like the limpid waters of Castilian fountains. Although a foreigner, he is almost a perfect master of our language, and I predict that in a few years he will be one of the brightest stars in the firmament of American Literature. His translation from the old Spanish and Italian bards are perfect gems in their way; while his English productions are vastly superior in every respect to some of those from our greatest poets. I shall never forget the many very agreeable hours we have spent together, and which I trust have given birth to a friendship whose ties will never be severed. But excuse this digression; it is not often that a soldier writes of Athens and the muses while following in the train of Mars and Bellona and less often do the readers of his letters thank him for such writing, yet I trust you will not be displeased with the trifling details of my personal experience in forming the acquaintance of the young Italian son of song. (Note: The handwriting of the name "Signargo" isn’t completely clear, and I might not have transcribed it correctly. I have been unable to find any references, either online or by asking friends, regarding this poet, either using this spelling or several others I have tried.)

I have no news of importance to give you except that the 16th Army Corps (to which my regiment belongs) is under marching orders. It is the general opinion that we are to reinforce Rosecrans at Chattanooga, but our destination as yet is unknown or if known the knowledge is considered contraband. A rumor reached us last night that Johnson, with a considerable force, was moving from the south in this direction with the supposed intention of cutting the railroad between here and Memphis, and thus delaying reinforcements to Rosecrans. But the plan, however wisely and cunningly concocted, will never be carried out as the road is very strongly guarded by the infantry and artillery and reinforcements can be sent to any threatened point in an almost incredible short space of time.

The cavalry here still follows its old occupation of hunting guerrillas and with considerable success; on the last expedition our boys "gobbled up" (that is the improved military phrase for the word captured) nineteen of these wild and itinerant traitors, and brought them into camp.

I am sure that the loyal men of Carroll as well as of the whole North will take care of the home traitors and Copperheads as they are called while we, the soldiers of Uncle Sam’s grand army, deal swift and terrible blows to their infernal colleagues in arms South of Mason’s and Dixon’s line and then God willing this monstrous attempt to overthrow our first and best government the sun ever shone upon will fall to the ground, and its selfish instigators receive their just reward. The good cause, like the soul of Old John Brown in the song, is still "marching on."

I received a letter from Father and another from wife a day or two since. The folks at home were all well. My health was never better than it now is, although of course I am very lonesome since my wife has gone home.

Please write again soon if you have the time to waste upon so poor a correspondent. Direct your letter as before. Please also accept my best regards for yourself and your family, while I remain as ever

Sincerely Your Friend,
A. Downing

Germantown, Tenn. Dec. 11th, 1863

Samuel Preston Esq.

My dear friend:

Having again been detailed by the General Commanding to serve as a member of a Court martial which convened yesterday at this place I find myself having more leisure time on my hands than usually falls to the lot of a soldier to enjoy and per consegnence, can pay better attention to my numerous correspondence that I have heretofore done as not more than five or six hours are consumed each day in the court.

Please accept my thanks for your prompt and encouraging reply to my last writing. Such letters to the soldier, afar from home and friends, and putting forth his best energies to keep the old flag still floating in the breeze, are like "apples of gold in pictures of silver." They strengthen his heart, raise his drooping spirits, and nerve his arm to strike swifter and deadlier blows in the struggles yet to come.

With you I believe that the day of our nation’s deliverance draweth nigh. The all potent voice of a free people has pronounced an irrevocable anathema anaranatha upon slavery - white or black upon American soil. (Note: I am fairly certain I have the spelling of the underlined words correct, but I am not familiar with the meaning.) But the old Hydra dies hard, and we may well expect that his final struggle will be the fiercest of them all. Thank God! The army has never faltered in the glorious work assigned it. Its leaders may have committed mistakes - sometimes disastrous in their results (and what leaders of great armies have not?) still the rank and file of Freedom’s invincible legions are heart and soul in the great work of putting down the rebellion and preserving (with not a single column broken, perfect as it was built by the fathers, and beautiful in its massive proportions) the symbol of Liberty. That the people (of which the army of the North forms a prominent part) are true to their government is the greatest guaranty of our success. I hold the old adage of "Vox populi, vox Dei" as almost a self evident truth in the present crisis of our national affairs and am perfectly willing to abide by the decision of such an empire.

I have not much news to give you this time. We are at present isolated from the main army the splendor of whose achievements, and the tiding of whose prowess come joyfully back to us from the mountain peaks and rocky fastnesses of East Tennessee. Thus not having been permitted to share the bloody honors of Chickamunga and other hard fought fields our little encounters with guerrilla bands along the railroad which we are guarding seem in comparison like school boy brawls where the big boy brags and blusters and the little boy runs - if he is satisfied that he is the weaker party. Guerrillas are numerous here but they cannot muster force enough to materially damage the road. All bridges are strongly guarded by infantry and artillery and ten regiments of cavalry are scattered at various points along the line. My Regt. (the 7th Kansas) is still stationed at Corinth, Miss.

The cold, disagreeable rainy season of the south has just set-in, and we may reasonably expect an infinity of mud and rain during the next three or four months. My better half is still with me, and we are keeping house as though we were really at home.

I have not heard from Father’s folks for some time. They were all well at last accounts.

Please excuse the rambling and desultory style of this letter, and reply as soon as it suits your convenience to do so - believing me, meantime as ever -

Sincerely Your Friend,
Lieut. A. Downing

Camp Gamble, St. Louis, Mo., April 28th, 1864

Dear Friend:

(Note: I am uncertain to whom Andrew Downing was writing and the envelope for this letter doesn’t survive either. However, similar letters addressed "Dear Friend" were written to Samuel Preston, so this one might have been too.)

Having a leisure hour today, I have concluded to spend it agreeable to promise in writing to you although to tell the truth I have gleaned but few items of interest to give you.

We are here in a camp of instruction the site of the memorable "Camp Jackson", where the brave Lyon three years ago took so many of the confederate force in out of the wet - waiting to be again armed and equipped before going into the field. The prospect is that we will remain here several weeks longer at least. My wife is with me as usual.

The forthcoming great fair of the Mississippi Valley Sanitary Commission to be held next May is the all absorbing topic in St. Louis at the present time. Its receipts (contributions from everybody) are now upwards of $200,000 and everything seems to indicate that they will swell to at least half a million by the time the fair opens. Everybody rich and poor, high and low, seems personally interested in the truly laudable and philanthropic enterprise of caring for our sick and wounded soldiers.

It is expected that "the draft" which to a certain class of the people in the North brings more horrors (imaginary) than the dreaded ills in the fabled box of Pandora did to ancient gods and men - will take place here not many days hence, and it is also feared by the military authorities, that there may be some stubborn opposition when it does take place. Accordingly all the troops in the camps of instruction in and about the city have been armed with Springfield muskets with bayonets and 40 rounds of "buck and ball" to each man to be in readiness to put down any such demonstration in case it is made.

I think St. Louis is pretty strong for Fremont as candidate for President. The Germans almost to a man are in favor of his nomination. Still "Honest Old Abe" has hosts of friends and strong ones, too, who will support him, and if the army is allowed to vote, he will be triumphantly elected if he has previously secured the nomination of the Union party as I have no doubt he will.

The weather here has been very wet and unpleasant for the past week but vegetation is getting a good start and we will soon have Spring upon us in good earnest.

Several of the men in my company have the small pox and varioloid, but every precaution has been taken to prevent its spreading and I am in hopes no more will have it. (Note: Varioloid must be either another word for small pox or a type of the actual pox; the Oxford English Dictionary indicates variolites are the pistules formed by small pox.)

Enclosed I send you my carte de visite portrait which I hope you will think is a good one as others pronounce it. Wife has no copy of hers yet or I would send that too.

Please write me as soon as suits your convenience directing letters to 7th Kansas Cav. St. Louis. Wife joins one is expressing her regards for yourself and family. Excuse this poor rambling letter - meanwhile I remain

Very Sincerely Yours,
A Downing

Camp Gamble St. Louis, Mo. May 24th, 1864

Cousin Harvey:

Your favor of the 14th has just reached me and not having much to do today I will answer it at once, but I cannot promise you much news. We are still in camp here waiting for our arms; we got our horses (or mares rather) a couple of weeks ago and expect the carbines in a day or two and then I presume we will be sent somewhere where soldiering is not as pleasant as it is in St. Louis. I think Mattie will go home next week. (Note: Mattie is his wife.)

I am glad you like the photograph I sent you. Mattie has never had any taken but I am trying to persuade her to do so before she goes home and if she gets a good picture she will send one to your mother.

Well, Harve, I found out what made my revolver shoot so scandalously when I was at your house. When I got home I took it apart and found that the inside of the barrel was leaded, besides being rusty, and as rough as a file. I made it as bright and smooth as a looking glass and can now at short range take a chickens head off every shot.

The Mississippi Valley Sanitary Fair is now going off in this city; they have taken in nearly three hundred thousand dollars in cash for the benefit of sick and wounded soldiers. Gen. Rosecrans is President of the fair. "Old Rosey" is a great favorite with everybody except secesh and their Copperhead half-brothers.

I have not been very well since I came to St. Louis - have had the chills and fever twice, but have got over them now I think. Mattie is well and sends best regards to you all - especially your mother.

I have not heard from home for some time but look for letters every day. The Missouri Democrat of this morning says our regiment has been ordered to Little Rock, Ark. Perhaps it has, but I don’t think so.

The 7th Ill. Cavalry are here now on their way to join Sherman’s army. I saw several of the officers at the fair yesterday.

Please write again soon. Direct as before to 7th Kansas Cavalry St. Louis, Mo. Give my best regards to your father’s family not forgetting yourself and all relations and friends generally while I remain

Sincerely Yours
Lieut. A. Downing, 7th Kansas Cavalry

Memphis Tenn, June 27th, 1864

Cousin Harvey,

Your letter was rec’d in good time and I was glad to hear from you. I have no news to write you this time of any importance. We reached Memphis on the 3rd day of this month, our camp is 2 miles north east of the city in a nice grove. We got here too late to take part in the great defeat and skeedaddle of Gen Sturgis and I for one am glad of it. Another expedition against Forrest is now being organized here to be commanded by Gen. A. J. Smith of Red River memory and he will be backed by troops that will fight. They start in a few days the whole force numbers some 15,000 or 20,000 men. Our regiment will be with them. I have had a pretty severe attack of the dysentery and it has left me so weak that I am afraid the Dr. will not let me go. My time is out in a few months and I think I will give up soldiering and settle down after that. Mattie is at home with her father’s folks. I have not heard from father’s folks for several weeks; the folks were all well at last accounts.

The weather here is so warm that I am sure I would melt if there was anything left of me to melt.

I would like to attend those Dunkard meetings you speak of I am sure. There are a plenty of blackberries here now and will soon be a plenty of peaches. I had some ripe apples today. Most of the wheat in Tenn. is cut and in the shock while the corn is as high as my head. Don’t you want me to come and help you harvest this year? I am afraid I would "bush" the first day for we soldiers have learned to be the laziest set of fellows you ever saw.

I have no idea what I shall do when I get out of the army; everything has changed so since this war that I am afraid I will not feel at home in any business as I used to.

Please write again soon. Direct letters to Memphis, Tenn.

Give my best respects to all and believe me as ever

Your Friend and Cousin,
A. Downing

Camp 7th Kansas Cavalry, Memphis, Tenn. July 6, 1864

Dear Friend:

(Note: The envelope for this letter was addressed to Samuel Preston, Esq.)

I must preface my letter by asking your pardon for my delay in answering your last, which came to hand several weeks ago. My principal excuse is the want of material of which to make a communication sufficiently interesting to warrant you to waste your time in reading it. And perhaps I shall do no better now.

Military operations here abouts are devoid of interest since the late disgraceful defeat of Sturgis in Guntown, Miss. However, Gen. A. J. Smith, of Red River memory, with a force variously estimated at from 12,000 to 15,000 men, has gone out to fight Forest and we expect to hear a good report from him soon. The weather for two weeks past has been intensely warm; indeed, I have heard of several cases of sunstroke in Memphis in the last three days. The 4th passed off quietly here, ushered in by the usual national salute from the iron-throated siege guns of Fort Pickering, which brought forth a stunning response from Dahlgrens and Columbiads on board an iron clad moored at the levee. Most of the citizens left the town to participate in various excursions, picnics & leaving a few staff officers and the darkeys in undisputed possession of the place. The drops in Tenn., where they have been properly taken care of, are excellent this season. The wheat is already in the shock, and the corn tasseled out. Fruit of all kinds will be abundant.

It is my intention to leave the service next fall when my term expires, and I confidently expect to be at home in time to throw in my suffrage for "Abe and Andy" who are bound to be elected in spite of fate, Fremont, McClellan, Vallandigham, or anybody else. Do you not think so?

My wife is at home now. I hear from her often; she is well and will soon have her picture ready to send to you. Father’s folks were well when I heard from them last. I have had a severe attack of dysentery, but am much better - in fact have nearly recovered from it now.

Please write again as soon as it suits your convenience. Direct letters to Memphis, Tenn. We are camped only two miles from the city, and get the mail daily now.

With my best regards to yourself and family, I remain in haste

Very Respectfully Yours,
A Downing

Contributed by Alice Horner

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