Civil War Letters From Loved Ones of Marshall County, Illinois

Letter by Mahlon Hunt to his parents Richard and Ruth (Horrom) Hunt - Courtesy Jim Gray

Jim Gray writes:  "This letter was copied from the original written by Mahlon Hunt to his parents Richard and Ruth (Horrom) Hunt. Punctuation is as it appears in the original. The underscores and (?) were words which were not clear and the $¶ are Mahlon's and appear throughout the letter. Perhaps these marks were meant to conserve space on the paper, they seem to be indications of a new paragraph.

Nashville, Tenn.
Aug. 18th, 1863

Dear Parents,

I take this opportunity of writing you in answer to yours of the 9th Aug., which came to hand on Sun. Aug. the 16th. Was glad to hear that you were all well again and that everything looked prosperous, that you were getting along finely with your work, would soon be through with your grain shucking. $¶Since I last wrote you there has been little or no news of importance, things go on about as usual. Warm weather. $¶Col. Magee com. the reg. The boys are on picket, or were yesterday and day before they stand two days at each turn and stand about once a week. So you see they are on duty near one third of the time this is not very hard. Well you wanted to know something more about this heavy artillery. I have written you several times about it, but perhaps have not given you the full particulars.

There is, outside of the fort and fortifications at the statehouse, eight heavy siege guns situated upon so many elevated and convenient points of advantage to operate in crossfiring and to command certain points and hollows by roads. $¶(Should an attack be made on this place) these guns are manned by from ten to fifteen men at each. We have but ten at present it is said that five more will be sent here soon. Our gun is a 32 pound Purot weighs 5515 lb. Stands near the Chult___ depot on the south side of the city the nicest and most healthy place about here the best water water I have tasted in Tenn. Our gun is in the backyard and we occupy a small house (tolerably well furnished with kitchen furniture looking glass bureau pictures $¶) of or belonging to an old man by the name of McCarne(?) though he is a pretty clever fellow he keeps a grocery and often furnishes us tomatoes potatoes cabbage $¶ which he brings to us free of charge. This is nice soldering we drill twice a day and I wouldn't mind being a regular here as long as the war lasts.

Well another rumor. One of the boys just returned from camp. Says that the brigade is ordered out again, they are to take two days rations, are also to have along two pairs socks one good pair shoes or boots. All and everything else is to be packed and stored here until transportation can be had for them. Lt. Gleves(?) is in com. of us he was just here says that we will likely be relieved from here today to go to the ___.

The boys here are all about sick over the news. I have heard to much such talk, think it a hoaks, I do. I merely spoke of this rumor that you may see how sudden things change and shan't mail this until I learn the truth of this. Since Kingsley has come in from the front will stay two to three days, he is after ___ ___ of ___ he said t hat the army is moving again.

I saw a man a solder hung yesterday he belonged to Co. H. 82nd Ind. Vol. Was hung for murdering a man of his own Co. was intoxicated at the time but on being court-martialed was sentenced to be hanged on the 15th Aug. but was reprieved until yesterday 12 o-clock, he hung just 30 minutes, was a fine looking young man. I don't think it was just to hang him, and let old Pemberton, Morgan, and such devils go un-hung, but I trust their day is coming and not far distant. You heard that I was sick at the hospital, this is a mistake. I never have been in the hospital yet, and hope I never may be as over one third of my time for which I enlisted has been put in, and I hope and trust faithfully to.

Tell me how Burnette is getting along if he has the mare or will be able to pay the notes this fall or not. I have written once but received no answer from him.

Later, Aug 20th nearly froze to death before daylight.

While I was writing day before yesterday as I stated we heard that the boys had orders to be ready to march and that would be relieved from here and go back to the Co.. I told you at that time that I would not mail this until I heard something more about it as I did not believe the rumor. It has proved true. Everything has been in confusion since then, various rumors were talked about until last night about 10 o-clock when we got orders to pack up and go to our reg. Immediately, about 15 mins. after that that order was countermanded, was ordered to stay here until 6 this morning when we would be relieved by a detail from the 3rd O.V. though all is quiet yet, but we are looking for the relief every moment when it comes we will go to the reg. which marched this morning have not heard at what hour It's destination is unknown though it is supposed that we will go in at Columbia. The boys are in no good humor about leaving here, though for my part I care but little were it not for the marching. It is said that Old Rosie is fighting in the vicinity of Chattanooga. I shall put a photograph or two in this letter. I must close in haste write soon.

Your aff. And ever mindful son M. J. Hunt

Information from the Illinois roster of officers and enlisted men:

Mahlon Hunt enlisted 8/15/1862. Private Served Illinois. Enlisted B Co. 86th Inf Reg. IL  died wounds at Chattanooga, TN on 24 October 1863


5013 West Dudley Road

Champaign, IL 61822