Ltr #4 & #5 Hunter, Secessionists, Gun Positions, by H. B. Talbert
- [In early September, President Lincoln called on General Hunter to go to Missouri and assist Fremont. Probably Lincoln's idea was to have a replacement, Hunter, ready to take Fremont's command if needed. In late September and early October, Fremont sent his five divisions of 38,000 men, including Harrison B. Talbert, out after Price and other Confederates who were plundering the western part of Missouri. When Harrison wrote the next letter home, Fremont was in Tipton on his overdue drive to defeat General Price. And at the same time President Lincoln was in the process of sending Secretary of War Simon Cameron west on a fact-finding trip in regard to Fremont's leadership.
Firstday Sunday, Secondday Monday, Thirdday Tuesday, Fourthday Wednesday, Fifthday Thursday, Sixthday Friday, Seventhday Saturday]
[The red, white, and blue print along the left side of page 1 is of the U. S. flag with a liberty cap on top of the flag pole.]
Firstday Tipton Moniteau Cou[nty] Mo October 13th 1861
Dear Parents one and all
[.....]. I received a letter from [brother] Alpheus on the 8th inst dated 27th Sept. Also one from [cousin] Franklin T on the same day dated the 30 Sep. These letters gave me great satisfaction for I felt that I was almost forsaken by my friends at home. And on the 11th inst I received another letter from Alpheus dated Oct 4th. Also one from Minerva Powel on the same day dated the 5th inst.
[Page] 2 You have no idea how these letters cheered me up to read a letter right from home from a brother & parents that I love so well. I was glad to think, not withstanding what I had done heretofore, that you still had respect enough for me to write. [Harrison being a Quaker was concerned he had been disowned by his parents.] [.....]. I wrote a piece of a letter to [cousin] Frank this last week stating where I was. We are here [at Tipton] yet but I dont no how long we will stay. We got orders yesterday to leave this place this morning. According to orders we left, marched out of town about 2 miles, got orders to return on the account of the Secretary Of War coming, Simon Camron. We got orders to return to our old camp, feed, & get [noon] dinner, but not ungear our horses, hold ourselves ready to leave any minute. I will have to quit for the present for we have got orders to leave & go some place I dont no where.
[Page] 3 Oct 14th 1861 We left Tipton yesterday about 3 o clock went about 3 miles and camped in a very nice place on the prairie close to a grove. We expect to stay here till General Hunter gets his brigade made up. Our batery [Captain Fryburgers, 3rd Indiana Battery] & Capt Rabbs [2nd Indiana Battery] is all that is in this brigade. Last Fifthday [Thursday] 10th if I mistake not there was a soldier shot in Tipton by the Provost Marshal, which caused a right smart excitement. It had rained all the night before and all that day and their camp was ove[r]flowing with water, this soldier was carrying a board to fix his tent [when] this Provo Marshal ordered him to lay it down. He walked on. He [the marshal] told him again to lay it down and if he dident he would shoot him. The soldier told him to shoot & be damed, and he drawed his revolver and shot him dead without further ceremony.
[Page] 4 In a little while there was two regiments of infantry formed in line of battle against him [the marshal], and Capt Rabbs Battery [2nd Indiana Battery] was ordered there immediately to protect him. They went but it worked off without any fighting. I havent heard what they have done with him. But I expect from what I have heard he deserves death. Some people says he is full blooded secessionists, but I dont no whether this is true or not. As I said before, it rained all the night before and all that day. And in the evening we got orders to send out in the country and get straw or hay to make beds in our tents. So they ordered out three or four of our baggage wagons to go & get straw or hay and while gone one of our baggage drivers accidentally fell off of a load of hay, the wheel running over his leg and breaking it between his ankle and knee.
[Page] 5 The other day up at Tipton Lieut Thrasher run a narrow escape in this way. He had his horse saddled up and standing up by the side of a wagon holding him by his halter when by some cause, but he didnt no what, one of his pistols that was attached to his saddle went off going so close to his neck that it scorched it and like to a knocked him down. The ball struck the [iron] wagon tire and stopped, if it hadent it would a went right through another mans breast. This pistol going off in that way is something strange but Thrasher nor nobody standing by knowed what caused it. Last night 3 of our men that was on guard was ketched sleeping on their post. Today they had their trial but they didnt punish them they only made them walk back & forth for a few hours before General Hunters Quarters. The officers has done tolerable well ever since we left St Louis but some of them will drink some when ever they can get it but they take it slyly, they dont let every person know it. Whiskey is awful scarce and hard for the soldiers to get but some of them will work some plan to get it. The other day up at Tipton one of our privates said he seen something that he never seen before, a man selling whiskey to the soldier out of a back house and he bought 3 canteen fulls of him paying 50 cts a piece. [.....].
You wanted to no my position at the gun. I have no regular position, but I have drilled mostly at these three posts but I can fulfill any place at the gun. First position I used the leniard [lanyard] thats to fire the gun, next position was thumber this is the particularist place about the gun, the rammers life depends a great deal upon the thumbers care, the next place was rammer. This afternoon we was out on drill and I was rammer, we fired three blank ca[r]tridges to every gun and it dident sound a bit loud but is was on an open prairie. Rammer is the hardest work about the gun and a person is in the most danger there. That is he is in the most danger of getting killed or crippled by some accident. These three places is the most particularist places about the gun.
George K. W. has not come on yet but I am looking for him everyday. I have got two letters in my care for him now. I could fill up another sheet of scribbling but I will have to quit for this time for it is now 9 o'clock at night and the bugle has blowed for all the lights to be put out. I expect the next letters I write I will send to Eli & Louisa [brother-in-law and sister]. I still feel determined to live faithful and be a true soldier. Write soon without failing. Direct your letters to Tipton Moniteau County Mo Capt Fryburgers Artillery Comp. So nothing more at present but remain your affectionate son. My love and respect to all. Harrison Talbert
[N. B. - Nota Bene, take notice.
Franked - the mark a privileged person uses to exempt letters from needing postage.]
[The thumber places his thumb in the leather thumb stall that dangles from his wrist; he then places his thumb over the vent hole to close the vent while the rammer performs his duties. Closing the vent extinguishes any sparks that are possibly still in the barrel. This keeps the rammer alive by keeping the powder from igniting and the gun from prematurely firing. The lanyard, a rope a few feet long, is attached to a friction primer that is pushed down the vent hole just above the powder. At the command to fire, the lanyard is pulled causing the friction primer (a glorified match) to instantaneously ignite the powder which fires the round out of the gun.]
[Circa, October 20, 1861]
Today I wrote you a letter and this evening I received your letter which gave me great satisfaction to hear that you was all well and to think you hadent forgot me. [.....].
[Cousin] Sylvanus bought a testament in Indianapolis and gave it to me. [.....]. I expect to keep this in remembrance of Sylvanus and to read till I lose it or till I die or till I get back home. There is no [church] meeting to night nor there was no Sabbath School this afternoon but an officer (I dont no whether he is a preacher or not) sung a hymn and prayed and then exhorted about half an hour to about a 100 soldiers out of 15,000. This goes to show what an interest they take in their soul's salvation. [.....]. H. Talbert