May 5, 1864 – 36th Illinois soldier writes to father from Cleveland, Tennessee

Letter from Franklin A. Whitney to mother the day after he enlisted in Company F. 36th Illinois.He was listed as from Mission, Illinois, [Kendall County] when he enlisted as a Private on 2/29/64. He mustered into Company F, 36th Illinois infantry 3/19/64. Mustering out 10/8/65 in Washington, D.C.
This transcript is from a copy of the handwritten original. Original letter location is unknown.Letter reads:
Dear Father,I received your kind letter just as we . . [ several words illegible] . . went a long way marching on to Dallas [1] where they say the Rebs are 50,000 strong. We have 5 Corps of infantry [2], besides one of cavalry. Three of Corps are coming from Ringgold and one from Cleveland. We have several [illegible word] with us. We expect to have quite a lively time before we get through with it. The boys are all well and in good spirits and are anxious to know how the thing is a coming out and I would like to know my [end of page one] self. We have been driving the rebels pickets for the last two days but I haven’t seen any of them yet.
Well Father how is S[andford]. Well I expect by this time are you [illegible word] to put in any tobacco this year. I should think a good crop of beans would pay pretty well this year. By the way they are debt out here. What do you think about it, and a good patch of onions. I don’t know if you could sell them in N[ewark, Illinois] very well but at Chicago. My coffee and sugar has all blown u. It didn’t pay to carry it around. If we could stay in camp it would pay pretty well for C[offee] is worth $1.00 a pound. I wish that you could take a cup of coffee with me tonight. Mother would have to fetch [end page two] the cream along with her. I expect the cooks would make it some times so stout that we can almost cut it in slices. What do you get for your furs. I don’t suppose you have told any of your tobacco yet. You see that I jump from one thing to another pretty often for I have a great many questions to ask but I guess I won’t ask them all now. All that I wish for now is that I might have the prayers of my friends at home, that my life be spared in the coming fight. Anot[her] if I should fall that we might meet in heaven (that is a place where very few soldiers go) there is just as much cursing and swearing [end of page three] in camp now as there was a month ago. Anyone would think that when they was closest to the enemy that they would leave of some of their wicked ways. I will again just as soon as I find how the thing is a going if we can, sometimes mail can’t get through, then of course you can’t expect any. Victor is well and as awkward as ever. Give my respects to all enquiring friends and write soon.
From your son
Franklin A. Whitney
Company F, 36th regt
Illinois volunteers
Cleveland, TN


[1] The 36th Illinois saw action at Dallas, Georgia, on May 7th when at least one soldier, John Green (from Aurora, ILL) was killed in action.

[2] In may 1964 the 36th Illinois was part of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 4th Corps, Department and Army of Ohio and Cumberland.

Post-war photograph of Franklin A. Whitney, 36th Illinois Infantry.

Image copyright protected, the Kraig McNutt Civil War Collection.

Other related letters:

17 Nov 64 – to mother

13 Nov 64 – mother to son

19 March 1864 – son to mother

11 April 1864 – to father

5 May 1864 – to father

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