4th KY Cav (US) soldier writes Aug 2nd, 1862, from Manchester, TN

Coffee County
August 2nd, 1862

Dear Wife,

I take my pen in hand to write to you once more. I am well at present and hope these few lines may find you & the children and all the of the folks well. The boys from Hardin are all well but Jo & Patterson. They were right puny when I seen them last. They are at Tullahoma, 12 miles from here. We left them 10 days ago and came to this place and I have not seen Jo nor Patterson since. They were both going about they have got their discharge and they were sent on to Gen. Buell for his signature and as soon as they get back Jo & Hugh will be at home. This place and Tullahoma is on high dry hills and as cool and healthy as any part of Hardin and there is plenty of the best kind of spring water here. I wrote a letter while I was a Nashville that I was cut off from the regiment by the Rebels at Murfreesboro. I was at Nashville ? days when Jim Nelson started to Murfreesboro with his Brigade. I slipped on the train with them and came out to Murfreesboro and from there I rode part of the way in a country wagon and I walked the balance of way. I saw two or three bands of guerrillas on the way but I managed to dodge them and got to camp safe. I tell you I have been in dangerous places before but I never want to take such a trip as that anymore. This country is lined with bands of roving guerrillas and if a soldier pokes his head outside of the guards he is almost sure to be shot at if not killed. Nearly all of our regiment has been captured except the three companies here. Our pickets were fired on last Sunday and two men killed and fifteen taken prisoners all belonging to the 7th Penn Cavalry. I tell you our pickets don’t sleep much on duty here. I lost my office when I came back but I am company quartermaster now which is a much easier place and I get the same pay as in the other. It is the next highest office in company to Orderly Sergeant. I would have written sooner but we have had no chance to send any letters since we have been here until now. And we have only got one mail since we have been here. I saw Wm. Smit as I came out from Nashville. He was at Murfreesboro then but he is at Nashville now. He is getting well and will be at home soon. From what we can hear our men are rather getting the worst of it here lately and I don’t know how the war will terminate but I think peace will be made some way in a few months and I hope it may. We have not been paid off yet. It has been rather to dangerous for a paymaster to venture out here. But the officers say he will be here in a few days now. I will send some money home if I can find a safe way to send it as there’s not much safety in anything here now. This is the hardest place to buy anything I have ever found. Tobacco sells for $2.00 per lb. Whiskey 75 cts. to $1.00 per pint. Boarding $1.00 per meal and other things in proportion. And you cannot get a bill broken unless you take scrip in change and hardly then. There is still some talk of taking us back to Kentucky yet but I reckon there is not much hope of that. I would like to be there next Monday if I could. Nick Gabon has not got back yet and I reckon never will. He took about $3.00 of the boys money with him when he left to take home for them and kept it all. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.

A. A. Harrison

Aug 2nd, 8 o’clock P.M.

Since writing the above we have moved back to Tullahoma. I have just seen Jo and talked with him. He looks better than he did some time ago but he will come home as soon as his papers comes back. I hear the Cesh in Ky. are going to raise and kill the Union men next Monday. But I hope it is all a mistake. Write as soon as the election is over and let me hear all about it.

TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: This letter is especially poignant as I know in 30 days Jo will be dead of pneumonia in a military in hospital hospital in Nashville and A.A. on his way home with a medical discharge.

A. A. Harrison

I have seen some papers here lately which state that Morgan is tearing up everything in Ky and I heard the other day that there was a band of 200 guerrillas at Garnetteville (?). I am afraid you are in danger there in Hardin and I have not heard a word from you since I left home. I watch for the mail every time we get mail for a letter but no letter as yet. I want to know what is the matter all the other boys have got letters since I came back but me. If you have not written yet write as soon as you get this and write often as you can and tell Father and Mother and all of the children to write and maybe I will get some of them at least. I will write again in a few days if nothing happens to prevent.

TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: The danger in Kentucky is either underrated or misunderstood by A. A. He will not be home long before the guerriallas chase him and his entire family to Lebanon, Indiana.


Absolom A. Harrison
Company D, 4th Regiment, Kentucky Calvary Volunteers (Union)

A. A. Harrison sent the following letters to his wife Susan Allstun Harrison. Susan’s grandmother was Nancy Lincoln Brumfield, Thomas Lincoln’s sister and President Abraham Lincoln’s aunt.

These letters were transcribed by A. A.’s great-grandson Ronald A. Harrison who introduces the letters with the following background:

“A. A. Harrison and his brother Jo (Joel) apparently got caught up in a recruiting drive and enlisted in the Fourth Kentucky Calvary, U.S.A., without even going home to tell their wives, Susan and Martha. The first letter appears to be letting Susan know what has become of her husband. The two brothers served honorably for roughly a year. At the end of that time A. A. was medically discharged. At roughly the same time Jo died in a military hospital in Nashville. Only recently has anyone in the family known Jo’s fate.”

Letters found on this web page January 2008.

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