Text source: HA.com
John William Peck, 4th Indiana Cavalry, Archive of Letters.A fantastic group of over 100 war-dated letters by 2nd Lieutenant John W. Peck. Dating from August 13, 1862 to June 22, 1865, most are written to his mother and sister. Peck enlisted as a corporal on August 7, 1862, and was soon mustered into Company F of the 4th Indiana Cavalry. Peck saw action in the war very soon after joining the army, and later participated at battles at Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Resaca, and Kennesaw Mountain. His letters describe his regiment’s daring attacks, from chasing General Morgan throughout the state of Kentucky to raids on secessionist sympathizers, and even an unfortunate friendly fire incident. Throughout his service, he was promoted to sergeant and later to second lieutenant. He was mustered out at the end of the war on June 29, 1865 in Tennessee. The majority of the letters are four pages, measuring 5″ x 8″. There are noticeable spelling and grammar errors. Many of the letters include their transmittal covers.
In the early days of his service, Peck was confronted with secessionist civilians, and writes of how the men were encouraged the raid the local Confederate sympathizers. His letter dated August 23, 1862to his mother and sister reads in part: “We are in dixey land now Louisvilleis a pretty large place larger than Indianapolies. I believe tere is plenty of darkeys here. We made them all hollor hurrah for the Union as we passed through town…Some of the men looked like they was secesh enough they looked like they would rather hollor for Jef Davis. When we got here the officers told us to confiscate any thing we wanted so we got peaches and apples and oats for our horses from an old man that they say is secesh…”
These activities continued, as a few days later, on August 28, he writes, “We had nothing to eat but what we pressed. When we got hungry we broke ranks and went up to the house and told them to bring out something and if the refused, we went in and tooke it. We took about fifty prisners, some took the oath and some we took along. We captured four good horses, one revolver…”