1861: Joseph Spealman to David Spealman

How Joseph might have looked

This letter was written by 25 year-old Joseph Spealman (1834-1916), the son of Abraham Spealman (1790-1875) and Sarah Salome Zigler (1800-1858) of Blair, Pennsylvania. He wrote the letter to his older brother, David Spealman (1820-1906) of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania.

Joseph was mustered into Co. C, 8th Indiana Infantry on 5 September 1861 as a corporal and was discharged on 31 July 1862 for disability. An 1890 Veteran’s Schedule claims that Joseph suffered from the “loss of left lung.”

Prior to the war, in 1860, Joseph was employed as a hired hand on the farm of Allen W. Lewis in Green Township, Wayne County, Indiana. Not long after Joseph was discharged from the service, he was married (13 September 1862) in Wayne County to Ruth S. Thomas (1844-19xx). In 1880, the Spealman’s resided in Raymore, Cass County, Missouri, where Joseph earned a living as a farmer.

The 8th Indiana was organized at Indianapolis and was mustered in Sept. 10, for three years. It left the state the same day and joined Fremont’s Army at St. Louis, Mo., from which place it moved to Jefferson City and was assigned to Col. Jefferson C. Davis’ brigade. It moved to Springfield, thence to Otterville, and on Dec. 17, marched to Warrensburg and assisted in capturing 1,300 of the enemy. It was in camp at Otterville until Jan. 24, 1862, when it moved to Springfield, joining Gen. Curtis’ command.


December 24th 1861
Otterville [Missouri]

Dear Brother,

I received your letter which gave me much satisfaction to hear that you was all well. I am well at present time and I hope that these few lines may find you all enjoying the same blessing. We had another hard round after the rebels — seven days march. We killed thirty of them and took fourteen hundred and sixty prisoners. Our loss is one killed and one wounded. I think that we will go to Kentucky or to Cairo now. The news came in while I was writing that Price and his whole army was taken and if that is so, the fighting is done in Missouri.

Well, David, I think the next pay day I will express some money to you a little and see if you get it. Then I will send all that I can spare home for you to keep for me till I come home and I if I ever get home, you can get drunk on it for I can’t get it. They won’t let the soldiers have any whiskey at all.

Nothing more. Write soon. Direct [to] St. Louis, Mo., Eighth Regiment Indiana Volunteers, in care of Captain [Alexander J.] Kenny. When this you see, I hope you will thin of your brother that it fighting for his liberty.

— Joseph Spealman to David Spealman and all the rest.


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