[“David”: McKinney, Anna’s brother. “Cynthiania” is actually Cynthiana, KY. Col. Thrush and Col. Bryner are both fellow officers from Illinois.]
Cynthiania October 24, 1862
My very Dear Anna,
Having some little time on hand this afternoon I thought I would write you a few lines, although it is only a few days since I wrote you from Falmouth, but I do not Know how soon I shall be able to write again and I feel like improving every opurtunity in sending you any news of my welfare. We left Falmouth day before yesterday morning and arrived here yesterday morning about nine oclock [illegible/crossed-out] These Towns are twenty one miles apart through a miserable County abounding [p2] in awful Hills. Before leaving Falmouth, I was ordered to take command of the Brigade and am still in command and will remain so until our commander comes on, so that I am now Acting Brig General. Don’t you feel proud? I find the duties very hard and am charged with the behavior of all these green Troops and it Keeps me rather busy to have them all behave themselves, especially Warrens Regiment, who are an awful hard set of cases, but I am getting them under pretty good discipline and hope to make them good Soldiers. The evening before I left Falmouth I received a very short Letter from you written on Thursday, and I assure you it was recd [p3] with a very great deal of pleasure and there was but one objection to it, and that was its brevity. I believe it was the shortest letter ever received from you and you must tell me in your next the reason, or I shall begin to think you are wearying in well doing and are becoming tired of writing to me. I expect that we will leave here to morrow for Lexington, twenty six miles farther south. It is said that the City is a beautiful place and is sit-uated in the garden spot of the World. I am in great hopes that we will get into a fight, while I am commanding the Brigade and get through it with some [p4] credit for it would be such a good Chance for a person to do something worth mentioning.
I am afraid I am going to get myself into some trouble yet. Gen Smith commanding the Division ordered me to day to issue an order to my Brigade ordering them to turn out of our lines all the slaves that had found us. This I refused to do, as there is an order from the War Department prohibiting this, and the penalty is dismissal from the service. Now Gen Smith may put me in arrest for disobeying his orders and court martial
ing me and that will bring every thing forward. If this is done there will be a great deal of notoriety [illegible], but not of the Kind that I wish, but still I am [p5] going to see the affair through for I Know I am right and I will be sustained by every officer and Man in the Regiment. However the General may take no notice of the affair, and then it will be all right.
We are now the 2d Brigade of the 1st Division Army of Ky Gen A.J. Smith commanding the Division + Major Gen Granger commanding the Army. I do not Know where our destination is, but I am afraid we are steering for Cumberland Gap, and East Tennessee. I really hope not, as I would rather go any place else, except Western Virginia. I never have learned whether Dixon McClure was hurt or not [p6] at the battle of Corinth. Let me know in your next letter. I was very sorry to hear of Col Thrush’s death. I suppose Col Bryner feels very much rejoiced that he was not around at that time. Do you Know, I believe that Bryner is a coward. Don’t you tell any one that I ever said so, but I really believe he is.
David is enjoying good health and likes Soldiering first rate I think probably he will want to join the Army and spend the balance of his days in it. I Know he likes it better than I do, but I suppose he has no attraction at home like I have. I think if it was not for having you back there that I would like this Kind of business and would probably follow it, but as long as I am away from you I shall feel dissatisfied and nothing but your presence would accustom me to any Kind of business. I tell you candidly that I have my mind back in Peoria about as often as I have it here, and often I sit for an hour or two and think over things you have said and how you looked and what you meant when you said it. You remember You used to say a great many things that you did not mean, but I Knew you so well that I could always tell when you were serious in your conversation. Don’t you remember how I scolded you once or twice for talking to me in the way you did. but I must say you [p8] you received the scolding very gracefully. Now I want you to write me longer letters, you have not even written me two sheets at a time since I left you last, some of these days I am going to inflict on you a letter of four sheets again so be prepared to receive it. Direct to 77 Reg. Ill Voll Smith’s Div Army of Kentucky, Via Cincinnati. And always remember me as yours + yours only
[The incident with the slaves is really interesting, and is explored more in the rolled-up letters I’ll be getting to shortly. Basically, the 77th IL was sheltering slaves who attached themselves to the regiment during its time in Kentucky, as a result of the regiment’s growing reputation as abolitionists and DPG’s as the “Abolition Colonel”. This was against army commands, as Kentucky was a border state and they weren’t supposed to be freeing slaves in those states. DPG repeatedly got into trouble with his commanders for refusing to obey those rules, but was never arrested or court-martialed for it.]