Here I am discussing the collection for History Happens Here. The video was shot last spring so it’s a tiny bit dated, but it just went up. Enjoy!
Here I am discussing the collection for History Happens Here. The video was shot last spring so it’s a tiny bit dated, but it just went up. Enjoy!
After the war, David P. Grier settled in Peoria with Anna. They had seven children (more info on the family tree page): Smith McKinney “Mac” Grier (1866-1908); John Perkins Grier (1868-1939); William Reynolds Grier (1869-1952); Margret Grier Todd (1872-??); Robert Cooper Grier (1875-1940); David Perkins Grier Jr. (1878-1947); Annie McKinney Grier (1881-1940).
DPG started a series of businesses in Peoria and later in St. Louis, mostly to do with the grain market. He became a respected businessman, although his companies would never make him rich. He was active in the Union veterans’ organizations and was Grand Marshal of the Grand Army of the Republic National Encampment in St. Louis in 1887. He died in 1891 after a long illness, early, at the age of 54. Anna outlived him, remaining in St. Louis with her daughter Annie, supported largely by her son John. She lived until 1918, dying in, I think, the Spanish Flu epidemic. Anna’s brother David McKinney, the 77th IL’s quartermaster and DPG’s good friend, died a bachelor in the early 1900s in Peoria, as DPG had written in a letter to Anna that he would. It’s through Anna’s work that I have their letters at all — what we have, we have because she saved it and passed it down to her daughter Margret, who gave it to her daughter Ann, who gave it to my grandparents.
There are more letters — some between DPG and Anna, some between DPG and their children, some from members of Anna’s and DPG’s families; there are miscellaneous items like Grand Army event material or insurance papers; there is Anna’s daily planner from sometime in the 1910s; newspapers, official correspondence, bills. But I’m going to end this here, with the end of the Civil War. It’s been fun.
[The very last letter from DPG during the war era; I don’t know the date in July on which it was written. He has arrived in Springfield, IL with his regiment, and the ladies of Peoria, under the leadership of Mrs. Curtenius, plan to give them a grand reception once they make it to that city. Capt. Secord is the captain of a company of the 77th; I believe the same is true of Capt. Brock and Capt. Montgomery.]
St Nicholas Hotel Springfield
July Monday Evening
My Dear Wife
I arrived here safe and sound this morning at four oclock and immediality went to Bed and slept until Eight. I found at the Breakfast Table Capt Brock + Capt Secord. The Regiment arrived here last evening and went into camp at Camp Butler five or six miles out. After seeing Gen Oakes and the Paymaster I went out to the Camp and saw the Regiment. I found them all in good health and spirits, after getting them out in line and a tune from the Band, I made them a short speech telling them that the Ladies wished to give them a grand reception and I wanted all who would go there to step out. I told them I did not want a man to step out unless he would certainly go, as I intended telegraphing and the Ladies would go to a good deal of pain to prepare for them and it would not do to disappoint them. All came out with very few exceptions, and they [p2] will probably go, so that two hundred to two fifty will be on hand. I have been very busy all day getting our Rolls ready and signed and to morrow morning at nine oclock will have them in the hands of the Paymaster.
I have had a Paymaster assigned to me and he is to let me Know to morrow, when he can get through with us. I think we will get away from here on Thursday Night and reach Peoria Friday Morning at four oclock. I will telegraph to morrow to Mrs Curtenius as soon as I find out certainly about the time. I wish you would see Mrs Curtenius, and let them make arrangements about the Breakfast for the men. Have some one meet us at the cars to inform us where we are to go. We would also like to have everything done in the forenoon so that the men can go to their Homes on the afternoon trains, they do not wish to stay in Peoria over night, and the Trains commence starting at about two in the afternoon. I wish you would tell them Ladies about this as I will only telegraph them the time we will arrive. Do not show them this Letter. Tell Father I will probably send up my Horse on Wednesday.
I feel very tired to night travelling all night and running around all day, so will cut off my letter short. I miss you very much and want [p3] to get home as soon as possible.
Capt Montgomery has gone East but is expected back to morrow Good Night and may your dreams be pleasant
Your devoted Husband
[In the spring of 1865 Anna went home, while DPG remained in New Orleans to wrap up and make arrangements for the mustering out of the troops of the 77th. William Pitt Kellogg, who DPG refers to at the end of this letter as the person in charge of the “custom House” in New Orleans, became the Reconstruction governor of Louisiana; he lived in Peoria from the age of 18 (1848) and then nearby Canton until 1861, when Lincoln appointed him Chief Justice of the Nebraska Territory Supreme Court, so it seems likely to me that DPG would have had some personal acquaintance with him — also given that DPG is apparently appealing to him for a job for his friend Mr. Winters (about whom, like about most of the people mentioned in this letter, I unfortunately know nothing).
At some point early in this year DPG was brevetted Brigadier General, a long-awaited and long-overdue promotion. He had repeatedly carried out the command of a brigadier general during the war, but remained a colonel until the brevet promotion in the spring; many U.S. Volunteers officers received brevets in the last days of the war, which were awarded for “gallantry and meritorious service, not for command”. Despite DPG’s never actually holding the brigadier general rank while carrying out the duties of a brigadier general (although he did both those things at different times), the brevet promotion did entitle him to be addressed, finally, as General Grier.]
New Orleans, June 24th 1865
My Dear Wife
This afternoon I leave for Mobile and will probably reach that place to morrow morning – I have been very busy the last few days and have pushed my right for muster out at Gen Sheridan+ Gen Canby’s head quarters. This morning Gen Canby partly promised that he would order us mustered out next week and I go back much lighter hearted than I than I came over. I feel now as if there was a very good prospect of getting out of the service within a few weeks now I do not want you to build too much hope on this for something might [p2] yet turn up which would send us down into Texas although the prospects to day are rather flattering for a Northern journey
It will take us at least a week after we get orders to get our rolls made out so that it will probably be the middle or last of July before we see Peoria.
Night before last I was invited to a small Party at Capt Armstrongs and enjoyed a very pleasant evening. Yesterday I took Dinner at Judge Howell’s the Judge and Mrs Howell were very cordial and I enjoyed their company very much. She called on you about two weeks after we had left. I made it all right about our not calling on them by with the excuse that our departure was so sudden that we had not time to call on them. I also called at Dr Piquette they were not at Home and I left my card. I met the Doctor since then on the Street, he was very glad to see me and invited me up to day to Dinner. I can not go as I leave at three oclock [p3]
Mr + Mrs Winters are very Kind and have done every thing in their power to make it pleasant for me. I have however ben very Homesick since while I have been here and I would give any and every thing if I could be with you. Every thing I see in these Rooms puts me in mind of old times and I often look around expecting to see you coming in. Our seperation makes me realize what a blessing I have in my darling and precious Wife, wont we be a happy Couple when we get together again not to be parted during life.
I have since writing you before learnt more about Capt. Constable. You remember when we left he was in bed with a Boil. This turned out to be what they call a fistula and he was confined to his Bed for two months, he then got a leave of Absence and went to St Louis with his family. He is still there and no better, with a strong probability of his never recovering [p4] His affairs here remain as he left them and have not been yet settled He was in trouble with Col Holiband chief Quarter Master but I do not Know to what extent. I got to day and will take over with me all the nescessay Papers for Muster out, so that when we get our orders there will be no detention on that account.
Mrs Winters says she will write to you tomorrow, so look out for a letter from her. I am trying to get a situation for Mr Winters in the custom House under Pit Kellogg who is now in charge of it. Kellogg promised me that he would give him a place. Good Bye Darling. Be sure to write until you see me which I hope will be soon – Give my love to all and beleive me as ever
After the Battle of Mobile Bay, DPG and the much-reduced 77th IL went back to New Orleans. Records from this period consist of bills, inventories, military correspondence, and letters from the Grier and McKinney families back in Peoria. Anna came down to New Orleans to join DPG there from the fall of 1864 to the spring of 1865.
It was a quiet time for the 77th and the Griers. I only have two more letters from DPG during the war, which I’ll be posting Friday and Monday, and then there is only to wrap up what I know of the rest of DPG and Anna’s lives after the war.
Tuesday Morning 23 August
Darling – This morning at seven oclock, the Fort run up the White Flag, and we are now getting ready to take possession. Our Guns continued to Shell all night and at about nine oclock the bursting of the Shell, set something on fire and during the whole night a heavy volume of Smoke and flame issued from the Fort. I think it became so hot by this morning that the Garrison could not stand it, so they were compelled to surrender. During the whole night we poured in on them a steady shower of Iron from our Mortars and Siege Guns, it must have been terrible to stay inside and I do not Know how they could stand it as long as they have. This expedition has been glorious for us, we have taken two of the largest forts in the Country, with [p2] very little loss to us,
and scarcely any loss. We now have the principle defenses of Mobile and I think can take that city without much trouble. I do not Know what we will do now, but suppose we shall at once advance on Mobile. as soon as the Gun Boats can clear the Channel of obstructions they will be able to advance on the City and shell the Enemy out of it, or else tear the Town to pieces. This Bombardment of Fort Morgan has been a grand affair and I am very glad I witnessed it. I think the Enemy must have suffered severely as I do not see how they could have saved themselves under the terrible shelling they received. I expect to be able to go into the Fort this morning so I shall not close this letter for a while yet. I think probably a Steamer will be sent to New Orleans with dispatches this morning [p3] and I shall endeavor to get this letter away on it. I have given you a regular diary of my doings for the last three days and hope you will find it interesting, will close this in the fort –
Have just been in the Fort. badly used up, they surrender unconditionally – The Boat is starting and I must close this
[There are very few letters from 1864, primarily because Anna was with DPG for most of it. In the winter and spring he was on recruiting duty in Peoria, then returned to the 77th in May. I think he brought her to New Orleans to join him sometime in early summer, although in August he had to go out with the 77th to take Fort Gaines and besiege (and subsequently take) Fort Morgan. During these battles DPG was in command of the Union land forces, under General Gordon Granger. Admiral David Farragut is the admiral DPG refers to in the letter; it was during this Battle of Mobile Bay that Farragut is supposed to have said “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” — naval mines were referred to as torpedoes at the time.]
Mobile Point Alabama 22 Aug
I wrote you the two enclosed sheets yesterday and have as yet had no opportunity to forward it so I thought I would write you some little to day and send with it. Last night we had rather a tough time and I was unable to get a minute of sleep in consequence of which I am very sleepy to day. About dark last night the Rebels commenced shelling us and fired heavy Shell in on us every ten minutes all night, under his infliction I found it impossible to get a particle of Sleep. We did not reply to their fire as we were getting the last of our heavy Guns in position and wanted to open on them al together. This morning at daylight, we opened with every thing we had on Shore and in [p2] the fleet and Kept up a steady Bombardment until twelve oclock. Since then we have Kept our land Batteries playing on them steadily. The Rebels have not fired a Gun since we commenced, on account of their not being able to stand it outside of their Bomb proofs. This has been a grand sight, and I have been looking every minute to see the White Flag run up but still they hold out and make no sign of any Kind. We have now been raining a perfect shower of Iron on them for hours, and the Fort begins to look like a Honey Comb. If they hold out by until Night, we intend throwing in Shell from our Mortars all Night, and the Admiral is going to throw in a Shower of Greek fire. This Fort must come down sooner or later if we have to tear it to pieces with our Shot. Last night [p3] they scattered Shell all over and around us, and wounded six of men belonging to my Brigade. I got my Arm Chair out in front of my Tent, and had a full view of the Fort. I could see the flash from the Gun, then the track of the Shell through the Air and could always tell about where they would land. If I saw they were coming my way, I imme-diality dropped behind my pile of Sand Bags and after the explosion get up and resume my chair. I thus set it out all night and this afternoon I feel quite sleepy. from So that while you were attending Church last evening peacefully I was dodging Shell. I think I should have found it much pleasanter at midnight last night if I had been with you in peace, instead of on this sand heap. I received a letter last mail from Mr Fisk our band [p4] man stating that he had drawn on your Father for the six hundred dollars, did the draft ever come to hand. I am looking for another mail to morrow and hope to be favored with some more letters from my darling. I expect to be able to send this away tomorrow and will write some more then I hope I shall be able to say that Fort Morgan is in our possession then. I hope also to get some sleep to night. The Rebs can not fire while we are at it, as our Shells have perfect range of their Guns. Our firing to day may have dismounted their Guns, if so their firing is done for. I hope such may be the case.
I am also longing for something good to eat. I have had nothing but hard tack and salt Pork for three weeks and I am becoming tired of it. I would give a good deal to day for one of our good Peoria Dinners, that we have so often taken together.
[Recruiting duty over, DPG heads back to the 77th on the river. The Mollie Able was later wrecked while at St. Louis on March 8, 1871, by a tornado which killed seven and injured fifty.]
[Stationery reads “Passenger Steamer Mollie Able”]
Cairo May 10th 1864
I have arrived here safe and sound. The train was four hours behind, but the Boat waited for us they will leave in ten minutes and I only have time to drop you a few lines. I have the berth the clerk promised me and find it splendid. The Boat is loaded down with Passengers, and am acquainted with a great many of them. I have just seen Rush Chambers and Currie, they are stationed here. Good Bye will write you again from Memphis to morrow
Ever Your aff
There is a long gap between the last letter (December 1, 1863) and the next (May 10, 1864), because DPG managed to get himself detailed to Peoria on recruiting duty, where he set up house again with Anna. So from this period, the only material of DPG’s that exists is a whole slew of recruiting reports: money spent on feeding and lodging new recruits, bills for placing recruitment ads in newspapers. In his absence, Lt. Col. Lysander Webb was put in charge of the regiment, and there are a few letters from David McKinney to DPG, keeping him abreast of developments with the 77th IL.
The 77th remained in the same region of Louisiana where they’d been for the whole fall of 1863, until they took part in the ill-fated Red River Campaign. Suffice it to say that Red River was a disaster for the Union troops. During one of its battles, Mansfield or Sabine Crossroads, the 77th got the brunt of the Confederate force. David McKinney survived but the 77th was essentially decimated, and would later be consolidated with another Illinois regiment, also under DPG’s command. David McKinney’s letters from this period sound almost shell-shocked.
Lt. Col. Webb, who had approached his commanding officer that morning and said that he felt he was not destined to survive the day, was shot through the head in the beginning stages of the battle. DPG must have written a note of consolation to Jennie Webb, Lysander Webb’s young widow, because she wrote back a short and heartbroken letter thanking him for his kindness. Webb was an orphan who had been adopted in Kentucky, later moving to Illinois where he met Jennie and joined the 77th. He had no known living family and Jennie later remarried.
New. Iberia La Dec 1st 1863
My Darling. Wife
On Sunday Evening last I wrote you and since then I have not heard from you. I now have on hand ten Letters written by you since I left Peoria. These were all you had written up to that time. I hope my letters reach you as well as yours do me. I am afraid however that some of my letters never get to their destination as they are so very careless here in getting the mail down to New Orleans if it once gets there it is all safe unless the Steamer, on the Mississippi should happen to get captured by the Rebs, when of course all our correspondence is read by the Southern Gents. You can tell however whether all of my Letters reach you as they [p2] have all been numbered correctly and if any are missing you can at once imagine that some Rebel is perusing, what was inten-ded for your fair self. I have been troubled to day with the Blues most terribly and this evening feel very low spirited indeed, so much so that I can scarcely write. I am also troubled this evening with a terrible cold in the head, my old complaint. two days ago we had a sudden change in the weather, it suddenly turned very cold and I suppose this gave me the cold. we have been having all the time nice warm weather and winter to us is something we are not accustomed too. A Steamer arrived this evening and I thought we should certainly be favored with a mail but I am again disappointed, as none arrived. I look very anxiously every day for the arri-val of the Boats and always hope to get a Letter from you, this is my only relief from the monotony of camp life. We are still doing nothing lying here [p3] inactive, and as far as I can see accomplishing nothing, I do not understand why we are holding this part of the State and I have not as yet found any one that does. All the Rebels that are in front of us Keep a respectful distance and when we send out an expedition after them, they invariably run. I have heard nothing yet from the Recruiting Papers. Gen Burbridge telegraphed yesterday to New Orleans about them but as yet has received no reply. I am beginning to feel a little uncertain about their being granted. I shall be terribly disappointed if they fail and shall think that the fates are against my seeing you this Winter, but I am determined I shall be with you by spring, and expect I shall leave the service to do so. I am tired of War and the Army, and think I have done my part, by that time you Know, I shall have been in three years.
on The 26th of this month is my birthday. I shall then be twenty seven. I am growing old very fast, and shall soon be an old man. I beleive you were twenty three in August, so that I am nearly four years older. I think the difference in our ages is about right. David went down to Franklin to day on the Boat on business for the Brigade, he will return to morrow or next day. I have received as yet but one Letter from the folks at home, dont you think it is a shame. I have written them three, but do not intend writing any more until I hear from them. You will have to put up with a short Letter this time as I feel most terribly Blue and home-sick. I would give every thing if I could be with my dear darling Wife this eve-ning. I hope that you often think of me. I think you do, and I assure you most of my thoughts are with my heart, in your Keeping. Write me soon darling and oftener than you have been doing, and remember me as
Your Devoted and Loving Husband D.P.Grier