Spears Letter

    First Kentucky "Orphan" Brigade 


 

Letter from Lt. E. F. Spears, 2nd Kentucky Infantry

 

Johnsons Island Apl 18 [1862]

Mrs E. Nunn

   Yours of 9th enquiring about Julius Purnell has just been received and I hasten to give you all the information I can on the subject.

   Julius was shot in the breast on Thursday when the enemy first tried to storm our fortifications. He was sent from our pits [?] to a hospittal nearby and was the next day transferred to a boat with other wounded to be sent to Nashville where better care could be taken of them. Not being able to go and see any of the boys myself I sent Mr. McDonald (a particular friend of Julius) to see how they were getting along. He reported the first night that there had been no reaction since he was shot and that the surgeon thought it a very doubtful case. I again sent the next evening to the boat just before it left and McDonald came back with the report that Julius was dead. He said he saw him laid out and that he looked natural.

   Julius was a good boy and a fine soldier. No one stood higher with the company than he, he was brave and true as steel, I could not say too much in regard to his good qualities as a soldier.

   Johnsons Island where we are now located is in Sandusky Bay some three miles from the city. We have comfortable quarters and more ground and are in every respect better off than we were at Camp Chase. I think we will all have better health here than any place in the Northern [?] Confederacy. News is the only thing that we are scarce of at present we hear all kinds of rumors but have all got so now that we do not place any confidence in what we hear. I wrote to Mrs. Hamilton to learn something in regard to her visit to Camp Morton but have not heard a word from her. Mrs. Clarke was here a short time yesterday but I did not get to see her. She is a noble woman and will not be forgotten soon by any of us. I received a letter from one of our company at Camp Morton this evening they are all well. Give my best respects to all our friends particularly the ladies.

Most Respt.

E. F. Spears

****************

The original letter was found in St. Louis, MO, and was submitted for publication by Capt. Steven Warren, US Army; published in the Camp Chase Gazette, Vol. 10, No. 6, April 1983, page 18.  The author was 1st Lt. Edward F. Spears, commanding Company G, "Hamilton Guards," 2nd Kentucky Infantry.   The 2nd Kentucky had been surrendered with the Fort Donelson garrison, 16 February 1862, and Lt. Spears and the other officers had been sent to prison at Johnsons Island, Ohio (via Camp Chase).  Most of the enlisted men of the regiment had been sent to Camp Morton, Indianapolis.  Although wounded through the wrist, with his arm in a sling, Lt. Spears was put in command of both Cos. B and G during the 2nd Kentucky's final actions on February 15.

The letter envelope was a partiotic cover from the 56th Ind. Rail Road Regiment, and was mailed using a 3 cent US stamp. The outside is marked as having been approved by a Chaplain, possibly acting as a censor.

SpearsEnv.jpg (90270 bytes)
(Camp Chase Gazette)

 

William Julius Purnell was a Private in Lt. Spears' Co. G.   He was mortally wounded during the 2nd Kentucky’s first action, a defense of their works at Fort Donelson, 13 February 1862.

Mr. McDonald was possibly James A. McDonald, a Private in Co. G.

Mrs. Hamilton was Mrs. Henrietta Lindsay Hamilton of Paris, KY, who had made the Hamilton Guards' first uniforms, and for whom the company had been named.

For further letters and history of Ed Spears, see Samuel R. Flora, "'I consider the Regiment my home': The Orphan Brigade Life and Letters of Capt. Edward Ford Spears, 1861-65," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Vol. 94, No. 2 (Spring 1996), pp. 134-173.

 

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Geoff Walden: enfield577 (at) live.com
Laura Cook
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