This letter was written by Corporal Elias D. Baker (1843-1938) of Company G, 46th Illinois Infantry from Salubrity Springs which was three miles from Natchitoches, Louisiana. The regiment had been there since mid-June, having relieved the 21st Iowa Infantry. They remained there until mid November when Major Clingman, with Companies E & G went to Marshall, Texas to relieve the 8th Illinois Infantry.
Elias was the son of Enos W. Baker (1816-1845) and Maria Etnyre (1817-1854) of Ogle County, Illinois, but because his parents died when he was young, he was raised by his Aunt Ann R. (Etnyre) Diemer and her husband Harrison Diemer of Stephenson County. Elias joined the 46th Illinois in 1861 and carried a gun for the first two years of the war but then was detailed to the regimental band as a fifer. He was not mustered out of the service until January 1866.
When he returned from the war, Elias bought and worked a farm in Illinois for ten years, then sold out and moved to Kansas where he also took up farming. Later he moved to Ringgold County, Iowa, where he operated a restaurant. In 1895, he returned to Illinois and bought a farm near Scioto Mills in Stephenson County. He died in 1938 in Niagara County, New York.
He was married to Jennie Stewart at Rock City, Illinois in 1869.
Camp 46th Illinois Infantry Volunteers
Salubrity Springs, Louisiana
July 7th 1865
Dear Aunt & Uncles,
Your letters of May 29h and June 9th have just been received and I take this opportunity to reply. I have received but one letter since we left Mobile until today [when] we got a pretty large mail. I am glad that that power of attorney is all right and that my money got home.
We are very anxious to get home but I see no show yet. The boys say they are going home soon anyhow. It is reported now that there is an order from the War Department to muster out 70 thousand of the first Vet. organizations but I do not know how true it is. Hope it is so. Then we will go out under that order.
The weather is very hot here now and the mosquitoes are like buffaloes. I sent to town today and got mosquito bars so that I can sleep a little. We are camped three miles from Natchitoches — an old place on the old channel of Red River. I was out there on the 4th [of July[ but did not enjoy it much. We fixed the cannon but lacked the good dinner and many of the things that are necessary to make things pleasant on such occasions.
We live better here though than we have for a long time. We get milk for 10 cts. per quart, eggs 25 cts. per doz., and butter 25 cts. per pound. I am pretty well now since I [have] good grub.
Well, news are scarce so I don’t know what to write. Have not seen a paper for a month. You must write often and give me all the news. Do the best you can with my property. If you get a chance to sell it, go.
Hope to hear from you often. Truly, — E. D. Baker
P. S. The letters I received contained my photographs & stamps.