This letter was written by 24 year-old Pvt. Abner S. Loden (1836-1868) who served in Co. B, 28th Texas Cavalry under Capt. Patrick Henry. Pvt. Loden wrote the letter from a camp 2½ miles east of Marshall, Texas. Companies B and E were from Cherokee County. Companies A, C, D, F, and G arrived in camp in May. The remaining companies did not arrive in camp until July.
While still in camp near Marshall, Texas, Pvt. Loden wrote his wife on 27 February 1863 stating that he was very sick with pneumonia.
The unit traveled to Shreveport, Louisiana, in July 1862 where they remained until 18 July 1862. The soldiers then traveled northward and arrived in Austin, Arkansas, on 3 September 1862. By late September the unit was dismounted (i.e. the unit was converted to infantry). The 28th Texas Cavalry was dismounted because of a surplus of cavalry units in Arkansas and because of a lack of forage for the horses. The men refused to call themselves “infantry” instead preferring the term “dismounted cavalry” as though it were a temporary condition. Much to the disappointment of the men, the 28th Texas was never remounted. During this time period, companies L and M were removed from the unit. Company L remained mounted and became part of Lt. Colonel Charles L. Morgan’s Texas Cavalry Regiment. Company M became part of the 14th Texas Infantry, a unit that often served in the same brigade as the 28th Texas.
In September, the unit was brigaded with the 11th Texas Infantry, the 14th Texas Infantry, the 15th Texas Infantry, and the 6th Texas Cavalry Battalion (dismounted). Colonel Horace Randal became commander of this brigade, and Lt. Colonel Eli H. Baxter, Jr. became commander of the 28th Texas.
The unit spent the entire war in the Trans-Mississippi and campaigned extensively in Arkansas and Louisiana. By December 1862 the unit became part of Major General John G. Walker’s Division. This division was comprised of three brigades made up entirely of Texas units.
Abner was married to Nancy Catharine Jones (1836-1880) in 1856. In this letter, Abner cautions his wife to take care of their 10-month old son, William (“Billy”) Abner Loden, saying that she must “nurse him good” and make certain that he is gaining weight — his concern was no doubt heightened by the previous loss of two infants. When this letter was written in April 1862, Catharine was pregnant with another child — Nancy Idabelle Loden — born 7 September 1862.
Mrs. Abner S. Loden, Rusk, Cherokee County, Texas
Harrison County, Texas
April the 25th 1862
Catharine, dear wife,
I take the present opportunity to write a few lines to you to inform you that I am well and hope that these lines may reach your hand and find you enjoying the same blessing. And also my baby that is near and dear to me.
First I will say that we got here at Marshall on Monday morning last with all safe and sound which was a week later than the Col. ¹ looked for us. But he has got plenty of good horses for us now [in our camp] which is two miles and a half east of Marshall. I don’t know how long we will stay here. The colonel talks of sending us to Jefferson in order to get horse feed cheap. We get plenty of corn and fodder for our horses.
Our diet is flour bread and bacon, rye coffee and sugar, and get it all plenty. The colonel has sent down the river for provision of every kind that is necessary and tents &c. which was in Shreveport last Saturday and he is looking for them every day to come on the cars.
Our arms will come soon. We will be armed with carbines, pistols, and lancers, so we are the 2d Company of Randall’s Lancers. There is another company (Co. E) here ready to be mustered into service. We was mustered in last Tuesday. Our horses was all valued at their worth. My horse was valued at 145 dollars, saddle 25 dollars. Thomas did not have his horse valued because he is not going to ride him in the service.
We have not got our bounty money yet. The colonel says it will be ready soon. The colonel appears like a straight forward man and uses no popish extras.
Catherine, there is no cotton cards to be had at all nor factory thread. I have tried at every town I came through and yesterday I got on the steam car and went down to the lake and I went on a steamboat and enquired there for cards in market, and the captain said there was none. I will keep trying to find some cards and the first I find I will send to you.
We had a very wet time to travel in coming here and the most of us too some cold and me for one. But I am better. I weighed myself yesterday and I have gained seven pounds since I left home. So you know, I am not bad off for I eat like a wolf three times a day.
I want you to write to me as soon as you get this letter and direct to Marshall P.O., Harrison County, Texas.
I want you to weight yourself and Billy and tell me how much you weigh, and nurse him good and don’t let my sweet little baby cry for he is little and that is all he can do. So don’t let it cry no more than you can help it.
— Abner S. Loden
The colonel says he has got the money to pay for everything we need and will have us in Tennessee or Missouri and in the fight before three months and that is the kind of a man I want to go with. Lincoln has taken his armies there and Price and Van Dorn is gone to meet him there and I hope to be there too for I want to skin them out and go home and live in peace under Southern rights.
¹ This was Col. Horace Randal, an 1854 graduate of the US Military Academy. As a colonel, Randal was appointed brigade commander on September 3, 1862, and served in Arkansas and Louisiana. He led the brigade at Milliken’s Bend during the Vicksburg campaign in June 1863, and in repulsing Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks’s Red River campaign in the spring of 1864. He was appointed brigadier general by Gen. E. Kirby Smith on April 8, 1864, but his promotion was never confirmed by the Confederate government. Horace Randal died of wounds recieved at the battle of Jenkin’s Ferry, Arkansas, on April 30, 1864.