This letter was written by Floyd Thurman (1837-1923), F Troop, 1st Indiana Cavalry. Floyd was born in Spencer County, Indiana, the son of William Richard Thurman (1806-1877) and Anna B. Shrode (1814-1854). In the winter of 1859, he taught his first school. He was mustered into the service as a corporal on 22 July 1861 — the day after the Battle of Bull Run. The 1st Indiana Cavalry fought in the battles of Fredrickstown, Helena, Pine Bluff and in numerous skirmishes. Thurman was discharged September 1864 as a first Sergeant. He returned to Spencer County where he farmed for one year and then found employment delivering coal to customers along the Ohio River from Rockport to Cannelton for three years. He then resumed farming. He married Ellen Gilson in 1875 and had six children. He died 18 June 1923 at Grandview, Indiana.
The Manuscript & Visual Collections Department of the Indiana Historical Society houses two of Thurman’s letters dated 18 and 27 October 1861 in which he describes his involvement in the Battle of Frederickstown. [Source: History of Warrick, Spencer, and Perry Counties, Indiana. (Chicago: Goodspeed, 1885)]
Floyd wrote the letter to his brother Francis Marion Thurman (1841-1908). In the letter he also mentions having received a letter from his brother Wayne Thurman (1839-1865).
Butler County, Missouri
March 29th 1862
I received yours of the 15th which was gratifying to hear from you once more that you were all enjoying good health. It has been so long since I had got any word I had quit looking. It was the first since the first of January.
I left Irvington 1st of March and have been traveling ever since scouring the country over. Have been down in Arkansas. Have done some of the hardest riding in the last 10 days we have ever taken.
Col. [William] Wood was sent out with a squad of men and stayed over his time. We were on the line and our company was sent after him or to see what had become of him. We went 8 miles in rackensack in less than one hour but all was right. He was picking up secesh. We started out with rations for 2 days and stayed & went through one swamp that was 8 miles wide. If we stopped we had to get our horses forefeet on the roots of trees to keep from miring. We caught one cop, one recruiting officer, and 15 other prisoners, 100 head of beef cattle.
We returned to camp last night. It is on Black River, 40 miles from the Arkansas line. Gen. [Frederick] Steele came on yesterday to take command of the brigade making up here.
There are 3 regiments of cavalry, 4 of infantry, and 14 pieces of artillery. It is said the forces are not all here yet. When we start again, we will soon leave this state.
I got a letter from [brother] Wayne dated March 10th. He was well then. I think — or hope at least — you are mistaken. If not, something is wrong about that money. Ensign and others sent at the same time and have heard from theirs and if part goes, all is found to go and the shot gun, 2 pouches, 2 horns, and 2 books that I sent in a box to go to Mrs. Burr. The rifle was sent to B. Graham.
Health is very good. I have not been so but I could do duty during the winter.
As I can not give a full detail of all the particulars on paper, I will wait till I can tell it. No more at present, — F. Thurman