This letter was written by 20 year-old Pvt. Abraham M. McKinley (1843-1924) of Co. B, 146th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). The 146th OVI was formed from the 31st regiment of the Ohio National Guard along with two companies of the 35th regiment. They were federalized and organized for 100 days service in May 1864 to be utilized in “safe” rear areas to protect railroads and supply points, thus freeing regular troops for Grant’s Overland Campaign in the spring of 1864. This letter was written from Laurel Creek, some four miles from Fayetteville, West Virginia.
Abraham (or “Abram”) was the oldest son of Joseph B. McKinley and Eliza Merritt of “Red Lion,” Franklin Township, Warren County, Ohio. After the war, Abraham married Alice E. Campbell (1847-1927).
June 21st 1864
I received your letter last Sunday evening and was glad to hear from you. I am well at present and hope this may find you all the same. I heard the other day that there were a good many of the boys sick up at Fayette[ville, West Virginia]. I understand that there was 32 of Company H reported on the sick list. I don’t know what is the matter with all of them but I guess the measles is the main disease they have got. I have not got the measles yet but I don’t think I will take them now unless I should get another chance. It has been over three weeks since I had a chance to take them off Peter McChesney but he is now well. Dave is laying here sick with the mumps but he is better this morning.
I have not heard from Uncle John for some time. I don’t know whether he is sick or not but I suppose he is well or I would have heard it for some of the boys go up to Fayette[ville] every few days. Sam Beal and some more of the boys have gone up there today. One day last week there was a wagon coming down from Fayette bringing our provisions to us when there was some men stepped out of the bushes and halted the wagon and the drivers jumped out of the wagon and whipped up the mules and got them on a run and then they broke back to Fayette[ville] and the mules ran a mile or so when a man caught them and tied them and then sent word to us and the Captain took some men and went and got the wagon and provisions — what was left of them. The crackers and beans and a good many other things was scattered all along the road but he could not find anything of the bushwhackers. It is reported that it was an old man and his wife came out of the woods just as the wagon was passing by and he hollowed [hollered] out to them and asked ride and it scared the drivers so bad that they broke back for Fayette[ville] as hard as they could run.
I got Tom’s letter last Saturday. That money came through all safe and it come mighty acceptable for I was entirely out. I had just bought some letter paper and the boys took up a collection to get a coffee mill for our mess and I gave a little towards that and it took the last I had. We have to pay 10 cts here for six sheets of paper.
Well we had biscuits for breakfast this morning. We run out of bread and we had a little flour and we took it to a house here and got the women to bake us some biscuit and I tell you they went mighty good.
The Capt. says to direct your letters in his care and then they will be handed out here and not go on to Fayette as they have been. Nearly all the boys talk about is when their time will be out. Everyday some of them will say, one more day gone. I guess some of them are pretty sick of it but I am pretty well contented. But still, I don’t know but I would rather be at home to tell the truth of it.
Well, when I commenced, I thought I could not think of anything to write but I have got my paper about full so I guess I will quit. Write as soon as you get this. From your brother, — A. M. McKinley
I have no stamp to put on this letter nor I can’t get any here. Mose Barkelow brought a lot here but they was all gone before I knew it.