This letter was written by Simon Shuman (1842-18xx), a plasterer from Lurgan, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, who was drafted in 1863 and mustered into Company D of the 148th Pennsylvania on 28 August. On-line family records indicate that Simon was captured and died at Andersonville Prison in 1864. Regimental records indicate that he was transferred to Co. H, 53d Pennsylvania on June 1, 1865. A search of the roster of the 53rd Pennsylvania, however, reveals that the public record erred in assigning Simon to that regiment. It was Simon Struman of Chambersburg who was drafted into the 53rd.
A search of the prisoner records at Andersonville confirms that Simon was indeed imprisoned there though no record of his death exists. There is no public record of his existence after the Civil War, however, so I conclude that Simon perished at Andersonville. He was most likely captured during one of the engagements of the 148th Pennsylvania in the Overland Campaign of 1864.
Simon was the son of Benjamin Shuman (1799-1870) and Mariah Wallace (1802-1885). He wrote the letter to George Mowery who was a neighborhood chum from Lurgan.
November the 1st, 1863
Mr. George H. Mowery
I sit down this Sunday in Old Virginia to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well at present, hoping that you enjoy the same. We started from Carlisle on the 27th October and got to our regiment on the 30th. We stopped in Baltimore and Washington awhile as we came along.
Virginia is a desolate place. We can travel two or three miles before you can see a house. In our travels of about 50 miles, I did not see over fifteen houses, and seeing some of them had nobody in. But every mile or two you can see a large camp of brave Yankees. In the evening, if you look around, you can see camp fires in every direction.
Virginia is a low, swampy place and a good many bushes too. There was about 126 of us came from Carlisle and joined the 148th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. We were put in different companies. There was twenty-seven of us joined the Company D. The regiment was glad to see us coming. They went to work and made us some coffee and give us a good dinner of hard tack and meat. I think I will get fat in the army if I keep my health.
We have a good captain. He is a small man and very common. The officers in the regiment are all very nice men. They don’t allow any swearing at the soldiers. If a captain swears or attempts to strike a soldier, he is court martialed for it and the private soldiers are the sociablest fellows I ever met with. When I got here after nearly two days march through Virginia, I felt myself at home. I like it here well. We can run around.
I have not heard any politicks talked over here. I am surprised to see our drafted Democrats after they came here that they all go in for fighting it through and leave politicks alone and I think if some of the copperheads along the state road and James Burkholder and some other ones would come out here, they would go home better Union men than they are. I feel like fighting for the Union.
We had preaching here this afternoon and a good sermon. It was for the Union. Our captain made a Union prayer after preaching. His name is [Alfred A.] Rinehart from Franklin County. I think I will bring my letter to a close. I would tell you a good bit more but I am tired writing. I do a good lot of writing for other ones. I want you to write to me and tell me the particulars of Lurgan and tell the Lurgan girls I wish them well and lots of fun.
— Simon Shuman
I have not heard from home since I left. Excuse me for writing with the lead pencil for ink is not very plenty here. Write soon.