These letters were written by Jeremiah (“Jerrie” or “Jed”) M. Cramblett (1834-1909), the son of Thomas George Cramblett (1804-1885) and Roxanna A. Hobbs (1807-1881) of Marietta, Fulton County, Illinois. [Note: His gravestone reads “J. M. Cramblett”] One of Jeremiah’s sisters, Emily Alice, married gold and silver miner Abram B. “California Abe” Walrod, one of the founders of Denver.
Jerrie enlisted on 21 August 1862 in Co. I, 72nd Illinois Infantry. He was with the regiment until mid June 1863 when he was sent to Adams Hospital No. 3 in Memphis, Tennessee, to recuperate from illness. He seems to have remained at the hospital until late November or early December when he was allowed a furlough to return to Fulton County, Illinois. Following his furlough, he returned to the Memphis hospital but was ordered to rejoin his regiment in January 1864, then encamped near Vicksburg.
Jerrie is listed under Illinois Pensioners beginning in 1881 when he filed a claim for a wound on his right hand. The cause and nature of the wound is not stated but he was awarded 2 dollars per month compensation.
Jerrie wrote all of these letter to Ellen (“Ellie” or “Nellie”) M. Sherman of Fulton County, Illinois. From the letters we can infer that Jerrie had stronger feelings for Ellen than she had for him. Indeed, Ellen M. Sherman carried on a correspondence with Conrad William Betts who was a musician in the 29th Illinois Infantry and she married him on 16 October 1866. See — 1861: Conrad William Betts Letters
After Jerrie was discharged from the service, he returned to Fulton County and married Nancy Jane German (1846-1923) on 22 March 1866.
Throughout his letters, Jerrie refers to a fellow soldier named “Orton” which he also states was Ellen’s uncle. This was 2nd Lt. Orton Ingersoll, Co. A, 11th Illinois Infantry.
He also refers to a fellow soldier he called “Throck.” I believe this was William Newton Throckmorton (b. 1823), the son of Peter Throckmorton (1794-1857) and Mary Bunn (1805-1885). William was married to Ellen Cramblett (1829-18xx) — Jeremiah’s older sister — and resided in Marietta, Illinois. They served together in the same company.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Addressed to Miss Ella M. Sherman, Bernadette, Fulton County, Illinois
April 28, 1863
I received your welcome letter dated April 2 & 7th yesterday. Was very glad indeed to hear from you to learn that you were well & enjoying yourself. My health is better at this time than it has been for the past few weeks.
We were on board transports near a month from the time we left Memphis which was the third of March. After we returned from the first expedition down the river, we went in camp some three or four miles below Helena, Arkansas, but our stay was very short at this place. On the 4th, Gen. [Isaac Ferdinand] Quinby’s Division embarked on board transports for another expedition south by the Yazoo Pass. We were all on board & sailing down the Mississippi by five P.M. Tis a nice sight to see a fleet of fifteen or twenty steamers in line loaded with soldiers & bands playing, sailing on the waters of the Mississippi. We ran out of the Mississippi into Moon Lake. This is a small lake half mile wide & five miles in length. Tis just the shape of a new moon — that is why it was called Moon Lake.
Wednesday morning we got into cold water and after ten days sail we landed two miles from Ft. Pemberton on the opposite side of the river from the fort. Here we went in camp. The next day we drove the enemy’s pickets across the river. Gen. [Leonard F.] Ross’s Division was in camp on the opposite side of the river from Quinby’s. We expected a fight everyday but on Saturday evening the fourth, we received orders from Gen. Grant to report at Helena. Ross’s Division left Saturday night [and] Quinby’s Sunday morning, and Thursday evening we landed at Camp Sand Bar, four miles below Helena.
On the 13th, we embarked on board the steamer Empire City and sailed for Vicksburg, landed at Lake Providence Tuesday evening the 14th. Wednesday we went down to Milliken’s Bend. Here we went in camp, fifteen miles from Vicksburg. Thursday night, seven of our gunboats & 2 transports run the blockade. On of the transports was burned. One man killed & six wounded. We could see the light very plainly. The cannonading was very heavy for about two hours.
Our forces have run the blockade several times in the past few days. We hear more or less cannonading every night down at Vicksburg. Some think the rebels will evacuate that place. If they do not, there will be a big fight soon.
We marched from Milliken’s Bend to this place Thursday last. The weather was very warm & the boys were all very tired when we arrived at this place. The weather is quite warm today — rained Sunday night and Monday I was on picket. I thought of you many times while walking my lonely beat. Wondered if the time would ever come when I could return home to enjoy the society of those kind friends I love so well. But if I should never meet them in this world, I shall try & live so as to meet them in the world above where parting shall be no more. Ella, I am glad you are enjoying yourself. I would have been very happy to have been there to take tea with you & Genie on the evening you spoke of.
As my paper is almost taken up, I will close for this time hoping to hear from you soon again. I remain as ever your true friend, — Jerrie
P. S. Compliments to Genie. My respects to James & Mary.
Tuesday 2 P.M.
Well Nellie, I had just finished my letter & was going to start to the office with it when your Uncle Orton called to me to come & take dinner with him. As I had not been to dinner, I told him I would. We had a pretty good dinner — had ham, stewed apples, & tea. Very good dinner, wasn’t it? Orton is well & sends his love to you.
Saw Brink ¹ Sunday last — the division he is in passed through this place. He was well. Seen his brother Vince ² the Sunday before we left Milliken’s Landing. He was well. Said the boys of the 55th [Illinois] were all well (that is all of my acquaintance). Vince is Second Lieutenant. That will please Jennie, don’t you think so?
The 72nd has been transferred to [Brigadier General John] McArthur’s Division. I understand we go in the 2nd Brigade. Quinby’s Division has gone to Carthage. Our regiment was left here at Richmond. The 1st Brigade of McArthur’s Division passed through this place yesterday. Expect we will go soon. When you write, address J. M. Cramlet, Co. I, 72nd Reg. Illinois Vol., 2nd Brigade McArthur’s Division
¹ Possibly Capt. Stephen Brink (1838-1908) of Co. D, 124th Illinois Regiment.
² Vincent E. Brink (1834-1863) was born in Richland County, Ohio. He was enumerated in Harris Township, Fulton County, Illinois in 1850 and in Bourbon County, Kansas Territory in 1860. He enlisted in Company F, 55th Illinois Infantry as a sergeant in October 1861, giving Marietta, Illinois, as his residence. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant on 4 September 1862, and to Captain on 3 August 1863. He died of disease on 31 October 1863 in Iuka, Mississippi.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Addressed to Miss E. M. Sherman, Marietta, Illinois
July 28, 1863
Once more I embrace the present opportunity of writing you a few lines to let you know that Jed is in the city of Memphis, his health greatly improved. I came to this city the 22 of June. My health had been very poor for several weeks. In fact I have not been [able] to say well since last spring. I took a severe cold while we were down the Yazoo Pass last spring & have been troubled with a pain in left side ever since. The doctor says it is the pleurisy.
Now I will tell you about our march from Smith’s Plantation, ¹ Louisiana, to the rear of Vicksburg. We marched from the above named place Sunday afternoon, May 10th. Camped that night on what is known as Perkin’s Plantation nine miles down the Mississippi near a small town by the name of New Carthage. The next morning we were on the march again by sunrise. Marched a distance of 20 miles that day & it fell to my lot to stand picket that night. I tell you, Nellie, I thought of home & friends as I walked my lonely beat, thinking of the many pleasant hours I have spent in the society of friends that were far away. How happy I would be to be in company with them tonight. ²
We crossed the Mississippi at Grand Gulf on Tuesday the 12th. Here we remained until Wednesday when we started on the march again, arriving in the rear of Vicksburg, May the 18th. We passed through several very pretty little towns on our way but I cannot give a description of all this time.
We came on the battlefield of Champion Hills Saturday evening just as the fight was ended. It was a horrible scene. I hope I shall never behold such a sight again. The ground was strewn with dead & dying soldiers. Oh that this awful war was over is my prayer. ³
Our regiment was the first to cross Black River Monday morning & we marched to within half mile of the rebels’ fortifications that day. I don’t think I was ever so near giving out in my life. We lay on the ground that night with nothing but rubber blankets to lie on & I was quite unwell all night having had a chill that day. The next morning we were called up in line of battle & marched to the front. I did not feel able to go but I thought I would go as long as I could stand it. We were marched across to the right of the main road that leads from Vicksburg to Jackson. Here we were ordered to lie down.
We remained in this position till 9 P.M. when we marched across the road and advanced up toward the enemy’s stronghold. Co. A was sent out as skirmishers. Had not advanced far when the captain received a ball breaking his right arm [and] had to have it amputated — we were told that. At 2 o’clock, Grant’s army charged the rebel works. We made a charge — lost several men & had to fall back. I will tell you all when I see you.
My health is improving very fast. Hope to be able to join my regiment soon. Ezekiel Throckmorton was here to see me. We had quite a pleasant visit. Had a letter from Will Throck[morton] Tuesday. The boys were all well as usual. I was to the Convalescent Camp while Zeke was here. Seen Martin Beaver. His health is not very good. Excuse poor writing & mistakes.
Ever your true friend, — Jerrie to Nellie Sherman
Write soon. Address J. M. Cranlet, Memphis, Tenn. Adams Hospital, No. 3
¹ Lt. Col. Joseph Stockton of the 72nd Illinois described Smith’s Plantation in his 9 May 1863 journal entry: “This plantation is a large sugar and cotton plantation and has several large sugar works and cotton gins on it. It is a valuable one, worth before the war many hundreds of thousands of dollars, but as the darkies have all left, there is no saying what it is worth today.”
² In his diary, Lt. Col. Joseph Stockton of the 72nd Illinois described scene on 11 May 1863: “Reveille at four o’clock; started on our march after a “hearty cup of coffee.” Struck inland and marched around Lake St. Joseph, through one of the most beautiful countries I ever saw; the plantations large and residences elegant; one in particular, Judge Bowie’s, was one of the most elegant places in the South; the flower garden eclipsed anything of the kind I ever saw. Most of the men had bouquets stuck in their muskets. My horse had his head decorated with them. This elegant place was in ruins by the time we got there. The house had been burned, as were most of the residences around the lake, and all the cotton gins. Most of the owners had fled and left their houses to the care of the servants. I must say that the officers did what they could to prevent it, and General Ransom halted the brigade and said he would have any of his command severely punished if caught in the act of setting fire to any building, yet while he was talking, flames burst forth from half a dozen houses. Marched eighteen miles.”
³ In his diary, Lt. Col. Joseph Stockton of the 72nd Illinois described the battlefield of Champion Hill: “May 16. Started at four a.m. Reached Raymond by ten o’clock. The churches were full of the wounded rebels and our men, for there had been quite a fight here, as well as at Port Gibson. We had cleaned the rebels out and our men were in the best of spirits. While resting here, heard firing in the distance. Started at quick time ; men were drawn up in line of battle about five miles from Raymond, across a road, but the enemy had gone around us. Orders came to move forward in a hurry. Met some brigades resting on the road, but General Wilson of Grant’s staff hurried us forward across fields and arrived at Champion’s Hill just as the enemy fled. We were pushed forward to the front and slept on the field of battle. Dead rebels and Union soldiers were lying all around us. The enemy had fled across the Big Black River. Our victory had been complete, captured over two thousand men, seventeen pieces of artillery and a number of battle flags. Marched twenty-five miles today.”
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Addressed to Miss Ellie M. Sherman, Canton, Fulton County, Illinois
December 10th 1863
Miss Ellie Sherman,
Dear friend, I take the present opportunity of dropping you a few lines to let you know that I have arrived in this city. Had a very pleasant trip coming down. E. B. & myself arrived in Peoria Monday afternoon. Called on Uncle Dick Haney & took supper with him. Had a very good time indeed. I left Peoria Tuesday morning on the 10 o’clock train & arrived at El Paso at noon. Had to wait at this place until three P.M. for the train at which time I took the cars for Cairo. Arrived at Centralia 11 o’clock Tuesday night. From here went in the sleeping car & had 5 hours sleep. We got to Cairo Wednesday morning 5 o’clock A.M. Did not leave Cairo until 8 that night. Spent the day in visiting.
The town [Cairo, Illinois] has improved very much. A great many large buildings have been built since we were there last only a year ago.
I left Cairo on board the Steamer Liberty No. 2 Wednesday night and landed at the City of Memphis Friday morning 8 A.M. Had a pleasant trip down the river. Had a little bad luck. The last night I was on the boat, some rascal had the impudence to break open my carpet sack & stole my butter & ale, my canned ____, & worst of all — they took those things that Harriet sent by me to Orton. I did not care half as much for my things as I did for hers. There was quite a number of us soldiers on board. Some had their money taken & others lost their knapsacks & all their clothing. It beat all the times for thieving I ever seen. There was some twenty deserters aboard. Think they had a hand in [the thefts] as they were not guarded — only when the boat landed.
Well Nellie, I got acquainted with a real good-looking soldier on the cars going from Peoria to El Paso. He belonged to Co. D, 103rd Illinois. [He] was well acquainted with Martin Beaver & his folks. His name was Marcellus Botkin. ¹ I left him in Cairo. He was going to Chattanooga by the way of Nashville.
Well Ella, I have not been well for several days past. I took a severe cold the next night after I got to this place and have had a headache & some fever most of the time since, but feel some better today. I have not made up my mind whether I shall go to the regiment or remain here this winter. I think that I will stay in Memphis until Christmas if not longer. I have been quite lonely since I came back. This does not seem like home to me. O when will this cruel war be over. 20 months more will release Jed, if I should live to see that time. I don’t think I will soldier anymore.
I dreamed of you last night. Thought you were in Seville. Please send your picture in your next letter. As I do not feel very well & it is mail time, I will close for the present. Please give my best respects to Mose & Lady & accept for yourself the kind regard & well wishes of your friend, — Jerrie [to] Ellie S[herman]
Write soon. Adams General Hospital No. 3, Memphis, Tennessee
¹ Pvt. Marcellus Benjamin Botkin (1840-1923) was from Joshua, Fulton County, Illinois. He was the son of James Botkin (1817-1898) and Lucinda A. Rush (1817-1893). He had two younger brothers serving with him in the same company: Elnathan Botkin (1841-1864) who died at Andersonville Prison on 18 October 1864, and Asa James Botkin (1844-1918).
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
Addressed to Miss Ellie M. Sherman, Marietta, Fulton County, Illinois
Thursday, January 28th 1864
I received yours of the 9th yesterday. Was glad indeed to learn that you were well & had not forgotten your friend Jed. I was sorry to hear that your friends were sick. I hope e’re this they are entirely well for there can be no enjoyment without health. Well Ellie, I am glad you had a good time on examination day & Christmas Eve.
I spent Christmas very pleasantly in Memphis. The weather was warm as summer. Had an oyster supper Christmas night at the Gayoso Hotel. Had a very good time. New Years Day was very cold & I spent my time sitting by the fire reading and thinking of my friends at home & those friends in whose society I have spent many pleasant & happy hours & wondered if the time would ever come when I would be permitted to enjoy their society as I have in days gone by. I think of you often, though we are separated by many miles & we may never see each others faces again. But be that as it may, you have a place in my affections that none other has, nor never will. Although we may never be anything to each other than we are now (for you have told me so), but my mind was made up over six years ago & has never changed but hoping we may meet again.
I will now tell you that I left the City of Memphis on Tuesday the 11th and arrived at this place Thursday evening. Found the boys all well except Cyril Cooper of our company. He was very low but is better today. Your Uncle Orton started for home Monday last on furlough. I was glad he got to go for I know his family and friends will be so very glad to have him spend a few weeks with them after an absence of 18 months.
Well Ellie, when I wrote you last I expected to have remained in Memphis this winter and should have done so had it not been for General Orders. There was an order issued the first of this month that all men on detached duty in hospitals & other places not detailed by Maj. Gen. Grant or W. T. Sherman should join their regiments. I being one of that class complied to Gen. Orders, have not done any duty since the 12th. I have a felon on the forefinger of my left hand. Don’t think I ever suffered as much pain in my life. For over one week I never closed my eyes, but for the last three days & nights I have rested pretty well & I hope the worst is over.
I don’t like Vicksburg. It is a rough place. I don’t know how long we will stay here. The 72nd [Illinois] Regiment is doing duty in town. A number of the boys are on extra duty at different places in town. Lieut. Colonel [Joseph] Stockton is in command of our regiment. The Col. is acting Brigadier. Stockton has been trying to have the 72nd [Illinois] relieved from duty here. He wants to take the regiment out to Black River to drill for a banner but I learned today that the General would not let us go. Said if we was out there, we would have to stand picket every other day & would have no time to drill.
Well Ellie, I would liked to have been there with you & Genie on the last night of the Old Year. Think I could have persuaded you to have told me what you wished. I would have tried to have you tell me at any rate. Nellie, won’t you tell me some time if it comes true? Wouldn’t I like to know. I would indeed.
Well my paper is almost taken up & I will close for this time. I received a letter from sister Mira or rather two last evening dated January 12th and 14th. She tells me you are teaching their school. Said she wished I was there to go with her. I would like to go very much but I must close for my hand hurts me badly. I will direct this to Canton as you requested for you did not say anything about teaching that school in your letter. Compliments to Gennie, Carrie & Julia, and all my friends in Seville. Prosperity & happiness to R. Palmer & lady, my respects to Mose & lady & love to you. Write soon to Jerrie, 72nd Ill. Vol. Co. I, Vicksburg
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
Tuesday night, March 8, 1864
I am all alone tonight and I thought I could not improve the time in any better way than writing to my friend Nellie. This morning, I & Will Throck[morton] received orders to take our teams & report to the surgeon of the Fifty-eighth Regiment Ohio Volunteers. When we reported, the surgeon said we would leave this place today but he was mistaken for we are here yet. I am glad we did not start for I wanted to answer your welcome letter before we left this place. Your Uncle Orton arrived safe to this place Sunday evening.
I was down to see him last night was glad to see him looking so well. We spent the evening together pleasantly talking of our home friends. Ellie, I have been thinking of those I love so well all day long. I do hope the time will come soon when we shall meet again.
We are going to leave here in the morning with thirty days rations. There is quite a large force going. I am not posted in regard to the destination of the expedition. Some say we are going up Red River. Others think we are going up the Yazoo. I will probably know more about it in a few days. It is reported here today that the Eleventh Illinois Regiment have had a fight and most of them were taken prisoner. They were at Yazoo City. The expedition that left here some time ago has returned. Our troops went to Meridian — that is on the line that divides the states of Alabama and Georgia one hundred & seventy miles east of Vicksburg. We captured some 12 hundred prisoners. You will see a much better account of what the expedition accomplished in the papers than I can give so I will write no more on that subject.
Well Ellie, I thank you very much for those blackberries you sent me. I had them for dinner today. They were excellent indeed. Tell Cad to never mind about that ring. I will send you another one of these days.
Ellie, you said you could hardly say goodbye to Orton. I know you must have felt bad to see him start back, but you must be of good cheer for we hope to meet our friends again. This cruel war cannot last always. Cousin John made me a present of a very nice ring. Orton brought his & Mira’s likeness to me. I think John has changed a great deal since I last saw him. Cousin John wants me to go to California with him. Said if I would say I would go, he would wait until my time was out in the army. I think I will go if I get home. I would go this spring if I was not in the army.
Well, Ellie, I would like to see you tonight the best in the world. I think of you often. Many a night I have sat & watched the moon & thought of you & wondered if Ella was not watching it too. You always liked to watch it as it beamed forth its radiant light in the starry heavens. It does look beautiful indeed & I love to look at it.
Well Ellie, it is getting late & I must bring my letter to a close. I hope you are well & enjoying yourself. My respects to James and all your friends. Hope to hear from you soon. I remain as ever your true friend and well wisher, — Jerrie
J. M. Cramblet, Headquarters 1st Division, 17th Army Corps, Vicksburg, Mississippi
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
Addressed to Miss Ellie M. Sherman, Marietta, Fulton County, Illinois
Postmarked Memphis, Tennessee
[At the Mouth of White River]
Saturday, September 24th 1864
Miss Ellie Sherman,
Dear Friend, the summer is past and autumn has come & the trees are beginning to drop their beautiful leaves and this cruel war is not over. Will the time ever come when the American people will be at peace & we be a united nation. My opinion is that the war cannot last many months longer. Grant says the Rebels have robbed the cradle & the grave equally by garrisoning forts with old men & little boys. He says when they lose a man, he cannot be replaced. This being true, the war must soon come to a close. I sincerely hope it may.
Ellie, I wrote to you in answer to a letter which I received from you. I believe it was written last May. Have had no answer to my last, have looked for a letter from you every mail [but] none has come. Have you forgotten me or have you written & your letter been lost. I cannot think that you have forgotten me. We have been friends too long & have spent many pleasant hours together for me to think that we are many miles from each other now. But not a day passes by that I don’t think of you. My greatest wish is that we may meet again.
I received a letter from Mira [Mina?] today written the 16th. Was glad to hear that my friends were well.
My health has been as good or better this summer than it has been since I joined the army.
I spent the greater part of the summer in Vicksburg, was out on several scouts, but was only gone a few days at a time. The 29th of July the 1st Division went down the Mississippi. We landed at Morganza, Louisiana, 180 miles from New Orleans. I like the country down ther much better than here. We left Morganza September 4th, landed here the 8th. We are 220 miles up the river from Vicksburg at the mouth of the White River. How long we are to remain here is more than I can tell. I heard General Dennis say when we left here we would go to Atlanta, Mobile, or Missouri. It is the talk in camp today that we are going to Memphis, but I don’t think we will. I don’t care about going any farther north this time in the year (unless I was going home) for the weather is more pleasant this far south in the winter season. Today is quite cool.
Will Throck[morton] is here with me. He is well. I did not see Orton as we came up by Vicksburg. I received a letter from one of the boys of my company written the 14th. He said the boys were well. Mina said in one of her letters that Martin Beaver was home & was down to Seville on a visit. Said he had to walk on crutches. Was he wounded?
Ellie, it is now five o’clock & as I have some work to do, I will have to bring my letter to a close. My best respects to all the friends. Tell Jim I would like to receive a few lines from him. Hoping you are well & happy. I am as ever your true friend, — Jerrie