This letter was written by Lt. Orton Ingersoll (1837-1923). Orton was born in Westfield, New York. He entered the service in July 1861 at age 24 as a sergeant in Co. A, 11th Illinois Infantry. He was described as 5 ft. 9 inches, with light hair and blue eyes — a printer before the war (though 1860 Census indicates he was employed as a “foreman on railroad.”
After the siege of Vicksburg, the 11th Illinois was ordered to Natchez to garrison the post under the command of Gen. Ransom. They were in Natchez from mid July until mid-October 1863 when they were recalled to Vicksburg.
Orton rose in rank to captain of his company before mustering out of the service. He was married in 1866 to Susan A. Shindell (1844-1907) but this letter suggests that he was married earlier to a woman named Harriet and had at least two children by that marriage.
Orton’s parents were Thomas Ingersoll (1807-1851) and Sarah Walker (1815-1897).
See also — 1863-4: Jeremiah M. Cramblett Letters
Addressed to Miss Ella Sherman, Marietta, Fulton County, Illinois
Monday, July 27th 1863
I received yours of the 12th instant three days ago but have not had time to answer it until this morning. I am thankful indeed for any favors that my friends send. It has been so seldom that I get a letter from anyone that I had given up the idea of having any friends but my wife and children. I some time get a letter — one a week sometimes — once in two or three weeks from Harriet — but I presume she writes oftener and get mislaid.
I and all the boys are well at present. We are in a very healthy place and a handsome place. It is the cleanest place the size of it I ever saw and you know that I have been in several small villages in my life. I was at the Catholic Church yesterday. They had the best music that I ever heard in church but with the exception of the music and the sermon — which was very good — all the balance was mockery. It is a sin in the sight of God.¹
The citizens here are very bitter toward the Union. The Methodist parson said that he would not live in the Union if the South came back. I think we can spare him very well and all others of his stripe. They will be no loss to community.
I suppose that Jed [Jeremiah Cramblett] is at home by this time. If so, tell him that I hope he will have the luck to stay there. Give my respects to Jim and Mary. Say to them I would like to hear from them. Excuse bad spelling and poor writing and the brevity of this.
I remain, your Uncle and friend until death. From your Uncle Orton
¹ The Catholic church was St. Mary’s Cathedral. When Nathez was captured and occupied by Union troops in the summer of 1863, Brig.-Gen. James M. Tuttle order the Most Reverend William Henry Elder, the Bishop of Natchez, to pray for the President of the United States. When he refused, the bishop was confined for twenty days at Vidalia, Louisiana, while the services at St. Mary’s were conducted by someone more favorable to the provost marshal.