1861: John Nelson Hatfield to Nicholas Pittinger

This letter was written by John Nelson Hatfield (1841-1864), the son of Jacob Hatfield (1815-1856) and Hannah Thompson (1820-1893) of Delaware County, Indiana. John enlisted in Co. E, 57th Indiana Infantry in November 1861 and remained with the company until he was killed on 23 June 1864 at Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia.

Others soldiers of the 57th Indiana mentioned in the letter include Archibald (“Arch”) H. Neff (1844-1911) who was discharged for disability at Indianapolis on 21 June 1862; Eli B. Kline who died at Nashville, Tennessee, on 12 April 1862; Corp. Elias Cree who transferred to the U.S. Engineers in August 1864; and Levi H. Shafer who died at Hamburg, Tennessee, on 4 July 1862. Levi added a few of his own words to this letter.

The 57th Indiana Regiment was mustered in November, 1861, in Richmond, Wayne County, Indiana. The regiment was comprised of men from the 5th and 11th Congressional Districts and was formed through the efforts of Revs. F. A. Hardin and J. W. T. McMullen. It was organized in Indianapolis and sent to Louisville where it was placed under General Buell’s command and assigned to the 6th Division of the Army of the Ohio. The 57th was stationed in Bardstown, Lebanon, and Munfordsville, Kentucky, before marching to Nashville, Tennessee in March, 1862. Although the regiment was not engaged in any battles at this time, it suffered a number of casualties from the severe winter of 1861-1862. In April, 1862, the 57th was ordered to Shiloh and saw action near the end of the battle. The regiment also was active in the siege of Corinth and was ordered to northern Alabama in July, 1862. From July, 1862- November, 1862, the 57th marched through middle Tennessee and Kentucky and was engaged in the battle of Chaplin Hills (Perryville) before returning to Nashville where it guarded foraging trains. The regiment next distinguished itself at the battle of Stone River while suffering heavy losses.

The letter was written to Nicholas Pittinger (b. 1838) — a 23-year-old school teacher in Delaware County, Indiana. He was the son of Daniel and Elenor Pittinger.

Addressed to N. F. Pittinger, Muncie, Delaware County, Indiana
Postmarked Richmond, Indiana

Camp Wayne ¹ [Richmond, Indiana]
November 13th 1861

Respected friend,

It is with pleasure that I now take my pen in hand to write you a few lines to inform you what we have been doing since we parted at Muncie. We arrived here about eight o’clock at night. Levi and I were on guard yesterday and Arch, Eli, and Cree today. I am not well this morning but I am not sick enough to go to bed.

We were marched out this morning and formed in line and informed that we were under marching orders by Mister [F. A.] Hardin which news was greeted by three loud cheers.

I found yesterday that my uncle, Joseph Hatfield, is in this regiment. His company [Co. C] quarters in the lower part of the round house. I do not know whether we will get to come home again or not.

The captain says he will take your name off his list. I have not much to write at present. Write as soon as this comes to hand. No more at present but remain your sincere friend.

— John N. Hatfield to N. F. Pittinger

I will write you a line or two for myself that I am well at this time. I am enjoying myself very well so far. The news come this morning that we have to go to Kentucky in eight or ten days. We do not expect to [see] you anymore or any more of the rest of the friends. I want you and about twenty boys [and] twenty-five girls to come down to see us before we leave and do come too please us. If we do not see you before we start, then we do not expect to see you any more till the business is settled up between the North and the South.

— Levi H. Shafer — so remember me.

¹ Camp Wayne was located on the fairgrounds south of South Street between High Street and Boston Avenue. Hatfield’s letter states that the regiment (or at least a portion of it) was being quartered in the “round house” at Richmond, however, which was near the railroad on the north side of town.


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