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A Groundhog Letter

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

I've written a couple of previous posts related to the Twenty-Sixth Ohio Infantry on the blog (HERE and HERE), but recently came across a letter from a member of the Twenty-Sixth to his brother in Butler County, Ohio that readers might find interesting, although it is fairly typical of the letters sent home during the war in which the writer pleads for letters from home..


Samuel Millikin (on some records Milliken) was a forty-four year old quarrier living in St. Clair Township, Butler County. Married with three children, Samuel would enlist on June 10, 1861 and muster into service with Company A of the Twenty Sixth Ohio Volunteer Infantry on July 26th. Promoted to commissary sergeant on March 16, 1862, he would be known as "Old Sam" to his comrades. On May 2, 1865 he would be transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps.


In 1868 Samuel was farming in Missouri, his wife Louisa having died that same year, and Samuel marrying again before the year had ended. His second wife. Elizabeth, would die in 1884, and Samuel married once again in 1885 to a woman fifty-two years younger. On May 17, 1895 Samuel Millikin died, and is buried in Salt Lick Cemetery, Spaulding, Missouri.


On January 26, 1863 Samuel would write the following letter to his brother Thomas. The letter has been heavily edited as punctuation was not a religion Samuel practiced but I tried to leave enough of Millikin's own style in the edit.


Monday Evening

Camp Near Murfreesboro, Jany. 26th 1863

Dear Brother,

As Benjamin Hart[1] of this Regt. has a furlough to go to Hamilton for fifteen days I thought I would send a few lines to you. I wrote a long letter to you shortly after the bloody battle on Stone River. I suppose when you first heard of it Hamilton was all excitement as there was in the battle some connexion [sic] from almost every family of Hamilton.

As soon as Bragg retreated the army was pushed here, the dead buried and the wounded sent back to hospitals, therefore we did not know who was killed or wounded, only [those] in our regiment. You could learn more by the papers than we knew. I suppose there were several persons from Hamilton to see about their friends but none have been to our camp. I have not seen your Robert[2] since the day he came with you on your return home to bid me good by[e]. Genl. Rosecrans is now granting furloughs; I suppose he will get one or at least make application.

My Billy[3] has not arrived but he wrote [that] he would start Monday after New Year. I feel uneasy about him and [the] last letter I received was dated one month ago day before yesterday. I wrote to Billy at Hamilton. Soldiers are sometimes put on detached duty in Louisville; he may possibly be there but as he knows I will be looking for him he certainly would write.

A big mail just came in but nothing for me. The receiving of mails as yet is not regular, but we are in hopes they will be in a few days.

Our paymaster is to be here shortly to pay us. If he pays to the 1st of Feby. my pay will be $105.00. We do not care how soon he comes for the most of the Regt. is out of money.

Mr. Hart’s stay will be short for he has to be here in 15 days. I want you to send some tobacco by him to me. We have to pay 20 cents here for the little plugs that cost at home three for five cents. [A] 5 count box of blacking is 20 cents [to] 35 cents, suspenders $1.25 to $1.50, and every thing else in proportion.

I am writing by the light of a candle and cannot follow the lines very well. Every one at home are indebted to me a letter; I have had none but what I have answered.

We may have a fight here. Rumor says Bragg is being reinforced.

Well, give my love to all the friends and families.

Write soon,

Your affectionate Brother,

Sam Millikin

[1] Thomas Benjamin Hart of Company A. Hart enlisted as a corporal, was promoted to sergeant in June 1862, and then made principal musician on January 1, 1865, before being reduced to private in June of that same year. [2] Robert Barbour Millikin, a member of the Ninety-Third Ohio Infantry, another regiment that was partially raised in Butler County. Robert would be a successful businessman after the war, then later serve as the county clerk of courts. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Hamilton, Ohio. [3] William Halstead Millikin, a member of Company F, Third Ohio Infantry, the company containing many men from Butler County. William would later transfer to the Veteran Reserve Corps. He is also buried in Greenwood Cemetery, the cemetery having over one hundred of the Millikin family buried within its grounds.

 

Sources


1860 United States Census


1890 Census of Union Veteran and Widows of the Civil War


Hill, Jeffrey A. - The 26th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry: The Groundhog Regiment. AuthorHouse, 2020.

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