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Civil War Letter - Erastus Winters

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

While men were being mustered into service, learning drill and the day to day duties of a soldier, dealing with battle, disease, and a litany of other martial concerns, life continued on, especially on the home front. Erastus Winters, who in 1862 as a nineteen year old would enlist in Company K of the 50th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, would later write an insightful and humorous account of his service in the 50th (Serving Uncle Sam in the 50th Ohio). Mustering in as a private, he would later be promoted to corporal, serve as clerk (a prewar occupation he is listed as holding on the 1860 census), become a prisoner or war at Franklin in 1864, would be exchanged after incarceration at Cahaba prison, and then survive the explosion onboard the Sultana.

Serving in the 50th during the threat to Cincinnati in the late summer of 1862, Winters would truly see his first combat experiences at Perryville as his regiment had been in service less than two months. In 1863 the 50th was mostly involved in guarding railroads at various locations. It was while serving at Fort Sands, a post built to protect the Louisville and Nashville Rail Road northeast of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, that Winters would pen a short letter home to his father about money and a box of string.

Fort Sands, Hardin Co.

Big Run Trestle

Ky July 28th

Dear Father,

I have just returned from Elizabeth Town where I have been all day. I Expressed $35 to you from there and I want you as soon as you get the money to write to me and let me know without delay. If you do not get the money let me know soon so I will know how to act. All is quiet here at present. We just finished our Fort yesterday so we will not have anything to do now but drill. There is a rumor that we will have to go to Mobile but I do not believe it. Well, I suppose they have got Old Panny at last. I hope they will take good care of him now and keep him where the dogs won't disturb him. I wish you would send me a box of string, nice and useful. If you get the money let Mother have $5 and the rest I hope you will make good use of, as I worked hard for it. Write soon and tell me all the news.

From your affectionate son,

Erastus Winters.

Apparently he received his string as in a following letter Winters thanked his family profusely for sending him several items which happened to arrive on his twentieth birthday, although he does not mention specifically receiving the aforementioned string.

After the war Erastus returned to civilian life, marrying at least three times, collecting his Civil War pension in later years, and living until 1925. He is buried in Hebron Lutheran Church Cemetery in northern Kentucky, just west of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Of personal interest is that one 1907 pension records Winters at an address in Cincinnati one half mile from my home, which was the home of his daughter and her husband.


Fort Sands was named after Alexander C. Sands who was the U. S. Marshall for the Southern District of Ohio at Cincinnati. This fortification is an earthwork complex that was

planned by Captain Miles D. McAlester to protect the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (L&N) trestle over the Sulphur Fork near Colesburg in Hardin County. This railroad was a vital supply link for the Union Armies of the Cumberland and Tennessee.

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