These three letters were written by Michael W. Walker (b. 1842) of Co. C, 13th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). Michael, a native of Ireland, enlisted as a private in June 1861 and he was mustered out of the service on 20 May 1864 at Cassville, Georgia. At the time of his enlistment, Michael was a resident of Concord, Champaign county, Ohio. He was laboring as a farmhand and residing with the Thomas J. McFarland family.
Michael wrote the letters to Elizabeth (“Libbie”) A. Kizer (1843-1925), the daughter of Phillip Kizer (1815-1885) and Phoebe Dagger (1819-1895). Libbie married John Hesselgesser (1837-1934) in 1866.
This history of the 13th OVI during the timespan of these letters:
Left Ohio for Parkersburg, W. Va., June 30, 1861. West Virginia Campaign July 6–17, 1861. Moved to Oakland, W. Va., July 14. Expedition to Greenland Gap July 15–16. Duty at Sutton until September. Battle of Carnifex Ferry September 10. At Gauley Bridge until November. Operations in the Kanawha Valley and New River Region October 19-November 16. Gauley Bridge November 3. Pursuit of Floyd November 12–16. Cotton Hill and Laurel Creek November 12. McCoy’s Mills November 15. Ordered to Louisville, Ky., and camp at Jeffersonville, Ind., until December 11. Near Elizabethtown, Ky., until December 26, and at Bacon Creek until February 10, 1862. Advance on Bowling Green, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn., February 10–25. Occupation of Nashville until March 17. March to Savannah, Tenn., March 17-April 6. Battle of Shiloh April 6–7. Advance on and siege of Corinth, Miss., April 29-May 30. Buell’s Campaign in northern Alabama and middle Tennessee June to August. March to Louisville, Ky., in pursuit of Bragg August 21-September 26. Pursuit of Bragg into Kentucky October 1–16. Battle of Perryville October 8 (reserve). March to Nashville, Tenn., October 16-November 7. Duty there until December 26. Action at Rural Hill November 18. Advance on Murfreesboro, Tenn., December 26–30. Battle of Stones River December 30–31, 1862 and January 1–3, 1863. Duty at Murfreesboro until June, 1863.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
December 13th 1861
Dear Friend Miss E. Kizer,
It is with great pleasure that I sit beneath the shadow of a tree to interest myself in reading your kind letter and also answering it which I will do in haste. I received you kind letter within the last half hour and as soon as I read it, I got my paper and started down to the bank of the road where there was nobody to bother me but the guard and he did not say much to me. My health has been tolerable well since I left Concord. I never have been off duty since i have been in the service but once or twice and that was on the account of a boil on my hand. I have a bad cold now for three or four days. I hope that when these few lines come to hand, they will find you enjoying good health & Kate also.
I seen Dave Downey ¹ last Sunday. I went 5 miles to see him & Dan & Joseph. They were all well. Then I asked Dave when he wrote to you. He said it was a good while ago. I said that would not do. You must do better than that. I said I write to the folks whether they like it or not. I write to them to let them know where I am at &c.
Libb, we had a hard time last night a coming from Louisville, Kentucky to Elizabeth Town. It was very cold and we was out on the open cars. The car was so heavy[ily] loaded it run slow all the way and when we got to town, we had to march one mile from town and lay out the rest of the night in the woods. The tents did not come to us till 4 o’clock the evening [following] and [we] had nothing to eat since yesterday morning till this evening. That is a hard way of living but I hope and trust in God this will not last long and I hope it won’t.
Libb, the soldiers at Urbana don’t know everything about how a soldier lives yet. Wait till they travel through as much of Virginia as what we did and then they will find out how soldiers live. We thought it was fun when we was in Camp Dennison but when we went to Virginia, we found out what it was although I am not tired of it yet. One thing I would like is if I could only het to meet all my friends in the classroom where I used to meet with my friends and enjoy myself with and I hope the time will soon come when I will meet them again although we are to meet a large force of the enemy in a short time from now.
Libb, you said something about the boys cutting up so. Well, if they don’t watch themselves, they will forget what they enjoyed once. I know something about that for I have to watch and keep out of bad company although I do not enjoy myself as well as used [to] when I was at home. But I thank God for what little I do enjoy. I would not act like some of the boys do here for all this world for they drink and cut up some and those boys that is in Urbana — be careful if they do not get led off for some of the boys tried that trick with me but they could not come it. When I started. I did not drink but (turn to page 5)
[End of letter missing]
¹ David Downey served in Co. K, 13th OVI. He was from Champaign County, Ohio.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Post Hospital, Hart County, Kentucky
February 12 
Friend Miss Libbie,
Yours came to hand in due time and I assure you, it gave me much joy to hear from all my friends once more. I am tolerable well at present and I [hope] when these few lines [reach you, they] may find you & friend Kate enjoying good health.
Libb, our great army made a forward movement on the 10th of February. They are now across Green River within a short distance of the enemy. I guess it is only 25 miles from Bowling Green where all that great Secesh army is. Lib, you will hear of great fighting some of these days. The enemy is completely surrounded and they have to fight or give up at once and if they do any fighting at all — which they will be likely to — they will attack our division because it is the smallest. But while they are doing that, they will be attacked in the rear by a large army. There is no doubt but what we will whip them but it will cost a many a head before it is done and the next letter you get from me — that is, if the Lord spares me my life to see that fight over — you will hear all the particulars as far as I know them.
We sent 150 sick men to Elizabethtown & to Louisville yesterday and about that many more the day before yesterday. And one third of them is as stout as I am at the present time. We have about 150 more to send yet but they are sick men. When our regiment left camp, then all the sick had to go to the post hospital and I, being a nurse in our own hospital, I was sent with them here also. And some of the boys after coming here was sent to Elizabethtown and I could go along to take care of them if I wanted to, but I would not go. I want to get with the regiment if I can — that is, if the doctor will let me go. I think I will know by tomorrow whether I will go or not. I will not mail this until I see what I will have to do.
I had the mumps for the last week. I am getting better of them now. I would have answered your letter sooner but I had not time till now. I did write some one day but had to quit so I put it in the fire and commenced another sheet. I get 25 cents extra as long as I stay in the hospital.
Libbie, it was a nice sight to see all this division move. They marched in platoons. I don’t know whether you know how that is or not or rather, I might say, in squads. And then if you was to see the cannons — there was about 75 or a 100 cannons. We have that many cannons within this division.
Lib, Valentine’s Day is near at hand but I guess I will get none this time. Do you mind that red-headed valentine you girls gave me last winter at the schoolhouse? If you don’t, I do. I wish I could get some good ones & if I do I may send one but I guess I will not get any this time.
I will bring my hasty letter to a close. I will not mail this until I see whether I go to the regiment so as I will know how to tell you to direct your letters through direct via Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
From your true friend, — M. Walker to Miss E. A. Kizer
I send my warmest respects to all inquiring friends. Write whenever you can for I always like to hear from old Concord. Yours truly, — M. Walker
So I will bid you farewell for this time so if we never should have any more correspondence in this world, I hope we may so live as to meet high up in Heaven where parting will be no more forever. I send my love to all friends. I send my best respects to your father and mother & to all the family. Write again Libbie. Goodbye.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Camp near Murfreesboro, Tennessee
February 20th 1863
Absent Friend Libb,
Yours of the 11th inst. came to hand in due time. I am well at present hoping this will find you enjoying good health. I believe when I wrote you last I was at the hospital. I am now at the company. Our company is detached from the regiment as cattle guard. We have not very much duty to do. Our regiment has to go on duty every other day and picket and a foraging and building breastworks. Murfreesboro is well fortified.
There has but very little snow here this season. We have had some very wet weather here for the last 4 weeks. The weather looks favorable now than it has for some time. The mud is drying up now very fast for the past day or so. It is very warm for the last day or two.
Libb, there was several boys here that had true lovers behind them that they thought was alright and [planned to marry] whenever they would get back home again. And now they are getting married and do not think of those that has gone to war. There is one in the mess that I am in and he told me a many a time that whenever [he] gets home, he will marry her, and today some of the boys that is from where he is [from], got a letter stating that she was a going to get married in a couple of days. I guess I have none of that kind at home. I never got that far along yet. I have my dove to pick out yet — that is, if anyone will have me.
I should like to enjoy some of your sleighrides this winter.
I will quit for this time. You will please excuse this short letter. I have a bad cold today. I feel worse this eve. It is 9 o’clock P.M. I have pains all over me. I feel a great deal worse tonight than what I did this morning. I can hardly write any at all this eve. I hope I will be better in the morning. I never have been sick hardly any since I left home.
Libb, I would like to enjoy some more good meetings together but I hope the day will soon come when peace shall sound from the highest hill to the lowest valley. I will quit. My respects to all. Write soon and give me the news. — M. W. Walker
[handwritten in pencil:] M. W. Walker, Co. C, 13th Reg. O. V. I., Murfreesboro, Tenn.