This letter was written by George W. Coleman (1835-Aft1911), the Orderly Sergeant of Co. A, 63rd Illinois Infantry. He was mustered into the service on 10 April 1862 and discharged due to disability on 18 July 1862. After the war, George resumed his career as a clergyman and relocated to Elk County, Kansas.
George was the son of Richard Coleman (1810-1894) and Magdalena Mast (1815-1864) of Urbana, Ohio. George mentions in his note of receiving a letter from “Jo Mailand.” Joseph Mast Maitland was George’s cousin. [See 1862: Sgt. George W. Coleman to Joseph Mast Maitland]
George wrote this letter 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.
Camp Dubois [Anna, Illinois]
March 8th 1862
Miss Lizzie Kiser
I suppose you will be surprised to receive a letter from me dated in a military camp. Yet is is verily true that I am a soldier in Camp Dubois. I belong to Capt. [Henry] Glaze’s Company, Col. [Francis] Moro’s [63rd Illinois] Regiment. I came west as you know intending to travel a circuit as a minister. I fell in with the Captain & Colonel who were both intimate friends of mine. I immediately determined to go with them and share their fate.
I have now been in camp about 5 weeks. In many respects, I love camp life and in some I do not. For instance, there is one thing I never will become satisfied with — it is the total absence of female society. In the first place, it is unnatural & in the second, I never was accustomed to it.
We are camped in a very healthy location (at Anna, Illinois). Two full regiments left here last eek and two remain that are not quite full. How long we will remain here I cannot tell — probably until the 1st of April. We are quartered in three large buildings — two log & one frame. The frame is about 60 feet in length. The lower story is appropriated as a kitchen & dining room. The one end of the second story composing the sleeping apartment for the cooks, the other end is occupied by the officers as an office for the company.
Now as to my duty. I am Orderly Sergeant of the company — by the way, the most laborious office in the gift of the company. Any soldier who has been in camp can give you an idea of the duties devolving upon him. In fact, the comfort & welfare of the private soldier very much depends upon the qualifications & activity of the Orderly.
As to the morals of our company, I think I can safely say that they exceed that of any other in the service for virtue & morality so far as my knowledge extends. One week ago last Sabbath night, I preached in camp & had quite a large attentive congregation.
Miss Lizzie, I have by no means forgotten the pleasant & agreeable associations formed at Concord last winter & the seasons or rejoicing we had in the service of the Lord. Such are like oasis in a a desert waste of a dreary and solitary life. But I must close.
Remember me to your parents & the rest of the family. (I shall ever remember the kindness with you all received me.)
I am your sincere friend, — G. W. Coleman
P. S. Please favor me with a response at the earliest opportunity. Direct to Rev. G. W. Coleman, Camp Dubois, Anna, Illinois
Care of Capt. Glaze. Please write soon for we may leave this place in a month. G. W. C.
P. S. I received a letter from Jo[seph] Maitland a few days past. He wrote something about a spelling school. — G.