1862-1864: Horace Payne to Mary (Payne) Hills

How Horace might have looked

This letter was written by Horace Payne (1839-1912) of Company C,  First Iowa Cavalry, who enlisted at age 21 on 25 July 1861 for three years service. Upon enlistment, Horace gave his residence as Denmark, Lee County, Iowa, and claimed an Ohio nativity.

“Company C was enrolled in the counties of Des Moines, Louisa, and Lee, and organized at Burlington and went into quarters by order of Governor Kirkwood [on] June 13th, 1861, with Levi Chase, afterward Major, as Captain; Benjamin Raney First and Albert F. Dean Second Lieutenants. W. E. Chamberlain, afterward Major, was the leading spirit in the formation of this company. It was largely made up of young men from eighteen to twenty-five years of age.” [Regimental history by Charles H. Lothrop, page 23]

Horace was the son of Henry Payne (1800-1889) and Armenia Wolcott (1808-1885) of Austinburg, Ashtabula, Ohio. From the 1850 census we learn that Horace’s parents were both natives of New York State and that he had several siblings enumerated in his parents household: Orrin S. (1834-1905), Emily A. (1835-1903), Orlando A. (1837-1906), Selden H. (1841-1926), Lewis H. (1842-1905), and Dwight (1845-1925). Residing on an adjacent farm was Horace’s sister, Mary (Payne) Hills (1829-1893) and her husband, Salmon Hills, Jr. (1827-1897), and their sister, Ellen Payne (1831-1901). There were two others siblings as well: Rufus W. (1832-1904) and Willard (1846-1848).

Both of Horace’s younger brothers, Selden and Lewis, served Co. M, 2d Ohio Heavy Artillery from late 1863 to the summer of 1865.

Horace married Rhoda Jennie Bates (1842-1917) of Ashtabula County, Ohio, in October 1865 and remained in that county where he farmed and raised a family for the remainder of his life.


Addressed to Mrs. Mary Hills, Eagleville, Ashtabula County, Ohio

In Camp Ten Miles from Springfield
September 30, 1862 ¹

It has been some time since I have written to you but it has been because I have [been] so busy that I could not get time to write for we have been on the march for twelve days. We left [Camp Warren] Clinton [Missouri] and marched to Springfield and we were put into a brigade under General [James] Totten. There is about fifty thousand troops here that are a going South after Hindman  that has about thirty or forty thousand under him but he can be reinforced quickly.

We are stationed on the right wing of the A Division. We are at camp seven miles from the battleground where General [Nathaniel] Lyons fell. This is a very pleasant country to live in.

I have received your letter and I was very glad to hear from home and to hear that you have got the money that I sent to you and I will send you twenty more for I think that I shall lose it for the boys are losing their money very fast and I may lose it by sending in this letter but I shall run the risk.

I am well as usual and feel in good spirits. I will write soon again and as often as I can. So goodbye for this time.

From your brother, — Horace Payne

Direct to Springfield, Missouri
Co. C, First Regiment Iowa Cavalry

¹ According to the Regimental history (Lothrop), the 1st Iowa Cavalry left Camp Warren at Clinton, Missouri, on 20 September 1862 and “took up its line of march to Springfield, distant one hundred miles south of Clinton, by the way of Osceola, Humansville, among the Osage Hills, Stockton, formerly called Fremont, crossing a portion of the Osage range of mountains, to Melville. On the 24th it went into camp on a high ridge near Sac river, about twenty miles from Springfield, to await orders. On the morning of the 27th, orders having been received, it marched, arriving at Springfield about nine o’clock, and camped about one mile from town….It was then assigned to the Second Brigade, First Division, Army of Southwest Missouri; Brigadier General John M. Schofield commanding the army;, Brigadier General James Totten commanding division, and Colonel William E. McE. Dye, Twentieth Iowa Infantry, commanding brigade….On the 29th the regiment marched and camped about ten miles southwest of Springfield, near the town of Little York, on Pond Spring creek. The camp was called Camp McClellan. It was situated on a range of the Ozark mountains [some] 175 feet above Springfield.”


Addressed to Mrs. Mary Hills, Eagleville, Ashtabula County, Ohio

Cassville, Barry County, Missouri ¹
October 12th 1862

My Dear Sister,

I have the opportunity to write a few more lines to you but I do not know as it will ever reach you but I will send it. I am well and enjoying myself very well. We are under General [James] Totten yet and we have been on the march for three weeks and I have not had a very good chance to write to you very often but we have had a very good time. I do not know whether we shall go to Arkansas or not but I rather think that we shall winter in Little Rock, Arkansas. But I cannot tell.

I want you to write to me and send me one half dollars worth of postage stamps for we cannot get them here. I rather think that I shall not be at home to eat that Christmas supper that I spoke of some time ago but I shall come home as soon as I can. But there is not much chance of it now for we are at a place now where we cannot get furloughs or anything else here that will excuse us. But perhaps we shall have different times before spring.

Write soon and tell me all of the news and tell Emily to write to me and Selden and Dwight and Orlando and all of the rest. Accept these few lines from your brother, — Horace Payne

Direct to Springfield, Mo. Remember the stamps.

¹ According to the Regimental history (Lothrop), the 1st Iowa Cavalry left their camp near Springfield, Missouri, on October 1, 1862, marching “southward to unite with the Second and Third Divisions under Generals Blunt and Brown, in an attack upon a rebel force of 13,000 men under General Cooper, near Newtonia, Newton County….[On the 4th, when they arrived at Newtonia,] it was found that the enemy was retreating. The regiment with the Twentieth Iowa Regiment engaged them in a sharp skirmish but with no loss to the regiment…The command went into camp about two miles from the town [Newtonia]; scouting parties were sent out and reconnaissances made in all directions, and the enemy found to be in full retreat. The army remained here until the 9th…At ten o’clock on the morning of the 9th, in a severe storm, the army commenced to Cassville…On the morning of the 12th [October, 1862], the march was continued; reaching Cassville at about three o’clock in the afternoon the army went into camp a short distance north of the town. Cassville, the county seat of Barry County, is situated on War Eagle creek, a branch of White river, about twelve miles from the Arkansas State line, and twenty miles from Pea Ridge, one of a number of broken plateaus of the Ozark range of mountains.”


Addressed to Mrs. Mary Hills, Eagleville, Ashtabula County, Ohio

Cross Hollows, Arkansas ¹
October 26th 1862
My Dear Brother,

I sit myself down with pleasure to write to you once more hoping that you will think enough of it to answer it for I begin to think that probably those that I have written have not been worth answering or else you would have answered them before now. But [I] will try and have this long enough to be worth answering.

We are camped in the [Oregamo?] Mountains and the Boston Mountains are before us and if we go any farther we shall have to cross them. We have driven the enemy before us from Missouri over the line into Arkansas at least some hundred miles and the report is that they have gone into the Indian Nation and I do not think they will fight us. One of our commands [led by Gen. Herron] fought them the other day and took six pieces of their cannon and fifteen hundred prisoners and scattered them in all directions and I think that we shall go to the Arkansas River to winter — but we cannot tell where we will be in two months from now. But I think there is one thing certain and that is that I shall not be in Ohio at the end of three months from now.

My health is very good and the air is cool and bracing upon these southern mountains. Yesterday the snow was four or five inches deep on the ground but today it is almost all gone and the sun shines very pleasant. We have one of the largest springs here that I ever saw in my life. It comes out of the rock twenty feet from the top of the ledge of rocks and the hole where it comes out is five or six feet large and it supplies thirty thousand men with water besides the water from it runs two very large grist mills and they are running night [and] day to supply our army with flour. The secesh were running them before we came here and they left several hundred bushels of wheat in the mills when they left.

If we go any further south, you need not look for many letters from me. I will send two dollars in this letter and I want you to send a few stamps in every letter that you write to me and keep count of them and you will oblige me very much. You wanted that I should tell you what interest to ask for the money. You may let brother have it for six percent but to anyone else ten percent. I have sent forty dollars that I have not heard from yet and if you have got it, I wish you would tell me. Write soon and be sure you send the stamps. Direct to Springfield, Missouri, Co. C, 1st Iowa Cavalry.

From your brother in very good circumstances.

¹ According to the regimental history (Lothrop), the 1st Iowa Cavalry left camp on the evening of 20 October 1862 and marched all night, reaching Elk Horn Tavern about sunrise on the 21st. After remaining there a short time, it marched in an easterly direction and camped on the banks of the White river which they crossed on the morning of the 22nd. They continued on to Rip Van Winkle’s Saw Mills which was ten miles from Huntsville in Madison County. The command included the 19th and 20th Iowa Infantry, the 20th Wisconsin, the 7th Missouri Mounted Infantry, a company of the 2nd Missouri Light Artillery, one battalion of the 1st Missouri Cavalry, and the 1st Iowa Cavalry. After crossing the White river again on the morning of October 24th, the command arrived at Worthington or Mudtown, two miles south of Cross Hollows, on the road leading from Bentonville to Huntsville. On the 26th, when this letter was written, the command was camped just beyond Cross Hollows at a place known as Valley Springs in Benton county.


Addressed to Mrs. Mary Hills, Eagleville, Ashtabula County, Ohio

Forsyth, Missouri ¹
January 23, 1863

My Dear Sister,

It is very strange that I do not hear from you anymore. The last time that I heard from you was four or five weeks ago and I have written five or six letters to you since that time but I do not think that it is your fault.

We have left Arkansas again and we are in Forsyth, Missouri, now on the White river. They are ferrying across the river today and when we get across the river, I think that we shall go north farther and perhaps east to the Mississippi river. But we cannot tell where we shall be in one month from this time but we have come north about one hundred miles since we started on this last march and I cannot tell where we shall stop.

We are having very fine weather in this country. We have not had but about two inches of snow this winter and the ice has not froze more than one inch and a half thick this winter. That is some different from what it is with you, I suppose.

It has come our turn to cross the river and I must close for this time but when we get across the river, I will write again.

Direct to Springfield as before. Yours in haste from your brother, — Horace Payne

Send me some stamps and The Sentinel every week if you can.

¹ According to the Regimental history (Lothrop), the 1st Iowa Cavalry, “left their camp [on January 2, 1863] at Prairie Grove [in northwest Arkansas] and commenced a retrograde, meandering march to Missouri. Marching throughout Fayetteville [Arkansas], it camped about three miles east of the town, on the north branch of White river, on the road to leading to Huntsville, a small town about thirty miles distant from Fayetteville. On the 5th, the march was continued, arriving at Huntsville on the evening of the 6th…The object of this march was to intercept the rebel General Marmaduke in his retreat from an unsuccessful raid into Missouri through the passes of these [Boston] Mountains. On the 10th, the army left Huntsville, and from this time until the 19th, when it arrived on the south bank of White river, opposite Forsyth, the county seat of Taney county, Missouri, it was a slow, tedious and disagreeable march among the hills and valleys of the Ozark range. The line of march crossed the Dry and Osage forks, branches of the Kings river, Crooked creek, a branch of White river, through the town of Carrolton…to the White river. During this march scouting parties were sent out at various times, and skirmishes with the enemy were of frequent occurrence. [When they reached the White river on the 19th of January, the high stage of the water prevented its crossing. The first infantry units were finally ferried over the White river on a small ferry-boat on January 22. Te cavalry attempted to cross by swimming their horses but when Corp. James Robinson of Co. A drowned, the crossing was abandoned. The regiment finally crossed on the ferry-boat on the 23rd or 24th of January and camped in the deserted town of Forsyth. Quoting from his diary, Lothrop wrote:] Forsyth in antebellum days was a small, well built town, doing a thriving business. White river, at a high stage of water, is navigable to this place, which made it quite an important shipping point. It is now entirely deserted, and the vicinity infested with guerrillas and desperadoes.”

Addressed to Mrs. Mary Hills, Eagleville, Ashtabula County, Ohio

Little Rock, Arkansas ¹
January 19th 1864

Sister Mary,

It is some time since I have had a letter from you and I believe that I have written the last letter but I do not think that you are to blame for it for I think that you have done better than any of the rest of my friends since I have been from home. I received a letter from Selden yesterday — the first that I have been lucky enough to get from either of the boys since they have been in the service and I have written several to them. They seem to think that the service has fooled them some. They say that they have had to stand guard as often as every other day since they have been where they are now and they think that is rather hard. But they know but little about the service yet. But when they stand guard five nights out of seven and ride the other two from dark until morn the next day and have one half of a pint of coffee and a half of a cracker per day for ten days at a time, then they can talk of hardships. But enough of this for this time.

I am still in Little Rock and there is a good chance of staying here for some time yet for three-fouths of our regiment has re-enlisted and is going to Iowa in a few days to spend their furlough. It seems rather hard to see the boys go and not go with them but I do not think it is my duty to serve any longer as I have two brothers in the service now. But I think that I shall have to stay here until about the first of July and then I shall go to Iowa and stay awhile and then go to Ohio.

I want you to write soon and tell me all the news. Tell me whether Lewis, corresponds with anyone in Austinburg or not and if Orlando Hubbard is married yet and if Selden write to Jennie anymore and if Jennie’s brother tends to Sarah Winchell regular and if Robert Chapman is married or is like to be and everything else that you can think of.

My sheet is most full and I must close for this time. From your brother, — Horace Payne

¹ The 1st Iowa Cavalry was part of General Steele’s army that captured Little Rock, Arkansas, in September 1863. The first set up their camp in the southern suburbs of the city near the United States Arsenal. By mid October, they had moved to a camp about two miles down the Arkansas river where they remained for the winter of 1863-64. According to Lothrop [Regimental History], “the men built comfortable cabins for themselves and sheds for their horses, doing picket, outpost duty and scouting.”


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