This letter was written by John D. Wardlow (1832-1909) of Co. C, 111th Illinois Infantry. John enlisted as a private at Xenia, Clay county, Illinois on 18 September 1862 and mustered out with the regiment on 6 June 1865. John was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky on 20 June 1832, the son of an Irish emigrant. He married Elizabeth Coats (1838-1902) on 2 July 1857 in Marion county, Illinois.
After the war, John farmed in Iola, Illinois. He suffered from bronchitis most of his life, and attributed the origin of the disease to the 1864 Atlanta Campaign.
In 1900, John and Elizabeth resided in Oskaloosa, Clay county, Illinois. In 1905, after his wife’s death, John was admitted at age 73 into the Danville Branch of the Homes for Disabled Veterans where he lived four years until his death. Both John and Elizabeth are buried in the Old Louisville Cemetery in Clay county.
The 111th Illinois Infantry was engaged in 8 battles with total losses of 365 men in battle and in sickness. They marched an estimated 1,800 miles, were transported by ship 600 miles and by rail 1,200 miles.
Camp of Co. C, 111th Illinois, 1 Brig, 2nd Div, 15th A.C.
May 30th 1864
Welly Betty, I know that you wanted to hear from me as you hain’t heard for some time and I don’t think that you will get this letter but I will send it anyway. I have not had a letter from you in 3 weeks but I know that is not your fault for we don’t get any mail.
We have been hard on the march till we got here and we was stopped by 80 thousand rebels and you better think that there have been some hard fighting done since we came here. But we held our own. The rebs made a charge last night on the 10th Corps on the right and the left but they was repulsed both times and every time with heavy loss. We have lost [a] good many men but nothing like the Rebs has, so they say. The cannon and musketry thundered all night last night but they are still tonight. Kill[ed in] Co. C [were] Bill McClane, ¹ John Durell, ² Sergeant [Henry] Copeland,³ [and] Ab. Forth † from the last I heard from them. I have not heard from the regiment today.
Charley McKinney ‡ is wounded very bad — shot in the jaw, the ball coming out at the mouth while eating. There is several more wounded but I have not got time to tell you who they are. I am driving division team a good time [which] keeps [me] out of all danger and that’s what suits me certain.
My candle is gone and I have got no more. Well, Betty, I have got some new candle and I will write some more. I hope you will not think hard of me for not writing to you for we can’t be with the regiment and use out here the chance to write as we would if we was there. We have to be with our teams all the time for fear the Rebs get through the lines to get our provisions.
Well, Betty, I have seen sights and wonders since I have been on this march — such sights I never want to see again. The wagon and ambulances is going night and day. They have been fighting here 6 days. We have not gone easy. Grand war last evening. They have been quiet today and are tonight but I can’t tell what for. I think the Rebs is trying to cut their way through to get away but we don’t intend to let them come through if we can help it.
Well this leaves me well [and] hoping you are well. I do want to hear from you so bad. I would give everything in the world to receive a letter from you tonight. Direct as the letter is headed and I will get it. Write often and I think the mail will come after awhile. Tell me how they are getting along planting corn. The corn here is about 6 inches high.
Well, God be with you. If Pashey don’t do right, start here to hunt some other Plub [?].
— J. D. Wardlow
to Elizabeth Wardlow
I got 3 stamps from you.
¹ William McClain enlisted in Co. C, 111th Illinois at Xenia in September 1862. He died at Dallas, Georgia, on 27 May 1864 from wounds.
² John Durrell was recruited into Co. C, 111th Illinois on 20 August 1863. He was killed at Dallas, Georgia, on 26 May 1864.
³ Sgt. Henry H. Copeland was from Clay County, Illinois. He was killed at Resaca, Georgia on 13 May 1864.
† Abram Forth was from Wayne county, Illinois. He was killed at Resaca, Georgia on 13 May 1864. In his diary, Corporal John W. Elliott recorded Abe’s death at the Battle of Resaca: “Abe Forth got killed dead.”
‡ Charles M. McKinney was from Wayne county. The company roster does not record his wound from the Atlanta Campaign. He mustered out with his company in June 1865.