These letters were written by Hiram Daniels (1818-1863) of Co. B, 17th Wisconsin Infantry. [The 2nd letter is unsigned but the provenance of the letter was known.] Hiram enlisted from the town of Eagle, Waukesha county, Wisconsin. Hiram was killed in action on 4 June 1863 before Vicksburg.
Hiram wrote the second letter — just a week before his death — to his niece, Helen E. Daniels (b. 1840), the daughter of his older brother Alvah H. Daniels (1810-1864). Despite his advanced years — Alvah served in Co. H, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry; he died in 1864 of chronic diarrhea.
In the second letter, Hiram describes going into the fight at the Battle of Champion Hill on 16 May 1863.
See also — The Daniels/Stone Digital Archives
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Camp near Vicksburg
February 7, 1863
I received your letter February 5th. I was very much pleased to hear from you and your folks. You said that you had wrote a number of times to me but this is the first that I have received from you or any of you folks. You wrote that your father had wrote to me but I never received anything from him as yet.
I was sick last summer for three months so that I was not able to do any duty at all but I have come been well ever since. I was two months that I never saw the army.
I received a letter from Lewis Daniels last December but I never answered it because we was on the march for several days and I had no chance for writing and when I had a chance to write, his directions got wet so that I could not tell where to write. Capt. McDermott told me that you came to his house and enquired of him about me. He said he told you all the information he could about me. I had a good deal of talk with Henry Hoy [Hay?] after we left St. Louis last spring. He said that he was acquainted with Alva Daniels and said he knew [we] must be brothers for we talk so much alike. He told me that he saw Alva in St. Louis but he never thought about me at the time and I never wrote because I wasn’t sure that it was him.
Let this be the last time you write for you and your Father and Mother and the rest of the family. I am very glad to hear from [you]. I am eight hundred miles from St. Louis on the Mississippi River. Direct your letter to Memphis, Tennessee, for I don’t know how long we will stay in this place.
I can’t write no more this time. — Hiram Daniels
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
May 26, 1863
It is some time since I heard from you. I here seat myself down in the woods amongst those high bluffs near Vicksburgh and write you a few lines to let you know that I am yet alive. The last letter I wrote you I stated in it that I should send you some money in a few days by Express in your Father’s name and so I did. It was on the 13th of April. I put 75 dollars in Adams Express and directed it in Alva Daniel’s name and I have not heard from you since. I did not put any writing in with the money but I should have done. The money was all in five dollar bills except one ten dollar bill. I have got the receipt for the same. Now Hellen, I want you to write me as soon as you receive this and let me know whether you have received it or not.
Our brigade left Carthage, Louisiana, on Sunday the 9th of May and marched through Louisiana and struck the Mississippi river at Grand Gulf — forty miles below Vicksburgh — and then a round about road until we came in the East of Vicksburgh. Then the next morning we were placed in front of the battle and made a charge on the enemy. It was hot business, you can bet on that, and two men fell on each side of me and others wounded. I thought every moment was my last but the kind hand of Providence look upon me and I was not hurt. [We] was five days fighting here and shelling with the rebels but we are not done with them yet. There was five men killed and six wounded out of our company. I cannot give you all the particulars at this time.
There was a good deal of fighting on the road ahead of our troop. They took a good many Rebels prisoners ahead of us and killed a good many. I cannot tell how many. Our side has lost [ ] we have a considerable many. It is hard to tell how it will come out. I could tell you more than I can write about it.
I received a letter from Sister Eliza a few days before we started on our march and I had no chance to answer it. I wish you to write her and let them know where I am. We march[ed] nine days and then fight like the Devil. This writing is hard and I am in a hard place but we all live in hopes of better times before a great while.
Excuse this and the next time I write I will try and do a little better. Keep up good courage and the time may come yet that I may see you all for I am not discouraged yet. So no more from your affectionate Uncle this time. [unsigned]
Address Vicksburgh, Mississippi