This letter was written by Francis (“Frank”) T. Hollister of Co. D, 28th Iowa Infantry. He enlisted in August 1862 and died of “remittent fever” at the general hospital at Carrolton, Louisiana on 9 September 1863.
Frank wrote the letter to his friend, Mary “Ella” Fawcett (1847-1914), of Benton county, Iowa. Ellen was the daughter of Jonathan Fawcett (1806-1884) and Caroline Gibbons (1821-18xx). There is a reference to Ella’s brother, Asa H. Fawcett (1842-1893) in the letter.
Camp near Rock Springs, Mississippi
Friday, May the 8th, 1863
I now sit down to write you a few lines in answer to your kind and welcome letter of the 27th March. I am well at the present and all of the other boys are the same so far as I know. We are encamped in the edge of a field by the side of the woods. It is about 20 miles from here to Vicksburg.
I presume you will hear before this reaches you about the battle that was fought on the 1st of this month. Therefore, it will be useless for me to give the details except that there was not any of our company hurt and only one of our regiment killed and five wounded. I was not in the fight but would have been if I had not been in the Pioneer Corp. and we were marched in the rear of the army and were ordered to stay there during the day. But I was on the field through the day. It will be called the Battle of Magnolia or of Port Gibson.
We are now about 30 miles east of the battleground toward Vicksburg and are waiting for provisions to get to us. We have not had only about a half of a cracker a day for about 4 or 5 days but we get all of the fresh meat, sugar, and molasses that we can use.
I received a letter from Emma last evening and was very glad to hear that the folks were all well and getting along so well on the prairie.
Ella, I have them miniatures in my keeping and hope I will have good luck enough to be able to keep them until the war’s over.
Well, we are so far from anyplace and in the woods so I cannot think of any news to write that would interest you in the least. Tell [your brother] Asa that I should be glad to get a letter from him pretty soon. When you write, tell me how you and Mr. Martin are getting along and whether you have decided to set your cap for him or not.
I send you my best wishes to all enquiring friends and remain your sincere friend, — Frank Hollister
Write soon as you can.