This letter was written by First Sergeant Bradford (“Brad”) Foster Thompson (1837-1912) of Co. B, 112th Illinois Infantry. Brad entered the service in September 1862, was promoted to 2d Lieutenant in the spring of 1863, to 1st Lieutenant in January 1864, and to Captain of Co. B in May 1864. He was slightly wounded in action at Resaca, Georgia on 14 May 1864 and in the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, on 30 November 1864.
Brad was the son of Benjamin M. and Anna B. (McLaughlin) Thompson of Waldo county, Maine. He came to Illinois with his parents in 1856 and worked as a store clerk while studying law. On his return home from the war, Brad engaged in merchandising at Bradford, Illinois, and continued in the trade until 1874, when he resumed law studies and was admitted to the bar, entering the practice of law. In 1868, he was elected representative in state legislature, and in 1876 state’s attorney. In 1876 he removed to Toulon, Illinois, and in 1880 was re-elected state’s attorney and served until 1884.
Brad wrote the letter to his wife, Elizabeth A. (Bevier) Thompson (1840-1913) whom he married in 1860. He also mentions their young daughter Eda Helen Thompson (1861-1867) a couple of times.
Although the letter was only signed “Brad” and addressed to “My dear wife,” there were sufficient clues in the letter to easily identify the author as Bradford F. Thompson. Thompson was also the author of the History of the 112th Regiment of the Illinois Volunteer Infantry published in 1885.
Sunday, November 2, 1862
My Dear Wife:
Yours of the 26th inst. was received last night. Was very glad to hear from you and to hear of your an Eda’s good health. Am very sorry her eyes are sore and hope you will try and have them cured. Do not let Eda and yourself get sick if it is possible to prevent it by good care. I hope the cider will cure her although I have but little faith in the remedy.
I am well. My ankle is well. Orlin † is well. Nearly all the boys are well. H[enry] McKibbons ¹ is not well. S[tephen] Gudgel ² will probably get discharged and go home. He has the rheumatism very badly. He ought to go home. Wm. P. Wilson is sick. James Hare ³ is sick in the hospital. The boys are kept quite busy in drilling standing camp and picket guard, going out for inspection, review, dress parade &c. &c.
I sent $4 to you by mail several days ago. It was all I had. Will send more as soon as I get it. We haven’t been paid off yet. The piece of paper was put in the letter you spoke of to prevent the letter being read through the envelope. The envelope was thin and the writing showed through, so I put a piece of paper on the front side.
You can do as you think best about using the Stark county bounty. We shall want something to buy a stove, chairs &c. when we go to keeping house again. Never mind about my flannels. I am comfortable. The weather is warm and pleasant. Orlin came into our mess yesterday. We have seven now — five sergeants, bugler, and Or. Orlin is out on picket duty today. They stay out 24 hours.
We have just received orders to move (tomorrow or Tuesday) from this ground and go into the fairground. Our brigade go there together. All other troops are to be sent off and we will remain here for a time. Our brigade is composed of the 18th Michigan, 22nd Wisconsin, 14th Kentucky, and 112th Illinois Regiments under command of Brigadier General Green Clay Smith. We were first brigaded with the 77th, 97th & 108th Illinois Regiments but were detached from them and joined as above.
Between three and four hundred Union refugees arrived here Friday from East Tennessee. They were obliged to leave home or go into the rebel army. They had marched 17 days mostly by night and were ragged, bare-footed, and decidedly hard looking. They are going to Cincinnati for arms and clothing and go into the Union army.
We have been in no fight yet and no prospect of any very soon, but when we do, I intend to pitch in and do my best. You shall never have cause to blush on my account. I am no coward. If I send any money of any amount, I will send it by Express and write to you. I wrote a long letter to you last Thursday. It is almost impossible to get any kind of reading here except dailies. I wish you would send me some posts, &c. We have awful hard work to get postage stamps. So many soldiers are here that the P. O. at Lexington cannot supply them. We are in hopes they will be plentier in a short time.
And now, my own dear wife, I have written all that will interest you and will close. I presume you are writing to me today. I hope you are and will write me a long letter. write very often. Give Eda a half dozen sweet kisses for me and take a dozen of the sweetest kind for yourself. Give my best respects to all that wish. And now, my two pet darlings, farewell for a few days until I write again.
Yours truly, — Brad
† Orlin Bevier of Co. B was captured at Cleveland, Tennesee on 18 September 1863 and died in Andersonville Prison on 22 Jul 1864 (Grave No. 6519).
¹ Henry McKibbons of Co. B was discharged at Lexington, Kentucky, in January 1863 due to disability. He died at Denver, Colorado on 22 February 1882.
² Stephen Gudgel of Co. B was discharged at Lexington, Kentucky in April 1863 due to disability.
³ James Hare of Co. B was discharged at Lexington, Kentucky in March 1863 die to disability.