1862: John W. Wilder to Helen Daniels

This letter was most likely written by John W. Wilder (1841-1864) of Kenosha, Wisconsin, who enlisted in January 1862 in Co. F, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry. Both John W. Wilder and his younger brother, Warren T. Wild, rode with the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry though Warren was discharged in October 1862 after a year’s service. John Wilder was captured at Dandridge, Tennessee, and died while a prisoner-of-war at Andersonville on 10 May 1864.

John’s parents were Pardon W. Wilder (1797-1860) and Phoebe Wattles of Kenosha.

The letter was written to Helen Daniels whose father, Alvah H. Daniels (1810-1864) served in Co. H, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry. Helen’s brother, William F. Daniels (b. 1843) also served as a bugler in Co. F but was discharged for disability in November 1862.


Camp near Cape Girardeau
May 4th 1862

Dear Hell,

I received your kind letter you sent by Capt. [John] Hyde last night and was glad to hear that you were all well. We are in a splendid camp and the most of the boys are all well. Co. A & B were sent out ten miles this morning after a gang of secesh but they have not returned yet up to this hour. There is a report out in circulation that they had a fight about five miles out and Capt. [Thomas H.] Mars was taken prisoner but I do not think it is true.

Capt. Thomas H. Mars, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry

Smith is well as usual. He says that he has not heard from that wife and child of his yet. He thinks that something is up somewhere. I suppose Mrs. Brown arrived home all safe or at least she ought to. She had good company all the way home. If I were in her place, I would go home and soak my head and turn over a new leaf. It seems that southern climate does not agree with her but then I suppose it is none of my business.

I told [Lt. John L.] Church that Hatty thought he was a brick and it took him so by surprise that I do not think he will recover. But still we are in hopes of it yet. There is the prettiest lot of girls here you ever saw. Kenosha is no where. You need not be surprised to hear of some marriages in Co. F before long so you had better give (him) a talking to before long or you may lose him.

Will is getting better. His side does not trouble him so bad as it did. I saw your Father yesterday. He is well also. I suppose you have heard that [Ira W.] Clark ¹ is dead before this. He was buried in St. Louis. It was a hard blow on our company. He had a great many friends in the regiment but he has gone to his last resting place and there may he rest easy.

Zach went to the hospital last night with the mumps and so I do not know how he is this morning. You must excuse all this bad writing and spelling for I have got a great deal on my mind just at present and I will try to do better the next time. Give my love to all inquiring friends — also a share to yourself.

So adieu for the present. From your old friend, — J. W.

¹ Ira W. Clark enlisted on 4 September 1861 in Co. F, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry. He died on 27 April 1862 at Benton Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri.


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