These two letters were written by Uriah (“Uri”) Edward Fulk (1839-1863) who enlisted as a private at the age of 22 on 8 October 1861 to serve 3 years in Co. H, 20th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). Uriah was killed on 12 May 1863 in the Battle of Raymond, Mississippi. [Note: Military service record under the name “Urias E. Fulk’]
Uri was the son of John Fulk (1813-1885) and Mary Barbara Sechler (1810-1878) of Lordstown, Trumbull county, Ohio. Enlisting in the same company with Uri in October 1861 was his younger brother, Solomon Fulk (1842-1861) but Solomon died less than two months after entering the service at Camp King, Kentucky, on 4 December 1861.
Uri’s letter, penned nearly three months after the Battle of Shiloh, reveals some of the carnage he witnessed on the battlefield at Shiloh where the 20th OVI arrived in the afternoon of the first day’s fighting and helped to turn back the Confederate forces the following day.
Following the Battle of Shiloh, the 20th remained encamped at Pittsburg Landing until early June 1862, when the regiment advanced first to Purdy, Tennessee and then Bolivar, Tennessee. On August 30, 1862, enemy forces attacked Bolivar. Despite being greatly outnumbered, the Union garrison, including the 20th and a few companies from the 78th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry and the 2nd Regiment Illinois Cavalry, successfully defended the town. Confederate cavalrymen did capture, however, Companies G and K of the 20th late in the day.
On May 12, 1863, the 20th engaged enemy forces at Raymond, Mississippi. Other Union regiments withdrew to stronger defensive positions, leaving the 20th’s flank exposed to a brutal crossfire. The 20th advanced, driving the Southerners from the field. The Ohio regiment had twelve soldiers killed—including Uri Fulk—and fifty-two more wounded in this battle. [See Colonel Manning F. Force of the 20th Ohio Infantry Recalls the Battle of Raymond, Mississippi and The Affair on the Raymond Road by Lt. Henry O. Dwight, 20th Ohio Infantry]
Near Bolivar, Tennessee
July 3, 1862
While sitting under the shadows of a stupendous tree, I grasp my pen to communicate to to you & inform you that I received a letter written by your hand. I was very happy to hear from you & hear that you was all well & enjoying good health. I’m most ashamed to write to you because I have not written before but I wish you to excuse me for this time for I’m most always on some kind of duty that I can hardly get time to write a letter.
Dear friend, I’m well & enjoying good health & spirits & all the rest of the company. We have plenty to eat & I like soldier life first rate, but I would not say a word if this foolishness would come to a close. But I think it will end before long.
We left Camp Shiloh about the 2d of May & come to a town named Bolivar 50 miles. We camped here 4 or 5 weeks, then we was ordered to Grand Junction, 20 miles south of this place. We camped there 4 weeks, then we came back to Bolivar again. Our camp is about a mile from town. There are 8 or 10 regiments near Bolivar. I don’t know how long we’ll stay here.
Our regiment and the 78th Ohio Regiment was out in a march last week. We started the last day of July with 2 days rations in our haversacks, a blanket over our shoulders, & our Enfield rifles in our hands ready to meet the enemy at any time & give them a round. We marched 12 miles to a little town. We stayed there till next morning, then marched back to camp again, but rebels—we seen none. We had a good time [though]. We had all the roasting ears, apples, peaches, & melons we wanted to eat.
I’ve seen some pretty hard sights at Fort Donelson fight & in the Battle of Shiloh. To see the soldiers lying around—some with head & arms shot off, & others with legs & arms of some half dead, some dying. I seen them lie round in all kind of shapes & form.
One man of our company was taken prisoner last week out on picket. The picket line is about 3 miles from camp. There was 10 of our boys on the outpost. He started to go to a melon patch [and] that was the last we seen of him. There are some of Jackson cavalry scouting round [and] I guess they got him, His name was Felix Spurgeon. ¹
I will now close hoping these few lines may soon reach you & find you all well & enjoying good health. No more this time, but to remain your friend. Don’t forget to write. Direct to Bolivar, Tennessee. Goodbye. — Uri E. Fulk
Dear cousin Annie,
It is with great pleasure that I take my pen in hand to answer your welcome letter which I received the last day of July. I was very glad to hear from you & to hear that you was all well & enjoying good health. Dear cousin, I ought to of wrote to you long before now but didn’t. I hope you will excuse me this time. I’ve seen some pretty hard times since I left home. Dear cousin, I would like to see you all & have a talk with you. I could tell you a good many stories about soldier life. I think them boys that are starting to war now would stay at home if they had seen as much of it as I have, but it is right that they do go for this rebellion must—& it shall be—put down. I found an envelope stamp in that letter but dear cousin, I tore it when I opened the letter. I didn’t know it was in. I saved the stamp. No more. Goodbye dear cousin. Please write again.
Uri E. Fulk to Angeline McCollister
¹ Felix Spurgeon (1847-1924) served enlisted in October 1861 as a private in Co. H, 20th Ohio Infantry. He later served in Co. F of the 2d Ohio Heavy Artillery.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Vista Landing, Louisiana
April 4, 1863
With pleasure so I take up my pen to write you a few lines to let you know that we are all well & enjoying good health. I received your kind letter the last day of March & I was so very glad to hear from you again being I had no letter from you for so long. I did not get that letter which you wrote when Monroe was at home. I am glad to hear that [your husband] Monroe is enjoying soldier’s life to well. I wrote a letter to him when he was at Cleveland yet but never had no answer yet. I guess he didn’t get the letter. Well I will write to him maybe tomorrow if I get time.
I guess I must close for this time hoping to hear from you soon. Goodbye Angeline, from your ever true cousin, — Edward F.