This letter was written by Pvt. John D. Ward (1840-Aft1880) who served in Co. C., 8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment. This regiment was mustered into 3 year service in October 1862 and was on frontier duty at various points in Minnesota August, 1862, to May, 1864. At Anoka, Princeton, Monticello, Kingston, Manannah, Paynesville, Fort Ripley, Sauk Centre, Pomme de Terre, Alexandria and Fort Abercrombie guarding Sioux frontier. They were concentrated at Paynesville May 24, 1864, mounted and marched to Fort Ridgly May 24-28. They participated in Sibley’s Expedition against hostile Indians west of the Missouri River from June 5-October 15, 1864 (Battle of Tah Kah a Kuty or Killdeer Mountain July 28. Two Hills, Bad Lands, Little Missouri River, August 8). They moved to Murfreesboro, Tenn., October 26-November 7, 1864 and were attached to the defense of the Nashville & Northwestern Railroad, Dept. of the Cumberland, to January, 1865. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 23rd Army Corps, Dept. of the Ohio, to February, 1865, and Dept. of North Carolina to July, 1865.
This was probably the same John D. Ward, a native of Maine, who was working as a clerk in the store of Luther Wyckoff (1821-1903) in Taylors Falls, Minnesota in 1870 and in 1880 at a livery stable in the same town. He does not appear to have been married. Taylors Falls is only about 30 miles from Stillwater on the St. Croix River.
The identity of “Mr. Ellison” — to whom the letter is addressed — has not yet been determined.
Unfortunately, there is no envelope to aid further in his identification.
Charlotte, North Carolina
July 2nd 1865
Not having received a letter from you since I left Washington, I take this opportunity of writing a few lines to let you know that I am well and enjoying first rate health. We have beautiful weather but rather warm — thermometer 96 in the evening. Rain has fallen in great abundance and crops are very promising. Wheat has been harvested long ago and oats are nearly ready to cut. Fruit is in great abundance of all kinds. My rations of blackberries is three quarts a day. I could have more if I could eat them. Apples ten cents a dozen and peaches will soon be ripe in vast quantities.
Our Regiment is very healthy. Only one man died since we have been here. Every other regiment in the division is losing one or two a week. Two regiments have been mustered out of our brigade — the 174th and 178th Ohio — one year’s men.
It beats the devil why the War Department don’t muster out the six hundred thousand call men that are only getting one hundred dollars bounty for three years service. Fifteen thousand veterans are ordered to muster out while we poor devils have to stay and serve our time. The Corps’ mustering officer has decided that we can be held until the fifteenth of November — the date of the last Company muster. Well, I want to get out of the service and I am waiting patiently for another order from the War Department that will include us.
I sent seventy dollars to Schaeffer Bank, Stillwater, subject to your order when I was at Washington. Not having received a letter from you, I don’t know whether you received it or not. Write soon. Give my respects to all.
Yours, — John D. Ward