101st IN. Inf. – John H. Gray Writes His Little Sister On Christmas 1863 About God’s Great Mercies – Read His Touching Comments
John H. Gray, a resident of Piqua, Ohio, enlisted in August of 1862 as a Corporal in Co. D of the 101st Indiana Infantry. In this 4-page letter written in nice dark ink, John is writing his little sister Annie. Some members of the 101st Indiana Volunteers were assigned to the 19th Indiana Battery for awhile. John was one of these men. The letter is headed, “Camp of the 19th Ind. Bat. Chattanooga. Dec. 25th/63”.
Here are the interesting parts:
- It has been nearly two years since I left home. Then you were full of fun and having all the comforts that a good home and kind parents and sweet brothers and sisters could bestow. Yet you certainly see but little of the care and trouble & suffering of a bad world.
- You scarcely know what it is to be hungry or cold or without shoes or nice clothes. I have seen distressed fathers or mothers have to leave their homes because it was understood that the battle would rage there, and it would be dangerous to remain. They had a child with rosy cheeks under their arms and one in the other hand. Ah, it bled my heart to see them coming to us through the woods. The faces of each as he hurried to a place of safety was filled with looks of terror.
- WHEN THE RIGORS OF MILITARY ORDER WERE BEING ENFORCED IN TAKING AWAY THE ONLY HORSE OR COW, THE LITTLE CHILDREN HAVE PLEADED WITH UPLIFTED HANDS THAT THEY SHOULD NOT BE ROBBED OF THEIR ONLY MEANS OF LIVING. BUT IT WAS ALL UNHEEDED!
- Indeed dear sister, you are living in a fortunate country and your age will hardly admit you to understand the misfortunes of this our country.
- THERE IS HARDLY A FAMILY BUT MISSES ONE OF ITS MEMBERS WHO IS ABSENT IN HIS COUNTRY’S SERVICE. YES, MORE THERE IS HARDLY A FAMILY BUT WHAT HAS LOST ONE OF ITS DEAR MEMBERS FOREVER.
- THOSE OF OLDER AGE MOURN THE ABSENT ONES, AND IN THIS SOUTHERN TERRITORY ALMOST EVERY ONE HAS NOT ONLY LOST THE SONS, BROTHERS, AND HUSBANDS, BUT EVEN BEEN DRIVEN FROM THEIR HOMES.
- Then the war is affecting the South much more than the North. I suppose you have heard Annie’s Birth Day letter, but this is not only your birth Day but mine! Today I enter upon my 22nd year and you are 9. You have many bright happy moments before you, moments too without a blast of sorrow. Yours are but child’s troubles. Perhaps they may cause you many a tear and a sigh, but dear sister, it will begone when the tears have ceased to flow, and pleasure will again rise before you.
- TODAY 1,863 YEARS AGO, IT IS SAID THE LAMB OF GOD WAS BORN AND LAID IN A MANGER. LET BOTH OF US TRY TO BE LIKE JESUS, SO MEEK AND GENTLE. LET US LOVE FATHER AND MOTHER AND SISTER AND BROTHER. BE KIND TO ALL AND LIVE TO MAKE THOSE AROUND US HAPPY AND TO LOVE US.
- Sixteen months of my time has passed away and it seems but yesterday since I left home. The letters I get encourage and give me much pleasure so when you and Annie get so as to write me long letters, I shall be very glad. I get Mother’s letters very regular and all that are sent. I sent Annie the Photo of Gen. Reynolds who has been sent to New Orleans. I have sent for Gen. Thomas’ Photo and if I succeed in getting it, I will send it to you, but if I cannot get to today, I will send it as soon as possible.
- Continue going to school and learn as fast as possible and before you get to be a young lady, I will be home if the future shall be as favorable as the past. I frequently look at your picture and fancy I can see you moving around just as you do at home. Tell mother or father that they need not send me any more stamps as I can get plenty here now. Wishing you all good health, I remain Your Affectionate Bro. John H. Gray
In addition to the 4-page letter, Gray addresses a single half sheet to his family:
A happy Christmas to all. I got mother’s letter of the 29th of Nov. and was glad to hear that you were all well and that my money had been received. I look for John Amos today. This is a dull Christmas so far but unlike last Christmas I have plenty to eat and wear. Excuse scraps.
John H. Gray
101st Ind. Vols.
Also included is the original envelope.
#L12-25-63IN – Price $95