Killed in Cold Blood by Bushwhackers in Missouri ! – 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry, the Fate of Legrand Carter
This 2 ½ page letter written in ink was written by William Seaver of Company K, 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry. Seaver was a friend of Carter and in this letter he writes Carter’s father, Ackley Carter. There are a number of articles on the Internet about this famous and sad incident… but in this letter we hear the story from one who was actually there. Here is the content:
- Camp 2nd Wis. Cay. Vols. Rolla, Mo. May 29th /64 Dear Sir, This letter will be the bearer of painful intelligence to you. Your son, Legrand, has lost his life while nobly discharging his duties as a soldier and a Patriot.
- He left camp Thursday morning on command of a scouting party of ten men for the purpose of gaining possession of some horses which had been left by Bushwhackers at a place some twenty miles west of Rolla.
- He found some of them at one place and leaving six of his men to guard them, went on to another place in search of the others, and on the way was waylaid and captured with the men who accompanied him. Here our knowledge of facts ends, but everything indicates that THEY WERE ALL TAKEN INTO THE WOODS AND SHOT IN COLD BLOOD.
- As soon as information of their capture was brought by the six men left behind, a party of thirty was sent out in search of them.
- Their bodies were found in the woods about a mile from the road and were brought to Camp Friday night.
- LEGRAND HAS FIVE BALLS IN IT. TWO IN THE BACK, ONE IN THE NECK, ONE IN THE LEFT BREAST AND ONE IN THE SHOULDER.
- FROM THE POSITION IN WHICH THEY ENTERED, I SHOULD JUDGE THAT HE WAS STRUGGLING TO ESCAPE WHEN SHOT. HE WAS ALSO CONSIDERABLY BRUISED AS IF FROM KICKS OR BLOWS ON HIS BREAST AND LIMBS.
- OWING TO THE WARMTH OF THE WEATHER AND THE ADVANCED STAGE OF DECOMPOSITION, IT WAS NOT THOUGHT ADVISABLE TO ATTEMPT SENDING THE REMAINS HOME.
- He will be buried here and his grave carefully marked and his initials cut in the lid of the coffin. Legrand has ever been faithful in the discharge of every duty and was a favorite in the Company. Endeared to all by reason of a generous heart and pleasant disposition, there is no man in the Co. whom we would miss so much as we shall miss him.
- “Green be the turf above thee
Friend of my better days
None knew thee but to love thee
Nor named thee but to praise.”
- Peace be with thee, noble comrade, and consolation to those who mourn your untimely death. May thy clear record grow brighter and brighter through all time and thy memory ever linger with us in all our trials.
- By request of Captain Crocker, I have written to Legrand’s wife this morning and directed to Northfield. This I shall send to Lakeville. My object in writing to both places is that you may get the news as soon as possible.
- Anything I can do for you in the way of information, etc. I will do gladly and promptly and if any new facts come to light, I will inform you immediately. I am with Regard William Seaver.
Ackley Carter Esq.
Condition: The 3rd page is written on a ½ sheet. The letter has lots of stains… looks like it went through the war, but is all readable and the first one we have seen with graphic detail about this famous incident. Not sure if we would have been quite so specific telling the father about the “five balls in him”!!
#L5-29-64WI – Price $395