Soldiers Letter Index McClelland Letter Index Page 16th OVI Home Page McClelland Letter #2
Letter (#1) from Cpl. Joseph C. McClelland, Co. K, 1st Iowa Infantry,
to his brother, Private John F. McClelland, Co. B, 16th OVI
Keokuk, Iowa - May 12, 1861
Web Author's Notes:
Images of the following letter were provided by Bob and Judi Hill. They were found in a box of papers owned by Judi's mother. The letter is from Joseph C. McClelland, brother of Judi's ancestor, John F McClelland. Joseph wrote the letter while encamped at Keokuk, Iowa, where the 1st Iowa and other 90-day regiments from Iowa were forming. It was written just 30 days after the Civil War began with the attack on Ft. Sumter, April 12, 1861. Joseph enlisted in the 1st Iowa as a Corporal and re-enlisted in the 20th Iowa, commissioned as a Lieutenant, later being promoted to Captain of Company I, mustering out in 1865 having survived the war after serving four years and two months.

Additional history tells us the letter's recipient, little brother John, sadly, was later captured during action at Cumberland Gap and died of disease on September 20, 1862, probably as a Confederate prisoner. Below the images of the letter is my attempt at transcription to the best of my ability.

Thanks to Bob and Judi Hill for sharing these precious artifacts from the colorful and poignant history of the 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and the American Civil War.

Please note the contrast of the letter images has been enhanced to make them more readable. Spelling is transcribed as near as possible to match the original author's and end of sentence periods were added, when necessary, to make reading easier.

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Keokuk, Iowa, 12 may

Brother John,

I suppose you would like to know how I am and how I am getting along. my health [is very] good and I am enjoying myself as well as [is] expected. There is one thousand Soldiers here and I tell you we are a gay set of fellows. This is quite a town [setting back] on the Mississippi River about three miles from the [Illinios state line?] state and I don't know [when?] we will have to get over and help the Union men of that state to enforce the laws.

This is sunday and it is the sunday eve. I [and] some are fighting some are playing Cards. Some of the companies are marching and playing music while a good many of us are writing letters.

I left Cedar Rapids one week ago tomorrow and had a good boat ride on the River. there was four hundred and fifty of us in the boat and it was hevy loaded with freight besides. The Captain said that 50 more men would sink her. There is many good fellow here with us but there is some hard ones. we have not got in camp yet but we hope to before long. I don't think we

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will leave here fore a month or two but I can't tell anything about that. I am going to church now and I will finish this after I return. - - - - - I have been to church. there was quite a number of volenteers and we heard a good sermun and as we came out of the church there was a company [passed] along playing A Brass Band and you may know they made a noise. But I must close. I have a hard way to write. I have no pen and I seting on a blanket withe a valeece on my lap and that is the way I have to do my writing.

Give my best regards to all the friends. Give my love to Father and Mother. tell them that I will write to them in a week or ten days at [farther]. I want you folks at home to let me hear from you often as you can for it does me good to hear from you. direct your letter to me at Keokuk Iowa Care of Captain Cook in Company H. (Each Company has a letter of the alphabet for its name) of cors this letter is to Rachel as well as yourself. give my love to the little girls and kiss all (?) for me, Jos, Joseph

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