John McBride, Company D, Fifty-First Illinois
John Lucien McBride Letters, Mohler Family Papers, Lincoln, Nebraska. All Rights Reserved.
The letters of May 22, 1862, June 13, 1862, November 16, 1862, December 9, 1862, March 3, 1863, March 19, 1863, March 22, 1863, April 6, 1863, and August 2, 1863 are from the pension files of the Veterans Administration, Record Group 15, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D. C.
To his family and friends John Lucien McBride was known as "Lucien".
To locate John McBride and his comrades in Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, see Private Tabler's Itinerary on this site.



Author To Whom From Where Date
John McBride Mother Chicago [aunt's house] 03-30-62
John McBride A Sister [near Farmington MS] 05-11-62
John McBride Mother Farmington MS 05-22-62
John McBride Mother South of Corinth MS 06-13-62
John McBride Mother Decatur AL 08-05-62
John McBride Mother Decatur AL 08-18-62
John McBride Sisters Marcia, Marcella Decatur AL 08-18-62
John McBride Mother Nashville 11-16-62
John McBride Mother Nashville 12-09-62
John McBride Sister Marcia Near Nashville 12-16-62
John McBride Mother Near Nashville 12-25-62
John McBride Mother Murfreesboro TN 01-??-63
John McBride Mother Murfreesboro TN 01-17-63
John McBride Mother Murfreesboro TN 02-04-63
John McBride Mother Murfreesboro TN 02-08-63
John McBride Mother, Sister Marcella Stone's River 03-03-63
John McBride Mother Murfreesboro TN 03-19-63
John McBride Mother Murfreesboro TN 03-22-63
John McBride Mother Murfreesboro TN 04-06-63
John McBride Mother Murfreesboro TN 05-10-63
John McBride Mother Murfreesboro TN 06-04-63
John McBride Mother Sewanee TN 07-20-63
John McBride Mother Bridgeport AL 08-02-63
John McBride Sister Marcella Bridgeport AL 08-13-63
John McBride Mother Bridgeport AL 08-17-63
David Christian Wife Lucy Chattanooga TN 09-21-63
Chaplain L. Raymond Clarissa McBride Chattanooga TN 09-22-63
Austin Lansing John's Parents Vicksburg MS 10-19-63
Mar 30 62

March 30, 1862, Chicago, IL: To His Mother

"Mother, I am going tomorrow..."

Sunday Night 30th [March 30, 1862]

Dear Mother. I am going tomorrow. I thought I would drop you a line. We got another letter from uncle this morning. He said to come right along, the way was clear. Aunt went to a spiritual meeting this morning and came home almost sick. Mrs. Willson came over this afternoon with a large cake for uncle and some pie and cake for me a lunch tomorrow. I hope to get through safe. Aunt has put up my paper envelopes and some other things. My blanket we will get in the morning. We have it picked out. My picture is here. I can't send it by mail, for it is in a case. Tell Jacob and the Willson girls I'll write to them when I get into Dixie. Kiss Clara for me. Love to all. Goodbye.

J. L.

"Uncle" was John McBride's uncle David Christian, already a member of and in the field with Company D of the Fifty-First Illinois. "Aunt" was his aunt Lucy Christian, David Christian's wife. John McBride enlisted in March and was preparing to join the regiment in the field by taking transportation from Chicago. The "Willson girls"—probably Charlotte and Mary Wilson, neighbors, about the same age as John McBride.
The Fifty-First Illinois left Chicago for "the war" on February 14, 1862. At the end of March 1862, the regiment was involved in the actions at New Madrid, Missouri and Island No. 10.
Clara was one of John's sisters. She was eleven years younger.

Tab 3

May 11, 1862, Farmington, Mississippi: To His Sister

May 11, 1862

Dear Sister. I have just received a letter from you and from Henry D. Received a letter from you over a week ago and began to answer it but did not finish it so will answer them both. I was sick when I commenced to answer your first but I am well now and Friday we went out to fight but did not get a chance to shoot but heard the shells whiz over our heads. We have today to our selves. The first for a good while. We have moved 2 or 3 times since I wrote you last. We are now 5 miles from Corinth. We don't know how many were killed on Friday all together but none in our regiment—one wounded. I was to the funeral of one of our brigade yesterday.

We are in a nice place here by the side of a peach orchard, loaded down with peaches as big as almonds. Uncle makes pies of apples and which go very well. We have potatoes, rich flour, sugar, coffee, bacon and sometimes ham, once in awhile beef. The only trouble now is to get water which is very scarce and very unhealthy. You wrote that mother sent $3.00 to aunt. I was expecting pay day pretty soon and should have sent it myself but it is farther off now than ever so I am glad she has sent it. I will send her the other $1.00 as soon as I can get it. Uncle wonders how Mr. Lansing could live when a ball struck him in the breast and came out below his ribs. He wants some of you to write to him once in a while. Henry wrote to me that Charlie had just left there and said he was going to hunt me up. I expected to hear a sermon today for our chaplain has just got back to the regiment but I hear nothing of it. I don't write every week so please excuse.

Love to all. Give Clara a long S-M-A-C-K.
Yours Truly
J. L.

The Fifty-First Illinois, along with other regiments from Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Iowa, was engaged against Confederate forces on Friday, May 9, 1862 at Farmington, Mississippi. The Fifty-First was only lightly engaged. The entire Federal force was driven back from Farmington.
Uncle = David Christian, Company D, Fifty-First Illinois
Mr. Lansing = Austin Lansing, a cousin and close neighbor of John McBride's father. Lansing enlisted in the Forty-Fifth Illinois Infantry and was wounded at Shiloh.

Tab 3a

May 22 1862, Farmington, Mississippi: To His Mother

May 22 62

Dear Mother, I have just received my pay of $25 dol. of which I will send you 20 of it by express mail at the risk of losing it, for there is danger of losing it here. We are all pretty well. Have had no fight yet but expect one soon.

I wrote to you yesterday, so I have not much to write. I want you to write to me as soon as you get this and let me know if it came all safe. Uncle is sending all of his home today and thinks I had better too. I will try it. If it don't come, it will be my luck. If it does, it will be Fred's luck.

Bye for another time,
Your affectionate son, J. L. McBride

nothing special from the Corinthians

On May 22, 1862 Federal forces were still moving towards Corinth with the intention of capturing the city and the Confederate forces there. The Fifty-First Illinois Infantry was situated at Farmington, four miles east of Corinth.

Tab 3b

June 13 1862, South of Corinth, Mississippi: To His Mother

Saturday [June 13] 1862
I will call it Camp Dirty
in the woods south of Corinth

I received yours and Marcia's of the 29th of May and 1st of June some time ago, but this is the first opportunity of answering them that I have had as we have been marching from 6 in the morning till 12 at night for nearly a week back and forward until at last we have settled down to camp for 3 weeks or 2 months. I have been sick for a day or two past with the camp complaint & a bad cold but not under the Dr's care. I feel a little better today. We have been having fresh beef without any salt to cook it with. We are so far away from civilization that we can't get our commissary stores regularly, so we have to take it once in a while pretty hard, but that is necessary for a soldier. We have just heard the good news that Memphis and Fort Pillow are ours through the C[hicago] T[ribune] of the 10th.

Uncle is a little unwell. I made him some cayenne pepper tea this morning which done him good.

Now I have written you all the news I Know & I am going to answer your letter just as funny as you wrote it. We have had no fighting at Corinth because the secesh had found out that there were 51 Chapters in the third epistle of the Corinthians. You need not - I would - delay writing because I am unwell for I will write all the sooner. I don't think you have received all of my letters, for I have answered all of yours. You write to uncle as though I had forgotten home, and I think I have written 2 to his 1. I am glad to see that Mr. S [or L] is getting along so well. I have been looking for Charley some time but cannot find him.

Our reg have the Harpers Ferry rifled musket. We have a good quartermaster. The Chap is the Baptist Elder of Chicago. You asked me what kind of uniforms we had. I have a secesh coat, pants & knapsack that I captured after we were in the secesh about 10 miles. We have blue pants & jackets. I found a pair of pants that fitted me all except around the body and legs and they fit there better than anywhere else. I got a good dress coat like the regt had at first and when the rest lost theirs Gov Yates sent us some jackets, so I have them both. Our knapsacks & blankets are carried on a wagon this hot weather. Now you see I have not got vexed at being called a small soldier. I hope if you hear any report of me it will be a good one, whether alive or dead. God speed the right. The papers come regularly every day. We pay 10 & 15 cts a piece. We get them 3 or 4 days sooner than you could send them. I have my rubber blanket yet. I have been offered $4 for it. It is an excellent thing. I have cayenne pepper enough yet. Now I believe I have answered all your questions. Please send me some more stamps. We have to pay sometimes a dime a piece although I don't buy nor sell. Uncle received a nice package of maple sugar, prunes, tea & 2 nice pencils with rubber heads last Wednesday. Where did they get the seed wheat? We have plenty of sugar in the army minus the strawberrys and cream.

The black berrys are getting ripe & the apples make good sauce. The peaches are coming on pretty fast. We will have fine times. Take it all around I like the service better than I expected to, but I must tell them all to come see for themselves. Then they will know how they like it. When we are in camp, we draw for rations beef, bacon, rice, flour, coffee, sugar, molaasses, salt, vinegar, & crackers. We have not had any potatoes lately for new ones are not far enough along and old ones are all gone.

We have a chance of being discharged in three years if not in five. You probably won't see me very soon. Good bye.

Tell all the rest to excuse me from writing for the present please. Send me one of Clara's curls next time. A kiss to Clara and Fredie. Lots of love to all
Yours truly Your affectionate son John L. McBride.

Tell Pa not to let anybody have that extra dog unless it is Jacob Frane. If he will take one, let him have it. But not to you know who I mean.

Sunday Morning
Dear Mother, one thing I forgot. Did that $20 dol come through all right? I am afraid it is lost. You ought to have got it the 1st of June. I have a receit so I can get it of the company by which it was sent.

Now write soon. I read your letter without a [illegible]. Please send some more such. We have to write on our knees here. A little dandelion seed of the large kind. I am a good deal better this morning. It is a beautiful day.

Federal forces occupied Fort Pillow on June 6, 1862. Memphis fell on June 7.
Jacob Frane = according to the 1860 United States census, the Franes were next-door neighbors of the McBride family. Jacob Frane, Jr. was a member of the Ninety-Second Illinois Infantry.
The quartermaster in June 1862 was still Henry Howland.
Chap = Lewis Raymond, regimental chaplain.

Tab 4

August 5, 1862, Decatur, Alabama: To His Mother

"We have daily expected an attack..."

Tuesday Aug 5 1862
Camp Decatur, Alabama

Dear Sister. I have neglected writing so long I am almost ashamed to write now. We arrived here after 9 days march in hot days. We have marched out of Mississippi and through the best part of Alabama. We have lived well and we are as well as though we were in S Valley. On our march we were allowed to forage our living where we pleased and we improved our time. We had ripe peaches, applies, melons, corn new potatoes, milk and mutton, so we could march first rate.

The first day we had a terrible hot time. We left half of the men on the road behind but we kept on and the cars brought up the stragglers. Ours come up last night. The rebels burned the bridges before us as we came along. I saw them set one of the largest ones on fire about three quarters of a mile a head. We reached here a week ago today. There was only two companies here to hold the place then and we have daily expected an attack. There has been only three co's of our regt and two of cavalry until last night the first Wisconsin come up here. I got your letter of the 18th. I have not written since the day before we started on the march and only received one. I would like to have you get some cotton shirts made out of light cloth that won't fade. This fibre check is the best—a good deal like hickory and make up a bundle and let some one two or three go into Chicago & get my things and send me the bundle. I have a blanket satchel dress coat, secesh jacket and divers other things. I will pay their way in and back. Aunt will know how to send the things and will want to send some things to uncle. Uncle is well but he don't like to write even to his own folks some times. We are now in a beautiful place on the banks of the Tennessee River. We saw some of the 19th [Illinois Infantry] when we came here but the regiment was strung along the railroad and Co B was 30 to 40 miles off. Uncle tried to get a pass but could not so he sent a line to Willie to come up here but he has not come yet. Now I have written all I can think of so will stop. Love to all and a kiss for Clara. So Goodbye.

From your son, John L. McBride

Several weeks after the Siege of Corinth, Mississippi evaporated in June, 1862, a number of Federal regiments were spaced out along the Memphis & Charleston Railroad to secure it for Federal transportation and protect it against Confederate depredations. The Fifty-First Illinois was broken into two- and three-company-sized detachments and placed at various points along the railroad. The leading placement was at Decatur where McBride's Company D was located. The day after McBride wrote this letter the detachment consisting of Companies H and K, which was stationed near Mallard Creek, Alabama, was attacked by Roddy's cavalry. Company C had nine men captured while on a scout.
Willie was William Christian, son of David Christian (hence John McBride's first cousin). William Christian was a private in the Nineteenth Illinois Infantry. The Nineteenth Illinois Infantry, like the Fifty-First and other regiments, was guarding railroads but, whereas the Fifty-First was at Decatur and west of Decatur, the Nineteenth was east of Decatur toward Huntsville, AL

Tab 5

August 18, 1862, Decatur, Alabama: To His Mother

Monday Aug 18th 1862
Camp Decatur Alabama

Dear Mother: I received your letter with one from Marcella and Marcia. We are still at Decatur. We have had first rate times here. Willie has been down from towards Nashville and stayed three days. He looks as natural as ever and in good spirits. Some think that the 19th Ill be disbanded on account of the colonel being court martialed.

The reason why I have not written oftener since we come here is that the railroad is constantly being attacked at the other stations. We have not had a train come up for a week till last night and it was fired on. I went down to the other companies in the morning and carried the orders but carried no arms so if I was taken prisoner and paroled they would not make much. I went 7 miles and back and had not been here 20 minutes till the train came up with the mail. One letter was dated Byron Aug 9 the other the 21.

We are all well at present. Alabama is a great deal better and healthier state than Mississippi. We are on the bank of the river with cotton breast works on one side and a stockade made of posts on the other two. Then we have earth works on the outskirts of the town so we are pretty well fixed for them. We have been called out twice in line expecting they were going to attack, but they are afraid of the 51st. Last night orders were read authorizing all soldiers and officers to employ negroes both in the service of the government and for private use in cooking and washing, and all slaves so employed are free and those who can prove themselves loyal are to be paid, and all citizens who are thought dangerous or disloyal we can order off from his own place and if he don't go will be arrested and dealt with as a rebel. You said in your letter you did not want me to deprive myself of health and comfort for the sake of money. I have not spent much yet for I have not had occasion to, for since we started from Corinth we have taken of everything we come to. Here we get ripe apples, peaches, pears, figs, tomatoes, plums, chickens, geese, turkeys, pigs, sheep, and various other things too numerous to mention. Sweet potatoes are almost ready for use. The citizens here all secesh and the women are the worst. Last night I cut some corn and went out on the common and milked farm cows and brought it back under several of the officers' noses, so I think you will think they are anti slavery.

Well, I have got nearly through one thing. I think the family was pretty well scattered the other day. The secesh could come in there and take everything off and nobody would be the wiser. I guess I'll send a guard up there to guard the premises. Love to all.
From your son
John L. McBride

Tab 6

Monday Aug 18th 1862, Decatur, Alabama: To His Sisters Marcia & Marcella

Aug 18 1862
Camp Decatur, Alabama

Dear Sister Marcia. I received your letter last night and one from mother and Eliza and will try to answer it although I have just written all I can think of to mother. Willie has been here and went away day before yesterday. We had a first rate time. He wanted to know when we heard from home last so we got out our package of letters and he read them all in about 4 hours time. He said such letters as them were enough to keep up any man's spirits. Mother spoke of being under Gen. Thomas. We are not in his division. Our major general is U. S. Grant. Our division general is said to be Taylor and our brigadier general is Morgan, our lieut col Bradley, our captain Brown, first lieut Boyd, 2nd lieut Cummings.

You spoke as if Halleck was appointed over McClellan. That is something new to me. We had not heard of that. I am glad you have given him up at last.

We have all we can wish for here except we would like to jerk some of the citizens up by the neck. Most of the women scorn the soldiers and openly avow secession. We take all we want but that aint enough. Now I will write to E. M. Mc.
Love to all from your brother.
J. L. McBride to his sis Marcia.

Dear Sister Marcella. I received your letter yesterday, which I will read over and answer as I go along. After dinner. You spoke of me complaining about your not writing. I don't know as I have complained of any body except that you wanted me to quit directing all my letters to Marcia, so I said you must write more if you wanted me to direct to you. But that's enough of that. I don't want you to feel hard about it, don't.

Seems to me there is a great deal of sickness up there this summer. I have not heard how Mary McBride is for some time. I think Eugene must have been pretty well when he enlisted. We are all well at present right in the midst of secession, men and women. We take all we want of everything. We found some ripe figs the other day while Willie was here, the first I ever saw. We had a debate on the question, whether we should treat the women with courtesy and respect or as traitorous rebels. We would like to have your opinion on the subject. I held to the latter and we gained the day.

Well I have only one thing more. Mother spoke as if she would like to go in the army as nurse and asked me if I did not think it would be a good place. I think if she got into a general hospital she could do very well but to have her or any other of my relatives or sisters go into a regt or regimental hospital I would not consent for it is no place for a woman. Now please excuse my poor scribbling for this time.

Love to all. Good bye from your loving brother.
John L. McBride
I am out of stamps—that's hint enough.

Tab 6a

[Nov 16 1862], Nashville, Tennessee: To His Mother

Camp Sheridan 6 m[iles] from Nashville, Tenn
Sunday Nov 14th 1862

Dear Mother, I will try to write to you this morning as I have got in the fit. We have moved out of N[ashville] into the woods. We are all well now. Our division is broken up. We are in the 35th brigade of the 11th division of the 14th Army Corps of the department of the Cumberland under General Rosecrans. We were moved out here to take the place of some of the new troops who are reported not fit for duty. They are a sick set. They went into town for the benefit of their health: "one hundred dollar men," by the way, as Capt. B[rown] says.

I sent you $20 dollars by mail a week or so ago. I have not received any letters from home since I wrote last. I got one from Henry some time ago. He said he had not heard from any of you for a good while. He had been sick some time. I got one from A. Hummel. He was at Nicholasville, Ky. He didn't say anything about the other boys from Marion. The 19th [Illinois Infantry] moved from N[ashville] the same time we did. We don't know which way they went. Uncle is writing home now. He sent a box of things home a week ago. I sent one white shirt in the top of the box. I wrote to Uncle Robert's folks that if I ever got out ot this I was going west and they must go along with us as well.

The secesh are making calculations that this will be the last fight and are sure of whipping us. Expect Nashville will be one of the places which will be washing in blood if the secesh fulfill their own proposals. We only get half rations now and it is reported that the communication was cut off by Morgan but is open now. Old Morgan is a brick at guerilla warfare. He does almost as much as Gen McClellan or Buell did for the southern confederacy. Look out for a terrible report from the soldiers when they move from here. I am afraid they will even burn some of the inhabitants. They are so enraged at the way the secesh are treated.

The 51st is as full and healthier and better abolishonized than it ever was before and will whip more secesh now than ever and that is something, for every man on an average has taken two secesh a piece and captured more pigs, turkeys & smoke houses and secesh spies than any regt in our division. l

When the 22nd was on picket they was surprised and one co[mpany] was taken without firing a gun. In about a week they tried the 51st and they left 4 dead on the ground and carried off 6 wagon loads of dead and wounded and only wounded 4 of our men and we did not leave our post till they fired 4 shells at us....[sic] Well it is roll call so I will close.

Love to all, good bye for the present,
Your affectionate son
J L McBride
to my beloved Mother

The letter is slightly misdated. No Sunday fell on November 14.
A. Hummel = Albert B. Hummel of Ogle County, Illinois, who enlisted in the 92nd Illinois Infantry in August, 1862. Hummel died in Nashville, in mid-1863, of disease. He was 25.
Uncle = David Christian, also a member of Company D of the Fifty-First Illinois.
The Twenty-Second Illinois did lost one company of men, captured, at Nashville. On November 5, Forrest again attacked the Federal picket lines, the main force of the attack falling on Companies F and G of the Fifty-First. The two companies first fell back, but then counter-attacked, pushed forward, and warded off the attack.

Tab 6b

December 9, Nashville, Tennessee: To His Mother

Tuesday Dec the 9th 1862
Nashville, Tenn

Dear Mother, I will write you a few lines this mornging as we have just come off from picket and have orders to keep three days rations on hand and reachy to march. We was paid two months pay on Sunday last. The 19th [Illinois Infantry] has not been paid yet but have the same orders as we have and expect to move soon.

There was a brigade of our men taken near Gallatin [Tennessee] a day or two ago, one Ill regt and two Ohio regs - new troops, taken without a fight. That's the way Old [John Hunt] Morgan counts for the southern confederacy.

I got a letter from Henry a day or so ago. He says he has been sick for some time. We are all well now and wish we could either fight or go home. I think it is strange that Capt Brown dont come to the regt. I got the letter that Marcia sent by Goss. We have been expecting Brown for two weeks. He has been away since July.

The soldiers are getting discontented and if they only give them a chance they will clean secesh root and branch. I don't believe they will leave a thing in the country.

It has been cold for some time - a little snow and freezes about two inches every night. Makes it cold on picket.

Marcia wrote me that I must write one letter to every dozen of hers or she did not think her letters worth answering. If she wants me to write oftener to her, she must not write so much about Washington, for I heard from good authority that I was likely to have a new ====== [yes, sic]: Well, that's enough - I mean a brother. I rather think that is a mistake. However, if it is so, I hope it will be one who will ???? of ever being a soldier in the Army of the Potomac. She must recollect that I have 5 or 6 to write to and have not so much time or convenience to write. I try to write once a week to some of you if possible. Uncle don't think he can write to you because you write such long letters and will expect the same, and he can't write such ones anyhow. He says if he could write and compose such letters as yours he would not mind writing.

It is reported that there is 70,000 secesh at Murfreesborough, 30 miles from here. The soldiers here are wishing for a fight with Bragg, the old troops in particular. Yesterday the convalescent men of the new regts came in to town indicating a move in some direction. I wish they would move somewhere from Nashville for I can't bear the place. Even now we can't get half enough to eat, and as for foraging, that is played out for there is none. We have foraged everything for 20 miles around the place. Well, I have written all I can think of at present. Give my love to Aunt and George. I should have written to them some time ago, but we have a good deal of everything and little of nothing to do, so I think I am excusable. Tell Marcella I have not had a letter from her for a good while.

Love to all - good bye
John L. McBride

Find enclosed one 20 dollar bill which I will risk by mail this time, J. L. McBride to his mother Clarissa McBride.

John Hunt Morgan captured the Federal garrison at Hartsville, Tennessee on December 7 (E. B. Long, The Civil War Day by Day, Da Capo, p. 293-4). Gallatin is 30 miles east-northeast of Nashville. Hartsville is another fifteen miles east of Gallatin. The One Hundred and Sixth Ohio, the One Hundred and Eighth Ohio, and the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois (seven of its companies) were engaged. The Federal force was surrendered, but they did fire shots. The Illinois regiment, according to the Adjutant General's regiomenta, history lost 44 men killed and 150 wounded in 75 minutes of fighting. This was the first engagement for the three regiments.
Captain Theodore Brown had been sent to Illinois on recruiting duty.
Aunt = David Christian's wife, Lucy.
George = Son of David and Lucy Christian, still at home in Illinois.
Marcia and Marcella = two of John McBride's sisters.

Tab 7

December 16, 1862, Nashville, Tennessee: To Sister Marcia

"Like blue texas ..."

Camp Sheridan
6 mi from Nashville Tenn.
Dec the 16th, 1862

Dear Sister Marcia. I am going to write to you this morning as I don't feel right for not writing to you before this. I should have written to you before but I have not had much time to write lately. We have moved from Nashville. Yesterday morning we went on picket and about noon it commenced raining and it rained till ten oclock at night, and I had to stand on post till I was soaked through for uncle had my rubber blanket and he don't have to go on picket for he is on detached service. When I came off post I had to stand at the fire all night to dry myself and did not sleep a wink but stood shivering all night till 8 oclock this morning. Then was relieved and marched to camp 2 1/2 miles through the mud without any breakfast, and now I have commenced writing to you with this backache like blue texas.

We are both well and don't care whether school keeps us or not. Uncle thinks he will leave and go home if they don't feed him better than they have been doing some time back, but I guess he only talks of it. I guess I dated my letter wrong, Nov. instead of Dec. So you can tell them we have again got where we can hear the secesh beat their retreat and reveille so there is no danger of going to sleep on post. I have got this sheet well spotted up with water but I hope you will excuse that this time.

They are trying to stick General Halleck's shelter tents on to us, but I don't think our brigade will accept them. If they do, there will be half of the soldiers die this winter if it is very wet and cold. They are only 3 feet high with no ends at all and won't shed rain at that. One tent for two men and they have to carry them on their backs when they march. But that's played out for we think we can't carry our knapsacks let alone our tents.

It cleared off this morning and the wind blows something Illinois winds (sic). We only get half rations now and hardly that. A little hard bread, sugar, coffee, very little rice and beans about one meal out of six a little fat bacon &etc &etc. I don't suppose you have learned before this that soldiers when they stand picket in the rain or work on breast works all night are entitled to his whiskey, but we don't get any. Our officers can drink all of ours without any trouble. Uncle has taken some several times. I tell him he is a G. F. of high standing. Well, give my love to all the folks. Make them little brats toe the mark. I got a letter from A. Hummel. He was at Nicholsville, Kentucky.

Goodby for the present from your loving brother
John L. McBride to his affectionate sister Miss M. M. McBride

A. Hummel = Albert B. Hummel of Ogle County, Illinois, who enlisted in the 92nd Illinois Infantry in August, 1862. Hummel died in Nashville, in mid-1863, of disease. He was 25.

Tab 8

December 25, 1862, Nashville, Tennessee: To His Mother

Camp Sheridan
Thursday Dec 25th 1862
Near Nashville Tenn

Dear Mother: I will again sit down to tell you all the news. I have not heard a word from home since the 13th and have written twice since, once to you and once to Marcella.

We were ordered out yesterday to move camp. Cannonading is kept up most of the time. We expected to fight but we did not go far till we were ordered back and pitched tents on the same ground. This morning is Christmas. We have heard some 20 large guns on or near the Franklin pike and we don't expect to stay here long, maybe but a day or so.

Before we started yesterday uncle went over to see if Willie's regt had the same orders, and they had. He got two Christmas presents which Willie gave him—a historical war map and a pair of socks. He has not heard from home since he sent his money. I guess Willie will be permanently situated as sutler's clerk.

It is curious that our Capt don't come. We have no commissioned officers in our Co now. Our lieut is Capt of Co B instead of Co D. We presented him with a 20 dollar sash on the day of his departure.

I suppose you think I have been going in pretty deep for not sending more money home. When we got paid at Decatur, I could not send it home. I lent it and have not got it yet. I will try to send more next pay day whenever it comes. We will be mustered for pay the first of January.

It seems that Burnside didn't get as badly whipped as was represented. I think that he will come out all right yet if they let him alone half as long as they did Mc[Clellan].

Rosecrans says he won't move till he is sure of enough grub in Nashville to keep us awhile in case of interruptions of the railroad. There has been ten regts and 4 batteries gone out on the Franklin pike today to see what they can find.

We are both well now. Uncle is with the teamsters at work most of the time. He don't have to go on foot any more. Well, I have not got it quite full but will close. Please excuse me this time for I generally do fill it.

Love to all the folks. Kiss the big little girl for me. Good bye from your son.
John L. McBride to Mother Clarissa McBride

Marcella = older sister of John McBride
Uncle = McBride's Uncle David Christian, also a member of Company D.
Willie = David Christian's son, William Christian, a private in the Nineteenth Illinois Infantry.
Lieutenant James Boyd of Company D was promoted to captain of Company B. Company D's missing captain was Captain Theodore Brown, who was on recruiting duty in Illinois from July through December 1862. He returned to the regiment in late January, 1863 and was with the regiment until wounded on September 19, 1863 at Chickamauga, the day John McBride was killed at Chickamauga.

Tab 9

Undated [January, 1863], Stones River, Murfreesboro, Tennessee: To His Mother

Camp on Stone River near Murfreesboro Tenn

Dear Mother. We are again settled down in camp and I suppose we will stay some time. We have been through a most terrible siege of hardships and I have not much news to tell except the fight so I will give it by detail. We started on the march on the 26th of Dec. Marched slowly all day through the rain, had some little skirmishing and was on picket at night without any fire. Slowly the night went on without any supper, hard bread alone. In the morning we started again it having rained all night and was still raining. We were soaked through and no fire to dry by. The next day passed the same except more fighting went on. Sundown came and it cleared up for the first time. We made our fires and began to get supper and dry our blankets which took us nearly night and got little or no sleep. Having eat up our rations we had nothing to eat. Sunday we lay still with the exception of small foraging parties which were sent out to get grub. They got some fresh pork which we cooked that night and put in our haversacks and had nothing to eat but that for three days. Monday we started, marched about two hours and it began to rain again. We marched till after dark and camped near the rebels pickets and we was not allowed any fire at all till daylight. We got about a cup full of flour a piece which we had to mix up and bake on sticks. Some had salt and some had none. We shelled corn and threw it in the fire to roast. Tuesday the 30th we marched about 2 miles and run onto their pickets. Then the fight began. One regiment was thrown out as skirmishers, we laid down back of the reserve but it was not long till they began to shell us. The second one they shot went through our Co and wounded three. Broke one's leg twice, one was wounded in the hand slightly and the other on the thigh. The fighting in front was kept up till night closed the action. Wednesday the 31 we were ordered out and took our position on the line but were attacked as soon as we moved. They came out of the wood yelling and charged on our battery but we drove them back. They then went towards the right and surprised general Johnson, his men were having their breakfast. They advanced within 40 rods before his men took their guns. Although his men fought well he was routed and driven back losing his battery. We then seeing his battery taken made a charge toward their battery which made them leave Johnson's and protect their own so four of the guns were taken back. They then opened their artillery on us. We had to retreat to our old position but still they advanced on Johnson's division and drove him back till it changed our front from south to the west. Just then our Brigadier general Roberts was shot and Col Harrington of the 27th fell mortally wounded.

We had no orders for an hour and all the time under a hot shelling on our right and left flank and directly in front being almost surrounded. Our Col then took command of the brigade and retreated back to the new line which was forming. They followed Johnson up closely. Houghtaling's battery was the one in our brigade and before we fell back his horses were all killed and two thirds of his men were killed, but he fired his last shot at them and was unable to bring his guns off from the field so they were taken. We then formed in line to wait till the 27th got ammunition but were soon attacked again and were ordered to charge on the rebs with loaded guns and unfixed bayonets which we did at our own risk and such a yell went up, at full speed we rushed on and routed them and such a scattering of men I never saw before, they ran every way. We poured our bullets into them so thick they dropped in every direction. The regt halted but I wished for spoils. I ran on about 20 rods and found 8 of them hid in a cave in the rocks. When I came up one of them was going to shoot me but I stepped behind an oak tree and was going to fire when they threw up their hands and they were mine. I took them to the Col. He sent me with them to Gen McCook where they were taken care of. I then joined the regt and they didn't attack us again that day. The dead lay strewed over the ground. It began to rain and rained all night and the next day we were allowed no fire at all. We were ordered to bring rails from the fences to make breastworks and cover them with cedar bows to hide our position. We layed behind there till the next day afternoon when they again advanced and not seeing our position they rushed on and were about to charge on a battery when we raised from behind our works and poured such a volley into them that they hid in the rocks and buildings for protecting. Having killed their Col and some Capts we then sent out skirmishers and got in the rear of the horses and ordered them to surrender which they did. Then one hundred fifteen more belonged to the 51st. We had no more hard fighting except the two days, but they attacked the left next day and we fairly slaughtered them. There was five days of hard fighting and had it not been for Johnson they would not have made a beginning to what they did. Those that were at Shiloh say it was nowhere to this one. Our train being captured we had nothing to eat but fresh meat and corn.

Uncle [David Christian, Co. D] was back at N[ashville] with the wagons. He feels sorry to think that he was not in the fracas Saturday and Sunday. They evacuated through the rain and mud and had it not been for Johnson I think they would have been prisoners. General R[osecrans] having sent cavalry around and cut off their railroad they had to take it on foot, cavalry and artillery chased them beyond Tullahoma as they retreated. They must have suffered awfully for they had brick ovens built inside their tents and were as comfortable as though they were in houses. It is getting dark so fall in for roll call. So goodnight.

Saturday morning after breakfast
General Rosecrans after seeing Johnson's conduct rode up and uttered an oath at him and told him he might consider himself retired of his command. Rosecrans is as curious a man as I ever saw. He rode up one day while the fight was going on, stopped behind our reg, looked through the woods once or twice and said, "See here", "Look here". Of course we all looked towards him. Says he, "Do you see that man over there? He is spying you out and trying to get a battery on you. He will shell you out of here if you don't look out". He then rode along smiling but we all knew it was only for a joke that he did that. Sunday he rode along and as he came up each regt gave him three hearty cheers that made the earth fairly shake. The prisoners that we took said our brigade fought General Hardee's whole division all the while Johnson was falling back. Hardee himself said he did not know what we were made of. He said we more than fought. Uncle came out Monday and said he had not had the honor to be in the fight but he wanted to go over the battleground so I went with him. Such sights I never want to see again. One place we found 13 of their men in one pile and some of them were half carried away by cannon balls. Our men were not half so badly mangled as theirs. Where we fought there was about 16 of them to 13 of ours but on the left they lost 3 to our 1. The reason they killed so many on the right was Johnson's being surprised, retreating under heavy fire from their artillery. There was between 70 and 80 wounded and killed in our regt. None of Co D was killed, 6 were wounded and two missing. Our colors were shot down twice, one of the sergeants killed the other wounded. In the heat of the action a cannon ball struck our Col's horse and knocked the Col from the saddle killing the horse but not hurting the Col. He is in command of the brigade now. We are all well now. I have not heard from home for a good while. Our Capt has not come yet. Write soon. Goodbye from your affectionate son, J. L. to his loving mother.

Let this answer for all the folks this time if you can. Please send a Tribune. We have heard that Richmond was taken. Is it so or not? If it is Secesh is about played out. Good bye.

Other materials on this website relative to Stones River: Edward Tabler's Diary, Edward Burns' Diary, 1862 Regimental Journal, Albert Eads biographical sketch.

Tab 10

January 17, 1863, Stones River, Murfreesboro, Tennessee: To His Mother

Camp on Stone River near
Murfreesboro Tenn Jan 17 A.D. 1863

Dear Mother, I received yours of the 25th and 26 Tuesday last, but it has rained and snowed ever since so I have not had much chance to write until today. We were on picket on Wednesday. It rained all the time and raised the streams so we had to wade to camp after standing all night around a fire when not on post to try and keep warm. We waded to camp in water above our knees. Got to camp and it began to hail and snow and froze up. This morning is clear and cold, two inches of snow on the ground.

The mail came in this morning but none for me. Willie got his things that was sent by Johnson, but our officers don't come for some reason, we know not what. We heard they were at Springfield. I guess I will know when I get my package if they fool around a little more. If they don't come before long we will have some new ones put in that have been with the Co through the trials we have been through. Uncle got a letter the other day from home, one from Aunt and one from George. He is well now. Denis is well. Willie is going back to the Co so uncle says.

I wrote to both you and Marcella last week and sent a picture case on Monday. I guess Marcia has got her eye on the P for she has not looked this way for some time. I wrote to her once since she went back to Marion and she has not answered it. It may be that that letter from A. B. Hummel has engaged her thoughts for some time. That was quite a trick. Don't let her know what is in this or she will never forgive me if she finds it out.

Our cavalry and artillery with some regiments of infantry chased the rebs beyond McMinnville some 30 miles. The railroad is running from the N[orth] to Murfreesboro now. We have plenty of rations now. I think this spring will about close up this thing. One or more fights will whip them. Grant and Sherman will soon have Vicksburg and Sigel and Burnside will take Fredericksburg. Then they will surely be broken up. I think Sigel is the best general in the east.

Well it is near the bottom and I will close. Goodbye. Kiss little Curlyhead like a dickens. Love to all. Have you heard from father yet or not?

From J. L. McBride
to his loving mother

Uncle = David Christian, also Company D, 51st Illinois.
Willie = William Christian, David Christian's son, member of 19th Illinois Infantry.
Aunt = David Christian's wife, Lucy.
George = Another son of David Christian, five years William's junior. Marcia and Marcella = two of John McBride's sisters.
Marion = the McBride family home town in Ogle County, Illinois.
A. B. Hummel = Albert B. Hummel of Ogle County, Illinois, who enlisted in the 92nd Illinois Infantry in August, 1862. Hummel died in Nashville, in mid-1863, of disease. He was 25.

Tab 11

February 4, 1863, Stones River, Murfreesboro, Tennessee: To His Mother

Camp Bradley near Murfreesborough Tenn.
Wednesday Feb 4[1863]

Dear Mother, I said in Marcella's letter that I would write to you yesterday, but I did not for a good reason. The regt was on picket, but I did not go for I had a sick turn at my stomach and was excused. I am better today. The things you sent me came all safe and in good time. Father and Marcella wrote that you and Robert had been sick which I was sorry to hear. I think if they let the sick folks be sick for two weeks without letting me know it that I will hold up on them for a while. I have always let them know when I was sick and want the same in return. We are all pretty well now. The weather is cold and colds are plenty.

The Capt and Lieut look fresh and healthy. Cummings says that father can lay down the doctrine right. For my part I don't see why father is so down hearted. I think he could get some good business if he had good heart and would try. We are going to get two months pay before long, at least the pay roll is ordered to be made out for two months.

Lieut Col Raymond is back to the regt, in command of the regt. Marcia has not written to me for more than a month. I think I have written to her several times without answer. Capt Boyd I hear is in C[hicago]. Well, it is fall in — the long roll — that is, fight. Good bye.

Well, no great disturbance, only they attacked our forage train and so we were ordered out. I did not have to go. I hear the artillery booming away now.

They don't like our way of feeding mules and horses and the peculiar way we have of paying for our chickens. Our men took Shelbyville the other day with about 300 prisoners. We don't hear from the Potomac lately. We get no papers at all. I would like to hear something about how things are progressing. Please write soon and tell us how things look in Illinois for it is very necessary for a general to know how the rear as well as the front is getting along. Give my love to all. Good bye for the present. Write soon.

To my loving mother Clarissa McBride — From your son J. L.

Marcella - one of John McBride's older sisters.
Robert = younger brother of John McBride.
Capt and Lieut = Captain Theodore Brown and Lieutenant Thomas Cummings, returned from recruiting efforts in Illinois.

Tab 12

February 8, 1863, Stones River, Murfreesboro, Tennessee: To His Mother

Camp Bradley on Stone River
Sunday Feb 8 near Murfreesboro Tenn.

Dear Mother, I still will write if I cannot get any answers in return. I have written all the time regular, two or three times a week sometimes, since the battle [Stones River] and have not received an answer for one of them. I don't know what to think of it—whether you are all sick and cannot write or if you do write and it don't get to me. I had a terrible dream last night which I don't know whether my hard couch or some presentiment made me dream, but if I don't hear from home before long I will begin to think there is something in it.

Have you heard from Marcia lately? She has not written to me yet since the battle. There was a large mail came in for our Co[mpany] yesterday and I thought I would get some but none, neither for Uncle or myself.

I was down to the river yesterday and washed my clothes and then had a good bath. we are all very well now and feeling well. We hear very little news, only from secesh which we get now and then. I would like to hear how the upper part of the world gets along. I wrote to Marcella sometime ago and her envelopes, being directed [addressed], I forgot to put on a stamp so it went without one.

I think if they would do something on the Potomac we would stand some chance of getting out of this before long. Every little thing they do is made a great blow of and then they are good for 90 days in camp. They have never done anything yet and it bids fair that they never will do anything except be an expense to the government.

How do the folks in chicago like the proclamation and the arming of two or three hundred thousand blacks? I think it will do if they don't take them east and pet them up till they think it is wicked to fight. "We will rally round the flag, boys. We'll rally once again. Shouting the battle cry of freedom."

Has father got in to any business yet? Is Marcia teaching school yet? Have you heard from uncle robert's folks lately? Was it true that them boys of the 92[nd Illinois Infantry] left their Co in time of the battle?

Is all the family well? Don't answer all of these questions if you have not the time. Write soon. I will close. The mail just came in, none for me. Good bye. Love to all. Kiss the little Clara Nellie for me.

From your affectionate son
J. L. McBride

Marcia and Marcella - older sisters of John McBride.

Tab 12a

March 3, 1863, Nashville, Tennessee: To His Mother & Sister Marcella

Camp on Stone River
Tuesday March 3rd 1863

Dear Mother, I will try to write another sheet full if I can. I have not got any letters since I wrote you last. We were paid four months pay yesterday and last night we had orders to ready to march with five days rations in our haversacks by four oclock but did not go, so I take the opportunity of writing and will send some money. We are all well now and we don't expect to stay here long. The 19th [Illinois Infantry] were out day before yesterday and surprised a company of secesh and took between 150 and 200 prisoners.

I got all of my money which I lent without any trouble. The weather is clear and cool for the last three days and I think we will have some good weather for marching in 31 days March.

There is going to be a roll of honor in each brigade of the army of the Cumberland, three out of each company to be eleted by the members of the company and are to be the men picked for the deeds of daring - for some particular purpose in the next fight I expect. They are to be well armed and mounted - armed with five-shooters if they can be got and are to stay at brigade headquarters until called upon for service.

Marcella said I did not tell what my dream was and that I said I had a hard cough and yet called myself well. I think she made a mistake. I said couch. I have had no cough at all.

It is reported that the rebels are evacuating Vicksburg and are coming to fight Rosecrans. Let them come. He is good for them.

If our sutler goes to Chicago, I will send the most of my money by him. He will go in a few days if he goes at all. Find enclosed $10. I will finish to Marcella.
Your son
J. L. McBride to Mother.

Dear Sister, I have received your letters lately dated in Jan, and I hope you will excuse me for not writing sooner. We are still here but don't expect to stay long. We were paid yesterday.

I was over to see Willie yesterday. He looks well as usual. I got a letter from Frank C and William Murtfeldt the other day. They are at Nashville. How I would like to go and see them but we cannot get any passes. The cars bring all of our provisions now to M[urfreesboro]. We had a chance to stay at Murfreesboro, but old Sheridan wants to get another star on his shoulder so he said he would go in front.

Well, excuse me this time - so good bye for now. Love to all. How is father? Write soon.
From your brother to sister Marcella.

Frank C = perhaps Frank Crowell, of Ogle County. He was a member of Company B, Ninety-Second Illinois.
William Murtfeldt was a private in Company B of the Ninety-Second Illinois. Murtfeldt was from Ogle County, Illinois, as was John McBride.

Tab 12b

March 19, 1863, Murfreesboro, Tennessee: To His Mother

Camp Bradley
March the 19th 1863

Dear Mother, I will again sit down to write you a few lines and hope you will excuse me for putting it off so long as I have. We have moved our Camp about 1 mile from where it was before, to get on better ground. We moved yesterday. The day before we were on picket. I expected to hear from home about the money I sent first. I have sent $30 dollars in all, $20 the first time which I sent before we went on our tromp to Columbia, $10 in each letter. I will send some more when that gets through.

We had our election of candidates for the roll of honor. I was one of the first three to be mounted for cavalry. There is two more which stay with the company in case of sickness or proof of cowardice of the first three. We expect to get our horses and saddles soon, and our arms are to be the five shooters, I believe. Some of our regt talk of getting the Henry Rifle 16 shooters. I don't think I can afford to pay for one. We don't know how much we can get them for at wholesale rate.

The report that Vicksburg is evacuated. [sic]

We are all well now. We have a splendid camp on the bank of the river and the weather is warm and dry. The peach trees are in bloom - fine prospects for another summer campaign where fruit will abound in great quantity.

I have not had a letter from you since I wrote to Marcia, but I had not answered all I got before that. I owe Marcella one or two. I believe she she is only one which I don't do justice and I don't believe I do her justice [sic]. I will write to her as soon as I get through with this one.

I have got this well blotted up finally.

I found the 92nd [Illinois Infantry] when we were out at C[olumbia]. A. B. Hummel is dead. I saw most of the boys from Marion there. That is all now so I will close. Love to all Good bye from your son
J. L. McBride
To my Mother Mrs. C. S. McBride

Tromp to Columbia = For ten days, starting on March 4, the Fifty-First along with sister regiments, moved rapidly to Eagleville, Franklin, Spring Hill, and Columbia, Tennessee, chasing off Confederate forces under Earl Van Dorn. They returned again to their previous camp a few miles south of Murfreesboro.
Albert B. Hummel, like McBride, was from Ogle County, Illinois. He enlisted in the 92nd Illinois Infantry in August, 1862. Hummel died in Nashville of disease, at age 25.
Marion was McBride's hometown in Ogle County, Illinois.

Tab 12c

March 22, 1863, Murfreesboro, Tennessee: To His Mother

Camp Shaffer On Stone River Near Murfreesboro Tenn
Monday March 22nd 1863

Dear Mother, as I have a little time now I will try to let you know how we are. We are well and have been on grand review today after coming off picket this morning. There was some fighting on the picket lines last night and our cavalry driven in. We ha a splendid display of infantry and artillery.

Gen Rosecrans rode along the line with some of his customary remarks such as, boys it is impossible to make a good soldier without you give him plenty to eat. A sergeant ought to have enough of every thing and some to lend, that is hard bread, meat, and coffee.

It is raining today or rather sprinkling, the first it has done for some time.

I got the Tribune which had the history of the 39th and 8th Cavalry day before yesterday. Have not got any other mail since I wrote last. Uncle wrote a long letter home yesterday. I have not heard any thing more about furloughs. I think they ought to make the conscript act take effect before June or they will have a sickly set of soldiers to drill in this warm climate. I think the Rebels intend to fight us here before long. They seem to watch every movement which is made and have attacked our outposts several times. It is reported that they have several negro regiments in front of us, but I guess they had rather fight on our side as a general thing. They most of them know which side the butter is on ................ [sic].

Tuesday March 23rd 63

Still raining. No mail for me last night. I would have finished last night but I had no envelopes. All well. We had a good game of ball this morning after breakfast.

Have just finished dinner. I have a big pig-pen in my left eye which bothers me some. Well, it don't pay to write such trash, so I will close.
Your son
J. L. McBride

P. S. I sent $5 dollars in my last. Will send $5 dol more in this one.
Love to all, goodbye to my loving Mother C. S. McBride

Tromp to Columbia = For ten days, starting on March 4, the Fifty-First along with sister regiments, moved rapidly to Eagleville, Franklin, Spring Hill, and Columbia, Tennessee, chasing off Confederate forces under Earl Van Dorn. They returned again to their previous camp a few miles south of Murfreesboro.
Albert B. Hummel, like McBride, was from Ogle County, Illinois. He enlisted in the 92nd Illinois Infantry in August, 1862. Hummel died in Nashville of disease, at age 25.
Marion was McBride's hometown in Ogle County, Illinois.

Tab 12d

April 6, 1863, Murfreesboro, Tennessee: To His Mother

Camp Shaffer Murfreesboro Tenn
April 6

Dear Mother, I have been expecting a letter from you for several days, so I have put off writing sooner, but none seems to come, so I will write anyhow. Day before yesterday I wrote to the girls, or rather O[ld] M[aids], and sent Marcella $10 dollars. Yesterday we were paid another two months pay.

Uncle & Willie are well. Willie got a letter from home of the 28th saying that father was worse, had taken a relapse.

Well here comes the mail. Just as I had given it up here comes two letters from you of March 31st and April 1st. I was glad to hear that father was well or at least better. You said you wanted to send me something but I had not told you what I wanted. I don't know as I need anything except vegetables. We drew about one good potatoe —I have forgotten how to spell it— a piece the other day. The only ones we have drawn for three or four months.

I saw Denis yesterday. He is well. In fact all the troops are very healthy here now. You spoke of Willie being homesick and discouraged. He has been out of the company a good while and he is sorry for not being in the fight & now going back into the company. Don't make a very pleasant situation.

Well, I have got to go on battalion drill, so I will finish afterward. The call is beating. Yours.

Well, drill is over. You said Mr. Lansing was well. Please remember me to him. The sutler has not got here yet, but we expect him every day. I went down to see and get uncle to make me a box to send my blanket & overcoat and two jackets, one of which I drew on purpose to send home.

You said the rebels seemed to be hard up for provisions now, but I think that is played out. And, another thing, if the whole southern Confederacy were to come on to Gen. Rosecrans, they would not make enough to pay their shoe leather in coming. He is ready for them. Uncle said he would wait until he saw if he could go home and then would make a box that would hold all of our things.
Well, good bye, yours truely
J. M. McBride - To my Mother

My other letter was from Henry. Find enclosed $10 dollars - and 50 cts for Freddie.


Uncle = McBride's Uncle David Christian, also a member of Company D. Christian was the regimental carpenter, so his nephew might well ask him to build him a shipping box.
Willie = David Christian's son, William Christian, a private in the Nineteenth Illinois Infantry. In his letter of December 25, 1862, John McBride mentioned that Willie was on detached service from his company—working as sutler's clerk.

Tab 13

May 10, 1863, Murfreesboro, Tennessee: To His Mother

Camp Schaffer near Murfreesboro Tenn
Sunday May 10th 1863

Dear Mother, I received your letter of Apr 3rd day before yesterday. Uncle got one at the same time. We are all well as usual now. the weather is very warm and beautiful. I expected to hear that my box of clothes had got home by this time, but it seems it has not yet. We have orders to pack all our things that we don't need in boxes and send them over to the quartermaster for storage at Murfreesboro.

We heard yesterday and the day before that General Hooker had got whipped like a dickens but I guess it is not so for reports contradict that now.

Selwyn and Henry ought to make their journey on one days rations. I hope uncle and father will succeed well in getting a farm that suits them.

I saw Daniel Ferrell the other day. he belongs to the 74th [Illinois Infantry]. He said Eugene Everts was dead. John Frane is 2nd lieut in his Co[mpany]. He is getting along pretty well. I don't see while they are fighting at Richmond that they don't make an attack on Charleston, if Beauregard has gone to Richmond.

You spoke of Cal Hawkins of the 1st Tenn regt lecturing there. All the east Tennessee officers and men are of the right stripe. I don't know that I ever mentioned haring Parson Brownlow's speaking in Nashville while we were there last fall. Uncle and I went to hear him. He is as good a speaker as I ever heard. He would not leave root or branch of the southern confederacy but would reduce the South to a territory and hang the last of its leaders.

Well, hurrah for Hooker. dispatches just came that Richmond is ours. May it be so! The regt fell in and gave three cheers for Major General Joseph Hooker. Well, have not much to write so excuse poor letter if you can read it at all. Love to all.

Good bye from your son.
John. L. McBride

Daniel Ferrell was from Ogle County, Illinois, as was John McBride. Ferrell survived the war.
Eugene Everts died of disease in a military hospital in New Albany, Indiana in April, 1863.
John Frane was also from Ogle County. He was a second lieutenant of the Thirty-Ninth Illinois Infantry, which served in the Virginia theater of the war (where Frane was killed in 1864) His brother Jacob Frane was a member of the Ninety-Second Illinois. The Franes were close neighbors of the McBrides in Ogle County, Illnois.
Parson [William Gannaway] Brownlow was a famous Tennessee Unionist, radical in his speech and objectives, as McBride indicates. He was a preacher and a newspaperman and a slave owner. After the war he was governor of Tennessee and U.S. senator from Tennessee.
Hooker had not even come close to capturing Richmond.

Tab 14

June 4, 1863, Murfreesboro, Tennessee: To His Mother

To My Very Dear Mother C. McBride
Camp Schaffer near Murfreesboro Tenn.
June 4th 1863

Dear Mother. As we have marching orders and expect to have a little fight, I will send a few lines to you before it is too late. We were ordered this morning to get 4 days rations in our knapsacks and 3 days in our haversacks and be ready to march immediately so we have been waiting for the call to beat to go forward on our mission.

It is reported that General A. Burnside reached Murfreesboro last night to see General Rosecrans. We have heard cannonading on the left of the Shelbyville pike nearly all day. Still we wait for orders.

We are all well. Willie was over today. Has just gone back. He is well as usual. I have received only Marcia's letter for nearly two weeks. I would like to know how Clara is as she has been so sick. I got a letter from William Murtfeldt some time ago. Mr Cartright is their chaplain. They are at Franklin now. We have regular meetings now every evening, when it don't rain or are not on duty. Quite a revival has been going on all through the army of the Cumberland. We have a noble Chaplain, the only one in the Brigade and he preaches to all of them.

O, Mother pray for me that I may serve my God as well as my country. Forgive me for all my sins and follies at home and elsewhere that I may live a better soldier of the Cross. I have long tried to live as I should but my spirit and unbelief would master me. We have a good many praying men in our regiment and have formed an association for the benefit of others. We have meetings every night. Last night five or six came forward. Oh, what a glorious cause to enlist under!

Well it is getting late so I will close for this time. May God help me to pray and seek Him and be more faithful in his cause.

Goodbye From Your Unworthy Son.
John. L. McBride
To my mother Clarissa McBride

Marcia was one of John McBride's older sisters.
Willie was William Christian, John McBride's first cousin and a member of the 19th Illinois Infantry.
William Murtfeldt was a private in Company B of the 92nd Illinois. The chaplain of the 92nd was Barton Cartwright.

Tab 15

July 20, 1863, Univ. of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee: To His Mother

Camp at the University of the South
On top of the mountain
Monday July 20th 1863

Dear Mother. It has been some over three weeks since I have written home so I will improve this opportunity of writing. We have been marching nearly all the time and in 20 days there was only 3 days that it did not rain. We have marched over mountains and through valleys of mud and yet we are all well that came with us on the march. We have not had anything with us to sleep on or over us but a rubber blanket since we started and this the first opportunity we have had for writing. Our sutler came up this morning and money was out so I drew checks for $4 and got a pair of pants for $3 and some writing material. We had not had a change of clothes since we started till today and had no soap to wash them so we had to rinse them out and go ahead. Some of our brigade had some little fighting to do on the way but we had none. There was only two cannon fired at us the whole time. That was in front of Shelbyville.

Uncle came up a few days ago. He had been sick before he started and just got well enough to come up. When we came up here we went on six miles further and camped. There was burnt straw for several days and while we were there we had a splendid view of the rest of the country. We saw the jump off falls and the cliff where the celebrated murderer John Murrell threw a man off and his partner's name carved in the rocks — James Welles. Some of us went out on the point of the rocks and looked under and it looked as if we was swinging in the air. Then we went down under the falls and slipped under them between the rocks and water. It was a splendid sight to see.

We came back here on Tuesday to camp for time enough to get rations to go on. The cars run as far as Cowan Station now and rations are coming up today so we may go tomorrow or next day. I have received your letters and the girls' all along since I started and I hope this will do for all till I get another chance. This has to go without a stamp for I lost my pocket book on the march with $1.50 several stamps and Clara's curl of hair in it. I am glad we did not get paid in time or I might have lost the whole of my pay.

We think we will go to Huntsville, Alabama. That is the next station to Decatur so we don't expect to get our knapsacks till we get to the Tennessee River where we will be likely to stop for awhile.

It is now reported that General Bragg has mysteriously disappeared and is thought that some of his own men have killed him. You see that all that's kept us from being home in August was the defeat of the army of the Potomac. some say that Grant is going there now, and if he does he will lose all the honor he has gained every where else. Yesterday we went out six miles to our first camp, two regiments, ours and the 92nd, stayed over night and came in this morning. the rebel cavalry are recrossing the Tennessee and trying to pick up deserters and conscripts, but they will not stay long for we will be after them.

There are all kinds of fruit and berries ripe now, so we begin to live again. well, I am making such bad work that you cannot read it I guess, but I get in too big a hurry sometimes, yes most always and spoil the whole. Well, I went and got some soap this morning of uncle and took a kettle and washed everything clean, so I feel like scratching it off quick.

At the left our regiment is, or was, a foundation for the University of the South. The corner stone was laid. It was a splendid piece of granite, polished and as smooth as earthen ware. Some of our brigade probably who had practiced such work at home went in the night and tore it down and got the documents out and ruined the stone. I have a small piece in my pocket that I picked up the next day which I would like to get home somehow but expect I will have to throw them away. The Estelle Spring [now Estill Springs] where the sulphur springs are is the finest one I have seen. We waded 5 rivers one day coming through that. We had to put our accouterments and haversacks on our guns to keep them dry.

Well, supper is ready, so I will close. Give my best wishes to all the soldiers at Vicksburg. Love to all the folks. A kiss for Clara. From your unworthy but loving son
John L. McBride
To Mother C. McBride

For more on John Murrell, history and myth, see William Edward Henry's essay on this site: John Murrell, The Great Western Land Pirate, Again. Murrell's associate is usually thought to have been William Crenshaw. We don't know who McBride's "James Welles" carved in the rocks was.

Unbeknownst to the McBrides, the Fifty-First Illinois, and the army of which it was a part, they were all starting the final approaches to the great collision in northwestern Georgia, Chickamauga. The Fifty-First Illinois was moving southeast through Tennessee. Time was growing short for John McBride. The Illinois Adjutant General's report for the regiment read, "June 24, Twentieth Corps moved down the Shelbyville pike; 27th, marched to Beach's Grove. July 1, enter Tullahoma, which had been evacuated the night before. Joined in pursuit of the enemy to Elk River, Winchester and Cowan, Bragg retreating over the Cumberland mountains, and across the Tennessee River. Remained at Cowan until the 9th, then ascending the mountains, encamped on the summit on the site of “Southern University.” July 30, moved to Bridgeport, Alabama. September 2, crossed Tennessee River, and moved to foot of Sand Mountain. September 4, ascended the mountain; 5th, moved to Trenton, Georgia; 6th and 7th, marched down to Lookout Valley; 10th, to Winston's Gap; 11th, Alpine, Georgia; 14th, marched up Lookout Valley; 15th, from Stevens' Gap to McElmore's Cove."

Cowan Station was twenty miles southeast of Tullahoma, Tennessee. Sixty-five miles further to the east-southeast lay Chickamauga.

Tab 15a

August 2, 1863, Bridgeport, Alabama: To His Mother

Dear Mother, I received your and Father's letters yesterday sent by Maj Davis.

Last Tuesday Uncle and I got a pass to go see Willie. We went down to Cowan Station and saw Denis, and he went with us up to Decherd Station and stayed all night and the next morning we heard that our brigade had gone on, so we started to follow them. We had a good visit. Willie was well. We came back to Cowan and our brigade which was at the University, and Denis' brigade had done on, so we waited till the cars started for Stevenson, and we got on and rode to there and stayed one day, and then our teams came back from here for provisions and so came with them, and here we are on the Tenn river where we can talk with the rebs across the river all the time. This place was fully as well fortified as Tullahoma. We are within about 25 miles of Chattanooga now.

I got a letter from Marcia before we left the other camp. She was at uncle's. I wrote to her before I got it, for I knew she would be there from your letter. We was nice off before we left, and I sent $40 dollars by the Chaplain for him to draw in Chicago.

You spoke of going to Missouri with uncle's folks. Don't stay there on my account if you think you can do better somewhere else. I think if Father can get good work and good pay in Chicago, he had better stay there, for if he once gets started, he can do more than corn on a farm. If they have got a healthy place in Missouri, it will suit both uncle and father for they can raise most everything of all kinds.

Well, I will answer some things you said I never done. I never told you what I wanted, if I had a hat. Just now it would do first rate, but I suppose I will have one before you could get one to me. There is nothing comes better always than the pepper. Those cakes was something like living. We are well at present, so I will close after filling out my sheet. Write soon. I will answer Father's letter soon. My pen is poor so will say good bye.
From your son, John L. Mcbride to Mother
Kiss for Clara

Uncle = David Christian, McBride's mother's brother, also of the Fifty-First Illinois.
Maj Davis = Major Charles Davis of the Fifty-First Illinois.
University = University of the South at Sewanee, Tenneessee, where the Fifty-First Illinois and other regiments camped in July.
Clara = McBride's young sister.

Tab 16

August 13, 1863, Bridgeport, Alabama, fragment: To His Sister Marcella

Bridgeport Ala
Thursday Aug 13 - 63

Dear sister Marcella. I don't know whose turn it is to write nor I don't care as long as I have time to write to you. It has been so long since I wrote to you and so long since I have had a letter from you that I don't know who wrote last. I hope you will excuse me for not writing oftener to you for I have written very little to anyone but mother since we started from Murfreesboro. Here we are spared so long and ar enjoying ourselves pretty well in Dixie. We are getting well down in the heart of the confederacy on all sides except for in the east. I think the end begins to show itself now but there will be hard fighting somewhere yet. We don't get any news from Charleston now at all. I think we must be getting the worst of it there or we would get the news every day. We are well at present. It is raining and we have... [line breaks off here. Letter of August 17 to his mother continues the page.]

Tab 17

August 17, 1863, Bridgeport, Alabama: To His Mother

Bridgeport Ala
Monday Aug 17th 63

Dear Mother. I received your letter with the package you sent by the sergeant major and was glad that you were getting along well. The chaplain also came with him and last night held a meeting in one of the forts here. The eatables were delicious, but I'm afraid if I had such things to live on now I would have to go slow on them for awhile. We are well at present. You spoke of my being sick. When we started to see Willie, I was taken sick the morning we started and it lasted till the next morning when we got on the cars. It all left, so I did not mention it when I got here.

One thing I have to say is that the reason why I can never tell you what I want is because I cannot carry anything on a march, and if we are on a march it will most likely be lost. If you have another chance, don't send any tea or sugar for I have enough to last me for a great while now. The cheese, cakes, crackers, and candy were very nice. A kiss and Thank You for the envelopes and paper — could not have come in a better time. Our sutler has none now worth anything.

Friday night the bridge over the farther channel was set on fire by the rebs. Lieut Wright opened on them with artillery but the bridge was completely consumed.
You spoke of uncle getting a furlough before you go to Missouri. He don't know whether he can get one at all—whether dead or alive—or not. For a man has to be dead now 20 days before he can get his discharge.

Well, we are still driving them every place where we try. We don't hear from Charleston any more. You spoke of sending me papers. I get uncle's now when he reads them, so they go the rounds. The magazines I shall read and then let uncle have them, and he can let them go when he gets his furlough. I think he can get one now if only pushed through from headquarters.

Now I will close and write to Marcella. May we all live so as to make our home in heaven is my humble desire and prayer.

Excuse and accept this from your son.
J. L. McBride.
To My Mother C. McBride

Marcella = one of John McBride's older sisters. Uncle = David Christian of Company D, 51st Illinois. Willie = David Christian's son William Christian, a member of the 19th Illinois Infantry.

The Chickamauga page of this website details the course of the 51st Illinois to the battlefield and its actions there in the late afternoon of September 19, 1863.

Tab 18

September 21, 1863, Chattanooga, Tennessee: David Christian to His Wife Lucy

Chattanooga Sept 21 1863
My Dear Wife

As I have an opportunity to send this part way by private conveyance and as no mail leaves here until the battle is over I thought I would write you a line. I suppose you will have heard of the death of Lucien before this reaches you. If not I prefer to have you break it to his mother. Do it as gently as you can for it will break her heart anyway. I wrote you a line this morning stating something in relation to it. As I said this morning, as soon as I heard of our men having a fight with the secesh I went to the battle field. I was there sometime before I dare inquire about Lucien. You can imagine how I felt when I heard that he was shot. I started to try to get the body but found the rebels had possession of the ground. I was told if I attempted to go any farther I would be shot so I went back to the hospital. In about an hour our men came passing in on the double quick and formed a line back of the hospital. All that was able to walk was ordered to the front so I went with the rest. I went forward about 2 miles then sat down for about an hour but the crowd increased more and more until there was a regular stampede so I had to give up looking for Lucien's body for the present. The last words he was heard to say were "Come on boys. It is a shame for you to run." It was said his voice was heard above all the rest. The balls were flying so fast they were ordered to lay down. He raised his head and as he did so a ball struck him in the forehead. The boys picked him up and carried him and laid him beside a log intending to get him as soon as they could with safety but the rebs got possession of the field. As soon as I can I will go to search for him. They were only there about five minutes and half of the company were either killed or wounded.

I saw him in the morning of the day he was shot (he was shot on the 19th). He seemed to be very glad to see me and when I left him he put out his hand and shook hands with me and bid me goodbye. I don't know as he ever did the like before. As I was walking away I could but think how singular it was. I did not think they would have a battle that day. he looked very calm and pleasant, almost heavenly. His looks and actions impressed me very deeply. He was a good boy and I think he could not have died better prepared.

I have to stop writing as Mr. Barber is about to start. William is well, Sept 22.

From your affectionate husband,
D. W. Christian

John Lucien McBride was known as "Lucien" to his friends and family.

The Chickamauga page of this website details the course of the 51st Illinois to the battlefield and its actions there in the late afternoon of September 19, 1863.

Tab 19

September 22, 1863, Chattanooga, Chaplain Lewis Raymond to Clarissa McBride

"Tell Lucien's sisters..."

Chatanooga Tennessee
Sept 22, 1863

Dear Madam: With a sad heart I announce to you that your brave and noble boy is a martyr on the altar of his country. He fell shot through the head from the center of his forehead while shouting and urging his comrades on to the severe fight. The fire in which he fell brought down in a few minutes over 90 of our brave men. Col Bradley, Lieut Simons, Lieut Buck, Adjt Moody, Adjt Hall, Sergt Major Casey are among the officers that fell. Lieut Simons and Buck are killed, the others wounded. Capt Theodore Brown Co. D slightly, others severely. Several will lose a leg some an arm.

Since Saturday one of the most terrible battles has been raging that history ever recorded. Our army were obliged to fall back and many of the wounded and dead are in the hands of the rebels and your dear boy among them. But the rebels can not harm him now. He was breathing a short time after he fell but wholly insensible. May god in whom you trust sustain you in your deep affliction. Tell Lucien’s sisters we had not a braver boy in the regiment and the last thing he said was to shout - to urge on the boys. But you are not alone. Our regt has 20 killed and 95 wounded and over 30 missing. Our brigade is awfully cut to pieces. Many thousands in the whole army are killed and wounded.

The fight is not over. We have received reinforcements and we hope to whip the rebels soundly and end the war by the final issue of this and a few other victories. My hands are full. I just look after the wounded. We have many in the city.

In haste I am yours in deep sympathy, with sorrow. Hoping your loss may have been eternal gain to the loved son.

Lewis Raymond
Chaplain 51 Ill Vols

Some spellings of soldier names have been corrected.

Lieutenant Otis Moody died on the night of the battle, September 19. Sergeant Major Timothy Casey died about two weeks later.

Regimental casualties for the two days were around 150 (killed, wounded, and missing).

See, on this site, Chickamauga.

Tab 20

October 19, 1863, Austin Lansing to John and Clarissa McBride, Lucien's Parents

"The spirit that in them lived still walks abroad..."

Vicksburg Miss, Oct 19th, 1863

Dear Cousins John and Clarissa

I received yesterday a letter from Marcella confirming the painful report of the papers of Lucien's fall at Chicamauga. After the first news of the battle I closely watched the dailies and never shall I forget the pang of pain I experienced at the news office on Washington St on reading in the Chicago Tribune of Oct 3rd the name of Jas McBride in the list of the glorious 51 Ill. I felt that it was Lucien and though I had started for evening services at the M. E. church, I lost all heart for it and walked up to the new fortifications yet unfinished and unstained by blood and indulged alone my thoughts and emotions of sympathy and sorrow. Mr. Shores and Mr. Foote were deeply affected with sympathy for your deep bereavement.

I feel so deeply affected myself in the event of remembering Lucien so well, appreciating his native uprightness and generosity and his bright promise of noble and useful manhood and, above all, so profoundly sympathizing with his glowing self sacrificing patriotism that I am at a loss for words to address you. And words are of little worth.

You understand and embrace the comforting doctrine of an all pervading providence of unfailing wisdom and goodness and that divine grace is ready and sufficient for every need and sorrow. With him the trials of life and bitterness of death are alike forever past and in addition to the [?] of a soldier's life. May this last great sacrifice of life for our country enhance his eternal felicity.

I shall never forget how sacredly my mother cherished the name of Pettiah Thayer, her mother's brother, a lad of 18 who perished at the close of the struggle at Bunker Hill June 17, 1775. Him she had never seen yet how reverently and affectionately she perpetuated his name in the memories of her children. And now shall we not link with his in a union in a double sense fraternal the name of him we knew to love and admire. They shall never fade from the memories of my children through fault of mine. These youthful soldiers were not sacrificed in vain.

"The never fail who die in a good cause,
The block may soak their gore
Their heads may sadden in the sun
Their limbs be strung from city gates and prison walls
Yet the spirit that in them lived still walks abroad
And will at length conduct the world to universal freedom."

With the assurance that I think of you all with heartfelt sympathy and affection every working hour and remember you in the moments when I bid the world begone, let me simply commend you to the God of all grace and comfort. Though worn and broken I can truly say that through great and immeasurable dangers thus far the Lord has led me on. Thus far His love prolongs my days: and for what purpose of wisdom and mercy the dear God above can alone disclose.

We hear that Logan is fighting near Champion Hills with doubtful results and considerable loss. We do not hear of the 45th but the 124th Ill loses 50 which augers ill for our regt which is in the same brigade.
A. Lansing

Austin Lansing was a cousin and close neighbor of John McBride, Lucien's father. Lansing was a member of the 45th Illinois Infantry.

Mr. Shores and Mr. Foote were two other soldiers from Ogle County, Illinois, John McBride's home county. Freeman Shores and Anson Foote were members of the 45th Illinois (as was Austin Lansing)..