The Missouri History Museum Archives has many collections that provide first-hand accounts of the Civil War. One such collection is the James E. Love Papers. James enlisted with a Union regiment in St. Louis in May 1861. When his regiment left St. Louis in June 1861, James started writing letters home to his fiancée Eliza Mary “Molly” Wilson. James continued to write these letters throughout his entire Civil War service. We believe this collection is unique because it documents not only one man’s experiences during the war, but also the great love story of James and Molly.
In this telegram, Molly’s brother R.B.M. Wilson, in Washington, Illinois, informs his friend in nearby Peoria, Dr. Murphy, that James was wounded and a prisoner, but all right. Molly might still have been visiting her brother and friends in Illinois. The telegram may indicate that the family had just received James’s letter from Atlanta dated October 10, and perhaps had not known James’s fate after the Battle of Chickamauga for over a month.
CATON LINES ILLINOIS & MISSISSIPPI TELEGRAPH COMPANY
On October 21, 1863, James arrived at the hospital at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, where Confederates primarily held Union officers. The building was originally a warehouse for Libby & Son, a ship chandlery, grocer, and commercial agent. It could be guarded easily and was accessible by railroad and river transportation. The prison was three stories high in the front and four stories in the back. The first floor of the building consisted of an office for the Confederates in the west room, a room for cooking in the middle, and a hospital in the east room.Read more »
After 10 days at a Confederate field hospital, James was transported, along with other wounded prisoners, to Atlanta, where he wrote this brief letter to Molly’s brother Alex. James’s name was not included in the lists of casualties published in the Daily Missouri Republican or the Missouri Democrat newspapers. However, many of the soldiers in James’s regiment, who saw him fall after being shot, believed that he had been killed.Read more »
As part of my research for the Civil War Love Letters series, I traveled to the three battlefields where James Love was present in the 1860s. I previously wrote about my visits to the Perryville Battlefield in Kentucky, the Stones River National Battlefield in Tennessee, and the Tennessee State Capitol building in Nashville. All these places marked important points in James’s military service.Read more »
On the morning of September 19, Major General George H. Thomas, who commanded a corps of the Union Army of the Cumberland, sent some of his men to capture a nearby Confederate brigade. Instead of finding an isolated brigade, they found the rear of Confederate general Braxton Bragg’s army, and started the Battle of Chickamauga. Over the next two days, Bragg’s troops fought the army of Union general William S. Rosecrans along several miles of the Lafayette road, which led to Chattanooga. On the first day, Bragg’s troops reached the road, but were repeatedly forced back.Read more »
Molly Kodner, Associate Archivist at the Missouri History Museum, is currently in Chickamauga to take part in the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga. She will be sending photos of the events via Twitter and will write a post on our blog next week about her experience. To see photos on Twitter, go to this link: https://twitter.com/cwloveletters Read more »
After a couple days in camp at Alpine, Georgia, James moved again, as General William S. Rosecrans concentrated his army after receiving reports of failed attacks by Confederate general Bragg against Rosecrans’s isolated corps. Major General Alexander McD. McCook, commander of the corps to which James belonged, received orders to move north to support the corps of Major General George H. Thomas as quickly as possible. On September 13, McCook’s corps started to move.Read more »
Since James wrote his last letter on September 6, he continued to move as part of General William S. Rosecrans’s Army of the Cumberland. On September 8, Rosecrans ordered his cavalry corps, commanded by Major General David S. Stanley, to make a reconnaissance toward Summerville and Alpine, Georgia, to determine the location of the enemy. Two brigades, including James’s, moved with the cavalry to provide support. On September 9, James marched from Valley Head, Alabama, across Lookout Mountain, to Neal’s Gap.Read more »
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