Letters of William Curtis Morgan
23rd Indiana Volunteers

These letters have come from Mr. Don Coatney.  I am so very grateful to him for allowing me to share them with you.  The letters of the Civil War are, to me, the most interesting facet of that time period.  They give us first hand insight to their feelings and the war. As with other letters I have included on the site, the letters have been kept just as they were written, with no spelling or grammatical corrections.  

My G Grandfather William Curtis Morgan served in the 53rd. Indiana Volunteers in the Civil War. His brother, Thomas Morgan and brother-in-law, Monroe Townsend, served in the Indiana 23rd Volunteers. Below is a transcribed letter he wrote home to his wife Mary Eveline Townsend Morgan.... 

Don Coatney

53rd IND on the Black River Tennessee

Dec the 2nd, 1863

Dear Mary,

I take my pen in hand again to scratch you a few line to let you know how I am getting along. We left Vicksburg on the 27th day of November and moved out here on Black river and the 23rd IND regiment came in our brigade and are camped by the side of us. Tom and the Boston (Indiana) Boys are all well. I was on picket last night and me and Thomas happened to get on the same post and stood together the first time after tha came in the brigade. I rote to you the 25th and sent you 5 dolars in the leter and promist to send 5 in this but our Sutler(?) was left back at Natchez so I will have to pay cash for every thing I get so I can't well spair it I have always paid the Sulter(?) every pay day. But I don't suppose you will need it if you get what I have sent. I want you to write how you are getting along and if you have money enough and be shure to write the name of the nearest express office. I have sent home 35 dolars out the last 52. I want you to write how much I have sent home in all I lost account.

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Pap has sold my horse to Nathan Charles for 75 dolars to be paid when Charles gets pay for the horse the union men took from him to chase Morgan out. Seargeant Burkey has gon home on a recruiting expedition. He took 15 dolars and a gun for me. He is going out to Paps to try to recruit in the vicinity. Linda Walkker rote to Wain Rodman and told him she got to waring a butternut Brespin. She said some of the boys didn't like it and wanted to no if Wain thought it any harm to wear one. Wain rote and told her he thought the Buternut color would suit her complexion very much. But told her if she wore that she needn't to write to him anymore. Well Mary I haven't got any leter from you since we left Natchez. I am getting anxious to here from you. Well Mary I did think that I would't write any love in my leters as you would want to lett the neighbors read them. But I am forced to exclaim in the language of the Reverant James Howell in his selebrated sermon at South Boston 

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that if I don't give in to my feeling I will bust wide open. But writing is a pore way for me to express my feelings for love cant be expressed with a pen. But I feel like if I had you in my arms I could tell you how well I do love you. When I lay down at night I think all our life over the many pleasant times we have had together and think how hapy we ought to have bin and how hapy we was then to what I am now. Well I make such a feeble attempt at telling my feeling I will quit for I recon you know me beter than I can describe my self and I don't think I have ever give you any cause to doubt my love and affection for you and you may be shure that I love no less than I ust to. I hope I will get a leter from you next male. So fare well for the present.

W.C. Morgan

Bird's Point Missouri

Sunday Morning

May 1,1864

Dear Father,

I take my pen in hand to let you know where we have landed at. We left New Albany on the 27th and arrived at Cairo late on the evening of the 29th. We were there a short time then moved across the Mississippi river to Bird's Point Missouri and are camped here in sight of Cairo. All the 23th Regiment came in last evening, but Thomas Morgan is not along them. He was left at New Albany. I suppose he will come through on the barges. General Gresham has gone to Huntsville Alabama with what troops there was here and Sam thinks we will follow and Sam thinks we will go to Nashville Tenn. I did not get to see Thomas in time to get my letters. If Mary is there give her this letter. I think we will leave here soon. There was five veteran regiments came down the Miss. River yesterday and there (5 words unreadable). No more at present.

W. C. Morgan

Letter to Father John Morgan South Boston, Washington County, Indiana

Clifton Tennessee

May the 14th 1864

Dear Mary,

I address you again from this point I thought when I last rote to you that I would be in the front before I rote again. But we are still here in Clinton we have been waiting for the fleet to arrive from Paducah with the balance of the troops for this expedition they arrived this morning 12 boats loaded with troops and I suppose we will start for Pulasky or Huntsville soon. We have no news here there was no boat come up the river since we came till this fleet came and we have had no news from Biloxi.


The 23rd IND came up with the fleet this morning. I saw Thomas and he told me you was going to stay in Washington county. I have rote 3 leters to you and directed them to Botley Hamilton County. The wether is getting extremely warm here we are in the Iron country. Here there is iron works all around here and the iron piled up along the pike like cord wood. We are camped on the pike leading from Clifton to Pulasky we will have a good pike road to march on to Pulasky. I think we will start as soon


AS THE TROOPS GET OFF THE FLEET. Thomas came through on the cars to Cairo. It did not cost him a cent to come I am glad. You are going to stay in Washington County I expected to get a leter from you when the fleet came but no leter came for me. I want you to write soon and let me know how you are getting along and tell me if you sent that money to your father or not. Your Afectionate husband.


Letter to Wife Mary E. (Townsend) Morgan

Oct 2,1862

Dear Mary,

I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope those few lines may find you as well as me. I received to letters from you since I last wrote and I was glad to here from you but I was very sorry to learn that the (?) a difficult. Between you and your father and I don't know of what to say about it I new what the difficult was about you have never rote any thing about it that I have got only that the (?) agreed for you to stay if you would furnish your own provisions that's the first and last I have heard of there being any difficult Well Mary I can't be with you so you must manage to suit yourself if I don't get sad. Disappointed I well send you (?) dollars in a few days and hope you can live independent. (Page Two) There will be 4 months wages due us tommorow and tha are waiting to pay us for 4 months at a time. I expect to draw 52 dollars in a few days and I will start 60 to you. I had no safe way of sending money and didn't no you was needing it as bad and was expecting to get paid in a few days so I giv 10 dolars in cash for 15 dolars at payday and got a new 20 dolar watch to keep in security to it is out of my power to send you any money till we get paid there is to be a government agent here to take our money to Indinoplis and I will have him to express mine to Memphis. I want you when you get the money to pay your father for your bord and then if tha don't want to keep you go some other plase and I will send money to pay your way. I don't want anybody to keep you for nothing it no my intention for any body for any body to keep you for nothing. I want you to rite what the (?) was about. (Page Three) I expect you have (?) a leter about it that I haven't got it. Mary I wish the time role round that I could come home and I wold try to provide some way for you to live and I think I cold live hapy. We have no comfort here the only consolation I have is thinking how happy I will be if I am so lucky as to get hom with you and (?) again. Well Mary I think if we ever get to keeping house again we will no how to enjoy life and I think we will ware the rebles out against, spring and get to come home. It seems to be the general opinion that the rebles can't possible hold up much longer is no corn or stock to be found any where about and the rebles is bound to starve out. There is no chance for anybody to get a furlo only wounded if tha get sick tha are either discharged or sent to hospital. I didn't happen to get any wounds at battle tha I was covered (Page Four) with blood from the wounded fellow soldiers by my side John Hodrite? Fell dead at my feet George Powers wound on one side of me and David Baker on the other and while I was on my nees loading my gun Lige Marten? (?) was has his head split open with a canon ball and fell across me covering me with blood and bones and there was very (?) of our regiment came of without (?) a mark either in skin or (?) close. General Hurlbert? Has been promoted to distrct? General and General Ord? Takes his place. Direct you leters to 4th division 2 brig 53 IND VOL Co E. Your last leter wasn't in care of Captin Peck and that other Morgan got it but brought it to me before he opened it.

W.C. Morgan

Letter to Wife Mary (Townsend) Morgan

Another transcribed letter William Curtis Morgan sent to his wife Mary (Townsend) Morgan. 

Don Coatney

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Vicksburg Miss.

Nov 25th ,1863

Dear Mary,

I take my pen in hand once more to let you know where we are and how we are getting along. We got our marching orders on the 22nd and left Natchez on the Steamer Empress at 12 m. Went up to the Water Proff bend and landed and marched across to Water Proof. Made a rush in the little town and captured 10 rebels, 10 horses and 7 mules. This was such a short march that we only had to go 2 miles and the boat had to go 18 miles to catch up. We waited till the boat came up, got aboard and proceeded up the river Nov 23rd. Stoped ( 3 Words Unreadable). Went ashore and marched across and captured 2 guerillas officers then got on the boat and proceeded up the river arrived at Vicksburg at 10 pm Nov 24th ,disembarked and marched out to camp. We are now camped at Fort Hill. The fort the 23rd undermined the 23rd and is out at Black river 12 miles from here on the Jackson railroad. General Grisham is going to try to get the 23rd in our Brigade. I have 25 dollars I want to send home but I don't know where to send ( 1 Word Unreadable) it so I will send you five dollars in this letter and five in the ( Missing Line) and will take it right to pap himself and that will be 40 dollars out the last 52 and that is about as good as I can doo for it take so much to keep me in tobacco here. If you get the 15 dolars I sent the 15th of this month and 10 I am going to send. It will do you till I draw again and pap will save that 15. I send by Berkey. If you need any more you can get that there is one month pay due us now. Bill Stewart is here in a Pioneer Corps. Lieutenant Loyal M. Gibson has just came back he has been home on furlo.

We are one hundred miles nearer home than Natchez so it won't take leters quite so long to go. Well Mary it such a cold windy day and we haven't got our tents yet so it is too disagreeable to rite much this time. I will rite again in a few days and send you some more money. So no more at present.

Your Afectionate Husband


Letter to Wife Mrs. Mary (Townsend) Morgan.

Write Soon

The following is a transcript of a two sided letter written in the hand of Nashville Coatney while he was in the Civil War as a member of the Indiana 13th Volunteers. 

Don Coatney

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Side one.

Holly Island. S.C. Nov. 13, 1863
Dear brother. It is with great pleasure that I seat myself in order that I mite write you a few lines to inform you of my good health. This leaves me well and I do hope it will find you and family well. I was very much suprised when I heard you had got back into Ind. I hadent heard from you for so long I thought you had gone under. But I still see you are alive and has tied your self to one of Adams Ribs. Well you must tell me what her name is and who she was before you married her. You said something about going back to Mo. (Missouri I think) You had better stay where you are until this cruel war is over. For it is uncertian that I will bee at home next June the 1st and I would like to see you. I long to get back in to the United States once more for I wouldent live in VA or MD or SC if they would give me the hole state. Here I am on this godforsaken island surrounded by water and only one house on it. And sand knee deep and hot enough to kill a pickled negro. Well I will close as I have to go on fatigue. I am at work at General Gilmores Headquarters building a picture gallery and as soon at it is done he is going to draw a landscape and give it to me. Write soon
Nashville Coatney to Jesse Coatney

side two

Holly Island SC. Nov.13th 1863
Dear brother. I now take pen in hand for the purpose of answering your kind letter whick came to hand a few days ago. It found me well and this leaves me the same and I hope it will find you and the family all well. I answered the letter you sent to me that is the one you spoke about. I wanted you to send me some post stamps but I dont know weather you got it so I will answer this one and expect an answer before I write again. There is great excitement here about the Veteran Corps. The officers of this regiment wants us to enlist for 3 years longer but I cant do it so I will not enlist until I get home. The bombardment of Charleston is still going on. I have not much new to write at this time but maybe I can give you some good news the next letter I write to you. So I will close as I want to write some to Jesse. So no more at present. Write soon.
Nashville Coatney to George Washington Coatney

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