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    Union Soldier John E. Deck Group of Twelve Letters. Deck served in Co. "A", Indian 57th Infantry and served through much of the war, enlisting in December of 1861, and mustering out in December 1865. Deck uses a variety of stationery, and all but tone of the letter is written in ink. He writes mainly about camp life, but often comments on morale and one particular has excellent content about skirmish. What follows are excerpts from a few of the letters.

    Writing from Murfreesboro in a letter dated March 5, 1863 he describes long scouting expeditions and hardships suffered "...I want you to take care of all my property and money...you stated that James S. Deck was in the prison at Camp Chase...I will write to him and I would like to know what regiment and what company...well yours and Jonathan's boys are in for it. Would do me good to meet with some friend in the army especially a cousin. I heard that the state authorities has demanded all the fire arms of the citizens...to be turned over to the state authorities to prevent treason...if those men up there would come down here and see where the army has marched through Kentucky and Tennessee where we have traveled for days and scarcely see a fence or hear a chicken...and hardly a house. They don't know what war is...they would never want it in their own state...they wont want to save another in the South again..."

    Writing again on April 3, 1863, he sends more news about scouting "...we have just been out on a scouting party of 11 days. This is great for the boys as we have all the chicken and fresh pork...we take everything we want...we are bringing all the Union families into our lines to feed and clothe them. This looks like doing the thing up right...the war will not last longer than this fall...we will go out on another scout in a few days..."

    Deck's letters are evenly numbered across all of his years in service. A January 4, 1864 letter describes the increasing shortages: "Camp near Blanes Cross Roads, Tenn...the times are very hard at present in the army...we don't get half enough to eat. We have been on half rations ever since the battle of Chickamauga and part the time on parched corn. We have been over one month without our tents and many of the boys without blankets or socks...I have wore my shirt over six weeks and don't know how much longer I will have to ware it before I can get another...there is a great many of the boys in the regiment agoing in the veteran service but they cant get old John in for their four hundred and two dollars yet...it is hard to catch Arnold Bird...we still think that we will go back to Chattanooga..." Despite protests expressed in this letter, Deck did in fact reenlist with the rest of his regiment. They rejoined the 4th Corps in early May, and saw action at Rocky Face Ridge and Resaca.


    Deck includes a good description of events at Rocky Face in a May 11, 1864 letter: "Camp near Dalton, Ga., May 11th, 1864...things look very hostile here. I was in a charge on the 9th...and by the blessing of god came out safe. There were none of the boys of our company hurt. There were only five wounded in our regiment and none killed. The ridge that we charged is called Rocky Face ridge and is in many places hardly wide enough on top for two men to walk in a file. What you might call a pile of rocks. The enemy is got one of the best positions here that ever I saw...we will hist [hoist] them out of here before long. Gen. Hooker has cut their communications in their rear and deserters...say that they have not got more then ten days rations on hand...if that is their condition they cant stay in their strong hold long...we have the news that Grant is a whipping Lee...at every point...the capture of Richmond is certain...I pray that the day will soon come that peace will be proclaimed in both North and South and be one people again as we were in the day of General Jackson..."

    In addition to the letters to his sister, the group includes a partial letter to his brother written from "Pits burg Batle ground April the 22nd 1862." The 57th had taken part in the Battle of Shiloh earlier in the month, and Deck takes a moment to write home to let his family know that he is well. This particular letter has heavy wear, and a repaired tear. Some chipping at bottom.

    Lastly in the group, is a muster roll for the 57th Indiana for the month of January 1864 listing Deck. The muster roll is in two pieces, separated at the central horizontal fold. It has heavy wear, and bits of paper loss. It is included only to assert Deck's membership in the 57th.

    Condition: Overall condition is good, with light wear. A few of the letters have light ink, not from fading, but from poor quality.


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    October, 2016
    19th Wednesday
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