This letter was written by Daniel Wandel Burt (1816-1892) of Van Wert, Ohio. Daniel was married to Catherine Creter (1821-1890) of Newcomerstown, Ohio.
Daniel wrote the letter to his son, 20 year-old Andrew S. Burt (1842-1936), a 5′ 6″ wiry red-headed seaman who was serving on board the USS Louisville at the time this letter was written in April 1862. From this letter it appears that he previously served — or had expected to serve — on the USS Cincinnati. Both ironclad gunboats participated in the attack on Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River and at Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River.
Van Wert [Ohio]
April 15, 1862
Andrew, yours of the 4th come to hand on last Thursday. I did not write being in hopes that I could get some word from our boys that was in the Battle of Pittsburgh Landing [Shiloh]. There is no letters come from them yet so I will write anyhow and let you know that we are all well & that is about all there is to write.
The weather is quite springlike today. I have been fixing up the garden planting peas, yellow raspberry’s &c. &c. Last week Persiby Brubaker fetched us or rather come home with Edgar & Augusta with some pop vines horseradish &c &c. Yesterday I got a deed for that land, paid $300 down & to pay $250 in one year. Mobus is fixing up the J____ C___ lot with fruit trees &c. &c. Ma___ that bought the Craft farm got here yesterday. Young Gleason’s house is progressing. They have the cellar dug & laying up the wall. They are at work at McCurdy’s building. I understand that there will be several new houses put up this season.
I am afraid that we will have sad news here before many days. I think by the paper I sent you today that Dr. [Capt. William] Smith [of Van Wert County] was in the hardest of the fight. He was in Col. [Thomas] Worthington’s [46th Ohio] Regiment & the 76th Regiment that Welling was in had a hard time under Lew Wallace. That was an awful battle & loss of life. Someone was very much to blame in not having pickets out in an enemy’s country. I think our army had no business to be on that side of the river where they knew the enemy was so much stronger than they were.
Your mother got a letter from New Comerstown today. Nothing new there. She says Dan Miskimmins [80th Ohio] is satisfied in the army but has hard times. I do not know where he is — she did not say. I can not see any account of that regiment in the late fight. I expect we will get a letter from you tomorrow or next day. I think by Sunday we will have a list of the dead & wounded, if any in Smith Company’s. [George W.] Hollinger [Co. F, 16th Ohio] is in town on furlough. I have not seen him. [William S.] Ainsworth [Co. H, 15th Ohio] has returned.
Business on the railroad is good. I think we can turn our cattle out to pasture by the first of May. Liz says Aunt Sarah has wrote you a letter. I suppose she has directed it to the [USS] Cincinnati. You had better get Nute to see if any letters go to that boat for you & send them to you. I hope you have been to Island No. 10. I wish you could have been there to have seen them cave in as they did. I suppose you have seen a great many of the prisoners. I hope the gun boats will make a dash on Memphis before the enemy get it strongly fortified. If we can take it, it will cut off reinforcements from the river & the West. There will be a big fight at Corinth yet or a big run. [Gen. O. McKnight] Mitchel’s taken possession of Huntsville. And 100 miles of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad is a great thing to cut off recruits & retreat in that direction. And if he is needed at Corinth, he can be on hand in short order.
[Gen. George] McClellan is fighting at Yorktown. I think he will give them fits there. They have a large force. The papers say today that the enemy say that they have 120,000. We can get all the men we want which I suppose is the reason that they do not push ahead faster. We are pushing more men there. The Island No. 10 is the best fight of the war. It was slow but sure. If the Yorktown battle comes off as well, it will make up for the blunder at Pittsburg Landing in part but it can never restore to life the thousands of fathers, brothers & sons that was sacrificed by carelessness.
You must write as often as once a week. I will send a paper when anything important happens & the Bulentine & Tribune every week. I will go to Crestline tomorrow. If anything new in the morning, I will write. Your mother or Emeline may want to say something.
Yours, &c. — D. W. Burt