This letter was written by Leonard W. Lusted (1844-1923), the adopted son of George and Mary Lusted of Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin. [Leonard’s birth surname was Treat.]
Leonard enlisted August 12, 1862 at Lake Mills, Wisconsin and was mustered into the 3rd Independent Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery on September 12, 1862 at Madison, Wisconsin. At that time he was listed in the Battery Descriptive Book as an 18 year-old, 5′ 7″ tall farmer with dark hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion born in Watertown, Jefferson County, Wisconsin.
On the muster roll of Sep./Oct., 1863 Leonard was listed as absent at Stevenson, Alabama in care of battery horses. On the muster roll of Nov./Dec., 1863 he was again present with the battery. On the muster roll of Nov./Dec., 1864 he was detached and detailed by Special Order No. 25 dated December 19, 1864 of Major Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee to Company L of the 8th Independent Battery of Wisconsin Light Artillery. On the muster roll of Jan./Feb., 1865 he was listed as transferred to the 8th Wisconsin Independent Battery. On the muster roll of May/June, 1865 he was listed as having been transferred to the 6th Wisconsin Battery by Par VIII H.Q. No. 85. On July 3, 1865 he was mustered out of Federal Service with the 3rd Independent Battery of Wisconsin Light Artillery at Madison, Wisconsin. On the muster out roll it was noted that he was due the last $75.00 of his enlistment bounty.
According to the 3rd Wisconsin Battery roster and unit history, Pvt. Leonard Lusted was wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga. On September 20th, 1863, this battery was overwhelmed by Longstreet’s attack and lost 5 of 6 guns, sustained 26 casualties (including Pvt. Lusted), and had 33 of 36 horses on the guns killed. After Chickamauga, the unit was never reorganized or used as an active battery in the field, but instead was put on garrison duty in fortifications around Chattanooga or the men were detached to fill out other batteries in need of trained cannoneers or drivers. This is why Pvt. Lusted was transfered to other Wisconsin light artillery batteries. During the “siege of Chattanooga”, when Union forces including the 3rd Wisconsin Battery were bottled up in Chattanooga by Bragg’s Army of Tennessee, grain and fodder for the Union Army’s horses became so scarce that many horses died of starvation. For this reason, PVT Lusted and others were sent to Stevenson, AL, with the surviving horses so they could be fed and kept alive.
Leonard returned to his home in Lake Mills, Wisconsin after his discharge where he resided for one year. In 1866 he moved to Aztalan, Jefferson County, Wisconsin where he resided for one year. In 1867 he moved to Oakland, Jefferson County, Wisconsin, where he resided for about eight years. In about 1875 he moved to Milton, Rock County, Wisconsin, where he resided for three years. In about 1887 he moved to the vicinity of Bloomer, Chippewa County, Wisconsin, where he was a farmer and lived out the rest of his days. [Source: Louis Mosier]
These two letter were written in Kentucky while the 3rd Wisconsin Light Artillery Battery was attached to the 23rd Brigade (Col. Stanley Matthews, commanding), in the Sixth Division (Brig, Gen. Thomas J. Wood, commanding), of the 2nd Army Corps (Major General Thomas J. Crittenden, commanding).
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
September the 16th 1862
Mount Vernon, Kentucky
My Dear Father and Mother,
I am well and doing well. We have been marching ever since I wrote before and have been almost within a good shot of them and our cavalry went by them before they knew it and the Rebels fired into them cutting up pretty bad. We have had two or three skirmishes with them. They will run a little ways and then turn around and fire upon us. Their shells hummed over our heads and some of them bursted about twenty feet behind us. It made the boys start, you had better believe. We fired into them and dismounted one of their guns and smashed their wagons. We followed them until dark and then camped and before we could get our horses unharnessed, their cavalry came down the road to charge on us. Our pickets were going out and they fired into them and they turned and went back. In the morning, three of their men were found dead.
We shelled them out of Mount Washington and drove them out of Bardstown, Perrysville, and Danville, and they have came around into Bardstown but they won’t do it long. We have fought them for the last eight or nine days, have marched about fifty miles, and are going on all the time as fast as we can. There is dead horses all along the road and broken wagons plenty of them. We have taken some prisoners, how many don’t know, and some have deserted and came to us and a good many more would come if they could. They are the raggedest looking things that you ever saw. They say that they have not had half enough to eat and they want to be taken prisoners and released and go home. ____ the day with part of our army. We was not in it but I was on the next day. 30 dead rebels. Our men were all buried so that I did not see them. I saw eighty-four wounded rebels. They looked horrible. Some was hurt by a shell . ____ hit him in the head just above the head and is not expected to live from one hour to another. A rebel sergeant is taking care of them.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER 2
October the 17, 1862
Well we started out this morning and went about four miles and had to come back. We couldn’t go any farther. General Bragg has got where he can whip us and we can not touch him with our cannon but we have got some cavalry and some infantry after him. Our cavalry ran into some of his this morning and one of our colonels was killed.¹
The land is very hilly here and very thick woods such as beech, maple, walnut, butternut, chestnut, hog oak, hickory, birch, elm. The roads are awful. It is just like driving over a pile of big hard heads — all rocks and nothing else.
I would write oftener and let you know all about the affairs but I can’t get any postage stamp. They are a hard thing to get hold of. I would [like] to see you first rate and all the rest folks. I have not heard from home since I left. The boys are all well and doing well. I am getting fat as a hog and ain’t homesick a bit. I like this first rate. I could not get my likeness taken but I will sometime.
Direct your letters to Leonard Lusted, Louisville, Kentucky, Crittenden’s Division, 3rd Battery Wisconsin
¹ Military records indicate that there were cavalry skirmishes at Valley Woods and at Rocky Hill, Kentucky on 17 October 1862. Elements of Wheeler’s confederate cavalry were involved.