This letter was written by Major Francis (“Frank”) Asbury Dallam (1826-1868), the son of Josias Middlemore Dallam (1782-1846) and Frances Paca (1787-1841). Frank was married to Anna Marie McKee (1830-1911) in 1848.
Without an envelope, it is difficult to know who Dallam was addressing in his letter but it may have been his sister, Sarah E. Dallam who married, in 1857, to G. W. Armes. In the letter, Frank makes reference to matters associated with settling the estate of his deceased brother. This brother may have been Aquila Paca Dallam (1824-1863) of St. Louis, Missouri, who died unmarried on 30 December 1863.
A biography for Frank Dallam in the History of Hancock County, Ilinois, states that:
Francis Asbury Dallam was born in Butler County, Kentucky, September 1824 [should be 1826]. [In 1834,] whilst he was still a child, his father removed to the city of St. Louis, Missouri, where he was educated and soon became a practical printer. He soon took a high rank in his profession, and in 1846 became the editor of a newspaper, establishing the Miner’s Prospect at Patosi, in Missouri, and editing it in connection with Mr. Philip Ferguson. At St. Louis, he was married to Miss Anna McKee, of that city. In 1852 he established at Oquawka, in [Illinois], the Oquawka Plaindealer, which soon became extensively known as the ablest advocates of the principles of the old Whig party. The paper was a very successful enterprise and the reputation which he here acquired procured him an invitation to Quincy where in 1856 he edited the Republican in connection with Mr. H. V. Sullivan, and in the course of a few months united this paper with the Whig in which he was associated with John T. Morton. But in 1859 he returned again to Oquawka and resumed the editorship of the Plaindealer. He was, of course, a very decided advocate of Mr. Lincoln’s election to the Presidency and received from him the appointment of Postmaster of Oquawka. At the outbreak of the Rebellion, he was the first man in the place of his residence to volunteer in the army, where he became Captain of Company D of the 10th Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry with Morgan as its Colonel…
Frank Dallam enlisted as Captain of the 10th Illinois initially but was promoted to Full Major on 20 January 1862 at which time he accepted a commission in the U. S. Volunteers Adjutant General Department. He was not mustered out of the service until April 1865.
Headquarters 1st Brigade, 2d Division, 14th Army Corps
Chickamauga Station, Tennessee
February 13th 1864
Your letter of February 1st has been received and read with my most hardy approval regarding the future.
We have been at the above place (Chicamauga R. R. Station) a few days over a week, but are to be relieved by one of the other Brigade’s tomorrow when we are to return to our old camp near Rossville [Georgia], which though in another state, is but four or five miles distant. I have not been at Chattanooga lately but shall go the first of the week.
Capt. [Theodore] Wiseman has returned from his leave of absence but as he did not come out to this place, I have not yet seen him, but shall on our return to Rossville. The Capt. found him a wife while absent, and will probably not remain long in the army.
What you wrote me in regard to my settling brother’s estate rather took me by surprise, as from all that Carrie has written me, I supposed it was perfectly understood that Esq. Cushman was to administer with the will annexed, and Spence was to attend to anything relating to it in Greene County. Carrie herself asked me if I would be willing to have someone appointed and suggested Esqr. Cushman and asked my opinion of him. She added that as I was absent she thought perhaps I would prefer having someone appointed to act in my place. In compliance with her request, I have given Cushman an order for the will. In the last letter I received from her, she said it was feared, if my return from the army was waited, someone would get appointed administrator that they would be unwilling to have do it. This was the reason it was thought best not to wait. Esqr. Cushman enclosed me a letter asking me to write to Davidson, directing Davidson to forward to him the will at once for the above reason. He had not then received the order from me to Davidson for its delivery. I wrote to Davidson as requested. I have since written to Esqr. Cushman giving him full authority to act in my stead, and wrote what I certainly should not have done, had I not supposed that it was understood by all as being under the circumstances their wish. Had I have been at home most unquestionably should have done it myself, however much I might have felt disinclined and when I do come if it is the wish I should do so, I will assume control of it.
As far as competency goes, anyone can administer on an estate when once on possession of all the facts in regard to it.
General [James Dada] Morgan is in command of the Division during the temporary absence of General [Jefferson Columbus] Davis. Col. [William B.] Anderson, 60th Illinois, is for the time commanding the Brigade. Now General Morgan has been placed in command of the Division, I think he will hardly get north. Wll not at least for the purpose of reorganizing his command.
Have heard nothing new. In fact, since we have been out here, we have been cut off from our regular supply of papers. Deserters continue to come in. The President’s Proclamation is doing good work. I saw three men today that had deserted from Arkansas Regiments. They generally come in squads of from three to a half dozen. I only see what happens to strike our brigade lines which is of course a very small proportion.
Accept thanks for the enclosure in your letter. I send you in return a letter from one of my correspondents. It being his first, you will not find it as interesting as they will be in the future. It is written by a fellow student of Prof. Dolbear’s Academy, ¹ now Reporter at the “U.S. Board of Claims” at Nashville, Tennessee.² It is written in reporting style. I wrote him today in reply. I have still another Phonographic Correspondent — a young man in an Indiana Regiment. Object — mutual improvement in the art.
Give love to all. I trust mother’s health has improved. My own good health continues. I will come home as soon as Samuel [“Uncle Sam”] is agreed to let me.
With love. Yours, — Frank
¹ There were advertisements for Professor Dolbear’s Writing and Book Keeping Academy in the newspapers in the mid 1850s. One advertisement appeared in the Mississippi Free Trader (Natchez) stating that the academy was to be held in the Masonic Hall at Natchez in 1854. In 1855, the same advertisement said the academy was to be conducted on Wabasha Street in St. Paul, Minnesota.
² On March 13, 1863, Major General William Rosecrans issued Special Field Order 69, which created a Board of Claims to assess financial claims brought against the United States Army for resources seized during the war. When filing claims in Nashville, Tennessee, citizens swore their loyalty to the Union and presented evidence that the army had appropriated, and offered no compensation for, “Forage Stock and other property.” Though the Board dissolved after completing its initial hearings, General Thomas soon reinstated the committee, with extended jurisdiction throughout middle Tennessee. The member of the board from Indiana whom Frank corresponded with must have been Captain Silas F. Allen (1832-1898), Co. C, 29th Indiana Infantry. Silas was the son of Lewis Allen (1797-1854) and Eliza Marvin (1805-1869).