This letter was written from a Union soldier named George to his sister. There is no regimental affiliation attached to the letter and there is no envelope to aid further in the identification of the correspondents. The letter reveal that the soldier’s regiment belonged to Robert S. Granger’s Brigade in the District of Northern Alabama. This brigade consisted on three infantry units in July 1864 — the 102nd Ohio, the 13th Wisconsin, and the 73rd Indiana. The only full name of a soldier revealed in the letter was Jacob Bireley (author’s spelling). By searching the rosters of the three regiments, I found a Corp. Jacob Bierly in Co. E, 102nd Ohio. I then proceeded to cull through the roster looking for soldiers named George.
My hunch is that this letter was written by Pvt. George Tarres (1841-1923) of Co. E, 102nd Ohio Infantry. The only other member named George of the same company who was still on the roster after January 1864 and served until he was mustered out with the regiment was Pvt. George Worley (1841-1910). See also George Worley. George Worley was one of ten children born to David and Elizabeth (Althouse) Worley.
If written by George Tarres, he probably wrote the letter to his sister Margaret Jane Tarres (1844-1910). After the war, George and his sister Margaret lived together on a farm one mile east of Bellville, Ohio. They were the children of William Tarres (1812-1893) and Jane Dunlap Smith (1811-1885).
July the 25th 1864
I take this opportunity of penning you a few lines to inform you that we are well as usual and hope when these few lines come to hand that they may find you all well and hearty. I received a letter from you today dated July the 16th. It seems to take the letter a long time to come and go from here. You spoke of some of the letters coming by way of Louisville but they all go through Nashville. I guess there is not any of them marked until they get to Nashville unless they go to Decatur and go on the other road. But still they would go through Nashville. If the last one that I sent you only gets through, it will be a fine thing for it has twenty dollars in it.
If you had of only went along with them young folks on the Fourth of July, it would of certainly been a nice trip for you for there you would of got to see some of the Southern soldiers. But they look a great deal better than some of them did when they were put in there for likely that they are well dressed and that is one thing that most of them are scarce of. We took one prisoner the other day that was along with the rebels and seen them set fire to the bridge at Frankfort [Kentucky] and was in the Battle of Perryville and has been in the front of us ever since. There was a lot of them over on the other side of the river conscripting men and this fellow happened to be in a house getting his supper when our boys come upon him. The colonel [William Given] told him that he would get a chance to go up North where there is plenty to eat. They respect all that are regular rebel soldiers.
There has been considerable of cannonading going on across the [Tennessee] river. They say that it is General [Lovell Harrison] Rousseau. He has come across Wheeler with a considerable of a force. Rousseau is our division commander and General [Robert Seaman] Granger is brigade commander. I should not be much surprised if he does not call on us if he finds they are too strong for him.
Jacob Bireley ¹ got a letter from one of the 163rd [Ohio] Regiment. They are getting pretty close to where they shoot at one another. Have you heard any last word from cousin John? I expect that he gets to see the elephant more than once. There was one of the hundred day men came and stayed five or six days with us. He come to see his brother. He belongs to the Hundred and Thirty-second Indiana.² They are stationed at Tantallon, Tennessee. He had a leave of absence for ten days.
I was out about a mile and a half to meeting yesterday. Their meeting house was so small that there was no room for soldiers, no windows, and hardly any seats. They do not put on very much style down here. The most of them are rank Secesh. There is very few Union men living round here.
Levi [Sell, Hollibaugh, or Everts] has come back to the company again. When he was coming to the regiment, he saw Coon Oliver and he told him that the young folks around there had growed so much that he did not know many of them. He said that three of his brothers were in the hundred day service.
Now as supper is about ready and I have to work on the fort after supper, I will have to close for this time hoping to be favored with an answer soon. I remain your brother, — George
¹ In the regimental record of Co. E, 102nd Ohio Infantry, Jacob’s name was recorded as Jacob Bierly. He enlisted as a 17 year-old private in August 1862 to serve three years. He was made a corporal on 1 June 1864 and was captured in action at Athens, Georgia, on 24 September 1864. Though he was survived prison camp and was exchanged on 22 April 1865, he was a victim of the steamer Sultana explosion on the Mississippi River on 27 April 1865.
² The 132nd Indiana Infantry was a “100 days” unit that served from May to September 1864.