Louisa McNeal DeGarmoCamp near Quincy Oct - 26/61
Dear Sister I thought I would write you a few lines to day as it is not probable that I will have another opportunity of sending you a letter very soon We have no regular mail here so we have to send out letters when ever we can get a chance I am going to send this letter with a man that is going to Keokuk & have it mailed there

We are now camped near a small town called Quincy in the southern part of Benton County We arrived here this morning and will probably stay here 3 or 4 days We are after Gen Price but it is not likely that we will catch him very soon as he is retreating from us It is reported that he is near Springfield but I do not know whether there is any truth in the report or not There is about 50,000 of us after him and I think we will make short work of it when we do catch him Gen Fremont is about twenty five miles in advance of us with an army of 25 or 30000 the rest of our forces are commanded by Gen Sigel & Gen Pope The 8th Iowa is coming on after us They are one days march behind us and will probably arrive here in the morning They camped close to us night before last near Warsaw but they laid over there one day to rest Nute Sloan & Cornelius Morgan are very sick Cornelius was taken to the hospital at Jefferson Henry McNealCity Our boys that are here are all well We had to leave several at Boonville who were unable to travel among whom was Marion Ingram & Harris Thomas We also had to leave Abe Allen & Eli Cross at Warsaw Abe burned his foot very badly by upsetting a kettle of hot coffee in his shoe Captain Sampson1 is still in the hospital at Jefferson City but we heard that he was getting better and are expecting that he will be with us in a few days.

I have written about a dozen letters home and can get no answer to any of them the last letter that I got was from Wilson and was dated the 10th of September and I have not heard a word from home since Tell Wilson that I wrote him some 8 or ten days ago It is almost impossible for us to get any news I have not read a newspaper for a month I want you to be sure and answer this and let me know how you are all getting along If I dont get a letter from some of you pretty soon I am going to quit writing entirely Direct your letters to St Louis I will have to bring my letter to a close as it is getting very late
Your Brother Henry
Tell Allen that I want him to write to me I wrote him about six weeks ago but have received no answer yet

Photos are of Henry and his sister, Louisa McNeal DeGarmo

Henry, Fourth Corporal in Company F of the 5th Iowa Infantry, apparently saw little more of the war. Information supplied by the Camp Pope Bookshop and by History Professor Don Elder indicates he died of typhoid fever Dec. 9, 1861, in Syracuse, Missouri. The war records of some of the other soldiers mentioned in this letter can be found on the Iowa Fifth Infantry Page of the Keokuk County Civil War Soldiers Web site. Abel Allen, it reports, was discharged Feb. 13, 1862, for disability. Harrison Thomas died in Boonville, Mo., on Nov. 10, 1861, shortly after this letter was written.

His cousin, David, who enlisted in Company F at the same time - July 3, 1861 - remained with the 5th Iowa through much of the war (the 5th Iowa was disbanded in 1864 and David was transferred to Company G of the 5th Iowa Cavalry). See Fifth Iowa Volunteer Cavalry. During his service, he rose from Seventh Corporal to Second Corporal.

The Fifth Iowa's role in the War, including the siege of Vicksburg and the assault on Missionary Ridge, are described in "With Fire and Sword," by Major S.H.M. Byers. (The 1911 book was reprinted in 1992 by the Camp Pope Bookshop.) He notes in his preface that it was one of "the few regiments that absolutely fought themselves out of existence." It "was mustered in a thousand strong; it lost seven hundred and seventy-seven men by death, wounds, and disease." See "Fifth Iowa Infantry."

1Exekial Silas Sampson's great-great-grandson, Charlie Larimer, reported after reading this letter that Captain Sampson "helped raise Company F, and was its captain at inception. When Colonel Worthington was killed (fragged), Lt. Colonel Matthies became colonel, and Captain Sampson became the lieutenant colonel." (return to reference in letter)

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