This letter was written by Humphrey W. Davenport (1838-Aft1910) who enlisted as a private in Co. I, 52nd Illinois Infantry in October 1861 at Geneva, Illinois. According to Illinois enlistment records, Humphrey stood 6’1″ tall and had dark hair and dark eyes. His place of birth was given as Oswego, New York, and his occupation was given as “carpenter.” The company was raised at Dundee, Kane County, Illinois.
Humphrey was the son of William Davenport and Elizabeth Wolaver of Brooklyn, McHenry County, Illinois. Humphrey speaks of the death of his younger brother, John “Wesley” Davenport (1839-1863), in this letter. Wesley was born in Chittenango, Madison County, New York and enlisted as a corporal in May 1861 at Freeport, Illinois, in Co. F, 15th Illinois Infantry. Illinois enlistment records indicate that he stood 5′ 9½” tall, and had dark hair and dark eyes. Like his brother, he was also a “carpenter” prior to his enlistment. Wesley died of disease on 24 November 1863 at Natchez, Mississippi. He is buried in Dundee Township Cemetery West in Kane County, Illinois.
Camp [of] 52nd Illinois, Pulaski, Tennessee
December 28, 1863
My Dear Parents,
Once more I take the pen in hand to inform you that I received your kind letter with the sad news you had received. I hardly know what to say to you. I wrote you a letter a day or two before I received yours and informed you of the report I received not knowing that you would hear of it first. It is a hard blow to Parents and me. I know you’re feeling better perhaps than you are aware and feel to mourn with you and hope for a far distant day to return when this cruel way is over. Be of good cheer. May God protect you i this trying hour is my humble prayer.
Now I must inform you [of] the exciting times we are having — it is reenlisting as Old Veterans. Company I has all all gone in with Lieut. [Jerome D.] Davis to the head and I have thought the matter over and I don’t want to be left here alone to be abused and knocked around like a dog and you will not blame me — I hope and trust you won’t. They are allowed a furlough of from 30 to 90 days. Over ¾ of this division will reenlist. This is one thing that temps me so I can visit you in this your trying hour and I hope you will not think hard should such be the case with me. I do want to see you all. I can now, dear parents, consider the war and the Confederacy about played out and the hard fighting we are bound to do if we only stay the expiration of this time of enlistment and you up North know better than we. You keep better posted than we down here where we get news second-handed.
I will now draw my letter to a close hoping this will find you as well as it leaves me. I have wrote to the Capt. of Co. F, 15th [Illinois] and will get an answer soon. I will now close hoping for the best. Excuse and accept this from your affectionate son, — Humphrey
No more, Write soon. Goodbye. My respects to all.