This letter was written by Charles Bryant Parsons (1842-1921), who enlisted in Co. B, 102nd Illinois Infantry in August 1862. Utah, Illinois. Illinois enlistment records indicate that Charles stood 5′ 6½” tall, had brown hair and hazel eyes. He entered the service at Kelly, Illinois, and gave “farmer” as his occupation. He mustered out of the service as a corporal in June 1865.
Charles was the son of William Warner Parsons (1818-1906) and Delita Carroll (1820-1845) of Licking County, Ohio. Charles had a younger brother named George Freeman Parsons (1844-1921). Charles’ father remarried and moved to Kelly, Illinois prior to the 1860 census.
Charles wrote the letter to one of his uncles — most likely one of them who lived in Licking County, Ohio, where he was born.
April 30, 1863
Having often taken up my pen for the purpose of writing you a few lines but each time being defeated in the attempt, I have therefore resolved to defer no longer the pleasant task of writing to one who I consider my dearest friend. This evening finds me seated beneath a shelter tent with my legs crossed and a small instrument in my hand which after inserting into a certain fluid and applying to white paper will divulge a man’s thoughts. We are still encamped near Murfreesboro and about one mile from the memorable battlefield of Stone River where so many of our brave comrades fell while in the discharge of a duty which they considered the creed to their God, their fellow men, and their country.
There was a rumor in circulation yesterday that the rebels were advancing in force with the intention of giving us battle. I think if they should visit us here that they will find Old Rosey [William Starke Rosecrans] and his boys at home ready to give them a warm reception. Refugees relate sad stories of affairs in Dixie. We hear of loyal men being concealed in the woods for weeks in order to preserve their lives. They secret themselves in this way until a scouting party goes out when they leap from their hiding places and are brought inside of our lines.
There was a part of our division returned this evening from McMinnville bringing 60 families with them. Our boys tell us that those poor people welcomed them with joy and appeared pleased that they had an opportunity of leaving their once beautiful homes and secure protection beneath the folds of the star spangled banner. From what I can learn, the Union sentiment is growing stronger in Tennessee every day almost. Every refugee that makes his escape tells us of hundreds who are anxious[ly] awaiting the approach of our troops in order to enable them to escape beyond the tyrannical laws of Jeff Davis. God speed the day that those loyal Tennesseans who have remained true to the cause during this bloody struggle may all be liberated and once more be permitted to speak their sentiment unmolested.
Now a word to the copperheads and then I close. Just tell them cowardly traitors that they must either repent before the return of the soldiers or die the death of traitors which they do so highly deserve. Give my respects to Aunt and all of the family and believe me truly your nephew, — C. B. Parsons