1865: Mark Hathaway to Job Hathaway

This letter was written by Mark Hathaway (1842-1905) of Woodstock, Illinois, who enlisted in Co. H, 95th Illinois Infantry as a sergeant in July 1862. He rose in rank to First Sergeant before being discharged in April 1863 to accept a commission as an officer in the 8th Louisiana Infantry (African Descent). In March 1864, he was appointed as the Captain of Co. E, 47th United States Colored Troops (USCT). He resigned his commission and was discharged on 24 June 1865 suffering from “general debility.” A certificate of disability accompanying his resignation letter signed at Greenville, Louisiana, by Luther P. Fitch, Surgeon of the 47th USCT, states that Hathaway struggled through four prostrated attacks of acute dysentery during the last six months of his service. An incident of sunstoke, sustained in July 1864, was also cited with the doctor’s opinion that Hathaway could no longer endure heat exposure.

While serving with the 47th USCT, Hathaway’s regiment participated in the assault on Fort Blakely in Alabama.

Mark was the son of Hiram Hathaway (1802-1872) and Electa _____ (1808-1877) of McHenry county, Illinois. Mark wrote the letter after the close of the Civil War while still serving with the 47th USCT. He wrote the letter to his younger brother, Job Hathaway (1844-1910), who also enlisted as a private in Co. H, 95th Illinois. Job mustered out of the regiment on 22 July 1865.


Camp 47th U. S. Colored Infantry
Steamer Tarascon ¹
June 24th 1865

Dear Brother,

Your welcome letter dated Elkhart, the 12th, was duly received, and I hasten to acknowledge it. It gave me pleasure to learn that you are enjoying good health, and that the prospect is fair for you soon to return home once more as a citizen. Meanwhile, I am glad to hear that you are taking the world easy and enjoying yourself to the fullest extent. But Job, I was not a little surprised at the news that you are very thick with a certain young widow which, by the way, may be well enough for you, but you didn’t say a word about it in your letter. I also heard there was a certain young lady saw you on the train going to Chicago. I presume you need no explanation as you ought to know as much about it as I.

We are now a few miles below Red River but expect to switch off on it when we arrive at the mouth. our destination is not definitely known, but Alexandria & Shreveport are the points most talked of. I almost fear that it is the latter. If it is, I can make no accurate calculation as to when I shall be home, even if my resignation should be accepted tomorrow. You need not look for me until you see me, as my resignation has been returned and is not accepted, but I have sent in another which I am almost certain will be.

I was pleased as well as surprised to hear from Aunt Augusta and family once more as the time has been so long since I have known, or heard anything of them, that I had almost forgotten that I had an Aunt of that name or a cousin Lemuel. I should be happy to see them and I hope within a few months to enjoy that privilege. It would be a source of great pleasure to me to spend the coming 4th of July at home, but the prospect, I must say, is not flattering.

We staid in and about Mobile, Alabama, over a month. We have been in New Orleans since June 12th. We are now bound for Red River, Texas, or some other place out of the world to serve out our time which expires next May. I am surprised that you have not had a letter from me in so long a time as I have answered every one I received. You must have some letters at Greenwood or they have been lost as I have certainly written four or five within two months.

I expect [1st Sgt. Smith B.] Tooker ² will be discharged in a few days. He has got a Surgeon’s Certificate which I think is O.K. My 2nd Lieutenant [John A.] Hatch is out of the service on a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability but has not yet started home. He will start as soon as he gets his business settled. [1st] Lieut. [Frederick] Lyman ³ is still in the regiment. He commands Company C. His wife [Letty] is at Mobile teaching contrabands. It seems to me I should not like that pretty much, but everyone to their liking as was said once upon a time.

The weather here is most too warm to suit me and I want to get out of it as quick as possible. Since the war closed we have been called upon to go before an Examining Board and those who wished to remain in the service could do so provided they passed a satisfactory examination for the position they held.

It is now raining as it can rain no place but here. It actually pours.

I have not recovered my health yet and the doctor thinks I will not as long as I remain in the service, but I am in hopes that a few months at home will reestablish my former health & vigor. If you write to Hat & Sabra, Freeman, or see them again, please present them with my compliments and best wishes. My love to all my friends and relatives — the latter you know, the former you must be your own judge or leave it until I return and I will perform the task to the best of my ability.

Accept the fraternal regards of your affectionate brother, — Mark

Please excuse the writing, Job, as the boat shakes so that I am half persuaded that I have the ague and can hardly make a straight line. Answer soon and direct to 47th Regt. U. S. Colored Infantry, Red River, La.

¹ The TARASON was a side-wheel packet, built at Jeffersonville, Indiana, by Howard, 1863. 250 x 38 x 6 ft (length x beam x depth of hold); wood hull; engines, inside diameter of cylinder 22 in, length of piston stroke 7 1/2 ft. Built for the Louisville & Henderson Mail Line. 5 December 1863, left the shipyard for Evansville; 22 December at Evansville, on her way to the Tennessee River, where, with other vessels, she carried Gen. A. J. Smith’s army to New Orleans. About 25 February 1864, traveled from New Orleans to Lake Pontchartrain. After the surrender of Mobile in April 1865, the TARASCON was sent to ply the Alabama River. Fall 1865, returned to Evansville. 1866, Capt. J. A. Lusk, J. M. Pendleton, clerk, in the
Louisville-Memphis trade, but soon reverted to the Louisville- Evansville trade. 1870, Capt. William Strong, H. L. Bonta and A. Jennings, clerks. 12 September 1875, sank in shallow water, two miles below Salt River; raised. 1876, Capt. David Penny, C. V. Jennings and W. W. Huston, clerks. Fall 1877, retired when the JAMES GUTHRIE was put into service; dismantled at Jeffersonville in the summer of 1879.

² At age 21, Smith B. Tooker was enrolled in March 1864 as the Orderly Sergeant of Co. E, 47th USCT. He had previously been a private in Co. C, 95th Illinois Infantry. He received a discharge for disability on 30 June 1865. According to his Certificate of Disability, Tooker was “naturally consumptive” and had “inflammation on the lungs three times prior to entering the service.” He was unfit for duty “nearly 1/3 of the time” while serving with the 47th USCT.

³ Frederick (“Fred”) K. Lyman was born in New York State in 1830. He married Letitia (“Lettie”) Phebe Mallory (b. 1840) on 19 January 1860 in McHenry county, Illinois. Letitia was the daughter of Davis Clark Mallory (1809-1893) and Susanna Whittlesey Miles (1814-1882). Fred formed served as a sergeant in the 95th Illinois Infantry before joining the 47th USCT. Fred was the son of Samuel Lyman and Clementina Evarts. Fred divorced Letty after the war and moved to Arkansas where he became the editor of the Jefferson Republican at Pine Bluff in the 1870s.


Griff View All →

My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries.

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