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January 15, 2012

Letter expressing thanks and complaining of lack of fighting and bad weapons – January 15, 1862

Filed under: Civil War Daybook — Lori Williamson @ 9:00 am

Letter from James M. Bowler expressing thanks and discussing the 3rd MN–location, actions, & complaining of lack of fighting and bad weapons

“Camp Dana, Belmont Furnace, Ky, Jan. 15, 1862.
Friend Donnelly:  I intended to have written to you and Mrs. Donnelly long ago, if for no other reason, at least to express my gratitude to both of you for your expressions of interest in my behalf while I was at Fort Snelling as well as for your uniform kindness to me on all previous occasions.  Tis true that my ambitious desires were not gratified, but the satisfaction of knowing that I have kind friends to think of me and to help me, is enough for me.  I expected to have a chance to talk with you before leaving Minnesota but, with the exception of time to bid you a hurried good bye at Hastings, I did not get it.
I presume that you know as much about the Minnesota 3rd and what it is doing as I can tell you, and perhaps more.  The Head Quarters of the Regt. is at Belmont Furnace 35 miles from Louisville, on the Louisville and Nashville R.R.  We are engaged in guarding the bridges and other property of some twenty five miles of the railroad extending from Shepherdsville to Elizabethtown.  Our duties though not dangerous are quite onerous.  Six companies remain at Head Quarters while the other four are stationed at different places along the road, being relieved once a week by other companies of the Regt.  Now I do not propose to make any complaints to you, but and I know you like to hear the truth, I shall try to write it, just as I think.  We enlisted to fight for our Country.  You know what we are doing, and how much prospect there is of our having a chance to fight.  We have an abundance of good comfortable clothing, a plenty to eat, and a burden of hats, dress coats, and brass, besides being armed with the celebrated Belgian Rifle Musket not one in twenty of which can be discharged with any safety to the man behind it.  The only excuse for keeping us to guard these bridges from the vandals who live near them, is that we have not arms fit to contend with the enemy.  Now it seems to me that if the government is able to furnish us with so much fine cloth for show it ought also to be able to give us arms to fight with—the very purpose for which we ought to have been sent so far from home.  I believe in a due amount of moderation but it does seem to me as though it was time something was done.  If 60000 men are to be marshaled for no other purpose than dress, show, and bluster let them be those who like dress and such things.  I do not like it. […]“

View full letter: 1862-01-15_full_text

Citation:  January 15, 1862 Letter from James M. Bowler to Lieutenant Governor Ignatius Donnelly, Correspondence Jan-Mar. 1862. Ignatius Donnelly and family papers, 1812-1973. Minnesota Historical Society

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