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Civil War Letters Subject of Discussion in Greenfield
November 28, 2007 - This past summer the Hancock County Historical Society received a donation of 21 letters from the Civil War Era. These letters, more commonly known as the “Wilson Civil War Letters,” were given to the Historical Society by longtime county resident Flaugher Wilson. On Sunday, December 2, at 3 p.m. the public is invited to view these letters, listen to the stories they have to tell as well as hear an interpretation of what life was like for Civil War Soldier by re-enactor, Ron Wilkins. The presentation is free and will be held at the Chapel in the Park (behind the Old Log Jail), located at the corner of Apple and Main Streets in Greenfield. Refreshments will be served.
The Wilson Civil War Letters are unique in that they are not from just one soldier. The letters come from seven different soldiers – all with family ties to the Wilson family and Hancock County. The only exception to these is a letter from a father writing to his soldier son and a formal discharge letter from one of the soldiers. The letters begin as early as October of 1861 – just a few months after the attack of Fort Sumter in April 1861 – the start of the American Civil War. The last letter is dated December of 1864 – just a few months before the formal surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse in April of 1865.
These Hancock County men who answered Lincoln’s call for troops were young. Some were only 18. Sadly, of the seven soldiers, some made it home, and others did not. A couple of the soldiers are buried in faraway states where they died as a result of their service. Other soldiers suffered from disease – some survived but not all. However, their stories have outlived them all, and we have the Wilson family to thank for keeping their memory alive. All of the men were from Hancock County with most being a part of the 8th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company B. Among the letter writers there was a flag bearer for the regiment, a decorated Captain, a Corporal who was at Vicksburg, and a Cavalryman. These letters have a unique outlook on the war as they detail what these men saw and the battles they fought. They also detail what camp life was like and the hardships the men faced – especially with a poor diet, disease and exposure to the elements.
As an added bonus to the Civil War letters, Ron Wilkins, a living history re-enactor, will provide details of what life was like for a Civil War soldier. Wilkins, who works in Greenfield, will share with the public some of the items that a Civil War soldier would carry and will talk about the trials and tribulations in the daily life for Civil War soldier. If you are interested in hearing an exciting interpretation, you are invited to come.
This presentation is provided by the Hancock County Historical Society, a local not-for-profit organization. The Hancock County Historical Society was established in 1964 to maintain and perpetuate the history of Hancock County. The society currently owns and operates the Old Log Jail Museum and Chapel in the Park, located at the corner of Apple Street and US 40 in Greenfield. The society is also responsible for maintaining and preserving the collection of artifacts, which are kept at both of those locations.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Hancock County Historical Society at 317-462-7780 or send a written inquiry to PO Box 375, Greenfield, IN 46140.
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