Jonathan Clevenger, 107th Illinois Infantry, Letter Home
from Fort Royal, South Carolina
February 28, 1863
from The Clinton Journal and Public
O. R. Price, Clinton, Is Owner of Letter Over 65 Years Old
O. R. Price, well known farmer living in Harp township, DeWitt county, is exhibiting to his friends a letter written at Fort Royal, South Carolina, on February 28, 1863, by his uncle the late Jonathan Clevenger while the latter was serving in the U. S. army in the war between the North and South. This letter was one of four which have been given to each of his four nephews who all value them as relics.
The letter, which is well preserved, although it was written more than 65 years ago, was written to Jonathan Clevenger's brother, James. It was written with a goose quill and on the outside of the envelope it was marked "soldier's letter" with a large picture of Grant on horseback on the left hand side.
The letter follows:
Fort Royal, S. C., Feb. 28, 1863
"I take my pen in hand to try to write you a few lines to inform you that I am well and enjoying myself, as well as could be expected, and I hope that when these few lines come to your hand that they may find you well and enjoying yourself with all the pleasures of life.
"Well, James, there is a good deal of sickness here now. The meezles (measles) is very hard on the boys. William Wisegarver has got them now. There was a young man died last Tuesday with the meezles in Co. B. He was not sick but a few days until he died. The company made up money enough to send him to Clinton. I gave 50 cents myself and would have given $5 rather than to have him buried in Kentucky for I consider it a disgrace to Illinois to have her noble sons interred in the soil of
"Well, James, you may think that I am hard down on the state, but I will give you my opinion of it and that it is a curse to the union and the inhabitants, a curse to the white population of the northern states. I tell you honestly that you may go to any free state you please and you can not find as many mulattos, so you can see how they get their living and, if you can't see I will tell you, it is by making negroes and selling. I think if the war had held off a little longer the stock would have run out. I must quit hinting on facts, or I may insult somebody. You will have to keep it to yourself and not tell Harrison the particulars nor show him this letter.
"There is talk of calling for more troops, but I will advise you not to volunteer as long as you can help it and don't be too scared till the last day after supper and not then for you can not stand it very long. Them that are healthy at home soon die here. They that are weakly at home stand it a great deal the best and if you are forced to go let me know and I think I can get you in the 107th. If you want to come to it, then you will be out when the regiment is, but I advise you to stay at home as long as you can.
"It is getting late and I have to go on review and inspection and be mustered for pay. You did not say what girls you took to the dance or I might give a better idea of whether you made it or not.
"I must draw this scribble to a close, and if this letter is not hard enough, say so.
"I remain your brother.
The four nephews who each received a letter as a relic are Ira Price, Decatur; C. J. Price, Champaign; Earl Smith of the Hamplemann neighborhood; and O. R. Price of Harp township. The latter also has a 3-cent piece minted in March 1864, which was also given him by his uncle before his death two years ago.
The writer of the letters came from Ohio to Illinois when he was 18 years old. He was living in Harp township when he enlisted in the army. After he was mustered out he returned home but died seven days later.