Camp in the field, Cherokee Nation
August 13th, 1863
My Dear Wife,
I embrace this opportunity of writing to you, a letter with any certainty that I have almost forgotten how to write. Wm. Roberts wil be the bearer of this letter. He comes home on furlough. My health is very good. How long it will remain so I am not able to say, for I have been exposed for the last month to the small pox in every shape that It could exist. It is now quite a month since I first come among the Indians. I got along with them very well much better than I expected at first. I much rather be with them than the 13th Kansas with the exception of the inconvenience of hearing from home. I have nothing like guard duty to perform. Am exempt from carrying a gun on the march. I am virtually in command of a company without taking the responsibility as being subject to perform a great duties that a captain is subject to besides I have a private contract with the old Indian captain for $20.00 a month extra. I regret now that I sent my revolver home. I need it very much. We have been on the march most of the time since the 22nd Aug. chasing the rebels we could only get near enough to skirmish with their rear guard a couple of days. Our camp is about half way between Ft. Blunt & Ft. smith on the Arkansas river. Some of our troops are at Ft. smith. Which place is in our possession. It is reported in camp this morning that the 13th Kansas will return to Ft. Scott soon. How true it may be I am not prepared to say. I have received no pay since the last of April.
There is some as fine in the Indian Nation as I ever saw anywhere. Very little of it has ever been cultivated. They have theretofore raised a great deal of stock the country is well adapted to that kind of husbandry with I may say the exception of water. There was a general inspection of the troops of this brigade and from my own observations. I judge that we will be reduced to the lowest extreme with regard to baggage & transportation and a severity practiced towards commissioned officers with regard to a great many privileges that they have taken such as absenting themselves from their companies & regiments neglecting their duties and trusting to much to non-commissioned officers absent from inspection would be cashiered. Reports say that the rebels are about 85 miles from Ft. Smith at a place called Arkadelphia, also that Little Rock has been taken by our forces. That there was a bout fifteen hundred rebels killed and wounded, and that our forces had captured some six or seven steam boats bound for Ft. Smith loaded with supplies. What the designs or our commanders are I am not informed but judge from my own observations that they intend to establish a commissary at Ft. Smith and march the away across the country to Red river. The Indian I think will be kept in their own nation. The creeks which compose the regiment that I am with will be likely to go to their own country which is not a great distance or far from Ft. Blunt or be stationed at Ft. Blunt.
The last letter I received was dated Aug 7th, 1863. I am getting anxious to hear from home. How you are getting along, how Johnny is, etc. When I will secure my pay I am not able to tell. And will not be able to send you any money until I am paid off. Take good care of Johnny with some & give me all the news. Send me a late paper. Give my respects to all enquiring friends.
Remaining yours most affectionately.
Adieu for the present
P. S. Direct your letters to the 1st Regiment of Indian Home Guards. W. D.