WAR LETTERS: LEVITY - 1862 Missouri


How does a soldier physically and psychologically survive
the anguish and hardships of war? Humor in the face of adversity can help.
The following are three letters, beginning with one from the Civil War,
which describe moments when war and battle were briefly suspended.

1862 Missouri

Glenda Blauch of Minden, Nebraska sent a letter received by her great-grandfather during the Civil War from his brother. She tells us that her great-grandfather was 20 years old at the time and had been "released from his Quaker faith to serve his country's flag at the beginning of the Civil War. He later homesteaded in Adams County in 1879."

October 18, 1862, Camp Murphy, Calhoun, Henry County, Missouri
Harrison Talbert

October 18, 1862
Camp Murphy
Calhoun, Henry County

Dear Brother Hadley:

It is now after eight o'clock at night, and I am acting as corporal of the guard and will have to be up until one o'clock. I think this will be a good time to answer his kind letter of the fifth installment which came to hand yesterday. It found me well and hearty and in fine spirits. And I hope this will find you all enjoying the same.

We are still here at Calhoun. All is quiet here today, but last night about midnight there was a false alarm given, which caused a good deal of excitement for awhile. Captain Murphy (commanding this post) is charged with cowardice by our boys. And I am sure myself that he is easily excited. So some of the mischievous boys of this section concluded that they would raise a false alarm to see how the captain would behave himself. According to their intentions, about midnight they fired a blank cartridge from one of our cannons, which did what they intended, for in less than five minutes the whole camp was in line of battle, and great many of the Militia crying out, "We are attacked!" Captain Murphy was soon amongst the excited crowd, cursing and swearing and declaring that he would instantly kill the man that fired that gun, if he could find out who done it, but this was a mystery. The excitement all died away in a short time and soon all returned to bed. Thus ended our late battle in Missouri.

My candle is now about gone and I will have to quit for the present. Probably I will write some more before I mail it as the mail does not leave until day after tomorrow.

Harrison Talbert




1862 Missouri          1944 Philippines
1945 Luxembourg