Letter from Peter James, Company C

Peter James Grave, Freedom Cemetery

A really great letter written by Private Peter James of Company C. It is addressed to Thomas Glenn, a farmer living in the Freedom Community, near the town of Waveland, Montgomery County, Indiana. Before the outbreak of war, Peter lived near the Glenn family and had been working as a hired hand on Mr. Glenn’s farm. In the letter, Peter has apparently recieved news that Thomas Glenn’s daughter has recently died and tries to console him. Another interesting part of the letter; the view of a Western Theater Federal Soldier on Gen. Robert E. Lee. James pens his thoughts about the possibility of Lee’s complete surrender if Virginia is lost, he seems to have knowledge and respect for General Lee. His predictions would come true in a months time. I found it surprising that  a soldier who had spent the last four years fighting in the West would really care to stay informed on the war situation in Virginia.

At the time of this letter, Peter James was a Veteran Volunteer, he had been serving as a hospital steward for over a year.  Enjoy reading the thoughts and views of a 40th Indiana Private!

I would like to thank Sue Purschwitz for sharing this wonderful piece of history that has remained in her family for the last 150 years. The letter was written to her gg-grandfather Thomas Glenn, an early settler of Brown Twp., Montgomery County, IN.  Sue has other connections within the 40th Indiana Infantry, her gg-granduncles were Lt. James Hanna and Cpl. Robert Hanna of Company C. Both were present at Missionary Ridge, Robert was killed and James mortally wounded.  Another relative, Jonathan Rice Jr., also served in Company C. All lived around the Freedom area of Brown Twp., near present day Shades State Park.

Peter James was born in Indiana on Feb. 25, 1831. Peter worked as a farm hand for Mr. Thomas Glenn and is also listed as a cabinet maker in the 1860 Montgomery County Census. He was married Sept. 4, 1851 to Susan C. Conner. On Dec. 6, 1861 Peter enlisted as a private in Company C, 40th Indiana Reg’t. for three years. He would be with his company during the battles of Stones River and Missionary Ridge. On Feb. 1, 1864, Peter was assigned to duty under the 40th Indiana Reg’t. Field and Staff as a hospital steward. He would serve in this capacity until wars end, an eyewitness to the carnage of the Atlanta and Tennessee Campaigns. Most notably the assault on Kennesaw Mt., GA. and the battle of Franklin, TN. Peter mustered out of the 40th Indiana Veteran Reg’t. on December 12, 1865, at Texana, TX. In the 1870-1880 Montgomery County Census, Peter is listed as a farmer. The 1880 census shows that Peter and Susan have 8 children. Peter died on July 21, 1891, and is buried beside his wife in Freedom Cemetery, Brown Twp., Montgomery County. Indiana. Also resting in this cemetery are several 40th Indiana Reg’t. Veterans including four of Peter’s Company C  brothers who were killed on Missionary Ridge.


Thomas Glenn Esq.


Montgomery County


Peter James Letter

Head Quarters 40″ Ind. Vols.

Huntsville, Ala. March 14″ 1865

Mr. Thomas Glenn

Dear Brother

Yours of March 2″ was gladly recieved today.

I am well and hope this will find you and family likewise.  I have no war news to send you more than is published in papers. I had heard of the death of your Daughter and was very sorrow for she was an useful girl as well as affectionate and will be long remembered by those that knew her.

Not only you have been afflicted so but many thousands in like manner caused by the Struggle for Liberty which after four years toiling and struggling with our fiendish foe who have gave us battle after battle and have caused us to loose many of our best and bravest boys. All this trouble caused by a despotic clan who desire to live without work.

Now we have most got them conquered. Gov. Brown of Georgia has issued a proclamation to the people of Georgia and tells them that Jeff is only leading them to despotism and is in favor of dethroning him. In fact, all that I have seen, prisoners and deserters, have fell out with their President. Lee only promised to defend his native state and has done well. He was noted, before this war commenced for his charitable deeds, Christianity, etc., and in my opinion if he has to give up Virginia he will give up all, either voluntarily or by compulsion.

Rumors today indicate that we will soon be on the march. The 5″ Division had orders today to call in their safe guards and be ready to march tomorrow morning. Whether we will get orders or not is not fully known, but I see preparations that our officers are expecting them and the whole talk in camp is where are we going, but ah – that is a secret for the mail if captured would make known our intentions.

The weather is nice and vegetation is beginning to unfold its beauty according to natures law, not governed by neither Abe or Jeff, nor wars, nor peace,  but by Him that created us and every thing, and is able to bring us safe through this wilderness of war, privations and death, which is a frequent visitor. Will I and you witness the day of our death? We certainly will. You are yet spared and so am I and have witnessed the last of many good soldiers. I must close. Probably we may move tomorrow and I must prepare.

Yours very truly,

Peter James

40″ Indiana Vet Vols

2″Brig. 2″ Div. 4″A.C.

(note written sideways)

NIB I have also received a

Letter today from Susan

And probably will not have

Time to answer it


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