Divers locations: 1862 - 1866. 34 autograph letters – 34 sheets/105.5 pp. - most with envelopes, to and from John and his family. 24 letters from John to family; 2 letters to John; 6 letters to/from Barney Shuman, John’s father; and 2 letters from an Eliza Watson to Jacob Stroman (Shuman? John’s brother). A complete listing of the letters in the archive, with snippets of each, available on request. Slight water damping to first letter, though with minimal ink blurring; expected tears and loss to envelopes; occasional light staining, not affecting readability. Withal, VG condition. Item #36636
An archive of correspondence primarily from John Shuman, a soldier in the 88th Regiment, Indiana Volunteers, to various members of his family, detailing his experiences. The 88th Indiana saw little major action while John served, from August 1862 until his death, from dysentery, in August of 1863. The unit was primarily stationed at Louisville, with the body of Union troops, and later at Camp Carrington, in Indianapolis, after it had been converted to a prisoner of war camp. Nevertheless, he reports on the shooting death of General Nelson by General Davis on September 15, 1862; the ensuing fistfight between Indiana‘s Governor Morton and General Jeremiah Boyle (Shuman reports, incorrectly, that Morton “blacked Generl boiel [sic] eyes for marching his men around for nothing and when we got the newes we give three loud cheer for Goviner Morton we only marched threw town ten times since we are hear and hant don any good yet” (Sept 16, 1862)); his role as a guard at a POW camp and brief time as a POW himself; deaths of fellow soldiers, who were often also fellow townsfolk; the constant threat of disease to the troops; and much more.
Louisville was a Union stronghold during much of the Civil War, and was under threat of attack from Confederate Generals Braxton Bragg and Edmund Kirby Smith in the late summer of 1862, when the two generals invaded Kentucky. At the Battle of Richmond on August 30, Confederate troops captured the entirety of General Nelson’s force, though Nelson himself managed to flee to Louisville and safety. Shuman reports on the growing expectation of battle in camp, as well as the hoped-for -- and successful -- quick arrival of General Buell, racing back to Kentucky from Alabama. In November, the 88th was transferred to winter quarters in Nashville, and by March they were stationed at Camp Carrington, shortly after it was converted to a POW camp.
Although Shuman merely alludes to the Battle of Pogue’s Run -- when Union troops broke up the Democratic Convention in Indianapolis and confiscated or attempted to confiscate the Democrats’ weapons as they fled town, causing several thousand weapons to be hurled into Pogue’s Run from the Democrats’ train windows -- noting that he told Mary Shuman all about the “butternut meeting” in a separate letter, he elsewhere mentions the number of “Coperheads” they have come across, etc. By summer of 1863, Shuman reports massive influxes of rebel prisoners -- more than he believes they can guard -- and in July the 88th was fighting in Tennessee, much to Shuman’s misery. He died on August 14, after a severe two-week bout of dysentery at Camp Dechord, Tennessee. Further correspondence largely entails his father’s visit to the camp hospital during John’s final days, and later attempts to locate John’s body to bring him home for burial.
NB. There was some question as to the proper spelling of John’s last name. In reading the handwriting, it appeared to us as Shuman. The census records have the family name as Shurman, and there are, and were, many Shurmans in Wolcottvile, Indiana, where John and his family lived. While the office responsible for removing the soldiers’ remains from Decherd Station, Tennessee to the cemetery in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, gives his name as Shuman, the grave marker and index to the cemetery lists him as John Sherman. In History Eighty-Eights Indiana Volunteers Infantry, published in 1895, John is listed as John Shewman. In cataloging these letters, we decided on Shuman.