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Emmitsburg's Civil War Soldiers

(Company C, Cole’s Cavalry)

Captain John C. Horner Family Letters

Source: Unknown

These are letters written by the Horner family during the Civil War. Captain John C. Horner was the father of Lt. John Ross Horner who was a member of the 20th New York Militia. Sarah was the mother of John Ross Horner. Annie was his sister. With thoughts on family and friends they indeed give the reader a glimpse of the view of the Civil War. Apparently, Sarah stayed at Two Taverns located just east of Gettysburg even though the family farm was located to the south nearer to Emmitsburg. Lt John R. Horner was killed in Virginia. Captain John C. Horner resigned in June of 1862 due to his old age and also poor health conditions.

Camp Wadsworth, Uptons Hill, Virginia

Dec. 17th 1861

Dear Sister,

My Captain was down to Washington today. He returned a little while ago and a short time after, I found a keg in our tent, and being it was directed to the undersigned, I made no inquiries as to where it came from, or how it came here, but went to work at once without any ceremony to remove the head, which by the way proved to be the bottom, and to search the contents, but instead of finding everything "right side up with care", I found it all upside down, or else I stood on my head, but I presume it was the former. However, everything was all right, except the apple butter got out a little on the cakes, but that is all right. Everything is very nice. How good it will seem to have good butter and that from home. We can get butter here but it is anything but good. Delicacies are very nice, but something we do not indulge in very much here. Pies and cakes are sold here by the Sutlers but they are miserable things. That was a huge old apple. I have had my teeth into it already. Thanks to the one that sent it. Tell Witherow that they’re big Allison Hickory nuts are huge things and are hard to take. I know the Henskle Burris with the food and cakes what a slew of things and again let me thank mother for the butter it will keep three of us going for some time. Captain, who is one of my Franklin schoolmates, says he will remind his old folks that they have a son in the army. Chickens are a scarcity here!

I wrote Ann Sunday evening that we were to march somewhere that night at 11, but the order was slightly changed, and we didn't stir out till 2 in the morning and marched at 4 with two other regiments, but could not find out definitely where we were going until I found out by being there and now I can tell you where we were. We marched in quick time to within 3/4 of a mile of Fairfax Courthouse, a distance of about 10 miles, and that too by sun rises. The sun was just making his appearance as we drew up in the middle of a wide field and stacked arms. There we were ordered to remain and no man was allowed to go over 100 yards away. We were allowed to build big fires of a pile of suits? close by. We had driven in the Rebel pickets and were close to Fairfax, which up to this time was occupied by them. They retreated and some of our forces advanced and now hold possession of the town. At least so I am told. But you would like to know what we were doing during this time. It is enough to say that about 100 Army wagons, followed us out here, and as corn fields were not scarce and abundance of good hay had been preserved in Secesh barns, these wagons were soon loaded, and we followed them back to camp where we arrived about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, having marched about 10 miles and back since early morning. You may rest assured there were some tired lads in camp by this time. We retired early. And about 10 at night the next tent to us took fire from a little fireplace in it and in a minute was all in flames and 5 men it all sound asleep. It was discovered by the guard just in time to jerk it down and save the men with a few scorched fingers.

Write soon. Tell Witherow to write & Charlie and all the rest.

Good night.

Your Brother, Ross

September 26

My dear Son,

It is with sorrow I seat myself this morning to write you a few lines. We received your letter which informed us you had listed in the Army. I was very sorry to hear it. God alone knows what is best for us. It is a great grief to me to think that three of our family is in the Army and a fourth almost frantic to go. Witherow can scarcely be put off. His father and I are opposed to him going. He is young and not very stout and is yet in the morning of youth, and character is yet not permanently formed would be more easily led astray. I tried to prevail in your Father not to go to War, but he appeared so determined on going, I did not say very much. I told him I thought he was too far advanced in life and his constitution too feeble for the undertaking.

I hope and trust your long an overruling providence will cause this war to cease and our family be gathered home again is the prayer of your Mother.

We have communion next Sabbath. I wish you were here to go with us. Do try and come home this fall. I will enclose in this letter 2 dollars that Will left in my care for you. Write soon.

Farewell from your affectionate Mother,

Sarah J. Horner

Patterson, N.C. January 1st 1861

Sister Annie,

New Year's eve in North Carolina! Last year and year before in N. York and time only can tell where I (yes, where we all) shall be when another year shall have rolled over our heads. Time is an irresistible current which flows on, and on continually. We may sit down, or rest in idleness, but this mighty current of time hastens on. We cannot stand still, but the earth in its circuit about the sun has added one more to the number of our years.

What a little while since last New Years Day, but we are just one year older but in a while 10 years have past, yet we are about to look upon ten years in the future which is a long period of time. We are young, but have unfortunately 10 years is upon us! We could set our eyes on the dead past while the future is in a gloom of uncertainty.

The little village of Patterson presents no particular attractions, to me at least, except the situation which is a very pretty one. The whole village factory and all belong to a company and the inhabitants, all except this one family, are renters, and rather poor, too. I haven't heard of such a thing as a singing school, since I came to this part of the country. Lenoir is a dry little country place about one quarter the size of Emmettsburg. I was over there all last week. The schools there Male & Female are having holiday (a week or two).

I'd received your letter in Lenoir Saturday before Christmas. Poor chance here to get anything for a Christmas gift.

This country may be good for some things, but you don't find me teaching school here five years from this time.

I was going to write you a long letter tonight and to mother, too, but my light is going out and I must stop, but will soon write to mother, but for the present, my respects to all of you,

Brother Ross

P.S. I wish you would send a little cabbage seed the next time any of you are writing. Cousin Louisa would like to get some from the North. She thinks it will do better than her seed here. Now don't forget.

Captain John Horner,

Dear Sir - Yours of Sept. 4th inst. just received and I take this early opportunity to answer it.

I am glad to be able to inform you that his body (your son's) has been properly buried and a mark placed over it. It is by a culvert on the railroad where the battle raged hottest. John Hammore, No. 446, 8th St, Washington can give you the exact locality. He was a friend to our Regiment and went out with our surgeon to the field, under a flag of truce, and helped to bury him. The Rebels had stripped off his shoulder straps and shoes, taken his watch, purse, sword and revolver.

We managed to cut off a lock of his hair and some buttons with you can send it for him. I could not get to the field to recover his body nor could I bring it away being there on a horse and with too few ambulances to bring it away with our wounded. So they wrapped him in a blanket and buried him like a true soldier he was. I should have forwarded his baggage without your request given it affections to my duty.

One of the recollections of a brotherly kind, schoolmates, and members of the same fraternity there. I am not satisfied with merely of what officially for me to do, but would mingle the tear of sympathy with those of a cavalry family. Please consider me not as a stranger but as a friend.

Am in vacancy of the years have bound me very close to your son, otherwise I should not have taken the measures officially conducting him with none as a Lieutenant.

He was loved by all the men and respected by all. Our Regiment has been very badly cut up, only about 350 left, but I trust yet that we may do our share in suppressing this formidable rebellion. With great respect - Yours, N. N. Baldwin, Capt. Comp K. New York Militia

Dear (Sarah) Jane - I and A. Walker had it made up to start home on Monday night and stay one night, but that is all over now. We must soon leave this, but where to is a mystery to us all. I hope to meet you again at home. If not, I hope to meet you in heaven. Take care of the children. Remember me.


J. Horner