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DAVIS TORRENCE LETTERS, 1861-1864
Corporal, Co.  B, 11th Indiana

Special thanks to Melinda Torrence for submitting and transcribing these letters

Davis Torrence was born approximately 1835 in Fortville, Hancock County, Indiana (according to census images for 1860 and 1870).  According to the certificate from the Adjutant General's Office, he "joined for duty and was enrolled as a corporal of Company B 11th Regiment Indiana Volunteers at Indianapolis on the 24th day of July 1861"...and that he was "duly mustered into the Military Service of the United States at Indianapolis on the 31st day of August 1861 for the term of 3 years"... He was 26 years old... He was "discharged August 30, 1864."  Most of these letters were written by Davis to his sister, Mrs. E. Lunsford, spanning that time period. They tell an interesting story of the hardships faced, and his own personal spiritual struggle.  

Note: The original content of these letters has been maintained, including spelling and punctuation.

Letter Dated September 27, 1861

Paducah Ky Sept 27th 1861

My dear brother and sister your letter dated Sept 22 came safely to hand and I was exceeding glad to hear from you and to hear that you was well and florishing with your business I am well very well in health but somewhat tired of traveling we left (?) day before yesterday and went 20 miles south in hopes of meeting the enemy but they had left we heard that there was 700 infantry and 400 cavelry at Mayfield and we the 11th was Chosen out of the whole forces that is here to go and clean them out but they got wind of us comeing some how and left we only had 3 days rations with us and could not follow them we are under marching orders now but I do not know where we are going some say to st. louis and some say to washington my health has been very good since I have been in the service but there is a good many of the boys there was 300 reported unfit for duty last week and one boy in co F died yesterday the health seems to be getting better the weather is getting cooler it is cool enough today for to wear over coats which thank fortune we just got the other day I am well pleased with the life of a soldier and am not home sick at all only I would like to see you all and my (Deida?) I would like to see her very well I think if we are near enough home I think I shall come home about Christmas the army regulation gives each soldier 20 days in every year to go Home I have nothing of much importance for I have not been able to pay postage on a letter I have had to let my (clerk?) pay the postage on his letters and mine too I want you to write to me when you get this and write as often as you can for it is a great pleasure to me to hear from the only sister I have and to know that I have a brother in law that thinks enough of me to write lies I am the same Dave and feel as you were a brother to me for you have always used me as such I hope you will prosper with your business and get ready to go west for if god spares my life and I get home safe I will go to where I can get a farm and hunt buffalo lies if I get home safe I am going to marry and settle myself in the farthest west sure I must bring my remarks to a close give my respects to all of the girls and boys that is too young or not able to fight for their country but them that is able to go and fight and nothing to prevent them I donít want to hear from them so after giving you my love and best wishes as a dear absent brother I will Close by saying write soon I remain 
your brother until death D Torrence 
To Elijah and Keziah Lunsford

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Letter Dated December 27, 1861

Paducah Ky Dec 27/61

Dear sister and brother your letter of the 22nd came safely to hand and was read with great pleasure and I was glad to hear that you was all well I can say for myself that I am well and do hope these few lines may find you still in good health and prospering with your business there is nothing of importance going on here at present I think in all probability that we will stay here all winter and I dont Care if we do for I have just got my team in a good stable and I have as good times as a man Could ask for well keziah you spoke about having a big gobler for Christmas I must tell you what I had there was a lot of hogs around our stables and there was a man I dont know who he was shot one of them and while he was waiting for the noise to die away I went and stole the hog from them and Cleaned him and that was our diner Well I recon sam feels quite large over his girl if him nor will dont write to me before long I shall disown them for I have never got the scratch of a pen from them since I have been in the service it seems that they think very little of their brother that is gone to fight the battles of his Country but if they dont think enough of me to write why should I Care about them We have very fine weather here We have not had any snow worth naming I dont have to work more than three days in a week and all I have to do the rest of the time is (?) to take care of my team so you know I dont have hard times I have a good room to sleep in and plenty of blankets to keep me warm I would like to be at home and see my friends but I would not Come home to stay if I Could I volunteered during the War and I am not tired of serving my Country and more over I am making more than if I was at home if I live I hope to be able to go to farming on my own hook against the War is over and if so I will get married as soon as I get home I must send you a union song

1. The union boys send Compliments
Accept the invitation
Attend a party in the south
on business of the nation

2. our floating in the sky
We march securely under
our hearty greetings presently
We ll give in tones of thunder

3. our fare you need not Care about
We know you are not wealthy
We use gun powder tea our selves
you may not think it healthy 

4. A little sugar if you please
and if you dont no matter
We ll pay it all in iron coin
or Coal perhaps the better

5. you are full of bile and have besides
A damaged constitution
We ll prop you up with bayonets
upon your Cotten Cushions

6. We ll dose you well and wait to see
A perfict operation
and on independence day
We ll have a Celebration

8. hurra hurra the union boys
Are on the march in order
to plant the sacred stars and stripes
across kentuckys border 
zoave

Well sister and brother it is getting late and my peper is getting scarce so I must Close my few remarks give my respects to all enquiring friends and tell them I am well satisfied with the life of A Soldier
Please write soon farwell for the Present D Torrence
To Elijzh and Keziah Lunsford 
Maintain the stars and stripes I will 
and try how many rebels I can kill
Zouave 

I forgot to tell you we will get our money next week for four months

*******

Letter Dated February 2, 1862

Head Quarters 2nd Div D E A
Helena Ark Feb 2nd 1862

Dear sister I seat myself to night to write you a few lines as I have heard nothing of you for a long time I am well and hearty and I hope these few lines may find you in good health we are still at the same place and I expect we will stay here sometime yet we have taken one little trip up White River lately but done nothing worth naming Well sisy I have no news of interest to write therefore I will not try to write much this time I have never got any word from Elijah and I dont know where he is or I would write to him and it seems like you have all forgoten me at home for no one writes to me I did get one letter lately it was from miss nancy Jane Howard Well I suppose you have Cold weather up there but it is not very Cold down here but there is no end to the rain and mud I want you to be sure and write to me and tell me where lige is if you can for I would like to write to him no more
only I Remain your brother Davis Torrence
Wagon master Head Quarters teams 2nd Div Div D E A
Direct your letter in care Lieutenant George Sheeks
In 2nd Div D E A Helena ark

Please hand this to mother
Well mother I recon it is no use to write to you and Columbus but I must tell you that I have not forgot you I am in good health and see easy times and I hope this may find you both well I think you might write to me I learned by a letter that I got from isreal howard that you was back from fulton county and I would like for you to write and tell me how my boys is getting along I would give any thing to hear from them I have no news to write worth naming I do hope this war will soon Close for I want to get me a little wife Well it is bed time (?) I will bid you fare well till I hear from you and them I will write again your son Davis Torrence

Davis Torrence
Wagon master
Head Quarters teams
2nd Division District Eastern arkansas

*******

Letter Dated December 10, 1862

Louisiana Cotton Press no. 1 A.C. Dec. 10th 1862

Dear sister I take delight in writing to you in answer to your letter dated Oct. 20th which I received yesterday I wrote to you last month but it seems that my letter had not Came to hand at the time you wrote I Cannot brag on my health I am so as to be about a little but not able for any duty I hope these few lines may find you all well for there is nothing like good health when I wrote to you before I had to write lying in bed but now I Can sit in a Chair and write I have had no news of lige for a greata while but I know that the 12th Regiment was in that battle near Chattanooga after grant gives his official report of the fight I want you to send me an indianapolis paper the is Cheering news here about Gen S Grantís victory over Brag our army is at new iberia Louisiana I dont know what they are doing but I think they have gone into winter Quarters the weather is warm and pleasant most of the time but I dont like this place at all it is too low and damp but new orleans is a nice City sure but I long to see the day when I can leave here and Come north for I fear that I will never have good health here I believe I would have been dead if I had let our army doctors work on me but I went to a French doctor in the City and says he Can Cure me but it is Costing me a large sum! the fever and Chronic diarhea O my god it is a shame to see how these Cursed army Quacks is killing off the poor soldiers a man might almost as well be dead as to go into a hospital down here for if has not got a Constitution as hard as iron they will kill him sure you said you had not heard any thing of arch hiday I get letters from him he is at Memphis he is getting well I dont get letters from any body hardly the girls has all Quit writing me but mary hiday she writes to me once in a while she is worth all the rest well as there is no news of interest I will Close give my respects to all who enquire and write direct to Convalescent Barracks 13th A C new orleans and I will get them 
your loving brother

Davis Torrence

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Letter Dated January 16, 1863

January the 16 1863

Dear sister i take my pen in hand to rite you a few lines To let you know that i am not very well i have got the mumps and my breast hurts me all the time i hope when these few lines Comes to your hand that they will find you well i am here at park Barrucks armory (stranges?) and i am nearly Crazy they wont let me go to the Regiment before spring I hant got my money yet nor i dont know when i will if i had my money i could by a discharge or if i had some money i could come home till spring but i Cant pay the posteg on a letter or by a Chaw tobacco would like to heare from the 12 regiment. i want you to rite to me if you git eny word from Samuel or Davis i would like to see them but i Cant it meks the tears flow from my eyes to think how we are all scattered we will all have to Doo the best that we can sister i want you to send me money a nuf to take me home if will when i git my money i will pay you twice the amount it will take 4 or 5 dollars i have got 52 dollars coming to me yesterday i am boss dish washer heare i must go to supper so no more i remain your brother untill death Wm Torrence
To Kiziah lunsford rite as soon as you git this if ever you do eny thing
Now is the time

*******

Letter Dated March 4, 1863

Helena ark March 4th 1863

Mr E Lunsford
Dear brother your letter of feb 20th 1863 Came safly to hand and was read with great pleasure I was glad to hear that you was well and seemed to be well satisfied I would have answered sooner but have been busy since I received it moving my Quarters I Can inform you that I am as hearty as I Could wish I weigh 200 lbs neat and have a belly on me equal to an old sow before piging and I hope these few lines may find you stout and hearty we have very fine weather here at present it has not rained for a week and the ground is drying up very fast the river is up bank full and still rising slowly I have not got any news from home for some time the last letter I got was from Keziah she said the folks was all well I got a letter from sam not long ago he was well and was doing Provost guard duty at Gen Critendens Head Quars he seemed to be well satisfied there is no news of any importance we have but little word from vicksburg you asked to be excused for not writing sooner you are excused for the past but dont put off writing so long next time for I am always glad to hear from friends and moreso from brothers I have never heard from wm torrence since he has been in the service but once Keziah said he was at Louisville ky in the barracks I wrote to him long ago but have got no answer I still have Charge of Gen Hoveys Hd Qur teams I have very good times and but little to do if I Could see my gal fellow when I want to I would like to stay in the army all the time but if I live I will make up the lost time when I get home I have got a new beau and she says she loves me as hard as a mule Can kick I am looking for a letter from her every day I must tell you the two first letters of her name it is nancy Jane Howard well lige as there is nothing of importance to write I will bring my words to a Close give my best respects to all the boys and believe me your well wishing brother
Davis Torrence
N.b dont faill in writing and direct to Co B 11 Regt 

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Letter Dated March 6, 1863

Helena Ark March 6th 1863

Dear sister your letter of feb 25th Came safly to hand and it found me well and hearty and I hope these few lines may find you as well as they leave me I have been buisy for a day or so in moving my Quarters we have had very fine weather for a week and the mud has been drying very fast but it is raining again this evening there is a rumor in Camp about our Regt a going to St Louis on detached service but for my part I Can hardly believe it I got a letter from Lige a day or two ago and I put one in the office for him this morning I am glad to hear from my boys and to hear that they are doing well you spoke about me Coming home before the end of the service there is no such hopes for me unless there should be a Compromise for I dont want a discharge and if I did I Could not get it I would like for the war to Close but I am very well satisfied to stay in the army until that time as for the girls they dont troble me for to tell the truth I dont want any of them bad enough to go Crazy after them I must tell you that we got two months pay last Monday and there is four more dew us now I think uncle sam is getting hard up or he would pay up a little better supper is ready I must eat it ahem well now I will finish my letter although I have nothing much of interest to write I want you to tell mother if she dont write me I will raise a muss with her when I Come home you made a little mistake in directing your letter to me and I did not get it so soon as I would direct to Davis Torrence Co B 11th Regt ind vols that is all you need put on it the regt is Camped Close to where I stay and letters directed that way will come to the Regt sooner than any way they can be directed I must tell you that I saw (vares?) virgin this morning he landed here in the night I suppose he Came down to try and get them to let his brother bill go home I suppose you have heard that Chris howard is dead Well sister I will bring this letter to a Close write when you Can and I will write often as I Can give my best respects to all and believe me your dear brother Davis Torrence

To Keziah Lunsford

*******

Letter Dated July 30, 1863

Head Quarters 12th Div 13 A C
Vicksburg miss July 30th 1863
Mrs Keziah Lunsford

Dear sister it is with the love of an absent brother that I take a seat to inform you of my health and and location I am well and do hope these few lines may find you in good health We had Quite a little chase since the surrender we left vicksburg on the morning of the 5th for Jackson miss at wich place we arrived in dew time skirmishing with the enemy and driving them most of the way before us as you have no doubt learned the rebels evacuated Jackson and we did not have to stay out there very long but the trip paid me very well for I got to see lige two or three times while we was there they was on the left of our division abot three miles from our camp I dont know where they are now but I think they went back to haines bluff I will write to lige in a few days our boys is getting furloughs James (fousett?) and two more of our co starts home this morning gen hovey has gone home he says when he comes back I shall go home that will be about the first of September I dont know that I shall try to come for it would cost me not less than fifty dollars and I dont think I can afford it I have some notion of going into the regular service they offer four hundred dollars bounty and a 60 day furlough and pay fifty dollars down and fifty every two months besides the hundred dollars that is coming to us and they offer fifteen dollars a month I would only have two years longer to stay than I will have the way it is Well sister there is nothing going on here and I shall not try to write much this time but if we stay here I will write again soon give my love to all the girls and my respects to the boys and believe me as I ever have been
your loving brother
Davis Torrence

Write on Receipt of this letter and direct
in care brig genl A P hovey
12th Div 13th A C

*******

Letter Dated September 9, 1863

Head Quarters 3rd Div 13th A C

Carrollton La Sept 9th 1863

Well sister I will try and give you an account of what has transpired since I last wrote we are now laying in camp at the above named place and has been ever since the 20th of august or about that time we have had very easy times and I have no idea when we will leave here this is one of the prettiest places I ever saw there is oranges lemons figs bananas and every thing of the kind growing and the citizens say they Can make garden time of the year and it will grow well now sis I have just eat my diner and I will finish my letter I did think that I would try to Come home but we are so far away that a furlough would not do me much good and from what I can learn we will be discharged the 1st of next may so I will not try to get a furlough it is only 9 months and that time will soon pass away and then I Can Come home to stay then I am going to take some mans daughter or have a fight for I am getting tired of sleeping alone some thinks the war will end soon but for my part I dont think so I believe the rebels will fight as long as there is one man left I dont think that peace will be made untill there is a new president elected and I wish old abes time was out and a man in his place for he is a damed old Shit ass and the men that voted for him is down on him but it is use for me to sit here and write about him for I have other matters that ocupies my mind more than he does I must tell you that our division is Changed we are now 3rd Div 13th army Corps I have not heard any thing of lige since I saw him at Jackson miss and I have not heard from sam nor william for a long time I fear something has happened sam or he surely would write I want you to write and if you have heard of them let me know and if arch hiday is at home let me know I have not heard from him since we left Vicksburg arch was a good friend to me and I would like to hear from him I guess the people has all forgoten me there is none of them writes to me but you and mary hiday I get a letter from her every few weeks mary is a good girl and a good friend to me well if they dont think enough of me to write they may go to hell for me well I will Close for this time give my Compliments to hetty I am well and hoping these few lines may find you in good health I say fare well I remain your loving brother

Davis Torrence

Care brig genl A P
Hovey 3rd div 13th A C

*******

Letter Dated November 26, 1863

Convalescent Barracks
3rd Div 13th A C
New orleans Nov 26th 1863

Dear sister I take up my pen to try and write you a few lines I am not well I have been very bad sick ever since the 5th of oct but I am on the mend my doctor says that I am past all danger I hope these few lines may find you all well you must not think hard of me for not writing before this for I have not been able to write and have to write now as I lay on my back therefore you must not expect good writing but maybe you Can read it I think I will be able to do better next time there is no new afloat here at present our Division is at new iberia louisiana 200 miles from here and it is thought that they will go to brownville texas I dont think that I will be able for duty much before spring and then I will not have much of it to do for I guess there is no doubt but the 11th will be mustered out the first of may I think you may look for Dave home next may I got a letter from sam a few days ago he is well I have not heard from lige since I saw him last summer I suppose the 12th is at Chattanooga Tennessee at least I hear so well as my way of writing is poor I will Close give my respects to hetty gardner and all who enquire and believe me your brother as ever
Davis Torrence

Direct to

Convalescent Barracks
3rd Div. 13th A C.
new orleans

*******

Letter Dated December 25, 1863

Hospital 13th A.C.

new orleans
December 25th 1863

Well dear sister this is Christmas day and I am in the hospital sick and (pend?) up like I was in Jail I have been sick ever since the fifth of October but am on the mend I am able to go about and think that I will be able to Join my regt again in a month or so I hope these few lines may find you and the Children in good health I received your letter bearing date nove 27th and was truly glad to hear from you once more it is strang to me what becomes of my letters I have writen twice since I have been here and it seems that my letters have not been received by you now dont think that your brother ever Can forget you o no I often think of you in lonely hours and wish that I Could be with you but alas the fortunes of war seperates not only us but many others whose lot it is never to meet again but let us not be discouraged let us hope for the happy days that awaits our meeting if we are spared to see the end of this horrible war there is no news here of importance my regt lays across the river from here but I dont know what they are going to do some says they are Coming up the river and others says they are going to texas I have had no news of lige since I saw him last summer and have not heard from sam for some time he was well when last I heard from him
we have a dry Christmas here but if I live to get home I will make it up write to me when you Can
no more this time
Your loving brother
Davis Torrence

Direct to Convalescent
Barracks 3rd Div 13th A. C.
new orleans

*******

Letter Dated January 23, 1864

13th A.C. Hospital
new orleans
Jan 23rd 1864

Dear sister it with the love of an abscent brother that I seat myself this pleasant morning to answer your kind letter of Jan 5th which I received yesterday I was very glad to hear from you and to hear that you was well I Can inform you that my health is getting better fast and I do hope these few lines may find you still in good health 
I will now tell you that my Regiment has not gone to texas they have moved to Madisonville 25 miles from new orleans where they are to stay till our time is out and I think they ought to have a little rest for for they have done service enough for one regt Well sister the weather here is warm and every thing looks like spring We have had some very Cold weather here for this Climate but it did not last long
I have heard nothing from sam since I wrote to you but I hope he is well I have wrote to lige often but got no answer from him
Well keziah there is so little going on here that I have no news to write only to keep you informed of my health I think I will soon be able for duty again and I will be glad for I am tired of this place but thank god the time is not long till I Can Come home to stay and then I will see if I Cant do some thing for myself I will be able to by me a team I have had to spend a large sum since I have been sick if I had kept my health I Could have saved about five hundred dollars but I will have two or three hundred as it is give my love and best respects to all and write 
your loving brother

D Torrence
Direct to 13th A.C. hospital
Ward 2 A. C.

*******

Letter Dated March 5, 1864

Camp of distribution
Louisiana Press A. C. March 5th 1864
Dear sister by the grace and goodness of god I am still spared and take great pleasure in addressing a few lines to you to inform you that my health is tolerable good hoping these few lines may find you in good health and spirits I will tell you that my Regt has been mustered into the service for three years more and they start home this evening I would like to Come home with them but I Could not do so without Reenlisting and my Constitution is so broken down that I thought I would wait till my time is out and see if I get stout I have not heard any thing from sam for a long time I fear he is either killed or taken Prisoner but let us hope he is doing well where ever he may be I have not heard from William either for some time but I hope he is better than When he wrote to me
Well I will now tell you that I will be at home the last of July or the first of august at farthest if I live and if I die I have nothing to fear for I have Cast my self on Jesus and I feel that he is ever near me I will give you a little of my experience during my sickness dear sister you know that I left home a very wicked man and to my own shame I remained so untill I was in the hospital and whilst laying there and witnessing the many deaths of my fellow soldiers I Could not help but think of my own soul I was troubled beyond description I lay and studied it and thought what shall I do and at last I resolved to turn to god and ask forgiveness for the many Crimes I had been guilty of so I lay on my bed and prayed to god that I might be saved and since I have been able to knock around in place of going to the theater or to places of ill fame I go to Church and I must say that every day I grow stronger in the faith of our blessed savior and now dear sister let me ask you are you living in Christ I Can almost answer yes and if you are ok pray for me and also for our dear brothers that if living they may turn to god before it is yet too late you know not the limitations that we are daily surrounded with but there is not a night but I offer up a prayer to the savior for myself and fellow soldiers I often read of the women at home wishing that they Could do more for the soldiers there is one they Can all do which I fear there is but few does they Can one and pray to god to be the guide of the soldier and pray that right may triumph over wrong
well sister as there is no news going on I will not write much more but will write soon again write to me and let me know how you are getting along direct your letters to 
Camp of distribution
Louisiana Cotten Press no 1
I remain your loving brother untill death
Davis Torrence

12 yds calico  
10 yds shirting
5 yds musline
1 gallon molassoes
10 cts worth soda
12 spools thread

*******

Letter Dated July 26, 1864

Camp of Distribution New Orleans La
July the 26th 1864
Mrs Lusford
I this day send you a Box By Express the Contense of it belongs to Davis Torrence He left here about a week a go to go to his Redgt and Left me to send the things to you you Will do mee a favor by writing and let mee no if the Box comes threu
Davi(d?) Was Well When he lef and Was in the Best of Spirrits
You Will please Write soon Direct your letter to Saul T Butcher
Camp of Distribution
New Orlans La
Saul T Butcher

I will just say to you that I am a member of the 34 Ind Redgt and have bin here With Davi(d?) for a long time and I feel verry mutch lost since he left my time will be out in too months and I hope to se Davi(d?) at home
So no more but am your friend
S T Butcher

*******

Letter Dated July 27, 1864

Cincinnati ohio
July 27th 1864
friend Torrence as I have nothing else to do but write letters I thought that I would write one to you I have got home safe after all the fights that I had in nashville with the officers but I had a verry narrow ascape when we got to Louisville I had a fight with one of the officers and he drew a revolver at me and fired but he did not hit So I had him by the throat like you did the officer of the guard whin you and me was making nois in our tent
Torrence I have a Brother in the Cumbert Hospital and if you please to go and see him he is in the 3th Div 3th Sec tent 20 I told him to go and see you but I dont know wheather he went or not I write him so many letters and he never answer them I would like for you to go and see him and let me know how he a getting a long I think that I will be down at Nashville Soon and I will call and See you I want to go and drive government team for there is no worke in Cincinnati and a nother thing there is to dam many Copper heads and I cant get a long with them for they dont know what war is and me and my brothers and that Sargent that Stayed with you and me one neight must fight with them every day 
Sammiel as I have nothing else to say at present but my best respects to you and to Mr and Mrs Roach
From Richard M Corcoran
Iff you dont know me by that name you can think of the one that Sold you the watch which looked like a canteen I forgot to tell you what my Brothers name was what is in the Hospital his name is William J Corcoran

Direct your letter to 
Richard M Corcoran
(?)15 S Baymiller St
Cincinnati Ohio

 

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