Great-Grandfather Cal Lewis’ Civil War Letter

When I was looking for something else, I finally found the copy
of this letter our great-grandfather Calvin Lewis wrote when
he was serving with the 9th Illinois Cavalry, Company M,
in the Civil War. He and his brothers signed up the same day,
November 20, 1861, and served until the end of the war
[well, Tom and Will languished in Libby Prison and then
Andersonville Prison until the end].  They were fighting in
Tennessee and got into a skirmish. Cal was knocked off of his horse
and rolled into the bushes. His brothers Tom and Will were captured.
Cal lived into his 80’s and Tom lived into his 90’s.
          After the war, all three brothers and some of their cousins
pioneered in Burr Oak, Jewell County, Kansas. In 1883, Will
and his family made a visit of several months to Onarga,
Illinois, their hometown, where Will suddenly became ill
and died. He was buried in the Onarga cemetery alongside
many friends and relatives. Some years ago, Lou Ann Hawkins Frogge,
our distant cousin and my genealogy partner, wrote to me, wondering
if I knew why Will had left his family in Kansas and seemingly
disappeared. She said they had no idea where he was buried or
what happened. Since I had studied the Onarga Cemetery records,
I knew he was buried there. It did not take us long to figure out
what really happened. She was then able to make a lovely page
for him on
            Anna Belle Grubbs, wife of Homer Lewis Grubbs,
Mama Jeanne’s first cousin, [son of Hazel “Dee Dee” Lewis Parsons’
sister Mattie Lewis Grubbs] sent me some of the old photo albums and
assorted pictures and letters. Among the pieces, I found a wadded
up letter, the size of a half dollar. When I unfolded it and pressed it out,
here was this letter Cal Lewis wrote to his sister Sarah. Some of
his delightful personality shines through and his comments about
“uncle abe” are fascinating. Near the end, he notes that he has
not heard from Tom or Will, but has heard talk they will be exchanged.
We knew Tom was in Andersonville as there are documented family
stories, but we didn’t know for certain about Will. However,
this letter is certainly evidence that he was a prisoner, too.
            On Facebook, there is a page called Descendants of
Andersonville Prison. The man who runs it has researched
it carefully and is gathering all the records he can. I sent
him a picture of Uncle Tom taken some years after the war,
which he has published on the page.
There is also a national park website
Roster of Company M, 9th Illinois Calvary

LEWIS, Calvary    private  Onarga  Nov 30 1861    Mustered out Dec 10, 1864

LEWIS, Thomas   private  Onarga  Nov 30, 1861   Mustered out Apr 24, 1865

LEWIS, William    private  Onarga  Nov 30, 1861   MO Jun 16, 1865 to date May 30, 1865

KISER, Samuel Veteran Onarga Mar 16, 1864 Disch, Apr 10, 1865; disabil.
KISER, Samuel Private Onarga Nov 30, 1861 Re-enlisted as Veteran
[Son of Elizabeth Starry, sister to Mary Starry Riner]
RINER, Jacob 2nd Lt. Onarga Nov 30, 1861 Resigned Mar 27, 1862 [he had dysentery very BAD]
[Son of Daniel and Mary Starry Riner]
RINER, William Private Onarga Nov 30, 1861 Mustered out Mar 11, 1865
[Son of Daniel and Mary Starry Riner,
married Jenny Lewis, sister of Cal, Will, and Tom]

Another family cousin, George Miller, was killed July 7, 1864 in battle at Jackson, Mississippi. [son of Cal’s aunt Elizabeth Lewis Miller]

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