Christopher T. Dunham to his mother, Mary Hess, July 5, 1863 from Shelbyville, Tennessee.

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Christopher T. Dunham to his mother, Mary Hess, July 5, 1863 from Shelbyville, Tennessee.


Christopher Theodore Dunham was born Sept 24, 1836 in Berkshire, Tioga County, NY. He moved to Freeport, Stephenson County, IL around 1856 and in 1860 was elected county surveyor. In the spring of 1861 he enlisted as a corporal in Capt. Atkin's company in the 11th Illinois Regiment of the Union Army. He transferred to Noleman's Calvary Company and was mustered out July 5, 1862. He returned to Freeport where he again enlisted under the President's call of July 1. 1862 and was elected Captain of Company F, 92nd Illinois Volunteers. With his background as a surveyor, he was detailed as Topographical officer on the staff of Brigadier General A. Baird, commander of his regiment's division. He married Sarah (“Sadie” or “Saddie”) E. Cummings September 22, 1862 in Freeport, Illinois. In 1864 he was tendered by Governor Yates the commission of Lt. Col. but turned it down to remain on staff duty. He was also attached to HQ 3rd Div. Army of Kentucky and HQ 1st Div. Reserve Army Corps. After returning to Freeport he was again surveying, but in 1872 was admitted to the Elgin Insane Asylum, where he died January 27, 1878.


Christopher Theodore Dunham


July 5, 1863


Midway Village Museum






Shelbyville Tenn. July 5th 1863.
Dear Mother
I thought as I sat looking out from my window this Sabbath day that I’de [sic] write you again & you must excuse me for not having written more frequently. & you will do so when I tell you that for the past five weeks this army has been the most of the time “on the march” & consequently I have had but little time or advantages or conveninces [sic] for writing as at such times I am most busily employed keeping up the Survey of the country in advance of the troops & collecting information concurring the character of the Roads & country for emediate [sic] use - So that of late I have neglected writing my friends more than I would otherwise have done - About the first of June we broke up camp at Franklin Tenn and marched to Triune - about 12 miles dist. [sic] & on the 23d we marched to a point South of Murfesboro [sic] to move on the Right of the Army of the Cumberland in its advance towards Brags army then at Shelbyville & other points near by - Those heavy rains commenced & never did I see such rain
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rain. rain continually nothing but rain & mud. but Genl. Rosecrans not to be daunted by rain or mud nor by all the eliments [sic] combined steadily pushed his Grand Army along - moving about 5 miles per day. but some of the Corps. which marched on the Pike road could easily keep pace with those marching on Dirt Roads - Instead of moveing [sic] on Shelbyville directly & by converging roads to its front. Rosy threw the main portion of his army around Shelbyville to the East & leaving Genl Granger’s Corps to bring up the Right & protect the Rear & right - well has he done it for no sooner had Genl Granger the order to march forward than he put his cavalry in front (consisting of two Divisins [sic] under Genl. Stanly & the finest Cavalry I have ever seene [sic]) & pushed right onto Shelbyville & so great was the shock produced by the Rebs that what forces Brag had left there broke in confusion in every directin [sic] & Granger’s Cavalry charging thrugh [sic] the town like a [Whrilund] drove every thing opposed to them & [litterly] forced nearly two Hundred rebel cavalry in to Duck River drowng [sic] about 75 - this cavalry left [Granger &] assisted in the pursuit of Brag & now are pressing him on all sides in his hasty retreat from Tullahoma which Genl[sic] Rosecran occupied on the 3d Yesterday I was in-
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formed that Genl Brag had lost quite a large train capturd [sic] by our Cav. You ought to be here in Shelbyville & witness the Sights & see how many poor refugees are comg [sic] back to their homes. now that the [iron head] of despotism [sic] is lifted by the presence of Rosy - These persons in many cases are old men who have sons in the federal Tenn. Regimints [sic] & they thronged the streets with anxous [sic] hearts & Strand [sic] eyes watching our Cavalry as it passed thrugh [sic] to get a glimps [sic] at their friends - many a poor mothes [sic] heart was made glad to behold her son again. Indeed this is the first City in all my sojourning in the army since leaving Rockford last fall where there is a Jenuine [sic] Union Spirit & feeling exhibited the ladies instead of throwing a dark veil over their still darker hearts & faces - as they are in Kentucky & all along our line of march. look cheerful & very frequently condesend [sic] to wave the handkerchief - So you can easily determine that their [sic] is a broad basis of Union Sentiment in Middle Tennessee - and those soldiers under the drill of U.S. officis [sic] - or in the cause of the Union proved in the late encounters to be more than a match for the Reb. Ten. Cavalry which have been so long holding this portion of the State in thraldom [sic] & subjection - I think Tenne [sic] is lost forever to Rebellion
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dont believe that the whole Confederate Army combined could drive Rosy back to the Cumberland. Recruiting will go on here briskly - I think our cause looks very hopeful indeed & shortly the misguided & decived [sic] people of the south will be compelled to respect the old National Government - I am staying here having recd an order from Genl Rosy to make a map of this place & vicinity as soon as possible. Genl. Bond & cmd [sic] is at Wartrace about 8 miles East of Shelbyville – on the Rail Red [sic] -
I recd a letter from my dear Sadie last evening - & with it her photograph - how pleasant & calm she looks so much like a woman - her countenance look more frail then [sic] it used to look - dear mother does she worry much concerning me - If I thought she did and it was [infuring] her health I would resign & come home - for I do believe it my duty to do so I could not remain in the service & know my sweet wife was gradually suffering or pining on the account of it & I have been in the service nearly two & one half years - I know I could [do] will out of the service now - but I do so dislike to leave it when so many brave ones are willing to sacrifice their lives - but dear mother write me emediately [sic] will you about Sadie - tell me just how she is & how she takes my being absent from her - I will awat [sic] your letter anxiusly [sic] Am glad to hear that Luther & Aaron are all right - nothing new to day Rain again - here hard rain evry [sic] day for 13 days - direct to Shelbyville
Your Affet[sic] Son in Law
C.T. Dunham

May F. Hess

Original Format



Christopher Theodore Dunham, “Christopher T. Dunham to his mother, Mary Hess, July 5, 1863 from Shelbyville, Tennessee.,” Midway Village Museum - Digital Collections, accessed May 22, 2024,