This letter was written by Private Francis (“Franklin”) M. Flory (1845-1864) ¹ of Co. G, 11th Iowa Infantry. This regiment was organized at Davenport between 28 September and 18 October 1861, though members began to assemble at Camp McClellan as early as 20 August 1861. On 16 November, the regiment embarked at Davenport on the good steamer Jennie Whipple, and proceeded to St. Louis, arriving there on the 19th, and going into quarters at the camp of instruction in Benton Barracks. They remained there until December 8th, receiving instruction in drill and camp duties, in which it became fairly proficient before taking the field for active service against the enemy.
According to military records, Pvt. Francis M. Flory was 18 years old (see footnote 1) when he mustered on 15 October 1861 to serve three years in the 11th Iowa. Muster rolls indicate he was present for duty at the Battle of Shiloh, the Siege of Corinth, the Battle of Corinth, the Battle of Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion’s Hill, Big Black River Crossing, and the assault on Ft. Beauregard, Vicksburg. After reenlisting, he participated in the Atlanta Campaign where he was killed on 22 July 1864 near Atlanta. He is now buried in the National Cemetery at Marietta, Ga. Plot E-5784.
Pvt. Flory was the son of miller George W. Flory (1813-Aft1880) and Phebe Shandel (1822-Aft1880) of Mount Pleasant, Henry county, Iowa. In 1850, the Flory family resided in Jefferson, Richland county, Ohio.
I take up my pen to let you know that I have arrived safe in Camp McLeland [McClellan]. We have good times here. Our camping ground is in sight of the river. We have good board tents and good bunks. ² We have plenty to eat—good bread, beef, beans, rice, potatoes, pork, sugar, coffee, [and] molasses. I am well pleased with the country.
I hope that you will not fret about me as I am doing well. We reached Burlington about sunset and went aboard the Kate Cassel ³ and got a good supper and started for Davenport. The night was beautiful. We could see everything plain and did not sleep a wink the whole night. We had a race with another boat. The other boat had four miles the start and we come up with her in about an hour and then come the tug of war. For about four hours we had it nip and tuck but finally we got the best of her. We landed in Davenport about 9 o’clock in the morning and marched up to Camp McLeland [McClellan]. We live like kings.
I hope you will write soon and tell me all about everything. How is aunt and cousin? How is Leam? Direct your letters to Davenport, Iowa. But the Captain [Samuel McFarland] is calling the company together.
Yours truly, — F. M. Flory
¹ The 1860 US Census enumerates Frank Flory in his parents home on 18 June 1860 and gives his age as 15. It seems likely that Frank was only 16 when he enlisted though he gave his age to to the recruiting officer as 18.
² Pvt. Flory calls them “board tents” but the accommodations were actually wooden barracks. By mid August 1861, “13 barracks 22×52 capable of holding 1,352 men, also sufficient stalls for 130 horses; a commissariat 20×40 feet, a granary 16×30 feet, a guard house 16×16 feet, an officers’ quarters 20×20 feet” had been erected by a work crew of 26 men. Camp McClellan was the rendezvous of the Eighth, Eleventh, Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Sixteenth regiments of infantry, and also of recruits for the older regiments. The number of troops at the camp was diminished by April 1862 and the Relief Association of Davenport began to refit the camp for an army hospital.
³ Sternwheeler Kate Cassel, built 1854 and dismantled 1863. She was used to transport U. S. troops and supplies during the Civil War.