This letter was written by Alexander Hogan, Jr. (1836-1892), the son of Alexander Hogan, Sr. (1802-1893) and Rebecca Weakley (1806-1847) of Hendersonville, Sumner county, Tennessee.
Before the war, “Alex” worked as a salesman for the dry goods merchant Newton J. Dodson. He entered the service in May 1861 as a Private in Co. E, 7th Tennessee Infantry. He was promoted to sergeant in late 1861, to 2d Lieutenant in 26 April 1862, and then taken prisoner at Falling Waters, Maryland, on 14 July 1863 during the Gettysburg Campaign. The regimental records indicate he remained a prisoner for the balance of the war. He took the Oath of Amnesty at Johnson’s Island and was released on 18 May 1865. Military records indicate he stood 6 foot 1 inches tall, had grey eyes, dark hair.
The 7th Tennessee was part of the famed “Archer’s Brigade” (Heth’s Division) that participated in Picket’s Charge on 3 July 1863 at Gettysburg. When 2d Lt. Hogan stepped forward to cross the fields in front of Cemetery Ridge on that fateful day, he was second in charge of his company of 26 men. After 1st Lt. Robert Miller was struck down by artillery fire, Lt. Hogan assumed command of those that were left and led them forward to the rail fences that lined the Emmitsburg Road. Here most of the men—including Lt. Hogan—hunkered down under severe artillery and musketry fire. Only seven men in the company ventured beyond the Emmitsburg Road and all of them were either killed or taken prisoner. Only eight men Company E survived the “charge” and made their way back to Seminary Ridge. [See Writing Process—Tennessee Valor]
After the war, Alex became a dry good merchant in Nashville. It does not appear that he married until 1890 when he was 54 years old. His wife, Alexina Tucker (1864-1945) wasn’t even born yet when Alex wrote this letter in February 1864. She bore him three children before he died but they all died as infants.
[Note: Prisoners’ letters were limited to one page in length.]
Prison, Johnson’s Island
Near Sandusky, Ohio
February 10, 1864
Miss Sarah, dear friend,
Yours of the 8th ult. came to hand 17th ult.—also one newspaper—and I answered immediately. Since I wrote you, about 300 prisoners have been sent away, I suppose to another prison, and it is rumored that more will be sent very soon. But we have so many rumors that we never know when to credit them. They are being sent away alphabetically so it is provable that I will go with the next company. Some think that this move is an indication of an early exchange but somehow I cannot see it in that light myself, I think the reason why some are being sent away is that we are too much crowded here.
The weather has been very cold for several days, The ice in the bay was broken up a few days ago but it is frozen over again this morning. I thought I had seen cold weather in the mountains of Virginia but it was nothing to compare with the cold here. I wish I had something interesting to write you but every day is about the same here—all dull and monotonous except occasionally we stir up a little fun by joking with each other. There is not so much wickedness here as might be supposed being shut off from the world. I know of 5 or 6 persons that were great swearers when they came here than have entirely reformed. Some have joined the church. That perhaps will seem strange to you but we have officers who are ministers from almost every denomination.
How is Mr. Everett’s family getting along? Mrs. Murry and Mr. H. R. Buchanan? Not space to write more. I am well.
— Alex Hogan