This letter was written by Martin L. Claybaugh (1837-1904) of Co. D., 6th Missouri Infantry. When he enlisted in July 1861, he was described as 23 years old, standing 5 feet 7.5 inches tall, with brown hair and blue eyes. His place of birth was given as Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania, where he learned he became a “Collier” (coal miner).
The 6th Missouri Infantry was organized at St. Louis, Missouri June 15 – July 9, 1861, and mustered in for three years service. The regiment was attached to Pilot Knob, Missouri, to September 1861. Fremont’s Army of the West to January 1862. Department of the Missouri to April 1862. 1st Brigade, 5th. Division, Army of the Tennessee, to July 1862. 1st Brigade, 5th Division, District of Memphis, Tennessee, to November 1862. Duty at Memphis until November. Expedition to Coldwater and Hernando, Miss., September 9–13.
Martin Claybaugh died in 1904 in Ironton, Iron county, Missouri and was buried in the Masonic Cemetery.
Camp, Memphis, Tennessee
September the 13, 1862
I received your letter and hasten to answer it. It found me well and was glad to hear that you was well. I have just got off the battleground and my mind ain’t set right to write but I will try to give you a few lines to let you know that I am living yet but pretty near run down.
We run the damned rebels 3 days and fought them. We run them into the State of Mississippi and killed a great many of them. I did not learn how many of them yet. The first fight the first day, the rebels lost 40 and a great many wounded and we lost 3 and 12 wounded. We had 2 & 3 fights every day and every fight their loss was greater for every day we would get closer to them. They only stayed one day and fought us and there they only stood 15 minutes and our cannons let loose on them and thinned their ranks and they run like dogs. They had about ten to our one. When we commenced on them, I suppose they had even number. [We] run them till they burnt the bridges and we could not go any farther but turned in and helped them to destroy their property. We tore their railroad up for 5 miles and burn the railroad bridges and the mills that they was grinding on.
I was truly glad to hear from you for it is the second letter that I have got from you since I have been in the South. You must not think hard of me for writing to you as I did for I thought that you had forgotten me. I have wrote to the rest the same as I did to you and will not write till I get an answer from them.
Dear niece, you seem to think that I have stuck my own pretty deep. I don’t think that I have by the way that she writes to me. You seem to think that I have put the question to her whether she would marry but I have not and don’t think that it would pay. What do you think? But I think that she is a lady too good for me. I may take the [ ] to ask her some of these times. Do you think it would pay? Pay or not pay, I am bound to ask her. I will wait till you answer this and let me know in your next letter whether it will pay or not, and if you think it will pay, I will do my duty and stick to it till the war is over and if I am spared, I [will] make my words true.
While I am writing this I have got a letter from the old man Reel and he said that he had a place for me to go to and he said that he could get me in charge of a company there. I think that I will go to Missouri and be a captain. He said that he would let me know in the next letter. If I do go and get a command, I will have Thomas to go too. Tom is well and he came out of the battle safe.
Write soon and excuse me for my short letter and bad scribbling for I can’t write today. Only write soon as you get this and let me know how you are getting along. Goodbye for this time. Write soon.
Direct to Memphis, Tenn.
Company D, 6 Missouri Infantry
in care of Col. [James Harvey] Blood
M. L. Clayburgh to Lizzie Coleman