This letter was written by Royal Prouty (1843-1918), the son of Varney Prouty (1798-1875) and Mary Carrel (1812-1869) of Mentor, Lake county, Ohio. Royal wrote the letter to his sister, Ellen Elizabeth (Prouty) Carpenter, the wife of Lucious Harrison Carpenter (1828-1905).
Royal was 19 years old when he enlisted in Co. F, 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) on 21 August 1862. Though he enlisted for three years, Royal was discharged prematurely from the regiment on 29 June 1863 for disability.
Pvt. Prouty wrote this letter while the regiment was chasing Gen. John Hunt Morgan through Kentucky.
Camp near Horse Cave, Kentucky
January 2, 1863
Well I will write a few lines and let you know where I am and how I feel. Well, in the first place, we are on a chase after Old Morgan. We get up in the morning and start and go from 18 to 25 miles a day and most of the boys grow fat. I hain’t felt better since I left home. I am a getting fat and if we could keep on the tramp, I would feel better. It does not agree with me to lay in camp and most of the boys say they all feel better when on the march. Charley Radcliffe is as fat as a pig and stands it first rate.
We are sorry we sent for the box but it can’t be helped now. We have not had any mail since Christmas and don’t know when we shall. I will write when I get a chance. We went a rabbit hunting and got a few. ¹ One regiment got 200 rabbits yesterday. We did not go a hunting but laid in our tents. It is nice weather here, I can tell you. It is colder some than it was in Tennessee. We have good rail fence to burn. It makes first rate fire. What meat we have we pick it up on the road—that is, when we are on the march.
Christmas Frank Call got a box from home and he give me a fried cake and an apple and he had some butter and give me some. He is a very good boy. He has been sick and looks quite poor in the face. Well, I guess I will wait another day and write some. Direct to Louisville, Kentucky, to follow the regiment.
January 3rd—Well, I will try and write a few lines this morning. Well, we got an order to strike tents yesterday at 2 o’clock and came to this place—Cave City. It is on the railroad. There [are] only 5 or 6 shops here. Last night we got an order to fall in line and give 3 cheers for the news. The news were that our troops had beat the rebels at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and that our cavalry had got all of Old Morgan’s Artillery. We yelled some, I can tell you. It was the only time the 105th has hooted since they left Camp Cleveland.
When we are on the march, we get right along. Well, I will stop till some other time. We don’t know when we will leave here. It may be in 10 minutes. Well, we are a going to Murfreesboro, I guess, but can’t tell. You must write and so will [I]. We don’t know when we shall get our mail nor don’t fret about it. Give my respects to all enquiring friends and tell them I am all right. You must not think about me too much.
I suppose it is cold weather up in Mentor. I would like to be there and get some potato and butter and sausages and bread.
From Royal Prouty
Well Ellen, you may think this is a great letter but I want to do something to pass away the time. I would like to see the boys and all of my folks in Ohio. You done first rate in your last letter in sending those stamps. You must write when you have time. So goodbye for this time.
Does Mother keep well. — Royal Prouty
¹ Apparently rabbit hunting was a favorite pastime of the regiment. On Christmas Day in 1862, the 105th OVI conducted a rabbit hunt using nothing but stout sticks. They “formed a hollow square, faced inward, took distance at ten steps apart, and began marching toward the center, beating the cover as they went. It was a jolly hunt, abounding in shouts and ludicrous contretemps. Many rabbits were killed, many more escaped; there were broken heads and bruised shins, for one cannot be sure who is behind the rabbit at which he strikes; but nobody minded such things, and few who engaged in it will recall a scene of more hilarious merriment.” [The Story of a Thousand, page 160]