This letter was written by John Collins Fulton (1841-1882), the son of James Fulton (1810-1875) and Elizabeth McCune (1810-1876) of Conemaugh township, Cambria county, Pennsylvania. At the time of the 1860 US Census, John was still enumerated in his parents home in Yoder Township, Cambria county, Pennsylvania—both he and his father employed as farm hands—poor as dirt—no real estate, and only $125 worth of goods to the family name. When the war erupted the following year, patriotic duty may have only been eclipsed by a steady paycheck and a chance to see something of the world other than the mountains of western Pennsylvania. And so John enlisted with other young men, mostly from nearby Indiana county, in Co. H, 12th Pennsylvania Reserves (41st Pennsylvania Infantry) in August 1861. For three years he would march with his regiment to the Seven Days Battles, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, the Mine Run Campaign, and finally the Wilderness Campaign, mustering out just before the carnage of Cold Harbor. His 1863 and 1864 diaries are published at: The John Collins Fulton Diaries.
In this letter to his sister, John mentions his sister Rebecca and his two younger brothers, Willie and Henry. He also reveals that his father was none too happy about his enlistment.
[Note: the original letter from which this previous transcription was made has not yet been located but a photocopy of the song sheet entitled “Soldier’s Memento” is shown below courtesy of Bill Fulton, great-grandson of John C. Fulton.]
[Camp Tennally, a few miles from Georgetown]
October 4th 1861
I received your letter on the 3rd of October with the most of pleasure and was very glad to hear that you was well. I am well at present and hope that these few lines will find you in the same state of health. I would have answered your letter last night but when I got your letter we was just putting on our knapsacks and getting ready to go out on picket guard. I read your letter in ranks.
We have to go about 3 miles. We have a very fine time on picket. I am on guard now and writing to you. I brought my portfolio along on purpose to write. You wanted to know if pap scolded. He asked me if I had got my spree out. He said I could get work there without going away was about all he said. He did not scold much about it.
We have very good water and plenty of soap but I gave my shirt to a darky to wash as it had never been ironed.
I got a letter from Rebecca yesterday. She said they was all well at present. Willie and Henry had the diphtheria but they are well again. I will get my likeness as soon as I get paid again. Let me know if you want paper and stamps and I will send them to you. Give my respects to all friendly enquirers.
This song [sheet] is what we want to fight for and I offer this lock of hair as the memento of the song. But I must close now but please write soon. If you leave there, give me the address. No more but I remain your dear brother, John C. Fulton
to J. [“Jane”] Fulton.
Direct as before.