Unpublished Soldier’s Letters

77 [Oregon Trail] Ingraham, William W. Archive of Eight Original Autograph Letters, July 28, 1847 to July 12, 1848, to His Brother, Edward, in Kickapoo, Peoria County, Illinois, 21 pages, in ink. One letter is written from Fort Leavenworth, four of the letters are written from Fort Kearney, and the last three letters are written from Grand Island, Nebraska. The letters all have postmarkings (including postage paid) from the following places: (2) Fort Leavenworth, hand-dated inside postmark, 10 cents; (5) High Creek, MO, hand cancelled, 10 cents; (1) Savannah, MO, hand-cancelled, 10 cents. Condition is generally very good or better, some splits at folds. Housed in protective mylar, with partial typed transcriptions of the letters. William Ingram enlisted at St. Louis in 1847 with the ‘Sublette Rangers’ (Oregon Battalion, Company A) during the Mexican War. “I am now on my way to the Rocky Mountains to kill Indians and hunt buffaloe…the city [St. Louis] was full of companies of horse and foot volunteers, either for Oregon, Mexico City, Santa Fe, California or Chihuahua…when the war with Mexico is over I am coming back again, when discharged at the end of the war I am entitled to 160 acres of land, I think I will take it somewhere in Oregon. I shall not be able to send letters home more than once a year.” Despite this last statement, he went on to write seven more letters, describing his Western experiences until his discharge in July of 1848 (when he gives his plans for returning home). He is a detailed writer about Army life on the plains, and mentions the Mormons at a couple of points in his letters: “There has been great excitement in the fort…the quartermaster refused the troops lumber for their quarters and sold it to the Mormons that moved into the camp… we were paid our four months wages the day before yesterday and now there is nothing but gambling and horse racing going on, there has been no less than 20 races today and it is not dinner time yet.” A very good group of unpublished letters by an educated soldier (who writes at one point about the ‘want of books’) from the forts on the Oregon Trail.

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