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James Maxwell
Company D, 127th Illinois Infantry

" Now a little about our Expedition to Vicksburg. It was a failure. We had to retreat back—we are on our way—we do not know where. We are about half the way before Vicksburg and Memphis on our way up the river...." James Maxwell, June 5, 1863


[Excerpts only]

Aboard the Spread Eagle--

June 5, 1863

Dear Sister Mary—

I received your letter and was glad to hear from you. I am now very well at present as I caught a bad cold and it settled on my lung and I cough so nights that it almost kills me. But I hope I will get over soon.

Now a little about our Expedition to Vicksburg. It was a failure. We had to retreat back—we are on our way—we do not know where. We are about half the way before Vicksburg and Memphis on our way up the river. I will not write any particulars for you can find out more in the papers than I can write. All I know is our Regt. Was in a fight. We had two wounded in our Company. There was one killed and 8 wounded in our Regt. It is not very pleasing to hear the bullets whistling within an inch of your head. It makes a fellow think of home, you better believe. I hope I will never see another battle for I want the war to end as quick as possible. I don’t care how they end it, only so it ends.

I am sorry to hear that you and the baby are not well. Tell Benjamin he must take good care of you and the baby. If he don’t--when I come home, I will lam him. Tell Liny never to go back to Highland to live, for Ally says Aunt Katy is as much different as she can be, for when father is not around she scolds her all the time. But when father is there, she is all sunshine and sugar….

Tell Benjamin I would like to be there a thrashing with him. I think I like thrashing better than soldiering and I’m not afraid to say so. If anyone don’t know anything about soldiering until they try it. They may think they know. I advise never to enlist.

I will not write any more about soldiering, for you may think I am sick of it. Has Liny got any of my clothes? If she has, tell her to take good care of them, for I may need them sometime. I cannot write anymore at present. Be sure and write often and nevermind me for I do not get a chance to send a letter more than once in two weeks or more. When you write again, send me a paper—the latest you can get, for I would like to know what is going on in the States….

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Submitter: Sherri Cawley James Maxwell enlisted on August 13, 1862. He mustered into Company “D”, 127th Illinois Infantry. He was mustered out on May 31, 1865

Brian Brown, author of In the Footsteps of the Blue and Gray: A Civil War Research Handbook which can be purchased from ABE Books kindly sends the following information:

James R. Maxwell was born in Milford (?) or Westford (?) (the entry was almost illegible). The state looked like Connecticut in the Illinois service records, but census records indicate birth in Ohio.

On 8/13/62, he joined Company D, 127 Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment at Chicago. He mustered in on 9/5/62, also at Chicago. He was discharged on May 31, 1865 at Washington D.C. At the time of his enlistment, he was single, a farmer, age 20, 5-10, black hair-gray eyes-light complexion and resided in Highland, Grundy County, Illinois. On the 1860 census of Grundy County Illinois, Wauponsia township, page 170, James Maxwell, a 21 year old farmer hand who was born in Ohio, is listed.

In 1890, Maxwell applied for an invalid's pension and received certificate #797043. At the time, he was living in Illinois. In 1930, his widow Emily (who was living in Illinois, applied for a widow's pension and received certificate #A-5-15-30.

Read more letters in the Maxwell Collection: undated | 5 Jan. 1863 | February 15, 1863 | 24 March 1863 | 29 May 1871 | 30 Sept. 1873

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