Many thanks to Michael West for submitting
Albert West's letters to our web site!
Albert West was 37 years old when he enrolled as a Corporal in Company D, 48th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry on October 6th 1861. His letters to his wife, Jane, span from October 25, 1861 at Camp Dennison to March 23, 1862 - two weeks before Shiloh. Albert was wounded at Shiloh and died on June 20, 1862 in a confederate prison at Macon, Georgia.
Albert West was born to Harrison West and Eliza Jane "Polly" McFadden West in Wayne Township, Clinton Co., Ohio on July 26, 1824. Albert married Jane Luckey on March 30, 1845 and had 5 children, two of their children dying young. When he volunteered, he left behind his wife Jane and three boys: Daniel aged 9; Sylvester aged 7; and Sanford aged 5.
Jane’s younger brother, Jonah Luckey, figures prominently in Albert’s letters. Jonah served with Albert in the 48th. He was mustered into Company A, but later transferred to Company D, perhaps to be with Albert. Like Albert, he did not come home. Jonah apparently was on his way home in the summer of 1862, however, as described in the letters, Jonah was sick and may have died of his continuing illness.
Many of the letters include Albert’s information and advice about the farm and promises to work things out when he could next visit home. Albert was concerned about Jane overworking herself managing the farm so he arranged for Jane’s brother, Barny, to help out at the farm. Unfortunately, Barny does not prove to be much help and Albert's letters trace his changing attitude toward Barny. One early letter is addressed to Jane and Barny and invites him to visit Camp Dennison to “have a sight.” Later Albert questions Barney’s manhood. Finally he becomes “that boy.” There is no record of Barney's opinion about Albert. Albert's attention to farm management declines after the 48th crosses the Ohio river and heads south.
Albert includes several excerpts from poems, songs, and bible verses in his letters. Letter 2 includes the the last Stanza of “The American Flag” by Joseph Rodman Drake and letter 4 quotes both “Army Hymn” by Oliver Wendell Holmes and the union ballad “Her Own Brave Volunteer”. Letter 12 includes a paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 12:1 in his advice to his sons. Albert also wrote down the Camp Dennison Song.
Albert expresses his faith in God and the cause of freedom and affirms his willingness to give his life in the service of his family and country.
They say save the union let it cost what it will. That is what I say even should it cost my life and save our contry and leave you and the children free. It would be better than for us all to become slaves but I don’t beleave that the good Lord will let them harm me for I do beleive he is a God of justice and will sustain a man in a just cause who puts his trust in him, in God.
Albert was injured at Shiloh and taken prisoner by the enemy. He likely was held at Oglethorpe prison near Macon, Georgia where he died. His beloved union was saved at the cost of his own life.
When Albert died he left Jane with young children and a farm that she needed help to manage. Albert's Uncle Benson's wife also died in 1862 and Jane remarried Benson. Later Albert's sons "went out west" to Kansas and Oklahoma.
Albert West's letters provide a glimpse of Albert the husband, father, farmer, Christian, patriot, and soldier. It is my privilege to hold and share these letters. Thank you Albert.
Michael West, 2013
October 1861 - February 1862
February 1862 - March 1862
More about Albert West can be found on his veterans page
Albert West's letters are published here with the generous permission
of Michael West who owns the original letters and retains
the exclusive copyright to them. They may not be reproduced in any form
without his explicit permission.