Columbus, Ky. Dec the 28, 1862
Dear Wife, it is with pleasure that i take my pen in hand to let you
know i am well at presant and hope you the same all only i have the
mumps but not bad at all. we are in Bebalelom(?) of the South. we are
in a fort called fort Hallach. the 33 is here now also the 35th and the
111 Ill also some of the Regulars. there is about 2000 men here now and
i dont know but more. it is so warm here that we go in our shirt sleeves
the most of the time. preston Reed and Carl Gaston was here today and
they are well. We expect to fight here before long. we are 20 miles
from Cario Ill. i like this state so far. We have some great sites down
this way. i will tell you Cannon balls that i cant lift,
they are so big. Brig. Gen Fish is in command here now the boys is all
well now but one. tell William and Elisia to rite to me and you to. i
am a going to write to your father this afternoon. give my best
respects to all and write soon.
John A Loveless
ps Direct your letters to John A Loveless
Care of Capt Jenkins
via Cario Ill
Fort Halleck (Hallack as John spelled it) is located along the Mississippi River 26 miles south of Cairo, Illinois. You can see the google maps of the location at this link. In September of 1861, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant obtained Cairo, Ill and Paducah KY. When Grant tried to take the advantageous location of Columbus KY and Belmont, Missouri (on the other side of the Mississippi) he discovered that Confederate General Polk had already claimed the location in the summer of 1861 and named it Fort DeRussy. The Confederates fortified and armed this fort extensively and it became the most extensively fortified location in the United States at that time. During the summer of 1861, there were 19,000 men and 160 siege guns at the fort. After learning that Polk intended to bring more soldiers to the fort, Grant developed a plan during the spring of 1862. By March, 1862 Union forces occupied the fort and renamed it Fort Halleck. The location and fort were turned into a state park for Kentucky, the Columbus-Belmont State Park, in the summer of 1931. Many more details of the fort can be found on that site.
Brig. General Fisk (not Fish as in the letter) was in charge of the 33rd Missouri Infantry for the Union. (His picture is at the top of this post.) He was an abolitionist, leader in the temperance movement, and businessman who came west from New York to Michigan as part of the westward migration of the 1800’s. After the war, he also went on to open the first free schools for both black and white children in the southern US by working through the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands after being appointed assistant commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau for Kentucky and Tennessee. Fisk University, created in 1866, is a historically black college named in honor of General Fisk, who donated the Union Army barracks in Nashville, TN where classes were first held. He then went on to run for President of the United States for the Prohibition Party in 1888 – he came in third.