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Wartime Letters of William Henry Adams,

Co. G  3rd Kentucky Cavalry, CSA

Corp. William Henry Adams, born
June 19, 1841 Enmiskellen, Ireland;
died Apr 21, 1921 Nashville, Tenn.
Photo taken at Camp Douglas Prison.

Information on this page courtesy of Clint Reynolds (of Tennessee Ridge, TN). Clint maintains a website entitled, Confederate Treasury. Website features authentic Confederate government notes ($$), please pay him a visit.


William H. Adams' father, George Forbes Adams (son of John and Eliza Adams), was born in New-Town-Butler county Fermanogh, Ireland on June 27, 1802. His father John Adams, started to America with his son George, but died just before the ship arrived in New Orleans, and was buried in that city immediately upon landing.
 
         George Forbes Adams married Miss Matilda Moore, November 23,1836 in Ireland. She emigrated to this country, with her family, in the year 1844. They settled in Logan county, Kentucky and then in the Port Royal, Tennessee area. George Forbes Adams and his wife Matilda (Moore) Adams left Northern Ireland with their eleven children and headed to America. They came to the Clarksville area on June 20th, 1844. They then settled in the Logan County, Kentucky area, where they engaged in farming and merchandising at Keysburg, Ky. for ten years. In 1857 they moved to the Port Royal, Tennessee area again engaging in farming. Matilda Moore Adams, died May 30, 1885. George Forbes Adams died March 7, 1894.The following is a list of their children:
 
            1.   Eliza Adams
            2.  George Forbes Adams Jr. (see note below)
            3.   John Adams (twin brother to George Jr.)(see note below)
            4.  William Henry Adams (see note below)
            5.  Frank Adams (see note below)
            6.  Joseph Watkins Adams (see note below)
            7.   Mary Adams
            8.  Alice Adams
            9.   Susan Adams
            10. Fannie Adams
            11. Ida Adams
 

Sons that Served in the Confederate Army:


In June 1861, news of war was traveling across the State of Kentucky like a wildfire. William, almost 21 years old, enlisted with his three brothers, in Company  K 1st Kentucky Infantry. [Col. Torn Taylors 1st Kentucky Infantry, serving one year in General Joe E. Johnsons Division]. George, John, William, and Frank Adams served well under Captain Jim Childress and when their company disbanded, they all reenlisted. This time in Morgans 3rd Kentucky Cavalry. John was promoted to Brevet Second Lieutenant and William from Private to Corporal. As memers of Company G 3rd Kentucky Cavalry, they served, as did the other Orphan Battalion members, with valor. All the brothers except John, was captured while crossing the Ohio River at Buf- fington Island, with Col.Basil Duke in command, on July 19, 1863. John was later captured at Cynthiana and imprisoned at Johnsons Island on Lake Erie. William, George, and Frank found themselves at the mercy of the Union soldiers as they were first sent to Camp Morton, Indiana. It was here that Frank became very ill and died. His remains were brought back to Clarksville, Tennessee for burial in Greenwood Cemetery. This left George and William, who were then transferred to  Camp Douglas, Illinois.
 
           William, being a very devout Christian, wrote of his love for his family, and his brother. He wished there was something that could be done, and as his brother became very sick, due to their confinement, he was able to nurse George at the camp hospital. Unfortunately, George Forbes Adams, Jr. died about July 1864. He was buried there near the hospital at Camp Douglas. William, having to deal with the loss of his two brothers, and the seperation of John, remained a prisoner until his release in 1865.

 
2nd Lt. John Adams
Co. G 3rd KY Cavalry

Brothers serving in Confederate Army, listed according to birth order:


         2. George Forbes Adams Jr., He was a member of Company G/3rd. Kentucky
             Cavalry. He was born in Ireland. He died as a prisoner of war at
             Camp Douglas, Illinois in 1864. He is buried somewhere in that area.

        3. John Adams. He was born in Ireland, December 4,1838. He was the twin
             brother of #2 George F. Adams Jr. He was a Brevet Second Lieutenant
             in Morgans Cavalry. He was captured at Cynthiana with Morgans troops
             sent to Johnsons Island Prisoner of War Camp in Lake Erie. See next
             page.

         4. William Henry Adams. Born in Ireland 7-18-1840. Enlisted 6-17-1861
             at the age of 20 years, in Co.k/lst Kentucky Infantry. He served
             under Captain Jim Childress. He was mustered for pay from 1-1-1862
             to 5-13-1862 and military records state he was mustered out of ser-
             vice under Order of the Secretary of War. He wrote, "went to Virginia
             under Colonel Tom Taylor in 1861 served one year. Disbanded and joined
             Morgans 3rd. Kentucky Cavalry." He enlisted again like he wrote, in
             his diary, and was promoted to rank of Corporal, Company G/3rd Ky.
             Cavalry. "Served under Captain J.R. Dorch, wounded at Dam #1 near
             W. & M. College (William and Mary) in Virginia. Wounded in foot."
             "Under Morgan at Hartsville." he also wrote, "I'm a prisoner at
             Camp Douglas captured (July 19,1863) at Buffington, 1st on Ohio
             raid and exchanged at Richmond."

         5. Frank Adams. Also born in Ireland, and in the same Company as his
             brothers George, John and William. He was also a prisoner. At first
             they were sent to Camp Morton, Indiana. This is where Frank died.
             His remains were sent back to Clarksville, Tennessee for burial, and
             lies in Greenwood Cemetary.

         6. Joseph Watkins. He was old enough to have served, and probably did.
             But there is not evidence that has been found to prove the fact.
 


 
 

The Letters From Prison

 

 

                                                     Camp Morton August 13
 
         Father,
            I seat myself for the purpose of letting you know how we are getting
          along. George and myself are both well but Frank is tolerable sick,he
         has got the flux. I think that you had better come to see him and get
         im out of prison.
         The rest of the boys are all well. George has wrote home twice.
         love to Ma, sisters, and brother and- believe me your affectionate
         and George send theirs to all.                        Wm.H.Adams
        


                                                                                      Camp Douglas,Ill.
                                                                                      Sept. llth.1863

                Dear Mother,
                      I recieved your letter of the 2nd. on yesterday, and also sisters.
                 We are glad to hear that you all are enjoying good health for good health
                 is one of the greatest blessings bestowed on mankind by your heavenly
                 father. I wrote to Pa on the 8th to send by Mr. Kennel but he never left;
                 for home until yesterday. I wrote to sister on the 9th and sent it by
                 mail. For both of these letters I stated that Georges health was bad, and
                 I suppose that before this will have reached you that Pa will be on his
                 way hear. George says that he feels better today than he has for the last
                 two days. I hope that they will continue to mend. Mrs. Tully and Mrs.
                 Smith have been here for three days, they were not allowed to see their
                 sons until yesterday. Mrs. T & S had to teligraph to General McLane in
                 Cincinnatti, the Provost Marshal to get permission to see them. All per-
                 sons wishing to see their sons will have to get permission from General
                 McLane. Pa wants to know about the clothing he sent to me at Camp Morton,
                 I got the satchel and the two wollen shirts. Frank has supplied all my
                 wants for the present except the socks that I sent for. He said he could
                 get me cotton but not woolen socks. I will get his adress the first op-
                 ertunity. Sam Burnett and John Watson says that they are very mutch
                 obliged to Pa for his trouble. Since they have come to this camp their
                 health has improved so much that they have concluded to remain in prison
                 and not take the oath. Johnson West, Charles Haddox and the rest of the
                 boys of Co. B & G are well. We have preaching every day. The Chaplin of
                 the Regiment that is on duty hear has distributed a great many Testaments
                 to the prisoners hear. He also brings the American Mesenger and some
                 tracts. George unites with me in sending love to you, Pa, sisters, and
                 brother. He says he will write soon. I will answer sisters letters soon.
                 Give my best respects to my inquiring friends also to Dick Hanner and
                 Wash.
 
                                                               Your affectionate son
                                                               Wm. Adams.



         Camp Douglas,Ill.
                                                          November 1st, 1863
 
         Elisa Adams Dearest Sister,
              Your most welcome letter of the 20th and maws of the 24th have
         come to hand. I recieved the socks and gave two pair away. The net
         caps were very acceptible. Mon Merritt says if you have another you
         must send it to him. I am very well acquainted with Dr. Brunson, he
         is one of the physitians hear. He is a very cleaver gentleman.
              Did you get the ring that I sent you by Mr. Walters Gill. I will
         send one in this letter I maid out of a mussel shell that came from
         the battle field of stone river. I have two very nice ones which I
         will send the first opportunity by hand. DM arrived hear last monday.
         You spoke of sending Geo. some butter: it is worth forty cents pur
         pound at the sutlers. If the weddings that you spoke of comes off
         you must send us some of the cake. I wrote to cousin F. last week and
         asked him to send George some unboalted flower and a fowl. Georges
         health is tolerable good. The health of the camp is not as good as it
         has been. All of your acquaintances are well. The weather is cold and
         rany, the camp is very sloppy. Give my love to all. Tell Ma that I will
         answer her letter soon. Give my kindest regards to all my enquiring
         friends.
 
                                                  Your affectionate brother,
                                                  WM. Adams.

                                                          Camp Douglas,Ill.
                                                          Wednesday November
                                                            25th 1863
 
              Very Dear Parents,
                Your letter of the 4th to brother George and myself came safely
              hand and George answered them. Georges health is tolerable good
            (about like it was when you were hear). All the boys are in good health
             and spirits, Cul Atkins, H. Yates, and M. Dame got their money soon
            after you left. I went to see Mr. Bushel (Comissary of Property) at
            head Quarters yesterday about W. Bowins money. He looked over his books
            and found that someone had drawn five dollars of the money, the other
            five W. Bowin got this morning. Mr. Thompson Rawson took Dames over-
            coat and exchanged it for him. The reason that my money gave out so
              soon is that I loaned Tip five dollars and George loaned him two, and
              I loaned Martin two and they have never returned the money. I got the
            five dollars that Cousin Frank sent me. The box of eatables that you
              expressed to us came safely to head quarters. George went after it
               three times, brother John and Joseph eat as much of it as we did. We
             are under many obligations to our kind parents for the many necessarys
               of life that you have procured for us. We are very comfortable at pre
               sent We still have preaching once a week and pray meeting every even-
             ing. We also have a Bible class that meets every Sabbeth morning. I am
             still striving to make my way to heaven. I still feel that I am on
               praying ground and pleading terms. My Savior has certainly been my best
              friend since I have been a prisoner more especially. May God bless and
              preserve us all and if it is his ritious will, permit us to meet again
              on earth is the prayer of your affectionate son.



Camp Douglas,Ill.
                                                                  Mar. 12th, 1864
 
 
                 Dear Father,
                      Your kind letter of the 29th was recieved and read with interest
                 George also recieved one from sister. It always cheers us up to hear
                 from the old home stead. You know that Ceorges very delicate and
                 what inclined to have the blues anyway. I dont think that his health
                 is quite as good as it was when you were hear. The dyspepsy and chronic
                 diarea are the two diseases that he suffers with. We heard directly
                 from Brother John this week he is well and getting along first rate.
                 The gentle man that brought the news belongs to the same Regt. that
                 John does and is intimatily acquainted with him. This gentleman was
                 captured the 25th of Feb. James Gill is well so are Johnson West,
                 Charley and all the rest of the neighbor boys that are hear. We kneed
                 some more P. Stamps. When you write your letters they must not be Long-
                 er that two pages of note or one of this kind of paper. I would like to
                 have two callico and two woolen shirts if you could find a convient way
                 to send them. George joines me in love to all.
 
 
                                                              Your sons, Wm H  Adams

                                                                Camp Douglas April 7th,1864
 
                    Dear Sister rec' your letter of the 23rd with the shirts aso one
                    from Father of later date, answered Fathers several days ago de-
                    laying yours also Jo's til now as the nature of his demanded  a
                    hasty reply. My health has not been so good lately owing to the
                    cold I caught during the past winter in the delicate state of my
                    health so I reluctunlly obtained my consent to come to the Hos-
                    pital one week ago where I have been much pleased with my change.
                    I found very clean comfortable bed quarters good medical attention
                    kind and attentive nurses and wholesome diet as I could ask, all
                    to my surprise as I always had a horror of the Hospital especially
                    since my last summer's experience. Think I've improved wonderfully;
                    beyond my most sanquine expectations. My bowels are checked, my
                    digestion improving rapidly, sufer no pain, only (principal) com-
                    plain is debility; feel my strength increasing everyday in fact I've
                    never been so week as to be confined to my bed. Hope I will not be
                    long ere I recover my former vigor & health. With necessary prudence
                    indied and the blessing of a kind providence, I feel better and more
                    cheerfull than I've felt for months. Tel Father to apply directly to
                    his excellency the President which if he had done at first no doubt
                    would have proved successful, as others have to my certain knowledge
                    lately: be not to hasty but use every precaution and advantage. All
                    your acquaintances are well. Have a nice place, plenty of leasure to
                    read: have written Cousin F for reading matter, can hear from him
                    nearly every day or get any little thing I want from the city.

                     Love to All write frequently to your Devoted Brother George.



                                                                  Camp Douglas,Ill. June 19th,1864
 
 
                   Dear Father, I rec your kind letter of the 9th & 10th but could not
                   answer them until now. I also recd half of sisters of the 1st and
                   recd the box of eatibles on Monday for which I am very thankful. I
                   got permission to visit the hospital on Sunday, the day after you
                   were to see him last. It is unnecessary for me to say anything about
                   his condition then, he is about like you left him he is sinking slowly.
                   he dont seem to suffer mutch but is very weak. It seems very hard for
                   such a boy as George to be compelled to suffer so long. He is not im-
                   prisoned but is afflicted with a lingering disease without I might say
                   a friend to comfort him. I think that he has more sympathysers in pri-
                   son than any boy that has ever been in hear nearly every one knows him
                   and are always inquiring of his welfare. I could not have the pictures
                   taken in time for you but will send one in this letter. I suppose you
                   will recognise all of the faces except Mon Merritt (Dr. M son). Give
                   my love to all.
                                                  Your affectionate son Wm. H. Adams
                                                         Co. G 3rd Ky Cav.
 
 


 Camp Douglas,Ill. Hospital
                                                              June 20th, 1864
 
         Dear Father, I am now at the hospital as a nurse. George is about as
         you left him he is in tolerable good spirits. I hope he will soon be-
         gin to mend. It was through the kindness of the Dr. and Maj. Skinner
         that I was permitted to come to nurse my very dear brother. I write
         this in a hurry I will write again soon. All the rest of the boys
         are well. I got the box you sent me for which I am very thankful.
         As ever your affectionate son.
                                                          Wm. H. Adams Co.G 3rd Ky Cav



 
 
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Background sound, "Battle Song of Kentucky" midi file, copyright 1998 Scott Williams, All Rights Reserved.