Gossip from Ft. Leavenworth 1845 & 1846

McLean to Love

Fort Leavenworth Mo.

Nov 26th 1845

Dear John

Had you not said in your first letter, that you would write to me on arriving at Dayton, I suppose I would be obliged to commence this with an apology; but as you were so rash as to give one that piece of information be it on your own bead.

You give a charming picture, truly, of the delights and charms of that famous city; what with tableaux, balls, parties and distinguished consideration I suspect the gallant Captain has changed in so remarkable a degree, that Leavenworth would stand mute with astonished admiration, should any circumstance place him suddenly in the midst of it.  But I am glad to see that in all your gaiety and amusements you do not forget those who are sadly doomed to a winter of dull and insipid monotony.  You have made a happy escape I do assume (Barring Miss Joe, of course) for if a man here should laugh heartily, no, all would be astonished, so uncommon a thing has it become.  Each one seems to be impressed with the conviction that something dreadful is before him and that all he can do, is to brace himself up against it as well as he can, and bear it with as much fortitude as he can muster.  The Major has lately introduced an improvement, which perhaps will give a little variety to a few of the subs, and prevent them from positively dying outright with ennui, for he has taken the important step of ordering an officer of the guard, and it only waiting to have the room fixed to keep the young gentlemen from catching cold.  Poor subs!  Don’t you pity them?  I do really and truly!  Only think how sad a change it would be from Captain Love, commander of all the military forces of Dayton, favorite of the ladies, associate of Mrs Sink, the tableaux vivaux, in fine the observed of all observers, to “Mr. Love you will visit the sentinels every hour, and see that they perform their duty, you have leave the guard house to go to your meals but on no other account except on duty”  Throw back your head dear Captain and pity the poor subs—think of that lonely room, when you are in the midst of a brilliant coterie, think of that supperless belly when your are enjoying your [game?] supper, think of those heavy disconsolate eyelids when your only [illegible] is that you have to return.  Oh John you are really a happy dog!

So you think your polka investment is a bad speculation.  By the way, have you and Jack [1st Infantry Second Lieutenant John] Terrett settled the pointed of that dispute yet? Or do you both affirm and stick to it that the other is wrong.  I had a good laugh at that navigate to this site.  [AQM, First Lieutenant William M. D “Issac”] McKissack puts it in his best style; giving to the whole scene the most graphic effect.  But speaking of speculations, the richest I have known or heard of for some time in one I made myself and three weeks since, I bought a filly, and such a filly! Your old [Sen?] would have big [delight?] to have looked upon her, a head so small, an eye so big, a neck so beautiful and limbs so perfectly graceful few such have been seen at the old fort.  Well John I loved it at first sight and bought it for a cool hundred, brought it here, put it in the stable, and next morning it choked to death. Beat that if you can.

Your bay does not appear to thrive some how or other, he looks rather poorly for some time but now seems to be getting better.  I believe I asked Captain B. [1st Dragoons, John H. K. Burgwin] to tell you that the leg which was wounded by the picket pin had broken out, the lower joint swelled up and finally broke; it is now running slightly, but looks as if it were getting better [it appears Love’s bay was on the Dragoon’s 1845 South Pass Expedition, which Love completed just before leaving for recruiting duty in Dayton].  I am keeping him myself, so you will know he has not been rode very hard—Sanderson has the pony and he has recovered so far from his deviltry that Mrs S. rode him over here the other day and swears she never saw his beat for a lady’s horse—Mrs Rich has a bay baby.  Mrs Hammond’s [young wife of 1st Dragoons Second Lieutenant Thomas] Shadow is beginning to increase, and Lady Foot got pups!

[1st Dragoons Capt. Phillip St. George] Cooke did not take his horse and is still here.  He sent [local attorney, recently resigned former 1st Dragoons Second Lieutenant Charles] Ruff to attend to the business in Phila.  I have sold all your things except the guns and horses, at the prices you left.  I tried to keep back the rocking chair but the confounded plebe got his eye of that the first thing. Every thing suited him very well except the bed which he swore wouldn’t keep him warm. Nothing known about your lost horse.

Give that recruit Jessie John.  Don’t let him come it over you.  If you mange that recruit in good style you know not what might come of it.  Hell make you a Major Genl, before your turn.  Did you ever ask him how he came to enlist? Miss Joe would I expect send her love if I were to tell her that you wished to be remember to her but I believe I’ll tell her that you didn’t say anything about her—think it would have a good effect.

Rich is flourishing as usual quite as fat and jovial as he [used?] to was, hasn’t begun to dance the polka yet tho I told him your opinion of his [illegible].  Major had a party last week at which of course all the elite were present.  I enjoyed myself of course.  All the young ladies were there.  How could 200 of them?  John do you know Mrs Ruff [daughter of Indian Agent/contractor John Daugherty, wife of former Dragoon officer Charles]?  If not and you are ever so unfortunate as to have to danced with her let me caution you to load yourself up to the muzzle beforehand with small talk for you’ll have use of it all—ten times worse than Mrs. H. she’s staying the winter at Cookes.

I should well like to tell you some news but there is none that would afford you five minutes amusement.  I had a letter from [Topog on South Pass Expedition, Brevet Second Lieutenant William] Franklin the other day in which he says they will certain recommend a station a Fort Laramie.  Perhaps if they do it will break up the recruiting depot at Dayton and let that recruit see some service.  Capt. M. [Benjamin Moore, Love’s Compy Commander] wants the rest.   Yours truly E. E. McLean

I raised my hands with pious horror to see the insinuations made against me in your letters to Burgwin & M [illegible] but “Mens ribs can [illegible?]” is my motto, & I defy your gross insinuations.  “vox faucibus haesit” [I was dumb with amazement].

Major Wharton


Fort Leavenworth Sept. 21st 1846
Lieut John Love 1st Drags
Dear John
As an express starts out to-morrow I take advantage of it to write you a few lines of what has transpired since my last letter. Tho’ there does not appear top be any thing of any great importance yet almost any thing from here I know will be received by you with pleasure. You see in the first place that we are still here doing peace service, while our “brother warriors” are earning for themselves imperishable fame in the field; and we feel this the more deeply as we appear to be the only company so situated in the whole army; sometimes when I sit down and ponder over matters, I can hardly realize that I am here and every body else fighting, or marching to fight with hearts bounding with hopes of glory and distinction before them. All is here so peaceful and calm; the sad and solemn beauty of the scenery so little like war and its noisy accompaniments that I can scarcely bring myself to think that such a thing is going on. But luck is, nevertheless, the fact, and here are we enjoying all the comforts of a soldier’s life, while you and every one else are undergoing the hardships, fatigues and dangers—I cannot last, I feel as if we could not linger out an inglorious existence here while all our friends are in the field.

A few days ago [Richard] Ewell was here, and tried hard to be ordered out to join you; but it was no use the Lt. Col. Could not take the responsibility.—He says he feels more disgusted  that we can; for we have the consolation of knowing that our company has not been ordered, whereas his is in the field, and he on recruiting service. He feels quite bad about it, and would give any thing in the world to be with you. Did you ever see any thing like the promotion your regiment has had. I’m perfectly disgusted with it I assure you. But did you know that you came very near losing two Captains more by [Pat] Trenor and [Philip] Thompson. The one by delirium tremens the other through the medium of a strike of lightning. Old Pat was very near going when he heard of his majority—he guzzled more rum than you would believe and wasn’t right either for a week or two but he’s well now and you need not calculate on him for a year or so. In think if he had another promotion to go through with, it would carry him off. His limits been extended to six miles and he now can visit Marshes as much as he pleases.

Thompson has been ordered to bring his company [F] here to remain during the winter at which no doubt he will be heartily disgusted as he was making arrangements to join General [John] Wool. Assurances have been given however by the Adjutant General that his company will be the first ordered out if troops are needed in the spring. He has from all accounts a fine company of young men raised principally by [Phil] Kearny who exerted himself in every way to fill the company, which by the way he had scarcely done before he was superseded by Thompson.

We have been engaged for the last month mustering in a regiment of Infantry for your army nine companies have been completed averaging more than 100 aggregate—a fine set of men as you ever saw; much superior I think to those already with you. Two mails ago, however, orders were received from Washington disbanding them; at which of course there was great and furious excitement. They were exceedingly anxious to get out, and if there had not been a difficulty about the election of a Colonel, four good companies would already have been many miles on the road—if started the orders were to let them go on. From all accounts however you will not need them, and as I hear provision are rather scarce in your parts you’d just as lief be without them. By the way John how do you like a hungry belly for a companion. I should think it be damned disagreeable—even if you do have silver plates.

Taylor’s army is on the march for Monterrey. Worth is in advance with his divisions where if has luck he may retrieve his former blunder. They marched from Camargo—all their baggage and so on is taken on pack mules—transportation by wagons being, it is said, impracticable. There is no news of importance further than that they have marched. We expect in the course of a week or two to learn of another battle as troops are said to be collecting beyond Monterrey. The health of the regulars is good but there has been much sickness amongst the volunteers and a great deal of mortality.

On the day that our orders came here for the disbanding of the Infantry regiment [3d Missouri Infantry]  there was another sad occurrence took place here. A sentinel (a volunteer) at the Magazine had a prisoner placed in his charge by the officer of the guard while he went to get a file of men to take him to the guard house. The officer had gone a hundred yards—the prisoner escaped from the sentinel who cried out to him repeatedly to stop or he would fire. He wouldn’t stop and the sentry fired. Down came  the man—dead as Adam. The company to which he belonged then rushed our in mass with a Sergeant at their head crying hang him hang him, and was only prevented from doing violence to the sentinel by the officer of the day Capt. McNair (a bold and daring fellow) rushing out in the from of them drawing his sword and threatening to run the first of them through who advanced. After a good deal of difficulty—the affair was stilled and the men quartered.

If the Regiment had been organized, Daugherty would have been the Col. [Levi] Hinkel ran for Major and if the election had been completed would have been elected I think beyond a doubt.

We are all well and enjoying ourselves greatly. Let me compliment you John on your promotion. My hopes are still pretty slim. Whistler I believe has been cashiered. Thornton acquitted. Wharton is the same old thing. Miss Joe is in fine health. She and Mrs W. have gone to St. Louis for the health of the children. I gave Miss Joe your message. She swears she’s not engaged. Miss Constance sends her love and wanted to know why you didn’t write to her. Mrs. Rich has lost her baby and has moved into the garrison. Report says two companies of the Rifle Regiment are coming up here to winter. Capt. [Nathanial] Boone has got a leave of absence for six months whenever the command of the Department thinks his services can be dispensed with–looks  something like resigning ok? Col. [Richard] Mason is still on recruiting service.

Write whenever you can and whenever you have an opportunity, I will let you know what is going on here. Remember me to all most kindly and
Believe me,
Yours Sincerely,
E. McLean [, Compy A, Ist Infy, Fort Leavenworth AAAdjGenl .]


Oct. 12, 1872—Maj. Levi Hinkle died at his home, north of Parkville.
W. C. White administered. Bond, $12,000. Maj. Hinkle
entered the army as a common soldier. After his discharge, he
was appointed foragemaster at Fort Leavenworth, and dealt
extensively with our people. He purchased a large farm near
Barry, resigned his office, and engaged in farming. He was a farseeing
and successful trader, a public-spirited citizen, and a zealous
Presbyerian. He was an ardent Union man during the war,
and for a time was provost-marshal. He was born in 1823; married
Margaret Campbell, daughter of William, of Clay. Oh.

William McClung Paxton,  Annals of Platte County, Missouri, from its exploration down to June 1 ,1897: with genealogies of its noted families, and sketches of its pioneers and distinguished people, (Kansas City: Hudson-Kimberly Publishing Co., 1897) 532.