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Civil War letters of
Lt. Col. Charles Whitaker

Two weeks prior to the regiment's departure for the South, Lt. Col. Whitaker received word that his wife had died. There being no relatives of either parent in Wisconsin, his eight children were left in the care of their teacher. Eventually Lt. Col. Whitaker resigned his commission and returned home to care for his family.

This is a letter written onboard the steamer Diana, Tallahatchi River, Mississippi dated April 6, 1863, while participating in the Yazoo Pass Expedition.

Miss Catharine R. Whitaker
Waukesha, Wis.

Direct to Helena
Tallahatchi River, Steamer Diana
April 6, 1863
My dear children,

I wrote on the 29th ult to Miss Hill and Judge Randles telling them what I was doing and what the army was doing, and what we expected to do. Since that time I have had no chance to send a letter home or I would have written before this, neither have we had nay more mail from the north. I hope to get a letter from home soon however, for we are now on our way back to Helena with the whole army and there I expect we shall find a mail for our Regiment. We did not make any attack upon the rebel fort as we expected. After getting eveything ready for storming the works a dispatch boat brought an order from Gen. Grant the night before our intended attack to return with the whole force to Helena and before daylight yesterday moring, we bade the rebels here good bye! And were on our way up the river with all of the boats as fast as steam could take us. We traveled about one hundred miles yesterday and at this rate we shall reach Helena on Wednesday night if the rebels do not plant batteries ahead of us. They are constantly firing on our boats from the shores with rifles and they sometimes kill and wound our soldiers but we stop whenever they do and after chasing them off we burn all of the houses near where they attack us and so we are going along.

I have been much exposed to danger, but thus far have escaped any injury. Our Regiment has been constantly in the front, either building batteries or on Picket duty. Last week I was ordered on a court martial for the trial of a number of officers, amongst whom is a Major Gray of our Regiment. I do not know how long we shall sit after we get to Helena. If the court should be ordered to continue there I should be detached from the Regt. while the Court sits. Where our Regiment may be ordered after its arrival at Helena I do not know but I think either into Kentucky or Tennessee, probably down to Vicksbug. It will depend altogether upon what success the rebels may have in Kentucky. I will write again from Helena when I get there. I am very well, and I hope that you are all well. I wish that I could get home to see you all for a day or two, but it will be impossible until the war is over. If I had any friends to procure the appointment of Colonel in one of the new Regiments I could then get home to see you for two or three months.

Have you nice warm weather yet? We have very warm weather indeed, sometimes too warm. The trees are all in full lead, and flowers are blooming. Yesterday I saw roses almost in bloom, and cherries as large as peas already.

Tell Miss Hill that Robert (Hill) is now with us and is quite fat and hearty.

This letter is for Katy, Joe, Jimmy, Sallie, and my little Millie and throw in a kiss for each of them and one for Nellie, Vinnie and baby Agnes. Good bye!

Your loving father,

Chas. Whitaker

Information contributed by: John F. Ivory Jr.