John M. Estes
I have heard several times since my return from the Army, that, of the students of Beloit College who were soldiers in the late war, my name appears upon the list as killed. Understanding, moreover, by the recent circular of President Chapin that a monument is about to be erected in commemoration of the deeds and fate of your soldjiers [sic] I have determined to write you a letter and put myself right upon the records.
I could not desire a more glorious death than that of a Union soldier. Such an end however, I assure you, without regret, has not been mine, as an abridged history of my services will show.
I enlisted -- Aug 13th 1862 into Co. "A" 23rd W.V.I. as a private, with which organization I served as private and [was?] commissioned officer two years and eight months -- during which time I passed through seventeen battles unscathed and was never sick nor absent from my regiment.
We were with Gen. McClernand at the battle of Arkansas Post, with Gen. Grant in the charge and siege of Vicksburg, with Gen. Banks in the Red River campaign and in the battle of Meansfield, with Gen. Canby in the battles around and capture of Mobile and with other generals and in other battles of less note
After the capture of Mobile which was the last battle in which the 23rd was engaged and nearly the last stab to secession -- I was appointed by recommendation of my officers to the position of 2d Lieut. Co. "A" 47th W.V.I. I served with the latter reg.t. five months, being finally mustered out Sept 13th/'65.
I do not recount to you my services in the army with a view to self aggrandizement by any means. I believe that the training which I received while at Beloit College was of incalculable value (to me) afterwards as a soldjier. And I do not doubt, but that as my friend and former teacher -- it will be a pleasure to you to know that your counsels and teachings have never been forgotten and that in our recent National trials they aided me materially in acquitting myself as a good soldjier.
In this connection it will not perhaps, be improper to mention the services of my brother Ren. L. who used to stand upon your rolls as Estes 1st, He enlisted in the fall of /'61 into the 7th W.V. as private. Was promoted soon after to Lieutantcy -- served as such until the battle of Gettysburg were he was severely wounded in the shoulder. He was soon after discharged and is now quite recovered.
Please excuse the length of this letter and believe me
John M. Estes