Item #7526 [Brothers in the 12th Missouri Cavalry write to their parents back home in Missouri.]. Pinkney Asa Banning, Joseph Gilmer Banning.
[Brothers in the 12th Missouri Cavalry write to their parents back home in Missouri.]
[Brothers in the 12th Missouri Cavalry write to their parents back home in Missouri.]
[Brothers in the 12th Missouri Cavalry write to their parents back home in Missouri.]
[Brothers in the 12th Missouri Cavalry write to their parents back home in Missouri.]
[Brothers in the 12th Missouri Cavalry write to their parents back home in Missouri.]

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[Brothers in the 12th Missouri Cavalry write to their parents back home in Missouri.]

Memphis, TN; Camp Well near Memphis; and Benton Barracks in St. Louis: 14 February–4 November 1864. Six 8vo letters (9.75” x 7.5” to 8” x 5”). A total of 20 pp. of manuscript. 1 original envelope included. Three letters include writing from both brothers. CONDITION: Good to fair, one letter with a 2.75” tear along old horizontal fold (but no losses to the text), one letter dampstained, two small holes to two letters with partial losses to a few words.

An engaging group of six Civil War letters written by two brothers to their parents. Both brothers saw action in the pivotal 1864 Battle of Nashville, and one later died from wounds received there.

Born in McDonough County, Illinois, Joseph Gilmer Banning (1843–1908) and Pinkney “Pink” Asa Banning (1845–1865) moved to Kansas as children with their parents in the mid 1850s after Kansas Territory was created in 1854 with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Their parents, Ephraim (1819–1878) and Louisa Banning (1817–1887), moved the family to a farm and were among the first settlers in Big Springs, located ten miles outside of Topeka (est. 1854). In 1855, the first sermon in Big Springs was preached in Ephraim’s log house, and Ephraim was a founding member of the Big Springs United Brethren Church (the first UB church in Kansas), which served as both a church and a school. In 1855, Big Springs was also home to a free-state convention in which determined men pledged to offer their lives to defend their homes from pro-slavery border ruffians from Missouri. The Bannings lived in Big Springs until 1860, when they returned to Missouri, eventually settling on a farm near Brookfield in Linn County in 1862.

In July of 1861, Joseph enlisted in the State militia, serving until 19 Dec. 1863, and then entered the regular U.S. service in Company F of the 12th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry. On 30 Sept. 1863, Joseph’s brother Pinkney also enlisted in Company F of the 12th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry. Serving in Nelson’s Cavalry Corps, Joseph participated in all the battles and skirmishes in which the 12th Missouri Cavalry was engaged, the most important of them being the Battle of Spring Hill (29 Nov. 1864) and the Battle of Nashville (15–16 Dec. 1864). Pinkney was wounded at the latter battle on 15 Dec. and died from his wounds at Cumberland Hospital in Nashville on 27 Jan. 1865. The Battle of Nashville saw Confederate Lieut. Gen. John B. Hood attempt to retake Nashville from the occupying Union army, despite being significantly outnumbered. The decisive and large Union victory under Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas destroyed Hood’s army as an effective fighting force, and put an end to rebel resistance in Tennessee for the rest of the war.

Joseph served in the 12th Missouri until 9 April 1866, first as a private and subsequently as a corporal and then sergeant. In May of 1868, his regiment was assigned to frontier duty to battle the Sioux Indians in the Black Hills, where he served until being discharged at Fort Leavenworth in the late 1860s. He then returned to Linn County to farm with his father until 1870, when he married Letitia Millar of Brookfield and had four children. Joseph spent the rest of his life as a farmer near Brookfield. He and his wife were members of the Presbyterian Church of Brookfield, where Joseph was a deacon.

Pinkney and Joseph’s letters are written to their parents as well as to their sister and younger brother who lived in Brookfield, Missouri. The letters address some of the following subjects: the arrest of their whole regiment because one of them knocked an African American soldier down with a rock; an eventful steamer trip from St. Louis to Memphis; the recurring sickness of one Captain Martin; a man accidentally shooting his own uncle and killing him; a shooting incident while on picket guard; crossing the Tennessee River and hearing the gunboats shell the rebels; the regiment being transferred to General Thomas and the Army of the Cumberland; discussion of attacking Confederate General Hood’s forces, and more.


Pinkney; Benton Barracks, St. Louis; 14 Feb. 1864 “Dear Mother…I am well and fatter than I ever was in my life. I have not received a letter from home for a considerable time … We have drawed [sic] our arms and sabers. I said we had drew them, I mean that the Captain had drew them and they will be issued out to the company to morrow. … I like to forgot to tell you that our whole Regiment has been under arrest, they would not even let our Major out of the Barracks to get his supper. … It was for some one knocked a Negro soldier down with a rock. It proved to be one of Co. C. and so we are released now. … [Postscript:] Dear Brother, I want you to come down here as soon as you can do it legally for Franklin started to come down here and was arrested in Macon City and they kept him under guard there a long time…”

Pinkney; Memphis, TN; 7 June 1864 “Dear Father … We are both well and in fine heart … We arrived here yesterday evening. I mean to Memphis, and started on the boat last night and came out here this morning. … We had a tolerable rough trip of it, the deck and the hurricane deck was [sic] crowded as full as they could be. Our Co. was on the hurricane deck end and the stern of the boat where all of the smoke and steam blew back on us and it was a wood burner and it kept us on the lookout to keep the fire off us. There is not many of us but what has got holes burnt in our hats and worse than all is that she grounded about two o'clock the first day and was stuck for two days and yesterday there came up a rain and as the saying is, we had to grin and bear it for we had to stay in our own place for if we went below and or all on one side of the boat, the boat would run on one side. We are camped in a very nice place in the Timber and the boys are all in good heart. … Well Father, I am glad that we have left St. Louis for we have nothing here to tempt us with. Our money and we will have a great deal more pleasure and leisure for reading and writing and walks…”

Pinkney; Camp Wells near Memphis; 26 June 1864 “Dear Mother, … the greatest satisfaction in the service for a soldier to know [is] how the folks are at home. … Last Thursday there was a very sad accident happened here, a man of Co. C. came in off of guard and was standing at the mouth of his tent talking to his Uncle in Co. B. and was fooling with his gun when the gun went off and shot his uncle in the arm and then entered his left side passing through his heart and to the skin on the right side killing him instantly. The man that done it is in the guard house. I do not know what will be done with him and last night some of the 100 days men was on picket and they killed an old rebel that lived just out of our camp. … Jo says that he wants to write some. [Joseph:] Dear Sister, I take this opportunity to write you a few lines to you know how I am getting along. … I heard that there had been a big fight down in Miss[issippi]. and that our troops had been defeated but I do not know whether it is so or not. … Our Captain [Martin] is very sick and it is very doubtful whether he gets well or not.”

Pinkney; Camp Wells; June 30th 1864 “Dear Father, … I was glad to hear that you were all well, this leaves us both well and hearty. Today was muster day and so we mustered for pay … the boys are almost all in good health and spirits. Capt. Martin is sick and I am afraid that he will not recover soon if at all. Here in Camp potatoes are worth 10 cts a quart and butter milk 10 cts a quart and other vegetables in proportion and so you can see how it is if a man likes to eat such things once and a while when he is a little puny and the Sutler sells things out of reason and so it is very seldom that I ever indulge in such things. For a man at sixteen dollars a month will not make very much although that sixteen only has been since the first of May, and we never have drawn it yet although we will the next time. We have preaching most every night at some or other and we have a dry Camp ground and plenty of good water. I would a great deal rather be here than at St. Louis. Well father I think that I am living a tolerable sober life, I have not drank but three drams of strong drink since I left Brunswick last fall. I have not been in Memphis since we have been here for it is so far to walk through the heat and a man cannot get a good drink of water without paying for it when he gets there and I have no business there but to see the city and to see a city is no new trick to me. I just received a letter from John and he said that he was well, he said that William Kirby is a Lieutenant in the Co. … I am glad that he has made something of himself although I am in hopes that the war will soon end and then we will be all on a level once more. [1 July 1864] I will enclose a small book to be given to Martha Bell.”

Pinkney; Lagrange, TN; 24 Aug. 1864 “Dear Father, … This takes its departure from us both. Well Joe is on picket to day. I was on yesterday, I suppose that there has been a smart skirmish at Memphis last Sunday morning but I guess that all is quiet there now. Last night when I was on picket there was fourteen of us at a Bridge and there was two up at a time and they heard some body about and they waked all of us up but me and the fellow that I was sleeping with. They missed us in the dark and so there we lay sound asleep. When a man came to the far end of the bridge our boys did not know but what it was a soldier and they halted him and he turned to run in fact made one jump which put him in a low place and then there was 12 carbines turned loose, but they over shot him on account of him being in the low slot so when the guns cracked, I was laying on my back. I jumped about two feet in the clear of everything. I seized my gun and ran out but I could not get a shot. We received a letter from you … containing one dollars worth of stamps which came in very good play. The 119th Ill[inois]. was here some time a go and John Plotts was at home on a sick furlough on the account of his wounded arm and Luther was at Memphis in the hospital…”

Pinkney; Pulaski, TN; 4 Nov. 1864 “Dear Father, I once more embrace the opportunity to address where we are. We left White station on the 30 of September and marched through Bolivar to Clifton and crossed the Tenn. River and through Lawrenceburg and to Waterloo. There we heard the gunboats shell the Rebs and there we staid one day then proceeded to Savannah and staid five days and then back to Clifton and stayed 12 days. While we staid there the rebs came on the other side of the river and the gunboats shelled them, quite lively. Also while we were there General Washburn transferred us to General Thomas, so now we belong to the Amy of the Cumberland. I am glad of it, and we left Clifton and came here which was [a] three days march. There is about 30,000 men here and it is the talk that we are a going to move against Gen. Hood who has about our number I suppose. We will try him a [?].”

A group of letters vividly reflecting army life in the western theater of the Civil War during the lead-up to the important Battle of Nashville in 1864.

REFERENCES: Hudson, Myles, Battle of Nashville at; White, Emma Siggins. Genealogy of the descendants of John Walker of Wigton, Scotland (Kansas City, MO: Press of Tiernan-Dart Printing Co., 1902), p. 382; The History of Linn County, Missouri (Kansas City, MO: Birdsall & Dean, 1882), pp. 526-527; Big Springs, Kansas at

Item #7526

Price: $1,250.00