Alexander B. Crane

Twenty-three year old Alexander B. Crane enlisted in Company K of the Fourth Michigan Infantry on June 20, 1861. He was discharged for disability  at York, Pennsylvania on September 5, 1862 on account of wounds received in action at Gaine’s Mill, Virginia on June 27, 1862.

Alexander Crane is writing these three letters to his friend Charles Bates, back in his hometown of Dexter, Michigan. The letters are provided through the courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.



Dear Friend,                                                                                McClouds Mills, Va.   July 21, ’61

I received your letter [the] night before last [and] I was glad to hear from you. I hope that you will excuse me for not writing to you before. For I promised so many that I would write that I could not tell who they all was. I had written to a great many there in that vicinity. I am glad that you put me in mind of it. You wanted me to write to you [to tell you] how I liked soldiering. I like it first rate. We have not had but one battle yet. They are having one today. They had one Friday at the same place  that is called Bull Run in this state. We are now in Virginia. We came in this state last Sunday and Tuesday the regiment started to face the enemy but they did not have a chance for they ran before our boys got there. They left their arms and camp utensils, knapsacks, [and] provisions. Our boys are in possession of a place called Fairfax. There was some that was not able to march the day that the boys left and we was left to guard the tents. They are about twelve miles from here. Well, I don’t think of any more to write this time. This is the fifth letter today and I have got two more to write so I will bring this to a close. Give my respects to all my friends if [I] have any in your travels. Write as soon as you get this.

Good bye, yours, truly, A. B. Crane

Washington D. C. Company K 4th Regt. Mich. Volunteers




Friend Charley,                                                                                       Camp Miner   Sept. 11, ’61

I have not had a letter from you in some time so I thought that I wood write you a line or two to let you know that I am yet alive. There is not much news here. There is no fighting yet. About two weeks ago the regiment moved in the night. We marched about five miles and then we stopped in the woods and spread our blankets out and laid down for the night. And today we moved again. {Private] John Wheelock [also of Company K] and myself is cooking now for the regiment. [Private Eri] House [also of Company K] told me that you was a going to enlist. I wish that you was with us now. Well Charley, I don’t think of anything more to write this time so I will have to close. Give my best wishes to all my friends if I have any in your travels. Write as soon as you can and tell me all the news.

Yours truly,  A. B. Crane




Friend Charley,                             Camp of the 4th Mich., Miner’s Hill, Va.    January 22, 1862

I hope that you will excuse me for not writing to you before this. I am at present, and hope these few lines will find you as well as it leaves me well. Charley, I suppose you had a good time. I should like to have some of your venison fast. I suppose you fetched some home with you. How many deer did you kill or fetch home with you. There is not much news here. We have had some of the Dexter folks here to see us. Harrison Winkle has been here and Mat VanRiper is here now. I don’t know how long he will stay. Harrison stayed about one week. Mat says that the times is good in Dexter, never better. Well Charley, have you given up the idea of enlisting? I wish I was there. I should enlist as soon as I could get a chance. I don’t know what to write for there is not anything here to write about. The New York 14th, that is the regiment on the right of this brigade, have got orders to march. But they don’t know where they are going. Some think that we shall go with them. I wish we could for it is so lonesome laying in camp all winter. But it don’t seem to me as if the Fourth [Michigan] Regiment was ever going to see a fight or anything like it. But then I don’t care much if they will keep moving around and not lay  to long in a place. Well there is a messenger just came in and I hope it is marching orders. The boys seem to think it is and they feel good. The boys are all well at present. I have had the ague some for the last week but I am alright now. I don’t think of any more to write [at] this time so I will close. Write as soon as you can and tell me all of the news and how all of the girls are. How is Mara Coy? Does Carpenter attend to her yet? Give my best wishes to all. Write soon.

A. B. Crane

Excuse this short letter. Yours till death, John R. Morgan by God