Horace G. Osborn (1845-1862) was the son of Benjamin D. Osborn (1816-1889) and Mary Baker (1823-1893) of Medina, Lenawee County, Michigan. His father was a “Tanner” by trade. Horace enlisted in Company B of the Fourth Michigan Infantry on September 16, 1861, at age 17. This letter was addressed to Horace’s mother, Mary (Baker) Osborn, who later divorced Horace’s father on June 26th, 1872 for “several acts of cruelty”. She later became the second wife of Russel A. Farmer (1817-1900) on June 23, 1880, at Hudson, Lenawee County, Michigan. Russell’s first wife, Thankful Brown, died in November 1879. Mary died in 1893 and was buried in St. Louis, Gratiot County, Michigan.
November the 2nd, 1861
My dear Mother,
I take my pen in hand to let you know that we are all well at present and I hope that these few lines will find you the same. I received your letter last night after dark and you wanted to know how I do like it and what I have to eat. I have bread and meat, rice, beans, and butter, and cherries and apples, but I have to pay ten cents for four apples. I sleep good. It rains hard today and I got to stand on guard to night.
If John wants to come here he can go to Hudson and inquire for Thomas Tarsney, and enlist under him. He is recruiting for the Michigan 4th Regiment and he can come here and see me if he wants to. You tell the people to write to me. I am a going to send some money home after pay day and I want father to take it and pay his debts with it and he can pay me when I come home. I want you to write as soon as you get this.
Mary Osborn (from) Horace Osborn
October 5, 1862
Oh Mother, my dear Mother,
I will try to write you a few lines to let you know I am not a bit well and I had to stand on guard last night. I did feel so bad that I thought i should die before morning. I do feel a little better this morning. Oh my dear Mother, how I do wish that I had heard (listened) to you. How much I could have done for you. I could get 16 dollars a month. I could let you have ( it all except) only what I had to buy my own clothes with. Oh dear Mother, if Father had been like a father (should have been), I should (have) never went to the war. But you know my dear Mother, he was always finding fault and wanting to drive his children away from home. He made me feel so bad that (I) went and enlisted and then they couldn’t (have) taken me if he hadn’t have given his consent. I am sure dear Mother, if you will write to Captain DeGolyer, he will let me come home to see you and stay until I get better. He knows I am too young to be here. It was something that a young boy, as I am, knew nothing about, and oh dear Mother, if I ever do get home, I will help you all (that) I can. But dear Mother, if I can’t get home I can’t live but six months. But I do know you will do all (that) you can to get me home. Oh dear Mother, my head does ache so hard I can’t write any more. I do send so much love to you (and) Ida.
From Horace Osborn to Mary Osborn, Dear Mother
Ida Osborn, whose name is found at the close of this letter, was Horace’s younger sister.
November 10th, 1862
Oh my dear Mother,
I will try to write you a few lines today to let you know that I am real sick. They have taken me to the hospital today. Oh dear Mother, how I did hate to come here. Oh if I could only come home to you, I might get well. I don’t think I can get well if I have to stay here. It is an old barn fixed up for a hospital. I have nothing but my knapsack for a pillow. Oh dear Mother, if you will write to Captain Degolyer and see if he will let me come home until I get better, then I came come back (here) again. Do try and write as soon as you get this. I do feel so dreadful(ly) bad. I can’t write any more. Know when I feel a little better I will try to finish this letter. Oh Mother, I do wish I had heard (listened) to you. How glad I should have been but you know father kept wanting me to enlist. But dear Mother, if you can only help to get me home this time I will always hear (listen) to you. More than that, I will always give you the most of my wages to help you along, for father don’t do (right) by you, nor his children either. Well, I can’t write any more. Know (that I) will try to write again. If I can’t write, I will try to get Harvey Warn to write for me. You write to me every day if you can. I do like to hear from my dear Mother. I still remain your dear son.
Horace G. Osborn to Mary Osborn
December the 5th, 1862
I came to the hospital to see Horace today and I found him very sick. He can’t sit up any. I don’t think (that) he can live very long. He wants his father to come after him if (he) will. I do think his father had ought to come down here and take care of him. And if he gets able to come home, he ought to bring him home, for he wants a mother’s care if he does ever get well. I hope he will come right away if he wants him to get better. He doesn’t look like he did when he came here. I do feel so bad for him. I would stay and take care of him if I could but I can’t for they won’t let me. I must close . I am in a hurry to go back. Have his father come after him.
This short letter was written by Harvey Warn, a comrade of Horace’s in Co. B, to Mary:
The following letter was apparently written by another soldier who knew both Horace and his mother, Mary Osborn. He signed his name George Carter, but there is no soldier by that name on the roster of the Fourth Michigan Infantry. My hunch is that George Carter served in another Michigan regiment located in the vicinity with the 4th Michigan at the time, but I have not yet identified him:
Pine Grove, [Virginia]
December 27, 1862
I went up to see Horace today. When I got there, I found him dying. He did not know anyone and I saw Doctor Baker. He said he died with the typhoid fever. He thought if he could get home, he might get well. He was so homesick — it kept his fever hanging to him until he died.
I went three times to see him while he was sick. He felt so bad to think he went to war and I felt about as bad to see how bad he felt. I thought a great deal of Horace. He was a good boy. They laid him out as well as they could under the present circumstances. Of course they couldn’t do for him as they could if he had been somewhere else. He did not look like Horace Osborn for he was so very poor [and] he had so many bed sores. He suffered greatly from them. I wish I could go and see him buried but I can’t leave. The officers won’t let me go. I must close by sending you my sympathy and well wishes.
From George Carter
to Mrs. Mary Osborn
Dr. Lewis Baker, mentioned in the first paragraph of this letter, enlisted in Company F of the Fourth Michigan Infantry on September of 1862. He had been the Osborn family physician for 5 years before his enlistment and was serving at the Brigade Hospital when Horace arrived there.
This letter was written to Horace’s father, Benjamin, by one of Horace’s comrades in Company B, Private Alexander Shaffer:
Sunday, December 28th, 1861 (actually 1862)
Friend Mr. Osborn,
I take my pen in hand to let you know about Horace. He died today about 5 o’clock. We can’t send him home for the reason we have not got our pay yet. It would cost about 60 dollars to get him ready and send him home. he will have just as good and decent a burial here as he would have there, but I suppose you would rather like to have him at home cause all that. If you want his clothes sent home I will send them. If you will write and let me know. I haven’t got time to write much so will close by saying goodbye. Goodbye. Write as soon as you get this.
Direct your letter to the 4th Mich. Reg., Company B, Washington D.C.
From Alexander Shaffer
For Benjamin Osborn
Regimental records indicate that Horace served in that company until his death at Miner’s Hill, Virginia, in December of 1862 and I believe he is buried erroneously under the name of H. G. Obdom at the Military Asylum Cemetery in Washington, D.C., at Site G 2945 . I am quite confident that the records of the cemetery and in error with both the name and the date of death for the soldier that is interred at that grave-site. I base this on the similarity to the name and state of service, H. G. Obdom of Mich.- Horace G. Osborn of Mich., and the date of death and burial, Horace died on 12-27-1862 and “Obdom” was buried on 12-31-1861. I can find no record anywhere for any Michigan soldier named H. G. Obdom during the Civil War.