Title: Letter from Hercules H. Price to Adolph Roenigk, September 17, 1909

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Veterans' Home,

Napa County, California, Sept. 17, 1909.

Mr. A. Roenigk:

Lincoln, Kansas.

Dear Friend:

Your letter of 12th inst., received by me on evening of 16th inst. and was much pleased to receive a line from you, after your long journey around the world, and also acknowledging receipt of two letters from me. I only wish that I could see Buffalo Bill's show with you so as to be able to corroborate what I should see with what I actually experienced - now 40 years since - on last June 1869. You omitted sending an advt. of the show - with your letter, I am sorry to hear of Mr. Erhardt's continued sickness (asthma). Give my kindest and most sympathetic regards to him when you see him - I am glad to find that your business was well managed during your absence by your business manager and that the same is in good shape, and that by a disposition of the Harness department, you will have some leisure to devote to other matters of a lighter nature - I send a set of Post-card views of the Veteran's Home to Mr. Erhardt, at same time I sent a set to your address - Did Mr. Erhardt receive them? I also sent a set to Mr. John C. Baird at Vesper, Kansas. & which he has acknowledged receiving - I enclose copies of correspondence from Mr. Baird relative to the first article I wrote him on the subject of the "Battle of Summit Springs" - and also a request for a further article as to the character of the Indian, as I saw him, while a soldier in the service of the United States - I am sorry that I did not retain a copy of the


finish article. but I have a copy of the 2nd article - I have made a copy of the last, for your information- My folks in England are delighted at the prospect of my warlike reminiscences being incorporated in Mr. Baird's forthcoming book "The Pioneers of Kansas," as an historical sketch of those early times and sufferings - by the hardy pioneers and their families of Kansas - When you came up here and paid me a visit, which I appreciated highly, I recollect - you made the remark - "I hope you give it to them good" meaning the hostile Indians at the battle of Summit Springs. I answered that "I did my best" but I am one who don't like the idea of sounding my own Bugle - but simply admit the fact that I did my best - for it was nip and tuck whether I or the Indian would succumb and conquer. All us boys then were more like wild demons than anything else and altho' I went in and charged the center, it was with tightly closed jaws and cool effort to take my chance - I was in the fray about 20 minutes as I thought, when an orderly come galloping up to me and said "that Gen'l Carr wants you to report to him right away" - we looks for an opportunity to get out & when found, spurred our horses to the General's body guard. The General said that he wished for me to be member of his body-guard - and also to flag messages to troops engaged which I did, performing both duties. I was made Corporal, on the field - at that time - I was promoted to Sgt. later on, but after a while resigned & was company clerk.

I recollect that after you left this Home for San Francisco to take steamer for your trip. I was four nights before I could compose my mind to the witching influence of sleep - I went over all the incidents of the fight again and it passed like a panoramic oision - so strongly was it imprinted on memory's tablet.


I have, while writing the foregoing incidents, concluded that in justice to myself and my family, that I should give you a short history of how I came to leave my family in England and come to America for another career in the race for existence and eventually a home for my family - but I came at an inopportune time - for every thing was 'war mad' in 1862. and I drifted with the crowd. I had letters of introduction to relatives of a friend in England - those relative were whole souled sympathetic people and made one as comfortable as I would be at home and desired me to stay and consider their place my home and to learn "the institutions of the country." accordingly I commenced the study - and went visiting with two young ladies of the family - and it was New Year's calls when I found a basket on the door to receive cards, in some instances, and in other cases, we were received with great and open hospitality.

I learnt what Republicanism was, also Democracy - and all the other isms - but I stuck to Republican principles. The cause of my departure from England was a disappointment in not receiving my fathers proportion of the estate of his father. He was unfortunately born one month out of wedlock as it is usually referred to, and the strictness of the law in England with regards to illegitimacy is very arbitrary - and the infant takes its mother's name- that is how my name of Price has been transmitted but Horn, the legitimate name, was also added It is an hyphenated name thus Horn-Price, but I have always been called Price, my father's mother was a Miss Price, born in Wales as was also my father. A short time before the death of my paternal grandfather, George Horn, of the Isle of Thanet, in County of Kent, England - the estate of his brother came to him as the surviving heir to 3 Manor farms and funds in Bank. The estate


being worth over $280,000. My grand father and his brother were partners in cattle raising. also the southdown sheep for mutton - they rented 2000 acres of marsh lands in the south of England for the grazing of these sheep - They bred some Horses, hunters and racehorses of pure blood. My father when quite a lad, rode one of these horses at a race as a gentleman rider, as it was called and won the Queen's plate ($500) or so. the whole residence was full of hunting scenes in oil painting. My grandfather was Lord of 3 Mansons - and once a year, the Yeomanry Cavalry of the County would muster for drill. Grandfather being Captain of a troop and my father in same troop as Lieut. So you see soldiering was in the blood when I was born. My father was killed by a horse - trampelled and his ribs forced into his lungs - survived these injuries 3 months & then died. His mother & 2 sisters said that he should have an equal share nothwithstanding the law was against him - & when he died I naturally thought they would give me his portion, but I was ignored - and in consequence of such treatment left the country mad and disgusted. but with the endorsement and free consent of my wife - so that I could make provision anew for a living - but the "Fates" were against me - I read Law for a time in England, after I left College - and was in an Office most of time - but the remuneration was not enough to support a family. I went from bad to worse - I worked on the Cleveland & Mahoning R. R. helped build that line, but I was cut out for something else better than that, but anything to keep going. I was in a foundry once, and engaged chipping iron castings - then brass mounting - then engaged to work as assistant on the lathe - after that went down into Kentucky to see


something of the War. and went to work with another man, breaking Mules for Uncle Sam, and they came near breaking one - but I stuck to it - and altho' my saddle mule at the first trial in stringing out the train - he took it into his head to left one out of the saddle and put me under the wagon-tongue and so that I was on my back contemplating the passage of the wagon-bed (not the wheels) over my head & body, with nothing more serious than a good shaking up and a feeling of sickness in the stomach - and I must not forget to mention, my coat split up the back and my pants thoroly demoralized. The wagon master was a good chap and helped me to our camp and gave me some peach brandy ^ 'En passant' - I have quit drinking any thing but tea & coffee for 16 years and quit tobacco 4 years since - ^ which settled the faintness of my stomach - The cause for his mishap was the near swing mule, took it in his head to turn a somersault, which he did and was dragged by the leads who commenced running - & the swing mule got his back well skinned, in consequence & they swayed into a stone fence & knocked some if it down. We got another swing and everything went humming alright and the mules afterward would follow me like dogs and nose me for to feed them - they learnt their places on the tongue to feed & would get into place to be harnessed in the morning - We took a big train of commissary supplies across the Cumberland mountains into East Tennessee to the starving boys out there at the front. When I arrived at my destination, I was discharged which I asked for, and got a civilian clerkship with the Cavalry Corps Commissary of Gen'l Sturgis' staff - $175.00 greenbacks per month - but there was Graft then as there is now. I gave up $100 for the job and took $75 - but I rebelled and got the $100 & gave up the $75. We were reduced


at one time in the winter of 1862 to corn meal that winter for rations and it was Christmas and woke up first to find 18 inches snow on the ground so wore the Captain, with "A Merry Christmas " - but he told me to go to Tophet, or words to that effect. I said that his folks was drinking his health at the time and also mine doing the same - but I said we would eat our corn-pone and drink some good hot water and if nothing else, we would have a good old Christmas smoke. Wheres your tobacco he demanded, but I said never you mind - he said I suppose you got some old dried leaves of some kind - but I had a pound plug of Government Tobacco sewed up in the lining of my coat, which I had for the past 3 months and I divided with the cook, the wagoner and the two orderlies, with the Captain and myself. and we each put our corn-cob pipes in order to enjoy this Christmas smoke - when, what was that - boom - - - came from a battery some 6 to 10 miles east of us & that was a Christmas greeting to the southerners- The Captain was delighted and remarked "Give him Hell, boys, give 'em Hell - I hardly know what I am doing, whether writing was record - or complying with your desire and request for one to write you a line - and I am endeavoring to comply - but please excuse verbiage - I must fetch myself up with a round turn and strike out for other points of my narrative - I subsequently was employed as clerk with the Post Commissary at Paris, Kentucky, and subsequently joined Stoneman's Independent Brigade & went to Camp Nelson where the command refitted for a flying raid into Georgia under orders from Gen'l Sherman. Early in the morning there was a telegram for the command to move immediately which was done and I was detailed to turn in certain property and together with another


enlisted man - to assist me - and we were after completing that duty to proceed to join the command at Barboursville which awaited us there - we arrived there and next morning took up the trot in column of 4s and after some 10 or 15 miles I was affected with scurvy, swollen face and limbs & could hardly see out of my eyes - so a man was detailed to help me go back to a Post, south fork of Cumberland river - I was there a month and was going to Camp Nelson to be enlisted for the command I joined when after arriving at Stamford was arrested by the Provost guard & Deputy Provost Marshal as a deserter from Sherman's Brigade was imprisoned 4 months - given parole of camp- went on mounted scouting duty with a Provost guard - was threatened to be hanged one day by a young shaker woman saying that she know me & that I belonged to John Morgan's command, the Guerilla chief. but I got out of this - after being disarmed by the officer, but an old shaker woman said that the young woman was a little touched in the head & not to notice anything she said my arms were eventually given me on the assurance of the elder shakerwoman. and I thanked the old lady for her coming to my defense.

The chief clerk of the Provost marshals office said to me, Price, I believe in you and you have had a rough deal. You make application to be examined by the Board & passed & got my 2nd Lt's Commission from the Secretary of War & with orders to report immediately to my regiment for duty which I did after a while was mustered in and sworn - was promoted 1st Lt. in Arkansas. & was mustered out of service there - My regiment was engaged in hunting Guerrillas and capturing & hanging them & that was exciting duty. I was shot at twice in


the street of Lexington, Kentucky, and my camp was fired into at night by rebel citizens and 3 shots hit my tent- but my guard blazed into the darkness and there was some blood found at day light where they had taken off their wounded - I was after my discharge as an Officer, employed in the Qr. Ms. Dept. at New Orleans, La, as clerk, at $135 per month - given me upon recommendation of General Sheridan, through the application of Col. McCook who was his chief of staff and Gen'l Sheridan offered me a 2nd Lt's Commission in the 9th Cavalry (regulars) colored troops and this was done to save enough to equip myself with horse arms & accoutrements and uniform &e I saved my money for that purpose and in the meantime contracted Yellow Fever. That threw me on my back and consumed my savings - and I thought no more of the commission, but Gen'l Grant ordered a reduction of all the clerical force that could be spared - and I had to go - I was temporarily a private clerk to Inspectors & Gaagers in Custom house in New Orleans hotel was out after 2 months on account of law with regard to bonded liquor, the tax had first to be paid before take out of Bond for various purposes so that very little gaaging was done. and after some minor employments at reduced salary - a doctor induced me to enlist in a Company of the 5th Cavalry at Montgomery, Alabama- and there I joined the Company - was examined by the Doctor & passed as a sound man. Enlisted at Atlanta, Georgia - discharged at Prescott Arizona - and subsequently enlisted in General service, US Army and was with recruiting party for a while - then transferred to the Detachment of Clerks at Army Headquarters San Francisco, in Division of the Pacific and the Department of California, Enlisted 3 times in this service - was in Adjutant Generals Office as a Clerk with Letters Received Book


The transferred for a short time in the Quartermaster's Department - then transferred for over a year in the Medical Department, recording clerk on Medical Examining Board for Candidates for Commission of Assistant Surgeon, US Army. then transferred to Engineers, Division of Pacificias Topographical Assistant US Army - draughtsman and photographer and attending to clerical work of office That was most interesting work, when at one time we had to correct latitude and Telegraphic longitude of different places on map - the first was Spokane Falls., then Ainsworth and other places - We had an $800 Transit instrument to observe stars - mostly circumpolar. We had also Astronomical Clock with a break circuit wires attached to main line of Telegraph - we had the use of the line after 10 P.M. our clock could be heard 800 miles away. we had chronograph and 4 chronometers - one of which rated to side real time. I had as pay and allowances $116 per month and $25 extra from Engineer funds and did some outside photo. work. I supported my family handsomely then & offered money for my wife to come out - but she did not like to leave her ailing mother, and her father was living on this Captains half pay as a Dutch officer. Then she said she did not like to leave the girls until they were married. and so it went on - but I love my family - and looked upon the whole thing as Fate. She my wife, subsequently said that she always regretted not coming out to me when I was in a position so to do as to send her the money for her traveling expences The family on my wife's side are from the Wright family, Thomas Wright a very prolific writer - see Encyclopedia Brittanica - was her grandfather and she has oil paintings by Leley, the court painter of King Charles 2d of her great-grandfather in Bishops wig & gown & her great-grandmother in Court costume as some other - The


branches are the Stamers or Staniers - the Bach family - and the Wright family I have 3 coats of Arms of these families and her great-grandmother is a descendant from the Earl of Warwick - There are two Coronelled Knights and one without. Scallop shields - 10 in number on one shield - and horse shoes on two others and one with Leopard heads. On my father's side a Coat of Arms is in the family but the one I remember was a White Dove in the oil painting and I have forgotten if there was a motto - The white dove, I think, shows that is was for civil honors. I believe we are of German origin, as instance of the name of the principal manor which was named "Uphouser" - ^ This property was at a place called Ash near sandwich in Kent ^ but I begin to think of the old adage viz: "Sic transit gloria mundi" - so passes the glory of this world - I have also a drawing if a medal presented to an ancestor of my wife's family. I think to John Stainer - One side shows the profile of Charles 2nd of England. with the Latin inscription "Carolus pecundus " - and on the reverse side a tree with 3 coronets hanging on branches thereof and on each side of the trunk the letter "I. S." one letter each side - and the motto around the medal. "Tandem Revirescet." ^ the meaning or translation I cannot state. ^ There is also a sun surrounded with clouds. This medal was given for distinguished services as I believe on the restoration to power of the King.

Now, I will say something about the Home and its inhabitants. The Commandant, Gen'l Woodruff - Brig. Gen'l USA, retired - is an old West Point Officer - and takes hold of matters here with Kindly consideration and yet at the same time, with a firm hand to maintain discipline - You must know that in a body of men, like the Army, there are all sorts and conditions of the human species - there are some well cultured men among us and there are some jail bird and those


who have been in the Penitentiary. We have lately had a death by shooting - and another case was severe injury by Ice-tongs. I have seen Knives drawn on each other, but when at the home, the police grappled with the situation - Drunkenness is the principal cause of all these disturbances. and altho' there is a state law forbidding whiskey or any liquor being sold or given within a mile and a half of any public institution, yet the old Vet. will get it, by the "Blind Pig" route, or by the "Speak Easy." If a man brings any whiskey or liquor into the home and it is found on him, the same is confiscated and he is court martialled and has to serve 30 or 60 days "Dump" or Fatigue each day until completion of sentence, and for repeated offence is discharged from the Home and can not come back under 6 months, and that at the discretion of the Board of Trustees. They must have a sorry time, outside, in the cold world unless they get work. I got my check for $60 on the 7th inst. for 3 months pension and sent $40 to my wife & daughter in England.. They have a boarding house for sisters at the watering place at Bournemouth, the the south of England, near the Isle of Wight. The residence is: Mrs. Price or Miss Price, "Kent Villa, #8, Stour Road, Richmond Park Road, Bournemouth, E. Hants, England" - I believe they only take ladies - but the health of my wife, who is now 73 ^ (and I am 76 in December)^ is very poor and also that of the daughter - and they are forced to employ help to carry on the work and there is not much profit to the concern, so I have to help out to some extent - My health is fairy conserved, I suppose, thro' my temperate habits, but I often think if I had the means of a good retired pay, I would enjoy a Pipe of Tobacco again or a Cigar. but when I see others smoking, I don't have any craving for the weed as I once had. I was near 11 years fighting the Commissioner of Pensions for my Pension


and eventually got it with back pension and also a claim for transportation as an officer I sent it all home and it enabled them to buy furniture &c and go into business. I am somewhat troubled with catarrh, and piles - and rupture and swelled veins in my legs - where the old scurvy sores and bullet wound is located - so I keep bandages on all time. I am able to walk all right. I have a good appetite for food - and my digestion is pretty fair - I sleep lightly, however.

We have had some very warm weather for the past 3 months - the other day the Temp. was 100 at 3.00 P.M. And now Forest fires are raging and filling the valley with a dense smoke - and it is burning about 20 miles to the north of us- and that has added to the temperature.

I think that I have exhausted the most of any vocabulary and items of news and personal matter, and if you should think of any matters you would like to draw my attention, dont be backward in placing them before me.

With the hope that your health has been benefited by the world tour you have recently completed and that it has proved a pleasure in observing and storing your mind with many pleasing and instructive features of information - I remain, very sincerely your friend,

Hercules H. Price

Title: Letter from Hercules H. Price to Adolph Roenigk, September 17, 1909

People: Carr, E. A. (Eugene Asa), 1830-1910 Sturgis, Samuel Davis, 1822-1889 Wright, Thomas, 1810-1877

Places: Napa County (Calif.) Lincoln (Kan.) San Francisco (Calif.) Vesper (Kan.) Kansas England Kentucky Arkansas New Orleans (La.)

Sponsor: This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Geraldine W. & Robert J. Dellenback Foundation, and the Center for Great Plains Studies.

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