Henry V O'Farrell

26th Iowa Infantry, Company A

Submitted by Tammy O'Farrell Ammann 

Henry Mathew Aldrich
He carried Henry from the Battlefield


Henry V. O'Farrell, the eldest child of John Wesley and Lohancy Elnora O'Farrell, was born at Spafford Hollow, New York, on February 28, 1946.The family came by ox team to Dickinson County, Iowa, after living for a time in Winnebago County, Illinois.
Henry O'Farrell enlisted in the Civil War from his parent's home in Arnolds Park, Dickinson County, Iowa. He was placed in Company A, 26th Iowa Infantry under Colonel Milo Smith of Clinton, and drilled at Camp Kirkwood.

Henry enlisted at Fort Dodge, Iowa, on January 4, 1864 at the age of 17. He was killed in action on October 16,1864 at Ships Gap, Georgia, after the surrender at Vicksburg. The regiment was with General Sherman at Jackson, Mississippi, also at Chattanooga, Tennessee, at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.

His Letters told of incessant rain, deep mud, sickness and death, which brought its inevitable reaction of depression and homesickness.

Two expeditions brought relief from the monotony. One was up the White River, the other to Corinth, Mississippi,to divert attention from Grant's Army. The Clinton Regiment brought honor to Iowa as it marched on its way in campaigns of Vicksburg, and the hard fought battle of Postelle, Arkansas.

In September, 2004, through a search for Veterans who were killed in all wars from Dickinson County, Iowa, by the local veterans organization, Henry V. O'Farrell was found by the National Veterans Administration to be buried in the National Cemetery in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His family has not known where or if he was buried for 140 years. Now his name will be included in a permanent Memorial to be placed on the Plaza of the new Courthouse being built in Spirit Lake, Dickinson County, Iowa.

See the Family Group Sheet

Killed in the Civil War
     Henry V O'Farrell oldest son of John Wesley and Lohancy O'Farrell was born in Spafford Hollow NY on February 28, 1846. In 1854 the family moved to Winnebago County, Illinois. The family came by ox team to Dickinson County Iowa in August 1861. When Henry was 16 years old he took the place of a Spirit Lake man who had been drafted and did not want to go into the army. Henry joined Co. A, 26 Regiment of Iowa volunteer infantry 1864. This Regiment was known as the Clinton Reg. Milo Smith of Clinton was named Colonel. This Regiment so distinguished itself that Gen. Thayer proudly wrote to Gov. Kirkland "He wanted nothing better than to lead such soldiers. Henry was killed in action Oct 16, 1864 at Ships Gap Georgia and is buried at Chattanooga National Cemetery Tennessee.
Unknown author

     For years it was said that Henry was 16 but he was 17 when he enlisted on Jan. 1, 1864 and 18 when he died. Henry had a picture in his uniform taken in Louisville Kentucky. We have that photo. In an old family album I found a photo of another man in same pose and uniform. On the back was written Mathew Aldrich- Henry OF comrad that carried him from the battlefield.
Tammy O'Farrell Ammann


Ft Dodge Jan 28th 1864 Thursday

Dear Parents Brothers and Sisters
I take this opportunity to inform you that I am well. When you was down here I told you that I should not write again intil I got to Davenport but I did not go as soon as I expected so I thought that I would write again before leaving here next Monday and I have been in Uncle Sam Service 1 month. Last tuesday. I attended the funerel of A little son of Dr Smith, the examining surgeon. The weather has been very mild here for the past week and the snow is most all gone. we shall not start Davenport now until next week. They have got A lot of deserters here fellows that were enlisted by A recruiting Officer last summer and then never sent for them. Recruits are continually coming in.
no more at present give my respects to all inquiring Friends.
Your affectionate son

Saturday Feb the 27th 1864

Camp Procklamation Alabama

Dear Parents I intend to to write to you as soon as I arrived at this camp but kept delaying it on account of some photographs that I had taken at Louisville. I had my pictures taken on glass and then he took my name and address and said he would send them to me as we left before he finished the photograph. they were to have been here A week ago. I have been in this camp 11 days. our camp is Beautifully situated on the south side of A mountain about 10 feet from the Rail Road. We have Co drill 1 hour in the forenoon and Battalion 2 hours in the afternoon. inspection every Sunday also preaching every Sunday. I am well and hearty have a good appetite and we have good quarters and good water and it looks now as though we would stay here all summer still these no knowing when we may I move. I have not written to Marion yet but shall soon. I want you to write whether you get any letters from York State and what they write and I want you to write if you receive my letter stating about the money that I sent home. I have just been out to rool call and I have to stand picket tomorrow. I have nothing more of importance to write and I want you to write to me as soon as you get this. I have been looking for A letter from you every day but have been disappointed nothing more at present


direct your letters in my name Co A 26 Regt Iowa Infantry via Nashville

April 11 /64

I did not seal my letter last night so thought I would write a few lines about the weather. It is a very cold backward spring here, The people are just beginning to plant corn. It would make you laugh to see them farm it here. there is not more than 3 inches of soil here and instead of subsoiling it they take A single shovel plow with an iron shovel as large as a good sized hoe and scratch it up about 3 inches deep. they raise from 10 to 15 bushel of corn to the acre and from 4 to 5 bushel of wheat. Here is the least enterprise among the people of any place I was ever in. niggers and cotton is al they care about. I must not forget to tell you what A fashionable way the Ladies have of using Tobacco. They dry the Tobacco then rub it up as fine as they can like snuff. when you go in to the house they will get the snuff box, take a little stick and dip it in the snuff and rub it on their tongue and inside of their mouth and the pass the box to you. if you do not dip with them they think you are not friendly. April 12 A Co got a large mail last night but there was nothing for me. It is rainy today it rainy every other day and has for about a month.

I can not think of anything more to write now write soon


Vianna (Vienna) Ala

Apr the 21st /64

Dear Parents
I am quite well at present but I have quite a severe burn of sick headache. I received a letter from Marion the other day. They are all well but I have not heard anything more from you yet. I don't know what you are thinking about it is enough to make anyone homesick . There has been heavy cannoning heard in the distance all day. 7 of our scouts were captured by the Rebs today. A party of them sneaked across the river and ambushed them. it is some what doubtful whether we stay here much longer. we have not been paid off yet. don't know when we shall. This is the last last stamp I have got. I want you to write immediately and send me some. It has been raining this after noon. I got your letter in answer to the one I wrote in Davenport but have not heard from you since. Now write as soon as you receive this as I am anxious to hear from you.

don't forget to send me some stamps

Dalice (Dallas) Paulding Co. Georgia

Dear parents
May 30th

I received yours of the 11th of May the 24th and was glad to hear from you again. I have received all of your letters but it toook some time for them to get to coming through strait. We hard mustered twice for pay but have not been paid any yet. I was glad to hear that mothers health was getting better. My health is very good and I will now try and detail our march to you since we left Kingston. We left there the 22 of May nothing of importance happened for the 2 first day the 25 we met the enemy. our Regmt was held in reserve the 26 we were again held in reserve. the 27 we supported a battery until night when we relieved A regiment that was skirmishing with the enemy in front. Saturday May 28 I gave the Rebs my compliments today in the shape of a few blue pills. they gave me some pretty close shots but I did not get hurt. This afternoon the Rebs made A general charge on our lines but we repulsed them with but little loss on our side. We had 2 lines of breast works and the rebs knew nothing about them and they advanced to within 20 rods of the first line before they saw it. when we opened on them with musketry shell grape and canister with tremendous fury, when they retreated in hot haste. We have laid on our arms for 5 nights in succession. The musketry is not so sharp with the skirmishers this afternoon as it has been here before. I will write again as soon as I can you must write often

good by for the present your son Henry

Tuesday March the 15 __64

Vianna Ala.

Dear parents Bothers and Sisters excuse me for not yet writing to you oftener but I do not have much time to write since I wrote to you last. our Regiment has moved to this place the distance was 15 miles and we marched it in 5 hours as our Regiment is so small and we have so much pocket duty and scouting to do that we do not have much time for anything else. It is quite cold weather here for this time of year although the peach trees are in Bloom and the people are making garden. the cittizens pretend to be very loyal here. some of them are and others are like snakes in the grass. All I can say of this country is that there is plenty of good timber of almost every kind but nothing else here but mountains and rocks. the cittizens look poor and scrawny as though they were half starved. Flour is 25 cents per pound salt $150 cents per pound and very scarce at that Coffee and sugar not to be had at all. everyone makes all there own cloth mens clothing all colored with Butternut yondt not see any stoves nothing but fireplaces. well I guess I have said enough about this place this time. now this is the 5th time I have written to you but I have not heard from you. perhaps my letters have never went through. I am getting anxious to hear from you to know wether you are all well and to know wether you got the money I sent to you. if you have received my letters I see no reason why I should not have heard from you before this. I have not written to Marion yet and I can not tell when I shall. if you have heard from her write how they get along. I an well and can eat my allowance. write as soon as you receive this

good by for the present Henry

direct your letters in my name Co.A.26th Reg Iowa Voll Woodville Alabama to the follow the Regiment

Vianna Ala

March 23 __64.

Dear Parents
I received your letter written March 1 in answer to mine of Feb 7 to day and was rejoiced to hear from you but was sorry to hear that you was sick. I was sorry to hear of grandfathers death but you did not tell me what provission he made for grandma and Ellihu if he had made any will or not.. tell Spirits lake folks they are very benevolent to A Soldier who has risked his life to save them from the draft. I am well and in good spirits and enjoying myself. first rate you speak of buying a draft when I drew my bounty at Davenport I expressed $50 to you by US express Co. I wrote A letter when we got to Louisvill stating all about it that your nearest express Office was a Ft Dodge and you would have to go there after it. You have probably received the letter before now so I will not say anything more about it now. I want to know what Johnstons folks say about Alyres enlisting. And what Meeker is A going to do now he has sold his Mill gearing. I cold not get my likeness taken at Ft Dodge but I got some Photographs taken at Louisvill and I have already sent two of them home and one to Marion. and about keeping clean. we have a Darkey in our Co who washes our clothes every week. as for exercise I can not keep still 5 minutes at a time when I am not on duty. not being much used to handling A gun. I thought I would be A good while learning but now I can go through with the manual of arms as good as most any of them. Our Regt is about 13 miles from the main fast of the army and we are fortyfying this place expecting to stay here all summer. night before last the snow fell 13 inches deep
nothing more at present yours
affectionately Henry

direct as usual in my name Woodville Alabama via Nashville to follow the Regnt

Lost Mountain Georgia

June 12

Dear parents
I received yours of the 23 on the 11 of June. we have found the Rebs again at the Lost Mountain about 4 miles from Big Shanty Station. I have received all of your letters this far and I received those stamps also but they are most gone and I would like some more. I was anxious to hear from you for I feared that the Indians were making trouble up there but feel quite at ease when you spoke of so many Soldiers going through there what would you think to see 150,000 or 200,000 all drawn up in battle line their muskets glistening in the sunlight and to see the grinning Cannon belch forth fire and smoke. it must have been A hard blow for Aaron, his Brother being drowned I have often heard him speak of his Brother Henry. Martin had A very narrow escape. I guess he will be more careful about going on the water. I don't see what started Prescott off for Idaho. what Speculation won't he be into next. N have you and him made any different settlement about that land or is he still abstinate as ever. When you send that order for my coat and pants the box shall not yet reached Ft Dodge. Aldrich and Birch of Sac City sent some things in the same box. their things got home safe. we sent the box to Capt Carlis and told him to take out my things and leave with Merril. their things getting home safe makes me think the box had not got there yet when you sent the order

the mail is going out and I must close
write soon
so good by Henry

In front of Atlanta

Sunday August the 21st 1864

Dear parents
I sit down once more to inform you that I am still alive and well and that I sincerely hope that you may be enjoying the same blessing. My Regiment received A large mail yesterday and I was very much disappointed at not getting A letter from you. But it takes so long for letters to go and come that I shall have to content myself by waiting. there has been some pretty sharp Skirmishing in our front the last few days but no general engagement has taken place. heavy cannonading is heard on the left this morning...the wether has been rainy and disagreeable for two or three days past and it is quite cloudy and drizly this morning. How do you get along with your haying. I suppose you are nearly done by this time and how do you get along for money. I shall try and send you some when I get paid but I do not know when that will be. You say you take the Times. if you do you know more than we do ourselves you also asked me how I got along for spending money. Money is no object here unless you can get back to the rear 10 or 12 miles as the Settlers dare not risk their chance of getting stung with A minnie ball by coming so near the front and A Soldier unless sick can not leave his command for two hours. we have just drawn some bean soup and I must stop and eat my dinner.

I have just finished my dinner and now I will try and finish my letter. I made my dinner of bean soup and hard crackers and now what did you have. I wish you could come here and see how we live for about A month and see how it would suit you. I have no more news to write at present so good by.
write soon yours affectionately


The Battle of Ship's Gap