Michigan in the Civil War

Watkins, Lydia, 1819-1909.

The papers of Watkins, of Grass Lake, Mich., include thirty-six letters (1863-1865) written by her son Benton W. Lewis, of Holly, Mich., while he was serving in Company C, 8th Michigan Cavalry, and later in Company I, 8th Regiment Veteran Reserve Corps. He tells of camp life and duties, food, illness, skirmishes, and the use of contrabands. He describes the Kentucky farms, the Post band, and the pathetic condition of the Rebels held prisoner at Camp Douglas. He writes of the gloom at the death of Lincoln and of his funeral cortege through Chicago. One sentence tells of the proposed display of Jeff Davis's petticoats. There are several letters to Lewis from his mother expressing concern for his physical and moral welfare and telling of farm and neighborhood affairs.