Michigan in the Civil War

Browse by Name: Lehman, Frederick

Lehman family

This collections is available online.

The papers of this Chelsea, Mich., family, include correspondence of two soldiers:

Frederick Lehman. He enlisted in Company K, 20th Michigan Infantry, August 22, 1862, and was mustered out May 30, 1865. He was wounded in action three times, November 16, 1863, May 2, 1864, and July 30, 1864.

About forty letters, written to his parents in German, have been summarized in English, with quotations from the main topics in many of the letters. In his first letter he says he is not sorry to be a soldier for he is in good company. He writes of deserters coming into their lines--400 of General Jackson's men; two officers who cleverly induce the Union pickets to take them, "and they showed great joy to be on our side;" and the attempt of 600 men to cross over, but who were fired on by their own men so that only thirty escaped to the Union lines. He writes of prisoners taken--1,500 at one time, 2,300 at another--"all happy to be prisoners." He describes long marches, some over mountains and through valleys in Tennessee where many people had been impressed by the rebels, only to desert to the Union lines.

He describes skirmishes such as Blue Springs. There is a long description of events leading up to the battle of Horse Shoe Bend, Ky., in which the officers' behavior in battle "instilled within us great courage." Even drummers and pipers dropped their drums and their pipes to pick up arms. He also describes the battles in the Campbell's Station-Knoxville area where he was wounded, but not seriously so that he made himself useful by attending to other soldiers in the hospital more seriously wounded; of Spotsylvania Court House, and again at Petersburg.

He tells of the devastation and destruction such as at Madison Station, Miss., where the railroad, buildings, and bridges were destroyed. They are reviewed by Generals Grant and Burnside--"Two generals we are glad to see at any time." He saw Jefferson Davis' home, and the beautiful plantation, then deserted, of Davis' brother.

John Lehman [variously spelled Leeman or Lehmann]. He served in Company C, 7th Michigan Infantry. The collection contains about twenty of his letters (Oct. 9, 1862-May 1, 1864). He apologizes that he cannot write in German, so the letters to his parents are written in English. The Dec. 15, 1862 letter, describing the battle of Fredericksburg, is written on an uncut sheet of Bank of Virginia checks. John was killed in battle. Frederick talks about him in his May 29, 1864 letter.

This collection is available on microfilm for interlibrary loan.