Ephraim Fauquier Collection

Ephraim Fauquier
Image courtesy of a Private Collector

Ephraim Fauquier, an Iowa settler from Ohio, firmly believed in the sanctity of the Union. Fauquier mustered in service at Camp Benton, St. Louis, Missouri. While in St. Louis, Fauquier and his fellow soldiers participated in basic training, which included 16,000 men and 8 canon drills recreating combat.

…we are goin to have a great sham fight this afternoon with about eight thousand on each side and foure Canon were are having them every day…
Ephraim Fauquier letter to Margaret & Children, “Fryday”

Fauquier and the 3rd Iowa Cavalry eventually marched into Arkansas, and by autumn 1862, they camped near Helena, Arkansas. Scouting, foraging and patrolling for Rebel activity kept the Fauquier busy. It was not uncommon for the men to cover 45 miles without feeding, and the sheer exhaustion of such extensive movement was evident in letters home.

I was put on guard close by to watch some mans sweet potato pach…It was full of good melons so I had a good time thare and when I come off our mess had got all the peaches we wanted and sweet potatoes and a hive of bees we had more honey than we could eat it did not go vary bad with good light bread of our own making and what made it sweeter still it all come off a rich sesesh (a person in sympathy with the south) who had run away and left everything he had, but when two thousand Cavelry had feasted off him until next morning he had not much left
Ephraim Fauquier letter to Margaret & Children, September 15, 1862

Raiding private civilians became a common practice for both Union and Confederate soldiers. Fauquier wrote his wife that “thare is plenty now in the Country to eat if onley we take time to sop and get it and we will take a force with us large enough to take all the rebels that are thare….”1 During scouting missions, men would seek supplies and food from “Rebel Women,” to help sustain their efforts. These activities caused waning support from the civilian population, who already suffered from a lack of food and supplies.

Fauquier’s letters to Margaret and their children are full of humorous anecdotes about scouting missions, colorful notes on the people and the terrain he encountered, and were clearly written to educate his family about his experiences as a soldier. One letter, undated, recounted a story for his children about becoming lost in the woods during winter. Ephraim continually wrote about desires to be back home, and how he longed to see his children again.

The 3rd Iowa Cavalry participated in the Battle of Vicksburg in the summer of 1863. The Union success sent Fauquier’s company back to Helena, where Ephraim last wrote to Margaret on August 30, 1863. Fauquier remained in Arkansas through the year, eventually succumbing to disease in early December, 1863, within a month of his regiment’s return to Iowa.

Contributed by a Private Collector

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  1. Ephraim Fauquier letter to Margaret and children, 15 September 15 1862. Ephraim Fauquier Collection, Privately held.