William Humphreys enlisted in the 45th OVI as a private on August 8, 1862 and mustered into Company C. He contracted an illness and spent some time in a hospital, but recovered in time to rejoin the regiment as it was defending Knoxville against rebel advance in the fall of 1863.
On October 20, 1863, he was.taken prisoner at the Battle of Philadelphia, in which the 45th suffered its heaviest losses of the war. First sent to Richmond, he survived a harsh winter in which 63 of his comrades from the regiment died, and became part of the first shipment of prisoners to arrive at Fort Sumpter, in Andersonville, Georgia, in February 1864.
On 29 April, 1864 William wrote the following letter to his mother asking her to send desperately needed provisions. Whether he received his hoped-for package is not known. Two months later, he fell ill with pleuritis and died on June 19,1864.
William was the third of his family to join the Union cause. His father, Jacob and his older brother Daniel had enlisted in the 17th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in September 1861, Jacob as a first lieutenant, at the age of 56, and Daniel as a private, at the age of 22. Both mustered into Company C. Jacob died of illness on December 21, 1861 at camp in Somerset Kentucky, while Daniel survived the war, earning promotion to sergeant. He died in 1923.
The following transcription follows the style, spelling and punctuation
of the original. The letter is written in pencil on 12.7 cm x 20.3 cm blue-lined paper. There is an embossed mark on the back, in the top left corner, with an inscription WEST END in the shield. The letter is addressed from Pvt. William S. Humphreys, Co. C, 45th Ohio Volunteer [Mounted] Infantry, to Parmelia Humphreys in East Liberty, Logan County Ohio.