Peter Houser, seen here later in life, worked on his father's farm in McLean County, Illinois, until the age of 25, when he joined the 94th Illinois Volunteer Infantry in August 1862. He was a member of Company B, which served with the Union's Army of the Frontier and was attached to Gen. Francis J. Herron's division.
This division was sent from Springfield, Mo., in support of Gen. James G. Blunt, whose troops were already in the region. Herron's troops came through Fayetteville and engaged Confederate forces at the Battle of Prairie Grove, just southwest of Fayetteville.
Soon after the Battle of Prairie Grove on Dec. 7, 1862, Houser wrote three letters home. Below is the second of the three letters.
In Camp ten miles S.W. of Fayetteville
Arkansas Dec. 11th, 1862
I wrote to you on the 9th and told you what a stormy birthday I experienced last Sunday (7th inst) In the battle of that day Co B lost ten men out of 32 wounded in the reg. so you see our co. lost nearly one third of the whole number. I got two bullet holes through my pants; there were only two killed in our reg[.] The loss in killed and wounded of the rebels is estimated at 2,500. our loss in killed and wounded is thought to be some 575. [unintelligible] The enemies were 40,000 strong, We had 15,000. The 20th Wisconsin suffered teribly; the Col. of that reg was drunk and led his men into unnecessary danger: the 19th Iowa was terribly cut up too[.] I heard one man belonging to that reg say that they had about 75 men left that were fit for duty. The 94th lay on the battlefield all Sunday night. We fired a volley soon after dark — challenging the rebels to fight during the night, but we got no reply; next morning, when we were preparing to resume the fight the Rebel Gen. sent a flag of truce to our camp and acknowledged himself beaten, the rebels wer gone and we have not seen them since, but learned today that they are fifty miles from here. We doubtless had a very hard fight with them and if it had not been for Gen Blunt’s men coming in on the west we would have all been either killed or taken prisoners. I heard from George yesterday: he is getting along very well. Since we have been here the weather has been warm enough to be comfortable during the day without a coat on, but the nights a quite cool — cold enough to freeze some[.] I rec’d a letter from you yesterday[,] was pleased to learn that [unintelligible] and getting along with your work so well. Write soon and after to your brother, Peter