(1835 - 1873)
Home State: Indiana
Command Billet: Private Soldier
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: 14th Indiana Infantry
WIlliam's parents Lewis P. and Margaret (Thorlton) Letsinger were early settlers of Greene County, Indiana, arriving from their native Tennessee some time around 1840. Lewis accumulated considerable land holdings in Wright Township, and had 13 children. "Six of his sons went to battle with the right during the rebellion, three of whom found soldiers' graves in Southern soil, two dying of wounds and one of disease."1
William Letsinger and his brother Philip mustered into Company D of the 14th Indiana on 17 June 1861 for a three year term at Terre Haute, from Greene County. They and the regiment saw service in Western Virginia into the Spring of 1862, then joined the Army of the Potomac at the tail end of the Peninsular Campaign.
On the Campaign
The 14th Indiana was at the front of French's Division's as they hit the Sunken Road at Antietam. More than 55% of the Regiment were casualties there. Among those killed was William's brother Philip.
The rest of the War
Shortly after Antietam, William and 11 other members of his company transferred to the 6th US (Regular) Cavalry - 2 sergeants and 10 privates. Two of them, SGT William G. Smith and Private Jasper Vancleave, had been wounded during the battle. William Letsinger was enlisted in Company C, 6th US Cavalry on October 24, 1862 by Lt. Albert Coats at Knoxville, MD. His enlistment documents describe him as 5'9" tall, with dark hair, dark eyes,and a florid complexion.
He was discharged in the field as a private at the expiration of his enlistment on 1 June 1864.
After the War
He married in October 1864 and had two children. He died less than 9 years later of Tuberculosis attributed to his military service - in particular the battle of Antietam.
References & notes
Photograph here is from a tintype taken with his brother Philip, probably in 1861, from the Liljenquist Collection at the Library of Congress. Service data from a roster of Company D, 14th Indiana, transcribed and hosted online by Terry Conners. The 1850 Federal Census for Greene County, Indiana lists him at 14 years old and one of 11 children in the family in that year. Additional details from an online genealogy.
Service in the 6th US Cavalry and additional information gathered by Don Caughey from Record of Army Enlistments via Ancestry.com, and Muster Rolls, 6th US Cavalry. Thanks also to Don for the pointer to Goodpeed's History.
William had 5 brothers in service during the War2:
Philip J., 14th Indiana Infantry, killed at Antietam;
John C., 85th Indiana, WIA;
James B., 31st Indiana, died (disease) near Atlanta, 1864;
Alexander H., 31st Indiana, killed at Vining Station, near Atlanta, 1864;
Lewis E., 85th Indiana Infantry
11/04/1835; Knox County, TN
07/24/1873; Clay County, IN
1 Goodspeed, Weston A., History of Greene and Sullivan Counties, State of Indiana, Chicago: Goodspeed Brothers & Company, 1884 [AotW citation 1113]
2 Bowen, B. F., Biographical Memoirs of Greene County, Ind., 3 Volumes, Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen & Company, 1908, Vol. 3, pp. 1223-24 [AotW citation 1114]