Letter #10 to Abel
Memphis Tenn July 26″ 1864

In letter #10, Jesse give some of his most vivd descriptions of his involvement in battles. The 27th Iowa was involved in several battles in Mississippi during the month of July and it is the Battle of Tupelo during the middle of the month (14th-15th) to which Jesse refers. He was fighting under Major General Andrew Smith and up against General Nathan B. Forrest. At this point in the war Smith was serving as support for General Sherman by protecting the train tracks and his supply lines as Sherman made his way to Atlanta.

The 27th Iowa, Jesse’s regiment, was fortunate as they didn’t see as much action as many other regiments. The battle of Pleasant Hill, April 9th 1864, part of the Red River Campaign was their toughest test and the Tupelo Battle of July 14th, 1864 is the one which Jesse is remarking upon in letter #10. The Commanding Officer, Colonel WM.T. Shaw said after Pleasant Hill, “Of Colonel Gilbert, Twenty-seventh Iowa, and his regiment I can say that they did their whole duty. Although they had never been under fire before, they gave their fire with coolness and precision of veterans, and fully sustained the reputation of Iowa soldiers. ” For more information on the 27th Iowa, https://homepages.rootsweb.com/~27thiowa/index.htm

Jesse goes AWOL
Monthly muster tallies were used to keep track of troop strength. On the 1864 January-February muster sheet, Jesse is listed as “Absent without leave – furlough expired Feb. 24, 1864. The next sheet indicates that he was arrested on Feb 29, 1864 in Dubuque. But the remarks indicate that due to illness he was unable to report back to his unit and had instead reported at the local headquarters for transportation and was taken in charge to Fort McClellan, Iowa, March 10th. He and other stragglers were then forwarded to Cairo, Illinois, March 23rd and then on to Memphis where he apparently rejoined his regiment. Ironically, the muster roll indicates that he had to pay for his transportation, $15.42.

Being AWOL didn’t seem to hurt his career as on August 11, 1864, he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, Co. “K” 27 Reg 4 Iowa Infantry. He accepted this commission the same day.

*Please note that on the website on the history of the 27th Iowa, it indicates this promotion was April 21, 1864.

Letter #11 to his Brother

Cairo Ill Feb 11, 1865

This is the last letter we have that Jesse wrote during the war. He will describe some troop movements towards Mobile, AL, and he refers to his work as “an Army of Observation” at this point. He also comments that there are rumors about the end of the war coming soon. But he also comments “neather would it surprise me if it continued on to an indefinite period”.

The war will end in 1865 with Lee surrendering to Grant on April 9th and Joseph Johnston surrendering to Sherman on April 26th. Between these dates, Lincoln will be assassinated, April 15th 1865.
Norwich Historical Society’s collection includes a 12th letter from Iowa on January 10th, 1866. At this point Jesse is suffering severely from Typhoid fever and he says that he has been sick ever since he got home. He adds that many of the troops got sick in Alabama where they were stationed for 3 months. He comments “There is no use to complain, but I have had a hard time.”

This final letter to Abel has one of the funniest passages regarding his eldest brother Charles, who earlier Jesse had written some harsh words about regarding his selfishness. In this one Jesse remarks about a letter (Jesse calls it a howler), which Charles wrote to his sister Sarah, complaining that he and his wife had been wronged out of some of his Aunt Lizzies things as they only got “some shoes and her poorest dresses.” After a few apparently ironic comments, Jesse takes pity on Charles and says to Abel, “don’t wrong the poor thing for the world, give him a gown.” With that he closes, “I can’t hold my hand steady, don’t know as you can read it.” Very Truly J.P. Hatch

Despite surviving over 3 years in the Civil War, Jesse will pass away on February 22nd, 1867, less than two years after the South’s surrender. Jesse is buried in Mitchell County, Iowa at the Oak Grove cemetery.

Jesse’s father Amos lived out his years in Norwich and was buried in Fairview Cemetery in 1875 at the age of 90. Abel too will remain in Norwich his whole life and passed away in 1887, age 54. He is buried in Hillview Cemetery, Norwich.

The Gift
These letters and other Hatch materials were a gift from Harriet Chase in 2007, who still makes Vermont her home. She is the great grand daughter of Abel Hatch and 6 generations removed from John Hatch the original Norwich settler.

Again, a big thank you for your gift to the Norwich Historical Society.

Thank you to Bob Bristol for researching, writing, and narrating these letters