IAGenWeb Project

Shelby County


Pressley Ruffcorn served 3 years as a member of Company B, Eighty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry, mustering out November 22, 1864, at Petersburg, Virginia. He later became a long-time resident of Shelby County, serving as a Union Township trustee and also on the county board of supervisors. Pressley's biography is found in the 1915 Past and Present of Shelby County, Iowa.

The letter below is signed "Mother", but the contributor traced its authorship to Pressley Ruffcorn, who was living in Epworth, Iowa at the time. Although Pressley was not yet a resident of Shelby County, his description below of an incident that occurred during his Civil War service is entertaining.

The National Tribune, October 18, 1883, Page 7, Col. 2.

From the Mother of Company B, 85th Pa. V.I.


During the winter or early spring of 1863, while the Eight-fifth Pennsylvania volunteers was encamped on St. Helena Island, S.C., Sergeant John B. Norris got a thirty days' furlough to go home to visit his friends in the old Keystone State, and at the expiration of his furlough, while preparing to return to his company, he thought he would bring the boys a treat. So he got a gallon of old rye whiskey, boxed it up and carried it as if it were a satchel. He arrived safely around 4 o'clock In the afternoon, and, of course, it was not long until the boys got a taste of the contents of the box, and, as it was not bad to take, the boys imbibed pretty freely. It seemed to be contagious, for many of the boys who had never been known to indulge took too much and almost every non-commissioned officer in the company was pretty noisy. I was on camp guard that day, and Lieutenant Mitchner [John D. Michener], of Company D - a favorite in the regiment - chanced to be the officer of the guard, and well it was too, for some of the boys got pretty happy, and the lieutenant inquired of me what was the matter with company B. I told him they had some hard cider, and asked him to come down and get some himself. So down we went, and our little orderly-sergeant treated him, and when he left he told the boys they might have all the fun they pleased, but they must not make too much noise. But the whisky was in, and the sense was out, and after taps had been beaten, the lieutenant relieved me from duty and sent me to my quarters with instructions to keep the boys quiet if I could, and you may be sure I had my hands full; for by the time I got the boys quieted in one quarter, the noise would break out in another. Some of them, indeed, got so much under the influence of the whisky that, if I succeeded in getting them in their tents and keeping them still for a little while, they would be fast asleep. Others I had to carry by force to their tents, and hold them until they went to sleep. By 12 or 1 o'clock, everything was quiet, but at roll-call the next morning there was some anxious faces, and a number asked me if they had been very noisy, and some of them expected to be reduced to the ranks. But when I told them that Lieutenant Michner [sic Michener] would not report them, they felt like hugging me, and said I had been a mother to them, and ever after I went by the name of "mother."

Now if any of my old companions are readers of THE TRIBUNE (which I hope they are,) and should see this little article, I should like to hear from them.



Contributed by Dan Clendaniel, March, 2014.

This issue of the National Tribune has been digitalized by the Library of Congress "Chronicling America" project.