Samuel Kinney Thomas of Alton, Ill. enlisted as a private in Co. G, 2nd Ill., on June 17, 1846. His letters, written from Port Tavaca on Aug. 3, 1846; from San Antonio on Aug. 10, 1846; and from Buena Vista on Apr. 4, 1847, describe his experiences in the U.S.-Mexican War. The first letter is addressed to George A. Bradford of St. Louis, Mo. The second and third letters are addressed to his father, Col. John Thomas, of Belleville, Ill. The letters, which are both interesting and well-informed, show that the official understanding of the war (including, for example, Mexico's inability to end it) was shared by the rank and file.
The collection also includes a photocopy of a handwritten remembrance of Thomas (1829-49), a student in the scientific course at McKendree College who died of cholera before completing the classical course. Thomas was the first son of Col. Thomas (1800-94) and Isabella Kinney (1803-68), his mother being a daughter of Lt. Gov. William Kinney. Josephine F. Moeller donated the letters, for which there are transcriptions, to the Illlinois Historical Survey in 2000.