John R. Thomas served in Co. I of the 117th Ill. Vol. from 1862 to 1865, mustering out as captain of the unit. Writing to his mother from Montgomery, Ala., on May 25-26, 1865, he recounts his troubles caused by his first lieutenant (whose loss of company property whenThomas was hospitalized made him liable for $50), complains of his subordinate's "sho[u]lder strap fever," and worries about the safety of sending his pay home. Thomas also regrets the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, "a champion of constitutional liberty," "martyr to the cause of freedom," and statesman who has never been surpassed, "not even by Washington."
Josephine F. Moeller donated a photocopy of this letter to the Illinois Historical Survey in 1999.