Horatio N. Marsden was born in Missouri about 1838, according to the 1850 federal census, which has him in St. Louis with his mother and his sister, but with no sign of his father, who might have been a boatman and absent on the river. His mother, Mary, was born in England; his sister, Mary, was born in Ohio about 1834.

Horatio spent some time at Danville in Montgomery County, Missouri, according to a military roster. He had an admirer there, Louisa Sanders, who wrote him love letters during the Civil War. She called him “Tip.”

A military draft was ordered in Missouri in July 1862 and Horatio Marsden enlisted. On 28 October, he mustered in to the Tenth Missouri Cavalry (USA). Named a corporal in December 1862, he became a company sergeant a year later.

Marsden Signature
Signature of Horatio Marsden
Photo in the collection of John Sullivan
Used with permission

In 1863, while based at Corinth, Mississippi, Horatio Marsden wrote to his cousin, John M. Barton Jr., who was with the 33rd Missouri Infantry (USA) at Helena, Arkansas. Several of his Civil War letters survive; some were published in a book. They tell of “hot times” and thunderous battles. He shared his concerns and convictions about the war and solicited information about the rebel “bushwhackers” back home in Missouri.

His three-year term of service was due to expire in August 1865. On 22 July 1865, he was transferred to Merrill’s Horse Cavalry and promoted to sergeant, a promotion intended as an incentive to re-enlist. But he declined to re-up and was mustered out at Chattanooga, Tennessee, on 15 August 1865.

After the war, he lived in St. Louis, working for the Missouri Democrat newspaper as a bookbinder. In 1868, he was boarding at 19th and Market Streets.

On 19 September 1881, Horatio married Agnes Graham at the Third Baptist Church in St. Louis. She was a daughter of John Graham and Agnes Devine of Glasgow, Scotland. The Marsdens had two children, but only one survived, a daughter, Alice May Marsden, born in St. Louis on 7 December 1885. She grew up to become a musician and music teacher and married a medical doctor, Henry Clark Turney.

The Marsden family moved to Fayette County, Illinois, where Horatio applied for an invalid’s pension in October 1891. He died at Brownstown, Illinois, on 8 October 1894. His wife Agnes survived him until 3 March 1935. Both are buried in Griffith Cemetery in Brownstown.

(Sources include: Civil War letters and pension records, census records, military records, church records, St. Louis city directories, cemetery records, and a book, Bushwhackers and Broken Hearts.)

Written by John Sullivan
September 2017

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Last Modified: 25-Oct-2018 22:15