COLONEL LEANDER STEM
101st OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
1825 - 1863
CIVIL WAR LETTERS OF COLONEL LEANDER STEM
Leander Stem was born Sept. 19, 1825, the son of Jacob Stem of Carroll County, Maryland. In 1830, Jacob Stem settled in Tiffin, Seneca County, Ohio, where he purchased more than 1,200 acres of land. The land included what is today the village of Green Springs, Ohio. Leander Stem graduated from the preparatory school at St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He later returned for one year of college. He married Amanda Marshall July 31, 1851. Leander practiced law with his older brother Jesse Stem prior to Jesse Stem's move to Texas. Leander Stem was appointed colonel of the 101st Ohio Volunteer Infanrty August 30, 1862. Stem was mortally wounded at the Battle of Stone's River on December 31, 1862. Shot through the spine and paralyzed, Stem lingered in the home of a Mrs. Bedford until the evenng of January 5, 1863. Mathias Stem brought the colonel's remains home for burial. Maggie, Stem's four-year-old daughter who had died of scarlet fever, was buried with him.
The Civil War letters of Colonel Leander Stem are part of the Hayes Presidential Center's Stem Family Collection.
Head Quarters 101 Reg O.V.I.
Near Ft. Mitchel, Ky
Sept. 7, 1862
My Dear Wife
This is the 2nd day of our sojourn in this state and hot days they have been, and days of hard labor [and] heavy responsibility to me. The men are all so raw and I so much more so than some of my officers greatly increase my labor and responsibility. If I only had a full understanding of my duties I could get along much better.
As it is however, I have so much work to do that I have no time to learn.
Our trip from Monro[e]ville to this place was very satisfactorily accomplished, but the latter part of [it] was attended with a great deal of hard work. After passing Tiffin on Thursday the 4th we got along comfortably but slowly to Cinc., riding all night was at the city at 7 o.c. A.M. of Friday the 5th inst. Found the business houses all closed and a good deal of bustle and confusion abt. the Rail Rd Station. Got our men and baggage off finally [and] march[ed] up to 5th St. Market, where after a long spell of waiting we got some breakfast. And I then reported myself to Genl Wallaces Head Quarters for orders, and was ordered to report myself with my Regt. To Genl Judah in Covington Ky. We then marched across or rather march[ed] to the Ferry [and] rode across into Covington on the Ferry and then marched up into the town. It was very hot and stopped in the streets of Covington for the men to get water, and then were conducted a street or two farther to the Head Quarters of Genl Judah .
I reported myself to him and he assigned me to his Brigade and ordered me to march out on the Lexington [Road] 2 miles [and] a half [and] select a camping ground. We started [and] by this time with my running about looking after this that [and] the other I had got pretty tired and felt the necessity of having a horse. Saw a livry stable close by [and] offered to hire one, [and] was told they were government horses [and] that if I needed one I had the right to take it.
So I went in, picked out a nice looking young horse, had him saddled [and] started on after my men, who had by this time got a good deal ahead of me. I found that I had got a right smart horse but he was untrained [and] trotted, oh, so hard that I wished I had trusted to my own feet; but then it seemed to me quite necessary that I shd. go ahead and select the camping ground, before the men came up in order to avoid keeping them standing in the hot sun so long.
So I whipd ahead, took the Surgeon [and] the Lieut Col and rode on forward to select a camp ground. Such a bumping as I got finally by whipping, kicking [and] jerking I got the animal into a sort of gallop, and on over the hills of old Kaintuck we came, until we had made the 2½ miles; and such a barren hilly country I havent had the fortune to find lately. Narrow knolls with deep ravines all round, so that one can hardly find an even piece of ground large enough to encamp a Regt. on. But one great thing to be looked to was, water we must have water riding where we could [and] walking where we had to sweating and anxious [and] perplexed, I almost regretting the undertaking [and] though I should feel better carry[ing] a musket Finally we [?] up the narrow ridge where I am now writing and squatted down on it in the open face of a hot sun [and] spread ourselves out [,] laid out a camp[,] unloaded our plunder [and] fit to spend friday night the 5 of Sept
Well wife it is almost 11 o.c. I am tired [and] must get some rest have been busy all day excepting half an hour when  tried to sleep, will make an effort to write you further tomorrow.
Love to my little ones[.] I hope they are all good children.
Write to Me
Col L. Stem
101 Reg. O.V.I.
camp near Covington Ky
Head Quarters 101st Reg O.V. I.
Near Ft Mitchel Ky
Sept 13 1862
I have commenced twice today to continue my little narrative, but was interrupted both times [and] now begin the third time rather late at night.
But I want to keep up a brief sketch of my progress and must work at it when I can to bring up to the present time [and] I wish you wd. preserve my letters that I may refer to them hereafter for dates [and] facts --
I left off last night with stating the excitement that prevailed in Cinc. on the last Saturday the 6th inst. -- People were going out into the center of Vine St. [and] looking over the river into Covington to see if the rebels were not coming I heard frequently repeated the remark that the rebels were within four miles of Covington [and] fighting had commenced. Armed citizens were hurrying down to the ferry [and] crossing over into Ky to aid in keeping the rebels out of Cinc. [and] I soon met near the Gibson House with Mr. Phelps, Doct. Brown, E.S. Bartlett [and] others from the Springs [Green Springs, Seneca County] who had come out at the call of the Gov. And learned that there were large numbers from all parts of the state who had turn[ed] out to defend the border I felt as though I was very much out of place [and] ought to hurry back to my regt. but after making what inquiry I could, I heard things that I knew could not be so, as to the situation of matters out here [and] so set down the great alarm about an immediate attack to be without foundation and went hurredly to finish up my business [and] return to the Regt. at Camp Stem, -- as the boys persist in calling it. Judge Seney was with me in the city on business pertaining to his department and was of my opinion as to the foundation for any alarm After we had finished our business in the city we rode out to Camp (which you will remember is 2½ miles from Covington on the Lexington Pike.)
We found that there had been some anticipation of trouble and that several Regts had been drawn in line of battle, but no real expectation of an immediate engagement, although there was a determination to be ready for one if necessary.
I found that a verbal order had been left at our camp for me to report at the Head Quarters of the Brigade at once Our Regt. had been assigned to the 1st Brigade commanded by Genl Judah (who is a Kentuckian I believe) whose head quarters had been at Covington . I rode back quickly to Covington [and] report[ed] myself [and] found myself in presence of Genl Lou. Wallace who was occupying the rooms in which I had found Genl Judah the day before He was seated in an armed rocking chair at one side of the room; while in the centre sat a table surrounded by aid[e]s [and] clerks writing [and] answering questions I should have mentioned that in front of these rooms there were some ten horses held by om [one?] orderly sergeant, while nearly as many more were tied to posts, [and] that aids [and] orderlies were going [and] coming in great haste, many of them undoubtedly riding in more haste than the business required
On being shown to Genl Wallace I informed him that I had been ordered to report myself there, [and] just then up steps some anxiously officious fellow [and] addressed him upon business concerning something or somebody, when the Genl quietly observed to him that he was talking to this gentleman The Genl asked what I was to report there for I told him I had not been informed what I was to report for. He then asked me what Brigade I was in [and] what Regt I had I told him [and] he said to me Genl Judahs Head Quarters to which  was to report, had been changed, that Genl Judahs Head Quarters were in the field with his Brigade It occurred to me at once that I should not trouble Genl Wallace with questions as to where Genl Judahs Head Quarters in the field were. So I turned away determined to find a guide I knew that the Brigade was composed of some 6 or 7 Regts [and] that they were stretched out [and] scattered somewhere about the Lexington Turnpike Coming down from Genl Ws Head Quarters (formerly Genl Judahs) onto the pavement I asked the men who held horses [and] were on their horses where Genl Judahs Head Quarters were, but no one knew I got on [and] started back to hunt up the Head Quarters of Genl Judah. It was growing dusk [and] I began to reflect, as I had already done that I had been absent from my post [and] some mischief might come of it [and] that I might have a long ride in the night to find the Genls head quarters in the field I was so occupied with these reflections that I crossed the Lexington Pike without noticing it [and] rode on out of Covington a short distance before I discovered that I had not taken the road I intended to. I felt tolerably safe from any censure as the order left for me had been verbal when I discovered  was not on the Lexington Pike: I made inquiry for it [and] for the Head Quarters of Genl Judah I was soon directed to the Pike [and] putting spurs to my horse soon overtook a young fellow riding along on a bay mare with a sword by his side (but evidently both horse [and] rider were novices in the military service) I inquired of him for the Head Qrs [and] recd. the gratifying ans. that he was going there, so I concluded to go with him although he didnt so fast as I thought I probably ought The young man sd. his name was Colwell, that he had been riding hard all day bearing messages [and] was tired We passed horsemen [and] wagons going both ways, most of the horsemen riding quite fast We reached the Head Quarters a little after dark [and] found them located in a nice farm house. What was very agreeable to me they were close to my Regt. [and] all that was wanted of me was to send out two Cos. for picket duty I rode back to my camp [and] found that Lieut Col Franz had recd. a second message while I had been hunting Head Quarters [and] had taken the Cos. over for duty
So I settled down, looked after the necessary business of the regt [and] late at night got to bed very well satisfied
On the next morning Sunday the 7th inst. the men got their breakfasts, washed cleaned up, [and] abt. 10 a.m. we had religious service for those who chose to attend.
The sermon was a very good one [and] attendence very fair many of the men seem to be members of church I spent most of the day preparing orders for the Government of the Camp [and] attending to the many little wants of the men [and] in writing to you I hope you will be able to read this but expect some of it will trouble you
Kiss the babes for me [and] give my love to all. I have been looking for a letter from you [and] have recd. but the one Good bye
Head Qrs 101 Reg O.V.I.
Camp Gilbert Near Jeffersonville Inda.
Sept 25 1862
I have only time my dear wife to write you a very short letter tonight it is after 9. o.c. P.M. On the evening of the 23d, Tuesday last, I recd. orders to be ready to march in 1 hour goods all packed in wagons ready to go to Cinc. and take the cars for Louisville Ky. It was just dusk, I had just eaten a light meal and thot. to go to bed and sleep off the last linger[ing] shades of my fever and chill. But I set to work, issued the order and hurried things along and about 10 o.c. was ready to and did move off. The whole Regt marched along cheerfully in the starlight followed by two ambulances carrying sick men, and by a train of ten wagons all but two of them drawn by 6 mules.
We went to Cinc. took the cars and got started a little before 4 o.c. A.M. for Louisville Ky. We got to this place last night abt 10 o.c. with scarcely anything in our haversacks for supper. After a good deal of trouble and vexation the men stowed away for the night. Have had rather short allowance of provisions for the men today. This is because they hurried us away without teams to haul everything and without giving us time to obtain rations to fill the haversacks.
Tonight I recd. an order to move tomorrow to Louisville or a little back of that, between Louisville and Braggs Army.
So you will write to me as camped near Louisville Ky hereafter.
Good night kiss the little ones for me. I hope Freddie is better, but fear I hope in vain---
Head Qrs 101 Reg O.V.I.
Near Louisville Ky
Sept 30 1862
One thing has crowded upon another in such rapid succession and so many duties to perform new to me, that I have been unable to write my Dear Wife half the letters I would like to, much less write a narrative of events as they pass. I have been suffering some inconvenience from the cold I took while at Ft. Mitchell, to which I have made frequent additions by the way.
Since we have been here, we have had to rise every morning at ¼ before three and stand under arms till day light. This has been a double burden to me as I have most of the time had to be up until 11 o.c. and am often awakened in the night by inquiries about a hundred little things which the men ought to determine for themselves.
This morning while the men were standing under arms I recd. an order to [be] ready to march by 4½ o.c., with three days rations in haversacks. We made ourselves ready as soon as possible. I supposed the men would have to eat their breakfast of hard crackers or rather hard bread as its called as they march. Nevertheless, they persisted in having the Company cooks make their coffe, and (we were to wait further orders before moving) ate their breakfasts with their knapsacks on their backs. By the time this was done we recd. another order to stack arms and await orders, all which we were already doing And now it is 11 a.m. and we are still waiting.
Where we are going or why we dont know, and indeed we may be ordered to remain where we are. Orders have been issued cutting down baggage and the number of teams so that it is altogether likely that I shall have to buy a valise and send my truck, coat and other surplus home by express.
Major Genl Nelson of this army slapped Brigadier Genl Davis commanding this Division in the face yesterday morning whereupon Genl Davis shot Genl Nelson. Nelson died in a short time. He has the name of being very abusive and tyrannical. Davis is an Indiana man was formerly a member of Congress. Tis said that Nelson and Davis had some sharp words in relation [to] the business of the Army in which Nelson is represented to have told Davis that all Indianians were cowards and some such wholesale charges.
The general feeing seems to be that Davis did right. A very wide spread dislike, I dont know, but I may properly say, hatred prevails against Nelson in the Army for his tyrany and abuse of his inferiors.
I have seen Col. Gibson, Phil Spielmans son, John McCormick, Dr. McMeens and other acquaintances here all looking well. Gibsons men and some 45,000 of the troops of this Western Army have made a very severe march from Northern Mississippi to this point in pursuit of Genl Bragg and his Army. They say that if Genl Buel had permitted it they wd. have whipped Bragg and captured a good part of his Army.
A strong current of feeling prevails among these men that Buel did not want to capture Bragg, but of course they know very little of what they talk about. Why dont you mail a Tiffin paper to me occasionally?
Louisville is a larger, richer, finer looking place than I expected to find it. It is indeed a beautiful place and bears marks of hav[ing] much wealth in its population, especially if you estimate the Cold. pussons worth anything. They are very numerous and of all shades. I noticed at the upper windows of some of the houses as we marched through the city some very handsome women, fair complexioned and gracefully formed, (most of them very amorous looking however) but the hair, even in the 3d. stories had very visable curl, and the eyes were large with a full share of white visable. They mix up a good deal I take it. The country about Louisville is very fine and in an excellent state of improvement so far was we have come and that is only outside of the city. I saw yesterday abt. half a mile from here a sort of country tavern stand kept by a German. He has 10 acres most beautifully improved with grape arbors[,] shade trees and a little basin of fresh spring water. But this Army of men is leaving its impress upon it. Almost everywhere the men tear down the board fences to make themselves shelter from the hot sun and rain and heavy dews. The[y] burn the rail fences to cook their victuals, dig the sweet potatoes[,] pick the apples and peaches to eat. Kentucky is paying dearly for her neutrality. The whole interior and Southern part of the state must be completely ruined and devastated by the passing and repassing of the two Armies. Those who remain at home securely in the Northern States can have but a faint conception of the ruin that wd. overtake them if the rebel army shd. succeed in getting a foothold across the Ohio river .
The boys are generally quite well. Henry Pittinger stands it bravely and cheerfully so does Frost. Henry Taylor has complained some but I have relieved him from all heavy duty. I am disappointed at not getting any letter from home since here. Why dont you all write. I long and fear to hear from Freddie. Give my love to all and kiss them for me.
your affect. husband L. Stem
Head Quarters 101 Regt O.V.I.
On Salt River Ky
Oct 4 1862
I was very glad indeed my dear wife to get your letter of 29th inst. and feel better to hear that Freddie was improving even so little. I am writing now before breakfast on my saddle flap lying down myself on my blanket on the ground. Troops and fires al round men intermingled with wagons and mules. Some question to ans. every 5 minutes and sometimes oftener.
We are marched off without our camp kettles and have a hard time cooking anything. We left Louisville on the 1st and marched abt 11 miles. It was pretty hard for the men, not used to marching Evening 9 o.c. by light of the Camp fire I was interrupted just there this morning by the order to march. Have [been] marching slowly most of the day over hills and through valleys and made about 10 miles and are now encamped 10 miles north of Bardstown Ky. The troops and camp fires cover the side hills and the large valley. When interrupted this morning I was speaking of the march. Yesterday was the first time our regt. forded a stream. It was a shallow one however and those of the men who had good boots got over without taking them off. The stream was Fern Creek.
This morning we cross Salt River at a point where it is so low that a few rails thrown in enabled the men to get across without even taking off their shoes. Bragg and his army are said to be at or near Bardstown. It was reported that he was fortifying himself there to give us battle, but I have no confidence in the report. Yet it may be he will.
Army and seems to give very fair satisfaction. Its Ginny St. Johns husband. He saw service in the Mexican War, it seems. I have had three short conversations with him. I found him today on the side of [a] steep hill on horseback, waiting to see the artillery safely up a steep hard pull. I slept out on the ground last night and shall have to do the same tonight. Our teams have not been able to keep near to us and may not reach us tomorrow. I put two blankets under me and my thick overcoat over me. I slept warm enough last night, but it was very damp and will be tonight I think. We find a good many negros here who are ready to go along with us.
The fire burned low and I wrote by the light of the moon last night, until the clouds obscured its light. We were arouse[d] this morning at 3 by an order to prepare to march immediately. It is now broad day light and we are not started. They must mean to chase old Bragg right up [?]. I have a chance to send this to Louisville and must close it.
Write via Louisville
Ky Kiss the babies
in haste your husband
Camp near Perryville Ky
by the campfire
Oct 9 1862
We had a little battle here yesterday, but 101 did not get the Artillery. We were marched up along with it into line of battle to defend it. The shot and shell flew over us pretty fast and we expected the rebels to pitch into us, but they didnt, with musketry. We have a large Army and our line of battle must have extended 6 or 8 miles, comprising several divisions, under the command of different generals, while the whole is commanded by Genl Buel. Genl Rosecrans[ۥ] command had some hard fight tis said with musket, and reports differ very widely as to how much was done on each side. One thing is certain however, we are on the ground occupied yesterday by the rebel army[.] Their killed and wounded are here in a very neglected condition, but perhaps they do the best they can for them. The men behaved charmingly under the feeling of almost a certain fight. Some of course pretended sick and staid, others were really sick. Henry Taylor and Frost are well. They were not in line of battle with us. Henry has not been able to carry a gun. I bought a mule and put my blanket and overcoat on him and Taylor ride him. He did not come up last night, probably because of the danger so I had to sleep on the ground without anything but my rubber coat and I did [not] rest very much as I got cold.
I dont feel first rate tonight and as I may start any moment I propose to stop writing and go to bed. I have my coats and blankets and will be warm enough tonight. The rebels are said to be far enough ahead, 10 or 12 miles tis said. Kiss all the little ones for me. how many times in this short absence would I have given most anything for one quiet hour with wife and little ones and friends at home. We are moving with no baggage and deprived of all comforts nearly and may not get your letters for a week or even more. But write, write to your affect. husband and tell the girls to write. Tell me to when I left off my comment narrative of events and I will try to resume it. These hasty notes by camp fires are very incomplete.
Head Qrs 101 Reg O.V. I.
Near Danville Boyle Co. Ky
Oct 13, 1862
Here again my Dear Wife am I, not in a first rate humor for writing however.
I have [been] quite well since I last wrote you, but woke up this morning a good deal sick at my stomach, not however to the extent of vomiting.
I couldnt eat hard bread at all, I did however drink a little coffee and eat a small piece of tolerable bacon.
We have been moving constantly since I wrote you of the battle near Perryville (which was the last letter I wrote you), moving with only what we can carry on horse back. I bought a small mule, on which I carry my blanket and some provisions. Henry Taylor being to[o] feeble to stand the marching I have had him ride it, and take care of the things. If Henry dont improve soon I shall make an effort to have him discharged and sent home. We are rouse[d] at 2, 3, and 4 o.c. in the morning, march sometimes steadily along all day with intervals of halting, sometimes moving rapidly for an hour or two and then halting an hour or less; marching sometimes till 10, or 12 o.c. at night, not often though, so late as that. While we are marching this way I cant write often nor long letters, and doubtless many of my letters will fail to reach you for a long time and some may fail altogether to reach you.
I forgot abt the wood; let Mr. Keen see Mr. Clevidence and then buy the winters wood, and then let Clevidence make his arrangements to haul it in as fast as possible before bad roads.
I intended to have sent you a chk on __________[?] before this, but Keen did not inform me what they said about paying it. I will send you in this a check for 30$ at all events and will try to bear in mind to send you some money in good time again. I infer from what you say in the last letter I got from you going somewhere in the buggy that you still have the horse then. If so you ought to let him be kept at the farm, as doubtless you do. You can send the cows to the farm if you like. If they give any milk Mrs. Clevidence might milk them and make butter and give you a share. If they dont give enough to make butter, you ought to have at least half of it and that brot. to you every morning by one of his boys.
If they give enough to make any butter of any account after you have what milk you need, you ought to have half of that I think. At all events the cows kept on [the] farm and afording plenty of good milk for the family is better than to buy a quart or so a day. You can use milk so as to supply the place of much other provision which you wd. have to buy. By the way how do you get along with keeping an acct. of your household expenses and paying as you go. I [am] afraid it is going to be a couple of mos. yet before we draw our pay.
Doct. Cook is not promoted. The Brigade Commander, Col. Swayne, at Ft Mitchel had him acting as Brigade Surgeon for awhile and some of the boys then thought he was promoted. He at first [thought] there would be a chance in it for promotion and so did Seney who was offered a chance to act as Brigade Q U [M], but both of them after reflection were sharp enough to see that was all in the eye.
I want a good pocket map of the slave states of United States, the latest publication that can be had. If you can get me one at -- ? or --? -- send it to me by mail; I [am] not particular about it having a back to it. Get a cheap one and send it by mail right away (one like Ez Stone has in his house) and I will send to Cinc. for [a] better one.
Where is Bob and his better half [?] Dont forget to let me know where I left of[f] my connected narrative for I shall have to write it out soon or I will forget most of it. When I commenced this I thot. I wd. only have time to say a few words, and indeed stopped once because troops by the side of us were moving off and I suppose[d] I must go to[o]. I got ready and have written half my whole letter since on my knee sitting on the ground. I dont need a present any more cloths than I have have had no chance to change a thing since  left Louisville 2 weeks ago. I ought to write to the folks all around but cant of course. Have been here at a temporary halt from about 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. expecting an order to move every minute and have just now been notified that we do move very soon. How far or where we are expected to march to before we stop for the night I dont know. We have had rain or drizzle now for three nights. I have been so fortunate as [to] have a fellow taking care of my own and Col Franz and Maj Woosters horse who had found Battery canvass and secreted it in one of the wagons, under which I have kept dry. We are off.
Head Quarters 10/Reg O.V.I., 1 Brigade
9 Division Camp on Duck [Dix] River near Crab Orchard
Oct 16 1862
The last hasty letter I wrote to you my dear wife was abruptly terminated by an order to march. We arrived here last night or rather last evening about 4 o.c. and encamped. About 7 o.c. while I was busy with sundry little matters connected with the Regt. Doct. Reid of Norwalk and Hon W. P. Thomason of Louisville Ky members of the Sanitary Commission came into Camp. They had been following us up from Louisville after the battle of Perryville to look after the wounded [and] sick. I gave them [some] of my beef and tea. They ate heartily and one of them Thomason who is an old grey haired man laid down with us on the ground. He was in the War of 1812 and gave me his address in Louisville an invitation to call for any favor he could render.
We are lying by here to day resting the army, have been after Bragg and Morgan as fast as the men cd. stand it and indeed more rapidly than many of them cd. endure. As a large number have dropped out, more or less of them every day, a few of them sick but most of them simply worn out with hard marching and sleeping without sufficient protection from cold and heavy dews. For two or three days I had but little that I cd. eat but beef without salt and rather raw roasted on the fire. This living induced a looseness of bowels that made me quite weak and listless yesterday. I felt very sleepy. Last night had no appetite for beef or hard crackers, but managed to get a couple of sweet potatoes and this morning a couple of Irish potatoes, and feel comfortable now. If I can manage to get some potatoes today and tomorrow I shall get out of the difficulty straight.
Yesterday morning at the town of Lancaster [,] Ge[a]rrard Co. we had a little skirmish with some of Morgans men. One of the enemies shells bounded through our lines and a fragment struck one man on the skin bruising it some, but did no other injury.
We are approaching the Cumbelin [ Cumberland ] Mountains and shall soon find ourselves where food for man and horse will be scarce for a time. We are expecting as I understand it to press on after Bragg and Morgan by quick marches until we either have a fight or drive them where we shall be compelled to give up the chase[.] The latter would seem to be the most profitable result, judging by the past.
Lieut Col Franz of Bucyrus has an old fever sore on one leg which has broken out again with great virulence and compelled him [to] resign. Some considerable desire is manifested to have Capt. Kirby take his place. This would be violating the regular order of promotion (although authorized by law) and is likely to give me some trouble.
I forge[o]t to put the check in the other letter and will put it in this. I must stop now and attend to some business and try [to] write to Watson and Booth[?] to day.
Love to all and kiss the babies
Your afft husband
How I would like to see you all. Willie, Maggie and Freddie are all good children I hope and learning to read to me when I come home. I shall expect a letter from Willie.
How is Mag Molly Ginny and all the rest. Here are some Ky flower seed given me by the young man who presented the Boquettes. He says they are handsome.
Head Qrs 101 Reg O.V. I. Camp on Duck River near Crab Orchard Ky
Oct 19 1862
Here we are still my dear Bro. I closed my letter of [the] 16th abruptly in order to forwd. it, but I didnt get if off until the next day. I ought to have found time yesterday and day before to have written you, but about every hour of the day of the 17th some order wd. come from Brigade Hd. Qrs. requiring something to be done, and I have not yet got my assistants in the way of doing things without my personal supervision.
And yesterday I had officer and company drill in the forenoon and Battallion drill in the afternoon, and these with the orders recd. from time to time and ordinary routine of business used up the day. And in the evening came an order requiring a Memorandum of what clothing, camp Equipage etc and regt. required immediately. I have the officers call their men into line, take a memd. of what each one wanted required some time and as fast almost as they got that done they come to my tent (as I have almost the only one) condense and arrange their Memoranda. So that it was after 10 p.m. when I had got a statement finished and started for Brigade Hd. Qrs.
I have had a little diorhea [sic] for a week and yesterday morning and this morning after breakfast embraced an opportunity to lye down a very few minutes. This morning after my few minutes rest and giving instructions to the Quarter Master abt. Clothing etc. I went to divine service and after that called on Brigade Commander for leave to change the location of my camp. By the time I had returned to my quarters and settled myself, Benj Porter made me call and staid until 11½ when I went with him to see Col [William H.] Gibson for a little consultation abt. promotions [,] appointments and the like. It was a ride of 4 ms, and I found Col. G. well and contented as he sd. with everything but the conduct of Genl Buel. G is comdg the 6th Brigade and his men seem to like him well as a commander.
They like ourselves have been moving pretty rapidly without tents and with but little other baggage. Though they being in McCooks Corps were treated with more liberalty in transportation of Camp kettles and the like than we were. I returned from the 49th by 3 p.m. and have had visitors, Doct Cook and my Captns. until 6 p.m.
It is now 20m past 6 and I am admonished that Brigade Hd. Qrs will send off a mail in the morning, hence what I wd. write for that mail must be sent over tonight.
I would like to write to Amanda [his wife], but must write to Gov. [David Tod] and ought to write to C. L. Boalt.
I have endeavored about to give you an idea of how a portion of my time was occupied. I will now mention some of the incidents of our march which I omitted fearing that I shd. not have time to bring up to our present encampment. One of the things most striking, was the facility with which the men adapted themselves to their new situations. The scanty fare was no trial at all to them apparently, nor was the lying out in the night and rain, but when they the hard bread and fat pork are wormy, they had to complain. On the march from Louisville the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th days water was scarce during a good deal of the way and the weather warm. Thousands of men passed along the same road before us every spring wd. be emptied before we reached [it] and as the water flowed from the fountain it would be kept constantly mingled with earth as many cups as could be got into the cavity wd. be plying there for hours as the long lines of armed men passed by. The streams were all low many of them entirely dry, none of them had flowing water, although none that we used looked stagnant. Horses and mules waded in drank and muddied the water and the men filled their canteens from the same muddied pool, not five feet distant and many in their extreme thirst as they hurried along would snatch a cup full from out the foot hollows made in the saturated earth by passing horses or mules or even where hogs had lately wallowed. When the column halted near a premises where wells and springs were used the pumps were run constantly until the cd. bring up no water or broke. The long line of horses and men following us fared even worse than we did. Our first [camp?] near a stream was on a plot on the banks of Salt River . The thousands preceding us had encamped along its banks before we reached it. All of us were thirsty and sent to the river for water. I thought the water had a singularly disagreeable taste. After getting a little hard bread, muddy [?] coffee, and half cooked beef, broiled on coals without salt, all which by the way I partook of with zest. I went to the river to bathe. The water seemed cool and fresh, but was exceedingly muddy, men were washing, soaping themselves freely, mules and horses were drinking and again men were getting water to make coffee. While bathing I got some water in my mouth and at once it occurred to me that the singular taste of the water I had drunk was owing to the soap in the water at least in part. I didnt drink much water afterward that night or the next morning, but I did drink a little coffee at breakfast. Any day almost of our march the water of the Sandusky river such as it is just below Tiffin [ Ohio ] would be nice drinking water.
Notwithstanding all this but little complaint was made by these men who had just parted with the cleanliness and comforts of home. They have uniformly been cheerful and gone at their duty steadily and without faltering. A great many times one and another wd. laughingly cry out on the road who wd. not sell a farm and go soldiering?
I shall have time to write so [me?] long letter to each of you. Must send this and the other letter to Robt.
I must now close for this time dont forget to send me the map and frequently to send me newspapers. My horse does first rate.
Head Qrs. 101 Regt. O.V.I.
Camp near Lebanon on Rolling Fork Ky.
Oct 23 1862
I thought this morning my dear wife that I shd. take a great deal of satisfaction in writing you a very long letter, writing to Clemy, a washing for my own bodily health and comfort, but am so far slightly disappointed.
In the morning as order came to this Corps of the Army wd. remain in camp till further ordered. That was not very definite, but when you remember that when we halt at night or in the day time we never know how long we will remain, and when ordered to move or march (which are used synonymous terms) we hardly ever know which way or where we are going; you will understand how it was that we regarded it as certain that we shd. remain here all day, unless indeed some sudden emergency shd. arise. I therefore had my tent pitched, my trunk taken out and my cot put up, and feeling languid from effect of the slight diorhea laid me down to rest a while. But found little rest. Guards had to be stationed, sinks for privies dug. Men were washing themselves and cloths in the stream right where we got our drinking and cooking water, the teams needed shoeing, the sick wanted some one favor and some another, and all run to the Col of course to know what privileges indulgences or rights the[y] have or can be permitted. I endeavor to give my personnel attention as far as possible to all details that concern the health, comfort or discipline of the men and consequently soon gave up all idea of resting quietly. Attended to these several things and then sat me down to write a letter on business first and to make out an acct. with my Lieut Col of some matters between us during same time contrived to send a boy out to buy some potatoes and bread and tin cups, plates and spoons of which I never had a supply, nor indeed of cooking utencils of the most indispensable kind. And this reminds me that I never mentioned to you that at Cinci. while our Regt. was lying near Ft. Mitchel, Doctor Cook, his 2 assistants, the Chaplain, Major, Lieut Col and myself had bot. a mess-chest with a full outfit of utencils; hired a good gentlemanly cook; and that at Louisville the cook had to go home to attend a law suit and then when we were ordered away from there we had to leave our mess-chest and outfit of utencils, and since then I have had to take it as I cd catch it. (I believe I will not try to write between lines it is harder writing and must be hard to read) I hadnt for two weeks or nearly that after we left Louisville, and indeed have not had yet a solitary cup or anything to cook in or eat in but that was loaned to me. I had however no trouble on that score for some one or generally more of the men wd. offer me of what they had. And young Frost whom I had selected and kept as my clerk, almost always looked to it if every on[e] else forgot it, but that didnt often occur.
To return to the occurrences of the morning, the business I have mentioned occupied my attention until noon when I found that Frost had prepared some coffee, fried cracker or pilot-bread and fried bacon, (all which had [been] procurred before) I ate a scanty meal with Frost and the Major, had a little talk with Major, Doctr. and some of the Captns. when lo! an order comes to be ready to march immediately. At once all hands are at work privates packing knapsacks, officers packing haversacks and valices, saddling horses and in a little while it seemed not more than 10 minutes the men were in line ready to move off my horses were saddled, my tent struck and packed with my trunk in the wagon. Just then an orderly came along and says the order is countermanded we dont march tonight.
Just here supper was announced had boiled sweet potatoes, a sort of corn cake made by Frost, some light bread which I had Taylor buy today and coffee with milk in it (the latter my hostler managed to get) and some fat pork quite [a] supper for us. After supper Doctrs [?] Cook and Yingling called in and Captn Kirby to [o] so that I have not been able to renew my writing until near 8. o.c.
When called to supr. I was about to add that after the order to march was countermanded I had my tent pitched again and my trunk and cot taken out of the wagon again and so after an hour and a halfs interruption I was permitted to sit down to write to you. Since supr. my fingers are so cold that I can hardly write.
When I wrote you last I was in camp near Crab Orchard. Our last day and night there was Sunday the 19th. On that day I sent in conjunction with Capt. Barnes for something eatable. Taylor to[ok] my horse and performed the task by bringing in two chickens and 4 turkeys. The Captn. had a good cook in his Co and we got him to cook the chickens and one of the turkies for Supr. that night and breakfast next morning. It was good for camp fare and I ate too much of it; it disturbed my rest and perpetuated my bowel complaint to[o] I think. Abt 12 Sunday night we recd. notice that the Army wd. march 7½ a.m. I was sound asleep when the order came and could not have been fairly aroused when the order was repeated; for I slept again awhile, awoke at 2 looked at my watch with the firm conviction on my mind that 4½ was the hour and that it would be necessary to have the men called at 3. I lay in a half wakeful state until 3 and then had the men aroused and notified to be ready to march at 4½. Accordingly all was ready at 4½. And then the Major and several others said they were awake when the order was delivd and that hour was 7½. So we waited until 7½ and then the order came to form line which was done. We mounted horse and marched abt 6 rods and then waited until 10. o.c. before going forward. The road was blocked up by troops who were to preceed us and who shd. have been out of our way but for some reason were not. We marched that day 15 ms.; the day was warm and much of the marching done at a rapid pace without proper stoppings. Before night many of the men stopped by the way side foot sore worn out and some of them sick. We were retracing our steps and came back through the town of Lancaster and 5 ms. this side that day. Bivouacked after dark with less than half my men present, but most of them came up with us before midnight. Some overtook us next night, some last night and the remainder I think today. On Tuesday morning started at 7. o.c. & came on through Danville where we left some of our sick in the hospital. Danville is the County seat of Boyle Co., is pleasantly located in a rolling fine tract of land and looks like a very pleasant town. There are said to be (by Doct Cook) about 2000 sick soldiers there. The court house & 2 or 3 of the churches are used for hospitals. I could only stop long enough to see my sick men unloaded from the ambulances, but Dr. Cook was left behind a couple of hours to make the necessary arrangements for them and the Chaplain by my direction remained as long as in his judgment might seem advisable for the welfare and comfort of the men. Hospitals have been located at other points of our march out viz at Bardstown and Perryville and some others. You may form some notion from this what great numbers in so large an Army break down from marches and exposure to wet and cold.
At Perryville, however, most of the patients were the wounded in the battle near that place. Of this battle I had intended to speak more at length, but thought to do so in the continuation of my narrative. Really tho, it looks now as though I shd. not be able to resume the narrative. Our constant marching imposes so much labor that I cant write a night after being in the saddle all day, and stopping so late as we do, it is generally after 9 by the time I have supr over and things prepared to lye down, which I always do with the reflection that I am liable to be aroused at any moment by an order to march. Continued our march on Tuesday last we had a cool windy day for it, a pleasant day for marching, but the dust was very annoying. The mens faces became so covered with dust and sweat that you would hardly have recognized an intimate acquaintance.
This was hard on the weak lungs and hard on the eyes. We marched 15 ms again, part of the way quite rapidly and again the men came into our bivouac badly used up. Halted again after dark and men came straggling in as before. At these halts we bivouac in close order. Imagine 20,000 or even 10,000 men encamped or rather bivouaced (for we have no tents excepting the field officers, one or posibly 3, and are without them most of the time), as close together as they can be well stationed, and all the ground, being 2 or 3 miles in circumference, covered with camp fires the smoke from which fills the air for miles around, while the fires viewed from a distance and attended with the hum of voices, braying of mules, neighing of horses and driving of wagons over the stony roads make one think of a large city or the bivouac of some wandering tribe of Indians only the latter dont have wagons I forgot that. Will ride in dust all day, go to work and bivouac eat supr. get horses taken care of and blankets ready for sleep with your eyes and lungs all the time filled with this smoke as it is wafted from these 1000s of fires and then think of reading or writing. Well I cant sure.
Yesterday we had a fine day marched moderately all day from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. with reasonable halts and got along much better, made 17 ms and got here after dark a little. We expect [to] get some tents and teams and then go I dont know where, but South I presume. I must close write often kiss babies and Willie must not forget to use his crutches. Love to all. Dont forget papers send often and write often. Have had no mail for over [?] a week.
Love to all affectly
Head Qrs 101 Regt. O.V.I.
Camp on Rolling Fork near Lebanon Ky.
Oct. 24 1862
Oh dear! Oh dear!! How little of ones life is his own my dear sister. I wish I hardly know what, but as nearly as I can get at it, I wish I was what I understand to be a good Christian endowed with mental faculties and physical abilities capable of accomplishing a wonderful deal of good and finding in all the labor and privation necessarily incident there to a high pure and exalted enjoyment.
Here we have been bivouaced since night before last, and yesterday morning on the first intimation that we were likely to remain during the day I thot. I wd. write a long letter to Amanda and one to you wash myself and all that. But I didnt get it done yesterday and today I have not been able to commence it until 11½ A.M. All morning I have been giving and writing orders and ans 2. questions and looking after this and that and the other thing.
Your letter of the 4th inst. was recd. abt the 18th and a most welcome messenger it was, but I dont think it comes as often as it ought to. [The boys say the mail has come, I must surely have some letters, but will keep cool for fear of disappointment. It was reported that Morgan had captured one of our mails, but we dont know anything about (it)]. You are so busy [?] putting up peaches and fixing matters of the Aid Socy that you dont find time to write. Well indeed I ought to be studying the Art of War dilligently, perhaps instead of writing to you, but I must write now for I dont know how soon an order may come to march and when we do march we dont know when well have another days halt. You thot. wed have a fight with Bragg near Louisville . I didnt unless one of two things happened viz that Bragg found a good chance to make a sure thing of giving us the worst of it, or that Buel should earnestly and perserveringly seek it. Our force was so large, that if properly managed the former couldnt well happen and from the general reputation Buel had his army, privates and officers, the latter was not at all to be expected unless precipitated by the determination of some one or more of the Genls of his command. And from all I can learn the battle at Perryville was brot. on in that way. Genl. McDowell pressed forwd. he says, farther than he was ordered to and became engaged with the enemy, and had a very bloody fight against superior numbers. But one opinion is expressed by officers and men viz that had he been supported as he might have been very readily Braggs Army would have been annihilated with but little greater loss than was sustained as it was.
All we can claim is that our men held the field and the rebels retreated in the night and that there [their] loss was greater than ours. It is astonishing what an uniform expression of distrust and condemnation is expressed for Genl Buel. He is openly denounced as a traitor by officers and men. Tis declared by Brigadier Genls without hesitation or reservation that repeatedly, since he has pursued Bragg from Tenn. to near Louisville and back to the Southern boundary of Ky, he cd. have taken the major part of Braggs army and that on one occasion his generals begged him to let them make an attack and he refused. This state of feeling is a great damper to the ardor of the Army, and the expression is often heard from the ranks that these hardships would be no great matter if it only amounted to something, but to chase the enemy until you have him in [a] good place to whip him and then lye still and let him escape without a blow isnt what they bargained for. You need not be surprised if Buel falls by the hands of one of his own men.
The dust settles on my paper so that I cant write with satisfaction. It is exceedingly dry and dusty, water is generally scarce and I fear great suffering if we shd. march soon for any distance. It is very warm today and my tent is near the road, the dust very deep and flies in the air all the time.
Personally I am well pleased with Lincolns proclamation and only wish that there was no room for any question as to his constitutional authority to enforce it. I have had some little opportunity to see how the Army does with Negros but not much.
On the march of course many negros are seen along the road. Some of them come out and offer to hire or go along and a bargain is made and forthwith Mr. darky enters upon his near situation by carrying such luggage as may be handed him. Others are accosted by men or officers with the question, dont [you] want to belong to this Regt or here I want you to go with me Ill do so and so for you and the darky starts off. I have not witnessed any of these performances, dont know that they are so and dont want to know anything about it. Day before yesterday a gentlemanly farmer looking man claimed one of these darkies, saying that he left a wife and children. The darky acknowledged his master and made no objections to going with him and I didnt interfere. This is the extent of my experience. I should not allow the men to coax darkies away nor shall I aid in restoring them to their master unless ordered to do so by my superiors. I have been so much interrupted in my writing that I feel like giving it up.
Mr. Neff has been complaining some but stands the privations and hardships well, is the best officer in his Compy. I do hope Lydia will be well by this time. I dont like to hear of any of you being sick. My poor little Freddie has had a hard time of it and may not recover, tho. they say he is getting better. I had a few lines by this mail from Amanda and Mag and a few from Mat. Mats and Mags letters are very short. Mag was doubtless busy as Amanda was sick but I dont know why Mat couldnt write a longer one. He says that Jimmy is announced by the papers a Majr Genl. Id like to be in his Corps. Where is he, write him tell him where I am, he may do me some good. Unless I can have more time to study I have poor opportunity of becoming a Brigadier or anything else worth mentioning I fear.
I close this hoping you will all write often and send me newspapers often to[o].
Love to all
Head Quarters 101st Reg. O.V.I.
Camp near Lebanon on Rolling Fork, Ky
Oct 25 1862
Your letter of the 16th Inst. was recd. yesterday. It was not much of a letter Mat., but still I was glad to get it, glad to hear from you in any shape that brot. no bad news. I cant remember now whether I wrote you since leaving Covington before reaching Crab Orchard Camp or not. At Crab Orchard Camp I wrote you two letters, one of them on the 16th.
I have so far no reason to complain of anything concerning my relations to the Regt., but this continual moving keeps me from studying the art of war as I ought to and must in order to succeed. If the Gov. shd. make the appmt. to the Lieut Colcy which I have requested I shall have no trouble. I think otherwise I shall not get along so smoothly. I shall have to spend a little less time writing letters if we dont have longer and more frequent halts than we have had.
At Louisville this Regt. was finally assigned to the 3rd Corps of the Army of the O. [Ohio] commanded by Major Genl [Charles C. Gilbert] (as he claimed to be, but probably was not), 9th division commanded by Brig Genl J.G. [Jefferson Columbus] Davis, 3rd Brigade by Col. Carlin, but on the killing of Nelson and arrest of Davis therefore, Genl Robt [Byington] Mitchel of Kansas son-in-law of Henry St. John was placed in command of the division.
It seems however that Gilbert had been a Captn in the Regular service and Genl Nelson being dissatisfied with his Brigadier Genls, had influence enough at Washington to have Captn Gilbert appointed a Major Genl so that he could put him in command over the Brigadiers. The appointment had not been confirmed by the Senate, and a day or since Buel becoming dissatisfied with Gilbert deprived him of his command broke up the 3rd Corps as I understand it and the 9th division is now assigned to the 1st Corps I think it is. At all events its Genl McCooks Corps and we are all gratified with the change. Genl Gilbert was vain over-bearing and sometimes abusive. Riding on the road a few days since, when troops, wagons and horsemen were crowding the way, he was delayed a few seconds by riding agt. a soldier who stood in the way. Gilberts shoulder straps were concealed by an overcoat. He jerked the mans hat off and the soldier observed why man I didnt know I was in your way. Gilbert boxed his ears saying dont call me man, I am more than man.
I had an uncomfortable place to write last night and gave it up until today, feeling entirely satisfied that I should remain here some two or three days. Col. Carlin who commands this Brigade [31st], is a very different man from Genl. Gilbert. The Col is about my size, light hair, mild blue eyes, modest, moderate, and always speaks mildly and rather slowly. Was a Captn. in the Regular Army and has commanded a Brigade thro. a long march from Northern Mo. southward to the Arkansas River across into Tenn. and in the battle of Shiloh afterwards north to Louisville and now so far South again. So far my intercourse with him has been almost exclusively in relation to the business of the Regt., but has been very pleasant. Genl Mitchel has been in the service during nearly all of this war and war with Mexico . Was wounded 4 times he says at the Battle of Wilsons Creek, Mo. He is egotistical, but friendly and quite sociable; takes pride in the profession of arms and gives a good deal of attention to detail. He has given me repeated assurance of friendly feeling and a desire to accommodate. He is now absent on short leave and our Brigade is commanded by Genl [ Col. ] Woodruff who was so long a prisoner with Corcoran [Brig. Gen. Michael]. Woodruff is a large man with Hazel eyes, black hair, very moderate in talk but appears to be active and considerate of the welfare of the men.
You speak of battles in Ky. There has been only one battle in which any part of this army was engaged viz that of the 8th inst on Chaplin Creek called the Battle of Chaplin Hills or the Battle of Perryville and I believe some of the men in writing immediately afterwd. called it the battle of Bean Ridge, because some of the men who had been in the Battle of Pea Ridge were in this fight.
The part taken by the 101st Reg in the battle was not very important that I can see. We with the 38th Ills (in Carlins brigade) supported the 2nd Minnesota Battery which did good work. We however were not attacked or permitted to make an attack. We marched forward in front of our battery and directly under the fire of the enemys batteries, but only a few shot fell anywhere near us. The movement of the troops of the 101st under the circumstances was pronounced admirable by officers and men of older Regts. There was great danger that the enemy might throw shot and shell into us, but there was no hesitation, no faltering or confusion. They marched in line of battle through cornfields over rugged hills and fences in as good order as veterans could. The fighting was done mostly by McCooks Corps and there is but one opinion heard of here viz if Buel had allowed our Corps to come up into the action and rendered other aid where he cd. as well as not Braggs Army wd. have been completely flogged and mostly captured. [Gilberts Corps was engaged mainly in helping McCook.]
We have marched back here from Crab Orchard we suppose to obtain stores and equipage with a view of marching South.
The longer I use George the better I like him. The roaring of cannon, rushing of troops, neighing of horses and all that fazed him scarcely at all on the 8th and all times he has been very easily managed and kind and so far stood the racket well. The fare has been scanty. I intended to say when speaking of the battle that if you read Genl Rosseaus report you will notice his modest allusion to the proximity of Gilberts Corps in his greatest need. And should have mentioned for several days there had been and was afterwards a good deal of skirmishing and shelling of woods and forming of line of battle often during the day and lying on our arms at night. I have had to hurry with this to get it ready for the mail. Letters via Louisville will always reach me. Write often and send newspapers. Love to all
Head Qrs 101 Regt. O.V.I.
on Rolling Fork near Lebanon Ky
Oct 26 1862
Once more my dearest wife I am sitting down to write to you. So far as my health is concerned I am better than when I last wrote, indeed am pretty well, if not quite so. Have had my tent and truck at hand for the last three days and do pretty comfortably only that the cooking is bad a good deal of the time. I calculate soon to have a cook by some means. If I can get a good darky from some man known to be a rebel I shall take the proper steps to do so. I wrote to you I think on the 23rd just before the note written by May on the 12th was recd. and on which you wrote a few lines on Monday morning. Some how or other I cant be positive about what I did write to you on the 23rd, but believe I gave you a hasty sketch of our turning about face and marching back two or rather thro. Lancaster and Danville and then turning towards Lebanon and halting on Rolling Fork about 5 miles from the town. We found during our stay there the 23d and 24th good water[;] river water in plenty something we havent had much of the time.
Yesterday we changed the location of our bivouack about 5 ms keeping on the same stream and abt. the same distance from the town [ Lebanon ]. We have still plenty of the same good water and more room for our troops. I ought to have mentioned before that all the movements we have made have been with the whole Army of the Ohio variously estimated at from 85,000 to 120,000 men [61,000 before the battle, 57,000 after, counting Sills division], with indeed this exception, that one division [Sills] of 10, or 15,000 [7,000] men was sent off to Frankfort [and Lawrenceburg] and when we left Crab Orchard a considerable force was retained there.
So that wells and ordinary springs are of no account nor are common sized cornfields, hay stacks, or straw stacks. Yesterday when we came here there was a very large straw pile in this field, but it wasnt 20 minutes after we stacked arms until it was all gone.
There are about 3000 men in this Brigade, and we always halt, camp and bivouac and march together and are preceeded and followed by other Brigades of the same division of the Army. And in taking off a pile of hay or straw every man with an arm full it reminds one of a large collection of ant hills, only that the men are not so quiet by a long ways as the ants are. When allowed use rails for firewood[.] Two miles of rail fence will disappear in a twinkling, all carried by the men.
On starting for this station yesterday morning the weather was exceedingly cold. When we got here (about 11. o.c.) it was drizzling and continued to drizzle and be cold all afternoon. I dispatched a messenger back after the wagon on which the officers baggage and mine and the hospital tent are carried. It was so cold that I concluded that as we were likely to remain three or 4 days I would make a furnace in my tent to warm it. So I started of[f] some boys and went myself for some flat stone. I carried one half a mile, but we found the others nearer. We dug a trench in the ground extending two feet inside and 2 feet outside the tent under the canvas; then covered with stone leaving an opening on the inside to put the wood in at and the Majr [I.M. Kirby] went to work and built a chimney outside about 3 ft. high. At first it drawed the wrong way and all seemed inclined to give it up; but I felt satisfied that after it got warmed it would go, so I fanned away with my old white hat and an old newspaper until is got well started[.] It drew first rate and keeps the tent nice and comfortable. Inst [?] after dark it commenced snowing and snowed fast until midnight, if not longer, but I was dry and comfortable. I pitied the men, they have no tents, yet they had contrived to make comparatively fair shelter with rubber blankets, straw, cornstocks and brush with the leaves on; in front of which (they are all open on one side) they built large fires. A report just reaches me that we are to march in the morning; if this is true you need not be surprised if this letter is not followed by another for some time. An order has just come for us to march at 8½ in the morning towards Bowling Green . We are all greatly disappointed at this for it was expected that the Regt would rec. tents and camp kettles, but this order cuts all off, at all events for the present.
I have never told you of the part we took in the battle near Perryville on the 8th inst. On the 6th and 7th we had been as reported close on to the rear of Braggs Army and frequent firing of cannon was heard in our front, and we were drawn up frequently in line [of] battle and marched often in line in anticipation of an attack. Our position then and during the fight was supporting the 2nd Minnesota Battery. On the 8th we started in line of battle early in the morning, the battery firing at the enemy. Soon after 12 the firing of both ours and the enemies batteries became very rapid and I was ordered along with the 38th Ills. to advance to the left and pass our battery and take position in a field about ¼ m in front and to the left of the battery and lie down behind a rise in the ground so as to conceal them from the enemy. During this movement we passed directly in front of the enemies cannon. Most of their shot and part of ours one passing almost directly over us two of the enemies shell fell near us but hurt no one. To the left of our position during the fight was the scene of the principle battle. We passed by some killed and wounded of the enemy but not many. Saw one of the federal troops who was wounded. Where the heaviest fighting was done the battle was severe and those who visited the field next day say that it presented a horrible picture. I could take no satisfaction in gratifying that kind of curiosity and therefore didnt go. The day after the battle we remained all day on Chaplin Hills near Perryville and that day I wrote you a letter.
After resting a day and a half we marched through Perryville and on to Danville and Lancaster . At the latter place we had some reason to expect a fight, there was some skirmishing with Cavalry and artillery. One shell passed through our line of battle, a piece of it striking one of our men . . . [portion missing]
Head Qrs 101 O.V.I.
Oct 30 1862
As usual my dear, the first thing I do, after a halt that affords time and opportunity, is write to you. I wrote you last Sunday from our Camp on Rolling Fork near Lebanon . I hardly know where I [am] writing from now. Only that we are in Ky on the Rail Rd. leading from Louisville to Nashville, either in Barren County or just in edge of the next Co. west of Barren and that we are about a mile went of [a] little village which I am told is Cave City, but I dont think it can be Cave City it is so small. We are abt. 8 ms from Mammoth Cave, which of course most of us wd. like to go a[nd] see, but will not be likely to have an opportunity. We left Camp at Rolling Fork on Monday Morng. at about 9 A.M. The snow which had fallen as mentioned in my last during Saturday night (about 3 ins. deep) had melted from the roads, but still hung upon the matted grass and weeds in the fields and upon bushes in the woods. The air was quite cold, clear and bracing, a fine morning for exercise. But a great many of the men didnt seem to enjoy it. Some were still foot sore, some a little rhumatic from exposure, I suppose to night cold and dampness and others weakened by diarhea, poor fellows how I pitied them The sorrow I have felt for the sufferings of these men on these rapid and continuous marches has been almost more than I could endure without being guilty of mutiny. I have doubtless been somewhat indiscreet in openly denouncing the cruel neglect of the sick and worn out soldiers in their presence. I am happy to say however that the manner of marching this week has been more reasonable and men are improving generally in health. It is quite singular to one who has never before given the subject any reflection, to observe the fact, that men started off properly and marched steadily with a halt of 5 to 10 minutes every hour will march 15 or 20 ms, with less than half the falling out from fatigue or sickness and with comparatively no suffering as a mass, while if they are allowed to rest much longer at irregular periods and compelled to march rapidly there are but few of them who will not be quite out of breath and used up at night. When so much fatigued, although they may have had but a poor and hasty lunch of hard tack and water at noon, most of them will lie down and drop to sleep without supper and very many of them without taking any pains to cover themselves against the cold dews which they know will occur later in the night.
Our march on Monday from Rolling Fork was conducted with steadiness and moderation; the roads were in places a little muddy from the snow, but most of the way the walking was good. After a march of some 6 ms we began a gradually and winding ascent upon a good turnpike road along, what I shd. think would be called the side of a mountain. It was an interesting sight. The road in its gradual ascent winding now round a project[ing] spur with rocks and stunted trees above on one hand and below on the other, now apparently running along a narrow ravine into the mountain, but turning again around another projection and still ascending would bring us out where we could see and feel the sun and looking across a valley could see on our right another range of hills or spur of mountains as large and rugged as those along whose sides we traveled. Winding out and in, this way sometimes we would come within a little stones throw of our troops half a mile nearly, ahead of us apparently at first glance coming in a direction opposite to that in which we were traveling, but looking again you wd. see them winding away again to the left around another projection of the rugged mountain side and still going higher and higher by an even regular grade. The column extended for probably 6 to 8 miles, of troops on foot or infantry (in military parlance) cavalry, and artillery and trains of provision[s], ammunition and baggage wagons following after of nearly or quite the same length. When the head of the column goes into camp at 3 P.M. the rear will not get in until 7 P.M. and then the wagon trains are until 10. o.c. midnight getting [in]. These latter then start nearly as much later on the march in the morning. In the after part of this day we got upon what seemed to be a table land high and flat, a few buildings, some of them originally good farm houses or perhaps taverns on the road side with a farm, but they were neglected and going today without an effort to repair for years although still inhabited. A small family of whites and a larger one of negros would be seen generally and in more than half the negro families are the different shades of color, from a genuine black down or up as you please to the bright mulatto and in one or two instances, had not the real white stood by the side, I should have the darky for a white child. I have dwelt so long upon this part of the march here that I have not time now to dwell upon the other as it is growing late will only add that by fair and steady marching we got here today at noon and halted for half a day and none of us know why. We are ordered to [be] up at 4 and ready to march by 6 and it is now late bed time. No mail yet. I am wanting to hear from you that you are all well. Those little boys of ours must be good boys and our little fat daughter must be a good girl. Mind what mother says and be kind to one another to make their father glad.
We expect to reach Bowling Green in a two days march at farthest, can do it in a day and a half easily. The distance is reported 25 ms.
Perhaps I ought to mention that our Suttlers Tomb and Seney came up today and that I ate some canned peaches and pineapple tonight with milk. Milk prepared from what is called solidified milk. They were very good.
The lads from Tiffin are all well. Henry Pittenger stands the work very well.
Head Qrs 101st Reg O.V.I. 31st Brigade
9th Division 14th Army Corps Department of the Cumberland in Camp
on Rl. Rd. 10 ms from Nashville Tenn.
This will be my first to you from this state my dear and I notice that in giving Brigade location and all that I have omitted the date, but it is the 7th day of Nov. and 9. o.c. P.M. I am pretty comfortably fixed, having made an exchange of the wall-tent I had heretofore for a Sibley-tent in which I have our mess stove with a fire in it. You wld. probably think that we wld hardly need a fire in this Southern region, but the nights have been disagreeably cold since the 20th Oct particularly and yesterday today quite cold all day. Today I wore my overcoat all day and had to walk some then to warm myself. From about 11 A.M. until dark today a little sprinkling of snow was falling. The nights indeed have been cold with occasional frosts during most of our march from Louisville . We arrived here today at about 3 p.m. and went to a tolerably regular encampment, being admonished as we did so that we might remain here several days, but at [the] same time might be called upon at any moment for a sudden and active service.
By regular encampment I mean pitching all our tents for regular order, some what in the form that barracks stood in Camp Monroeville . We have however only a little more than half a supply of tents for the men. To bivouack is to camp without tents.
I have my cot and trunk and the officers mess chest in my tent and Frost and Saml Weirrick stay with me to look after things run of errands and pack up when about to march. Last night we were notified by Genl Woodruff, who now commands this Division (Genl Mitchel being absent on leave) that we were in the vicinity of the enemy. They have broken up the communication on this Rl. Rd. (the Louisville and Nashville RRd) have burned and blown up the bridges and cut the Telegraph wires and annoyed the Union men generally. This morning we heard there was fighting at Nashville and expected to be marched direct on to N______. We are stopping here, I suppose to protect the Rl Rd, which is being rapidly repaired for the purpose of furnishing supplies to us and the troops in and below N_______.
This is not the service I shld. prefer and I hope we will not be kept at it long, for it is difficult to keep men in good discipline or good health while engaged at it.
A small party of rebels seized Suttler and his effects [on] our route today. The Suttler was traveling in the rear of his division and our Brigade being a little behind the rebs, dashed out from a ravine, took the Suttler and his wagons up into the ravine when our troops came up and attack[ed] them killing several and rescuing the teams, but the rebs carrier the Suttler off with them. In as I may be routed out at any moment, I think I will go to bed, that is to my cot and finish this another day if permitted.
Nov. 8 I believe I cant get over my old habit of working late at night. I begin to think that and sleeping late in the morning are here to stay and that it is useless to try to recover from. If not hereditary it must have become constitutional with most of our family and to get over it I shall have to bring about a constitutional change.
At any rate here it is late quite late, I dont like to say how late, but tis near 11 P.M. that I resume my letter. I seem to have been busy all day, but I can hardly see what I have done. It is true I got up late this morning (7.o.c.) just because I could and because it seemed nearer home to be lying abed in the morning with my eyes closed to everything around me and my ears to[o] so far as I could.
But the pounding of coffee and the noise of horses and mules the beating of drums and blowing of fifes, dispelled the sweet delusion as did the narrow limits of my cot.
The noises were not like the surroundings of home, if the lying late abed was a little like it. The crying, (if not in pain) even of Willie or Maggie or Freddie would have been far more musical to me than anything that cld have been produced from drum or fife or any other set of instruments, saving their own sweet voices in a jolly laugh or call for Papa. Nothing in short could so have stirred or soothed either to sweet like the voices of wife, children and friends at home. And you to[o], I suppose, would all let me have home a week or two. You were always patient enough with me for my failings, but I know you would be glad to be more so for a little visit from me. And I am sure I would be very glad to forgive without mentioning all the faults I ever thought of in you for a little time say a week at home. Not that I am homesick, nor that my absence has been so long, but the privations of this live [life] are well calculated to make the heart warm up and the blood flow quicker at the thought of home and friends left behind us.
Then to[o] life is uncertain and doubly so perhaps here tho. I do not see that on the average more lives are lost in the battles of armies than by diseases among the same number of men at home in civil life. But I was going to explain why I left to this hour the finishing of this letter. I was looking as usual after the welfare of the men, regulating guard duty, rations, forage, teams, tents cloths and all that and directing some drilling, getting advice until 2. o.c. P.M. when I recd. an order to prepare to go tomorrow morning at 7 P.M. in command of my own and another regt., 38 Ills back 8 ms on the road. We came yesterday [to] make a reconnaisance and guard a narrow defile on the Louisville and N-ville turnpike. This has occupied all the rest of my time nearly, getting instructions and giving orders. I want to write a short order yet and a short letter to J.B. McPherson and will consequently stop where I am. I recd. Willies Maggies and Freddies little letters with real pleasure. I like yrs I love those little missles [missives]. They must suggest some more letters for Mama or Aunty to write. My fingers will get cold.
your affectionate Husbd. L. Stem
Have the Squire get a half sheet of PO stamps and you send them to me
Head Qrs 101st Regt. O.V.I.
Encamped near Edgefield Junction Tenn
Nov 14 1862
It is quite a mystery my Dear, how time flits away and days and weeks are multiplied into months and so little seems to be accomplished, not by the Army alone but by myself. I had no thought that this whole day wld. go by and the early hours of the night sped away until it shd. be 9 P.M. when I commenced this letter to you, but its so.
I have not been out of Camp today, have been busy, and cant see what I have done. Our Camp guards require daily instruction, the officers require looking after and instructing, the Camp has to be kept clean, the sick men looked after and the delinquents in duty punished.
Officers and privates run to me for advice and instructions on all kinds of subjects, and each one occupies 10, 15 or 30 minutes and all have to be listened to pleasantly and patiently. It has been a hard task to bring myself to punish the men for careless and negligent discharge of duty, but I have had to come to it.
Today I had to put ten of them on extra labor for leaving their Cos without permission and exposing themselves to being taken prisoner by these roving bands of bush whackers.
It has been in some respects greatly to my disadvantage that we have been kept on such constant and active duty, but perhaps on the whole better for the health of the Regt. They have escaped the run of fever and other diseases known as Camp diseases. The marches and privations however, of the first three weeks from Louisville were to[o] severe and I am satisfied unnecessarily so and the consequence is a large sick list and several deaths and the spirits and energy of the men very much broken down. The good heart and will of the men in the cause they have entered upon has subsided into a feeling of indifference to some extent and obedience to orders is not so cheerful as it would have been. I have no doubt suffered a depreciation in their good opinion for not providing what it was not in my power to obtain, though no doubt they honestly think I could. Doct. Cook to[o] has not proved to be the man I thought him to be. He is exceedingly selfish and close to a degree amounting to meanness. He has become quite unpopular and many complaints are made to me by the men and officers for his inattention and negligence of their needs and comforts, while he industriously attends to his own. I was at first unwilling to believe that there was real cause for complaint, but am compelled to admit that he is not what he ought to be to the men.
We have here two men dangerously ill, and he had never made known to me the fact that they were so and am sure has not made the effort he ought to have made to obtain medicines and nursing for them.
I shall be compelled to visit the sick myself every day. Frost tells me that some of the boys have been writing home horrible tales of the suffering of the 101st.
Our hard marching on scanty supplies of food and water was a thing seemingly cruel but it [should] not be exaggerated. Among the accounts that are sent home I dont expect to escape censure by any means; I cannot expect among so many in the midst the duties devolving upon me [to] regard it as possible for any man to satisfy all, that everything has been done that should be and just as it should be. I have been deeply grieved at the privations and hard labor the men have been called upon to endure by my commands, but there was no help for it; to have resistered the orders of my superior officers wld. have been mutinous and might have cost me my life and that of some of the men, without bettering the condition of those who went unpunished by so severe a penalty. I am still more deeply grieved to hear of the deaths in hospitals, which I am sure might be more than one half less if proper care were taken of the men left there. I drop this unpleasant subject by adding that I have long intended writing to Docr. [A.D.] Reed of the Sanitary Commission at Louisville upon this subject, but I suppose his hands are to[o] full to admit of his doing anything in the matter immediately, but I must write tomorrow. Last night was occupied in hearing reports from and writing to hospitals.
At the conclusion of my last letter I wrote you that I was going out in command of this and another Regt. on a scouting expedition. Well I did so, when I started I thought it was a dangerous business and expected some fighting. But if there was any danger we didnt see it. Small parties of what are called bushwackers had infested the road for 10 ms. back along the Louisville and Nashville turnpike, over which we had marched to this place. They had taken several of our men whom they had caught lagging back behind the regt. on the march, took their guns and blankets from them and let them go. Others from other regts. they had held as prisoners and some others they paroled. On our way here (at the point where I was to give particular attention to protecting our supply train), they had attacked a suttlers wagon and attempted to run it up a ravine, but our brigade coming up drove them back killing some of their party. I had seen one of the dead as we had marched passed the spot. It was to be my business to clear the neighborhood of these marauders killing [or] capturing all I could. But saw none of them although I had the country thoroughly scoured for 8 [to] 10 miles square miles.
Sunday Nov 16 1862
You will take notice as Captn Barnes says that I have suspended writing for a while, and you will no doubt wonder why that is and I suppose I may as well tell you. And firstly on Friday night before I commenced the letter I had promised Captn. Kirby that I would go the rounds with him at 12. o.c. at night to visit the pickets and outposts around the Brigade. So I wrote until I felt like sleeping a little, then laid down until 11½ when the Captn. found me awake. I had scarcely more than dozed away the while I laid down. We took a little bite of bread and butter and cold chicken (that sounds like comfort and house keeping dont it) and mounted our horses and started. It was quite dark, couldnt see the wagon track leading from our Camp to the turnpike. Our first post was stationed about a mile and a half east of our Camp in the woods. We had some trouble to find it in the dark, but found it after riding about through brush and weeds and scrub oak woods. The others we found without any trouble, though in one of [our] attempts to cross a little depression in the ground my horse lost his balance for a little while and feel to his knees, but without particular injury. I had not gone out because it was my business to do so, but because Captn. Kirby would know how the duties of his visit shld. be discharged, and I wanted to learn. It was after 2. o.c. when we returned and I retired to wake up at abt. 7. A.M. and find that Frost had a pretty good breakfast prepared for me and the rest of the mess. Yesterday I was busy arranging to have to [two?] sick men taken care of. They had been neglected and I personally carried to them some white sugar for their tea, and furnished from my own supply; likewise some light bread and had it toasted and a toast-tea made for one who is very low. Besides this Joel Hales of Fostoria and W.D. Smith of Bascom called to see me the day before, staid all night in camp and of course occupied a good deal of my time. I had to go to Head Qrs of Brigade to see after and obtain leave to dispense with afternoon drilling that the men might wash themselves and their clothes without them [having] to appropriate Sunday for that purpose. On the way I stopped at the hospital of the 38th Ills, which belongs to our Brigade, to learn of the Surgeon how it was that the 38th cld. have its sick in a building, while we were compelled to content ourselves with a tent. Came to the conclusion that the fault was in our Surgeon in part and in part in officer commanding Brigade Col. Carlin to whom I had applied for that comfort for my sick men three days before the 38th took possession of the house referred to. And came back to camp raring some at my surgeons and Col Carlin. Being about ¾ of am. from the Cumberlin River I concluded to take a bath myself although I knew the water wld. be cold enough for it. I got my clean shirts drawers and socks and Dr. Caswell 2nd asst surgeon and Major Wooster and myself walked down to the river and took [a] first rate bath. The water is clear and deep with a greenish cast which I have observed in all the waters nearly of Ky and Tenn. The banks here are high and rocky, the river pretty wide and the spot rather picturesque. After my bath supper and a visit to the sick men I was to[o] sleepy to write any last night.
Now that explains the delay in finishing my letter. I omitted to mention one thing in connection with my going out to visit the outposts the other night. On that day one [of] our men had gone alone to the river and while there washing was shot at and hit in the hand. And when I started out in the night, I thought there was danger from some [of] these scamps and more danger in approaching some of the green pickets; who might be alarmed at our approach and fire upon us without waiting to demand the counter sign, but we had no adventure at all.
To return to our scouting party. We went back on the Nashville and Louisville Turnpike about 8 ms to where the Sutler had been attacked (I have named the hill Sutlers Hill, but doubt the names coming into general use). I stationed the other Regt. near there and [a] little this way, at [the] same time placing two Cos. [of] my own Regt to guard the mouth of two ravines opening onto the turnpike, which at that point and for several miles this way runs in a valley of a mile (about) in width, and instructed the commanding officer of the Regt. to guard two other similar ravines further south and to send out two or three Cos on the West side of the Land N pike. I then took the remaining 8 cos of my regt up the hill, which 1¼ ms. long by the road, and 1 m beyond the top encamped. By this time it was near 2. o.c. I started out two other cos. to reconnoitre the East side of the Pike.
One of these I accompanied for a couple of ms and seeing them fairly in the way of their duty and no probability that I should be needed by them I returned to camp alone saving my cook and Secy Frost, stopping on the way to eat some very good persimmons. Arriving at Camp I sent a report to Col Carlin of some information I had gained as to the residence and doings of a couple of secessionists and then rode off to the camp of the other regt. to ascertain whether anything had transpired and to visit on the way the two cos. posted to guard the ravines. When I returned to the 101st it was getting quite dark, and although the pike had been literally thronged all day with teams, foot men (soldiers fallen out and coming up by ones twos and so on) horsemen and occasionally a buggy and troops of cavalry, it was all still and quiet and I met only one solitary horseman galloping down the hill. He drew a little as he approached, till I suppose he recognized my uniform, as I did his and ejaculating all right, galloped on. I had rode pretty hard, been [in] the saddle most all the time from 7 A.M. till then near 8 P.M. and had chafed the skin off against the stirrup leather at my knee and was riding at a smart walk. When half way up the hill, I saw an object in the road before me some 5 rods which I supposed was a calf, but in an instant after, my horse wheeled suddenly round and but for my firm hold of the reins he wld. have run like a good fellow. Turning him again I urged him forward, he refused to go, backed off near the high and steep descent at the edge of the road, was obliged to turn him down the road to avoid dashing horse and rider into [the] ravine below. The horse was evidently badly frightened and as he seldom frightens I concluded I might be mistaken, but the mysterious object stood perfectly still, evidently I thought with its head toward me, and I was unable on a deliberate survey at the nearest approach I could make to determine whether it was a calf or not. Thinking of the wild, rocky hills and ravines all round for miles, I thought it might be barely posible that it was a panther or some such varmint. I tried to get my horse forward but he made a rush at a steep and impassable side hill rising [on] my right rather than go one foot nearer to it. I didnt use the spurr much for he seemed so really frightened that I apprehended if forced too near to it he might make a bound in spite of me down into the ravine.
I saw the thing move its[elf] and felt quite assured it must be a calf, but it was next [to] the hill side, if I force my horse along his aim would be to get by on the side next [to] the ravine and if he didnt get over his alarm would as leave go down the ravine as closer to it. I concluded to coax him along until I could determine upon a plan of moving the thing. To shoot at it might kill a widows calf (there were two poor widows living close by the top of the hill who had a cow and some pigs taken by the soldiers) and alarm the camps some little and might by a bear [bare?] possibility bring a wounded panther at me. I didnt believe it was anything but a calf, and I didnt wish to hurt the calf, anyhow, but I couldnt account for its standing so perfectly still while I [was] prancing about there just before it. Could it be a Rebel in disguise waiting a closer shot at me? No, there was not need of Rebs going to that pains, he could have secreted himself anywhere almost along that hill and had a dead rest at me within 10 or 12 ft. as I rode along. Final[ly] I unbuttoned my holster, took hold of my pistol, thinking widows calf or not I cant fool here any longer; but I waited a little longer and sure enough a calf walked off deliberately up the hill. The horse then becoming of my mind as to its true character, walked on at his usually brisk and elastic pace and soon passed the dreaded spotted calf. I should have felt rather calfish afterwards if I had shot the calf under the first impulse that [it] might be a panther. Soon after getting into camp I got word from Col Carlin that he wanted me to send a strong detachment about 6 ms over on the Long Hollow Pike east of us where I had sent him word I had ascertained two noted active rebels lived, who had been bushwacking. So next day I sent out 6 cos and one in another and one in still another quarter. I went part of the way with one of the cos the major in command of the large detachment, having before given orders for the other regt. to keep up an active reconnaisance in the west. While ours most of them went east. When evening came the large detachment returned well supplied with chickens and turkeys taken from the Rebs. They however found the houses of the two men whom I had reported in flames when they got there. It seems that the 4th Inda Calvary had got the same information  had on the same day doubtless that I had, and they had sent out at once to avenge the wrongs committed upon our soldiers. I dont think I ought to say avenge either for I dont understand that to be the purpose of the authorities, but the object is to show to these bushwacking rebs that if they will claim protection as non-combatants and pass as citizens in citizens dress from place to place in safety, they must not keep weapons concealed in the hills and ravines and rush out in armed squads to capture by surprise sick and worn out soldiers of our army. I was glad I had not witnessed this house burning when they told me of the crying of the women and children over their burning home; although in the morning I had a desire to command the detachment in person thinking there was a chance for adventure. I regarded however as my duty to remain where I could command assistance and go with to any of the parties sent out who might need it. But none of them met with any armed rebels. Our or rather my instructions were to attack all armed parties not in the service of the U.S. and to shoot on sight all armed butternuts found prowling about the country.
All these people wear clothes colored with butternut bark, save in a few instances. Some of them have obtained our uniform of blue and wear it to deceive us. I was also instructed to take from known secessionists any provisions I could find suitable for the use of my men or horses giving a receipt therefor and in all cases leaving enough to support the family six months.
Under this order we appropriated sweet potatoes flour corn meal port, come apples and a good many chickens and turkeys.
I had one of the men buy some butter for me and since then have lived rather high.
Frost makes good dumplings, pies and biscuits and roasts chickens, turkeys first rate under the instruction [of] a negro cook some of the officers brot along. We were ordered to return to this camp on last Wednesday and did so having found no armed rebs at all. On Thursday last Doc Cook, Seney and myself went to Nashville and I got some good wheat bread to last us a week. I have something to say of Nashville and the country around but cannot do so now and if I dont now shall doubtless forget it.
On Wednesday I got one of your letters and another yesterday, one from Clemy to[o] and one from Robt on Thursday one from Ezra and today one from Emeline and Sally with a lot of newspapers, all of them very acceptable.
I have a letter from Mat. All of these I ought to ansr. besides writing to sundry friends and of course all will expect long letters. And then too I have not written to the Squire. Call at the office, give my best regards and apprise him I do not wilfully neglect him. My hands are fuller now if possible than before, the health of the men is so bad that I have doubts, which trouble me very much, of Cooks capacity. I wish I had Doct. Gibson or Cronice or Parks[.] By the way I met Thomy C______ at Bowling Green and Parks at Nashville [,] found them well and contented and enjoyed a good little visit with them. I have a high opinion of Cronice as a Physician. Mention to their friends if you meet any of them that I saw these men.
I wanted [to] say a good deal to Maggie Willie and Freddie but I have hardly time now. I would like very much some more of those nice little letters they wrote me. Tell Willie that I ride a nice little black horse that Uncle Mat. got for me. He is the lightest fastest walker I have seen, as gay as a bird, holds head as proud as a boy with new boots on, and gallops off as fast as a streak. He is as kind and gentle as a lamb, dont scare at all at the firing of guns and when the big cannon booms near him, he just looks up as though he thought shot was funny, but dont rear and pitch nor try to run with me. He has to stand out of doors all the time and sometimes for a week he dont get anything but corn to eat, and occasionally not enough of that. But he is always ready to take me on his back and canter off as full of life as anybodies [sic] horse. I ride him all day long many times he got no dinner and sometimes not enough water and that most always so very muddy that no horse would drink it if wasnt most starved for a drink. But sometimes I had [to] drink where he and others horses drank. I didnt drink much there though. The longer I have the better I like him. I hope I may be able to bring him home with me.
Willie must not neglect to use his crutches.
Camp Andy Johnson
4 mi S. of Nashville
Monday Eveng. Dec. 1 1862
I desisted from writing last night on account of my eyes and shall be able to write but little tonight for the same reason and for the additional reason that I am commencing rather late.
Although I am endeavoring in this letter to give you a general outline of our march from Louisville, I may as well mention here that were comfortably encamped here in close proximity to the enemy who is understood to occupy the country South and S. West of us in some force and I suppose there is no impropriety in adding that we await the coming forward of supplies and the perfection of the new organization of the forces under Rosecrans. Last evening abt. 4½ o.c. two regts of this Brigade were ordered out in haste to meet what was supposed to be a strong reconnaissance by the enemy. This and the 15th Wis. went out abt. 2½ ms. but finding no enemy advancing returned just after dark. Today some slight cannonading was heard off to the West of us and in front; probably in Sills division of this wing.
As no particular difficulty was anticipated, I obtained permission to go to Nashville and take a team along to bring out some boxes at the express office and buy myself some lightbread and a hat. I told the Genl. [ Davis ] I wanted a new hat and he cldnt deny it. I returned a little after dark, spent a good deal of time in instructing some sentinels and visiting our sick and then take up my pen again. By the way we are having too much sickness and it is proving rather fatal, most if it is typhoid fever.
To return to the battle of Chaplin Hills as it is called in the official reports After retiring about a mile we slept on our arms until morning and arose to find that the foe had fled. The first blood I saw that was shed in battle was that of a federal solider. As we were hastening forward to support the battery we passed within a few rods of a man lying on his face with his pants stripped down, his clothes all bloody and a few men near him. Further along we crossed a pretty deep hollow in [a] large field, down in the ditch (there was not water in it) lay a rebel in butternut, a bullet hole was perceptable in the thigh of his pants, beside him lay a little and his pantaloon leg was full of fresh blood. I asked him as we passed if he was much hurt: he replied Oh! Sir if you can do anything for me do. I would gladly have helped him, but could not. On the brow of the opposite hill we passed near a large fine looking man in brown clothes, full of blood about the back and seat. He lay on his right side with his back toward us and his head resting on his outstretched arm as though he might be asleep. Farther from our line of march lay a few others apparently dead. These were all I saw that day. On the day after the batle we marched a few miles probably to Chaplin Hills and encamped near but not on the scene of the hard fighting. Our camp this night was not more than two and a half miles from where we had encamped the night before. In getting there however we must have traveled 6 ms. We passed by in this 6 ms, a number of our own cannon dismounted and spokes of the wheels cut to disable them. Some accounts ran that the rebs had captured them; others that our horses had been killed in the fight the men driven from the guns in the face of superior numbers and that before abandoning they had disabled them. I am not able to say which is correct. A little beyond these guns we approached a double log house of one story and one story frame. All along the fence corners lay wounded men singly or by two or threes, sheltered imperfectly from the sun and wind by blankets stretched on rails one end of which rested on the fence and the others on the ground. The houses were turned into hospitals and the cries of the wounded men could be heard as we passed by.
A good deal of time had been occupied in our circuitous march of 6 ms. and we went to camp rather we bivouacked about the middle of the afternoon. I then had an opportunity and sent a hundred men back to bring up the blankets and knapsacks that had been left the morning before. It rained hard that night, but I found that my holster had picked up on old caisson cover; (a heavy canvass about the size of a 4 horse wagon cover) with that stretched over a pole in front of a good fire he my boys and the Major and myself, slept tolerably dry and comfortable. The day following was spent in this camp. The other divisions and a part of ours being engaged in burrying the dead, taking care of the wounded and making up lists, and in taking sch edu les of the captured property. It was a disagreeable drizzling day; I had some diarhea for several days, felt like keeping still and did so as far as possible.
Some of the men and officers visited the field of the hard fought battle, none of them I think a second time. I didnt go on to it, my curiosity was not so strong as my horror of the sight of mangled forms and suffering humanity.
After our days rest at Chaplin Hills we continued our pursuit of Bragg frequently forming in line of battle and advancing toward the foe. At Lancaster Ky. Bragg seemed inclined to make a little resistance, but it was evidently only to secure the removal of his train. Our battery was brot. into play and hurt a few of them, but we didnt get within musket range of any of them. Their rear guard of cavalry was within view every day until we passed Danville Ky. but we marched on afterwards to Crab Orchard Ky. Here it was understood that Bragg had escaped. We halted from the 16th to the 20th [of] Oct. and then started back toward Danville . From Danville to Crab Orchard we had not marched so fast. The first days march on our return was however a hard one. Many of them, indeed most of them were so tired out when they reached the place of encampment that without trying to prepare any supper they took a few bites of hard bread and laid down in their blankets and went to sleep. We had got into camp after dark after a march of about 6 ms. After halting a while, not long enough for the men to prepare any supper, Genl Woodruff, then commanding the Division, Genl Mitchel having gone home on leave, sent to me for one compy. of not less than 40 men and 2 commissioned officers for picket guards forthwith. I ordered out the compy. In the course of half an hour I think, an adjutant called inquiring why the compy had not been sent over. I replied that it had gone, his ans. was that there was only 14 men. Going to the line where the Co. were quartered I found that all the rest of them some 50 men, were either really or pretendedly unable to go out. I reported the fact to the adjutant and ordered more men from the next Co. in order of numbers to make up the 40. They reported to the Genl for duty and were dismissed and nothing more was said. The next day and nearly all the time since our marching had been moderate and endurable. The first days march from Crab Orchard was not too long for us, but for some reason, probably confusion in the trains before us, we would be delayed by long halts of 20 or 30 minutes and then have to go very fast for too great a distance at a time and the day was hot from 11 to 3. o.clock.
From Lancaster Ky our course was towards Bowling Green . A few little incidents occurred which I had intended to speak of and took some notes when I could of the towns and country on the march intending to sketch them off briefly in my letters, but my hands were too full to keep it up.
Our hard marching, in heat dust, with scarcity of dirty water and on a few occasions marching without anything for breakfast or sleeping without supper, without protection from the frost of the nights, had had its effect upon the men, and every day some of them would give out and be left on the way, to get forward as best they could. And great care and watchfulness became necessary to avoid their being lost out at night themselves. Consequently in the morning on the march and at night I kept myself busy looking [after] these men, encouraging them all I could, having their guns or knapsacks hauled when the wagons were near enough to us to do so. This kept me too much occupied to allow me time to keep up my notes or write out much of what I saw and felt. My Lt. Col. [M.F. Wooster] was a good man, but too slow to understand and the Major [I.M. Kinby] was too cold and selfish and the adjutant [Leonard D. Smith] too careless and thoughtless to do for me in such a case.
I omitted one incident which will illustrate how it is that men are broken down so fast sometimes in the service. It is customary for the men when they get quite tired and are halted for a few minutes to breath, to sit down and lie down in the road anywhere if it in not wet. They get so in a few days that when halted in the road to rest, hundreds of men in a few regts will be found to drop right down where they stop in [the] road and lie there until they are ordered to march. One day before we reached Danville and after the battle of Chaplin Hills we had bivouacked for the night in good season after a moderate days march. It was dark and chilly and the march was rapid along narrow byroads. About 9½ when the men had got well warmed up, when marching through a long narrow lane with a stone wall about as high as our arm pits on each side, we were halted. The men were worn and weary, the ground just damp enough to pack hard and smooth under the tread of the men who had first passed along and was cold; on this the men stood awhile and no further order coming sat down on the ground, many of whom soon lay down flat and fell asleep. Here we remained one hour, not knowing what was the cause or how soon we would be relieved.
Finally the order came to right about, we were on the wrong road. The men were chilled and stiff, but we crossed over some fields about a mile and half and then bivouacked for the night again and laid down about 11½ o.c. to rest.
The following morning we were on the march by 7 o.c. To such work as I have described I ascribe the great degree of illness to which my men are gradually being subjected.
We have been obliged to leave some at hospitals all the way, at one 10, 14 at another 54 and at Bowling Green 81, and from this came 20 odd. I believe altogether over 200 have been left and we now have about 25 sick in camp. All who have ever been troubled with rheumatism and they are many, or who have had any predisposition to diseases of lungs or who have at any time recd. injuries of the spine or had fever sores once healed up, have them developed with increased[?]. It is surprizing how many have concealed affections of these kinds from the surgeon on their preliminary examination. It is astonishing too how many feign illness and make a great ailment out of a little one and how they become discouraged, get homesick and finally really ill of fever from it.
Dec 2nd Tuesday Eveng
I managed to write some today but not much. Indeed I have already taken up too much time with this letter and must close and mail it. I have to do the duties of Division field officer of the day tomorrow and must study them tonight. If I make any great blunders Genl Davis will give me fits. Maybe will for little ones.
I must however mention very briefly a case that took up a good deal of my time today. Abt. 9½ a.m. Private Witter of Republic (a young man) came into my tent and said he was going to die. He looked quite well but somewhat dejected. I told him not to talk about dying. Yes he said he wouldnt live a week longer. I laughed at him, told him maybe we had better help along with [it] and not make a weeks work of it. He began to tremble, fret and weep. I then tried encouragement, asked him to take my horse and take a little ride. No he said he was able to ride twold. do no good anyhow. I asked it of him as a favor, that [the] horse needed exercise. I couldnt do anything for him.
He left me and soon returned, requested me to take charge of some receipts for notes and have them settled properly after he was dead and to send his body home in a decent coffin. I urged him to abandon such thoughts, tried to divert his attention. But he held the papers out to me, trembled violently threw out his hands and declared he was dying now and seemed about to fall off the stool. I took his papers in one hand felt his pulse with the other and found it good. However he seemed to have a genuine spasm and I sent for Dr. Cook. He came out of it finally and he was cold took off his boots and stockings put his feet to the fire and tried to tell me how he felt. Was discouraged, out of heart and couldnt get over it must die, was dying now. We could make no impression on him and the Dr left promising to come in again soon. Concluded to humor him undertook all he asked of me and more. Finally I said to him I was mistaken at first, he was correct he was going to die and it was my duty to telegraph his friends and have them here if possible to take him home immediately after his death and finally that as coffins were very high here and his means small they had better bring one along. He rather objected to this being in such haste and suggest that he might live a week or two yet. That I thot. bearly possible and I didnt wish to neglect so solemn a duty too long. They indeed (his friends) would esteem [it] a great privilege to be here before he died and minister to his last wants. After a great effort having consented and objected several times to the course proposed, he said it wouldnt look well to have them come here with a coffin and he not dead. While  was pulling on this string the Dr. came in and began to encourage him but he would [not] be encouraged. Doc finally referred him to me and I assured him that I had nearly given up all hope, would be glad however to find that there was. Yet on the whole my duty [to] Witter and his friends required me to take immediate steps to have them here as soon as possible and that with the means of decently removing the body. More of the same talk and Witter declared he was dying and wasnt going to and would see the war out. The Doctr. Called me out and asked what I was up [to]. I told him I had determined to fall in with Witters idea, humor it until by degrees he would see how foolish and ridiculous he was making himself appear. Doc thot well of it, but the fellow had been so long given over to melancholly that he feared his becoming insane and prepared to take him off to hospital. The good pulse healthy color and his frequent mention of a furlough to go home now raised a doubt in my mind whether it was not a ruse. He is at the hospital now however.
Here I must stop and bid you good night if I find time I will write soon.
If worth the postage send this to Amanda and let her sent it to Robt. I have more work than I can attend to and cant write long letters to all. I am in debt one letter to Robt., 1 to Em, 1 to Clemy, 1 to Lydia, 2 to Keen and 3 to Amanda and have letters to write to hospital surgeons and parents of some of the boys.
Dont publish anything I have said that will make friends feel uneasy about men in the Regt
Head Qrs. 101st O.V.I.
Camp at Edgefield Tenn
Nov 27 1862
You will have some cause of complaint now dear wife for my delay in writing.
A week ago I took a violent cold which resulted in a severe inflammation of my eyes and I have done no writing or reading that I could well avoid until today. Have kept in my tent a great deal of the time and dont feel now that it would be prudent to write much. We are camped as you see above, the town of Edgefield is opposite Nashville across the Cumberland river . We move however tomorrow to a point some 4 ms south of Nashville where we expect to remain a few days and then go farther south.
I got a box by Hewlet all right and exceedingly glad of it. Wish though that you had sent me white or crushed sugar instead of the Brown. We get a very good article of Brown from the Q.M. as cheap as you can send it. It isnt quite so nice though as what you sent me. Judge Seney got a box too, but it was filled with potatoes, suppose it had been open and pillaged. By the way you said some time ago that he had written his wife that he liked it first rate in the Army. He is on the contrary very sick of it, but dont say anything about it, for there is too much discouraging news going home from my Regt. Many reports that are utterly false. About these things I will write at length when my eyes are well. Mr. Jordan arrived here yesterday with a handsome lot of good things for the boys, and they have been exceedingly generous to me, gave of their apples, butter, apple butter, sorghum molases, peach butter and fruit in cans. Their generosity toward me was a great satisfaction to me and I assure you. Indeed I have had marks of the same feeling in the same way many times before, but these delicacies from their friends at home made me feel that they have at least a good deal of respect for me. Mr. Jordan says he expected to have had a box for me from the Springs but for some reason did not find it on the cars as arranged.
He brought a good large one horse wagon of good things. I think anything set to anyone in the regt. by express to Nashville will reach them safely. The boxes should be pretty stout and well nailed. Apples and potatoes are worth $3.50 a bushel, sugar and butter 80 and 50¢ and coffee $1 a pound in Nashville . Coffee and brown sugar however we buy of the Q.M. as cheap as you have them at home. I will put up in this letter some persimmon seed; plant 3 or 4 of them abt 2 inches deep and mark the spot. Keep 3 or 4 to plant in the spring and send the rest to Robt. and Ezra Stoner to try.
We have had two deaths in the regt. (one Saml Stewart and the other ________Shearer) within 10 days.
I am very sorry to lose men of disease and fear that I have left undone something that might have been done for the poor fellows. I am quite sure Doctr. Cook has not done his duty and feel that I ought not to have relied so entirely upon him. I have blowed up pretty hard within the past two weeks and the sick are having better care now. But the cruel marches made in October will prove fatal to more of them if they are not sent home and this can only be done by a discharge which is difficult to obtain.
My eyes are suffering from this writing. Good night love to all and kisses for my little ones. I will be able I hope to write more for them soon.
You affect husbd.
If you see Mrs. Jno Pittenger dont forget to tell her Henry is well and gave me some of her nice butter and apple butter. And tell Mrs. Genl Mitchell that the Genl is well excepting a bad cold. Am sorry is not to command our division. Genl J.C. Davis acquainted with him. Davis is a good officer.
Head Qrs 101st Reg Ohio Vol. Infantry
Camp Andy Johnson Tenn
Dec 3 1862
You must not expect much of a letter from me this time dear wife. I shall be obliged to spend less time at letter writing and more of the study of tactics. I am Division field officer of the day today or I should not be writing to you now at 11½ o.c. at night. It is my duty to visit the pickets on the outposts after 12 at night at least once and I have been writing letters in relation to sick men and discharge papers and visiting the sick in camp until this hour of the night, and have now concluded to put in half an hour at least upon this letter. Our pickets here are posted within a mile and a half of the enemies pickets, but you must not be alarmed at the idea of my going out so near the enemies lines at night. I shall take care to keep within our lines and the object of going out is to see that the pickets are awake and alert attending to their duty in such a way as to prevent being surprized. Pickets you will understand are men posted as far out toward enemies lines as may be deemed safe for them, in order to watch the movements of the enemy and give the alarm if any danger threatens and to intercept all persons liable to give information to the enemy of our doings position or strength. For instances a compy. of men is sent out for this purpose and one man is stationed on a road as near the lines of the enemy as it is thought prudent to approach, another is stationed on his right and one on his left 8, 10, 15, or 20 rods off and others again same distance from them, forming a chain of 8 or 12 sentinels. Inside of these and toward our camp the bal. of our compy take a favorable position in a body. From this inner post men are sent out every hour or two hours to relieve and take the place of the outer posts or sentinels. In any danger threatens the outer sentinel the balance of the compy. go to their rescue and by the fire of the guns the whole encampment is notified of the approach of any force of the enemy. We have in our present encampment of the 9th Division 3 Brigades and each Brigade has 4 regiments and one Battery .
The Division occupies a space East and West of about six miles and the whole front of this is guarded by pickets in this way night and day by companies from the several regiments of the different Brigades. The companies remain out 24 hours and are then relieved by others. It is the most important points of this picket line that I am now about to go out to visit at 12 o.c. at night.
Dec 5 Friday
I dont know but that  shall string this out from day to day until I make a letter of it all. It is now near 11 o.c. A.M. and I have spent all the time since I got up advising about matters concerning duties of men and officers, answering inquires as to whether this or that would be permitted, and writing letters to help things along in which the men are interested; such as boxes coming by Rl. Rd. and all that. And now here comes another interruption. This last one is Mr. Ellis of our County who has come here to see his Brother and Brother-in-law, John Watson both of whom have been sick a good deal. I was of course glad to see him, it makes one feel nearer home. A Mr. Smith and a Mr. Deacon and a Mr. Stewart called this morning before I was up and staid until sometime after breakfast. Two of them have sons in this regt. Smiths son is quite sick and I fear will not get well. He is a faithful good hearted soldier, a better man in my estimation than the Genl whose imprudency caused his death, if he dies.
Friday night Dec. 5th
Mr. Ellis and Mr. Stewart together with Mr. Shriver who is also from our County visiting his sick son and various questions connected with the drilling of men and instructions to officers dress parade and visiting the sick have taken all afternoon and evening until 10 o.c. Today just after dinner the ambulance came in from town (where it had gone to take Captn Sheldon to the Hospital) and who by the way occupied ¾ of an hour of my time this morning) and brought me the second box; and soon after that Charlie Stoner brot. me your letter of 30th ulto. with which I found enclosed 3 little letters from Willie, Maggie, and Freddie, the little rogues. You can hardly imagine how thankful I am for this box. It is nearly twice as large as I had expected. What nice looking ham, turkey and such a glorious lot of golden butter. I had just bought a colls. worth at 75¢ a pound. The apples two [too] beat anything I have seen in the land of slaves by a long ways. Unfortunately a can of jelly came open and the contents all spilled out and ran all over one end of the box, moistening the bread ham and turkey so that they had moulded on the outside; but I think they are not spoiled. I regret the loss of the jam, for I think it would be very greatful to our sick men. I gave them most of the dried cherries and peaches in the other box. This I could well afford to do for I live well enough here. I can buy very good light bread at 10¢ a pound loaf and have had butter at 50 to 75¢ a pound. I occasionally buy chickens at 25¢. The cakes and snaps are rare treats I assure you. I sent a good slice of the fruit cake and one of the largest apples to Genl Mitchel. Shld have sent him more if I had known there were so many in the box. I must say before I forget it, you must call on Mrs. Mitchell at once. The Genl has been so very cordial and kind that you owe it to her on my account. The Genl. Is tolerably well say he had a letter from his frau yesterday.
I told you that I was sitting up to go out to look after the picket guards when I commenced this letter, but I have not told you anything about my midnight ride. It was something after 12 when I started, clear, frosty and bright moonlight, with one attendant. I rode along the line some 4 ms. part of the way on a turnpike road and part in the woods. The pickets are posted 10 to 20 rods apart. Every one would halt me, and most of them made me dismount, (all of them shld. have done so) and advance and give the countersign. I found them all vigilant and after giving some caution or instruction to those who needed it and returning to camp I found it was after 4 o.c. I laid down and slept awhile 2 or 3 hours perhaps, then got up and went to Genl. Davis Head Qrs to report; of course having breakfast first. From Genls Head Qrs I went to Nashville to see Genls Mitchel and Rosecrans about business. While there I called on some of my men in Hospital and altogether didnt get back until about 8 o.c.
It is high time that I was in bed and I am going, and hoping to finish this in the morning.
Sunday night 10 o.c. I have just recd. an order that our Division must be prepared to march at a moments warning. I am quite out of patience at the interruptions I have endured in writing this letter and in my study of my duties. All day yesterday I was busy until 9. o.c. at night. It is true I suffered most all of the business interviews to be protracted a little beyond and some of them a good deal beyond the time required to attend to the business, but I thought it best to do so. Part of the time was taken up with our Seneca Co. friends. Today has been a repetition of the same thing, only the Captn. Shriver spent the evening till 10. o.c. with me. You may send me a box about half the size of this 2nd one when it is convenient and put into it a peck of onions, they are highly recommended to prevent disease. I dont think of anything else only a can of butter. This you have sent me will last me a good spell I think with care.
Your tomato catsup is splendid finish to our fat meat. I sent a slice of your nice cake and a couple of those fine apples to Genl. Davis and a similar present to Col. Carlin. Maybe theyll think I am trying to curry favor, so they may if they want to. You must not feel disappointed if you dont get another letter from me soon. Direct the box via of Louisville and Nashville .
The measles are among the men and I fear a sorry time awaits us on our march. I dread it terribly
I wanted to have written a letter to Willie and Maggie and Freddie but have not had time and my fingers are cold now and it is late bed time. Kiss them for me and dont fret about me. When my eyes were sore I almost wished they might get sore enough to enable me to get home for a little while. As to money if Mr. Keen is short of funds youll be obliged to call on Robt. but dont be afraid to speak frankly to Mr. Keen about anything you want. I will surely write him next. We will not get any pay I am afraid for a month longer, have had not yet. Your husband L. Stem
I had a letter from Genl McPherson. He send his respects to all the folks at the Springs, is very busy, expects a battle, thinks can hardly get my regt. into his command, has good opinion of Col Carlin.
Head Qrs. 101st O.V.I.
7 ms. South of Nashville
Dec 15, 1862
My Dearest Wife
It is now 9 P.M. Captn [N.M.] Barnes has been in my tent most of the evening and has the blues pretty badly. Wants to go home. Judge Seney has been in with him part of the time. The Judge hasnt got the blues but his patriotism has been at a pretty low ebb for sometime.
Indeed between you and I, I never thought it was love of country or a desire to serve his country that brought him into the Army. Captn. Barnes and the Judge went to Nashville today together and it rained nearly all afternoon and has been dark and raining tonight. The rain however ceased a while ago. Being under orders to be ready to march in the morning and having got a little wet, the Captn. I suppose was thinking how nice and comfortable it would be at home along with wife and children; and so it would and if all men yielded to the love of home our country would be gone, and without a
country, without a government there is no security for home or friends. There are however some things which unavoidably tend to shake ones faith in the success of our great and good cause and one not the least of these is the conduct of the commanding authorities in diverse and sundry matters touching the health and even life of the private soldier. Sick men by the thousand[s] are kept from their friends, placed in hospitals in crowds where they cannot be well cared for in many cases and where they die in great numbers a mere bill of expense to the country. The reason why they do not allow these sick men to go home on furlough is that they refuse to return when they get well. I am not making a very cheerful letter of this I fear and when I tell you that one of my men came to me tonight, with a letter from his sister, telling that his wife and oldest daughter would die very soon and that if he would see them alive he must hurry and I could only offer the poor fellow poor consolation while he wept you will not wonder that I am not feeling particularly lively.
I could only say to him that very many of us would be found on inquiry to have dear relatives dangerously ill and that our business in being here was to lay down our lives if need be for our countrys cause and hence it was not expected that furloughs could be had to go home to our sick and dying friends. Besides this poor fellows case, I see reports in the papers and get them by letters from Hospitals, of men I have left in charge of Hospitals dying and their friends have taken their bodies home. This is anything but cheering. The measles have commenced among us and I applied to Genl Rosecrans to have my Regt transferred to Genl Mitchels command which will occupy Nashville for a month or two, but met with no success. I requested Doct. Cook to show to the medical authorities our exposed condition at this season of the year but he is a poor stick. My Regt. is of course much smaller than when I started and every day more of the men are becoming sick and discouraged.
They have realized what seems to be in their higher officers a degree of indifference to their sufferings, but I suppose it is only a seeming indifference. I know for myself that while  can do but little for them the care, responsibility and anxiety, the grief I suffer in witnessing their sickness and exposure is more than I ever anticipated, although I always [recognized] my responsibility as very great and expected to witness all that I have so far met and more. Our fathers in coldest winter, half clad marked the road they trod with crimson streams from their bleeding feet that we might enjoy the blessings of a free government. And while perhaps many sufferings born by our Army might be made less if the management was different, we remember it is human to err and that all these errors are none too great if we are in the end rewarded with the preservation or out free and happy government.
When I commenced I didnt expect to write so much as I have. You will notice by the caption of this letter that we are not now at Camp Andy Johnson. We are only three miles further out however. If we move tomorrow, we may not move far and may have a battle and he may not move at all. I thought I had mentioned to you that Genl Mitchel had returned. Indeed I am sure I did and requested you to call on his wife as the Genl had been so kind to me. Frost is with him as clerk to his adjutant. The Genl has command at Nashville . You need not trouble yourself about paying Gibson or any of those old matters contracted before I left. Let them wait until Uncle Sam pays me. I have your letters of 7 & 10 inst and they are most welcome. I assure [you] Kiss the little ones good night.
Head Quarters 101st Reg O.V.I.
in Camp 7 ms south of Nashville
Dec 20 1862
I went to town yesterday for the purpose of seeing the sick in Hospital, taking a bath, having my picture taken and looking after some boxes for the men and myself, coming by express. I got some day ago the box which Jordan should have brot. all right excepting the two chickens, which were only slightly tainted. I am very much obliged indeed to Ginney and Sallie and all the rest of them.
Yesterday I recd. a long box from the Springs full of canned and dried fruit. I dont know whether it is all intended for me or not. I shall however give of it liberally to my sick men. Enclosed you will find the picture, its not good, it was too late in the evening and I had to sit so long that it gave the eyes a staring look. If we stay here a few days longer I will try it again. I couldnt get a citizens coat to put on or I would have done so. Genl Mitchel tells me that Mrs. Seney and Mrs. Mitchel talk of coming to Nashville and that if they do perhaps you would want to come along.
Saturday night 8. o.c. I had been studying hard all forenoon today to be prepared for Brigade drill this afternoon and it occurred to me that I ought to notify you at once of the possibility of your having a change to come to Nashville and I pitched in at once to do so in haste in a very short note, but in the midst of a sentence looked at my watch and saw that I couldnt get it off today. Therefore I stopped short and went to work again at my preparations for Brigade drill. We had a pretty good drill, but it was not very satisfactory to me as I made several mistakes; indeed one great blunder and I am almost afraid that mischief may come to me for it. I am satisfied that Wooster, my present Lieut Col. owes me no good will, and I am apprehensive that he is working underhandedly to my injury in order that the minds of the commanders of our Brigade and Division may be prepared to regard me as incompetent to command the Regt. The fact is, that I have been a great proportion of the time without any assistance from field officers, who should have been at their posts to assist me, and as a consequence have had but little opportunity to study tactics. I think now however that I have got fairly started and shall be able to make rapid progress. At all events I am determined to work at it hard and to accept any fate that awaits me with philosophic resignation. But about coming to Nashville ; General Mitchel says he will know soon whether this army will remain in or near its present position long enough to justify a visit by you and Mrs. Seney and will let me know. You can come to Nashville and this encampment with perfect safety and the expense will not be so very great.
You must use your best judgement about leaving home. I know it will be your pleasure to come and I know that those I owe and those who are liable for my debts, will think my money ought not be expended in that way, and I know also that if they were in my situation and reflected upon the uncertainty of life they would do as I do, and rejoice in the opportunity of seeing their wives once more at least. You must not think of making any outlay for the sake of dressing well, if you do come. You are always dressed well enough to see Genl Mitchell or any other Genl. Mrs. Seney and Mrs. Mitchel will be dressed much finer of course, but their husbands cant love them any finer or better or richer than yours does you; so never mind the togging.
I wish you could bring the three rouges along, but that would hardly be advisable. Possibly one of the girls might afford to take a trip to the South before the Union is finally destroyed. I am sure I should life to have a visit from you all down here in Dixie . It is not at all uncommon now to find men here from Seneca Co. or one of the counties adjoining to visit their friends or rather relatives.
I have omitted to mention that I have received your letters of the 10th and 15th insts. and from what you say I think you cannot have recd. all of mine. Although its tiresome for me to write on my lap I think I have written you more that one letter a week. I am entitled to carry a small field desk, but there has been so much confusion about means of transportation, sometimes an order allowing us one wagon to a regiment besides the ammunition wagon, sometimes 6 and sometimes 12 that I didnt want to be
encumbered with a desk. I think however I will have one made by some of the men.
Freddie says he is going to take Mama out buddy ridin when he dits big. I hope he will. I like to have them write by her hands their childish thoughts about themselves, papa and mama and all other subjects that enter their little brains. Willie and Maggie I suppose will soon be able to make the letters of the alphabet so as to form short sentences, and tell me about their schools sabbath schools, books and plays, old jack and old ned.
I suppose you have snow now and Willie wants his sled fixed of course. If he takes care to use his crutches all the time and to have them made longer when ever he can use longer, his sled must be fixed; but he must not draw heavy loads on it. If he wants to on horseback and drive in the buggy he must not lift or draw anything that is a little hard for him until he gets stronger. He and Freddie and Maggie can do a great many things for Mother, such as getting her a little water and a few small sticks of wood, setting the table and washing dishes. They will all gladly learn to make themselves useful by degrees with patient encouragement. I hope they will all learn to read and write and to study geography and arithmetic and be good scholars. But above all things let them have plenty of exercise in the open air. Mother will cloth them warm and then if they go out and get cold they wont take cold. Give the stout cheap (in the long run) woolen cloths. Let them tell me how old-ned behaves, does he let them play with him freely or is he cross. What do the little toads think about men sleeping out of doors; long rows of men lying on the groud with all their cloths on, blankets wrapped round them, but nothing over them, as we have been doing. What do they think of cloth houses such as we now have. My tent is a Sibley tent. You never saw one I suppose. It is shaped just like a funnel turned upside down without the spout to it, usually open at the top, but provided with a cape which by means of ropes can be drawn over the opening so as to keep out snow and rain. The door is a slit in one side with a flap to close it and tie with strings. I have now a Sibley stove, which is made just like an inverted funnel with a very long spout and a door in one side. The funnel spout is made of joints of stove pipe. By keeping up the fire well it warms the tent well. The weather here however is not cold compared with what you have. We have had one hard snow storm (while at Camp Andy Johnson, which is 3 ms from here), but the inhabitants say it is a very uncommon occurrence. The nights though are cold usually, sometimes quite mild too, and then occasionally cold enough to freeze water to ice, but not much.
The days are pleasant. We are having fine weather indeed now, but anticipate rain and mud to any extent in Janry and Febry. It is out of the question to determine when we will move at present or how soon we may have a battle, but I dont see anything that indicates either very soon. When it is determined that there will be time enough for you telegraph or your starting, if you should conclude to come.
I wrote you to send in you next box some onions; the doctors consider them a great health preservative in the army and in putting up articles of food for the sick the societies and friends should bear it in mind.
I will you would advise with Doctr Gibson about the diet of our children and ask him whether he thinks it best to use that Hypophites occasionally or anything else designed for the same purpose. Tell [him] I am going to make a proposition to our Seneca Co. Compys to hire him to go with the Regt and what he will take. I enclose 2 [dollars?] to pay for the diary. I have to borrow here and it is cheaper to borrow at home or I would send you more. I wrote to Keen about this matter and hope to hear from him soon.
your affect Husband