Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums
Robert H. Caldwell
21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry Civil War Letters
The Robert Caldwell Papers consist of a series of Civil War era letters, primarily from Robert Caldwell of Elmore, Harris Township, Ottawa County, Ohio. The original letters are part of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center’s much larger William Caldwell Family Collection (LH-72). Photocopies of the Robert Caldwell correspondence were donated to the Center for Archival Collections, Bowling Green State University, where transcriptions were prepared.
Robert H. Caldwell was born on June 14, 1841, the son of William and Jane (Davis) Caldwell. Robert was one of four children, with two brothers and a sister. William C., the oldest brother, served with the 72nd Regiment, O.V.I. as hospital steward and assistant surgeon. Charles, the middle brother, died in 1852 at the age of 13. Juliet, the sister, studied at Oberlin. Robert worked for his father, a lumberman, at the family's mill. At the age of twenty, Robert joined the 21st Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and was appointed 3rd corporal of Company I. He was promoted to sergeant on June 7, 1862. In August, he was sent home on a recruiting mission. He rejoined the 21st in mid November. At the Battle of Stones River, he was wounded. He died in the hospital on February 8, 1863.
The Civil War correspondence of Robert H. Caldwell consists of 114 letters written by Caldwell to various family members from September 1861 to February 1863. Three of the letters are from his brother William, serving with the 72nd O.V.I., with one letter each from Robert's mother Jane, his uncle John Davis, and Amos Wood, also of Company I, 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The letters after Robert's death are between various family members expressing their sympathy to each other.
TRANSCRIPTION OF CORRESPONDENCE
ROBERT H. CALDWELL
Sept 15, 1861-Jan 14, 1863
A series of 114 letters to members of his immediate family, while he served with the 21st Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company I, during the Civil War
TRANSCRIPTION OF CALDWELL FAMILY CORRESPONDENCE
Jan 18-Feb 23, 1863
TRANSCRIPTION OF CALDWELL FAMILY CORRESPONDENCE
Jan 18-Feb 23, 1863
A series of six letters from members of the Caldwell Family, expressing sympathy for the death of Robert
Camp Vance Sep 15th 61
Dear folks at home
Thinking that a letter from Camp Vance might not be unacceptable I thought I would improve the present opportunity by letting you know how camp life agrees with me. Well as you are aware we left Elmore about 8 oclock and run down to Fremont arrived there just in time to see the train on the F. & P. R.R. leaving for Finlay and so we were as we thought left behind but after waiting a short time we saw the train backing down again to receive us aboard the Conductor having noticed us and wads so accomodating as to return for us We arrived in Finlay about 11 oclock formed in the street and marched through town halted in front of the Reed House ands pretty soon the boys might have been seen coming ou of the different groceries with something under their arms that had very much the appearance of Gingercake and in a very short time I made a chance of becoming perfectly satisfied that it was the above named article without any of the modern improvements attached to it Well after satisfying our appetites we re formed ands marched to Camp. Arrived received our equippage, pitched our tents, cooked our supper and then commenced, our camp life in earnest. You had just ought to have seen us cooking our supper, we are divided of for the present into messes of about 10 men in each[.] We drew six tents ands the same number of kettles each tent having one kettle. Ands a plate, knife, fork and spoon also a tin cup to each man. At present our mess is composed of G. Claghorn, Ezekiel Rice, Norman Easterly, Wm Easterly M Runnels Russel Rice, myself ands several others.
I enjoy cam life very much but our things are not cooked quite as nicely as I have been in the habit of having things but what of that we must get accustomed to eating some dirt. Last night the boys had a dance on our parade ground in front of our tents one of the boys played the Jews harp while the rest tripped the light fantastic toe most of them barefoot. They kept it up until about ten oclock when the musician becoming tired of playing the dance broke up and all turned in for the night with the exception of Barnes, ands a few more who were detailed for guards. To day G. Claghorn, E. Rice, R. Rice and Ingraham are detailed ads guard my name not having been called as yet ad it comes near the lower end of the list. I have just finished eating my dinner we had boiled beans, fried and boiled beef, boiled ham, potatoes good bakers bread, and what is more we have as much as we want, we sleep warm as our tent floor is covered with good new straw to the depth of about four inches and with the addition of our blankets it makes just as goods a bed as one could wish for The boys drew each one single blanket and as soon as we are mustered in we will each draw a double one. This forenoon George Smith and I went down to Finlay and took a look about town it ids a place of about 2500 inhabitants. The buildings are very much scattered and consequently the town covers a large extent of territory. There is to be divine service in camp this afternoon at 2 oclock I expect to attend. Yesterday noon we elected our commissioned officers they consist of Captain Gibbs, first Lieut Vantyne 2nds Woods we are to elect our noncommissioned officers as soon as we are mustered in which we expect will take place tomorrow. There are at present about 600 men in camp parts of companies a large number having returned home on furlough. I must close as I have no more room. R.H. Caldwell
Camp Vance Sep 15th 61
Thinking that a letter from the above named place might not be unacceptable I thought that I would improve the present opportunity by giving you some particulars in regard to my camp experience. Last Friday myself in company with about sixty others started for this place arrived at Fremont, exchanged cars by getting aboard of the train on the F.& G. R.R. destined for findlay arrived at our destination at about 11 oclock formed the company in the street marched through town, halted in front of the Reed House, the principal hotel in the town when most of the boys started for the groceries for ginger bread and after each one had stowed away a sufficient amount of that article we took up our march for the camp which is situated about 1 ½ miles from town upon a fine rise of ground. We received our tents and the rest of our equippage which for a whole company consists of 12 tents the same number of camp kettles, one plate, knife, fork, spoon & cup to each man besides we draw one blanket apiece for the present until we are mustered in when we are to receive a double blanket to the man. Perhaps you would like to know how I like Camp life well I can say I am satisfied, to be sure we have to eat a little dirt but that makes no difference with those who don't care and as for me I never was very particular and for that reason I can get along very well. There are about ten men in my mess the most of whom are good boys such as George Claghorn, Ezekiel Rice, Russel Rice, M. Runells, &c &c. We have just returned from dress parade (a parade of the whole regiment) the first in which I ever participated it was a very fine and imposing. The brass band is still playing while I am writing. In dress parad the different companies form in line of battle, that is the whole regiment forms across the grounds in two ranks or two lines when the Colonel puts them through some moves then the band plays marching up and down the lines. The Colonel then gives the command present arms when the whole reg raises their right hand to the shoulder then the Col then gives the order shoulder arms when the arm is dropped to the side. The first sergeant of each comp is then ordered to the front and centre of the reg and report their companies giving the name of the company and number of men in each company they then return to their places when the captains of the different comp march to the front and centre and salute the Colonel when he returns the salute. The comp are then marched to their quarters where they partake of their suppers, taking it altogether it is quite a sight. I suppose by this time you will think that the sabbath is pretty effectually broken but if you had been in the camp today you would have thought that Sunday had forgotten to make its appearance. At this moment while I am writing within six or eight feet of me in another tent there is a party of boys playing euchre and others are washing dishes while some are singing and nearly all swearing but perhaps you may think that is the case with all the boys, not so for there is quite a number of good civil boys in our company. But as it is getting dark I must close. Give my respects to Edith Willson.
Direct to Findlay, Ohio.
Care Captain Gibbs
21st reg O.V.
Camp Vance Sep. 17th 61
When I wrote last Sunday, I forgot to state several things which I had thought to say, and among others I wished to say that Alfred Price asked me to send his guitar to him by somebody going to Fremont or if not, to send it by express. It is at Mrs. Ryders and you will oblige me very much by attending to it for me.
We have fine times in Camp, last night it rained very hard and the guards were called in on that account and as a matter of course the boys took advantage of it and went visiting. About 200 of the boys went promenading and among the rest several from our mess and this morning about two oclock a goose came into our tent which had been disturbed in its slumbers and as a matter of course we took compassion on and kept it from the rest of the mess but the poor fellow died some time in the night just because one of the boys out of mere sport placed the head of the winged biped in one place and his body in another and as we don't like to see anything go to waste we caused it to take the place of the beef with which we are supplied. This is a mere sample of what is taking place all the time in camp. Yesterday we had our Dress Parade of the whole regiment and we were put through the regimental drill for the first time. That is we were marched A round the grounds by plattons some of the plattoons being composed of whole companies it was a very fine sight there being about 600 out on parade the rest of the reg being home or on furlough. The colonel is endeavoring to make arrangements so that he can take fourteen compys into the 21st regt. I don't know how soon the regt will leave here but as near as I can find out I expect it will take place in about two weeks[.] I expect to make a visit home before we move. Just about five minutes ago a guard was put in the guard house for allowing a man to pass his beat without a pass from a commissioned officer[.] At this minute while I am writing there are a lot of boys singing campmeting hymns in the tent next to ours. We have dances, foot racing, wrestling, jumping &c going on nearly all the time. Sunday eve Martin Bowland threw the Capt of Compy D. the officers mix with the privates at all times and taking everything altogether we have very fine times. Last Sunday morning a company came in from Defiance and they brought their Notebooks with them and when they have leisure time they all join in singing. I intend to make the acquaintance of some of them. In my last I forgot to tell you how to direct your letters.
You can direct
R.H. Caldwell Findlay Ohio
Care Capt. Gibbs 21st Regt O.V.I.
(P.S.) I wrote to Juliet last Sunday. Please tell me how you get along with the mile. Give my love to Father, Mother, Willie, and all enquiring friends. R.H.C.
Camp Vance Sep 25th 
It is now ascertained beyond a doubt that we are to leave this place early tomorrow morning via Carey We have received orders to pack up and be ready to start by 2 o'clock.
We are all glad to think that we are going to move. I heard with pain that our respected Captain was worse again and that it would impossible for him to meet us at this place, but that it was possible he might overtake us at Camp Dennison. It is now ascertained that we are going to Louisville, Ky we are all well pleased to think that is to be our destination. Today Charley brought Wm Buffington and Gillson to Finlay with the understanding that they were to be mustered in but when the officer was ready they began making complaints saying they were not able to go, and upon the testimony of James Easterly the officer was willing to accept them anyway but the cowards refused to be mustered and they will have the pleasure of walking home as Liut Vantyne would not pass them home. It is the wish of the boys that you will give them a reception that will be a warning to all other milk and water men. To day we were visited by several of the Elmore and Fremont ladies among whom were Mrs. Ryder Strong Woodworth, Mrs. J.S. Tyler, and Mrs. Claghorn. Also Toot Tyler, Charleys wife and Mrs. Woodworth and Mrs. Geo Claghorn are going to stay to see the Dress Parade which is to come off at four o'clock. As it is almost time to turn out for that purpose I must close by saying that as we are not going to receive our uniforms until arriving at Columbus I shall be obliged to take my sachel along with me and when we do receive them I will send my clothes home. I will write as soon as possible again perhaps from Columbus, if not, from Camp Dennison at any rate as soon as possible. I will write to Juliet as soon as we get settled.
You must excuse me for using a lead pencil as it is very difficult getting a pen
Camp Dennison Sep 27th 
Dear folks at home
We left Camp Vance yesterday morning about ½ past 6 oclck took the train for Carey and arrived there in time to connect with the train on the S.D. & C. R.R. Arrived at Kenton about four oclock and were regaled with a supper by the citizens for which we were all truly thankful. The next town of any importance at which we arrived was Bellfontaine a town of about 3000 inhabitants. We also passed through Urbanna the town near which cousin Martha lives. I got off the train at that place and enquired for the whereabouts of James Caldwell and was informed that he lived about four miles out of town. Just about dark we passed through Springfield atown of about 7000 inhabitants. The next place was Xenia a town of considerable importance. We arrived at camp about 2 oclock this morning and slept in the cars until daylight when we were transferred to our barracks which consist of houses made of pine lumber capable of accomodating about 20 men they need some repairing but when that is done they will be quite comfortable. We have just finished drawing rations. I don't see how government can afford to supply her men so liberally We this morning received sugar cured hams in the shape of meat the nicest meat I ever saw, and we received everything else in proportion. This morning the noncommissioned officers were appointed the boys had the privilege of electing the orderly and when it was given out that those who were going to run for that office should step out in line, about 6 or 7 boys stepped out and I soon saw how the thing had been worked and I refused to run. George Claghorn and James Bumpus had been electioneering privately for some time and when the rest of us understood how the thing had been worked all those who had contemplated withdrew with the exception of James Bumpus, G. Claghorn, and Ezekiel Rice. Among those who withdrew were Michael Rice Russel Rice and myself. When the votes were counted the result stood James Bumpus 29, G. Claghorn 17, E. Rice 5 and so Bumpus was declared elected. And then commenced the appointing of the rest of the officers which I think was done very unfairly for some of those concerned and myself among that number. The officers were appointed by Lieut Bantyne and resulted in the appointment of Claghorn as 2nd sergeant Mike Rice 3rd Russel Rice 4th George Smith 5th and myself 3rd corporal. I believe if Cap Gibbs had been present the result would have been different but I must abide by the decision of the superior officers. As it stands it is better than being a private as the wages are $15.00 per month and I am exempt from guard duty and have a better chance for promotion in case I am deserving, and I intend to do my duty in every respect and if at the close of the war I am still 3rd corporal I intend to have it said that it was not on account of incompetency. Camp Dennison is situated in a vally which is entirely surrounded by high hills the Miami river runs along the south side of camp. The R.R. runs through the centre of camp which is very handy for transportation. This morning I visited a battery of rifled 6 pound brass guns the battery consists of 6 pieces and is commanded by a Cleveland man I don't remember his name. I believe they are going to practice this afternoon. We are going to receive our uniforms and arms tomorrow. It is said we are to leave this place next Monday morning for Louisville, Ky. If we do I will write and let you know. When you write direct Camp Dennison, care Lieut Vantyne Co K. 21st O regiment. Charley sends his respects to you all.
Camp Dennison Sep 29th 61
You must excuse me for neglecting for so long a time to answer your letter but the fact is I have been so busy moving for the last few days that I have hardly had time to think about writing to any person. Last thursday morning we left Camp Vance for this place had a very fine ride through the finest country I ever saw arrived at Camp Dennison about 2 oclock friday morning and remained in the cars until daylight when we were marched to our quarters which consist of shanties capable of accomodating about 20 men each, ours has a butry, two large bunks and three tables, besides a writing desk and several benches. I think they can be made more comfortable than the tents[.] There is at present about six or eight thousand men in camp and I doubt if there is a sick man among them. The camp is situated among a lot of high hills and is in as picturesque a place as the most romantic individual could wish for. On the outskirts of the camp the is a hill from the top of which a very fine view of Kentucky may be had. Last friday I visited a battery of rifled brass cannon six in number they throw a round ball of six pound weight and a slug of twelve and one half pound a distance of three miles one of the guns was at the fights of Philippi and rich mountain in western Va[.] We received our arms yesterday they are rifled muskets. We have not yet received our uniforms but expect to in a short time. We expect to be ordered to Louisville Ky in a few days and if we do I will write from there in the mean time you can direct to Camp Dennison care of Lieutenant Vantine Company K. 21st O. regiment. Since receiving your letter I have been home I went home sat and stayed until tuesday I had a very pleasant time. You may send the Oberlin papers if you please. I have got that likeness of yours on
Camp Dennison Sep 29th 
Thinking this a suitable opportunity to let you know what is doing and what has been done in camp I seize the present time for so doing. I wrote last friday upon arriving at camp but as all was confusion and disorder upon our arrival that it was almost impossible to collect one's ideas but at present the condition of things is greatly improved. Our camp (that of the 21st) is situated upon the eastern side of the C.C. & C. R.R. it is very finely situated entirely surrounded by high hills there is one hill close by the camp from the top of which a very fine view of Kentucky may be had, distant about five miles from this place. There are at present about six or eight regiments in camp at this place. I wrote in my last that close to our regiment an artillery company was encamped. I could not think of the Captain's name who was in command but have since learned that his name is Sanford the company came from Cleveland. I wrote on our arrival at this place that it was expected we were to start for Louisville on Monday next but I doubt it very much as we have not yet received our uniforms but are expecting them every day. We received our arms and accoutrements yesterday afternoon, our guns are rifled muskets with the exception of those received by the two flanking companies (A and B) who received enfield rifles[.] It is quite comical to see some of the boys since they received their arms, this morning I had leave of absence from camp and nearly every one that I met with was rigged out with everything that Government allows them and the great heavy musket atop of all and as the strutted about (as they thought) among the greenies no doubt they thought they would pass for veterans, but the fact is it takes something else in addition to being able to carry a musket to become a good and efficient soldier. I needs time to discipline a regiment so that they may be of service upon coming into action as when such a time arrives we expect to dance to a different music from that which we have in camp, but I doubt if there is a man in our company if offered the privilege or returning home would accept it we are bout to see the thing out if we are allowed to live through it. There is not a sick man in our camp at present and I doubt if there is one in Camp Dennison it is so very healthy at this place. There is a Railroad bridge about seven miles west of this place which is guarded by Government and last Friday night there was two men shot while making the attempt to burn it. I don't think much of this part of the state as farming land it is so hilly, but on the way to camp we passed through some of the most beautiful farms I ever saw but I did not see such nice corn anywhere on the route as can be raised in the Black Swamp. When you write I wish you would state how Cap Gibbs is getting[.] I am anxious to know as we would all like very much to have him with us as soon as possible. As I am using George Claghorns pen and he is anxious to take my place at the writing desk I shall have to bring this latter to a close. I wish you would tell me if William has gone yet and whether Jerry has taken the mill. But I must close give my love to Mother, William, and Willie and tell Willie to be a good boy and when I come home I will bring him something to remember the war by.
From your son, Robert Caldwell
(P.S.) I will write to mother next time when you write direct it to Camp Dennison care Lieutenant Vantine Comp K. 21st Ohio reg and if we have left it will be forwarded to me
Nicholasville K.Y near
Camp Dick Robinson
Oct. 4th 
Dear folks at home
We left Camp Dennison wednesday morning and started for Cincinnati at which place we arrived about two oclock, got aboard of the ferryboat and was ferried across the river to Covington, K.Y. We there formed and were marched through the city to an open lot back of the place, where we were allowed to break ranks and make ourselves as comfortable as possible. While we were lying there half asleep I was waked up and asked if I did not want some warm coffee and warm bread and upon looking up I saw a lady and gentlemen going round with the aboved named articles which they were distributing among the soldiers free of charge and as a matter of course I did not refuse. But as I am called as corporal of the guard I must close at present as I must get the guard together.
Since named camp Norton
Saturday Morning Oct. 5th
Dear folks at home
I have just been relieved from duty and hasten to finish writing. I have been acting as corporal of the guard for the last 24 hours. We left Covington about 10 oclock at night and rode all night, the next morning we passed through Lexington and I there saw the monument of Henry clay. It is the nicest thing of the kind that I ever saw it is build of gray stone and is about 45ft. high and on the top is placed the statue of the honored statesman. The next town at which we arrived was Nicholasville the town near which our present Camp is situated. We are encamped on the side of a dry hill in a large field. On the opposite side of the town the 38th Ohio is encamped it is expected that we will remain over sunday at our present Camp and monday morning take up our march for Camp Robinson, but to day I have heard it hinted by some that we are to go to Missouri but no one places any dependence on the rumor. It is said that there is at present about 15000 troops in Camp Robinson there are also twelve full batteries at the above camp numbering in all 72 guns, It is expected that the enemy will make a stand a Cumberland Gap they have quite a number of troops at that place. I suppose you have heard of the death of Breckenridge he was shot by some union home guards not very far from this place he had the top of his head shot completely off by a musket ball. In the town near which we are encamped the citizens appear to be all sound on the union and in fact it has been the case on the whole route. There are a great number of slaves owned in this town one lady living opposite Camp owns about 40 they appear to be very well treated in these parts. We yesterday received the remainder of our uniforms and we decided to send all our old clothes home together. I have drawn one hat, two shirts two pair drawers, a pair pant, one blouse, one great coat just like the ones the American soldiers used to wear it comes below the knees and has a large cape on it, but I must as the boys are going to close the box in which our things are placed. I also drew one pair shoes two pair socks &c
I am well
You had better not write until you receive another letter from me. When you write direct to me in care Lieut Vantine 21st Ohio regiment we don't know as we will get the position of Co K as yet.
When we get settled once more I will write and let you know . From Robt Cald
Love to all we are in the best of spirits
Camp near Nicholasville K.Y.
Oct 9th 
Hearing that one of the officers was to return for the purpose of recruiting I thought that I would embrace the present opportunity to say something in regard to the clothing that I have sent home, When we received our knapsacks we no longer had any need of our satchels and concluded to box them up and send them home in connection with our superfluous clothing and accordingly we did so and directed the box to James Easterly, according to his request and he promised to see that the different things reached their destination. I sent one of my old shirts home as I have no need of it as I have three others which will be sufficient under any circumstances. I find that the less weight a person has to carry, the better a he is off. If I were to choose my own clothing I could not be better suited I have my oiled cloth blanket besides a blanket that I have drawn and no matter how cold the night I can sleep as warm as I could choose to sleep. You can tell Mother that when we left camp Vance I lent that comforter to Higgins, a relation of Unkaters, who had no blanket and he has used it ever since and used it so roughly that it is not worth sending home and as he has not yet drawn a blanket I let him keep it. I will gie it to some person who needs it better than I.
Direct to Co. I. Nicholasville K.Y.
I received that money, for which I am very thankful
Camp near Nicholasville K.Y.
Oct 11th 
Thinking that you might be anxious to know what I have been doing all the time since I last wrote to you I concluded to improve the present time by giving you an account of our travels since leaving Camp Vance. We left that place thursday Sep 26th travelled all day and arrived at Camp Dennison next morning at about two oclock remained in the cars until daylight and were then marched to our quarters which were wooden barracks built in rows with streets between, they were quite comfortable we remained at the above place until Wednesday of october third when we were ordered to K.Y. Packed up and were marched to the cars and started for Cincinnati at which palce we arrived at about three oclock were ferried across the river into Newport K.Y. formed and were marched through the city to a vacant lot, situated in the rear of the town, where we were allowed to lie down or otherwise make ourselves as comfortable as possible, we remained at this place until 10 oclock at night when we took passage on the Kentucky Central R.R. for the interior of the state. When we were about three miles from Covington we passed through a tunnel about a half mile in length and indeed nearly all the road in below the surface of the ground from three to fifteen feet as the country is so hilly that it is necessary to dig through the hills in order that the track might be level. Between Canp Dennison and Cincinnati on the route of the C.C.&C. R.R. we passed hills that must have been at the least calculation 200 feet high and that of the condition of the country throughout nearly the whole of southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. We travelled all night and in the morning arrived at Lexington. At this place the state lunatic's asylum is located[.] I saw several of the inmates within the enclosure those that I saw were perfectly harmless, one of them appeared to have been a minister at some time or other as he continually kept up a harangue to the soldiers about the day of judgement &c At this place I also saw the monument of Henry Clay it is a very fine thing. It is about 40 feet square at the base and runs up about 20 feet upon which is placed the statue of the honored statesman. It is said that the statue is about 175 feet from the ground.
We left Lexington after staying at that place about 2 hours and arrived at Nicholasville the termination of the Railroad were marched through the town and encamped in a large field where we have remained ever since. Our camp is situated on the side hill and is a very fine place. This is the finest country I ever saw. It is no wonder that Daniel Boone was delighted with this secgtion of country. I expected when we arrived in this state to see a large number of secessionists but I find that the Ohio regiments have a very salutary effect on that class of persons. We are about 130 miles from Cincinnati at the termination of the Kentucky Central R.R. It is thought that we will be ordered to Camp Dick Robinson situated about 15 miles from this place there are at present about 15000 troops encamped at that place, yesterday a battery of rifled cannons passed this camp en route for the above named camp. I have not yet received an answer to the last letter I wrote you but I expect to receive it with the rest of the letters from home as I believe they have been forwarded to this place. You must excuse all mistakes in this letter as I am writing in my tent with all the boys talking and laughing around me and it is almost impossible to collect ones ideas. When you write direct to me in care Lieutenant Vantine, Co I. 21st Ohio regiment. Oh yes, you may direct your to Nicholasville K.Y. also, in connection with the above direction, our comp has been changed from Co K to Co I, a much better position in the regt[.]
From Robt Caldwell (P.S) I will write from our next (camping?) place
Camp Tom (Letcher?) K.Y.
Oct 13th 
As it is Sunday and all is quiet in camp I concluded to embrace this opportunity to let you know how i make the time pass while in the service of Uncle Samuel. In the morning at precisely five oclock reveilee is sounded on the bugle which is a very unwelcome sound to a large number of the boys as it is the signal for the opening of eyes and the turning out of the boys for roll call and you had just ought to see the commotion when that time arrives, boys falling out of the tents and boys falling over each other and everything but falling into line in order, and when at last order is restored, the roll is called by the Orderly and if any unlucky fellow has failed to awaken at the sound of the bugle and fall into line in order that he may answer to his name he is marked for extra duty or elected for the guard house[.] At six oclock the breakfast is sounded upon which occasion you may be sure that none allow themselves to be marked as delinquents. at half past eight the call for guardmounting is sounded when the guards that have been detailed from each company are marched to an open space in front of the tents, formed in line, arms inspected &c, when they are marched down to the guardhouse where they are to start from. (the guards are divided three reliefs 1st 2nd & 3rd and each relief takes its turn in standing guard, there are in all about 60 guards detailed each day each relief consisting of about 20 men, they are posted around the camp and also placed over the camp stores. After guardmounting comes the drill call, when the different companies are called out for drill they are obliged to drill two hours in the forenoon after which call for dinner is sounded. At half past one the call for drill is again sounded, when we have Comp drill and also noncommissioned & commissioned officers drill for the space of two more hours, when a short time for target practice is allowed, each company is allowed one round and as a general thing most of the boys are satisfied with that as the kick of a two year old colt is as nothing compared with the recoil of the musket. The first time that I fired mine I had quite an astronomical view consisting mostly of stars we fired at targets distant about 30 rods and I believe my ball struck the ground at the distance of about 25 rods from me and consequently my ball came within just about 5 rods of the mark which I consider pretty good shooting for the first trial. I wrote to father that I had received the position of Color guard in the regiment which is considered a much more desirable poition than corporal in the company as I retain the rank of corp and have much less duty to perform. Yesterday we had quite a stir in camp on the announcement being made that General Anderson was to make a visit to the 21st whereupon the regt was called out and formed receive the General and Col Neibling had us give the hero of fort Sumter three cheers and then the General responded very briefly saying that nothing but the poor state of his health prevented him from going with us. We then gave him nine counts and (as Col Neibling says) a great big tiger, and he then left the ground. But I am digressing, where was I? Oh! yes firing my musket. Well after target practice we return to quarters and at precisely four oclock dress parade is sounded and the rest is formed in line of battle and the preliminaries having been gone through with Battallion drill commences, that is a drill for the whole regt which generally occupies us until evening when at six oclock the supper call is sounded and we all pitch into Uncle Sam's (provender?) with a relish. At nine oclock the call is sounded for roll call and we are obliged to turn out for that purpose. And immediately after we have what is termed taps, that is the measured strokes upon the base drums, which is the order for all lights to be extinguished in the regiment, and thus you see everything is done in order. We have a certain kind of call on the bugle to represent each order, and the bugle can be heard at any part of the camp and as a matter of course no excuse can be take on account of not hearing the call. But perhaps you would like to know how I spend the sabbath, well today in the forenoon I attended terian church in the town of Nicholasville. And this afternoon on dress parade we had divine service by the Rev Mr Skinner the chaplain of our regiment. Last Sunday I attended Baptist Church in town. Nicholasville is a town of perhaps 600 or 700 inhabitants. It wears the look of most southern towns. The houses are mainly old and weatherbeaten and with one or two exceptions there are no improvements going on. It is the county seat of Jessamine County and contains a courthous, three or four churches, two hotels, and a couple of schoolhouses. The remainder of the town is composed of black smoky looking dwellinghouses and one bay look in vain for the enterprise and thrift of our northern villages. We have constantly a large number of visitors in camp. You can see the wealthy planter and family riding in his nice Coach driven by a black (slave) coaching and at nearly all times of the day negroes male and female are in camp selling cakes, pies, and fruit. It is said that tomorrow morning we are to start east for a place called Olympian springs situated within a few miles of western Virginia distant about 65 or 70 miles, but we have sent for our horses and wagons and expect them tomorrow but in case they do not come Col Neibling says that we will not go, but we expect to go tomorrow or next day and I will write as soon as I arrive.
Give my love to Father, I wrote to Julie yesterd
Camp near Hazelgreen
Morgan County Kentucky
Dear folks at home
We arrived at this place this afternoon and have not had a fight either, as I told you in my last letter might be the case. But the 2nd Ohio of this Brigade that was in advance of us, a few miles had an engagement which resulted in the defeat of the enemy, and a loss on their side of 7 men, and 35 prisoners. The 2nd Ohio lost only one slightly wounded, but the enemy was nowhere to be seen upon our arrival. The 33rd arrived yesterday afternoon and arrested 40 men, and also quartered their troops in the houses of the inhabitants. I never saw such a country in my life, it is in the midst of the mountains, and the hills are so steep that the farmers have to stand upon a ladder in order to plant their corn. The houses look as though they had been built for Noahs occupation after leaving the ark. The road a part of the way is in the bed of a creek and the water is also running in the creek. We are encamped upon a hill overlooking the town, which is composed of about 20 houses, if they are worthy of that name. I don't know how long we are to stay here but it is possible that we may remain here a week or two, and we may also be ordered away tomorrow. This brigade is under command of General Nelson[.] I send this letter by one of the teamsters who are to start for Mount Sterling in the morning for provisions, as we have not yet made arrangements to have our mail carried[.] I don't know of anything of importance to write as there is hardly anything going on in this out of the way place. There is an artillery battery of four cannon at this place which came with our regiment. Perhaps you would like to know how we live. Well yesterday we had chicken for supper and this morning we had the nicest kind of potatoes and everything else that we could wish for. We have had some pretty severe marching lately, but I stand if very well, we are all in the best of spirits and longing for a brush with the enemy. I wrote to William the other day but have not yet had an answer as the mail travels very slowly over the mountains. I have not received a letter since Cap Gibbs arrived but expect letters before long. I cant think of anything more that will interest you and will close. I am writing this with the paper lying on a plate
From your son Robt Caldwell
Direct 21st regiment camp near
Hazel Green &c &c
If you could have been up to the Capt tent just about 10 minutes ago, you would have thought I had gone crazy by the manner in which I acted but perhaps you may ask what could have occassioned this grand gymnastical display upon my part, well the fact is I had just read a letter from home. You can hardly tell in what good humor it places a person situated as we are, to receive a letter from the ones at home. Why as for myself I believe if any person but a secesh had struck me in the face I could have forgiven him. You wish to know how camp life agrees with me, well I can say that if I were unwell and were asked what I thought would be beneficial to my health I would answer, a dose of camp life by all means. You appear to be apprehensive that some of us have not a sufficient... [torn page] ... overcoat furnished by the same fatherly gentleman. I also have a good supply of shirts and socks and in fact I have all that I could wish for at present. In future if our company should be in need of anything in that line our Captain will make application to the good people of our town who no doubt will promptly respond to the call. We were all very sorry to hear that that box of varieties which you sent us was detained on the route as it would have been very acceptable. But as it now is, it would cost it weight in silver to send it and consequently we shall be obliged to do without it. But we are willing to take the will for the deed and are just as thankful as though we had received it. I was very glad to hear that Aunt Mary was with you and that she was going to stay with you all winter. I was glad to receive a letter from her. She expressed the desire to be the wife of a General tell her if she was in the army she would at once find the romance taken off if she had to travel through the Cumberland Mountains as we have had to do. Although we have a lady in the 21st who has been with us through the whole campaign so far and as far a(s) I can find out she appears to like the life very well. Her husband is a private and she cooks for some of the officers But tell Mary to live in hope and when this little fuss is cleared up there will be lots of soldiers wanting wives, and who knows but she may be the wife of a General yet. (but enough of foolishness) I was also much pleased that Mr. Vetter was boarding with you. You wrote that Alfred Rice had enlisted in the good cause, I was very much surprised to hear that, but he will make a good soldier if he is able to stand the fatigue, but he is pretty strong and I guess he will stand it.
Father wrote that he had had an offer for his mill and wishes to know what I think of it. Well I do not know the condition of the land that he was offered whether it was improved or not but father knows all about that doubtless[.] He says that he is not able to run the mill and as he is offered what I think a middling fair price considering the times, and that he might be able to get into something that would be easier for him until I get back to take hold once more I think that he had better accept it, that is if my opinion is worth anything. The frame will need considerable repair if he keeps it, and sawmilling at the present time is not a very paying business to say the least, and if there is any kind of business that ought to pay, considering the amount of work to be done, it is sawmilling. I was much pained to hear that our good old Grandfather had departed this life, but it was what I had been expecting to hear, as he was so infirm at the time that I was at home. But let us hope that he is better off now than when he was with us. But I must close as our cook is called to stand guard and I must take his place and cook the supper just think of that will you. imagine me cooking supper is it not laughable. Give my love to all, tell Aunt Mary and John Vetter that I will write to them shortly.
(P.S.) Indian Summer is in full blast among these mountains, the finest of weather
R H Caldwell
Prestonburg Nov 13th 61
As I have written two letters to Father since arriving at this place I thought it no more than fair that I should now write to you and let you know how the 21st in general and Co. I in particular were fareing at the present time. Well as I wrote to Father there had been a skirmish between our forces and those of the enemy at a place a considerable distance up the river in which the rascals were routed. Mr George Jones of Co I was present during the brush and received a ball in the calf of one of his legs, he was the only man of the 21st that was wounded He says that the 21st was ordered round the hill to take the enemy in the rear and he says that about the time they arrived at their position the firing ceased and probably that accounts for the small number of our boys being wounded We cannot get the correct report yet as our boys have not yet returned to this place but we are looking for them daily.
In the letter that I wrote to father I explained the reason why I was not with our regt. At the time of marching I was sick with the chill fever contracted by exposure and over exertion, the last day that I marched we were put on a forced march of over 23 miles and I was sick the day before but my mottoe is to never complain as long as I can lift a musket to my shoulder, I got wet that night as it rained after our arrival at the river and we were about two hours crossing as we had but one flatboat upon which the whole regt had to cross. But I am now about well once more, I have an appetite like a bear, but I am very particular about what I eat. I received a letter from father last night dated nov 2nd and was very glad to hear from home. I also received one from the same source while we were lying in a camp some distance this side of Hazel Green it was dated Oct 27th and I received it upon the evening of the first of November He spoke of N. Willsons Co in that letter. I immediately answered it. I also received a letter from you while we were lying in H. Green in which I reed the news of Grandfathers death I also answered that within 15 minutes after receiving it. I wrote several letters home while we were at the above named town, and when we were at the Licking river I sent two letters to Father and (as I said before) I have already sent two, since arriving at this place and this will make the third. And taking it altogether I think I have done pretty well in the writing line, and if you fail to receive my letters the fault is in the mail[.] I am quite certain that I don't get all your letters as I am confident that you write oftener than I receive, however I shall not complain as I have been over the roads and know what they are and it is no wonder if the mail fails to make a connection now and then. When you receive this letter and find yourself obliged to pay the postage don't be surprised and think that I am out of money for such is not the case. But the case is this, hitherto the rules have been that we could pay the postage with money, but of late the orders are, that if a person has no postage stamps to place upon their letter they will have to get it marked soldiers letter and it will go free until its arrival at its destination when the postage can be paid by the one receiving the letter. But as I shall need my money to purchase writing material it will still be very useful[.] When you write I wish you would send me four or five stamps to be used on special occassions. It is not known positively where we shall go after leaving this place, but is rumored that we are to go either to Cincinnati or Louisville but that would be too good news and I cant believe it. Tell Father I will answer his letter shortly. I should like above all things to get a leader now and then, as we receive no news whatever
R H Caldwell
love to all
Prestonburg Floyd Co
Ky nov 15th __61
This is to let you know that I have lately received two letters from you one dated the 2nd and the other the 5th and I was very glad to hear from home.
I was sorry to hear that Nat Willson was obliged to give up his Co as I should have liked very much to have had Nat turn out a full company I was glad to hear that Bucklands regt was prospering so finely. I am in hopes that Al Rice will succeed with his Co. I am very glad to think that Aunt Mary is to stay with you this winter. I suppose before this time that Juliet has arrived at home and taking things altogether I guess that you will have a plenty of company as John Vetter is a lively fellow indeed
I was sorry to hear that the man who was going to buy the mill failed to come but there may be better chances yet for selling
I was glad to hear that business was in such a prospering condition in Elmore. You say that the ladies of Elmore have formed themselves into a soldiers aid society, may they meet with good success. James Bumpus is not 2nd Lieutenant of Co I. As has been reported Wood is still Lieut and as far as I can judge will remain as such. There was some talk of putting Bumpus in his place while we were lying at Lexington, but it was never done and I am glad of it as Wood has made a good Officer since leaveing that place
When I last wrote I wrote that I had been sick, but I am now almost a(s) well as ever. Our regiment is still at a place called Piketon a place situated about 25 miles up the river, they are to remain at that place for a few days I believe, and in the meantime we (that is those who were left at this place) are to remain here until they come down, we have once more taken up our quarters in houses. Co I. is quartered in a large brick house with three fireplaces in it
I hardly know what to write a(s) news is very scarce with us at present. I should like to know something in regard to the movements of the army on the Potomac we have heard but little news since leaving Lexington You wish to know if I would like to have you send me the Leader occasionally, do so by all means as we receive no news of any account in these mountains and a paper from home would be a treat indeed. As the Postmaster will take nothing but postage stamps in payment for letters and it is impossible to get stamps I send my letters in future as Soldiers letters and you will find it necessary to pay for the postage upon the receipts of them
You may still direct to
Prestonburg Floyd County K.y
&c &c &c
R H Caldwell
Prestonburg Floyd County
Nov 17th 
We have received orders to leave this place for some point upon the Ohio river, probably Cincinnati. We are to leave tomorrow morning and it is likely that we will be taken upon steamboats. The regiment (the 21st) arrived from up the river last night and we are now altogether once more. The boys marched a distance of about 30 miles and when they arrived they were pretty well fagged out.
The rumor is now prevalent that we are going to Lexington by the way of Cin, and we are to stay at Lex until we are recruited sufficiently in point of health, when we are to go to Camp Dick Robinson and join another Brigade when we are to commence active operations against the rebels.
Another rumor, which I think the most probable, is that we are to go into winter quarters not far distant from Cincinnati. Day before yesterday Col Norton told Cap Gibbs that he was just ready to start for Ohio for the purpose for finding suitable quarters for the 21st and he has since left for that purpose. And for that reason I consider this last rumor (if rumor it can be called) worthy of the most credit I wrote in one of my letters that in the late engagement Mr Jones received a slight flesh wound in one of his legs he is doing well and in fact you would hardly know that he was wounded by the way he carries on He is perfectly happy, as it is said he will be allowed to return home until he is well again.
This is the poorest place in the world for news and consequently I shall be obliged to cut this letter short. I guess you had better still direct to Prestonburg Floyd County K.y &c &c &c and the letters will be forwarded to the 21st wherever it may be.
This is the fourth letter that I have written home from this place and as I said in my last, I received two letters a few days ago dated the 2nd and 5th of this month, but I must close
From Robert H. Caldwell
We are all happy as larks on account of receiving orders to leave these mountains, which I can truly say we have never yet fallen in love with
Nov 20th __61
Hurah! We are once more within sight of old Ohio but I suppose I had better go back a day or two and commence there and let you know what has taken place since that time. While at Prestonburg I wrote that we had received marching orders, and that it was expected we would start in a day or two for Cincinnati. Well at the appointed time we broke up camp and started for the ferry for the purpose of being ferried across, there were four regiments of us and it occupied the whole day in putting the wagons and men across, I had been excused from duty in the morning by the Surgeon on account of not yet having recovered from the effects of the chill fever of which I wrote to you, and as we were sitting by our campfires talking over the prospects for wintering in Ohio, when an express came from the Doctor desiring all those who had been excused in the morning by him to report aboard of the steamer Sandy Valley then lying at the peer and as I happened to come under that category you may believe that it did not take me very long to get my things together and myself aboard the boat. There was about 50 of the 21st aboard besides a like number from each of the other regts. The steamer started sometime in the night destined for the mouth of the Big Sandy a distance of 60 or 70 miles, but I had forgotten to say that the remainder of the 21st was to go by land down the river a distance of about 40 miles when they were to take boats and join us at this place. When daylight made its appearance we were going down the river with Virginia on one side and Kentucky on the other, that being the firt time that I had been allowed the privelege of looking upon the Old Dominion so famed in song and story. But I looked long in vain to see something about those everlasting mountains and log cabins with the neverfailing accompaniment of a dozen or two of dirty ragged children running about that was calculated to awaken the romance of any writer. It was nothing but rocks and mountains, log cabins, dirty children, lean pigs, starved chickens, dirt, and poverty upon every hand There that is my opinion of what I saw of the far famed Old Dominion Well we kept on down the river and passed the town of Louisa, a town of considerable importance. We arrived at the Ohio river at about 3, oclock and went up into to find quarters, which we accomplished after a short search. We are quartered in a good warm house situated upon the bank of the Ohio river, and we are favored every now and then with the sight of a magnificent steam plowing her way either up or down river, and for one to see such a sight, who has seen nothing for the last month except a wilderness, it is quite refreshing. The town of Catlet[t]sburg is situated at the mouth of the Big Sandy upon the banks of that stream and also that of the Ohio, it contains a population of perhaps 700 inhabitants the houses are well built and the place has a very thriving appearance. There is considerable shipping done here. I visited two large steamboats this morning and it is surprising what an amount of freight one of these boats is capable of carrying. They are literally stowed from bottom to top with boxes, barrels, and bales of cotton.
When we arrived here we were without rations, and no means for drawing when a citizen of the place brought the boys of the 21st a good warm supper consisting of warm bread and butter, chicken, jelly and applebutter warm coffee and tea and now perhaps, things in general and the chicken in particular did not take to themselves wings and fly away, just ask the boys of the 21st. And this morning the same good man brought down a plentiful supply of warm Steak mashed potatoes good warm rusk with the best of coffee with milk and sugar in it. We all felt as though we could not do enough for that man. Shortly after this we drew our regular rations with a few additions and we are going to live like kings, you never saw a happier set of boys in your life than we are, We expect to lie at this place for a few days when we will be joined by our regt and proceed in boats down the river to Cincinnati, and there my information stops but I think in all probablility we shall go from that city to Lexington, as all indications of late seem to point to that conclusion, However I am as happy as a lark no matter where I am just so long that I keep my health. I have not yet seen the time that I could truly say I was homesick, I cannot account for it. It must be caused by the never failing excitement of cam life, the looking ahead and expecting one hardly knows what, the ever varying scenes which present themselves to ones view, these and a thousand other things taken together tend as the French would say to keep one on the gui vive and serve to keep off the blues, I think if any person should get homesick that person ought to be myself, as I left the best home that God in all his seeing wisdom ever provided any person with, and was blessed with parents that I believe were never willing to place a (burden?) upon my shoulders that they were not willing to carry for me should they think it best for my welfare. I often think of these things and they make a deep impression upon my mind, and i now see that I never full appreciated the endeavors of my parents to promote my welfare, and I believe that if there is any one thing that is calculated more than another to keep one steps from the paths of vice and immorality, it is the memory of that home that I cheerfully left, to take up arms in defence of the best government the World ever knew. Tell Aunt Mary to not get tired waiting for that letter (there goes a steamboat right past our door, and here comes another) as I intend to write her a long letter when I get into a place where we have accomodations for writing. I am writing this letter sitting flat upon the floor with my knapsack lying across my knees and my paper lying upon it, I have written a large share of my letters with my paper lying upon the bottom of an inverted tin plate, such as we use in eating, but who would not be a soldier, From this point we can see three states Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky, they all three center on this point. Virginia is just across the Big Sandy and Ohio across that river. When you write direct to Cincinnati and in case we go elsewhere it will be forwarded on to us.
Give my love to all from Robert H Caldwell
Camp near Louisville
Dec 3rd 
Since writing my last letter I have received three letters from home, on from Juliet with Wm letter enclosed and one from Aunt Mary, also one from you. We have had a fine snow storm, or rather two of them since arriving at Louisville it snowed about two inches deep a few nights ago and last Sunday night and Monday morning it snowed again and while it was snowing, we received orders to strike tents and prepare to move to a better camping ground situated about two miles from the city as the one in which we have been camping for the last week had become almost untenable on account of the wind and consequently while it was snowing violently we struck tents and took up the march for our new quarters where in due time we arrived and found it necessary to take shovels and clear the ground of the snow where our tents were to be pitched, which was finally accomplished, when the boys [s]tarted for the straw piles and rail fences, the once to furnish bedding and the other fuel, as Nelsons Brigade always makes it a point to not allow a fence or straw stack to stand within its reach. Our present camp ground is very finely situated upon a dry piece of sod ground, with water handy by to be used for cooking purposes. You wrote that there was a considerable amount of improvements going on in town, I was glad to hear of it, I was also glad to hear that John Ryder was going to build and that he had given Father a bill of lumber to save. The health of the 21st is fast improving. But I have some news to tell you, the paymaster is around and we are to receive our pay in a few days. This morning George Claghorn and myself were detailed to report at Headquarters for the purpose of making out the payrolls, there is two men detailed from each company for that purpose. There is at present near this camp about 20 regiments of infantry artillery, and cavalry. It is not positively known how long we are to remain at ar present quarters, but it is thought we will remain at this place something like 10 days. Our destination is not positively known but rumor says we are to go to Bowling Green however we may yet be ordered to Columbus Ky. We receive the daily papers in camp regularly. We get the Louisville Journal and Democrat and of course we are posted in regar to the news Perhaps you may have some fears in regard to our comfort, these cold nights, well I can say for one that I never slept more comfotably than I do in my tent[.] I have two blankets one of which I place upon the straw (which is about a foot deep) and the other I place over me and I have a bedfellow who also has a blanket and so we have one under and two over us, which keeps us very warm. We are to have a stove in each tent this winter. Each mess is to furnish its own stove, our mess consists of 10 men and as the stove costs $3 it will cost each man but 30 cents. Tell Aunt Mary that I will answer her letter shortly I have not yet received Vetters letter and am looking anxiously for it, Tell Father when I receive my pay that I intend to make him a present of a Government Order as I am not in debt one cent ot any man this side of home.
Love to all
R H Caldwell
Camp near Louisville
Dec 4th 
I write this letter to let you know that I received a letter from Mother last evening and enclosed I found one dollar which proved very acceptable as I was just out of postage stamps having placed the last one upon the letter that I sent to Mother by this mail. The one great topic of conversation in camp at pressent is the arrival of the paymaster, I worked nearly all yesterday afternoon on the payrolls of Co I. and it will take the greater part of to day to finish them, and when that is accomplished we are to receive our pay. But I suppose that some great lover of his country who makes it a point to stay at home and continually urge others to fight the battles of the Union, would say fri? upon you for making such great calculations upon receiving the paltry sum to which you are entitled by law, you should never stoop so low as to take into consideration the pay that you are to receive but if needs be you should be willing to wade throug[h] mud, snow, water and blood and to ecndure all sorts of hardships for the good of your country. Unto all such Union men I merely wish to say that I properly appreciate all such sentiment but the Paymaster is a great institution. As I have but little time to write I shall have to close by saying that Johny is well and hearty and looks as though he were able to endure almost any amount of hardship, so healthy is he.
I have not yet received Mr Vetters letter but am looking for it by every mail, I answered Aunt Marys letter the other day, but I must close give my love to all
From Robert Caldwell
Camp near Louisville Dec 8th__61
Since I finished my letter I have heard the order that we are to start upon a? march for, goodness knows where. We are to? Start at eight in the morning, we have drawn? Three days rations, I suppose our (destination) is to be Camp Nevin near Bowling green
I suppose you have heard that Gen (Nelson) has? Been promoted to a Major Generalship and ???Col of the 33rd Col Sill has been made a Brigadier General he commands our brigade
When I arrive where I can get a chance I will write. But it is bed time and as the boys want to go to bed I must close
From Robert Caldwell
[Note at top of page]
I answered Mr Vetters letter at Louisville
I received a letter from you while at the above named place that was directed to Catlettsburg
Camp Harris, Elizabeth town Ky
I received your letter last night of the 7th and was very glad to hear from home. I wrote to you last Sunday from Louisville and stated that we had just received orders to march early in the morning destination not known, but we found out after starting that we had been ordered to Elizabeth town distant about 40 miles. We left Louisville Monday morning at 8,oclock and that day we marched about 16 miles and encamped for the night on a farm belonging to the notorious Buckner the General in command of the rebel troops stationed at Bowling green[.] It is situated upon the bank of the Ohio river. We started on the march Tuesday morning at daybreak and after marching 3 miles we were all brought up standing upon the salt river, and as there was no bridge across the river at this point we were ferried over in hand ferry boats we were detained about 3 hours by the river. The Salt river empties into the Ohio at this place and the town of West Point is built upon the banks of both rivers. The 49th Ohio was stationed at this place sometime ago. The town is built at the foot of Muldroughs hill upon whigh the 9th Michigan has built a fortification, it mounts several guns, and directly opposite the town on the Indiana shore there is another fortification, they are intended to stop Buckners fleet that was expected to move up the Ohio and destroy Louisville. The hill upon which the larges fort is built (Muldraughs) is perhaps 150 feet high and is almost perpendicular and it would be almost impossible to storm it successfully[.] There is also an old deserted fort upon the bank of the Salt river opposite the town, that was built by the home guards of West Point it formerly mounted 5 guns one side of the works is built principally of sand bags but that portion of the works fronting is more substantially built of timbers and earth and is about 6 feet in thickness. I forgot to say that the 2nd Ohio marched with us as it left Louisville at the same time we did. We left West point about 12 oclock and marched a distance of about 9 miles when we encamped for the night. The next morning we pulled up and started and marched 12 ½ miles in the forenoon and pitched our tents in the present quarters where we arrived yesterday at noon. we are 1 1/2 miles of the town of Elizabethtown which it is said contains a population of about 4000. It is not known how long we will stay at this place as it is thought a fight with Buckner cannot be delayed much longer, as 20000 United States troops made a forward movement from a camp situated 10 miles in advance of us There are 5 regts at this place. The 2nd 21st 33rd Ohio and the 10th Wisconsin besides the 24th Illinois a german regt. The first four form our brigade. I was a little surprised to hear that James Broggs contemplated matrimony. We expect to receive our pay in a short time. I wish you would tell ??? Willson to write me and tell me the color of her eyes and hair[.] Mabel is a pretty name. I received the gold dollar that you sent me for which I was very grateful Tell Mother I have bought a pair of mittens Give my love to Mother, Aunt Mary, Juliet Vetter & Willy
Camp Jefferson Dec 22nd __61
Morning broke in Camp Jefferson dark and cloudy threatening rain or something equally disastrous, and while breakfast was being prepared the clouds opened and the rains commenced descending in torrents, but as a soldier cannot live without eating, our cook found it necessary to stand and take the rain as it came. Our breakfast having been dispatched we all (that is our mess) returned to our different occupations when, as I was engaged in sorting some of my effects happening to look I found a nice little stream of water making its way through our tent, when up I jumped and made my way through the tent to the kitchen tent where the tools of the company were deposited and having secured a spade I commenced enlargeing the ditch that I had digged round our tent at the time of pitching it which I found had proved inadequate for carrying off the extra amount of water that had fallen. The whole camp was alive with the soldiers engaged in the same occupation and the manner in which the dirt flew in the 21st for a short time was sufficient to make a railroading son? of the Emerald Isle tremble for his credit. I finally finished the ditch and got back into our house which was by this time clear? of water once more, But as such an occassion rarely occurs we concluded not to get mad about it. I wrote to Juliet a few days ago, but since then we have moved on to Bacon creek where the water was better and more abundant. The 21st is encamped upon the Louisville & Nashville R.R.. The bridge across the creek at this place was burned by the secesh some time ago, but has been rebuilt by the government There are eight regts within sight of our camp at the present time in addition to three batteries that are planted upon the hill overlooking our camp. we are within eight miles of Green river, where as doubtless you are aware there is a large force of our troops encamped. Our troops are stationed on this side of the river but as the bridge over that stream had also been burned by some of Buckners agents it was found necessary to reconstruct it and a whole Brigade is thrown across each day for pickets. Our troops had an encounter a few days ago at that place. Three regts of U.S. troops had crossed for the purpose of camping, and while they were engaged in marking out the grounds preparatory to pitching tents, they were attacked by a surprise force who had come across them unawares from the opposite side of a high hill. Our troops had but two minutes warning but they made the the most of it and after a sharp contest succeeded in driving them off. It is said the loss of the enemy consisted of something over 100, our loss was but 13 killed. I know not how soon we may be ordered but we are expecting marching orders every day. I received a letter from you day before yesterday, I also received one from Mr Vetter and Willie, which I will aswer shortly.
Direct to Camp Jefferson, Leesville
&c&c&c, Love to all R H Caldwell
Camp Jefferson Ky Dec 26th 61
Christmas has come, and gone and I now propose to give you a description of the manner in which some of the boys of the 21st passed the day.
On the afternoon of Dec 24th while on dress parade, an order issued by Gen Mitchel was read, in which the Gen had kindly given us the ensueing day off for a holiday. We were to be allowed the privilege of leaveing camp for the purpose of visiting our brother soldiers in the neighboring camps, also the privilege of visiting the different natural curiosities in this vicinity. Accordingly very early in the morning of the 25th in company with seargt M. Rice I left camp for the purpose of visiting a noted cave situated about a mile from camp. We had provided ourselves with matches and candles before starting. Having arrived at the place where the cave was situated we proceeded to strike a light and after that was accomplished we commenced the work of exploration. The place of entrance is situated upon the side of a bluff of high rocks which form the high hill under which the cave extends[.] We had no guide with us but concluded to trust to providence and our own common sense to guide us through for through it we were bound to go. Perhaps I should have informed you that this subterranean passage led completely through the above mentioned hill a distance of about 500 yards. At its entrance we were obliged to bow the head and bend the knee slightly, but after proceeding a short distance we found ourselves in that portion of the cavern where the ceiling rose to a considerable height and we were once more able to hold our heads up as good soldiers of Uncle Sam should always be proud to do. The walls presented a very uneven appearance as there were several small rooms that made off from the main passage. We endeavored to explore some of the rooms, but were forced to desist, on account of the roof which in some places came in contact with our bodies as we were crawling upon all fours. The roof of the main cavern was studded with stalactites formed by the constant dropping of water and in some instances they reached from the ceiling almost to the floor[.] Some of them were of a milky color while others presented a darker appearance doubtless caused by the nature of the soil through which the water had passed on its route to the cavern. In some places the action of the water had formed pillars upon the floor, which made quite comfortable seats upon which the adventurer might recline for the purpose of resting himself. The water was constantly dropping from the roof which mad[e] it somewhat disagreeable on that account, the water stood in pools in every direction and on account of our poor light we found it necessary to keep a sharp lookout, but notwithstanding our vigilance I managed to get into one of the numerous pools that beset our path. After having gone about half the distance through, we heard shouting on our front and presently we saw a light and several soldiers comeing toward us who, like ourselves, were not satisfied with a description of the place, but had concluded to give it a personal inspection. We at last arrived at the opposite side of the cave and once more found ourselves above ground and well satisfied with what we had witnessed. After remaining outside of the lines nearly all day we once more passed the guard and found ourselves subject to military rules, the privileges and immunities to which we had been subject during the day all taken away, but such is the experience of a soldier. I received a letter from Mother this afternoon for which you may believe I was very thankful. You also wrote in the same letter as also did Willie. Your disposition of the money that I sent you meets with my hearty approval and I will send all that I possibly can, which you can apply in the same direction. I myself would be glad to be able to say that we did not owe one cent[.] If you meet with an offer for my cutter you may sell it and apply the money the same direction, or any other that you may see fit. I wish to do all that lies in my power to clear up our debts, as I am aware that you put yourself to a great deal of inconvenience when you allowed me to enlist[.] I trust that I properly appreciate the sacrifice and hope that I may be able in part to repay you. Tell Mother that I will answer hers & Willies next love to all Robert
Camp Jefferson K.y Dec 27th __61
As we have just returned from Battallion drill and we will have about a two hours rest before we are called out again I thought I could not employ my time better than to answer your interesting letter which came to hand a few days ago. We have been having some pretty wet weather for some days past, but today the sun is out bright and clear with a fair prospect of remaining so for the remainder of the day.
I wrote to Father yesterday and gave an account of the manner in which I spent my Christmas, but as my paper gave out before I was through I did not give him the whole particulars. I gave or endeavored to give a description of a cave that I visited during the day[.] I also visited a noted hill situated within about two miles of camp called Frenchman's Knob, from the top of which a fine view of the surrounding country may be had. The hill rises far above any other in its neighborhood and from its top I saw the finest sight that it ever was my privilege to behold[.] This portion of the State of Ky is quite mountaineous and one could behold range after range of mountains each one farther off and rising above the one in its front, until nothing was to be seen in the distance but one blue line with peaks rising one above another until they reached almost into the heavens, as it seemed. Oh! it was the grandest sight I ever witnessed and I shall never forget it if I live to be a thousand years old. Descending from the hill, we next visited a large and deep sinkhole which some people in this neighborhood pretend to say has no bottom, a statement which I very much doubt. The place is known by its name of blue hole and after I arrived at its brink and peered into its depths I concluded that it had been very appropriately named. The hole measures about 30 feet across and gradually decreases in size until it is about 15 ft in diameter when it descends almost perpendicularly to a depth of about 150 feet and then branches off in different directions and probably forms the main entrance to some extensive cave. There was a tree across its mouth that had been placed in that position several years ago by an adventurer who by means of a rope had descended into the hole to a depth of about 160 feet, when he arrived upon a large pile of stones in its center and after ascending gave the above description of its interior.
But as I looked into the black and dangerous looking (concern?) I concluded to be satisfied with that, and not risk my valuable neck in an attempt to explore it[.] I threw in several large rocks and after descending perpendicularly for quite a space of time they would strike against some projecting rock and after breaking into a thousand different pieces would go crashing on its way, until the sound died away in the distance. After satisfying our curiosity Seargt. Rice and myslf started for camp, on our route we came across a farmer with a yoke of oxen and a cart, and as every man that drives a team in this country has something to sell to the soldier, we marched up to his cart and found he had turkey and chicken for sale, they were finely cooked and stuffed and after purchasing a fine chicken and a price of corn bread Mike and I proceeded to partake of a Christmas dinner. You would have laughed could you have seen us sitting in the grass by ourselves walking into that devoted fowl. I have often heard of chickens taking to themselves wings and flying away, but never before had I seen a chicken legs and wings fly as did those of the above mentioned fowl. I had my overcoat with me and as you are aware, they have got quite a long ____ ( I am very modest) story, well after spreading that part of my coat upon the ground for a tablecloth we just imagined that there was a table underneath and as before mentioned put things away as fast as possible. I shall always remember that Christmas dinner as being the first that I had partaken in this state[.] But you see I must close. love to all from Robert.
Camp Jefferson Ky Dec 29th 61
I received your very welcome letter a few days ago, and you cant imagine how much good it does me to get a good letter from home. I wrote to Father two days ago, also to Mr Vetter and Willie yesterday and consequently I shall be somewhat bothered for ideas, but as Father, in one of his letters told about His and your trip to Fremont and visit to the Fremont camp and of your feelings when he saw the filthy manner in which some of the boys lived in their tents, for fear that I might be living in the same style, I will endeavor to quiet your fears that nothing of the kind is allowed in the 21st[.] Each mess is required to have an orderly whose business it is, to see that his tent and grounds around his tent are thoroughly policed every morning and oftener if necessary. As I am the orderly of my tent I do not wish to brag on it, but I will say that it has the reputation of being an a no. 1 mess, in point of cleanliness and order. Mr Barnes is the cook and if you could only see some of the meals that he is in the habit of getting up you would wonder that he had never hired out as a cook in some restarant instead of comeing to war, we live top top. Yesterday, by order of the Coronel all drill was suspended for the purpose of allowing us time to ditch our street that runs between our tents, a squad of boys was sent ot the wood to get our puncheons and the remainder of the Co was set to work on the ditches two long ditches were dug the whole length of the street and covered with puncheons which mad a good and substantial sidewalk we run our tent ditches into the main ones and that keeps the ground round our tents nice and dry. Co H. had plank to cover their ditches their street made the very best appearance, but the Surgeon gave Co I the credit of having the neatest quarters.
We have got our stoves and they are just the thing. they cost each man from 25 to 30 cents a piece they keep our tents as warm as we could wish for, and often we are obliged to fling open our tents on account of the heat. Doubtless you have heard by the letters of some of our boys that we are not allowed a sufficient amount of food. now in regard to that, I merely wish to say that there has been times often and often when we refused the crackers that we were allowed, on account of having several barrels on hand at the time[.] There was a time when we had 4 1/2 barrels on hand. The only time that I know of where the boys could not get enough to eat was when we were comeing down the Big Sandy, the way of it was that the boys drew their rations for one day and started on the march and the provisions were put aboard the boats to go by water, with the expectation that the regiment would overtake the boats at night and be able to draw rations but on account of the boats starting in advance and the troops being detained they were short of rations for one day. In my estimation that is the only time that the boys could find fault about their rations. I wrote in the forepart of this letter that Co H. had the credit of having the best street. I was mistaken. I have just returned from dress parade, where a notice was read giving the praise to Co I of having the best looking street there what do you think of that.
I guess that we will remain at this place 3 or 4 weeks until the bridge across Green river is repaired[.] it was blown up some time ago by the rebels. it is built of iron and is 1000 feet in length. the piers are 150 feet high[.] but I must close.
Camp Jefferson Bacon creek
K.y Jan 3rd
I had the pleasure of receiving a letter from you yesterday and I need not tell you that all of your letters are truly interesting and welcome
We are still in camp at the above named place awaiting orders which we expect in a few days, when in all probability we shall move on Bowling green. The bridge across Green river is almost completed, and I believe the destruction of that structure was the principal cause of our detention at this point, but now that the bridge is about completed you will doubtless hear of some stirring events in this part of the State ere long[.] It is said that Buckner is in command of a very large force, report places the number at 6000 and it is also said that he has 105 pieces of cannon which he expects to bring to bear on us, and should the above report prove true, which doubtless is the case, it will in all probability prove one of the most sanquinary battles ever fought upon this Continent, and what an honor it will be to those engaged upon our side, should our arms prove victorious. I dont know exactly the number of our troops that are in this department, but I think it is fully equal or perhaps greater than that of the enemy. We have, at this camp, 12 pcs of artillery and there is also at Green river 66 pcs some of them of large caliber, There is one battery of 10 pound Parrot guns camped at this place, this battery has just arrived from western Va where it has been doing good execution. At the battle of Greenbriar where it was engaged, a projectile was fired from one of the guns, a distance of three miles which dismounted one of the enemy's guns, The Parrot gun is made of steel and is very long gun, and for that reason its accuracy is considered greater at long range, than that of other guns, I was glad to hear of Alfred Rices success in being elected 1st Lieut it is as you say a trustworthy position, and one that he may fill with honor to himself and Country, but it will require a great deal of care and judgement on his part to become an efficient Offier. He will be constantly called upon to use judgement and moderation in all his actions toward his men, and constantly bear in mind that He is no better than a private so long as the private is a good soldier, and on the other hand he must not be slow to command their obedience in all things that are just and right, as an officer without command is a poor concern indeed. I have no doubt that with proper care on his part, and being under the eye of his brother John he may make such an one as will be an honor to his company and regt[.]
You spoke of the Mason Slider case as giving great dissatisfaction to the people of the North, well we must take some insults from old England during our present difficulties, no matter how galling they may be, but just wait until the present war is ended, and I know of one that would not be backward to enlist for the purpose of giving her a sound thrashing for her meanness for interfereing at this time[.] I recd a letter from Aunt Mary short time ago which I will answer in turn.
Love to all[.]
Bacon creek K.y Jan 10th
I received your letter last night and was truly glad to hear from you, as it was the first letter that I have had since Lieut Vantine arrived in camp.
We have been lying in this camp for so long a time that I find it very difficult to write anything that would be calculated to interest you[.] you wish to know whether we had a cold day on the fifth, well it rained nearly all day and the mud was almost over shoetop,
In this portion of the State we generally have rain, about the time that it is snowing finely in your pleasant town and while you are listening to the chime of sleighbells we are wading through the mud, but that is not always the case, as we sometimes have the roads frozen pretty solid.
We have got our new tents and they are much better than the old ones were[.] Those that we have now have are called the Sibley tent and are calculated to hold 20 men, however we have but 15 men in ours I believe the Fremont regt has the same kind. Last New years day, I went out into the country and took dinner at the house of a Kentucky farmer, while the principle part of our mess had an oyster dinner. I may mention one thing that will probably interest you At the house where I took my New years dinner a young lady presided at the dinner table which made it quite interesting, and for that reason perhaps the dinner was prolonged for a greater length of time, than it would otherwise have been.
While dinner was being prepared I entered into conversation with the old gentleman but of course my eyes and thoughts were directed toward the aforementioned young lady while I appeared to be very much interested in the conversation of the Farmer. But dinner being over I was obliged to start for camp and did so casting many a lingering look behind. I have never heard whether I created an impression or not, but if I failed, it cannot be charged to me. But as I wish to write a few lines to Willie I must close,
I received your long and interesting letter and was glad to hear from you. I think you are a pretty good scholar to do that example as there are lots of boys older than yourself that would have been puzzled with it. You wish me to give you a harder one here it is, How many men are there in the 21st regt there are 10 companies and each Co has an average of 90 men, besides 3 commissioned officers each, and there are also 5 field officers 2 surgeons one commissary one quartermaster and one wage master, now if you get this one right I must say that you are a good scholar indeed.
But I must close when next I write I will write you a longer letter.
give my love to all
Camp Jefferson. Bacon creek K.y Jan 15th
Well I declare, what shall I write, I hardly know what would be most interesting to you, but thinking that you will be glad to hear that I am enjoying good health I make the remark and back it up by telling you that I weigh just 170 pounds and never enjoyed myself better in my life, than I do at the present time.
There is hardly a man in Co I but what weighs more at this present time, than he did at the time of enlisting, notwithstanding the poor board that some of its members have been obliged to put up with, poor fellow [trails off] But Tattoo is just sounding and I must close for tonight.
Yesterday morning we received to pack knapsacks and be ready to march at half past eight oclock, and the camp was all on the quivive to know what was up, some said that we were going to cut off a train of supplies that was being sent to the rebels, and some said one thing and some another, but the time arrived and we all marched out, with the artillery in advance of us and after going about a mile we came to a large field, and we then found out that we were to have a sham! battle. Our whole Brigade finally arrived and one company of Cavalry from the 4th Ohio which is camped alongside of our regt and then commenced a real! sham battle, the cavalry would charge upon the Infantry and then wheel and retreat and make an attack in a different place while the different regts were firing upon each other with unloaded! guns, and all this time the artillery was rushing here and there wheeling and firing with empty guns, with terrible effect upon the imaginary enemy and thus the fight raged for upwards of half a day, when thinking that the foe had been sufficiently chastised for the present, with tired limbs but fearless hearts we changed our mode of attacks and charged upon our dinner with equal effect, and after having Battallion drill for an hour or two we were ordered back to camp, where we arrived without any further adventure, and thus terminated our first great fight in this part of Kentucky, I believe our loss consisted of one barrel crackers, nothing more.
Day before yesterday it blew up cold and rained and toward night it commenced snowing and fell to the depth of about one inch, when it held up and remained cold for the remainder of the night and a part of yesterday but, the wind shifting the snow went off and as it rained last night we are once more in the mud. I recd a letter from Juliet last Sunday, and yesterday one from Al Rice their regt is almost full,
But I must close, love to all from
Camp Jefferson Bacon creek Jan 19th
Thinking that you might be anxious to know how I am getting along at present I improve the present time by writing a few lines to let you know that I enjoy the best of health, I weigh 170 pounds at present, which is about 15 pounds heavier than I was at the time of enlistment, so much for scant rations and hard living that some of our boys have taken delight in telling of so often in their letters that they have from time to time sent home. Such persons are to be pitied, as they are forever making themselves miserable, and never willing to contribute to the happiness of others. I received a joint stock letter last Friday from yourself, Mother & Willie, and in it Mother stated that you had lately, or rather Elmore had parted with a young! lady that used to be known by the name of Ella Ryder. Well I suppose the above named lady was born to be Lucky at some period in her life. That they may pass a long and happy life together is my wish.
I know not what kind of weather you are having but last night our camp was visited by a fine thunder storm it thundered and lightened the same as though it were an april shower that had burst upon us, For the last week or two we have had nothing but rain and mud with an occasional skift of snow, but I guess that our winter is about gone in this part of the State at least that is the opinion of those who are considered to be competent judges. I wrote to Wm as soon as I received your letter. The Green river bridge has been finished some time, and we are expecting to be ordered forward before many days, but it is difficult to tell how long we may be obliged to remain at this place. We are all very impatient to move onward and close the war as soon as possible.
Our drill ground is so cut up that all drill has been suspended for the present, and consequently time passes rather heavily on our hands, The health of the regt is improveing, there is but little sickness in camp at the present time, compared with the fore part of the winter. Please tell Mr Vetter that I should like very much to hear from him. Give my love to all
From Robt Caldwell
(P.S) It appears that Ely Eoff is tired of singe life. Perhaps he has taken a hint from Jim Luckey.
Camp Jefferson Bacon creek K.y Jan 21st 62
I have just received a letter from Juliet and, as I have a little leisure time I propose to improve it by giving you the news of the camp.
Yesterday morning a member of Co A. accidentally shot himself dead, while attempting to remove a loaded gun from his gun rack, eh had been out on picket the day before and yesterday morning returned to camp and very carelessly neglected to remove the cap before putting his gun away, and when the old guard was ordered out, to fire off their guns, in attempting, (as I said before) to remove his gun from the rack, the hammer was caught in some manner or other, and the piece was discharged, the ball entering his breast, and he fell dead without uttering a groan. I am in hopes the rest of the regt may profit by this sad accident, so that we may never be called upon to chronicle another such event. The most staple article now in camp is, mud, mud, mud, the wagons are covered, the horses are covered, the drivers are covered, and in fact everything about camp is deluged with the same sticky substance. It is almost impossible for those with shoes to get about. Yesterday, Gen Mitchel ordered out 800 men to work the roads, between the Depot at this place, and the 2nd Ohio's camp distant about one mile from this place, He had a new road graded and puncheons go out, and made a Cordurouy road, and they are to work on it still and intend to keep at it until they make a road, upon which teams can pass without miring, you have no idea how muddy the roads are in this vicinity. Last Sunday night, (or rather Monday morning) at about three oclock, our camp was visited by a most terrific Thunder shower and J__e__h__w how it rained, tent number 4 of Co I was flooded insomuch that the mess pans were floated out of the tent and the boys were obliged to climb upon the boxes and everything that was above water, in order to keep dry, The reason that no 4 suffered more than others was on account of our having thrown up a ridge in the middle of the street and neglected to dig a ditch through it, and as no 4 happened to be in a low place the water backed up into the tent to the depth of six inches.
Very early this morning we received the joyful intelligence that Zollicoffer & Co had been completely whipped and routed by Gen Thomas, and that the old thief of the world had received his quietus, which he has richly deserved for a long time, Hurah only think of it, 12 pieces of cannon, 80 wagons all their horses camp eqippage. Commissary and Quartermaster stores why it is the greatest victory yet won on our side since that is only the prelude to still greater achievements to be made by our forces, It may be that it will have an effect to hasten our departure from this place, which is greatly to be desired as we are all anxious to have a hand in, I have found it necessary, on account of the wet weather and bad roads to buy a pair of boots for which I am to pay when we receive our next pay, they are a good pair and come almost up to my knees, I am to pay $5.00 for them. I bought them one of the boys, and they are the same kind for which the Sutler charges $7.00[.] I considered my health to bed much more consequence than the price of the books, I can now have dry feet which is a very desirable thing, Juliet said in her letter that she and Mother had a discussion in regard to a certain oyster dinner, Well tell Juliet that Lieut Wood gave Co I. and oyster dinner something like four weeks ago, of which I had the pleasure of being present at, and last Newyears, day my mess had oysters for dinner but I was not present to help eat them as I was better employed, taking dinner at the house of a Farmer. There it is and now you may figure it up and if you find any difficulty in getting the answer, just ask Willie and I will warrant He can give it to you. Please tell Willie that I will write to him next time but I must close
from Robert Caldwell
(P.S) I forgot to say that my mess kept perfectly last Sunday night during the thunderstorm,
I have just received your letter of the 19th and was surprised to hear that you failed to receive my letters. I write regularly two or three times a week and if you fail to receive them, the fault is in the mail line. You appeared to that I had been sick and that perhaps on that account I had delayed writing but when you have received my last two letters that I have already written, you will see at once that I am enjoying the best of health, You wish to know when we are to advance upon Bowling green, well I declare that it is hard to tell, at one time, appearances will indicate a speedy movement, and we will think that the doom of Buckner is about to be sealed, when, presto the indications of a forward movement are immediately reversed, and the aforementioned Scoundrel is once more allowed a new lease of life, We, that is the members of Mitchels Division are not allowed the privilege of knowing what is going on in the inner Sanctuary, and therefore we are obliged to draw our inferences from what we see going on around us, and to judge from present appearances, I should say that the prospects of a speedy forward movement, are rather limited[.] Gen Mitchel is having all the camps of the regts in his Div thoroughly ditched, and he has also lately been engaged, in roadmaking in this vicinity, He has had a Corduroy road of two miles in length, constructed, running form the Depot at this place, (Bacon creek) to the camp of the 2nd Ohio, He had a force of 800 soldiers at work for several days, which shows that in case of an emergence the indomitable Yankees can handle an ax or spade equally as well as that of a musket, But you may rest assured that when Gen Buell orders an advance, that it will be with the determination to keep his army in motion toward Dixie until the last vestage of treason shall have been removed from our once happy and beloved Country. Gen Mitchel has the confidence of every man in his Division, you can see him at all times upon his horse riding through the various regts of his command, superintending the drill of his men &c&c&c, and this forenoon He took command of the 21st while on Battallion drill and put us through sever new movements, he gave us great praise, for the promptness and accuracy with which we performed these new and difficult manouvres, He is a strict disciplinarian and insists upon having everything done in a soldierlike manner
But I will close upon a different sheet of paper.
(To yourself and nobody else)
You said that you had heard, by the way of Lieut Vantines letter that Capt Gibbs had resigned and was comeing home in a few days, &c &c &c. Well as to his resigning his commission, I guess it is true. Capt Gibbs has not in reality made a very efficient Commander, on account of not having confidence in himself, and also on account of his voice which is very poor for a commander, and most of the boys, also thought that He did not take sufficient pains to inform himself in regard to the tactics which doubtless is true in a measure, but the fact is He was not cut out for a military man as he don't appear to take an interest in military matters. About two weeks ago Lieut Wood and some others of the Co got up a petition to have the Capt resign and circulated it through the Co and got I believe 66 signers, which was nearly all that was in camp at that time, and Wood presented it to the Capt when, comeing over A.W. Luckeys favorite phrase he put it into the fire, I took a very lively part in opposing the measure and took the part of the Capt to the last, as I thought it would be a very serious matter to send him home in disgrace as I thought would be the consequence if carried out, and I also thought that if someone would go to him and tell him plainly what his actions were bringing him to, that he would take hold and take more interest in the affairs of the Co &c&c, but I could do nothing with them, and it turned out as I have told you. And ever since that occurrence he has been or appeared to be rather downhearted, which I cant blame him for, as a man in his position is in a very unpleasant situation indeed. But if the boys had acted fairly in this matter I think that the result would have been far different. Now I will just give you my opinion to this matter, and I know full well that you will not say anything about it, to anybody[.] Lieut Wood is very anxious to be first Lieut of Co I and Bumpus also anxious to wear the Shoulder straps of a second Lieut, and Bumpus and Lieut Wood and also Vantine have got a favorite by the name of Veon a corporal of our Co and I believe it is their intention to promote him irrespective of merit, as he was one to suddenly turn against the Capt and make great demonstrations in favor of the above named gentlemen (1st & 2nd Lieut & Bumpus) for which he will doubtless receive his reward, as soon as Vantine is elected Capt, which will certainly take place as soon as Capt Gibbs resigns. Lieut Vantine is a general favorite with all the boys, and I must so say that there is not a better Officer in the regt than Charley. But I believe that the love of promotion is at the bottom of it all, and therefore if I stand any kind of chance I shall be very much surprised as I was not carried off to drill with the popular tide. But never mind, there will be a day of retribution when Cap Gibbs will stand as high as some others in the estimation of men of Judgement, when some of the members of Co I, will be ashamed to look Capt Gibbs in the face. Yesterday the box that was sent to the 21st regt by the citizens of Elmore arrived and was taken to the Hospital where it was opened, and Capt Gibbs went and got the things that were sent to Co I which consisted of a jar of plumbs sent to Capt, by Mary Luckey and two jars for Mike Rice, and a box of hickory nuts, which was divided among the Co. I got the Weeklies...[page tear]... we had a fine time with them, but I don't believe that Co I got its...[page tear]...after all the apples were nearly all rotten.
But I will write more of it next time.
Camp Jefferson, Bacon creek Jan 28th 
As I have a few moments to spare I propose to improve them by writing to you. As we expect ere long to march from this place or are liable to, at any time, and as we have got more clothing than we stand in need of, we concluded to send our spare clothing home, in Lieut Woods trunk. It is to be sent in care of G. Wight, of whom you can get mine by applying to him.
I send my blouse, one shirt and one pair of drawers. I do not need them in the least, and don't wish to carry any extra clothing, through the comeing campaign. I send some crackers to be divided among a few of the girls, you will see the names of these, to whom the crackers are to be delivered, written upon the crackers, Perhaps you may be led to sympathies with us, on account of the toughness of our bread, but I don't want you to be concerned about us, as our teeth are good and we are all getting fat upon them, I hear that the Fremont regt has left, good luck to them. I wrote to Aunt Mary last Sunday and yesterday I wrote to Uncle Ezekiel Rice, I also wrote to Father a few days ago, and taking it all together I think that I am doing my share in regard to letter writing I am now sitting close by a large box of crackers, and this evening at supper, I intend to place myself outside of about a dozen of them. But I must close, give my love to all. Lieut Vantine sends his respects to all, from Robert.
Oh! Yes, I almost forgot to speak of that large box, that the citizens of Elmore sent to the 21st, about two months ago, by some mistake or other, the box did not arrive, until a few days ago, It was sent to the Hospital of the 21st and Capt Gibbs went up and got a can of plumbs that was sent to him by Mary Luckey and Mike Rice received two jars of canned fruit. There was also a box of hickory nuts, which were divided among the boys, The apples had become rotten, with a few exceptions, The papers have proved quite an acquisition as we have but little reading matter in camp. Please tell Mr Vetter that I should like to hear from him.
Bacon creek, Feb 2nd 62
I wrote to Juliet day before yesterday and promised to write to you today, and here I am endeavoring to fulfill my promise, but what shall I write, that would be likely to interest you, I declare I hardly know what. Oh that I had a patent letter writer and then I should not be obliged to send so many prosy and stale letters home, but as I have not such an article I am willing to do the best I can believing that you are ready to give me full credit for all that I do be it ever so little.
The weather to day is cool and bracing and the everlasting mud has had to dry up for once during the last month, I hear by the different letters that I receive that you have been for some time having good sleighing, and Father stated in his last letter that he was waiting for the frost to leave the timber, when he was going to commence sawing. I seems so curious to hear you tell of sleighing and frozen timber, when for the last month we have had nothing but rain instead of snow, and sunshine in lieu of frost, and indeed when you were enjoying a fine sleighride, the boys of the 21st were in some cases, running round barefoot, and very comfortably too at that. Thus you see the difference of climate between the two places. We accasionally have thunder showers, when it will thunder and lighten equal to any april shower in Ohio.
I have never yet written anything in regard to the inhabitants of this section of country, and I will endeavor to describe them the best I can, but I am afraid that by reading the description alone, you will be unable to form a correct opinion of them.
In the first place, they are as a general thing very ignorant as the free school system is not very well patronized in this vicinity and since the war has broken out, the schools have been discontinued entirely. Perhaps, you may have read, that the poorer clap of the South on account of being brought up in company with the slaves, have adopted their brogue and in common conversation talk very much like to the colored population, well that is just the case, with the inhabitants of this district[.] They all, both high and low, dress in K.y jeans which gives them a very rough appearance. The boys say that the men all look alike, as they generally wear a straw hat during summer and winter, The men in going round the country, as a general thing are mounted, and I must say that they have some splendid horses. If you should go into one of their houses and ask the occupant the distance to a certain place you would in nine cases out of ten receive the answer, w-e-l-l, it's a right smart peace down thar I reckon. or if you were to ask the size of a certain town you would receive the answer, w-e-l-l it's a right smart town, I reckon, and thus you see, they never appear to be sure of a thing, but always reckon. But a I wish to write a few lines to Father, I will close. from Robert
I received your letter of the 26th which you sent at the time Juliet last wrote. and since that time we have been having some stirring times in Co I. Capt? Gibbs left for home yesterday afternoon, without so much as bidding us goodbye, I at least expected to see him and speak to him before he left, but he did not so much as say bad luck to you. I had intended to send word home by him, and left my dinner for that purpose, and the first that I saw of him he was least 20 rods from our quarters going almost on double quick to the cars, and when the train left, we were out drilling and he stood on the the platform of the car and saluted us, which was returned by myself and a few others, I was a little vexed, as he had almost an hour to spare before the train left. After drill we held an election of commissioned officers, and the result stood, for Capt Charles Vantine, unanimous first Lieut A E Wood unanimous then came the tug of war, Bumpus was to run for 2nd Lieut and some of the boys were determined to defeat him if possible, and consequently Mack Reynolds was put up in opposition, and after a due amount of canvassing on both sides the election came off, and the result was that Bumpus received 46 votes and Reynolds 25, which of cours gave Bumpus a majority of 21 votes, which was sufficient to elect him over anything his opponents could do, and Bumpus was declared elected 2nd Lieut, and then the place of the Orderly being vacant the 2nd sergeant was promoted to fill his place and so the different non commissioned officers were all raised a notch Corporals as well as sergeants and a corpl was elected by the Co to fill the place of 8th Corpl and resulted in the election of a man by the name of Brett. Ezekiel rice being first Corpl of course became 5th sergeant and I being 3rd became 2nd corpl. I am in hopes that we will have no more trouble with our officers in the future. George Claghorn received a telegram last Friday evening announceing that his wife was very ill an desiring him to come home immediately, and consequently after getting a furlough of 48 hours, from Gen Mitchel, which was the greatest length of time that Mitchel could give him one for without the consent of Gen Buell he started for Louisville to get the furlough extended if possible and as we have not yet heard from him, I cannot tell whether he obtained it or not, but as dinner is ready, I must bring this letter to a close, from Robert[.]
Bacon creek, Feb 5th __62
I write to let you know that I received a letter from home to day, in which you stated that William had come home, with the intention of going into the service, and that he intended to leave for Camp Chase upon the following monday, and consequently he must have arrived at camp before this. Doubtless it caused quite a sacrifice of feeling on the part of you all, to have William enter the service also, as without doubt it will be quite lonesome after Mr Vetter leaves, but I think it was about the best thing he could do, considering the circumstances under which he was placed, as he will now have the practice as well as theory. In your letter you did not state where the destination of the 72nd would be but I suppose, as a general thing, that the Ohio troops now at Camp Chase and those that will in future be sent to that place are to be sent to Western Va.
The opinion is gaining ground that we will soon be ordered forward, and I judge from the workmanlike manner in which our new Secretary of War has taken hold that something will soon be done on the side of the Union forces, both upon the Potomac and in this State also, that will tell with killing effect upon rebellion. The late call of the Secretary to the Governors of the eastern States to know how many 30 days men they can furnish to man the forts, in and around Washington, for the purpose of allowing the present forces in that quarter to move upon Cecessia, looks like business and we now have something to hope for in that direction. I am in hopes that the forces in this State may make a speedy movement and close the campaign at once before warm weather is upon us, which is more to be dreaded than secession bullets, for if the present warm weather is a correct specimen of the southern climate, it must be scorching indeed, during the summer months. The weather to day was a good specimen of a very fine Spring day in Ohio the sun was shining so warmly, that it was quite uncomfortable for one to wear a coat.
I received a letter from Juliet yesterday. I wrote to Juliet a few days ago in which I stated that I had sent my Blouse, a pair of drawers, and a shirt, home in Lieut Woods trunk, which was correct, with the exception of the trunk not being sent, as Wood agreed to do, and I will keep them until I get an opportunity to send them.
I wrote to you last sunday and gave you the result of the election in Co I. which in one respect did not result as I anticipated, that is in unfairness about appointing non commissioned officers, it was all fairly and honorably done and no person I believe has reason to complain of partiality on the part of Capt Vantine. I intend to do my duty in all respects and endeavor to merit promotion if I fail to receive it, Capt Vantine and myself are on the best of terms contrary to my expectations. I will pay attention to your instructions that you gave me in regard to taking advantage of circumstances &c, &c, &c
I should like to hear from Mr Vetter.
love to all, Robert
Bacon creek, Feb 8th 1862
Dear folks at home
Feeling in pretty good humor, to night I concluded to improve a few moments by writing to all the folks at home at the present time. Matters and things, go on in about the same ration as ever, Roll call early in the morning, then breakfast, after that comes Guard mounting, Drill, then dinner, then dinner, a little more drill, then Dress Parade, and so on day after day, with no excitement whatever if I except a camp rumor now and then of an impending battle between the Such and such forces, and that we are to be immediately ordered forward &c. but a large Camp without an occasional rumor of that description is almost a moral impossibility. Speaking of drilling, puts me in mind of the fact, that Major Strong 21st O.V has undertaken the task of making a model Co of Co I. and to that effect, he is taxing all his energies to perfect us in the drill, and I may say that he is meeting with pretty good success. I don't wish to boast, but Gens Sill and Mitchel, both declare that the 21st has no superior in his Division, which is saying a good deal, as the 10th Ohio is in his Div. In a former letter, I spoke of the Battery of 10 pound Parrot guns that was attached to our Div[.] Well a few days ago they were out practicing throwing shells at a target a distance of upwards of ¾ of a mile, and out of a number of shots fired, five penetrated through the bulls eye, a spot of about two feet in diameter, now what do you think of that don't you think that they will do well to depend upon? Such firing as that cant be beat by Buckners artillery every day, I opine. We are daily expecting the Paymaster along this way, and I think it about time he was making his appearance, as we have already something over three months pay due us. When I look back, I can hardly realize, that I have been in the service almost six months, but such is a fact, but time appears to pass much faster in the service than elsewhere, I received a letter from A. H. Rice, written from camp Chase, he says the mud is some in that camp, which doubtless is very true. I will write to William on sunday, Wm had not arrived when he wrote but Al said he was daily expecting him. St Valentine's day is close at hand if one might judge by the large number of Charicatures and pictures of gilt winged Cupids that are being sold in camp both by the Sutler and new boys. I wish some one of you would tell Mose Willson I am waiting for an answer to that letter I wrote him some time ago. I received a letter from Washington Boggs, and also one from E. Haynes from Camp Dennison a few days ago. W. Boggs said that in all probability their Regt would be disbanded Why don't Mr Vetter write to me any more, I am anxious to receive a letter from him. Tell Willie to write to me This letter is to all, in fact is to be considered a family letter
Camp Jefferson, Bacon creek K.Y. Feb 9th__62
I have just received a letter from you, and as you say, a good letter from home is a sure preventive against the blues. Yesterday I received a letter from Mother, and you also wrote in the same letter, which was very gratefully received, and taken in place of blue pill, Yesterday I went up to Division Headquarters (Genl Mitchels) on business for Capt Vantine, for the purpose of procuring a discharge for Andrew Harrison who is to be sent home shortly on account of disability for duty.
While there I had the pleasure of seeing a dog, that was brought from The Arctic regions by the celebrated Dr Kane, the dog is owned by Dr Swift, Div Surgeon of our Division[.] he was recently offered, (it is said) $300,000 in gold for the animal and refused to sell it for that amount[.] It was without an exception the finest animal of the canine species that I ever saw, the hair was about five or six inches in length, and of a black and white color. He had a very intelligent look and in fact, was just such a dog as I should like to have, and he looked as though he was capable of drawing a very heavy load.
In your yesterday letter you spoke of a certain young man by the name of Kelly, that ahd lately made his appearance in E. by the description that you gave of him, I should judge that Keightsly had better keep his eye open or fall behind.
I was sory to hear that old Sols fierce rays had cheated the young folks of E out of that contemplated sleighride, but never mind winter is not yet over, and there may yet be a plenty of chances for pleasure trips ere the spring arrives. George Claghorn was just now in our tent taking the names of those who were in need of knapsacks, canteens, &c I ordered a canteen as I lost mine while at Prestonburg and shall need one on the march. Col Norton says that the bad condition of the road is the only thing now that delays our march, and as soon as the roads will permit, will pull up stakes and march for Dixie.
Yesterday we recd the news of the fall of Fort Henry and of the capture of two rebel Generals, good news. Tell Father that Johny is now out on picket and will not be home before tomorrow, when I will see him and find out about that bill from Frohnes and write immediately. I will also write to mother at the same time, As I must write to William this afternoon I will stop (PS) I listened to a very able sermon this forenoon preached by Capt Gaddis, Chaplain of the 2nd Ohio. It was the best sermon I ever listened to.
Give my love to all. When you write direct to AL direct Lieut Rice Co F 72 o.v
The Advance Divisions of Buells army
Camp in the woods one mile in advance of Green river and Munfordsvill K.y.
Feb 10th 1862.
Last night just after having gone to bed, and as I was lying on my back, talking to some of the boys, We heard tremendous cheering in the upper end of our Division and while we were wondering what could be the matter, the cheer was caught up by the neighboring Regts and as the sound was borne along on the breeze, it extended to the 4th Ohio Cavalry as well as both of the Artillery Batteries, and it appeared to be contagious as, the next moment, the 21st broke out into one long, loud, hearty, ringing cheer, by this time I had grown quite curious to know what was up, and got up for the purpose of ascertaining, when in rushed one of the boys, explaining, boys have you heard the news? Marching orders for Mitchels Div. be ready to strike tents at 7 oclock tomorrow morning, so there at last the cause of the commotion was explained, now perhaps there was not some stirring about, rations were to be cooked and all things put in order for an early start in the morning. Morning at last came and we marched out of camp, the 2nd Ohio leading and the 21st immediately behind the 2nd and the remainder of the Div bringing up the rear, We arrived at Munfordville at about 12oclock and after stopping about half an hour or so we started to cross the river[.] We crossed upon the top of the R.R. Bridge which had been crossed over with plank. the Cavalry crossed over on it, as well as the teams and wagon. There is a low rail of of about two feet in height up both which prevent on accident by falling over the edge, which would prove a very dear fall for a person, as the track is about 125 feet above the water. How shall I describe that bridge, I am aware that I cannot do justice to it and therefore will not attempt a description of it, but will merely say, that the bridge is mainly constructed of cast iron, but when it was rebuilt, the new portion was constructed of wood. The main part of the bridge is 1100 feet in length and I believe there are three piers and two abutments, built the whole way up. I should say there was about250 or 300 feet rebuilt, the new portion of it, looks rather slim, in comparison with that portion that is constituted of iron, but I suppose it is strong enough for all practical purposes. After crossing the river we marched about one mile and a half and camped in a very fine spot in the woods. We are about one mile from the river. The pickets of one of Gen McCooks regt are stationed but a few rods from our camp, but I think after this they will be pushed a little farther as we are now encamped upon the ground lately occupied by them. It is said that one of the pickets was shot dead about forty rods from our camp, a week ago last Sunday, and since that time the pickets have been doubled. I saw the place where the soldiers of the german regiment were buried, that were killed about (four?) weeks ago during their engagement with the Texan Rangers, there were ten graves, and there was a nice picket fence built round their graves. We passed over the ground where the fight took place. The U.S. troops have thrown up fortifications on this side of the river for the about a half mile in length, for what purpose [I] know not, as I don't believe Gen Buell intends to move before he is ready and I don't think he intends to make a backward movement either after starting. I don't know how soon we are to be called away from here it may be tomorrow, or it may not be fore a week or month, but I think in all probability we shall start southward before long, as every thing at present is tending that way. Munfordville is a small town of about 200 or 300 inhabitants I should say, and does not possess a very prepossessing look, but I must close
Love to all I will write to mother next time I would write to night but it is almost time to turn in and after 1/2 past eight we are not allowed to have lights burning. Direct to Munfordville camp,care Capt Vantine &c
Camp Madison, Green river Feb 12th 
We have just received marching orders once more, awe are to leave in the morning, I suppose it is to be an advance upon Bowling green at last. God grant it may result prosperously to our forces, but of one thing you may rest assured, our entire Army will, I believe to a man do its duty in the hour of trial came when it may, and now for once since entering the service we are in a position to strike a blow for the defence of God and our Country, I think I may truly say. Oh hasten the time when we can say the Cause of the good old Stars and Stripes have at last been vindicated and we can prove to Jealous Nations and England especially, that a Republican Government can sustain itself successfully against the machination of all the Devils, in human shape that can be brought to bear against it. But as great preparation are to be mad between this and morning and two days rations drawn and cooked I will close by saying that our Div is top take the advance, as Gen Mitchel said that in case he was not awarded that honor, he would immediately resign, ours is to be the second Regt in the advance the 2nd Ohio leading. You will hear from me on the first opportunity. Give my love all my friends and tell them I hope they will never be called upon to blush at the mention of my name, as I am determined by the help of God to do my duty to my Country if I perish in the attempt.
Bowling Green Feb 16th 62
As a train of wagons is to leave for Bacon creek in a few minutes I seize this opportunity to let you know that we are at present on the banks of the barren river, directly opposite Bowling Green, We arrived here last night after having made forced march of 42 miles in two days. Yesterday afternoon we made a march of 16 miles in 4 hours without stopping once to rest, it was the hardest march I ever made. Our advance occupied the town yesterday aft at 2 oclock and the town was shelled by (Loomis'?) battery of Parrot guns, the citizens fired about 12 houses and they were burned to the ground. I will write tomorrow and give you the particulars as I will have to close.
Bowling Green, Feb 16th 1862 [17th?]
I wrote you a short note yesterday and on account of not having sufficient time I was obliged to cut it short, but I now propose to give you an account of what has taken place since we left Green River. We left Green River last Thursday morning and marched 19 miles that day, We found the road obstructed in many places with fallen trees and all manner of obstructions, and the road for miles had been plowed up, for the purpose of delaying our Artillery and wagons, but it was of no use, the Yankees would not be balked, we had a corps of Sappers and Miners in advance all the time clearing the way for us. But now I must tell you of one act of the Devils that surpassed all others in point of meanness. The road led past several ponds of water situated, at from one to two miles apart, and to cut us off from using the water, the rascals, had driven in mules and stock of all description and deliberately shot them down, for the purpose of poisoning the water, which as a matter of course made the water exceedingly scarce, and we had to suffer accordingly, but what of that we were after them with a good prospect of overtaking them in a short time, when their chastisement was to be meted out to them in proportions to their mean actions and to judge by the conversation of the boys, it was to be terrible indeed. We arrived at Bells tavern in the evening after having marched 19 miles and encamped in a field at that place. The Station had been fired by a company of Texan Rangers the day before, and was still burning, which was another exhibition of meanness on their part. In the morning we were up early and off after them,
expecting to come up with them during the day, the distance from camp to B. Green being 28 miles, and after having gone about 7 miles, we could see smoke rising in dense clouds, in the direction of the city and concluded that our advance must have arrived and engaged the enemy, (but here let me say, that I wrote from Green River, that our Brigade was to lead the Division, I was misinformed, as there was two Brigades ahead of us both belonging to our Division as, ours was the only Div that left Green River,) we were then at a distance of 16 miles from the enemy, and a Courier was sent back to hurry up the Batteries, and then the Brigade ahead of us started upon double quick for the scene of the fight, and we started on a quick time, and kept it up for 16 miles without once stopping to rest, we carried all our effects upon our back knapsacks and all it was the hardest march I was ever called upon to make. We arrived at the river at dark and pitched tents for the night, and their fount out what had been done. Loomis's Battery had arrived at the rivers bank opposite the city, in time to see it being evacuated by the enemy, there was about 20,000 Rebel troops in the place when He commenced shelling it He threw about 150 shells amongst them and he saw a large number of them at the Depot engaged at loading provisions, they had the train about loaded and steam up ready to start, when he sent a shell amongst them hitting and disabling the locomotive attached to the train which of course put a stop to their operations in that quarter, the rascals then set fire to several other Locomotives, and also fired a lot of cars and the Depot, besides a lot of houses in the town and then left altogether. But I had forgotten to state that before our army arrived, the enemy had burned the wagon bridge, and destroyed the R.R. Bridge so that we could not get at them. The city was indeed well fortified, they had seven different fortifications, several of them were very strong, one or two in particular, the one on the side of the rover opposite the city being one of them, and one upon College Hill, the walls are bout 12 feet in thickness and including the sides of the ditch about 15 in height. That one upon College hill is principally composed of hewn stone, but doubtless you will have the dimensions &c of them in the papers. The rebels burned about 20,000 stand of arms, besides destroying a large amount of corned beef and sugar. We captured several hundred barrels of beef, flour, and sugar &c&c. There was but one rebel killed, the engineer of the locomotive, that was disabled he was killed by the shell that struck the locomotive. We are now encamped within the limits of the city upon the cite of a rebel camp, there are several of the houses in this part of the city that have marks of shells upon them. The second shell that was fired struck within 10 rods of the quarters of Genl Hardee. The ground in the vicinity of our camp is torn up in all directions by the shells of Loomises battery. A portion of our Division is still upon the other side of river, but our Brigade is now (as I said before) camped close to the city we crossed yesterday. To sum up the whole thing one Division of U.S. troops has at last occupied the far famed , and strongly fortified city of Bowling green.
You spoke of Capt Gibbs having arrived at home &c.&c. well I must not omit saying that Co I. Has of late been rapidly comeing up, in point of strength and discipline and Col Norton now rates our Co as second to none in the Regt. About a month ago to do our best, we could not get out more than 35 to 40 men on drill or parade when we now are able to turn out from 60 to 70, quite a change is it not, in the short space of four weeks. The boys all declare that it is all owing to having a commander that possesses their confidence. I understand by some of the letters that have been received by our boys that Cat Gibbs has been misrepresenting Co I most woefully, if such is the case or not the boys are all well satisfied with the change that has been wrought in it. I have just received three letters by mail one from home, and one from Wm and Lieut Rice from Columbus but I will write again in a few days and give you the rest of the news. We are to start for Nashville in a few days
Camp J.L. Adams near Bowling Green Feb 20th 
Doubtless, long before this letter reaches you you will have heard of the capture of the famous Bowling Green,. We, had long been expecting a hard fight at the above place, but it has been captured without a struggle on the part of its defenders, To judge by the number of its fortifications and of their strength I should have supposed that they would have made a stand, but confound them I believe that they are afraid of the irrepressible Yankee. I have no doubt you will read in the papers the particulars in regard to the capture of the city and of the large amount of stores that have fallen into our hands. The importance of this capture can hardly be over estimated, as it opens the whole of this portion of Kentucky to our forces, This district of the state is very rich indeed, there is a large amount of wheat raised, and in fact, I never saw finer land in any part of K.y Bowling Green is situated in Warren County B. Green being the County seat, it is a town of perhaps 4000 inhabitants and in general is well built, the houses are principally built of brick and there are some very fine ones in the city. Before leaving, the Rebels set fire to the Depot, a very extensive building, it covers at least 2 acres of ground, The building at the time of being burned contained locomotives, they were all partially destroyed, but a part of them are capable of being repaired. We captured one piece of cannon, a six pounder, and all its appertainance. The R.R. over Big Barren river, was principally constructed of iron, and just before our forces arrived, was blown down by the rascals. They also burned the wagon bridge, which impeded our progress very much, We are expecting a bridge every day, it is to be framed and sent from Louisville, we expected it to day, but it did not arrive. Yesterday afternoon we broke up camp, and moved down to this place, situated at a distance of 7 miles south of the city directly on the L.& N. R.R. The pike at this place, runs directly under the R.R. and there is a small bridge over the pike, which the Rebels burned, on their retreat from B. Green. The Mechanics are busily at work reconstructing it, and it will be completed by tomorrow evening. Last night our Cavalry captured a small town on the Memphis R.R. besides killing 6 of the enemy and captureing 2 locomotives, which will be very useful in our next forward movement, which will take place in a few days. Yesterday Gen Mitchel brought the news, that Fort McDonald, in connection with 15000 prisoners and Genls Buckner, Johnson, & Pillon had been captured. You should have heard the cheers with which the announcement was received I am in hope the report will prove true, as it will lend in a great measure, to shorten the rebellion, Oh! What a happy time it will be, when the war shall close, and we be permitted to return home once more. I cannot help thinking of that happy time, and the thoughts of it, tend to cheer me up, and encourage me to do my duty, hoping that the time will soon roll round when I shall be enabled to behold the faces of all the dear ones at home, and you all have the pleasure of shaking the hand of
Father, I wish you could send me a few postage stamps as I am out and there are none to be had in this part of the country
[Camp] Andrew Jackson
Nashville Tenn March 9th 1862
Last Friday I received another letter from home dated march 2nd and I cannot describe the feelings with which I behold one of thos yellow envelopes with that heavy plain direction of Fathers as it is handed to me, as I know full well, that I have once more received a letter from my dear home, I am glad to think that you are so punctual
[GAP (Torn page?)]
you spoke of X(?) Captain Gibbs intentions I make the assertion, that he will be entirely broke, at the end of one year from this time poor man, he should have acted differently[.] I have lost all confidence in him, since his arrival at Elmore, and the assertions that he has made in regard to Co I. however I bear him no ill will. Mother spoke of the U.S. Brethrens success of late, I am pleased to hear of it, there is quite a chance for a reformation in E. We have received news of the evacuation of Columbus K.y. I hardly know whether to credit it or not.
I begin to think that the back of Rebellion is broken and that a few more victories on the union side will terminate the struggle[.] The main body of the Rebels has fallen back upon Chatanooga Alabamma, distant from this place about 100 miles, doubtless wee will be called upon to advance upon them ere long. There is a small force of Secesh Cavalry in this vicinity in command of the notorious Morgan that are constantly putting us to a great deal of trouble, by firing upon our pickets and committing all sorts of deprectations, and, and yesterday afternoon while a number of horses and wagons were out on the road about two miles from camp for the purpose of foraging Morgans men made a dash on them and succeeded in captureing 100 horses and a number of teamsters, the wagons they undertook to destroy by fire but could not make them burn, Genl Mitchel came very near being captured himself, but got to camp and immediately ordered out the 2nd and 33rd Ohio and 10th Wis in pursuit of them, besides a large force of the 4th Ohio Cavalry they pursued them and succeeded in recapturing all the horses and teamsters besides getting 3 of the seces, and they are still after them with a fair prospect of capturing the whole of them. You can appreciate the audacity of the rascals when I inform you that our Cavalry pickets extend a distance of four miles from camp, and consequently they had to pass our pickets in order to surprise our men, but never mind they will run their head into a halter one of these times or I am much mistaken The country is now being scoured for miles in the direction from whence they came. Mother, as you say, I have seen the Elephant and have had an opportunity of viewing him in his different positions and can say that it is well worth the price of admission. The prices of everything in Nashville would astonish you, boots $20.00 per pair, coffee $1.00, Saleratus .65 cents and everything else in proportion. Ephrain Rice is going to Elmore and I will send $20.00 by him, I would send more but I had to pay $5.00 for my boots, and we only drew $26.00 two months pay.
whenever I need postage stamps I will write for them as they are not to be had in the Southern Confederacy
Camp Andrew Jackson
Nashville Tenn Mar 14th 1862
Thinking you might be anxious to hear from me, I seize this opportunity to inform you that I am still in the land of the living, and with the exception of sore feet, occasioned by blisters caused by marching, I am enjoying the best of health. I have not received a letter from home for some time, but expect a letter to day, I received a letter from Juliet yesterday, she wrote from Oberlin. You will remember, in my last, I spoke of the notorious Morgan, that was prowling round in this vicinity, committing all manner of depredations, Yesterday afternoon, quite a force of our troops were sent out in pursuit of him, Genl Mitchel had a large number of wagons ordered out for the purpose of carrying our boys, the plan was to proceed up the road to a point some 20 miles from this place, where it was supposed the scoundrel would be overhauled, Well after proceeding about 10 miles, they were met by Morgan and 20 of his rangers bearing a flag of truce, Morgan gave Mitchel to understand that he wished to see Gen Buell and have a conversation with him, whereupon, in company with Gen Mitchel, he went back to the headquarters of Buell, Mitchel leaving the wagons and soldiers in the road to remain until he should return, in due time they returned (Mitchel and Morgan) and the troops were ordered back by Genl Mitchel and arrived in camp this morning at one oclock I have not yet heard what disposition they have made of Morgan, but doubtless they will hold him prisoner[.] Day before yesterday, Genl Nelson moved up the road with a Brigade and it is thought he will have an engagement at a place distant from this place about 20 miles[.] That affair of Morgan's is enveloped in mystery, this same fellow has been cutting round in this vicinity ever since we arrived, and it is said he daily enters our lines, in the guise of a citizen and spies out everything that is calculated to forward his cause and hinder ours should he act upon information gained, I am in hopes Gen M___ will not allow the rascal to outwit him, We have received the news of the evacuation of Manassas and the defeat of Price, in Arkansas our affairs are still gaining in brightness and I look for a speedy reinstatement of Uncle Samuel's authority in what is termed the Southern Confederacy I know not how soon we are to be ordered from this point but I am of the opinion that our stay is to be of short duration, I think our next move will be to occupy Chatanooga and take possession of the R. Road at that place. Genl Buell's whole force is concentrated at this point, said to consist of upwards of 100000 men. But you see I must close as I am going to commen[ce] working on our pay rolls I have been detailed by the Capt to make them out.
In my next I will write to Willie
[March 14th 1862, to Sister (Juliet)]
I received your kind letter of the 6th inst, it came to hand last evening, and I can assure you, it was a truly welcome visitor, you can hardly imagine the amount of good that a good long letter from home! does me. home, did I say. well I suppose you call Oberlin your
to a great extent, as doubtless you are aware, in this vicinity the rule is, that a mans respectability is measured by the number of Slaves owned by him. During our late march a large number of contrabands had from time to time joined our army, with the intention of leaving their (much loved!) masters, when these facts became known to these afore mentioned amiable gentlemen, they immediately saddled their horses and started in pursuit, and without a single exception, they were returned to their lawful! masters. I pitied the poor fellows, as they appeared to feel so bad, doubtless anticipating a a score or two of lashes upon the bare back. But the Capt of Do D. is in possession of a fine little fellow, that he captured in Bowling Green. the owner of his property not being on hand to prove property and pay charges, and consequently, the little contraband will, if no unforeseen event should take place, see Ohio and breathe free air for the first time in his life. Such are the chances of war!
We are now in the midst of Secessionists of the most violent character, the city of Nashville as you are aware, having been a counterpart of Charleston S.C. but there are some Union citizens in the city also. When we arrived here the city was partially submerged on account of the recent heavy rains and presented a sorry appearance indeed. Yesterday we received the intelligence of the evacuation of Manassas, and the defeat of Price, McCulloch & Polk, in Arkansas. victory follows victory in rapid succession, and I now begin to believe that the war is to be of short duration. Have no fears in regard to the soundness of my heart, as I am not, nor have I yet been troubled with the heart disease but there is no telling how long I shall be able to say it with truth, as I see some very fine girls during my travels. but I must close
Camp Andrew Jackson, Nashville Tenn Mar 16th/62
My Dear Mother
I received your long and interesting letter last Friday, dated the 6th and 7th, and I was truly grateful, on the receipt of it. I also received those Postage Stamps that were in it. I also received those stamps that were sent in Juliets last letter, that she wrote before she left for Oberlin. I mentioned the receipt of them in one of my former letters I will not be in need of any more for some time but when I do I shall not hesitate to write for them, as they are not cometable in the Confederacy. We have been having considerable rain for the past few days, but it has concluded to dry up for a short time, and I am in hopes we shall have better weather as the Spring advances. I suppose to judge from the tenor of your letters that you are still having cold weather in your region, well as for this vicinity I must say that the weather is rather on the summer order, we, as a general thing are having very warm weather, the boys run round in their shirt sleeves, and barefoot and very comfortably at that. The plumb trees and peach are out in blossom and present a very fine appearance This is the finest country I ever saw, it is just hill enough to make it dry, and pleasant, and then the climate is delightful during the winter months, but I am of the opinion that we will get singed next summer if we remain south during the warm months. We are encamped upon a high hill, overlooking the valley, and the country is cleared up in most part, and there are some splendid residences within sight of camp. The Cedar grows wild on the hills, and the Planters can furnish their dooryards with the finest kind of shrubbery at small expense. The State Lunatic Asylum is located at a distance of about three miles from camp, we passed it a few nights ago, when we were rallied out for the purpose of reinforcing the Cavalry at the time they were attacked by the Rebels. It is a very large and fine building, The principle part of the building is four stories high and it is built of brick, it is the finest building of the kind that I ever saw. I have received a letter from William and answered it, he wrote from Camp Chase and I directed my letter to Paducah. Yesterday we received, (that is the 21st Regt.) 800 French Rifles, with their accoutrements. They are a fine little rifle, and in a trial that was made, they made better shooting than the Enfield rifle, with which the Flanking companys have always been supplied. I believe ours is the only Regt in the Division that is supplied with the French rifle. It is a much smaller and lighter gun than the musket, and of much smaller caliber. I hear it stated that in the next march, we are to have the advance, but it wont do for us to believe every camp rumor, and that would be too good news to be true as we have long been promised that position. I suppose long before this, that you have read all the news in regard to Nashville and its surroundings, in the papers and therefore I shall say nothing in regard to it. I sent the Nashville Patriot to Father the other day. There are three papers printed in the city at the present time. In one of my former letters I stated that I had sent some of my superfluous clothing in Lieut Woods trunk, and as he neglected to send it I informed you of the fact and stated that I would send them the first opportunity that offered, I left them in his trunk and thought they were there still, until yesterday when I went to get a shirt for Johnny Caldwell to wear, he having all his shirts in the wash. When Lieut Wood told me that he had sent all the clothing some time ago, and had directed the box to Gen Wight, and if the box ever arrived you can get my package by applying to G. Wight. Give my love to Father, and all the rest of the folks.
I suppose Ephrain Rice has got home. if he has, mention it in your next
Camp Van Buren, Murfreesboro Tenn March 23rd
My Dear Parents
Thinking you might wish to know something of my whereabouts &c and thinking I had better keep a letter written, so as to be ready in case an opportunity occurs for sending I write. The arrangements have not yet been made for sending mail, but I thought I might possibly have an opportunity of sending it to Nashville by a Teamster, or otherwise, I wish to keep you posted as far as possible, in regard to our movements. We broke up camp near Nashville on the 18th and started for Murfreesboro[.] We were told that it was 30 miles distant from camp, and intended to make it in two days easy march, consequently we made what we considered to be about one half the distance on the first days march, and encamped for the night, intending to occupy the town the following day. Toward morning it commenced raining with a fair prospect of keeping it up for some time, things looked quite dubious I can assure you, as we struck tents in that most unamiable rainstorm, ugh it was chilling but there was no use to give up to it so, and with the rainwater running down our backs and into our boots, and threatening to submerge the whole of us, we marched out into the road and took our way to the superannuated town of Murfreesboro, distant (it was said) 12 miles. After having gone several miles we asked some of the citizens how far it was to town, and were told, fifteen files, that was encouraging to say the least, but after going a few miles further and then being told that we were, seventeen miles from our destination I declare, I began to get discouraged, well we trudged on and on until we had the distance reduced to nine miles, and began to congratulate ourselves that we had got the road fastened at last, and were overhauling it finely, when happening to meet with a planter, we risked the question once more, how far to town, when oh! horror we were told, just twelve miles, I confess I felt very much like giving vent to a little profanity, but managed to check the unlawful inclination. Well to out the matter short after having marched just 21 miles, we camped within 5 miles of the town. I must say it was a hard march indeed as our overcoats had become completely saturated with water, and one of those coats it is said will hold something less than a barrel of water, That night we slept without tents, and in the morning after having shaken ourselves, we marched into town through another delightful rainstorm, ok it was so refreshing to feel that water running down our backs, why should we grumble, it was all ordered, for the good of our country, and if uncle Samuel ordained that we should be washed occasionally without soap, whose business was it, not ours I am sure, and if some of us were drowned in the operation, what matter, it was to be classes with the casualities of war, and let go at that.
During the march, we passed several cotton fields The cotton had been picked, but the stalks were standing, it is planted in rows, about two or three feet apart, and hilled up, something like corn, A field of growing cotton must be a very fine sight indeed, as the plants are planted in perfectly straight rows, and not a weed is left standing, I saw several cotton Presses I don't know whether you have ever seen such a thing or not, but I will endeavor to describe one.
In the first place, a large and strong box, the size of a cotten bail, is placed upon timbers and a frame is erected over it, with a large crop beam, and through this beam a hole is cut, with a thread cut in it, and a very lage upright shaft runs through this, also with a thread cut upon it, and on the top of the shaft, there is a long sweet reaching down to the ground, where I suppose a horse, or probably , a gang of Negroes is hitched and after the cotten is placed in the box, the whole thing is screwed down, and thus the cotten Is packed into bales, The whole thing is clumsily gotten up, but answers the purpose very well.
Murfreesboro, is a very old town, and contains a population of perhaps 5,000. It is situated upon Stones River, and in a direct line, is about 30 miles from Nashville. Before leaving, the Rebels burned both wagon bridges, and also the R.R. Bridge. Our forces are at present engaged in rebuilding the R.R. and one of the wagon bridges, there is a face of about 1000 men engaged daily, in getting out timber for the bridges. There are two pikes running into town, and one R.Road. On the same night that we encamped back 5 miles from town, the pickets of the 3rd Ohio, a few miles back on the road to Nashville were fired into, by Morgans Rangers, and had one man wounded in the arm, the 3rd Ohio Pickets fired three volleys into the rangers, when the latter fled, I did not hear the loss sustained by the Rangers but doubtless it was considerable, as they left a large amount of blood behind them, scattered in every direction on the road. The citizens of Murfreesboro are all undisguised Secessionists, and brag of it and declare that their troops will yet get us, but we are prepared for them in any shape whatever Charles Vantine, or Captain rather, wishes me to say, that he received that Power of Attorney, and that he received it to late to draw the pay when we were last payed off, but he will attend to it and draw (Jones?) his pay for him and send it when next we receive our pay, which will in all probability be in 30 days He would have liked very much to have drawn it for him but the Paymaster had left before it came to hand. Probably you will have the pleasure of seeing Geo Claghorn home in a few days, in the capacity of a Recruiting Officer, in case he should happen down your way, we all want you to help him all you can, as we stand very much in need of the men. Capt Vantine sends his respects to you all. I have experienced no bad effects from that wetting and don't expect to
Give my love to all, from Robert
Camp Van Buren
Murfreesboro Tenn Mar 30 1862
My dear Parents
I seat myself to inform you that I received a good long letter from Mother today, and that I also had the pleasure of receiving 3 day before yesterday, one from Aunt Mary dated the 17th, one from Father of the 13th and also one from Juliet of the 13th. I received all of those stamps, in four different letters nearly $3.00 worth in all, I acknowledged the receipt of a part of them in former letters, I disposed of $1.00 worth of them as you wished me to do. Mothers letter of the 23rd was written upon (Foolscap?), and you wished me to excuse you for not writing upon note paper, I would just say, that in future have no scruples in regard to writing upon Foolscap, as I had rather have long letters written than short even if the paper is not quite so stylish. You cant imagine how much good a good long letter does one. I am glad to think that you are all so punctual about writing. In several of you last letters, you have mentioned that you were having very high water, and one of Fathers letters stated that that pile of white ash lumber had capsized, which caused me to fear that he might lose some of that Sycamore, but in Mothers last, she stated that the water was falling, and I am in hopes that the lumber is out of danger, for the present. Capt. Vantine received a letter form his wife today, that stated that you lost about 2000 feet of Walnut, but it must be a mistake as you mentioned nothing about it in your letters, I was sorry to hear that the fence went off, but it can be again replaced. I suppose the engine is very badly rusted, if so, there is a good job for somebody to clean it up once more, I shall expect to see the engine bright and shining upon my return home. I received that three cent piece and intend to keep it and probably give you a chance of overhauling it once more, I was glad to hear that there was a prospect of business opening briskly in the spring. The 3rd O. Cavalry is this side of Nashville some of our boys have seen several of the Elmore boys, but as they arrived after we had left I did not get to visit them[.] Mothers last letter said that it was quite muddy in Elmore. There is quite a contrast between the weather at this point, and at E. I declare, I never saw anything to equal it, if there is any fault to be found, I think it is a little too warm. I guess we will catch it this summer down here, I am of the opinion that McClellan had better hide his head, if those wooden guns were sufficient to keep his vast army in check for so long a time. I don't wish to brag, but I am of the opinion, that had Buell been in command upon the Potomac, they would have left long ago. I am well pleased to see the western army taking such an active part in crushing the life out of the rebellion. Mother wishes to know something in regard to our Chaplain, Well I can only say that during the 7 months that he was in the service he did not average one sermon to the month, and those few, were so execrable, that the Officers of the Regt signed a petition, requesting him to resign, and he did so, and went home he left us at Nashville. He was a good man but not the person for Chaplain of a Regt. We have prayer meeting twice a week, Chaplain Gaddis of the 2nd Ohio of our Brigade preaches occasionally to our Regt. He is a very smart man. Mother you promised (in your last letter) to send me a Leslies upon the event of our forces capturing island 10. I shall look for it daily, but am afraid according to latest news, that it will be some time before that important event transpires as it is very strongly fortified. I will answer Aunt Marys letter next. Poor Athenia. She is left a Widow. As Brown has left for the west.
Camp Nashville Tenn [February-March 1862]
My dear Parents
We arrived at this place this forenoon, and I hasten to acquaint you of it. We broke up camp 8 miles this side of Bowling Green last Saturday morning. Co I. Had been ordered out on Picket, and as I had nothing else to do, I went with the boys, it commenced raining shortly after dark, and put in for the remainder of the night, and as a matter of course, we got completely soaked, and all things were progressing finely! When at about 2 oclock in the morning, a Corporal came out with the order to proceed immediately to camp, as we were to march by daylight, we immediately started for camp, where we arrived in due time, wet enough I can assure you. Rations were to be cooked before starting which occupied the remainder of the night. We left camp at daylight and marched through a drenching rain a distance of 16 miles and arrived at Franklin at one oclock, a town of about 1000 inhabitants where we took possession of the public buildings for quarters. In company with Mr Barnes, I visited the house of the Town Marshal for the purpose of drying our clothing, and were invited to take dinner with the family, and did so, While our coats were drying, we got well acquainted with the folks, and it being about supper time, we were pressed to stay to supper and we could hardly refuse such an offer and sat down to an excellent supper and after that had been discussed we remained and spent the forepart of the evening very pleasantly. I shall always remember their kindness toward us. The gentlemans name was Murphy, although I am confident, he was not an Irishman. The citizens generally, advocated the Union sentiment, and appeared to be well pleased with our advent. They stated that the Rebels went through that place upon doublequick, a few days before our arrival. We left Franklin next morning and marched 13 miles, Monday morning we again started and made 22 miles, and were then just 11 miles from Nashville. We camped in the open air without pitching tents, as we were to start in the morning at 4 oclock. We slept very comfortably as the weather is very warm where we now are. We left camp this morning at 4 oclock, and marched about 6 miles before daylight, and when we had arrived within 2 ½ of the city, we were ordered back 2 miles where we are now encamped Some of our boys went down to the city and brought the news that Nelson arrived with his Division this morning, by steamboat but he did not have the pleasure of capturing the city, as our Cavalry had already done so before him. It appears to be the heighth of his ambition to get the start of Gen Mitchel, as he had said that we should never have a taste of Bowling Green until he had taken it. And he has lately been straining every nerve for the purpose of arriving at Nashville before us, but how sadly has he failed in both instances, poor old fellow Genl Mitchel is one too many for him The enemy has retreated back 30 miles from Nashville and I expect we will soon be ordered to take another foot race in pursuit of him. Most of the Farm houses along our route had been deserted by the inhabitants, we met large numbers of them returning to their home. We are in hopes that the enemy may soon make a stand somewhere and put a stop to this infernal foot racing in pursuit of them. There is hardly a man in our Division but what had rather fight than chase them all over Gods creation. We crossed Ky. & Tenn line last Sunday afternoon at about one oclock P.M Direct to Nashville Tenn &c&c&c I will answer Juliets letter next.
Somewhere in the vicinity of Murfreesboro, Tenn;
between March 30th and April 12th, 1862
Dear [TORN PAGE]
There is little going on in camp at this time, and I hardly know what to write, that would be likely to interest you. The R.R. Bridge at this place is completed, and I believe the one situated 5 miles from this point, upon the same stream is about, if not quite finished. I am of the opinion that we are to move on in a few days, as I...
...all leafing out, and present a fine appearance, and no doubt for one to come from the North, to this point at the present time, he would be quite surprised to see the forwardness of vegetation. The Planters are having their land plowed and some of them have had their corn planted for nearly two weeks. We are quite anxious to hurry on and bring this fuss to a final settlement as soon as possible, we are afraid of the hot weather. This part of the State, that is, that portion lying immediately in the vicinity of Murfreesboro is quite heavily timbered. The timber consists of Oak, White ash, Hickory, and some Walnut. There is a Grist, and Sawmill (Steam) close by the comp, so close that we can hear the exhaust quite plain from our tents. Most of the Sawmills are circular mills. I don't think much of their land around here, it is to gravelly There is considerable cotten raised around here, but I have been told by those capable of judging, that the cotten is very poor, it appears to have suffered very much from drouth, and has a stunted appearance. I don't see any cotten being planted, and I understand the Planters have been advised to plant corn and sow wheat instead as they begin to find out that cotten is not quite King yet. In company with Lieut Wood I attended church in the town last Sunday, and listened to quite an able sermon[.] The minister undertook to impress upon the minds of the Congregation that this war was brought upon them as a judgement, and that if they did not repent, and humble themselves, they were soon to be stripped of all their property, &c &c . The meeting was closed by prayer from one of the Brothers who prayed, that the time might soon come, when the foot of the invader would no longer press their soil and he also prayed for their sons and brothers that were on the field of battle. I admired the old fellows grit, even if I could not endorse his sentiments, there are few union men in this vicinity. Love to all
Huntsville, Alabama Apr 12th 1862
You will see by the heading of this letter that we are at last on the last tier of States and consequently in one of the Gulf States. Hurah! For our side, who would have thought that our Division could possibly have marched through two belligerent States, without so much as seeing a fight, but such has proved to be a fact. Bowling Green, Nashville, and several other important points have fallen into our hands, but where are those tremendous resources of the Rebels that were to be brought to be against us with such telling effect, where are all those numerous and well equipped armies with which they were going to impede our march and put our forces to flight, echo answers, where I can tell you where look at Fort Donelson, that was the wedge that wrought destruction among them, it split their forces asunder and scattered them to the four winds, and they have been pursued so constantly, and untiringly for the last month, that they are at a loss, which way to turn, and I am going to tell you how close we were upon their heels, at this point. I wrote to you from Shelbyville and told you that we were expected to march in the morning for Corinth but was mistaken in regard to our destination, we left Shelbyville the following morning and arrived at Fayetville that afternoon at (3:40) making in all something over 25 miles marched that day, a pretty good march for us as we carried knapsacks, and everything that we had we remained in camp all night and until noon on the following day, and then started for this place[.] After marching about 10 miles, we camped, and slept in the open air, as our teams failed to arrive until midnight. Gen Mitchel, in the meantime had gone one with another Brigade, and was at that time about 10 miles in the advance. Gen Mitchel sent back an order for our Brigade to march at 2 oclock in the morning, but we were delayed some and did not get on the way until 3.30 after marching a short distance we distinctly heard cannonading in the direction, and concluded that something was being done, (we crossed the state line at sunrise) we hurried on and arrived at within about 1 ½ miles of town, at a little after noon having made about 18 miles since morning, and that over the worst kind of roads, in one place we came to a creek where there was no bridge and we were obliged to climb across upon logs, it took an hour to cross. after arriving here we found out the cause of the cannonading, our advance arriving found the enemy still here, and engaged in running off Army Stores, and Simondsons Battery opened on one of the trains and succeeded in stopping, and capturing it, as they also did with some 15 other Locomotives 17 locomotives and 40 cars with some 200 prisoners were taken. most of the locomotives are new and in the best condition. at first we heard that the number of locomotives captured was 15, but the facts are that we took 17. It appears that the Rebels were taken completely by surprise. You are doubtless aware that this is the Memphis & Charleston R.R. and what might be called the Jugular vein of the Confederate States. They have always had complete control of the R.R. and it has proved of incalculable benefit to them. If we had arrived 12 hours sooner we should have intercepted 6000 of the rascals, who were passing through by R. Road for the purpose, it is supposed of reinforcing the Rebel army in the direction of Corinth. Mitchel has been very active since we arrived he has several of the Locomotives in constant use, he places a cannon upon a platform car, with the Locomotive shoving it and with a train of soldiers in the rear of the Locomotive and in that manner is scouring the road in both directions, day and night. He is expecting an attack every hour and I am writing with my cartridge box on, and my rifle stacked in front of the tent, as is all the rifles of the Regiment every man is ready to fall into line at a moments warning. There has been an expedition sent out for the purpose of burning bridges and tearing up track and if it fails to accomplish its purpose, it is expected we will see some fun. well let them come The train carrying the men and cannon going on the expedition, passed our camp a few hours ago. The cannon was in front and the soldiers on the train behind the Locomotive. I believe it consisted of one Regiment. Three companys of our Regt. A.F. and C. went on a secret expedition shortly after arriving they have not yet returned and I dont know the result of the expedition. I have not yet been into the town but it is in sight from our camp and I can see several large buildings and conclude that it is a town of considerable importance. We hear several reports from Corinth one is that a battle has been fought in which we (lost?) in captured 6000 men and several pieces of cannon, our forces then fell back to the river, under cover of our gunboats, and the Rebels were forced to fall back in turn, I dont know what is to believe, and am afraid that we have met with a disaster in that direction. I don't know how this matter is going to terminate, there is only one other Brigade here beside that of ours, but Gen Mitchel has sent a courier back to hasten on another Brigade to reinforce us. I have no means of knowing where Genls McCook, Thomas , and Nelsons Divisions are but they should be somewhere in this vicinity at least in supporting distance It is almost impossible to compute the importance of this last move as it places us in position to control this R. Road running from Memphis to some point in the east, some say Richmond but I dont know where it terminates in that direction. I received a letter from William while a Shelbyville he was well, and expected to make a march inland in the direction of Corinth, it was dated March 23rd. I am very anxious to hear something definite in regard to the Corinth affair.
Huntsville, you will perceive by examining the map is within about 15 miles of the Tennessee River, and doubtless our supplies will reach us from that direction comeing up the river by steamboat. Since comeing into this State I have seen some of the finest country I have yet passed through, it even surpasses Tennessee, The trees are all in leaf There is not much heavy timber, There are some very high hills. We passed quite a lot of cotten, in bales, so you see the Rebels have not yet decided on burning their Staple. There is any amount of wheat raised in this vicinity. Love to all from Robert Caldwell
Huntsville Alabama Apr 13th /62
My dear Sister
Thinking you might possible feel anxious in regard to my welfare I seat myself to let you know that, although we have been for some time past doing some pretty tall marching yet I am happy to inform you that I am still in the land of the living, not yet having run my legs off, in pursuit of the fleeting rascals
If you will consult a map of the Southern States you will see Murfreesboro is situated upon the R. Road about 30 miles south of Nashville. That was the first town at which we arrived, after leaving Nashville. We lay there something more than a week and then started for Shelbyville, where we arrived after marching 30 miles. We made that march during a portion of two days, we lay at that town 3 days, and then moved on Fayetteville distant 25 miles where we arrived that same afternoon at 3.30 which I consider to be a pretty good march considering we carried knapsacks and all our accoutrements. The next day we left camp at noon en route for Huntsville Alabama, distant 30 miles. We marched 10 miles that afternoon, and slept without tents, on account of our teams not arriving with our baggage. Next morning we received a dispatch from Gen Mitchel, directing us to hurry on and consequently we broke up camp at 3.30 and marched to reinforce him. We arrived at this place a short time after 12 oclock and found that our advanced Brigade had succeeded in captureing 17 Locomotives and 40 cars. Also some 250 prisoners[.] The enemy were engaged in running off provisions not expecting our forces on so soon. Simondsons Battery opened out on one of the trains that contained several hundred Southern Soldiers, but failed to hit it and the train escaped. Shortly after arriving a strong force was sent up the R. Road in both directions on cars, with a cannon on each train. The one that went east proceeded some 60 miles in the direction of Chatanooga and captured 3 Locomotives and 20 cars, and as we were only about 8000 strong at this point, with no other troops within supporting distance, and fearing an overwhelming force might be precipitated upon us at any moment from the East by R.R. our General was obliged to destroy one bridge to break the connection between this point and Richmond or some other point in that direction from which the might send an army. The expedition that went down the track in the direction of Corinth met the enemy 2000 strong at Decatur and drove them from the town. You are aware that we are now located on the Memphis & Charleston R.R. running from Memphis to Richmond, there are several branches intersecting this road from the South and it is one of the most important Roads in the Southern States. W have been expecting an attack ever since we arrived and yesterday we had orders to keep our Cartridge boxes on and guns ready to fall in at a moments warning Yesterday we received the news of the Battle of Corinth. I was glad to hear of the defeat of the enemy, but am almost afraid to receive the particulars for fear that some of my friends may have fallen. The (72nd) was in the Battle I understand and possibly Wm may have been wounded.
Give my respects to all my friends
I read your letter
Camp Taylor. Huntsville Alabama Apr 14th/62
My dear Parents
As I have some spare time I propose to improve it by writing to the dear ones at home. I wrote day before yesterday and gave you an account of our late march and arrival at this place. Those expeditions that I spoke of in my letter effected considerable. The expedition that went east proceeded some 60 miles and captured 5 locomotives and 20 cars and returned safely to camp. That one going west proceeded as far as Decatur 20 miles from this point and drove 2000 of the enemy from town they having set fire to the town before leaving it, our forces (beat?) the flames out for the citizens.
We have received the news (since I write last) that Corinth has fallen into our hands and that the Rebels have been whipped out completely with great loss of life on their side, it is also stated that our loss was very severe, I have heard that the Lieutenant Colonel of the 72nd was killed[.] I am afraid that when we receive the particulars, we will hear of the death of some of our friends. I heartily hope that such may not prove to be the case. Oh that our Regt. Could have been in that fight, it must have been glorious. We no longer apprehend an attack at this point, since receiving the late news
We also heard of the surrender of Island 10 and of the capture of 6000 prisoners and a large number of Siege Guns. We have also heard of the capture of Richmond, but I don't credit the report, that would be too good. I cant say how long we may lay at this place, there are all sorts of rumors in regard to our moving and one hardly knows what to believe. The prisoners at this place are daily taking the oath of allegiance, and returning home. I saw 3 men of that persuasion that were wounded at Corinth on the first and second day of the Battle, they were sent up here to the Hospital and of course fell into our hands.
The last time I received a letter from home was while we were lying at Murfreesboro, and I am quite anxious to hear from home. I received a letter from William, while lying at Shelbyville, it was dated the 23rd I believe. We are expecting letters every day by the Division Train. I don't know when you will receive this but I am bound to write often, as I know how much good letters must do you, I judge by my own feelings as there is nothing in the world does me so much good as a letter from home. This country is quite mountainous there are some hills near camp that in the morning and evenings extend into the clouds, I don't mean that the hills are higher at one time of day than another, but the clouds are lower at certain times than others, and they look grand indeed as they [roll] down the sides of the mountains, it is the first time I ever witnessed such a scene[.] This is a very fine Country indeed and I should enjoy living here if it was not for the accursed institution of Slavery. I declare I am actually tired of seeing their black countenances but I must quit as paper has given out. I wrote to Juliet yesterday. Give my love to Aunt Marie and Willie
Huntsville Ala. Southern Confederacy Apr 17th 1862
My dear Parents
I have not yet received any word from home since leaving Murfreesboro, and am getting quite anxious to hear from home, of course the fault lies in the Mail arrangements not yet having been completed as I know full well that you write regularly, and I don't know whether or not you receive my letters, but I endeavor to keep you posted in regard to our movements[.] We are now getting to be quite a long distance from home but every march we make brings us still nearer the end and that thought cheers us up, and nerves us to endure the fatigue of long marches, and exposure of all descriptions The Town of Huntsville has been placed under Martial Law and Col Norton is Provost Marshal, and of course our Regt is used as Provost Guards, that is they act in the capacity of Policemen, and constantly patroll the Streets picking up all unruly persons, who are then brought before Col Norton to be examined, and if found guilty of any misdemeanor, punished accordingly[.] Genl Mitchel hearing that a force was collecting at Florence for the purpose of surprising us at this point took it into his head to turn the Surprise in a different direction, and consequently he sent a force by R.Road consisting of 4 Regts of Infantry and 3 Batteries of Artillery[.] The 2nd Ohio went from our Brigade. The plan was to go within 15 miles of Florence by R.Road and make the remaining 15 miles on foot by daylight. The expedition started night before last and consequently if the plan worked well, our forces engaged them yesterday morning at daylight. We have received rumors of a fight, but no particulars. We have not yet received the particulars in regard to the fight at Corinth, but at last accounts our forces were, a little ahead[.] This morning we moved our things to a new camping ground, situated just on the outer edge of the city[.] Our forming camping ground was on an island in the creek that runs out of the city. The boys called it Island 10, and this morning, witnessed its evacuation.
You will not have to strain your imagination much to believe that we are in a Secesh community, when I tell you that five different Churches in the city gave up their Bells to the Southern Confederacy for the purpose of having them cast into cannon, and hereafter I suppose they will, (after they have been transformed) give a much louder and sharper sound. It was said that they would furnish a sufficient amount of metal to cast two Batteries of cannon. They were sent to Richmond for the purpose of being transformed into Shooting irons[.] They must be getting short of material in the South. A few more such affairs as Island 10 has proved, will set the rascals to running up their Car wheels into cannon well let them work, the more they manufacture, the more we will capture. There was several cannon manufactured in this city, at the machine shop of the Memphis & Charleston R.R. I saw several today that had not yet been mounted. The Shop formerly furnished employment for some 200 hand, but since our arrival business is rather dull in that line. The enemy was taken completely by surprise as they said we would never trust ourselves in this direction but the result speaks for itself. I wish I could hear from William. I am anxious to know how fighting agrees with him. We expect our mail tomorrow and I am looking for a good time, reading mine. I am in the best of health
Love to all
April 21st /62
Camp Taylor, Huntsville Confederated States of America
My Dear Mother
At last I received a letter from home it came to hand yesterday, dated apr 6th. You can imagine how much good it did me as I had not heard from home for more than two weeks. You stated that you received five letters from me that week I thought they would arrive at some time or other. I have been informed that we have only a weekly mail, although the mail leaves the Regt every morning, yet it goes no farther than town until the Division mail leaves. I have written several letters since arriving at this place. I wrote to William yesterday. I have heard that the 72nd was among the first to receive the fire of the enemy, I am anxious to hear from Wm. I also received that letter of Wms enclosed in yours. He is kept busy enough to judge from his letter. I do wish I could meet with the 72nd and I think such a thing is possible, as a portion of our Division now occupies Florence, and we are on the R. Road running to Corinth. I wish by some means or other that we could be placed in the same Division, but I am afraid no such good fortune will ever befall us. Ours is a marching Division or at least it possesses that name, as it has never had the good fortune to get a ride since leaving Louisville until we arrived at this point, and I sincerely hope on the event of our being discharged that we will be called upon to march home. Last evening as the Pickets of the 3rd Ohio were returning to camp on the cars they were fired into from the side of the road and a Capt and a private both received a heavy load of shot, in their shoulders, they both fell from the cars, and the train stopped in time to pick them up, and capture one of the rascals, The wounded men are both doing well at last accounts.
Today (Sunday) is easter if I am not mistaken. It is a wet, rainy, day, and it may be that you are having snow, as we generally have a snow storm upon easter. Eggs are an expensive luxury just at this time, as I have seen them sell at 30. and some of the boys have even paid as high as 60 cents per dozen, so anxious were they to obtain them, that they were willing to pay even 5 cents apiece. I suppose Willy is just about killing himself eating eggs today, I am of the opinion that Government will not discharge any of her volunteers until the close of the war, as the Government is in as much need of Soldiers at present as at any other time, and a volunteer is equivalent to a Regular in my eye, so far as fighting is concerned. The Rogues are not all in the Army it appears, as John Ryder can testify.
From late accounts I am brought to believe that Genl McClellan has already taken dinner in Richmond, as I hear that city is in his possession. You spoke of a natural well, in the vicinity of Nashville, I did not see it, but head some of the boys speak of a natural well that they had seen. We were kept so close to camp that it is almost impossible to visit any of the curiosities in the vicinity. This side of Bowling Green about 6 miles I saw quite a large stream, that emptied into a large cave and disappeared in the darkness, I went into the cave as far as I could with safety. There was the ruins of a Grist mill in the cave, the Cave serving as a roof over the machinery. It was the greatest curiosity I ever witnessed. I was glad to hear that Father had at last got clear of Nellis, and nearly out of debt so far as others are concerned
Love to all
Camp Taylor Huntsville Ala Apr 26th/62
To day being a rainy day, I concluded to improve the time by writing to the dear ones at home. And now for Ideas wherewith to make a letter interesting. A few days ago (as I wrote in a former letter) a Capt and Private were fired at and wounded, by a concealed Rebel, at a place about 30 miles to the east of camp and that one man was taken prisoner and that another escaped, Yesterday Co. I. was ordered to take the cars and proceed to the place and institute a search in the neighborhood and if possible effect the capture of the rascal.
In due time we arrived at the place, and switched off at the town of Woodville, (The boys declareing it was a shame that they could not be allowed to visit home, when within four miles of it) A squad of men was detailed as Scouts to scour the country, and while they were out the remainder of the Co loaded some cedar Telegraph poles[.] After the poles were loaded we waited for the train to arrive on which we were to be taken to camp[.] In the mean time the Scouts returned without having effected anything of importance, and while we were waiting for the cars, several of the boys ransacked some old Groceries that had been deserted by the owners, not many valuables were found however and the cars arriving we all piled in once more and were soon whirling in the direction of camp, I say whirling because we did go whirling on account of the numerous short curves in the Road. We passed through several deep cuts excavated through the solid rock. also crossed several large Bridges that the Rebels in their haste had neglected to burn.
The Road ran through the Mountains, or rather through the valleys, and through some of the finest country it was ever my fortune to travel through. There is any amount of wheat raised in this vicinity, and some fields that I saw were already headed out, The cotton crop will be rather short this year, as the Planters sow wheat, and plant corn instead. The Planters hold quite a large amount of old Cotton I have seen several large piles of it stored in sheds and some lying out in the weather, which does not appear to spoil it. This is a poorly timbered country, and of course a poor place for Saw mill. I suppose you have heard of the promotion of Genl Mitchel he having received the appointment of Major General as the papers say, for gallant services in Ala so much for us, good for our Division it shows that our Services are being appreciated. Oh that I had a dollar for every weary step that I have taken since our Regt was assigned to his Division[.] I could then buy off these Southern Leaders, that still agitate the thing, and will continue to do so so long as they can make it a paying institution[.] It is my opinion that if our leaders had to take it afoot, and be subject to all the hardships that we undergo the war would very soon be brought to a glorious close. This dallying with the South dont suit me, instead of gaining a glorious victory at Corinth as we should have done, our Generals allowed themselves to be surprised, and after all barely sustained themselves, Genl Mitchel has scouted the country for 70 miles in almost every direction this may seem almost impossible but never the less it is true, he goes a part of the distance by R. Road and then the Cavalry take to their horses and Scout the country for milesin every direction[.] I will risk the enemy ever surprising Genl Mitchel enclosed please find one of His orders
I am in the best of health and Spirits
Huntsville Ala Apr 28th /62
The mail arrived yesterday, but I did not receive a letter, I was very much disappointed, as I was almost certain that the arrival of the mail would bring me at least one letter. I have received but one since leaving Murfreesboro and you may judge that the present finds me quite anxious to hear from home. However there was not a very large mail this time, and it is probable that mine has been detained in some way, or possibly captured. I heard (by some of the letters that were received) of the death of Franky Luckey[.] I cannot tell what my feelings were on that occasion[.] It seemed to me as though we have all met with a great loss, as Frank was universally known and beloved, and it was so sudden, but the Scarlet Fever is no respecter of persons, It is my opinion that Frank, had he been spared, would have been an ornament to society.
He will be missed very much in Elmore.
In my last letter I informed you of the promotion of General Mitchel, I understand he is to be placed in command of two Divisions, and assigned an independent command, that is to use his own judgement in regard to his movements, and be subject to the orders of no other General with the exception of the Secretary of War. It is rumored that he will soon move in the direction of Chatanooga, if so, I suppose we may at once get well shod preparatory to climbing the Cumberland Mountains once more, after the style of Eastern Kentucky, but who cares, or what would it avail us to care, Genl Mitchell is bound to make another strike in some direction, but he Lord only knows where it will be or how soon it is to take place if we once turn our faces in that direction, that land of Hills, Mountains Burned Bridges, Secessionists, and rascals of every known description and color. But I have almost any amount of confidence in our Commanding Genl.
Genl Mitchel in now concentrating his forces at this point preparatory to moveing upon Chatanooga. We expect Genl Wood's Division to day, who is to join us and be subject to the orders of Genl Mitchel
Dumonts Brigade has had a little Skirmish in the direction of Tuscumbia, but is now comeing in this direction. He succeeded in capturing one Parrot Gun at Tuscumbia a 10 pounder it is now laying in camp adjoining ours, Capt Somonson captured it, and it is now attached to his battery.
You would be surprised to see what expedients the Southerners resort to, to make change, Each Business house, or in fact any person that posses capitol enough can issue tickets of any small denomination subject to be redeemed by the person issueing them, when a person will present a sufficient number of them to amount to one dollar and upward That was the only kind of change in circulation in Huntsville upon our arrival, But since our advent silver has become quite plentiful, I saw a Citizen in camp a few days ago, endeavoring to exchange Southern money for U.S. Script, they seem to think a great deal of the Green Backs, notwithstanding it comes from what they term the Abolition Government. They are gradually acknowledgeing their Greater and confessing their sins, Well as Dow says, So more it be
Give my love to Aunt Mary and all the rest and tell her I would like to have her answer my letter that I wrote to her some time ago
Huntsville Ala Apr 28th /62
My dear Parents
Since sending my letter that I wrote today, to the office, I noticed a piece in a Cincinnati recommending that those wishing to send letters to any Regt in Mitchells Division, to direct in this style.
Co. I . 21st Ohio
Genl Mitchels Division
To be forwarded
We have just received orders to cook rations and be ready to take the cars at 7 oclock tomorrow morning, we go in the direction of Chatanooga The Division that we were expecting to arrive today did not make its appearance..
Gen Mitchel has built a floating bridge of (Cotton?) across one of the rivers in our route, but it is so dark I must close,