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Askew family Correspondence - MMS 1380
Robert, Matthew, and James Askew's letters to their sister Hannah, living in England. Robert who was a clergyman who did not join the service, explains the mood of the country in the Fall of 1861; Matthew who served in Co.D, 1st O.V.I. describes his experiences during the Battle of Stones River; James who was in Co.A, 12th O.V.I. writes about camp life in the Kanawha Valley and his brief period as a prisoner.
Dear Brother and Sister,
I sit down to write you a few lines, hopeing thay will find you in good health as they leave me at present.
I have often thought of writing to you, but something allways turned up so that my mind got onto something else, but you must excuse me, for I have great difficulties to contend with as all other soldiers has. Our Regiment has been laying here one year, the 4 day of next month, but I have not been with the Regiment all the time. I was taken prisner the 20th of May last and did not get back to the Regiment til the last of September. But I hope I shal never be taken again, for we ware used very rough while we ware in the southren states. I got very little to east and nothing to lay on for over a week but the heavens for a cover and when we got to Richmond we neaver got a blancket to lay on. They ware better than like. They put us in a large room and neaver let us out for 9 days. So then thay paroled us and sent us north and we are very glad t get out of the place. Thair was about 600 of us that left Richmond all at that time. They sent us to Baltimore, Maryland and thay kept us thair a forthnight and then they sent us to Columbus, Ohio. So then I sent down home or to Roberts, I call that my home when I am thair. But enough of that for the time.
I had a letter from Robert a few days ago and he sayes he has had a nother spel of the ague since I left, but he has got to work again now and he had very back luck last spring with falling of a scafold. Though he did not break his left but he would have got to work sooner if he had broke his leg. Thair was 2 of them fel of and the other man broke his leg and he got to work the first and was not so lame as Robert was. But if they have good luck thay can make that up.
Well, I must change my subject to the War again. I volentered on the 30th Day of May 1861 for 3 years and my time will be out on the 30th of May 1864, so that I have only about 5 months to serve. The soldiers gets better pay in the country than they get in England. The privates gets 13 dollars a month, that is about £2. 12 s. Besides 3 1/2 dollars for clothing a month, that makes very good pay and rations. Besides I am a sargent and I get 17 dollars a month and 3 1/2 dollars for clothing. That makes my pay a little over £4 a month. And we are in a country where we cannot spend much, for we are in the mountain, just out of the Kanawha Valley. Thair is a great deal of salt made in the Valley and we are keeping the southren gentelmen from gettin any salt and I think we will stay here this winter. We have put up winter quarters and thair is no rebbels within 50 miles of us. Thay are a very bitter class of people, but we are heming them in on every side. I think thay will have to submit just now, but we have had a great many traitors in our army or we would have wiped them out long ago. But I hope peace will be restored before long. We have a great many traitors now in Ohio. Thay tell us we are fighting for to free the Nigers. Well, we perhaps are now, but we didn't come out for that at first, but it has come to that now. But they should not have taken up arms against the United States, but thay thought thay would have it all thair own way and rule this country. Thay had both guns and amunition all in the south. Thay didn't leave any thing in the north, so that we could not fight any the first year. We had a few ould muskets and most of them ould flint locks. The first fight we went into we had only 10 rounds of amunition and that was all thay could rais for us and when we had fired that of we had to fall back and wait for some more. That was on the 17th day of July 1861.
The Kanawha is 200 miles above Cincinnati up the Ohio River and then we are 100 miles up the Kanawha. That makes us 300 miles above Cincinnati. The Kanawha River is in Virginia and it is a very big river. It runs out of North Carolina. It you can see a map, we are near Gawley Bridge.
I shall send you my photograph, but I cannot tell wheather it looks very like me or not. But the most of peopel that has seen it says it is a very good picture. But my uniform does not look very like ours. We have a dark blue lose jacket and sky blue pants and the pants look as if they ware white in the picture. It got them taken when I was donw this sumer and I think Robert sent one home in a letter some time ago. But I must bring my letter to a close. You must give my kindest to all your children and all enquiring friends. I have not heard any thing from Matthew for a long time and Robert had not heard from him since thay had the last fight at Chatanoga. That was in Tennessee State. I have been practising writing a great deal since I cam back to my regiment and I am improveing a great deal. So no more at present from your well wishing brother, James Askew.
P.S. If you write, direct to Robert. I am in the 12 Ohio Regiment, Infantry, Company A
Excuse my letter, it is only to let you know that I am in the Land of the Living.
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