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Henry S. Chapin Correspondence - MMS 1585
Henry S. Chapin wrote the following letters to the editor of the Perrysburg Journal while serving with Company F, 144th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
Camp Chase, Columbus
May 8, 1864
As is well known to the present citizens of Perrysburg and vicinity the 64th Battalion O.N.G. left the "principal city" of Wood County about 5 o'clock P.M. on Friday May 6. Concerning the departure, I need say nothing. After getting fully under headway, that portion of Company A in car No.-proceeded to make themselves as comfortable as possible. A portion amused the crowd by singing while another portion voraciously attacked a large pile of warm bread which was in one corner of our car and still another portion attempted to woo "gentle Nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep"- which wooing, honorer, was attended with remarkably poor success, at least so far as I was concerned.
If there ever was any doubt as to the ability of Company A to take care of itself, that doubt was satisfactorily settled several times during the night. First, a box was wanted wherein to put our provisions presto change- when the train started from Tontogany, a very fine one was aboard. There was a great demand for water, and "lively times" were experienced at the various stations to obtain a supply- but our car speedily has three buckets, a tin cup and tumbler; whence they were obtained I know not, but they came along. Soon after, some one conceived the idea that an addition to our commissary stores would be in order, and as the train was moving away from a depot, he jumped aboard with a box partly filled with lierting. Seats were scarce and as we were starting from another station a "sojer" came in with a chair coolly remarking that he was "tired of standing up." As we were taking out lunch, in the morning, another passed around a paper of sugar, candidly remarking -"hooked this last night." And another told how several of them had called up a grocery man in the night, very coolly adding that he made quick sales and small profits..
But enough of this. We arrived at Tod Barracks about 7 A.M. Saturday morning. At 8 o'clock we were marched to the dining hall for breakfast- where we beheld long lines of tables well filled with plates and tin cups, the latter filled with coffee. Piles of pepper and salt were scattered along at convenient intervals while large contrabands, with huge baskets, miscellaneously scattered huge ebony baked potatoes before the hungry guards..
There are now present in Company A [Ed. Note: this became Co.F] three commissioned officers- Capt. Cook, 1st Lieut. Bloomfield, and 2nd Lieut. Tyler- and 62 noncommissioned officers and privates. There are seven members of the company absent who have not furnished substitutes, vis: Charles Powers, George Rettig, James Thompson, Fred Treinschel, E.C. Carrol, J.R. Tyler, and Ethan Allen Higgins. The first four, it is said, are discharged for manifest physical disability. Mr. Carrol is a licensed pilot and is therefore among those released by order of the Adjt. Gen. of the State. But to the naked eye of a high private there appears no good cause why to two latter did not report of furnish substitutes..
Mr. Tyler, as is well known, made an effort to obtain the position of Quartermaster to the Battalion, but failed. If a man feels physically competent to serve as a Quartermaster should he not be considered competent to carry a musket or furnish a substitute?.
But what shall be said concerning the absence of the Editor of the Independent- the valiant Ethan Allen Higgins? Before leaving Perrysburg, I was informed by truthful persons that he had positively told them that he was going with the company. His failure to appear in camp is therefore unaccountable. He has furnished no substitute. What has become of him? Where is he? Did he start with us and fall off by the wayside? Did the reception of marching orders give him an attack of white liver complaint? Or did he-as many said he would-crawfish when the starting time came? There is a rumor in camp that the above named heroic Higgins applied for and somehow received a discharge. He has always been a wordy patriot and if he, as reported, shirked the giving of one hundred days to his country, he should thereafter be known as the "valiant crawfish.".
Saturday Evening-Directly after dinner today we were ordered to "fall in"- and after doing so we were marched to Camp Chase where we are now quartered..
Sunday Morning-Since writing the foregoing, I learn that the 64th Battalion from Wood County has been consolidated with the 19th Battalion from Wyandot County, forming the 144th O.V.I. The regiment is officered as follows:.
Colonel --- Hunt
Lieut. Col.- F.R. Miller
Major- M.D.L. Buell
Adjutant ---- Ayres
Quartermaster - J.R. Reid
Surgeon- Dr. Mounts of Morrow county
Chaplain- Rev. Mr. Baughman
Company G, 64th Battalion from Webster and Freedom townships has been broken up and the men and officers assigned to other companies. One company of the 19th Battalion has been similarly disposed of.
Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, Md.
May 16, 1864.
Today, for the first time since leaving Perrysburg, I have what may be considered a fair opportunity for writing--I shall therefore endeavor to give the readers of the Journal a brief account of the campaign of the 64th Battalion National Guards up to the present time..
We arrived at Camp Chase Saturday afternoon 7th inst. From that time until Wednesday nothing occurred, save the usual routine of camp life, the eating of army rations interspersed with seasons of drill, forming the principal labor required of us. Immediately after dinner on Wednesday 11th inst. the Battalion was mustered into U.S. service for one hundred days as part of the 144th O.N.G. Wednesday evening we received orders to be prepared to march at 5 o'clock the next morning with three days rations in haversacks. However, at 6 A.M. Thursday before the regiment left camp-marched to the Columbus arsenal, where we received arms-thence to Tod Barracks where those who felt disposed devoured a portion of the contents of their haversacks. At 3:30 P.M. we marched to the depot of the Central Ohio Railroad, and at 5 o'clock were under way for Pittsburg..
The greater portion of the regiment was placed in ordinary freight and cattle cars with benches for seats. During the first two or three hours, the greatest hilarity prevailed but soon after dark the floors of the cars, as well as the benches, were covered with sleeping Guards for the duties of the day had been such that nearly every one was in a condition to "sleep anywhere." .
During the night about two thirds of the train became detached and was left behind-the balance proceeding 10 or 12 miles before the accident was discovered. Fortunately no train was following immediately after ours or there might have resulted a disaster to the regiment more fearful than the ravages of war..
At 6 o'clock Friday morning we are at Bellair on the Ohio River two miles below Wheeling. From this point to Pittsburg the road runs along the Ohio valley at many points so near the stream that it would require no great obstacle to precipitate an entire train into the waters beneath; at other places we passed beneath towering precipices and through deep gorges of solid rock..
The scenery along the Ohio River is always beautiful but it was specially attractive to us who but a few days previously had left northern Ohio, with its bare forests and fields. The trees were clothed in green and we were constantly passing beautiful fields of grain, orchards in full bloom and vegetable gardens far advanced. In many places the banks of the river rise almost perpendicularly for two or three hundred feet, while others they slope away into a succession of beautiful hills, while scattered along their sides may be seen tracts of beautiful green, surrounding cabin, cottage, and stately mansion. The winding river with its steamers, the valley with its villages, gardens, green fields, and blooming orchards and the hills, with forests, fertile tracts, and dwellings of the rich and lowly all helps to form a scene far more beautiful than pen describe or painter portray..
About 4 o'clock Friday afternoon, just as the train was starting out of Rochester, Irvine Straw of Company G 144th, from Brownsville, Wyandot Co. who had been sitting on the top of the rear car attempted to get down and in so doing fell upon the track and the last car ran over him, causing instant death. He was about 18 years of age. His remains were properly cared for and sent to his widowed mother in Ohio..
We arrived in Pittsburg at 7 o'clock Friday evening and about 9 o'clock marched to the City Hall, where we found a bountiful supply of wholesome provisions and good coffee had been prepared for us. The Hall was brilliantly lighted and beautifully decorated with flags and transparencies. Opposite the entrance appeared in transparent letters, "Welcome 144th." Underneath this was "Pittsburg welcomes our Country's Brave Defenders." In front of the gallery over one entrance appeared in large letters "Pittsburg Subsistence Committee---Organized 1861." This Committee furnishes every regiment which passes through the city with a substantial meal. All honor to Pittsburg and her Subsistence Committee..
After supper was over, Colonel Hunt called the regiment to order, when he introduced Captain Cook of Company F, who made a few appropriate remarks complimentary to the patriotic people of Pittsburg. He concluded by calling for three cheers for our entertainers--which were given with as much energy as the bountiful meal we had just eaten would safely permit. Three cheers afterward were given for Captain Cook. We were then ordered to "fall in" and marched to the cars..
Concerning the 144th, the Pittsburg Commercial of Saturday 14th inst., says: "The 144th Ohio National Guard arrived in the city last evening on its way to Baltimore to report to Gen. Lew Wallace. It numbered 880 men, was recruited from Wood and Wyandot counties and is officered as follows: -Colonel S.H. Hunt, Lieut. Col. F.R. Miller, Major M.D.L. Buell, Adjutant Jonathan Ayers. After partaking of a substantial meal, furnished by the Subsistence Committee, Capt. Asher Cook, on behalf of the officers and men of the regiment made a neat speech, returning the heartfelt thanks of all for the kind and liberal manner in which they had been treated by the ladies and gentlemen of the Subsistence Committee. At the conclusion of his remarks, he called for three cheers and a "tiger" for Pittsburg, her people, her ladies in particular. We have seen many regiments entertained by the Committee during the past year or two, but none which behaved in a more orderly, quiet, and gentlemanly manner. Success and good fortune attend the 144th Ohio.".
After arriving at the depot, considerable time was occupied in preparing the cars for our reception, and it was after 2 o'clock before we were all on board. The cars occupied by most of the regiment were freight cars, with plenty of straw on the floors--and we found this a much more comfortable way of traveling for so long a distance than in the nicely furnished passenger car. At night we lay upon the floor and slept and when one wished a seat, his knapsack answered the purpose admirably. This may be considered by some as not a very genteel way of traveling and for the ordinary purposes of railroad conveyance might not be considered as "eminently proper"--still it just suited the members of the 144th..
Between 6 and 7 o'clock Saturday morning we arrived at Johnstown, a little village almost entirely surrounded my mountains and with iron-colored houses, inhabitants of which seem to be principally employed in iron working..
Our ride during the forenoon was through a "wild and picturesque" region--at many points, on one side of the road might be seen mountains of rocks two or three hundred feet high, while on the other hand were vast gorges almost as deep..
At 11 o'clock were arrived in Altoona, Blair County, a very pretty place of five or six thousand inhabitants, where are situated the machine shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Some distance westward from Altoona we passed through a tunnel under a mountain the length of which I do not know, but our train was two minutes in passing through it--during which time we were in darkness black as midnight. Between the tunnel and Altoona we passed sown a steep grade at one point of which there was a curve so short that our train of 20 cars, as it stood on the track, described almost half a circle--within which was a gorge at least 100 feet in depth..
We remained at Altoona over an hour, during which a majority of the members of the regiment made extensive additions to the contents of their haversacks- and it is doubtful that the provision groceries of that place have yet fully replenished the stock they then so summarily disposed of..
Soon after 12 o'clock we left Altoona for Harrisburg, where we arrived at 5 o'clock. Here we marched into a soldier's dining hall, where we were furnished with a supper of bread, coffee, and meat. After remaining her about an hour, our train was taken across the river--here spanned by two long bridges with an island between--where we remained until about 9 o'clock when we again started for Baltimore, where we arrived at 10 o'clock Sunday morning. Here we were furnished with a dinner of the inevitable bread, meat, and coffee--after which we marched to Fort McHenry, situated on the Chesapeake Bay, three miles from the city--at least from that portion of the city where we took dinner--where five companies of the regiment now are. The balance of the regiment has been sent to other points. Companies G and K arrived at Baltimore some hours before the rest of the regiment and were sent to Relay House, 10 miles from Baltimore, on the road to Washington, and at the junction of the Baltimore & Ohio and Baltimore & Washington Railroads. This morning (Monday), companies E, B and I left here-two of them for Annapolis and one for Fort Delaware..
It is expected that the companies now here will remain during our one hundred days as Lieut. Col. Miller has been detailed to act as Provost Marshall and Capt. Cook as Judge Advocate of the Post. The location is a pleasant one and if the powers that be ordain it, we shall not object to three months residence in this locality..
I should have stated before that the distance from Columbus to Baltimore by the route which we traveled is somewhat over 400 miles, to travel which took us 65 hours--more than twice the time ordinarily required to travel that distance. Ours, however, being a special train had to keep out of the way of regular trains--often being compelled to wait for 2 or 3 hours at a time..
Tuesday evening--May 18th: One company of the 144th left here this morning--for what point I have not been able to learn--and this evening the 4 remaining companies received orders to be prepared to march at 6 o'clock tomorrow morning--with one day's rations in haversacks--for the Relay House. Preparations for that event forbid any addition to this letter--which by the way is already too long..
Relay House, Md.
May 18, 1864.
"Oh! Were you ne'er a school boy,
And did you never train
And feel a swelling in your heart,
You ne'er shall feel again?"
I don't recollect who wrote the above yet I venture to assert that if the author's first military lesson had been a march of 13 miles, on a hot day, carrying a musket and accoutrements, with 20 rounds of ammunition, and a haversack full of rations, a canteen full of water, a knapsack containing a rubber blanket, a wool blanket, overcoat, vest, shirt, pair of drawers, socks, some writing paper and envelopes, a tin plate, cup, pocket inkstand, knife, fork, spoon, a printers rule, and a "fine tooth" comb- I say, if the author of the above lines had performed a good half day's march with the above mentioned fixtures attached, his song would have been from "t'other corner of his mouth, " and he would have written something like the following only more so..
"Oh! Were you e'er a soldier,
And did you ever train,
And feel a soreness in your feet,
You ne'er would feel again?"
That's what the matter with the undersigned tonight, as well as with numerous other members of this regiment whom I mention..
Companies A, F, D, and H of the 144th left Ft. McHenry about 7 o'clock this morning; marched to the city-about 3 miles distant- where we took a short rest and then started for this place- about 10 miles south of Baltimore- where we arrived at 1 o'clock P.M.
The impressions I received of the country between here and Baltimore were very warm ones: the road we passed over was an exceedingly sweaty one; and on arriving here I concluded that this was a very tired locality. However, I may hereafter form a very different opinion of this region and its surroundings..
Of the Wood County companies, F (from Perrysburg), and D (from Bowling Green) are in this camp- Captain Hathaway's company (from Pemberville) are at Fort Dix, half a mile south of us. Concerning the remaining companies I can give no positive information-although I believe the Gilead company is at Annapolis..
I have not learned of any serious sickness or accidents in the companies of this regiment from Wood County..
Thursday morning- Several of the boys present a very stiff appearance this morning; although I am reliably informed that it does not result from a desire on their part, to strictly adhere to the rules of military etiquette. Judging from the movements of some of the heavy privates of Company F, I should think they had been foundered about 50 or 60 times within the past 24 hours..
Lieutenant Colonel Miller remains at Fort McHenry as Provost Marshall of the Post. Captain Cook is with us..
If we remain here a few days I will endeavor to give you a brief account of our situation..
May 30, 1864.
Company F, 144th O.N.G. has again changed its base. On Friday evening last, 27th inst., Capt. Cook received orders to assume the duties of Provost Marshal of this place- and his company was ordered her to act as Provost Guard. We therefore received orders to prepare to move at 6 o'clock on the following morning-and at the appointed hour, we marched from Relay Barracks to the Depot, where about 7 o'clock we took the cars and in about half an hour arrived here- and at present writing we are encamped in a fine grove of oak, a short distance from the railroad station..
We occupy shelter tents which we brought with us from the Barracks. For the information of the uninitiated I will state that those we use are composed of four pieces of heavy cotton cloth-each about 2 yards square, and so made that they may be buttoned together- and are occupied by four persons. On the march, the tent is taken apart-each one taking a piece. A small ridge pole, with a forked stick at each end to support it, and six stakes are all that is actually required to pitch these tents. We have, however, have ours about 2 feet from the ground, filling up the sides with such timber, rails, boards, & c., as were to be found in a deserted camp near us. Thus pitched, our shelter tents make very commodious but well ventilated quarters..
So far as buildings or population are concerned, this place-about 22 miles from Washington- is one of very little importance- containing 2 hotels, a small store, and perhaps half a dozen residences. The importance which attaches to this locality is due more to the fact that at this place the railroad to Annapolis forms a junction with the road between Baltimore and Washington. In fact, I might say the Junction is the principal public improvement here..
In the foregoing, I spoke of the place itself aside from any improvements made by the Government- for only a few rods east of the station are 15 or 20 one-story wooden buildings erected by the Government, for general hospital purposes..
As before stated, Captain Cook is Provost Marshal of this Post; Lieut. Frank S. Tyler is commissary of Subsistence here..
No person is permitted to go from this point to Annapolis without a pass from the Provost Marshal, here, the War Department, or from the commander of this military department- and no person can obtain a pass without first taking the oath of allegiance. One of our duties here, therefore, is to guard the train to Annapolis, before starting and see that no person enters the cars without a pass. We are also to assist in enforcing an order forbidding intoxicating liquors- including ale and beer-to private soldiers. Isn't that a tolerable joke on such "high privates" as were wont to imbibe their little beer bedtimes? By the way, soon after our arrival here, five of us were greeted with- "Won't you go over and take a glass of ale?" Having almost forgotten how that article tasted, we rather thought we would accept the invitation-just to refresh our memory. The landlord, however, couldn't see it- whereupon this party unanimously:.
"Resolved:" That this assemblage is not thirsty.".
We left the companies of Captain Hathaway and Captain Kitchen at Fort Dix, Relay House. There were some cases of slight indisposition among the men, but none were considered actually sick..
Lee Klopfenstein, of Bowling Green, (a member of Captain Kitchen's company) while standing guard at Fort Dix Thursday night last, accidentally discharged his gun, the ball shattering the forefinger of his right hand-making amputation of the finger necessary. On Friday last, it was taken off at that joint, close to the hand..
John Barton, of this company, was left in the hospital at Relay Barracks. He was, however, improving rapidly and is expected to join us in a few days. No other members of this company are in the hospital, although cases of slight illness have occurred..
I have learned nothing new, since my last concerning the movement of the companies of Captains McKee, Smith, and Black..
There are now 70 members of Company F- including officers. Thirteen men have been temporarily detached for duty at other places but are expected to join us in a few days..
As to whether we are to remain here during our time of service, I will not venture to express even a guess. We have been jogging around until we have gotten in a moving way, and are rather indisposed as to what comes by.".
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