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Robert H. Caldwell Papers: Transcripts - MS 623
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 yesterday
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
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