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Robert H. Caldwell Papers: Transcripts - MS 623
Athens Aug. 4th/62
Your letter of July 27th came to hand to day, and it brought the welcome news of the good health of all.
I also got those two numbers of the Cincinnati Gazette. They were very interesting indeed, especially that account of the recent actions of Col Norton, we have been kept in the dark somewhat, in regard to the true state of affairs concerning our Col we were told that he had gone to Washington for the purpose of being exchanged, but now the true facts of the case are out, and we can only pity our over ambitious Colonel, and hope his example may prove a warning to others, that expect to further their own aggrandizement by endeavoring to undermine the well earned popularity of others, We are all very sorry indeed that the thing occurred as it did, as little Jesse was beloved and respected by all his men as a commander. No one can say when or where he will again turn up.
I am pleased to hear that Lieut Luckey is getting along so finely, it is possible that I may have the pleasure of seeing him, if he should come by this route, in going to rejoin his Regt[.] I was much pleased to hear of the continued prosperity of your brisk little city and cannot help compareing its marks of improvement with the villages of the South. We will take the town of Athens as a sample of most Southern towns through which I have passed,
It is what may be denominated a finished town there are no improvements whatever, going on, and the buildings for the most part look very much weather beaten and decayed, the streets are covered with filth of every description and it is a wonder to me that the Cholera has not broken out among the citizens and soldiers long before this, There are a few fine buildings in the place, principally, the residences of wealth planters, who prefer town life to that of the country.
A great many of the dwellings are deserted, and with the yards growing up to weeds, and fences broken down they present a very dismal appearance, taking it all in all it lacks the freshness, and thrift of our northern towns[.]
There is considerable cotton purchased at this point[.] I noticed a considerable quantity piled round the Square consisting of something over Five hundred Bales, and was informed that it was the product of one plantation for one season, it brought the owner the snug little sum of $45000 in gold but a few days ago. The average production of cotton in this vicinity is, about one fourth of a Bale to the acre, and when we consider that the staple commands from 23 to 30 cents per pound I consider the raising of it to have been quite a profitable thing for the planter, The cotton burners have lately been scouring the country in this vicinity endeaving to commit their deviltries under the very noses of our forces an dhave succeeded in burning a considerable amount, notwithstanding the vigilance of our men, There will be but little cotton raised this season, owing to the small amount planted, the farmers preferred putting their ground to corn which yields about 10 bushel to the acre, the average yields of wheat is about 4. Lieut Col Neibling has just received a despatch to have three days rations cooked and hold his command in readiness to march at that notice, I don't know what is in the wind, in my next you will hear. Love to all your affectionate son Robert I wrote to Juliet a few days ago, also to Father We are once more on full rations having been on half rations about 15 days, communications are now open by R.R. to Nashville
Athens Aug 6th/62
I have just received your kind letter of July 28thand hasten to answer it. It is extremely warm to day, the sun is almost melting to a person that is obliged to be out of doors. You don't know what warm weather is in the North, and could you but come down here and be present upon, what we call a tolerable warm day, your first exclamation would be Oh get out South, give me the cool and invigorating North[.] We that have be come accustomed to the climate stand it very well. but there is one article of luxury that we miss very much. that is Ice Oh what would ent I give for a glass of ice cool lemonade just at this present time, or even a Palm leaf fan would be quite an acquisition, but us poor fellows are obliged to take just what is given us and be contented with it and most happy is he who is the best Philosopher[.] Oberlin is doing well in sending recruits, but I think little Elmore surpasses even that loyal city in sending strong armed defenders, of your country to the field,
You say that your fellow! has enlisted as a private, well so much the better for him, if he is worthy he will certainly rise and if he is not, he don't deserve to, thems my sentiments,
Now a days commissions can be obtained by merely sending for them, that is while at home, but once in the service and how different, a man has got to work his way up by degrees, the progress is slow, but if persevereing, in he efforts, he is bound to succeed in the end, The service tries what a man is made of, if he is a natural born rascal he will no be long in showing it to his comrades, but if on the other hand he proves himself what I call a man he will not be with out his reward, you said it was a pity that all could not be Generals now I don't agree with you, exactly, although Genls are very good in their place, yet I am of the opinion that, did our Commanding Genls but receive the pay and rations of a Private, this war would not last one month, it is to the interest of those receiving large salaries to prolong the contest all long as possible[.] We have to many Genls already, just light some of them out and put men in their places, and Jeff Davis will soon sing another tune,
Why confound your little Elmore what a magic news box it is I never thought of you or any body else for that matter getting married, well curious thing will sometimes happen
Oh I had liked to have forgotten to tell you of a little matter of a rather romantic nature that occurred in our Regt lately, one of the boys of Co C was engaged to be married to one of the blackeyed Susans of Athens and yesterday was the day that was to witness their nuptials. the music was already engaged for a grand dance at the house of the lovely Bride, quite a number of Blue Jackets had been honored with an invitation to be present at the festivities, and all were counting on a grand flourish of trumpets, when lo! a cloud appeared to darken the summer heavens, and the cloud assumed the proportions and shape, of Lieut Col Neibling who at once forbid the baus and of course upset all calculations for a big time in Alabam I believe if it had been my case, I should have then married the lady for mere spite, to show Neibling that some things might be done as well as others you know. Your description of Miss Murray, just suits me, I should like extremely to become acquainted with her please present my respects to her.
from your loving brother
Juliet you never told me who Miss Murray is, did she drop from the clouds to fascinate the young men of E_ or is she a loyal member of Uncle Sams dominions,
Tell Mother to look for a letter next time,
Elmore Ohio aug 17th/62
My dear Brother
You will doubtless recognize my writing at a glance, and wonder at the heading of my letter, but the fact is I am now in the pleasant village of Elmore, surrounded by all of the dear ones at home, Think not that I have deserted; far from it, I have come home in the capacity of a recruiting officer, In accordance with a late general order issued by the War Dept. there has been a non com sent home from each Co for the purpose of recruiting for their respective Regts, and I was the lucky fellow that was sent from my Company. I left Athens last monday morning and reached Elmore, last friday night at 10 oclock
I met Juliet at Fremont, she had just got aboard of the train when I espied her, and you can imagine what followed, as it had been eleven long long months since I had seen her, We had a thousand things to talk about, and you may be sure, that we made good use of our vocal powers, When the train stopped at Elmore Juliet got off first and who should she meet there but Mother, who was there waiting for Juliet (Juliet having gone to Fremont in the morning) She broke the news to Mother as gently as possible, but when I stepped from the train, and Mother saw me, I thought she would go crazy almost, but as joy never kills, she survived it, and after our first meeting was over we started for home, and Juliet went in and told Father, and he got up (he being in bed at that time) and I can assure you that we had a joyful meeting, Oh how good it seemed to be under our own roof once more, we remained up, talking until almost midnight, and our joys would have been complete could you have been with us, but that pleasure was denied us. I found Father Mother, and Juliet all well, and doing well, Fathers beard is about six inches long, it is quite grey and makes him look older than he otherwise would. Cousin Martha, and Aunt Rice came our from Fremont yesterday, and to day Uncle and Aunt Sharp also came out, and we have enjoyed ourselves hugely. Our Regt lacks about 200 men of being full, but we want 300 new recruits, in order that we may discharge those that are unfit for duty. I expect to get about 20 men in this vicinity as there is quite a number that are anxious to joint he 21st.
I found Elmore altered very much in appearance from what it was when I left home, John Ryder has built quite a brick building upon his lot, it is two stories high and the upper room is left full size to be used as a hall, for dancing, lectures, &c .&c , The mill looks as natural as ever, Father has shipped his Whitewood plank. He only had three or four culls There was something over 23000 feet of it. The sycamore has not yet been moved, I don't know how soon Head intends moving it. I cant say how long I am to remain here recruiting, but in all probability until the first of September. Alfred Rice is now in Columbus Ohio awaiting his discharge I did not see him when I cam through that city not knowing that he was there at the time. Cousin Martha Caldwell sends her love to you. I will write to you again in a few days.
Elmore Aug 31st/62
Father and Mother having written to you I thought best to send a few lines, after commencing, how to write anything that would be likely to interest you, but you must take the will for the deed. Last night we had a Picnic given to the Soldiers of this vicinity, It was a decided success in every particular, there was perhaps in all about thirty soldiers present, and then the Ladies, it was truly refreshing to see them. The supper was given in Ryders hall, and the Ladies had trimmed the room with flags, which made a very pretty appearance, and then those tables there were two of them, one extending the whole length of the hall, and another about twenty feet long, They were literally bending with every thing eatable, and I assure you that no person went away hungry, there was enough for all and to spare, and the remnants are to be distributed among the poor of this neighborhood. I got your letter day before yesterday, it was on the way only six days, quick travelling, I agree with you in regard to the effects, that will be seen immediately after those 600000 men are brought into the field, and it is my opinion that if nine months from this time don't witness the downfall of the boasted Confederacy, we will never live to see it. it has got to be accomplished speedily or never, and I am one of those that is willing to believe that Government is going at t he work in earnest at last. I really hope so at least.
from your Brother
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