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Robert H. Caldwell Papers: Transcripts - MS 623
Camp Denison Octo 2nd/62
I received you letter of Sep 28th in which you ackowledged the receipt of one of my letters written on the 21st I also got that letter containing a letter from Capt Vantine. I have just finished writing a letter to the Capt I was very sorry indeed to leave home before first seeing you, but it was unavidable, and I had to obey orders. I don't think I shall be able to make arrangements to make you a visit, as I understand we are to leave for Louisville on the 5th but that is only a camp rumor, but Lieut Wiley says we are to move at that time. I should like very much to make a visit home before leaving, but fear it will be impossible. There has been a great deal of business on our hands since comeing here, and I have had but little spare time to my self.
The men are mustered in and will receive their pay to day or tomorrow, Vandyke went home on account of being rejected by the examining Surgeon, Daniel Wight accidentally shot himself in one of his great toes a few days ago, he was playing with a loaded revolver and it went off wounding him as I have state. He is now in Hospital and doing well, will be left behind if we move from this camp at an early date,
I will take your advice in regard to securing the good will of my officers and men, it is as you say, there is policy in war as well as politics. I have been in the service just long enough to see, and understand it, and as I said before, I shall endeavor to cultivate the esteem and good will of both privates and officers, as it is all depending upon that, I shall be very careful about expressing any thing derogatory to the character of Col Norton, I believe He also intends to pursue an entire different line of policy, in future, as he cannot continue to uphold the conduct of Buell. Of course you take the papers, and they in a great measure express the sentiments of the people, and I see b the papers that there is a growing dissatisfaction among the masses so far as the continueing of Buell in command is concerned. It is the opinion of most men with whom I have conversed on the subject, that Nelson received his just deserts, at the hads of Davis[.] If Davis had failed to resent the insulting conduct of Nelson, he would have deserved the just contempt of the whole army, and of being kicked out of the service in the bargain. there is hardly an man to be found to sympathise with Nelson, I went down to Cincinnati tuesday morning, and stayed all night with Lieut. Rice had a good time, I shall long remember that visit. Al is still in the Provost office, but is looking for a discharge, he has not been well all the time, but was enjoying good health when I saw him.
Love to all, from
Camp Denison O. Oct 5th/62
Your long looked for letter came to hand yesterday, dated Sep 28th for som unaccountable reason it has been detained on the road some time and that accounts for my not answering it sooner, as doubtless you have been looking for an answer long before this.
You will oblige me very much by saying to those (Lady) admirers of that photograph, that I have always considered the Ladies of Oberlin as being good, and just critics, and of course any decision made by the fair inhabitants of that city immediately becomes orthodox. Oh
No doubt you are just more than enjoying yourselves in O. only think of it, fourteen gentlemen and eleven ladies boarders at one house, it isnt every house that is so blessed with the sterner sex. Ask Jennie if she intends making her cousin Jeff Davis a visit this fall, perhaps she may have mistaken the man it may turn out that the Indiana Jeff is her cousin instead of Jeff of Richmond although our Indiana Jeff has lately proven himself quite as blood thirsty as his rebel namesake, although by that one act he has proven himself worthy of the esteem of every true Soldier, and had he acted otherwise upon that occasion would have deserved their their unmitigated contempt instead
You certainly have quite a number of correspondents, seven letters in one week. You surely have some correspondents in the Army, well no lady should hesitate to write to one of Uncle Samuels adopted, so long as he conducts himself properly.
It has been rumored that we leave for Louisville tomorrow but I don't believe in rumors you know, The 21st is now in the city of Nashville, Tenn[.] we will doubtless join it there. I have been informed that Gen Morgans Cumberland Gap Army is comeing to camp Denison tomorrow to recruit up once more, He has from ten to fifteen thousand men, and will fill our camp to overflowing, Why he should come to this point for that purpose is more than I can conceive of as there is just as good camp grounds in Kentucky as this but it may be on account of the facilities for obtaining supplies at this point. however I also doubt this story in regard to his comeing here I have been to Cincinnati twice since I came to this camp. I was there yesterday, and had a fine time with A M Rice. We that is the recruiting officers and recruits, of the 21st raised $40.00 for the purpose of presenting Lieut. Wiley with a sword and sash, I went to the city and made the purchase, it is an elegant sword, I am to make the presentation speech this afternoon wont I spread my self some perhaps not. We have also made a purchase of a flag and banner for the 21st they are to cost one hundred and forty dollars (140.00) aint we sons a plenty of money you know, just paid off your brother,
Camp Denison O. Oct 5th/62
Having some spare time I propose to write and let you know what is transpiring in Camp Dennison. The recruits of the 21st having received their pay, thought proper to do something for Lieut Wiley and as his sword was pretty well worn they thought it would be a nice thing to present him with a new one, an consequently $40.00 was raised and I went to Cincinnati and made the purchase, I got an elegant sword and sash for the $40.00 and this afternoon it is to be presented to him[.] I am to have the honor of making the presentation speech wont I spread myself some on the occasion, perhaps not, however I intend to do my best.
Then thinking enough had not been done to show their generosity, they raised $140.00 for the purpose of purchasing a set of colors (a flag and banner) for the 21st, they will be perfectly splendid when finished! there is no end to their generosity, the recruits, 109 in number furnish one dollar apiece, and us recruiting officers, 10 in number, the remaining 31 dollars, it will please Col Norton very much, to say nothing of the Regt we have been carrying an old three months colors, heretofore[.] and the new set will be a great aquisition to the Regt
It is reported that Genl Morgans Cumberland Gap army is comeing to Camp Denison to morrow I cant vouch for the truth of the statement, Morgan has about fifteen thousand men, He is bringing his men here to recruit up once more, before entering upon another campaign
I wrote to Father the other day, I received his letter, in which he gave a description of his adventures in Kentucky
I also received a letter yesterday from Juliet written Sep 28th I answered it to day, It is reported that we leave for Louisville tomorrow don't believe the story however
I have heard that the 21st is in Nashville, I am just going to eat an oyster dinner There I have just finished that oyster dinner, it was splendid I opened a can of that honey and we had bread and honey, we enjoyed it hugely I can assure you.
I fear I shall have great difficulty in getting through with my trunk and sachel, as Gen Buell has prohibited the transportation of trunks, or anything larger than a valize, and when I get to Louisville I will learn something definite in regard to it, if I cant get it through, I will have to send it back home, and have the contents given back but I shall take it through if possible. The Officers in this camp talk of sending their trunks home and buying valicas instead
Love to all, your affectionate son
Camp Dennison. Oct 11th/62
I am happy to inform you that this fine morning finds me enjoying good health and spirits. I received your kind letter a few days ago, with a short note enclosed from Father, and I wrote to Father, with the promise of doing the same by you, and I am now doing my best to fulfill my engagement
We are still nailed to this camp unable to get away
why it is so, I cannot find out, but there appears to be a screw loose somewhere, and that (too?) of pretty good dimensions by the manner in which things swing round in this camp.
O, I am so anxious to start for the Regt! I declare I get so tired lying in camp I hardly know what to do with myself, but I am still encouraged with the thought that perhaps tomorrow, or next week at farthest, will find us on our way. I am anxious to see Capt Vantine and the Company once more, I wrote to Capt a few days ago, but am fearful that the letter will never reach him.
The recruits of Gov Tods are coming in quite plentiful and the prospects are that he will soon be able to form a Regt in this camp. if not a Brigade, I believe Genl Despondency is to command the Brigade. Col Draft, the Regt now in this camp. The other Field officers are, Lieut Col Substitute, and Major Bounty. The whole command to be under the supervision of Quarter Master Hard Bread.
Great calculations are being made upon the fighting qualities of the laid Brigade as it is composed of a hard looking set of fellows, doubtless its members will be able to endure a large amount of hard marching &c .&c .
I have just received the news of the late battle in Kentucky in which the old 3rd Division was engaged it covered itself with glory and how could it help doing so if it only got a chance, good for the old 3rd.
I have got a great deal of writing to do for Lieut Wiley and I must close, Give my love to all, and write often
Your affectionate Son
P.S. If we leave this camp I will write from our first stopping place
Camp Dennison Oct 14th/62
Your interesting letter written on the 12th, came to hand to day, and I was much pleased to hear of you continued good health. I am still in the enjoyment of good health, and expect no change for the worse.
I received Mothers letter last saturday, just after I had sent my letter to the office I suppose you are having some exciting times to day, as it is election day. what a pity it is that I could not be at home to day to poll my vote, declare it makes me feel insignificant to think that after having lived in this country upwards of 21 years, and one year of that time spent in the service of Uncle Samuel himself[.] I say it makes me feel as though I were small potatoes. It appears to me that there ought to be some arrangements made whereby the soldier, absent from home, could send in his vote, what a shame, here I am two things at once, and good for nothing either side. namely, a voter and yet not a voter, never mind if our Generals will do as well by us as we are willing to do by them[.] I will be at home in time to help the six hundred thousand more to send Father Abraham back to his chair again.
Mother wishes me to send her a copy of my speech delivered upon the occasion of the Sword presentation. Well I dont know as I can get it in, world for word, as it was an extempore affair and I have no copy of the wonderful and flaming address, but it was something after this style,
In behalf of the Recruits of the 21st Ohio, I take great pleasure in presenting to you this beautiful Sword & Sash, as a slight token of their regard and esteem for you, and if I may be allowed to judge of the future by the past, I hesitate not in saying that I believe it is to be given into good hands that the wearer will never yield it up to an insolent foe, without first baptizing its bright blade in the blood of that foe, then in the name of the recruits of the 21st, I present to you this sword and Sash, that you may long live to wear them with honor and credit to yourself, and Country, is the sincere and heartfelt wish of the donors.
Lieut Wiley then made a short and pithy reply, when the boys all gave the cheers, nine counts and a tiger and dispersed, it was quite interesting to me at least, who had never before been placed in a like situation, but I am just vain enough, to say that after the affair was over, I received the congratulations of all the boys, they thought it was splendid, but I didnt tell them what I thought[.] O no, papers scarce and I must close, will write to Mother in a day or two
Camp Dennison Oct 16th/62
I wrote to Father day before yesterday and I promised to write to you in answer to your letter that was thankfully received, You wished me to send you a copy of that presentation speech that was made upon the occasion of the sword presentation.
I did so in the letter that I wrote to Father. I am well and was gratified to hear that you were all getting along so finely. I have not had a letter from Juliet for almost two weeks, and in fact only one since I arrived at this camp. I wish when you write to her you would mention it to her[.]
The boys that I recruited have decided to send home for some nice things to eat such as butter &c &c or anything that their friends might think fit to send[.] I told them to have the articles brought to Fathers house and he would put them in a box and have them sent by freight. We will pay the freight upon receiving the box. You may have the box directed to me, and I will get it for the boys. If you send the box, write and let me know so that I will know when to look for it.
We dont know how soon we may be ordered to the Regt and we may remain here a month. there is no telling how the thing may turn out. We have received election returns and are overjoyed to know that that arch traitor Vallandingham has at last learned the true sentiments of the Union loving men of his Dist. three groans for the old villain. The papers state that Negley has had quite a little brush with the enemy at Lavergne Tenn and that the 21st participated in the exercises[.] I wish I could have been with the boys, it does seem as though I am always to be counted out when there is any fun on hand. I have written several letters to Capt Vantine since coming to Camp D and have not heard from him once, with the exception of the letter that Father sent to me that he took out of the office at Elmore for me. I wish we could [ILLEGIBLE] for our men [ILLEGIBLE] willing to start on foot from Louisville and go through to the Regt. You have no idea how anxious I am to be with the boys.
You must excuse me for writing with a pencil but the pen that I commenced with was good for nothing and that is my excuse.
You[r] affectionate son
Camp Dennison Oct 18/62
I yesterday had the pleasure of receiving a letter from Mother, with a short note from you, and it is needless for me to state that I was much pleased to hear from home[.]
I was pleased to know that you had engaged the services of Mr. Crane, as sawyer,
I should like very much to hear that you and Dr White had gone into partnership in the hardware business, but it would be much more satisfactory if you could start business entirely upon your own hook as you would in that case be entitled to the entire profits. however I leave it to your judgement to say.
So Wash Boggs is to have a commission in the 9th Cavalry. pretty good for Wash if it is the truth. but I don't doubt it in the least, as I see no reason why it could not be effected.
Mother appears to think that Wash is going to obey one law of the old Testament namely, "He that has got married should stay at home the first year. I don't know whether that is his game or not but if it is so that he is trying to get out of the service I am done with him, as I have no faith in any man that is willing to desert his Colors in this hour of our Country's extremety, however I don't wish to impute any such dishonorable motives to Wash. Well we did not get off on the 5th after all as it was reported we were going to, and it would be something of a task for me to tell when we are to leave
Mother wrote that William sent you and Willie something that came from Helena, I could not quite make out what it was, it has excited my curiosity somewhat to know what it really is the name of the article was blurred in Mothers letter, and that is why I could not make it out.
The drafted men have commenced comeing into Camp Dennison, there is about 500 here at present and more comeing in daily. They are a heavy set of fellows nearly all large men. They appear to be rather depressed in spirits, although I saw quite a number of them those spirits were rising somewhat under the influence of another kind of spirits. They are offering a pretty good premium for substitutes, paying from three to five hundred, and in one case, as high as ten hundred dollars, so anxious are they to get out of the paws of the venerable Uncle Samuel. The Volunteers are ever teasing them by hallooing at them and making all sorts of exclamations, as I say old fellow where have you been all summer, You are pretty birds, what will you take for your bounty &c&c. and in one case there was a squad of Clinton County drafted men, passing along and one of the volunteers asked another who those fellows were, and he sung out Clinton County Hardware by____ R.C. direct as before I will write to Mother next time
Camp Dennison Oct 19/62
I seat myself to inform you that I am still in the land of the living, and that we have about made arrangements to leave the Buckeye State, and start Dixieward. Lieut Wiley thinks that he can make the arrangements to get us off in a few days, He counts on getting arms, at Louisville[.] We can go within eighty miles of Nashville by rail, and then we intend to take it afoot the remainder, although the intervening country is swarming with the enemy ready to out off small parties of Federal troops, about one half our men are willing to make the venture, the remainder preferring to remain within the borders of Ohio where the old Women can protect them, rather than running the risk of capture, in endeavoring to join their comrades in Nashville[.] Lie upon such craven hearted fellows, I am proud to say that my recruits to a man will follow me, as I intend to start if I can get a man to follow. that is if we can obtain permission and I doubt not we can.
This lying in camp and doing nothing to benefit the Government is not what I enlisted for, and I am happy to see that my recruits are in the same mood
I wrote to Mother a few days ago, and told her that several of the boys had sent home for some nick nacks in the shape of eatables, You may send the things and in case we are not here to get them we will leave word with the Post Surgeon (Dr Prentice) that he can take the box and make use of the contents in the Hospital, but possibly we may be here to get them, as we may be unable to get off. The boys instructed their friends to take the articles to our house and that you would then put them into a box and send them to me I will receive the box pay charges and collect the same from the boys. There is nothing of interest transpiring in camp at present. I will write more at length, when receive a letter from home. We have got that set of Colors, and they are perfectly splendid. they are the finest thing of the kind that I ever saw. and if we get them safely through and into the hands of and under the protection of the 21st, I have no fears for them, as I feel satisfied that no other Regiment would do more to protect them than the 21st O.V. At Cincinnati a day or two ago, he resigned the day after the fight at Nashville, and in coming home was captured by the enemy, and parolled Adjutant Band 21st O.V. has been missing since the fight, and it is supposed he was killed or taken prisoner
Camp Dennison Oct 24/62
Yours of the 20th has come to hand, announcing the agreeable news that you are going to send our boys a box of eatables, We will be on the lookout and ready to overhaul those nice things as soon as they come. We have been disappointed in regard to getting off from this camp, as soon as we expected to and now there is no knowing how long we may remain here, Noah Jones brother came to camp, yesterday, with several Recruits for the 57th. We were much pleased to see him, I am having my hands full of business now a days, it is just write, write, write, all the time and no end to it. I have to do all of the writing for Lieut Wiley, and there is a great deal of it to do. There is no news of importance to write. I saw Alfred Rice yesterday, he was going through here on his way to Columbus where he has been assigned to duty, He thought some of visiting home before entering upon his duties. I received a letter from Juliet a day or two ago, I will answer it on sunday. I am enjoying good health, Tell Mother I have drawn two woolen shirts, two pairs Drawers, and two pairs socks, I have found out that I cannot get that trunk through and I will send it home before we leave I will dispose of the eatables as far as I have been authorized to. The remainder of the things you will see that they are given back to their owners, Lieut Wiley has got to send his trunk home, and also Lieut Lamb has got to do the same thing. You must excuse me for not writing more at length, but next time I will try to write a long letter
Camp Dennison Oct 26/62
Your letter was received a day or two ago, and I seize this as the first good opportunity to answer it. It was written on the 14th and I got it on the 21st it was delayed in the office at Oberlin almost a week
It snowed here last night and this morning the snow is 2 ½ inches deep quite an introduction to winter I think
There is nothing interresting transpiring in camp at present and this lying still within the friendly lines of Ohio is not exactly what I volunteered for, and don't just come up to the mark
There is some prospect of getting away from here before long, but it is rather slim
O, if I could but see the Regt once more, it seems as though I would be satisfied but that pleasure is denied me for the present and I must be satisfied with whatever falls to my lot. I received a letter form Father, in which he stated that he was going to send a box of eatables to us here at camp, we are looking for it every day, but it has not yet come. perhaps it will be here tomorrow, if it does come wont we have a time? perhaps not. I had taken a trunk full of articles along with me for the boys of Co I. and have got it with me, but Genl Buell has lately issued an order prohibiting transportation for anything of the kind, and I have got to send my trunk and contents home again.
The boys will be somewhat disappointed but I cant keep it[.] How soon are you to return home from oberlin, and when are you going to commence your school
I have heard that Jennie Rice has gone home, it didn't take her long to get her education, what a curious girl Jennie is. I saw Lieut Rice at the Depot the other day, he had been ordered to Columbus for duty, and was on his way for that city. He thought he should visit home before entering upon duty. I believe there is no more news. Your affectionate Brother
Camp D. Oct 28/62
I read your letter of the 26th and hasten to answer. In one of my former letters I told you that we expected to leave this camp in a few days, well we have again been doomed to disappointment, as we failed to get transportation for our men, and now, I cant tell you when we will leave. Lieut has written to Col Norton who is Provost Marshal at Frankfort, to see if he cant do something for us, with the hope that Norton may send for us, to join him at Frankfort, perhaps we may be able to do some good there, we are so anxious to be at something that will count, as the saying is. We have not yet recd that Box, but are looking for it every day. How did you send it? by Freight, or Express, but I expect it will be here to day, and when we do receive it, the contents will doubtless repay us for our patience in watching its coming. When does Wash Boggs join his new Regt. We had a fin Snow storm last Saturday night, in the morning the snow lay 2 1/2 inches deep quite a snow storm for the latitude[.] To day the sun is shining and we are again having summer weather.
I was some what surprised to hear that the Helbing Bros had gone into the Hardware business in E. that stroke will as you say cut you out completely for the present, but perhaps there may yet be a chance, when you may advantageously step in.
Tell Mother that I have got a couple of Woolen Shirts also two pair Drawers, and that I shall be comfortable in point of clothing, I am going to try and get some of my boys to carry those shirts through for the boys that I had in my trunk, but I am afraid that I shall be obliged to send the heavier articles such as boots &c home, however I will do the best I can to get them through, the trunk I will send home, at any rate, as it is impossible to get it through. I will take the shirt for Capt Vantine, also his tea the tobacco I will send home in the trunk[.] I will label the articles so that you may deliver them to the proper owners. I enjoy excellent health.
Camp D. Oct 30/62
The box came this morning, and four of us went up to bring it down, We went into the Freight office and was rather surprised to see its dimensions, but when we took hold of it we could properly realize its weight, it was just as much as four of us could do to carry it out of the office
I went after a Dray and had it hauled to our quarters where it was soon opened and the contents brought to light and such a light, the boys just fairly jumped up and down when those fine apples were exposed to their admiring gaze and going deeper into the box we were more and more pleased as each article was raised. Such butter I declare I never saw its equal, and those cakes and cheese, but when I came to those Sweet potatoes well there is no use in attempting a description of my antics. I told the boys long before we got the box, that I knew I should get some of Fathers Sweet potatoes, and sure enough there they were, that jar I have not yet opened, the bread, we had for dinner and when I say that I recognized it as Mothers baking I have praised it sufficiently, as you know full well that I have always been able to do justice to your good bread[.] That paper of Nuts that Willie sent are just the thing and I want you to thank Willie for me. Most of the boys got something, and we have made common stock of the whole contents of the box, There was one lot of articles in a Pillow slip that had a name on, but it had become obliterated and we could not make out the name, however the contents were just as acceptable, and it went into the general stock.
I got that large apple with my name pinned to it, and now it is among the things that were, I got that note of yours, and I will get a pair of boots. the shirts I have already drawn and am prepared for winter weather.
Lieut Wiley got a letter this morning from Col Norton, He wrote from Cincinnati, he was on his way home from Frankfort K.Y. where he had been on duty under Gen Dumont Col thought we could move for the Regt in a week or ten days I have not yet sent that trunk but will before we leave.
I wrote to Father Yesterday and to Juliet Sunday
Your Son Robert
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