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Robert H. Caldwell Papers: Transcripts - MS 623
Nashville Tenn Dec 4/62
I hardly know what to think about the mail, there must be something wrong, as I have not yet had a letter since I left Camp Dennison. why it is I cannot say. Most of the boys get letters regularly, perhaps you dont direct them right. when you write, direct, to Nashville, Tenn Co I. 21st Regt O.V. 7th Brigade, Negleys Div
I am enjoying the best of health at present and indeed I have not been sick since leaving home.
I went out Foraging day before yesterday. I had charge of the Regimental train ten wagons in all There was over four hundred wagons in the whole train we loaded all of them , in some instances taking the last bit of forage the owners possessed. After loading a part of our train with corn I went to the house of the owner, to receipt for it, and I got the most terrible tongue lashing from one of the women of the house that I ever got in my life. However I gave her a piece of my mind in return, telling her that if the citizens didnt return to their allegiance, we were going to take everything they possessed even if they had to starve in consequence.
I also informed her that if her husband couldnt make it appear to the authorities that he was a loyal man, he would not get a cent for his corn, when with a sigh, she exclaimed then it will be a long time before he (her husband) gets his pay.
Oh! how I did sympathise with them. You know
Well news is scarce and I will close, hoping to hear from home soon and often.
I know I know you write regularly, but perhaps direct wrong.
Nashville Tenn Dec 7th/62
Your long looked for letter arrived yesterday and I need not inform you that it met with a warm welcome. I recd one from Juliet, dated Nov 27th which I will answer in turn.
Capt Vantine, Lieuts Wood & Bumpus were highly pleased with my success in recruiting, but, Mike & Mack had but little to say upon the subject. All that have seen that set of Colors pronounce them as being a little ahead of any thing of the kind that they ever saw. They will be presented upon the arrival of Col Norton, who is looked for every day
I was highly pleased to hear that J. Easterly A.W. Luckey were going to make a visit, to their sons.
I was glad to hear that the School marm is boarding at our house, how unfortunate that at this particular time I should be absent from home, wonder if I cant get a furlough for twenty days.
No doubt, Juliet will enjoy herself this winter as that Piano will just suit her. Doubtless that wedding of Fred & Lizzies was a brilliant affair. Long life to the happy couple.
We had quite a streak of Winter in this latitude. Last friday night it snowed in pure winter style, the snow fell to a depth of about one inch, but to day the sun is shining brightly, and the snow is fast disappearing.
You but echoed my sentiments when you expressed a wish that the war might be prosecuted with vigor. I believe that the Commander of the Dept of the Cumberland has the Stamina about him that will carry death and destruction into the opposing ranks of the eneny, and I believe his command is composed of men capable of backing him up.
Mr Barns is again with us and he and I talk some of having our picture taken together, to send to you, I found my knapsack all right, and every thing safe. Capt Vantine told me that he was glad that G. Rice & Dewilt, Wood, & Epharin Rice did not come with me, as he said that they being old acquaintances of his might ask some favors of him, that he as an officer could not grant.
Please present my respects to the School marm.
Nashville Tenn Dec 7th/62
Your kind and interresting letter was received day before yesterday and I hasten to answer.
You stated that you hd got a beau in the person of Mary Luckey, I do envy you indeed, she is as you say, a splendid girl, and indeed I am of the opinion that the North can hag over the South in point of the beauty of its fair ones[.] I have looked in vain to see the first beautiful woman in Nashville. The School marm is boarding at our house is she? aint it unfortunate that I cant be at home, this winter. I suppose the way you will make that Piano talk wont be slow. I shall expect to hear some fine music when I return home.
I suppose you must have had a fine visit while at Uncle Thomas's house[.] should have enjoyed myself amazingly could I have been with you, but pshaw I am soldiering just now, you know, and visiting is not in my line. I had a visit from Lieut Lucky 3rd O.V.C. a few days ago, had a fine time
I intend to make them a visit in a few days, I saw George Rice Ephrarim Rice & Dewilt Wood, they were all well and well pleased with a soldiering life.
We have fine times here in Nashville, we have the freedom of the city, that is if we can dodge the Guards, which we manage to do, by being what the boys call sharp
I visited the State house a few days ago, and went through the entire building, it is a fine structure and one that the State of Tennessee ought to be proud of. Andy Johnson holds forth at that place at present, in place of Isham Harris. Decamped James K. Polk was buried in this city, and I visited the residence of his Wife, in the dooryard of which he was buried. His Monument stands about thirty feet from the front door of her house.
His wife is still living, but I did not see her, She is a secessionist of the most violent kind. Well Nashville is full of the same kind of vermin. there is hardly a union man to be found among the citizens of Nashville, confound their pictures
Well I must close.
Tell Mary Luckey I was highly pleased to receive that short not from her. please present my respects to her
You[r] affectionate Brother
Camp near Nashville
Tenn Dec 12/62
Really you must excuse me for neglecting for so long a time to write to you, but I promise you that I will endeavor to be more prompt in future.
I wrote to Mother a few days ago, and acknowledged the receipt of her letter, also one enclosed from Aunt Mary, I also recd the one from Juliet and answered it.
We left Nashville yesterday at 10 oclock and marched out six miles on the Franklin pike, where we are now encamped. The Whole of our Division is encamped in this vicinity. Our Brigade occupies the extreme left of the Div and our Regt the left of the Brigade, so you see we occupy an important position in the Div but I am of the opinion Should occasion require it, that the 21st will be able to stand against at least an equal number of the Grey Jackets
Genl Negleys Div was reviewed to day by Gen Rosecrans[.] The Genl comdg complimented our Div very highly. After review he inspected quarters, and as he passed through the different company parade grounds each Co saluted him with three hearty cheers which appeared to please him very highly. He had a kind word for nearly all the boys.
And he is extremely popular with them. He is quite a common place looking man. he looks very much like a farmer.
Our Regt now numbers nearly one thousand men. We have got fifty more recruits. Capt Alans Co F 21st O.V. went home shortly after I got to the Regt He went to camp Mansfield and got fifty of the chasted men of Hancock Co. they are all good men, and make quite an addition to our numbers. Gen Rousseau has two Divs on this pike they are on our right. Our old third Div is with him, formerly Gen Mitchells.
Our Piquets are constantly skirmishing with those of the enemy, and a few days ago two Divisions of our troops had quite a little fight, and were apprehending a general engagement, but our troops fell back a short distance, and the enemy for some reason did not follow. I am at a loss to know how soon a general advance will be made but in all probability it will not be delayed much longer[.] There is a large force of union troops on the Murfreesboro pike, consisting of several Divisions, I tell you we are strong, and when an advance is made look out for a fight or a foot race. The weather today was uncomfortably warm, in fact regular summer weather. You must be having rather rather mild weather in the north, just at present. We have had a few cold days, during the last week, but now it is changed. There is nothing so changeable as a Southern winter
The last letter I have had from home was from Mother dated Nov 30th
Capt Vantine wishes me to add that he is of the opinion that Mary Vantines comeing to Nashville is about played out, that we are now in the field and wont be in any place in particular, just mention it to Mrs Vantine. Capt Vantine Mr Barnes, and myself had our pictures taken together and sent it to You, and Mother[.] Now you and Mother must consider that as being a joint stock concern, as it is intended as a present to both[.] Mr Barnes's eyes did not take very well, but otherwise it is a pretty good picture[.] When Ed gets home he can tell you all about his prospects I did not get to see him I being on Piquet, when he left our camp.
Ed expects to get a Commission I believe. I hope he may get it as he is deserving.
I am enjoying good health.
no more just now
Your affectionate son
I wrote to William a good while ago
Camp Hamilton Dec 14th/62
My dear Sister
Your interesting letter of Dec 7th was receved yesterday, and I hasten to answer.
Without doubt you and the school marm are just more then enjoying yourselves this winter[.] Yes indeed I am just the fellow that could enjoy myself at home during the holidays, but it wont do to think of such a thing. I listened to an eloquent discourse to day, delivered by the Colonel of the 74th O.V. perhaps you may have heard, or read of the rev Mr Moody the great Methodist minister, well he is now the Col of the 74th and it was to him that I listened. He is quite eloquent. I wish you could have heard him.
I received that letter that you wrote to me and directed to camp Dennison. I also answered it shortly after receiving it. I shall use proper discretion in regard to that matter you cautioned me about. There now I will venture a bet, that I have raised all of the womanly curiosity of Mothers, that she is so proverbial for.
You must be having fine times in E___ this winter, so many parties, it appears that you have got a new installment of young Gents in your pleasant city[.] Aint you and Mary Lucky ashamed of yourselves to (foresmitten?) the same fellow. I should fear to trust myself to ask you for your Company for fear you might serve me the same.
Oh I expect you are both getting to be regular flirts, how I do pity the poor fellows that are so rash as to trust their destinies to your keeping. You said you had got a letter from Thene and that she sent her love to me. when you write to her, please present my respects in return.
Olevia Bartlett is coming to E_ is she. I believe I did not get to see her while I was at home. I suppose she is still unmarried. I wish she could get a husband worthy of her. She is a splendid girl, but pshaw what am I talking of girls for, my duty lies in a different direction. but for all that I guess it wont do a fellow any harm to stand off and adore if not permitted to enjoy their society. We are now encamped on the Franklin Pike, Six miles from Nashville, our camp is very pleasantly situated in the woods[.]
We have been having some very fine weather for the past few days, in fact, perfect summer.
I believe I never told you in any of my former letters that my Mess (nu 2) has a contraband cook, did I? well we just have that, and one of the best cooks you ever set your eyes on. His name is Killis, he used to work in a bakers shop, and he is tip top. Oh yes I sent my likeness with that of Capt & Barness to Father & Mother[.] Ed Haines has doubtless got home by this time.
Write often, love to all
Your brother Robert
Camp Hamilton Dec 19/62
I recd yours of Dec 14th and was much pleased to learn that you were all enjoying good health. I never enjoyed better health in my life than at present. To day the weather is very fine with the sun shining a la summer[.] We have warm days and cold nights, with occasionally a shower of rain. I am of the opinion that if Rosecrans is starting a rise of the Cumberland before making a forward movement he will in all probability lay idle during the entire winter as there is but little prospect of a rise in the Cumberland before spring. We have received the news of the repulse of Burnside at Fredericksburg, and I am now confident if Rosecrans dont move forward and gain a decisive victory at Murfreesboro the cry of Foreign intervention will again be the cry. I am expecting great things of our General and only hope I may not be disappointed in my expectations. Certainly Rosecrans has the material for giving the Rebels their dues and when he does move look out for some big tracks. Col Norton arrived in camp a few days ago, and it is rumored that he has tendered his resignation. I dont know how true it is, but in all probability the rumor is correct.
Property has of late been changing hands to a considerable extent in Elmore, I see by your letter.
I am in hopes that you and Eli Eoff may effect the trade that you mentioned, as I am anxious to see you rid of the mill, as it is too hard work for you to carry it on.
I wrote to William quite a while ago, but have recd no answer as yet. I see by the papers that Grants army has come to a halt for the present. Christmas will soon be at hand, and my Mess are talking of getting up a dinner on the occasion. if we do get up a dinner I sill send you a bill of fare, and also the price list.
Has Isaac Sharp gone home yet? it is a little curious to me that he did not enter the army,. Such a fiery fellow as he used to be, I should think its exciting scenes would be suitable to one of his temperament. Capt Vantine, Lieut Wood & Bumpus and in fact the entire Company is enjoying good health at present. it is wonderful how our Company stands the service we have not a man in Hospital. but come to think, I must except one George Billings one of our Drummers he has applied for a Discharge on account of Consumption.
Well new is about played out with and so I will dry up
Camp Hamilton Dec 22nd/62
Being Rather lonesome to night I thought perhaps I might pass the time a little more pleasantly by writing to you to let you know of something in regard to my welfare and whereabouts at this particular time.
Well then to begin, we are still in the same position that we have been occupying during the last two weeks, with but little to relieve the monotony of camp life, exceping a slight skirmish now and then.
Yesterday our Regt was ordered out to guard a forage train, we went out in the direction of Murfreesboro about eight miles and while the forage was being loaded the forces were so distributed as to guard the teams[.] There were four Regts, and a section of a Battery acting in the capacity of Guards, the 19th Ills was in the advance and threw out Skirmishers on both sides of the road and advanced in the direction of the supposed enemy. A part of the 21st was deployed as Skirmishers, and Co (I) with others held in reserve presently, we heard sharp firing on our left in the direction of Cos F & D, and soon the news was brought in that two of the enemy had met merited punishment in the shape of a few pills from Uncle Sams boys that acted very finely upon them and indeed I fear the dose was too strong for their constitutions as it brought them upon their backs almost instanter, and I have not yet been apprised of their restoration to health.
and that was not the only result of the firing. but inasmuch as the health of the two above mentioned persons was not in a fair way to improve very soon Six of their comrades concluded to stay, and minister to the wants of their afflicted brethren, so we brought them into camp with us, but the two first mentioned ones were left behind, and at last accounts were sleeping very comfortably in the arms of Mother Earth. While the Skirmishers were employed in taking care of our enemies, Co I was actively employed in skirmishing with a flock of turkeys that belonged to a neighboring family. The result stood twelve turkeys, and one duck for Co I. My mess got three turkeys and the duck and to day we just more than lived. You must excuse me for this poor writing and composition and I promise to do better in future. Well now I am one letter ahead of you and I shall look anxiously for an answer soon
Love to all
Your nice letters came to hand and I was glad to hear from you. You write good letters, better than some boys could write that are much older than you.
You spoke of your Snow Fort and how the sun melted it. I have seen some Forts that the sun would have a good time melting and the only think that could knock them down was cannon balls handled by the Northern sons. I suppose you would like to see some of the big Steamboats that I have seen, here in nashville[.] I saw one, the General Anderson that the Rebels used to have that they left behind when they ran away form our soldiers[.]
There are a lot of cannon in Nashville that the Rebels left here, some of them are so large that you could stick your head into their mouth. Before they ran away they tumbled the cannon into the river and left them, and when the river fell our men got them. They burned a Gunboat and all of the cannon that was on it, but I guess we will soon put a stop to their burning things in that way. Mother said that you was working in the mill, I guess you find it cold work but never mind it will soon be warm. The peach trees are in blossom down here and some of the trees are leafing out and the boys run barefoot. but I must close
Write soon from Robert
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