Friday, August 2, 2013

2, 1861 - Description of the Confederate camp at Union City

At Union city [sic] there were about 6000 men there, it was said-rude, big rough fellows, with sprinklings of old companies, composed of gentlemen of fortune exclusively. The soldiers who were only entitled to the name is [by] virtue of their carrying arms, their duty, and possibly their fighting qualities, lay under the trees playing cards, cooking, smoking, or reading the paper, but the camp was guarded by sentries some of whom carried their firelocks [sic] under their arms like umbrellas, others by the muzzle with the butt over the shoulder; one, for ease, had struck his, with the bayonet upright in the ground before him; others laid their arms against the trees, and preferred a sitting to an upright posture. In front of one camp there were two brass field pieces, seemingly in good order. Many of the men had sporting rifles or plain muskets. There were several boys of fifteen and sixteen years of age among the men, who could scarcely carry their arms for a long day's march; but the Tennessee and Mississippi infantry were generally the materials of good soldiers. The camps were not regularly pitched, with one exception, the tents were too close together; the water is bad, and the result was that a good deal of measles, fever, diarrhea and dysentery prevailed.

Memphis Appeal, August 2, 1861.




2, 1862 -  "Oh, for Shame, I hope that this eturnal [sic] harping about the Negro will stop." Letter of John A. Ritter, 49th Indiana Volunteers

August 2, 1862 from Cumberland Gap, Tenn.

Cumberland Gap, Ten.

Aug. 2, 1862

Dear Margarett [sic],

Yours of the 21 is Recd. and this is the third Letter that I have got from you this week. I am always anxious to get a letter from you. I always wish that they were longer and when it is long between letters I hunt up some old one, reread them but always when I make a move I burn or tare [sic] up all old letters so that if my trunk should fall in the hands of an enemy that they will not have the pleasure of reading my letters. I do not know how long I will be at the Gap but I expect for some time if we do all the worke [sic] that is laid out for us to do. It will be white frost before it is done. News is verry [sic] scarce at this time. We have a lot of prisners [sic] here. I often talk with them and am sorry for the poore [sic] deluded fellows. One of them told me that it was the opinion that nine out of every ten in the free states were abolishonist [sic] and that we look upon negros [sic] as our equils[sic], that they were allowed to eat at our tables, sleep in our beds, galant [sic] our Daughters etc. This he said had been taught him all his life and that he was honest in his opinions. Oh, for Shame, I hope that this eturnal [sic] harping about the Negro will stop. We have no stock in the negro[sic]. We have passed through Kentucky and have not [stolen ?] any of the counterbands [sic] and we have got thus fare in Tenessee [sic] on the same footing but if this war does not seace [sic] there will be rougher means used than has been. It makes me mad to detail my men to stand guard over rebbel [sic] property which is done daily and as long as traitors are protected and their property defended whilst the union men are unprotected Treasan [sic] is at a premium and the Shackels [sic] will soon fall off when this comes I pity the poore [sic] women and children. You may thank your maker that the war is not on our borders. Hard as your [____?] are you are in a good fix to what thousands are but I wish that you was better fixed than you are. It has been one of the objects of my life to make you happy and to fix so that our family would [be] comfortable but this wicked Rebelion [sic] has deprived us of may comforts of life that we might have injoy [sic] but with such a state of affairs as our once happy country was in but now bleeding at every pore. It was once thought that Kind [sic] treatment would win them back to aligance [sic] but it has failed and now there must be an other policy must be persued [sic]. I have no fault to find of out offices [sic] but when I see my men standing guard over Rebbel [sic] property and then on half rations or when it comes to buying from sesesesh[sic]. Of all the awful, onions two for 5 cts., Honey 50 cts. a [bb.?], corn[_____?] 10 to 25 cts. that any one man could eat at one meal, [bacon?], hams 25 cts. a[t] [lb.?]. Shall we stand these things, can we indure [sic] it? Those in orthority [sic] must begin to open their eyes. I would be glad if this thing was settled but it will have to be settled by the soward [sic] and by Hemp. It is better under this colougne [sic] water for a man to be sesesh [sic] than a union man. Here a union man is not protected only by the generosity of the soldiers whilst they are not allowed to tuch [sic] the property of the sesesh [sic] but those Dough face union men I have no faith in them. The most of the men are union whilst our forces are in their midst but when we pass them by they raise up in our rear, cut off our supplys [sic] like they have done or tryed to do in Kentucky. The notorious Morgan got the box that I sent to you. It is not much value to him but is only lent. I expect to collect it with Intrst. [sic] My parents have not yet been herd from. I expect that they have gone the same way.

Col. [McRed?] of Bloomington is here. I will try to get him to look after them. We have a Capt. Johnson that was at Lexington and got a suit of clothes of the same man. He may have charge of my pants. Liut [sic]. [sic] Charles has a pr. of pants that is with my pants, if they have not parten [sic] company. The boys are generaly [sic] well as for sorry dog pups. You guess well but I think in my present situation that it is not best at altims [sic] to give publisity [sic] to ones opinions. I will here say that there are some men went into the service that never intended to do any good when they left home. They play old soldier from the start. They get in to a Hospital and they stay their [sic] always behind the Reg[iment]. This Hospital caveralry [sic] are a great drawback to the service and there are many more of them than one would supose. I was at Barbersville[1] after some of our men that was [sic] sick at that place. I marched them out into an old Orchard, formed them up in two Ranks and picked out such as I thought was well. And out of this number I selected 60. The Col. sent for every one of them, some that pretended to be sick, that they could not walk half mile but they all had to come. One of them tied to the end of the wagon for mile or so but when he found out that the thing was no go [sic] he agreed if they would let him loose that he would go to Camp which he did and every one of them were as well as the men in camp except that they had been laying around taking no exercise. When I came back and made my report to the Col. he sayed [sic] that if he [knew?] what one were able to come he would bring them. Pulled out the list of their names that I had taken. He then sent a Liut [sic]. [sic] imedialy [sic] after them with orders to bring all on my list.

As usual I have finished the amount of paper usualy [sic] appropriate for a letter but am not yet done. This is Sunday the 3rd of August. It is a beautiful day. All things is [sic] quiet. The sun shines will all its lovelyness. [sic] There has been but few army teams a stir to day. It looks more like Sunday than usual. There is little reguard [sic] paid to the Sabath [sic] in the army. Gen. Carter is an exception to the general rule of army offices. I think he is a christian [sic]. [sic] When he does any thing on the Sabath [sic] it is a necesity [sic] with him. I am lonsome. [sic] I have gone through the regular [routine?] of duty of the duty assigned to Sunday morning, that is inspection of the Armes [sic], Amunition [sic], Clothing of the men. I have not got any of my company in the hospital that is with me. Some are back at Lexington. All that is here is up on foot. There is 3 or 4 that is a little on the puny order. James Denny, John Pennick, Robert Knight, and Johnithan Clark. I expect a lot of the boys up from Lexington soon with Capt. Johnson. We have some their that might have come up before this if they had wanted to but those that are not able for duty we do not want them to come till they are well. We have a deserter just in from the sesesh [sic] Army. He says that they have about 4 Regiments of Caveralry [sic] at Knoxville that was about ready to start out as Garillars [sic]. The people may look out for Kentucky. He says that they have nothing to eat but salt meat and Bread that he has not see any Coffee since he has been in the service. He says that he was prest [sic] into the service in Louisana [sic] with some 60 others at New Orleans that they were sent to a camp and put under guard and was divided out in smapp [sic] [small] partys [sic], put in to different Regiments, that he was sent to Knoxville from where he made his escape. I have not seen the man. They say that he is verry [sic] inteligent [sic]. An other fujative [sic] has just come in from Georgia. He says that the crops are verry [sic] short in these states on the southern coast and that it will be with great difficulty that they can subsist their Army. We have a lot of sesesh [sic] prisners [sic] here. I have got quite intimate with several of them. I often talk with them and get their ideas but the most inteligent [sic] of them are verry [sic] Ignorant of the [resorses?] of the Free States. I learn that recruiting is going on verry [sic] fast in our state, that the new [_____?] is fast filling up. I am affraid [sic] that Theophilis will want to volunteer but he is to [sic] young but if he should take a notion to go wheather [sic] or not I would rather you would send him to me yet I may not stay in present situation. This depends on circomstances[sic]. These circomstances [sic] are about this. If Col. John W. Ray comes back & takes command of the 49th I expect that there will be at least one less Capt. in it. I hope and trust for the good of the men & my bleeding Country that he may not come back. If I should leave the 49th I am willing to serve in some other. I love home, I love my family, I would like to be with you but I Know with the state of things now existing that I could not stay at home satisfied. I want you to sum up all your patriotism. I know it is hard for you to be left as you are but your country demands it at your hands. I am well and in fine spirits. We have had to subsist on government suplys [sic] for some time, hard Bread, bacon, dryed [sic] beans, sugar, Coffee, Rice, and mixt [sic] vegetables. We have just bought a bucket of poteates [sic] and a bucket of Beans and we got today two sugar cured hams. If we could get such vegetables we would live better than we do at times. If we could get transportation we would be glad to have butter and such things from home as could not be had in this country. All that we get of the government we get at a reasonable price. It is furnished at the cost to the government and we could not ask anything. If we Still [sic] reamin [sic] her [sic] I do not see how this army can subsist next winter. It is a verry [sic] bad [_____?] at best but when the winter weather sets in the roads is almost impasable [sic]. The government ought to take negroids [sic] enough to make a good road and put them to work on it but there will be a detachment of soldiers to do it if done at all. We are still at work making fortifications. I shall learn something about the business as I am observing things verry [sic] closely as they progress. The man in charge of the works aims to work the same men that are at work at present till the works are completed. I have been a part of two day writing this letter and as I have taken a long nap to day between times Knowing that it cannot go off till tomorrow this has been truly a scrap letter and I have not taken the time to read. I may have made several repepetition [sic]. If I had an opportunity I would get my Teeth fixed. The loss of my front teeth affects my voice. Tom and John are well. John is too young to stand the hardships of a soldier like older ones. I often favor him but if he was put through like some he would see a hard time. In fact, I favor all of my men and they all Know it and speak of it. I Know that they would not be willing for me to leave them under any circomstances [sic]. It is reported that our men have had a skirmish with the enemy near Taswell [sic] to day and that we have captured 300 prisners. [sic] I do not believe this to be true though we sent over in that direction about 4000 Soldiers yestday [sic] and if they came a cross any enemy they would have had a brush. It is a great place in camp to get news and if one would believe half he herd [sic] he would always be taking trouble or Joy to be [disappointed?] when he gets the facts. Both of our surgeons have turned their Resignations.

J. A. Ritter

Ritter Correspondence




2, 1863 - Civilians harassed by Colonel Robert Galbraith's First Middle Tennessee [U. S.] cavalry in Middle Tennessee


Capt. W. C. RUSSELL, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.:

Scouting parties are sent out every day from this command….The Tennessee cavalry of Col. Galbraith is giving me excessive trouble and worrying and plundering through he country whenever they go out. They are under no control or discipline, as far as I can learn. Several instances have come to my hearing of their insulting unprotected females. I could not learn the names of the guilty parties….

Respectfully, yours,

W. C. WHITAKER, Brig. Gen., Cmdg. 1st Div., Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, p. 428




2, "…taint no use to try to fight the whisky they keep here."

A captain arrested yesterday by the guard for drunkenness, when carried before Captain Sheridan, remarked that he had been a the front three years, knew a little about the fighting business, but he must acknowledge that he got somewhat confused by the sudden transformation from the field of battle to a city full of temptation. "By golly, just send me back again; taint no use to try to fight the whisky they keep here."

Nashville Daily Press, August 3, 1864.









[1] Barboursville, Kentucky.

James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214

(615)-532-1550  x115

(615)-532-1549  FAX


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