These letters were written by Samuel Newton (1835-1922) who served in Co. B, 154th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) National Guard. The regiment was mustered into Federal service at Camp Dennison, Ohio on 9 May 1864, and mustered out on 1 September 1864 after 100 days service.
Samuel was the son of William Washington Newton (1805-1845) and Catharine John (1809-1901) of Lebanon, Ohio. He was educated at Waynesville (Ohio) Academy. He was a civil engineer, a merchant, and banker at Xenia where he first took up residency in 1849. According to a biographical sketch of Samuel Newton published by the Bowling Green Universities State Library, Samuel’s dream was to own a sugar-cane plantation in Louisiana, but “he never abandoned his civic duties to Xenia. He entered the business community first as an apothecary and later as a bookseller. He was a founder of Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church and played a vital role in planning its construction.”
He wrote these letters to Mary Annette Halley (1836-1888), the daughter of John and Jessie (Spital) Halley of Markinch, Fifeshire, Scotland, where she was born on 26 April 1836. She came with her parents to America and brought up in Vermont. She was graduated from Newbury Seminary, Newbury, Vermont, in 1858, and was preceptress at Xenia Female College, Xenia, Ohio 1858-1864. She died at Xenia in September 1888. After Mary’s death, Samuel married her sister, Ellizabeth Halley (1842-1927). Mary and Elizabeth Halley’s brother, John Halley, served in the 36th OVI during the Civil War.
[See also—Newton Family Papers, BGSU, MS786.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Camp Dennison [Ohio]
May 10, 1864
My dear Mary
I arrived here safely on the day after I saw you. There was quite a large deputation of Xenia ladies upon the train, coming down to visit our camp, and the aforesaid visitors were kind enough to bring with them a supply of provisions for the “poor soldier boys.” The occupants of the Post Office and Quartermasters Department receive a full share of the “good things: brought by such visitors as they nearly always desire to occupy our quarters as a dining room. If we could always remain at this place, we should surely miss our share of “pork and beans,” but we expect to leave here tomorrow or next day, destination probably some point on the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road. New Creek is now spoken of but so many points have been mentioned that I shall hardly feel certain which one is “the one” until the train starts. Military affairs are decidedly “mixed” here; orders of the morning are countermanded in the afternoon.
Upon returning to camp, I found the men much excited on account of a proposition to cut up the 60th Regiment and distribute it among several others, one of them at least bein made smaller. This scheme was foiled by sending a deputation to Columbus who remonstrated with the Governor pretty strongly and succeeded in getting the Madison County Battalion assigned with us, thereby making up a full regiment.
We drew rations for over nine hundred men. The new organization will be known as the 154th Ohio National Guard. This present arrangement proves quite satisfactory to all of the parties concerned as the Madison County men had been very anxious to go with us. If it or some other one equally satisfactory had not been effected, the regiment would have been marched home. Quartermaster Leon Trader went to Cincinnati last night with the understanding that he should return this morning, but succeeded in missing the train and thereby caused some remarks to be made which were not very complimentary. All of the companies have now been mustered into the United States service, but not for quite five years as I understand some persons have been kind enough to report to the good proph. of Xenia.
This has been the most unpleasant day that we have yet spent in camp: a cold rain has been falling most of the time and the mud has become sufficiently deep to make the trip to Headquarters quite an undertaking. I hope that it will clear up and become a little warmer before we start on our pleasure excursion. We rather expect to pass through Xenia. I have just heard that Professor King was married during the last Holiday Vacation. Who did he marry and why didn’t he bring his wife out with him?
I discovered a day or two ago that Ball (the celebrated photographist of Cincinnati) has a branch establishment here and concluded to give him a trial upon card photographs. Didn’t succeed very well as you will see by the specimen that I enclose. Don’t fail to tell me. Have one of your own dear face as soon as possible.
Please address your letter to 154th Regiment O. V. I. Camp Dennison until I can give you our new location. I shall make arrangements to have letters forwarded. Write very soon.
Yours truly, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Camp Dennison, [Ohio]
May 12, 1864
We are now busily engaged in packing up, everything in confusion. Will leave here probably between 12 and 4 o’clock, passing through Xenia say between 6 and 10 o’clock. I expect to be in one of rear cars with the officers. With much love,
Yours truly, — S. Newton
Address in future: 154th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer National Guard, New Creek Station, B&O Railroad, Virginia
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Camp Dennison [Ohio]
May 12, 1864 10 A.M.
Dear Chum Mary,
Your letter of yesterday is just opened. I regretted much that I did not see you soon enough to have you stop over. I was looking for you and expected you to get off.
Sorry to hear that you have trouble with [ ]. I would give him $1,800 for his interest, allowing him to draw out also the balance to his credit in the firm [ ]. All the debts owing to the firm and profits since April 1, 1864 would belong to me and I would pay all liabilities. Don’t offer him this much at first as it is a very big price and I only offer it to get rid of him. Don’t trust Murphy too far, If he buys, let it be with the private understanding that it is for yourself or myself. I wouldn’t be willing to have him in the firm. Settlement with S. W. & N all right, credit P & Loss with discrepancy. You are entirely right about the [ ] Question, and the Squire has no business to interfere. I estimate the actual value of his interest at about $1,000 including ¼ of profits since April 1, 1864 and all over that as a bonus for the goodwill of the concern and to get rid of him.
I wrote to you this morning saying that we would pass through Xenia but it has since been decided to go by Marietta Railroad. I intend to telegraph you if possible. Will write perhaps while on the road.
Yours, &c. — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
New Creek Station, West Virginia
May 17, 1864
My Dear Mary,
We reached this place on Saturday afternoon after a ride of some fifty hours, changing cars but once (at Ohio River). The first part of our route was much the most tedious—that portion from Columbus to Benwood, being through a sparsely settled region and quite mountainous scenery. After entering Virginia the scenery changes very suddenly, although the first fifty miles are much tamer than the other hundred and twenty-eight, which comprizes the passage over the mountains. If you will examine the illustrations which appeared in Harper’s Magazine some two or three years ago (articles entitled, “A trip over the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad”), you will be able to appreciate the beautiful scenery of this route much better than would be possible for any description that I might give you.
Our camp is located on the North Branch of the Potomac, surrounded upon all sides by mountains and is in as beautiful a place as we saw during the entire route. The location was made famous during Fremont’s Virginia Campaign, some signs of which yet remain in the shape of felled trees and fortifications. There is one fort of some size, now occupied by a mixed lot of three years’ men who have declined to reenlist. The other fortifications consist of only one or two guns each and are not of much strength. One of them is said to be located upon the top of a mountain which commands the entire valley.
We are six miles east of Piedmont which you will remember was attacked by guerrillas less than two weeks ago and a large amount of property burnt. The force here at that time was not sufficiently large to protect both places, but we now have over three regiments located here. It is said that the rebel pickets were within some two or three miles of ours on Sunday night. Not much danger of this place being attacked, however.
It has been raining almost all of the time since we came here and we are able to fully appreciate the excuse (muddy roads) so often given in times past for quietness in the Army of the Potomac. Our camp is upon sandy soil so that we are much more comfirtable than would be expected after the large amount of rain that has fallen. I have not experienced all of the hardships of camp life yet, having made the “village inn” my temporary boarding place. Expect to quit it as soon as we can find a “contraband” for cook. We are provided with the small shelter tents only, consequently when it rains in the manner that it did on Sunday, our quarters are not very dry. In fact, I should prefer the common log cabin that used to be seen in the western country.
While I was writing the above, we were having one of our daily showers. It has now cleared off and the view from the front of my tent is splendid. The mountain sides are covered with forest trees, the dark leaved pine mingled with the chestnut and other trees of a lighter shade of green, giving them a beautifully variegated appearance. One can hardly imagine more handsome scenery than we have before us.
Amongst the places which we passed through on our journey and which have had a name during the present war may be mentioned Grafton which is at the western base of the mountains as Piedmont is at the eastern. We stopped there at breakfast time Saturday morning, found it a good specimen of the Virginia towns, perhaps above rather than below the average. When you hear a Virginia town mentioned, you must not imagine anything like the village of the West or of Yankee-Land, but rather a collection of huts and tumble-down frame houses with in rare instances one or two more pretentious dwellings and if on a line of railroad, perhaps a pretty fair depot. That portion of Xenia known as “Hayti” will compare very favorably with such as I have seen. Such being the Western Virginia towns, what can I expect to see in Old Virginia? Write very soon. With much love, I remain yours truly, — S. N.
Some person being unable to resist the temptation before him has confiscated my inkstand, consequently I have to write with a lead pencil. I hope that you can decipher the letter.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
New Creek Station, West Virginia
Thursday morning, May 24, 1864
My dear, dear Mary
Another week has rolled around and we still remain here. One company of the 154th (Co. F., Capt. King, Lieut. Dan McMillan) has been detached from the regiment and sent to Piedmont, seven miles from here, at the foot of the Alleghany Mountains. The location is not considered a desirable one for the men but is a very important one. The B&O Railroad crossing the North Branch of the Potomac there and also having much valuable property at the station. It is most probable now that the headquarters of the regiment will remain here but some other companies may be sent out upon detached service. I hope that we may remain here until our “hundred days” are over as I consider the location more healthy than any this or that we are likely to be sent to.
On last Saturday I visited some of our picket posts and climbed the highest peak of the New Creek range of mountains. On the summit of this mountain is situated the old Piano Fort (not the kind of a piano forté used in [ ]) which has made loud music in its time but is now deserted. The magazine yet contains a few mementoes of the olden times in the shape of three or four inch shells. I enclose a flower gathered near the fort which you may perhaps value in account of being from a place where I run out and fought. From the top of this mountain we can see the Kenably Mountains which are second in size to the New Creek Range, The scenery is very fine but the country appears almost valueless when compared with the Miami Valley. A Green County farmer would hardly accept one of the farms as a present if coupled with the condition that he should live upon it.
Small bodies of rebels are said to be lurking around but are so insignificant as to be hardly noticed. One squad of our pickets claims to have seen rebel signals during part of one night and three guerrillas in person, but the person in charge of the station being none other than the celebrated Benjamin Franklin January too much reliance should not be placed in the report.
General George W. Cosby has departed. Has become a high private. Has been ordered to Piedmont, &c. &c. Well perhaps our loss may be “King’s” gain. If he cannot again offer to conduct the Dress Parade of the 154th, he may assist company “F” in guarding the Potomac. We shakk endeavor to bear the loss with becoming resignation, remembering the honors that he won upon the banks of the Tennessee River at Pittsburg Landing Battle. Poor George, he and the aforesaid Benjamin Franklin J. may fully consider themselves a persecuted pair.
Your letter of 15th inst. reached me on Thursday and the thought that there was somebody to remember me while I was away “soldiering” have me much pleasure. I wish that the dents containing your “hieroglyphics” (as you call them, very plain to me however) were twice as long and came oftener. Don’t delay writing even if my letters should be “lost in the mails.” I did not know before that you appreciated Mr. Fee about as highly as I do, but even his [ ] would be acceptable to the poor fellows who have… Our chaplain is a good friend of mine but does not appear to be overly anxious to preach. I fear that he will not be the only one that affected by the lazy camp life that we live. I could far prefer to work seventeen or eighteen hours per day as of old.
You speak of Prof. Smith wishing you to teach the Senior Classes in French and Latin during the coming year and if teaching all of the time until Christmas, I should much prefer that you do neither, but want “the dearest girl” in the world to please herself. I want the school of two to reign before Christmas, even that time seems such a long ways off. Consider also the large amount of gossip that the good proph of Xenia would indulge in. Lem Trader has hinted already that he knows something. I hope to receive a letter from you tomorrow evening telling what your “home folks” have to say about your going home this summer. I feel a little anxiety about it, “that’s so.”
Can you manage to read my “hieroglyphics?” If you can’t, I will try to write plainer although it is pretty hard to do so in camp without a desk or even a table.
As ever. Yours truly, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
New Creek Station, West Virginia
May 28, 1864
This is the last letter that I shall write from New Creek for awhile at least. My next letters will be from Greenland to which beautiful ortion of the world we are ordered to march. I feel the appropriateness of Mr. Crowell’s old quotation, “the world goes up and the world goes down, the and the sunshine follows the rain” (the rain follows the rain here more frequently however).
I went to Piedmont on last Wednesday, purchased a lot of lumber and shipped it here, gixed up my tent quite nicely on Thursday, when lo on Friday came marching orders, thereby spoiling all of the nice arrangements that we had made.
Our little pleasure excursion will commence on tomorrow (Sunday) morning and we hope to reach the village of Claysville on the evening of the same day. Don’t you envy us the trip? I would to have the Regiment remain at New Creek, but expect to be very well satisfied with the new location, which is said to be so closely encompassed by mountains that the sun is to be seen fully ten minutes during the twenty-four hours. Probably this is not exactly true, we may see it two or three hours per day during the summer time. I omitted to state that the Greenland to which we are ordered is not the island mentioned in the Geography and the Methodist Hymn Book, but is a Gap in the mountains situated about twenty or twenty-five miles south of this place and only to be reached by marching on a road to which the “Jordan Road” of the Negro Minstrels will compare very favorably.
The position is said to be a very strong one and can be held against an enemy five or six times as large as this garrison. The force situated here will consist of eight companies of the 154th Regiment O. V. N. G., one company of the Second Maryland Cavalry and one section (two guns) of a Battery. It is probable that the two companies of our regiment now on detached service will also rejoin us in a week or two, thus giving us a force of about a thousand men. I think that this position will be our resting place for the next eighty days, after which we will “take our knapsacks” and turn our faces once more towards the O____ State.
You ask if the National Guards will be kept in the service until the war is over. I do not doubt in the least that they will be discharged within thirty days after the “hundred days” are over, but I have strong hopes that the war will be virtually over by that time. It is true that the government has the power to call us out for another tour of service after this is out but I am satisfied that it will not be done.
I hope to see many fine views during the march now before us, which may to some extent repay us for the labor. The “intelligent contraband” who does all cooking and who of course has seen all of Virginia, [—-laid] upon….. &c. &c. (wasn’t a body servant of Jeff Davis though). speaks well of the country, but perhaps this favorable opinion of it is caused by visions of large supplies of eggs & butter on which he expects to feast. Write soon, very soon. Direct as heretofore.
As ever, yours truly, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVEN
Greenland Gap [West Virginia]
May 30, 1864
I added a little slip to the letter that I wrote you on Saturday evening stating that orders had come for the regiment to start much earlier than we expected to.
The men got started about 5 o’clock A. M. and reached this place after a march of twelve hours in which some of them were pretty badly used up, but none of them seriously sick. I came with the wagon train which started some three hours later and made the trip in about ten hours. I marched all of the way and stood it quite well. Was rather tired but am all right today.
Our location is a very handsome one. The camp is situated just below a new fort which the 154th will probably have the pleasure of finishing. I will write again in a day or two.
As ever, yours truly, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHT
Greenland Gap, West Virginia
June 5, 1864
I have concluded to follow the example you have with me, by writing you a letter on Sunday although I have not as goos a reason for so doing as you have. This day appears more like the Sabbath of a Christian land than any other one since we left home, but still it is very different from the one that you have at home. The exercises here consist of Regimental inspections in morning, preparing a heavy expedition for service towards Rebeldom at from one to 3 o’clock, preaching by Chaplain McCaslin (failed to preach) at 3½ o’clock and then perhaps the equipment of one or two scouting parties will close the day’s business.
I received yyour letter of May 29th on Thursday evening and was sorry to hear of your slight illness and of the attempt at “____ breaking,” hope that it will not be repeated ( i. e. ____breaking). So you have some trouble in deciphering my letters when they are written with a pencil. I owe you an apology for writing them in that way, but sometimes it is almost impossible to write with ink and in such cases I use a pencil rather than postpone sending the documents. Sp Mr. Dru_ considers my penmanship “awful.” Why takes my place in Sunday School? How is the ___ Church getting along? I expect that the walls will be up and the roof on before I get home. I am hardly able to realize that we have been from home over a month but I expect that the remaining ten weeks before I see you again will pass much more slowly. As you are unable to decide about the future, I “guess” that I must say “not later than the last of September” if I get through my soldiering by that time and I see no good reason to doubt my being discharged before then. If Professor Smith insists very strongly upon your teaching the Senior class in Latin and French, I will not say “no” positively, although I prefer that you should not.
What do you think about not sitting up a separate establishment of our own this season, but having my Mother and Sister Em live with us? I wish you to say just what you would prefer about this. I enclose check for $100 which please accept with my compliments. I send it thinking that such a present may be acceptable about the time that my “hundred days” are over. It is made payable to the order of sister Em, so that no person except you two need know who it is for. She will present it at the Bank if you wish her to. If you should need any more money to assist you in getting ready for a “certain time,” don’t fail to let me know.
So Xenia is still jogging on as usual. I hear that you had a little fire for variety last week. So you think that Jim T. and Mamie F. will not be married this fall. If Mrs. Fisher consents, I think that they will although it has only been a short time since Jim tried to make me believe that Clint Nichols was the favored suitor and they they were to be married next winter. James still tells pretty heavy yarns but otherwise is doing rather well. I have heard of his being put upon extra duty but once. I wonder who else are to be married.
Many thanks for your photographs. I shall keep both as even if I desired to make way with one of them a walk of twenty miles to the Potomac River would be too much exercise. Does Mrs. D[aniel] P. Jeffries know anything about our affairs? Dan pretends to know something, but I rather guess I convinced him that he was misinformed. By the way, I found a letter in the mail box a few days ago directed to you in an imitation of my writing, which I am satisfied was written by Jeffries. If it contained anything about me, I should be glad to know what it was, as he is a little inclined to be mischievous.
We are getting pretty comfortably fixed here. I finished my tent yesterday except floor and beds and shall have a more convenient office than before. Our location is a beautiful ine and is the place where the author of Guy Livingston” and “Borden and Bastile” was captured. The latter book is a history of the affair and his captain is at our headquarters nearly every day.
The service here is made more exciting than it was at New Creek. Scouting parties being sent out daily. Haven’t captured anything yet except a body of our own scouts sent out in rebel uniform. Better luck next time.
With much love I remain as ever, yours truly, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER NINE
Greenland Gap, West Virginia
Wednesday, June 8, 1864
My Dear Mary,
Your letter of last Thursday reached me on Saturday evening. I wrote to you on last Sunday but as there is something in your letter requiring and immediate answer, I have concluded to give you a double portion this week. So my letter written upon the eve of our departure for “Greenland” was addressed to nobody. If so, you must charge it to our venerable Uncle Samuel who failed to give me a full supply of candles on that memorable day. There being so many inquisitive eyes around, caused me to omit the address until the last moment, and upon that occasion, my supply of candles gave out just as I was finishing your letter and I suppose that I over looked the deficiency. But as you would prefer to receive letters addressed to somebody, I have this time put that part in “at the beginning.”
So the name of “greenland” is associated with the good old Missionary Hymn. We have plenty of mountains but just now the icy part is left out.
The 154th had their first skirmish on Monday last, Madam Rumor to the contrary notwithstanding. A party of about 125 were sent out in Sunday forming a junction with a squad of cavalry, all under command of the Cavalry Major, marched towards Moorfield and when nearly there, met the enemy in ambush by the roadside. Our cavalry were in the advance and lost some four or five men, when the infantry came to the rescue and dispensed the rebels and if the commanding officer had been of the “right stripe,” would probably have captured them and burnt Moorsfield. As it was, the success was not followed up, and our boys all returned to camp last nigh, very weary and footsore, but none wounded or killed. The ene,y’s loss is unknown but supposed to be much the greatest. The boys behaved like veterans and were much chagrined at not being allowed to advance further. I was not on the expedition, but went out with another party on yesterday and returned in the evening without having seen “the enemy.”
But two of the 154th have been wounded during the whole campaign—one at Piedmont (supposed to have been under the command of Captain Whiskey) attached a locomotive and came off second best in the fight. The other found a stick of wood too heavy and lost a toe thereby. Neither case supposed to be dangerous. There are sundry rumors in camp in regard to moving again but they are merely “camp rumors” having no good foundation. It is possible that we may be ordered to move but I think not very likely. If we so, it will probably be back to New Creek or “On to Washington.”
I am well pleased with the arrangements that you propose in regard to our wedding and will notify you about the time that we will return to Xenia as soon as I can find it out myself. Where do you expect to visit after leaving Xenia? I shall be very glad to be in “our city” a little while before our “hundred days” are over, but it could not be right for me to leave “my duty” even if I could obtain a furlough without difficulty. I see from a notice in the Advocate that your school year closes on 22nd inst. which is one week earlier than I expected.
If my “folks” should hear of the skirmish near Moorsfield and be uneasy about me, please quiet their fears.
Life in camp is very dull, therefore don’t restrict yourself to one letter per week but take mercy on me and write more frequently. Believe me as ever, yours truly, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TEN
Greenland Gap, West Virginia
Sunday Morn., June 12, 1864
Your letter of last Sunday was received on Wednesday evening. I am happy to be able to state that your fears in regard to the effects of the long march upon me are entirely groundless. In fact, my health has been as god since we arrived here as it ever has been. Have not had anything more than a slight cold since I left Xenia, and that has “departed” long ago. Greenland is one of the “healthy places of the world,” and it really seems that if it was not for bad and “black sand” the people would live almost forever or “dry up and blow away” like they are said to do in some favored place at West (which Harper’s Magazine locates in the Rocky Mountains).
I hear that you Xenians have dreadful reports about the danger here. Mother writes to me that [ ] told her on Saturday that “Jim says that we are in danger every moment.” I expect that Madam Rumor will have at least one half of us killed off before our “hundred days” are over. I consider this post almost as safe as New Castle and you must not be uneasy about us. No body of rebels could come upon us without our having due notice from the Union men around us, and with due notice we could hold the post against a far superior force. Part of the local history is that eighty New York soldiers held the Gap against four or five hundred rebels and were then only conquered by their quarters being burnt—a la Fort Sumter.
The box sent by Dan McMillan arrived last night. Many thanks for your kind wishes. Articles sent from home are chiefly prized on account of the associations. We shall be very well supplied so far as eatables go while we remain here and have a few “greenbacks” left.
I send this letter by Mr. Jeffries who starts for Cincinnati this afternoon on account of the death of his step-father. He intends to return in about a week. By the way, I am certain that he wrote the “toothache” anonymous letter. Was there anything special in it? If so, I should be glad to have a “peep at it,” that’s so.
It is expected that quite a large body of our men will be sent out today or tomorrow with two days rations, destination unknown as yet. I suppose that you have heard of the capture of Staunton. Staunton is the county seat of Augusta county, the second county south of us. If [ ] holds that place, and McNeill’s squad of men should be captured, there will be no necessity for our remaining here, thus my nice tent would have to start upon its travels again. How do the Xenia people feel about John Morgan now? I hope that Mrs. F. will not take the pony into the parlor for a day or two yet. Perhaps however, it would be well for Mr. Allen to have his “Bank” sign taken down and r___ in anticipation of another visit fro the guard.
What do our “thousand and one” kind friends have to say about the coming wedding? Does Professor Smith have any remarks to make? Does he expect the event to take place after the fall term begins?
I wrote to you twice during the last week and was much pleased to receive an equal number from you, and hope that you will continue the good practice. You can hardly know how much good it does a soldier to receive letters from home.
How much of a trip do you wish to make after my hundred days are over? With much love, I remain as ever yours truly, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ELEVEN
New Creek, West Virginia
June 16, 1864
Your letter of last Monday has just reached me. You will see by the heading of this that I have McLellan-like, changed my base of operations from Greenland [Gap] to New Creek. The change, however, will be of but short duration for we only came down to attend to some business and expect to return tomorrow or next day. I expect to go to Piedmont this evening and see the boys there for a few hours. I hear that several of them are quite sick—among them Capt. King has been named. Dr. Leigh McClung has been their physician for only about a week but will have to rejoin the regiment immediately. Surgeon [George] Watt having gone out with a force in the direction of Moorsville and Petersburg. Nothing has been heard from the expedition since it left except that it took the road towards Petersburg.
I am very glad that the arrangements in regard to which I wrote you prove satisfactory. I haven’t been troubled by visions of spoiled dinners and suppers which you so feelingly relate.
As I jave much business to attend to before the train leaves (which time is not far off), I shall have to close with a promise of another letter after I reach Greenland, provided the Rebs don’t gobble &c.
With much love, I am yours truly, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWELVE
Greenland Gap, West Virginia
Sunday eve., June 19, 1864
My Dearest Mary,
Your very welcome letter was received while at New Creek, from which place I sent you a short note promising to give you the trouble of reading a loner one in a day or two. I returned here (Greenland) in safety and without any very special adventures.
So you have a “cold spell” in Xenia similar to the one [ ] by sundry B____ and upon a visit to Greenland, which aforesaid visit it not yet quite half out. Many of them were grumbling “a good deal” at the weather, but the “subscriber” got along very comfortably. We now have a promise of the other extreme of temperature, which promise will probably be fulfilled unless it should be decided that a little more rain would suit the case better. I wrote home on last night, sending the letter by Jim Thirkield who has a pass to go to Piedmont and return within three days, but intends togo to Xenia and be absent an indefinite length of time. I should not be surprised if he and Maury Miller (who has gone home in the same way) were arrested and sent back here, perhaps in irons. I would have written to Jim by him but feared that he wouldn’t be entirely “safe.” There is a report in camp that Mr. Thirkield’s store was robbed of a large amount of merchandize during this past week. Is it true? Jim says that he received a letter from Maime F. stating the loss at about $3,000.
We received news from our absent boys last night. Some of them got back to camp about eleven o’clock and report that the remainder are encamped about sixteen miles from here on the Moorfield Road. The detachment was in a skirmish but suffered no loss whatever. The cavalry captured two rebel soldiers or bushwhackers four mules, and sundry stuff, &c. which latter were put into immediate use.
L__ Trader attempted to capture some hams but concluded that pork was not very healthy before loading them in the wagon train. He was aided very much in arriving at this conclusion by the view of a few Rebels. He really had quite a narrow escape from being captured. He was here last night but started out with a provision train again this morning. I expect the Xenia people will be favored with frightful reports about the 154th Regiment being cut up badly. Many losses in killed, wounded and missing &c. Not a single man has been lost up to yesterday afternoon. Also please remember when hearing of battles in Virginia that that state is frequently able to have two or three towns of the same name, thus we have our Piedmont in the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and another one quite distant from here and another south of Richmond (General Butler has thought of making a call at the latter one sometime soon).
I would give a good deal to be in Xenia for a little while, but eight weeks more will soon pass by and I would not go home in the style that “some” fellas have even if I had ten times eight weeks yet to serve.
This “document: I expect will reach you just in the burry of commencement exercises which I hope will pass off pleasantly. Do you have an Alumnae Party this year?
Don’t forget that I have been writing you about two times per week for some time past.
Yours truly, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THIRTEEN
Greenland Gap, West Virginia
June 26th 1864
My Dear Mary,
I was a little disappointed last night on account of not receiving a letter from you, but suppose that I shall have to charge it to the labors incident to the last of your school days. I expect that the fact of being no longer a “school-ma’am” appears decidedly odd to you after your long experience at the business, but I trust that your new occupation will prove a much more pleasant one. I wrote to you on last Thursday sending the letter by Sam’l J. Oakley under cover to Chauncey which letter I suppose that you will receive today.
Our news here is not very startling. Capt. McNeill (the guerrilla leader of this country) is committing some depredations, but not attacking any very large parties of men. One day last week he attacked the wagon train of a company of Home Guards (known here as Swamp Dragoons), destroyed one wagon and captured all of the horses but was repulsed with the loss of his most efficient lieutenant, who was sent to Moorsfield for interment while our forces occupied that place.
Another supply train of the Swamps passed through our camp yesterday and at their request two of our companies (A and E) were detailed to assist in guarding it as they feared another attack from [John Hanson] McNeill. After they had been gone about two hours, news was brought to Headquarters that McNeill was in ambush waiting for the train about eight miles from here on the Petersburg road. Upon this information, two other companies (D & G) were sent out with a detachment of cavalry with the design of getting in his rear and thereby capturing him. In this, they were not successful and returned to camp quite early this morning. Upon arriving at the place indicated they were unable to find any traces of him, but it is the impression here that he was near there and finding our forces too large to cope with, concluded that he had better not make the attack. It is thought possible that he may make an attack at a point about five miles beyond the place where our escort intended to leave the trains, but if companies A and E hear of this, it is most likely that they will go a little farther, and guard them past the expected place of attack.
Our boys will feel very much elated if they capture McNeill as he has eluded the efforts of all the commanders that have been here and at New Creek during the last two years. Perhaps the 154th may have the honor of capturing him, but I fear not as he is noted for being as sharp in eluding his pursuers as Renard.
I guess that you don’t care where we go while making the trip mentioned in a previous letter, although you seem to be a very very little moonstruck. I notice that there is a line of Steamers advertised to run between Cleveland and Lake Superior during July and August and I think that this would be as pleasant a route as we could take, but I fear very much that I cannot get home soon enough for it, our time not expiring until the middle of August with a possibility of being kept for a short time longer. The round trip is advertised to be made in about seven or eight days from place of starting and as I have been absent from my business so long, time will have a little weight in making up the decision. What does “the dearest girl” think about it? If you prefer Jericho, Jimtown, or “any other place,” don’t fail to say so as it quite uncertain whether I can get home before the boats lay up for the season.
With much love, I am as ever, yours truly, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOURTEEN
Headquarters [ ]
Greenland Gap, West Virginia
July 2nd 1864
I have been waiting in vain for a letter from you for a long, long while having received none since the one written June 15 but have finally come to the conclusion that perhaps one or two have been captured by the rebels or miscarried. I still have a little hope of receiving on tomorrow if the mail is not “gobbled up” as it was last night between here and New Creek. I expect that the “rebs” had a good time reading the letters to our boys after the last mail captured, as the carrier reports that it was a large one. Our boys lost their horses in yesterday’s “scrape,” and two in Tuesday—one of them escaping back to New Creek in this affair. Have you received my letters 23rd and 26th ultimo?
Henry Miller reports that there was a regular jam at the Alumnae Party. Were there many persons from a distance? How did it pass off? I have learned through Jeffries and Mrs. Conwell that the King —- M ordered “wedding” has been postponed. If so, I hope that it has been to some certain time and not indefinitely. They have made too many preparations for to be disappointed now.
Have you had any warm weather in Xenia recently? The thermometer is said to have stood at 95° here yesterday, which I think a little warmer than necessary, as my tent stands upon the side hill without a tree more than two feet high within two or three hundred feet. Today is a very little cooler as yet, but you can easily imagine how difficult it is to write letters under such circumstances, eighteen hours labor per day in a civilized country would be pleasant in comparison. But we must console ourselves with the idea that it might be far worse than it is here.
The news in camp is about as dry as the weather. Almost nothing to do except guarding provision trains to and from New Creek. Last night we had a very small variation caused by some of the pickets firing upon what they supposed to be a bear (afterwards found to have been only a hog) just while one of our mail carriers was relating his adventures when in the hands of the rebels that captured him during the afternoon. The long roll was beat and the companies got out into line on very good time, but before any further movement was made, one of the pickets came running in to inform us that they had only fired upon a bear (!). Some search was made for the aforesaid animal by Lieut. Col. Wilson, S. N. and several others but without success. This morning signs of a hog were found instead of bear tracks.
Have you come to a decision about where you will spend the next six weeks? If you go to Vermont, I may endeavor to come home in that way, although it is not quite certain whether I would be able to get leave to do so. I shall be compelled to make this letter shorter than usual as it is nearly time for our mail carriet to make his appearance and the mail is yet to order up.
Don’t fail to write very often—twice a week if possible.
Ever yours, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIFTEEN
New Creek, West Virginia
July 6, 1864
My dear Mary,
I received your letter of 2nd inst. on last last night. As this was the first one that I had received from you since the one written June 15th, you may understand how glad I was to see your handwriting once more. You will see by the date of this that we have changed our base of operations to this pleasant village, which pleasant operation will have to be performed again this evening and tomorrow when the 154th OVM returns to Greenland Gap. We left there on afternoon of July 4th taking the longest route (which gave us about 12 miles extra marching) and reached here yesterday morning. The regiment, together with an battery and cavalry, were ordered to fall back to New Creek in order to defend that place from an anticipated attack by the rebels that have been destroying the B&O Railroad beyond Cumberland. The movement caused the loss of a large amount of Government stores and little conveniences that we had got up for ourselves. The march was quite a hard one—many of the boys giving out entirely. I carried from one to two guns for the sick ones nearly all of the first ten or twelve hours of the march but concluded that my own baggage was sufficient load for me during the balance of the time. I got through pretty comfortably. Rode a little distance upon a horse that had been taken by one of our scouts. I reached the place nearly an hour before the regiment.
Now that you are relieved from school duties, I shall expect to receive two or three letters a week from you. If you cannot decipher this, please charge it to the inconveniences of camp life as it [was] written upon a pocket book while the writer is seated upon a blanket.
Yours as ever, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIXTEEN
Greenland Gap, West Virginia
July 7, 1864
My Dear Mary,
We arrived here safely this afternoon and found our old quarters in as good order as we could expect. I feel no bad effects from the march except that I am pretty badly sunburnt. But the pain from this will probably subside in the next twenty-four hours. The march was not near so laborious as the one of Monday and Tuesday, the distance being much less. I wrote to you from New Creek on yesterday morning.
I merely send you this note to let you know that we arrived here safely and have not time now (9½ P. M.) to write a larger one.
Write very often. Yours truly, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVENTEEN
Greenland Gap, West Virginia
July 10, 1864
My Dear Mary,
YOur note of 6th inst. was received yesterday evening. In it you mention that you have not received a letter from me for a week. This is rather strange as you ought to have received at least two within that time. I wrote to you at the following dates—viz: June 23, 26, July 2, 6 & 7. I expect that the delinquencies will have to be charged to the Post Office Department. At the time you were writing, I had not received and from you for about two weeks.
I hope that you had a pleasant time at the 4th of July Celebration. Ours was slightly different from the Programme that had been made out. Instead of a pleasant little celebration in camp, we spent the afternoon in marching to New Creek by a road that passed over the top of the Alleghany Mountains and in addition to the heavy labor od ascending the mountains, had to march nearly twice as far as necessary. Our stay in New Creek was but short, and on Wednesday afternoon we commenced our journey back to Greenland, this time taking the short road.
How did the Christian Commission Festival pass off? I suppose that they had a grand affair.
We are getting along quietly. Have sundry camp rumors about attacks from the enemy that never take place (the boys had one appointed for last night by 800 cavalry but the programme failed), are not much excited over the Maryland and Pennsylvania raid thinking that it will end in the capture of the rebels, and are much [ ] over the reported capture of Petersburg.
Have you decided positively of whether you will go home this summer? [ ] say that you cannot get ready for a certain event before the latter part of September. I am a little bit disappointed as I had expected it to be immediately after my “hundred days” are out, but if you cannot be ready by that very uncertain time, I must agree to [ ] the “dearest girl” has said. It is somewhat uncertain what time I will be able to get home. The hundred days expire about the middle of August, but we may be held for some time longer, and also may leave to wait some time for a mustering officer to Camp Dennison or Chase.
How is the new Methodist Church getting along and how do the people like its appearance? I regret much that I cannot be at home to superintend some of the work. I wish you to be a “good girl” now that you are out of school and write me real long letters two or three times per week.
Yours truly, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHTEEN
Greenland Gap, W. Virginia
July 16, 1864
Your letter of 7th inst. was received on Wednesday evening. Your letters are always read with much pleasure and no objections will ever be made to the length, even if you are “tempted to attach one or two additional sheets.” I will commence the reply to your letter in the Irishman’s style—at the last page. You enquire whether Jim S. and Mamie P. are yet corresponding. They do not in a direct way but I suspect pretty strongly that it is done under cover to Allie Miller. Jim has written to Miss Allie and I charged him point blank with sending letters in this way to Mamie, but he denied it most positively. His denials do not amount to much however. It would be pretty hard to find a person in the regiment who has a worse reputation that he has generally. I regret that Melin K. and Mrs. M. have difficulty in harmonizing their religious opinions. Both the Baptist and Clinton Presbyterian Churches are very bigoted in their opinions. In one, people cannot go to Heaven without being immersed. The other makes the singing of [Francis] Rouse’s version of the Psalms positively necessary. Possibly Mr. M. may give up some of his opinions about the inspired character of Rouse’s version like our Chaplain and some of the other members of the Psalm-singing churches have here. I noticed the Chaplain joining in the Methodist Long Meter Doxology on last Wednesday evening and I have seen Milton Andrew (partner of Annie Moore’s father) singing hymns several times. I say this not forgetting that you are in favor of using the Psalms in Public Worship, but also remembering that you do not believe in the special inspiration of the Rouse.
What do the Xenia people think about the present raid into Maryland? I consider it an expedition sent out for the join purpose of causing part of Grant’s Army to be withdrawn from the front of Richmond and gathering a large booty from the region overrun. I do not think that they expected to capture either Baltimore or Washington, but they may have hoped to be able to save Richmond by frightening the politicians of Washington into believing that they were in great danger, and thereby cause a considerable portion of Grant’s Army to be withdrawn from their operations at the “front.” I hope that they will not succeed in doing even this.
The news I received here today and the character of the cannonading heard yesterday, it is very probably that the rebels are retreating already. If so, it will most likely be by nearly the same route that they came up. It is possible, however, that they may be driven over to the next valley towards the west in which case they will pass about twenty-five or thirty miles east of here, but would not be likely to attack us, pressed as they would be by General [David] Hunter (who is said to be at Martinsburg now) and by the other Union forces in pursuit. Therefore, you should not be frightened in account of rumors that may be started, only having their foundation in the imaginations of boys who do not know what to write and the fears of people at home. Should there be any difficulty here, you will see it in the Cincinnati Dailies before letters could possibly be received from any person here.
I fear that the arrangements you mention for the coming year at Xenia Female Seminary would not be the best that could be made for the welfare of the Institution. The professor will be very unwise if he does not engage as good a corps of teachers as the L___ Seminary advertises.
Em. writes to me that the festival went off quite pleasantly but does not say anything about the probable profits. As this was the important part of the affair, I should be pleased to hear the result.
I send this letter by Mr. Brewer who goes home on account of sickness in his family. I remain very truly yours, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER NINETEEN
Greenland Gap, W. Virginia
July 21st 1864
My dearest Mary,
Your two letters of 13th and 15th inst. arrived here on Monday and Wednesday respectively. I am quite glad that you are trying to be so “good” in regard to the letter question and hope that you will continue in well-doing. I sent you an epistle (about one and a half sheets in length) by Mr. Brewer of Patten Springs on last Sunday morning. I hope that you were able to finish reading it by Tuesday evening. I wonder if you have to lay my letters aside until you have plenty of vision to decipher them. Your letters do not have to wait many minutes before they are read, and no difficulty has yet been experienced in “making them out,” your predictions to the contrary notwithstanding. At once I have proved you to be a false prophet and can only suggest one method of doing penance for the “sin” which is to make your answers twice as long.
I heard on Tuesday evening that our regiment had been captured with the exception of one man who was killed. As the news came by way of Xenia and we were not aware of having seen more than three or four rebels at a time since our return from New Creek, some efforts were made to discredit it even if it did come from a place which stories are never told. I will try and send you a dispatch by (grapevine) telegraph if such an unhappy event should occur. What do the “wise proph” who were “shaking their heads” about the danger of Washington &c. have to say now that the rebels are flying as fast as possible and even then unable to carry off all of their ill gotten booty by reason of the pursuit by Hunter &c.? It is said here today that there has been a fight going on since yesterday at some point between Harper’s Ferry and Winchester. As I am satisfied that we have a sufficient force there, I feel no uneasiness in regard to the result.
We have been having a “dry spell” here like the one that you had recently, but last night the “clerk of the weather” concluded to change the programme and give us some rain. As this was to be considered “new,” I concluded to get up “something new” also, a la Aesth. Soc. Accordingly, I “shouldered a musket,” “girded on” my revolver &c. and started out deer stalking. I made my bed in a nice soft meadow and was lulled to sleep by the rain-drops pattering upon the rubber poncho (new version of “rain upon the roof”) in which I had rolled myself. In the morning, we climbed one of the Alleghany Mountains in search of deer but had to return without seeing even a single one. This will not compare, however, with the annual deer hunt that Mr. Allen and others take, sometimes spending a fortnight in the woods without getting a single one to show as a trophy.
Please give me a few more sheets of “hieroglyphics” to decipher as soon as possible.
I remain, yours truly, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWENTY
Greenland Gap, West Virginia
July 24, 1864
Your letter of 13th inst. arrived here on yesterday. I give you credit for being “real good” as this is the third one that I have received during the past week—one of themm however, was delayed on the road.
You must not be very much surprised if my next should be headed “New Creek Station” as there is pretty nearly an even chance of our staying here or being relieved by other troops and going there to take their place. The probabilities are slightly in favor of our going to New Creek. It is possible that we may know which it is to be before this letter is started upon its journey to the “civilized land.”
Judging from the first part of your letter, you have had a small specimen of the fine (!) weather that we have been favored with here for some time past. It has been more comfortable since the time that I went “deer-stalking” and one or two of the nights were quite cold with frost in some places.
Has Professor Smith yet made his arrangements for the next school year? I hope that he will not engage Miss Irwin as I do not think that she would be able to fill the place satisfactorily. It would be pretty had to convince the Professor of this, however, as he seems to think her perfection or as near to it as any person can be in this world.
By the Bye, I have been “drumming” for the school a little since we have been here, and it is possible that next year’s catalogue may contain the names of a couple of Misses from Virginia. I have never seen them but their father (Mr. Seymour) has been in camp for a day or two under charges of selling cattle to rebel contractors after having taken the oath of allegiance. The elder one (Miss Kate) was formerly at Hillsborough Female Seminary [in Ohio] and their father prefers sending to Ohio again.
Our time of return to the “Old Buckeye State” draweth nigh—only about three weeks more and our “hundred days” will be out. I shall not be at all sorry when that time arrives and I recommence working from sixteen to twenty hours per day. Soldier life as I have seen it does not suit me, although my time has been spent very comfortably. After having been in business as closely as I have for the last fifteen years, it seems rather odd to be supplied with so much smaller an allowance of work.
Do the people of Xenia still gossip about our affairs a good deal? Surely some people could not live without talking about the affairs of others.
When you make the talked of visit in the country, do not forget that somebody wants to hear from you very often. As ever, — S. Newton
Today’s mail has arrived without any orders in regard to the talked of march to New Creek.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWENTY-TWO
New Creek, West Virginia
Sunday, July 31, 1864
My Dear Mary.
Your letter of 24th July reached me on Wednesday evening. You little thought while writing that the reply would come from this place instead of “Greenland’s Ict (!) Mountains” but such is the fact. I wrote to you a sort note on Sunday evening and sent it by Dr. McClung announcing our safe arrival here. This march was much the easiest one that I have made between the two places. In fact, I felt less fatigued after I arrived here than I did when we left our old quarters. We had been looking for marching orders for some hours and expected that we would have to leave on Tuesday afternoon but were somewhat surprised about 10 P. M. Monday by receiving orders to march at once. The Colonel concluded to give the men three or four hours rest before starting. As I commenced packing up my “possessions” immediately I had but about half an hour’s time to prepare for marching.
I think that our last trip has been made over that road and consider it quite likely that we may be in Ohio again within ten days from this time. It depends somewhat upon the result of the present rebel raid which is assuming much more formidable proportions than any of us expected that it would. They or a part of their force are said to be at Hancock, Maryland, this afternoon and their appearance at that point forty-five miles from Cumberland seems to be disturbing General Kelley very much—even to the extent of ordering the U. S. stores removed from New Creek. Some people in this department are so [ ] as to have but little faith in his bravery &c. Hancock is on the road between Maryland and Virginia at about the narrowest part of the “neck” and if any considerable number of rebels are there, it is most probably with the intention of making a raid into Pennsylvania. The news is making some little excitement in camp but for my part, I do not think that any rebels will make their appearance here. It is possible, however, that some of our forces may be sent after them. In fact, some of our artillery will probably start this evening. If any infantry should be sent, it will most likely be the 6th or 10th Virginia Regiments; our Colonel being in command of this post will be in favor of the 154th remaining here.
So the Xenia folks are troubled with “light fingered gentry.” I suppose that the thieves that entered C___ Vigns’ home stole property belonging to her uncle. If so, I don’t pity him much. Last fall after his discharge from the army, he went around town soliciting aid as a poor soldier nearly out of money, &c. While he was making his appeal to one man, I had curiosity enough to examine his bank account and found that he had $500 or $600 deposited to his credit.
I am not very well pleased with Prof. Smith’s arrangements for this coming year—especially that part which assigns Latin and French to “Miss Halley,” but suppose that I shall have to consent with as good a grace as possible. I think that “that young lady” will have some housekeeping to occupy her mind instead of teaching. So my letter of 21st was opened but not read by my little brother. I expect to enclose this one with one to Em and send them by Chaplain [Robert] McCasslin, hoping that it will not meet with the same sad fate.
The first death in our regiment occurred today—a Mr. [Benjamin F.] Cheney of Fairfield. We had hoped to return home without the loss of a single man and this first one happening so near the end of our term of enlistment makes us feel quite sad. There have been a few cases of desertion but none wounded or missing in battle. Our regiment seems to be among the most favored of the Ohio National Guards. Some have lost very heavily. The 133rd that came home only a few days before we did in the great Hunter raid and suffered like all others engaged therein.
9½ P. M. The 6th and 10th Virginia are just ordered to Cumberland, consequently we are not likely to leave here, being almost all of the infantry left at this place. Don’t be frightened by the dreadful stories that will surely be written home by sundry persons who like to make people believe that they have passed through great dangers.
Visions of the letter to Em and perhaps one to Chauncey that I have yet to write tonight admonish me to say “good bye.”
With much love, I remain as ever, yours truly, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWENTY-THREE
New Creek, West Virginia
Thursday, August 4, 1864
Your letter of July 31st arrived last night. I guess that I shall have to plead “not guilty” to the charge of writing to you but once last week, as you “acknowledge” the receipt of two—one from Greenland dated 24th and one from this place sent by Dr. Paine.
Well, our great scare is over at last, without Cumberland or New Creek being captured—a scare caused by the want of bravery upon the part of somebody at C. principally. The flag of truce demanding the surrender of Cumberland seems to have been sent in by McNeill (who had perhaps two or three hundred men) for the purpose of keeping our forces in the town while he “gobbled up” sundry horses and cattle in the neighborhood. I presume that you have ‘ere this read Gen. [Benjamin Franklin] Kelley’s self-glorifying McClellan-like dispatch to the Governor of West Virginia in regard to the battle [of Cumberland] in which he reports that they fought from 4 P. M. until dark, when the enemy retreated, leaving his killed and wounded, &c. This great battle lasting about four hours was not quite as bloody as some others that have taken place during the war. In fact, the loss may be summed up as follows: one horse killed and three or four men wounded upon our side. The rebels suffered a very little more. I fear that too many of our reported victories have about as much foundation as this one.
So you think that the number of hours work that I have been accustomed to in times past appear rather formidable and would only give your “dissolving views” except on Sundays. I expect that I shall have to “do better” after the latter part of next month, and give you no excuse for wanting to teach some French and Latin. You know that I am not very willing for you to do even this, and would most certainly say “no” to your continuing to be “preceptress.” How long do you intend to stay at Washington? From present indications I think that we will be at home within two weeks and of course I shall want to see you as soon as possible. Please to continue sending your letters to this place regularly until I advise you that we have left.
When does the King-Morehead wedding take place? I hope not before our return!
7 P. M. The above was written before dinner. While I was at the hotel waiting for dinner, the alarm was given that the rebels were driving our pickets in. The officers went to the fort and sent out Cos. A & H of 154th and 4 companies of the 6th Virginia skirmishing. Some pretty smart work has been done this afternoon but none of the Ohio boys killed. One (Ad Smith) of Xenia wounded and some others from the country. As I write, the cannon have commenced firing. Have been at it nearly all the afternoon. Will write as soon as possible again. Rebel force unknown.
Yours truly, — S. Newton
I feel no anxiety about the assault. Let mother &c. have the news.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWENTY-FOUR
New Creek Station, West Virginia
August 5, 1864
I commenced writing to you on yesterday but met with a little interruption before the letter was completed. I added a short note in pencil about the battle up to seven o’clock.
The cannonading that I mentioned was taking place while I was writing was about the close of the affair. The only fighting that took place after that time was a brisk little skirmish that occurred at the post Guard House just about dusk and possibly was a ruse on the part of the rebels to cover their retreat, which commenced at sunset. The rebel force is variously estimated at from fifteen hundred to four thousand—all mounted and under the command of General McCauslin who is also said to have had from two to five pieces of artillery. Rebel prisoners say that their officers understood or force to be quite small, that they expected to take the place quite easily, and were much surprised at the vigorous defense. Their artillery practice was very poor. Citizens living near the place where their guns were placed were most positive that they fired fully one hundred rounds of which we saw the flash of one, heard nothing of their shot or shell. Our artillery was quite severe upon them however. The hardest fighting was at Fort Piano which the rebels captured from our pickets. From this point they fired at us quite sharply with small arms, making our position in the new fort quite lively with the music if musket balls. A large number passed very close to me but I was fortunate enough to escape injury.
Our loss is now stated at nine killed, twenty-four wounded, and a small number missing. None of the 154th are reported killed, seven are wounded (one dangerously Jos. Baldwin of Yellow Springs) and a few missing. The lists will not be made up before tomorrow evening as some of the missing mat yet come in. This morning the 154th together with one section artillery and a squad of cavalry started after the enemy, not with the expectation of bringing on another engagement but more as a reconnaissance in force to discover where the enemy had gone to. We discovered that they had started in the direction of Winchester leaving some of their wounded behind. We learn from prisoners taken that their loss was about sixty.
The only wounded Xenia boys are Ad[am] L. Smith [Co. B] and Milton Fookes [Co. E], both quite slightly.
There is quite a large force here today, reinforcements having been received during the night from Cumberland. General Kelley visited is this morning coming in with one iron-clad car. All quiet this afternoon. No probability of another attack.
As Ever. Yours truly, — S. Newton
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWENTY-FIVE
New Creek, West Virginia
August 10, 1864
I guess that you have forgotten to write to me twice per week as the last letter that I have received from you is dated July 31st. Don’t forget that there is somebody here who desires to hear from you very often.
I wrote on 5th inst. giving some account of our battle with the rebels under General [John] McCausland and Bradley [Tyler] Johnson. The 154th boys that were wounded in the engagement are all getting along well except Joseph Baldwin of Yellow Springs who died on Monday. Part of those reported missing have since come in, leaving our loss now as follows: killed none, wounded four (1 since died), missing five, whole loss of U. S. forces engaged, killed 9, wounded 24, missing 5.
On last Sunday, Gen. Averell’s Cavalry caught up with McCausland and JOhnson at Morefield, surprising them completely and whipping them badly although the rebels had double the number of men. Between four and five hundred prisoners were tajen besides a great amount of small arms, four pieces of artillery and much of the plunder that they had brought from Chambersburg. General Averell arrived here with the prisoners on last Monday evening. Part of his forces started East this morning and the remainder are now (11½ P. M.) loading their horses on board the cars and will get started by daylight tomorrow morning.
The prisoners were sent to Wheeling yesterday under a guard of about two hundred of the 154th OVNG. I hear this eveving that they have been ordered to go on to Camp Chase, in which case I presume our boys will not return here as our time is so nearly out.
We expect to leave here for Camp Dennison about next Wednesday 17th inst. but may be disappointed. Please continue writing to this place until you hear that we have actually started home, as the letters that reach here after our departure will be forwarded. I feel quite anxious to get back to the Buckeye State once more and see the “loved ones at home.”
Yours truly, — S. Newton