This letter was written by Lilburn Cummins Rogers (1840-1912), the son of Rowland Rogers (1811-1895) and Mary Cummins (1811-1895) of Cambridge, Guernsey county, Ohio.
Lilburn datelined this letter from the Ohio river port town of Gallipolis, Ohio, on 28 May 1864 while serving as a private in Co. H, 172nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). The 172nd was a 100 days service regiment that spent the entire time of its enlistment guarding government stores at Gallipolis. These troops were intended to provide temporary replacements for more seasoned veterans to participate in Grant’s Overland Campaign which began in May 1864.
Lilburn’s father was described as a zealot who stood tall for his beliefs which included a conviction that slavery was a moral evil. He was one of the first abolitionists in his Guernsey county and took great interest in the underground railroad. “Such was his hatred of slavery and oppression in every form that he did everything in his power to liberate the slaves and rejoiced when the word was accomplished.” [Obituary posted on Ancestry.com] Raised in this environment, it is little wonder that Lilburn came to share his father’s belief in the curse of slavery which, in the following letter, he places the full blame for causing the war.
Gallipolis, Gallia County, Ohio
May 28, 1864
Much respected friends Cat and Maggie,
I received your letter yesterday morning but had not time to converse any with you until this evening. I was much pleased with the first sheet and as you requested me to write soon, I with much pleasure comply with your requests but not much to write that would interest you for I have written the same thing ever so many times that I hate to repeat it anymore.
There is not very many soldiers here now. There is none but our regiment—about 860 men. There was a good many wounded soldiers brought here to the hospital. You can see a great many carrying their arms in a sling. I guess there will be a great many more brought here to the hospital. There is a great many soldiers in the hospital. I have never been to it—only in sight, nor I don’t care much about going for the boys that went to see it said they did not want to go back again.
There is some of our regiment sick. Asbury Miller is sick. He has the fever. And Powell, he has the ague. And there is other companies from another county—I don’t mind the name of it—is sick with the measles. I received a letter from Willy the other day. He is at Cumberland, Maryland. He is well and well satisfied. John Ferryman was to see him.
There was a man and a little child drowned here day before yesterday evening. They fell off of the boat and was never seen afterwards. [see newspaper clipping at right]
Well girls, I have left the quarters and have gone into a regular bakery to bake bread for the regiment. There is six of us bakes bread for eight hundred and sixty men. It keeps us pretty busy, you bet. It is pretty hard work but I believe I would rather do it than muster on the account that it gives me a pain in my side to muster and then I don’t have to stand guard.
Maggie, you stated that Hinkle was missing which I had learnt before which I was very sorry to hear but I sincerely hope that he has not been harmed. And you also stated that he had a good hope of future happiness which is a mighty blessing to him & a great comfort to you and your parents. Many a poor soul has fell in the last few weeks on the bloody field of battle and many a heart has been made to mourn for the loved ones that have perished in the mighty conflict. When I think of it, it brings a sad gloom over my mind. But I hope ere long that this rebellion may come to a stopping point and our country come to peace and harmony & each one return to their homes to learn war no more with the mighty curse that caused it, wiped from existence.
But girls, I will have to close for this evening for it is getting too dark to write and I have to get up at midnight to go to making up bread for I want to get done tomorrow in time to go to meeting. I have been to meeting 3 times since I have been here, twice to the Presbyterians and one to the Methodists. So no more. Good night girls.
Sunday morning, May the 29th. Well girls, I did not get to go to meeting as I told you I wanted to go. I have been hard at work all morning & the bells have rung. But I am going tonight if nothing happens. I like to go to meeting at the forks. It appears to me I could enjoy meeting there now. There is not much Sunday here. They had regimental inspection here this morning. They made a very nice show. But to change the subject. This letter is like the dictionary—it changes the subject very often.
Well Liz, I want you to write more in the next letter and Mag, I don’t want you to write any less. I want you both to write a great big sheet. Give me all the news & particulars. You bet I like to get a letter and will answer promptly. Tell your parents I would be glad to receive a line from them. An old friends advice is sometimes very good when exposed to evils or bad company. Also from Jim and Sade. But my paper is about filled and I have to close. I might write another sheet but I might weary your patience reading it. I want you to write as soon as this comes to hand. You might not be so long as you was the other time. So I will close by saying my love to you all, from your sincere friend — Lilburn C. Rogers
to Cate and Maggie