This letter was written by Jacob Shanklin (1841-1863) who died in November 1863 of the wounds he received in the Battle of Missionary Ridge while serving in Co. C, 41st Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). Jacob enlisted as a private on 19 September 1862 and was mustered out of the company two years later on 27 November 1863—two days after the battle, at Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Jacob was the son of Irish emigrant John Shanklin (1804-1899) and Mary Jane Wiseman (b. 1814) of East Union, Wayne county, Ohio.
I can’t be certain of her identity, but I believe that Jacob may have written this letter to Elizabeth Salmon (b. 1842) who was enumerated in the household of Peter Gerald in Wooster, Wayne county, Ohio in the 1860 US Census.
Colonel Hazen, a Regular Army officer, organized the 41st Ohio Regiment at Cleveland in the fall of 1861, and saw its first service at Pittsburgh Landing (Shiloh), losing severely. After the siege of Corinth it rested at Athens, Alabama. Moving with Buell’s army, to Louisville and returning to Murfreesboro, the Regiment lost about 73 of its force. At Chickamauga it again lost heavily, and was complimented by Thomas at Mission Ridge. The Regiment returned from Veteran furlough to perform well its part in the Atlanta campaign, losing more or less heavily in the various encounters. Returning from there it did good service with Thomas at Nashville, and finally rested at Huntsville, Alabama, after the pursuit of Hood. In June, 1865, the Regiment was ordered to Texas, and mustered out at San Antonio in November.
For a good article on the 41st OVI, see “Summoning Hell’s Half Acre: The 41st Ohio in the Round Forest” on Dan Masters’ Civil War Chronicles. See also—1862-63: John Henry Wakefield to Hellen (Wakefield) Munyan.
[Transcribed by Jeannette Ann Vannan; edited & researched by Griff]
December 6, 1861
Miss E. A. Salmons, dear friend,
I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well at present and hoping these few lines may find you enjoying the same health. Tis been a long time since I have had the time to write, but finding a few leisure moments, I thought I would write to you we are in camp expecting every moment to get marching orders to go to Cumberland gap where there is 60,000 men well fortified. There will be some hard fighting to do but God speed the right in all cases.
Since we left Camp Wood, we have been in Gallipolis, Louisville, Camp Dennison, Camp Jenkins. I can’t tell where we will be next but I hope to be at home next year. You may see me very soon. You ought to [see] us boys in our muslin houses when it snows. We get up in the morning covered with snow, get up Co. C., fall out for roll call, then the boys growl about getting out from their warm blankets. But what gets them the worst is getting marching orders about 12 o’clock at night. Then the boys fall out, sling knapsacks and haversacks with 3 days provisions and have the beef burnt, march all night too. Tis a pleasant thing to fight for one’s country. I hope it is and more to get along. That’s what killed the horse.
I wish that I was in your company to talk of the times we had buggy riding.
It almost seems those those lips of thine
Might kiss away the pain
To dream of joys that one in
had but now can have again.
The black crow was a [ ] song
Its plumage it was white
If I prove false to you, Lizzie,
Bright day will turn to night
I remain yours, — Jacob Shanklin
Write soon as you get this. Direct to Kentucky, 41st Regiment O. V. USA, Co. C., Care of Captain A. Wiley