These two letters were written by Samuel J. Marshall (1844-1864), the orphaned son of James Marshall (1816-1860) and Martha Jane Wartenbe (1825-1850) of Milford township, Defiance county, Ohio.
Samuel enlisted in Co. E, 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) when the company was formed in Defiance county in September 1861 and was with them until September 1863 when he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Chickamauga and died of dysentery ten months later, 26 July 1864, at Andersonville Prison in Sumter county, Georgia. He was a corporal at the time of his death, having been promoted in February 1863.
It’s worth noting that Samuel was only one of 96 prisoners who died at Andersonville on that date. At the time, the prison population was 31,693.
Samuel wrote the letters to his hometown friend Addis E. Smith who served in the 38th OVI and died of disease in April 1862 at Bardstown, Kentucky.
More more letters by members of the 21st OVI transcibed & published on Spared & Shared, see:
David Harness Randall, Co. D, 21st Ohio (1 Letter)
Levi M. Bronson, Co. E, 21st Ohio (1 Letter)
Joseph H. Hornback, Co. K, 21st Ohio (1 Letter)
Readers are also referred to Dan Master’s Civil War Chronicles:
“Captured at Chickamauga with the 21st Ohio Infantry,” and “Off to War with the 21st Ohio Infantry in September 1861.”
Camp Jefferson, Kentucky
December 25th 1861
It is with the greatest pleasure that I sit down this fine Christmas morning to let you know that I received your letter yesterday that was dated the 19h and I was very glad to hear from you all. I am well at present.
After we left you, we went to Lexington where we stayed a couple of days and then we marched from there to Hazel Green where we stayed a couple of weeks. We had such bad water there that about half of the regiment took sick so we left there and marched to Prestonsburg and stayed there a couple of nights and then we was ordered to Piketon and there we had a battle with the ornery cusses.
But when our artillerymen throwed some of them old bomb shells amongst them, it made them run like the devil. There was about seven hundred of the rebels and about four thousand of us and in crossing the river there was six horses drowned and the cannon went to the bottom. But they got the cannon and harness out again and then we marched down the Big Sandy about forty miles and then we took the steamboat and run down to the mouth of Big Sandy and then we took the boat there and run down the Ohio River and arrived at Cincinnati again—distance one hundred and fifty miles. And there we was ordered to get on to another boat and go to Louisville, Kentucky—one hundred and fifty miles further down the river—and there we camped two weeks.
And then we was ordered to march to Elizabethtown—distance forty miles further towards Green river. We stayed there one week and was paid off there and then we left there and went about twenty miles further down the railroad to this camp. We are now within eight miles of Green river. The Rebels burnt the railroad bridge at Green river and they are repairing it as fast as possible. They think they will finish it in a couple of weeks and then we calculate to try Old Buckner a crack.
But i don’t expect that the 21st will ever get to see much of the fun for there is about sixty thousand Union troops ahead of us. But there is no telling. They [may] be fixed so that they may stand us a pretty good brush after all. But they have got to be whipped out—there is no mistake in that.
No more at present but excuse bad writing and bad spelling. Write as soon as possible. I send my best respects to you all and I hope I shall see you all again. From your friend, — Samuel J. Marshall
Direct your letters to Kentucky, 21st Regiment, OV[I], USA in care of Capt. J[ames] P. Arrants, Co. E
Bacon Creek, Kentucky
January 1, 1862
I take a seat to inform you that I received your letter this evening of the 19th. I was very glad to ear from you all. I am as well as usual and have had a very Happy New Years. But I don’t expect to have as fine a sleigh ride or as good times tonight as we had together last New Years night as we had the privilege to cross the guard line backwards and forwards just as we pleased.
We went up the creek about a mile and went through a tunnel that was about sixty rods [330 yards] long. It was worth going to see, I can tell you. If I was to home tonight, I can tell you I would have better times than I expect to have tonight. But I am very well satisfied where I am.
The new bridge across the St. Joseph river is finished and the widow boy has had a bussing bee since the bridge was finished and all of the boys and girls in the neighborhood was there and they had a big time of it. But just wait, if we ever get home safe, won’t we have a jolly old time of it, though I think we will.
General Buell was here inspecting the different regiments. He was also down to Green river inspecting the regiments down there. I heard that we was to remain where we are for sixty days but I don’t [know] whether we will or not. But I think that we will move about the same time you do. But won’t we give Old Buckner the devil though I think we will.
We have very nice weather here at present. I send my best respects to you and all the boys that I am acquainted with. Write soon and oblige.
Your friend, — Samuel Marshal
Direct as before.