1861: George W. Stoddard to Betsy Ballou

This early-war letter was written by 23 year-old Sgt. George W. Stoddard (1839-1887) of Woodstock, Champaign county, Ohio. Co. A, 2nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). George enlisted as a corporal in Co. K in April 1861 but was promoted to sergeant in Co. A in September 1861. He was elevated to 1st Sergeant in January 1863 and finally commissioned a 2nd Lt. in February 1864. He was discharged from the service in October 1864 as a 1st Lieutenant.

A very grainy image of Lt. George W. Stoddard (1864)

After the war, George married in 1875 to Hester A. Blanchard (1850-1931) of Belleville, St. Clair County, Illinois. Together they had one daughter, Fannie Arilla Stoddard, who was less than ten years old when George died in an accident, falling from the scaffold at the Presbyterian Church in Belleville.

George wrote his letter to Betsy Eleanor Ballou (1841-1935), the 20 year-old daughter of Henry W. Ballou (1812-1852) and Caroline Abigail Davis (1814-1893) of Woodstock, Champaign county, Illinois. Betsy married a man 19 years her senior named Samuel A. McAdow (1822-1904) in 1875. Samuel served in the Civil War as a sergeant in Co. H, 2nd Battalion, 18th Regular Army.


Addressed to Miss Betsy Ballou, Woodstock, Champaign county, Ohio

Camp Jefferson, Kentucky
December 26, [1861]

Good morning Betsy, glad to hear from you. Oh! I mean that I would like to hear from you. Well, Betsy, I am still alive and able to wrote or scribble just as anyone may call it. I received a letter from you some time ago and I have wrote one to you since but have not received any answer from it and I thought maybe you did not get my last letter so I have concluded to write again.

Well, Betsy, soldiering goes about the same as ever with me but it has about used some of the boys up. Ell, James Dee and Cit [Christopher] Cranston is sick and I am afraid that they are a going to be very sick. I think that Dee has got the typhoid fever. Dan[iel D.] Moore is still at Louisville in the hospital but he is about well now. [Julius] Jake Cushman is out on picket guard today. Jake gets along about as well as any of the boys.

We expect to have a big fight before many days. If we get after them again, we will make them get up and climb faster that they did up at Ivy Mountain. They run so fast there that we could of played marbles on their coat tails. But never mind, we will give them all they want anyway for we are the boys what will go for them mighty, Betsy. We are what can do it—there is no mistake about it.

Well, I guess that I will have to close for it is almost time for battalion drill. You can sing “Hail Columbia” whenever you feel like it now. Goodbye for this time. Write soon.

From ever your friend, — G. W. Stodard

to Miss Betsy Ballou

P. S. Direct your letter to Camp Jefferson, Hart county, Kentucky. Co. A, 2nd Regt. of O. V., USA

“Hail Columbia” Song Sheet published by Mumford & Co., stationers on 4th Street in Cincinnati

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