1862: Orlando Comstock Geer to Harriett Cordelia Geer

I’ve seen lots of patriotic stationery sold by James Gates of Cincinnati but this is the only time I’ve seen this particular design, entitled “The Southerner as He Was.”

The following letter was written by Orlando Comstock Geer (1840-1927), the son of Alexander Hamilton Beer (1811-1879) and Cordelia Comstock (1815-1897) of Maumee, Lucas county, Ohio. He was the oldest of three children, including Amos Wight (1843-1900) and Harriet Cordelia (Geer) Church (1847-1936). This letter was addressed to his sister Harriet, or “Hattie,” who later married John Anderson Church (1842-1894), a veteran of the 25th and 75th OVI.

When the Civil War broke out, Orlando enlisted in Co. A of the 14th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) as a Corporal. This unit participated in the siege of Corinth, the Tullahoma Campaign, the occupation of Middle Tennessee, the Chickamauga Campaign, the Chattanooga-Ringgold Campaign, and the Atlanta Campaign. Geer was promoted to Sergeant on May 21, 1865 and mustered out on July 11, 1865. He returned to Lucas County after the war, where he lived until his death in Maumee on February 9, 1927.

The 14th OVI sustained its heaviest casualties of the war at the Battle of Chickamauga: 35 killed, 167 wounded, and 43 missing, or 245 of 460 men. To read a great account of that pitched battle, see my friend Dan Master’s Civil War Chronicles, “Defending the 14th Ohio Infantry Flag at Chickamauga.”


Winchester, Tennessee
August 5th 1862

Dear Hattie,

We arrived here yesterday after a long and tedious march of 125 miles from Tuscumbia, Alabama. We stopped at Pulaski, Tennessee, two days and then came on as far as here. When we got to Pulaski, we intended to stay a good while but Gen. Buell telegraphed Gen. Fry to report with his brigade to this place.

I have been very well so far. This last march was pretty hard on us. The last few days were pretty hot. Generally we have had very pleasant weather. It has not been as hot as I anticipated in Secessia. There are various conjectures as to our destination—some saying we are after Gen. Hardy who has 30,000 men 30 miles from here strongly entrenched; others reporting us after the barbarous guerrilla Morgan. But in war, we never know anything till it transpires and then ain’t positive till we see it.

I will write at all events as soon as possible. I will have to close as the mail is going out. Write soon, dear sister. Give my love to all. Forgive me for not writing soon as I could. We have been moving ever since I wrote last.

Excuse the briefness of this as well as all imperfections as I wrote it in a great hurry. I did not know the mail was going out till a few minutes ago. Farewell till I hear from you again.

From your loving brother, — Orlando C. Geer

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