This incredibly detailed letter was written by Milo L. Partridge (1846-1865) who enlisted at age 18 as a private in Co. C, 177th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) on 17 August 1864. He did not survive the war. He died of disease at Smithville, North Carolina on 22 February 1865 after six months service.
This regiment was organized at Camp Cleveland from Sept. 23 to Oct. 4, 1864, to serve for one year. Immediately after its organization it proceeded to Nashville, Tenn., via Indianapolis and Louisville. The day after its arrival it was ordered to Tullahoma and constituted a part of the garrison at that place under Gen. Milroy. It remained at Tullahoma until Hood’s invasion, when it was ordered to Murfreesboro, where it arrived on Dec. 2. On Dec. 7, Milroy’s command, including the regiment, charged the works and drove the Confederates back, capturing 2 pieces of artillery and over 200 prisoners. A few days after this, while on a foraging expedition, the regiment had an engagement with the enemy, in which it lost several wounded. After Hood had been driven from Tennessee the regiment was ordered to Clifton. About the middle of Jan., 1865, it embarked at Clifton, proceeded down the Tennessee and up the Ohio to Cincinnati, where it took the railroad for Washington, D. C. From there it moved to Annapolis, Md., and embarked on a vessel for North Carolina, arriving at Fort Fisher on Feb. 7. It was engaged in two attacks on the enemy’s works from the Cape Fear river to the coast, and crossed the river and participated in the flank movement which compelled the Confederates to evacuate Fort Anderson. It next engaged the enemy at Town creek, charging in the rear and capturing the entire command. The next morning it arrived opposite Wilmington, where it remained about a week, then joined Gen. Cox at Kinston and proceeded to Goldsboro, where it joined Sherman’s army.
Milo was the son of Richard Partridge (b. 1817) and his wife, Maria (b. 1822) of Colebrook, Ashtabula county, Ohio. His siblings included Amelia, Esther and Harlo.
Camp in Fort Rosecrans
December 14, 1864
Today finds me seated to answer your most welcome letter that I received the 4th. I was glad to hear from you and to hear that you were all well. Your letter found me in good spirits and enjoying good health.
Well it seems you have got the family pretty well shod up. I am still wearing the government [shoes] that I drawed in Warren. They are getting rather thin on the bottom. It don’t agree with shoes to march over these Cumberland Mountains very well. You wanted to know how I got along for money. I haven’t spent but $7 out of that $10 bill yet so I hant in want of any just now, but if you are a mind to, you may send me a few stamps for they are hard to be got here. I am not quite out yet but I thought I would send in time.
You wrote Addie had been there. I should like to have been there and spent an afternoon with her if I could have talked polite enough to converse with her. I presume her mother will ride out quite often now she has found her harness. I think you have got a new style of burying apples. I should like to do your foddering this winter first rate. It would be quite a sight to me to see a barrel of apples—much more than it would be to see a brigade on the march. Well, mother, I can tell you how we get along with our washing. When we can, we take a camp kettle and heat water and wash right in the kettle and when we can’t do it, we have to wear dirty shirts. We soldiers are all seven day Baptist. We have to take our Sunday as we can catch it. Those folks where I got dinner that day did not ask me to call again. I guess they were not fond of company.
It seems by your letter that you and Amelia keep the sewing machine running pretty lively. I don’t know but I had better send my pants up and have them patched. They are getting rather thin on the seat and when they come through, there is the bare ass right there—no drawers between. What do you think of that?
I have not heard from Edgar since we left Nashville. You wrote how much good it done you to get a letter while at home. Think how much good it does the soldier who is far from home and neighbors to get a letter from home. I wish you could see the boys when the orderly hollers fall in for your letters. It makes no odds what they are doing. If they are eating, the will leave it. To get a letter, there is nothing soldiers watch as close as they do the mail. I will write as often as I can and I hope you will do the same which you have already done. You are no doubt looking for a letter before this and I should have wrote before if the communications had been open.
The 24th of November, I was on picket in Tullahoma and when the officer of the day came around, he told us to keep a close lookout and if we were attacked, to deploy and skirmish till they drove us in for they expected to be attacked that night. But we was not troubled. The next day they went to digging rifle pits. The 27th (Sunday), Co. C had orders to start at 5 o’clock for this place to guard a train loaded with stores. All we took was our overcoats that day. We marched about 14 miles on the railroad track to a town called Wartrace and camped for the night. About 10 o’clock they waked us up and sent out more pickets for they could hear firing not a great ways off.
Pretty soon the citizens commenced coming in from Shelbyville off towards where the fighting was. They said Hood was with three miles of there when they left. Pretty soon we had a dispatch from General Milroy to push on as fast as possible so we sent for a guide that lived about 5 miles from there but he did not get there till just about daylight when we started on and marched about 9 miles and then rode the rest of the way. Some of their cavalry was within two miles of us. Once they come in on a crossroad to cut us off but were not quite soon enough. We got there that night a little after dark and went in on our fresh pork that we picked up on the way.
We camped down and stayed a day or two when we heard that out regiment was coming so we did not start back. That Saturday night the regiment and the rest of the troops from Tullahoma came in. We were detached from the regiment to stay with the train, they liked us so well. Sunday we went over to the regiment to see if our baggage had come. I lost one blanket and a canteen. The rest came through all right and was glad to get that much. We were away from the regiment but a short time. We are with them now.
While we were waiting for the regiment to come, they were busy moving things from town into the forts so we are all here inside the fortifications, citizens and all. It seems that Hood was making for Nashville for there has been heavy cannonading by spells ever since that way. Some of his cavalry have been playing around here for a day or two but as soon as they come out of the woods in sight of our big guns, they gave them a few shells and made them scatter right smart.
There was heavy skirmishing for two or three days. We could stand on the fortifications and see both parties perfectly plain. We had a line of battle out once or twice but could not draw them out of the woods. One afternoon, General Milroy went out and captured 169 wagons and pitched in and whipped them and took some 150 or 200 prisoners. Our regiment was out but did not fire any. They were supporting a battery. Our company was not with them then. They were with the train. Their cavalry are lurking around here yet so to keep up foraging. Everyday we send out from 40 to 100 wagons but we have to have a strong guard and have a few pieces of artillery along. The boys were out the other day and got into quite a skirmish with them but I was down looking at an engine that had been fired into the night before while after wood and so was not along. Dave was with them.
We had one in our company wounded very bad and one or two hurt a little by spent balls yesterday. We were out again. Our Colonel was Acting Brigadier and so he had command of the train. He told us to get what we could so we went in. We stopped at one house and got any amount of nice lard, molasses, salt beef, ad pork and hogs, tobacco and clothing, and Frank and I found a keg of whiskey. We emptied it into canteens and filled the keg with molasses and brought to camp. The house was covered with molasses, upstairs and down when we left. I was looking at some boots to find me a pair and found a nice chunk of sausage done up and put in one of the boots. We got pails and cups and everything we could use in camp and fetched in. I think they will have a worse time cleaning the house than Amy and I did their milkroom.
What our company fetched in we divided it among all the company except my sausage. I and Frank and Dave had that for dinner. The company had in all over half a barrel of molasses and it makes our mush go bully too which is our diet now. We don’t have but little [hard] tack for our communications are cut off and we can’ get anymore just now. But we can fight as long as we get plenty of mush and molasses and hogs—that’s whats the matter. The officers—Colonel and all—helped empty our canteens and we felt as though we could take Hood’s whole army by the time we got to camp and if they ain’t double our number, we can lick them every time too—that is what ales Co. C.
The weather is wet and muddy now. We have had about a week or ten days about as cold weather as I ever saw in Ohio. There was one man froze to death on picket since we have been here. we had to spoon up pretty close to sleep warm in our dog tents too I notice. We were out foraging one Sunday when it was so cold that it was all we could do to keep warm marching with our overcoats on. There is very sudden changes in the weather down here. We have had two pretty cold snaps this winter but it is warm enough now and muddy enough too.
Friday, December 23, 1864
Well, as the Rebs are drove away from here now and the cars are expected to be running to Nashville in a few days, I will try and finish my letter. Today finds me still enjoying good health. It is rather cold and wet but we get along very well for all that. There hant been any fighting nearer than Nashville since I commenced this letter. I presume ere this you have heard of General Thomas’ victory there. Yesterday we got our mail. It came from Nashville in wagons as the railroad is not quite repaired yet. There was seven wagonloads of mail came for the troops that are here. There was about 10 bushels for our regiment. I got seven letters—one was from you dated the 11th. I see that you are looking anxiously for a letter, This will probably not go out before tomorrow or next day but I will get it ready and send it as soon as possible. I got one from G. Weed and wife, and one from Amelia and Harlo and shall answer them as soon as I can.
We are expecting to leave here today. Where to, we don’t know, but we expect along the railroad somewhere and as soon as we get settled, I will answer them. We have seen some rather snug times during the siege. Mush has been our diet. It was good enough if we could get enough of it but we had to forage for about 13 or 14,000 men besides a great many refugees and what mules and horses it takes for that amount of men and it made rations rather small. But we are going to draw full rations again now and then we are all right.
Howard got to the regiment night before last. He looks quite tough and hearty. Earl has been sick for a day or two. The rest of the boys from Co. C are all right.
Well, as I have given you a kind of a detail of our proceeds since we left Tullahoma, I will close by asking you to write soon if not sooner. Give my respects to all and accept a share yourself from — M. L. Partridge
Direct as usual. That is all this time.