Sunday, January 14, 2024

A Letter from Camp Pope in New Haven, Ky.

A long letter appeared in the December 22, 1861 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, printed with permission by the unnamed person to whom it was addressed, a rare piece of wartime correspondence from a solider who had been in Campbell County.

This soldier, William Halpin, had been raising a company for the 50th Ohio Infantry, but withdrew it from that unit and moved the men to Camp Webster in Jamestown, Campbell County, where he was “desirous of procuring a few more recruits” per the Cincinnati Daily Enquirer of October 20, 1861, which stated that additional enlistees would be “sure of a month’s pay in advance, and clothing as soon as their names” were officially on the  company rolls. These men, and others recruited there, eventually became part of the 15th Kentucky Infantry Regiment, which officially formed in New Haven, Kentucky, from where Halpin wrote this missive about the trip from Campbell County to this camp and a few other observations he made. He became captain of Company K of that regiment, eventually being promoted to major and then lieutenant colonel.

After the war, Halpin continued to fight, working for Irish Independence. This link - and others easily found with a basic internet search - provides more details of his adventures and troubles after his fighting in the American Civil War.

A few words were illegible in the scanned image of the newspaper, and in one section, it appeared the paper folded over on itself, making a couple of lines impossible to read. I have noted those areas, but the vast majority of the document was readable.

Camp Ham. Pope

Nelson County, KY. December 17, 1861

It is nearly time that I should write you a line, saying where I am and how located. I presume you want a history of “our” marching, pipe claying, and illegible and such other incidents of military life as occucrred to us since we left the sunny side of Cincinnati. Here follows the story as briefly as I can state it. We left “Camp Webster” on a wet and very inauspicious day, got on board of a boat, whose name I fortunately forget, for between you and me and the gate post, I have no particular desire to recollect it; although she bore us bravely along the turbid waters of the Ohio, until somewhere “among the wee illegible-smallhours” when the pugnacious thing thought it proper to run into the starboard side of the mail-boat Telegraph. There was consternation for a moment or so among the passengers, and hearts that would not quite before the best manned battery of Southern Jeff. throbbed fast and loud at the prospect of a watery grave. Fortunately, there was no damage done, and we went on our way rejoicing that our time had not yet come. 

We reached the wharf at Louisville and found our old stern-wheel moored alongside the boat that contained the Sixth Ohio Regiment. I won’t tell you the trouble I had during the night to prevent the bombardment, not of a Southern citadel, but of a small corner of the ship’s cabin, where Paddy’s eye-water was dealt out to thirsty travelers at a dime a jigger. The boys had a dime of their first month’s pay left, an as they were going to be “kilt” the next day, considered the best way to rid themselves of such unnecessary incumbrances was to exchange it for as much strychnine as would drown “dull care.” Entreaty and remonstrance wee alike unavailing; they were “on the ocean wave,” with death below, above and before them, and they would have their way. Guards were placed around the sanctuary to prevent the impetuous men of Mars from indulging in the baneful cap; but morning came, and the illegible of the venerable deity who presided over the flowing nectar told more plainly than words could say that he reaped a silver harvest during the silent hours, which honest men devote to the wooing of Somnus. 

From the wharf we marched through the city to the Louisville and Nashville Railroad depot, where a substantial breakfast was prepared for us by the citizens, which we enjoyed with a keen relish. It was on this occasion that my camp knife, which friend Merns presented before I left the Queen City, was first brought into requisition. A few hour’s ride brought us to Camp Hamp. People, about 45 miles south of Louisville, in the midst of a drenching rain. Our quarters were any thing but inviting, and this, coupled with the fact that Colonel Artsman was to have no place in the regiment, disconcerted the men, and they instantly formed illegible to march back to Jamestown. They (page folded, so a couple lines and several words not legible) quarters with the illegible … next day; but as soon as they illegible (got to meet?) with Colonel Pope and his field officers, they changed their notions, and are since contented and happy. It would be impossible to be otherwise, for a finer set of officers than the field and company commanders it would be very difficult to meet.  

Colonel Pope is a wealthy citizen of Louisville, a graduate of West Point, and a fine military commander. He could live in ease and affluence, but when his country called for aid from her sons, he generously abandoned the endearments of private life, left wealth and hoe and family, and, like a true patriot, buckled on his sword to defend the glorious star-spangled banner. He is a true type of a generous, whole souled Kentucky gentleman, in whose presence the humblest man or boy I the regiment feels at home. The company officers are of the same stamp, and the men who compose the Fifteenth Kentucky are as fine and orderly a set of fellows as I ever saw in any camp. There is a fine company of Irishmen, commanded by Captain Spalding, of Louisville, who, the day of our arrival, learning that most of our company venerated the shamrock, invited us to supper, and, like generous Gauls as they are, actually cooked for us their own rations. If ever John Bull shows his teeth to Brother Jonathan, these brave and generous fellows, will not be the last to enter the army that will cross the Atlantic to wipe out the last traces of British rule in the old camp island of their fathers. 

It would surprise any of the old acquaintances to see the improvement in the Camp Webster men. The healthy location of the camp and the exercises they have daily, contribute materially to this result; but chiefly, the absence of the ardent, which can not be had hereabouts, for “love or money.” I would not change the life of a soldier for any I have yet experienced. The fun around the camp fire, the merry joke, the blithesome laugh and patriotic song of the light-hearted soldier, win one in sensibly to love the camp, with all its toils and privations. 

I regret to relate that our usual joy has been lately turned into grief by the demise of a brother in arms. On Saturday, the 4th inst., the grim old King of Terrors whetted his scythe, entered our camp and claimed Patrick Goffing (he meant Patrick Gaffney, who actually died on December 14 after becoming sick while on guard duty at Camp Webster a couple weeks earlier) as his own. Poor Goffing wrecked his constitution in the cellars and garrots of Cincinnati; he caught a cold at Camp Webster, that fastened on his lungs, and finally cut the ligature that bound his shattered frame to earth. He had been in hospital since we came here and knowing that his end was near, prepared himself for his long journey. He received all the rites of the Catholic Church and died in the bosom of her who had closed the eyes of his fathers for fourteen centuries. His remains were borne to the Catholic cemetery at New Haven, on Sunday afternoon, by his comrades, and buried with the honors of war. 

Never was I more impressed with the beauties of the Catholic ritual, and the solemnity of the ceremonies used in thee burial of the dead. In the fashionable thoroughfares of large cities, and even in the pillared aisles of the grand Cathedrals, where artificial music greets the ear, and the painted belle in gorgeous plumage attracts the eye, one is apt to forge tat the ceremonies of religion were meant for heaven, or think they were more than a fleeting earthly show; but here, in the midst of the primitive forest, to use the white robed minister of God follow to the tomb the poorest of the children of the Church, with the same care and solicitude as if he were a sceptered monarch, is a sight to impress the heart with the liveliest feelings of gratitude to God for providing a religion that ministers alike to all His children, and cares for the humblest as well as the most exalted, from the cradle to the grave.To see the aged and venerable successor of the apostle, bent with age, yet filled with fervor, march from the church to the graveyard, with uncovered head, reciting the beautiful psalmody proper for the occasion, was a sight so full of grandeur as to strike the beholder with astonishment, and draw from the lips of unbelievers an acknowledgement that the creed that taught such earnest simplicity was indeed of divine origin. Words can not express the satisfaction it was to poor Goffing to know that while his grave should be made by stranger hands, far away from his home and kindred, that a requiem would be sung by the appointed mister of the Most High.

We expect to move soon to Elizabethtown, where we are to join three Ohio regiments, including the Tenth. I learned tonight that Colonel Lytle will be our Brigadier General, and the boys are wild with joy over the news. On Saturday last General Nelson’s brigade passed here and encamped about seven miles further south. There is no doubt of an early forward movement, but in what direction I am unable to say. The Thirty fourth and Thirty Sixth Indiana were encamped alongside of us until Saturday last, when they moved off to see old Buckner. The Sixth Ohio and Colonel Stanley Matthew’s regiments are with General Nelson. We are provided with all the equipments except wagons, and as soon as they are furnished, off we go. Until then, farewell. I am at a great loss for the Enquirer – can’t you send me an occasional copy?

Yours truly, 



The 15th Kentucky did end up in brigade under Colonel Lytle, including during the hard fighting around the Bottom House at Perryville.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Thoughts on My Ongoing Research and Learning

I know I haven’t posted much lately, other than occasional items in Facebook, but I am still researching and writing about local Civil War soldiers, and have been surprised by how much I’m learning, especially recently.

A few weeks ago, I started two stories in a pair of men whose stories seemed potentially intriguing. That intuition proved correct and it now appears my work on each will surpass5,000 words, which is high composted to most of my other writings.

One of these men is James Abert, who was a topographical engineer and explorer in the years and decades before the war, then a staff officer during most of the conflict  A quick Internet search turns up plenty of information about him, more than I had imagined, so perhaps my story is unnecessary, but I like to try to use my words to tell of such lives and I think my use of a combination of information from these sources as well as local newspaper reports will create something different than the others.

I also try to use direct quotes from him to add his voice to this work. sometimes I think I use too many quotes (from other articles and stories as well), but I do like how this piece is coming together. I’m really close to calling it finished and focusing on other stories.

However it ends up, his life story has been enjoyable for me to study and I’ve learned a lot about him and his role in the exploration of western territories, his part in the war, and his involvement in society in and around Campbell County.

I am, however, curious about how he pronounced his name. His grandfather had come to North America from France during the American Revolution. Did the family kept a French prononciation, such as “Ah-bear” or had they anglicized it and said it how it looks to modern Americans, i.e. rhyming with pray-bert? I doubt I’ll find any paperwork resolving that.

In a similar vein, James Guthrie was an officer whose name I came across on a piece of ephemera I purchased. I don’t know why I had not examined his career before, but he organized the 1st and 2nd Kentucky Infantry regiments (in Ohio, while Kentucky was “neutral” early in the war), but then he was in charge of the fatigue forces during the ”Siege of Cincinnati.” I’ve heard and shared the story of that episode many, many times, especially when the Ramage Museum was open, and even on here, but I’m finding out many smaller details about the day-to-day operations of the military locally during those few weeks, such as orders that leaders like Guthrie issued and problems they faced. The larger overview of the story is that tens of thousands of people willingly lived under martial law and worked to defend the area as the Confederates neared, but it was not so simple or ideal. I’m learning about some issues that arose  and I’m almost even embarrassed that I had not done this kind of research earlier. This story has truly fascinated me and significantly increased my understanding of the reality of that “siege.”

Studying Guthrie has also helped me find stories of some southern sympathizers in Campbell County. I still plan to focus on Union troops right now, with so much information already gathered, but I now have a couple more and much better leads about the other side of the story, or at least about Union officials taking political prisoners. I have seen a couple of letters from citizens and some oaths of allegiance some men took. I have not told that story much, but now am much more prepared to do do, because of information I’ve found while looking into Guthrie’s story, which led me to Henry Gassaway, a Provost Marshall who made some of those arrests and created some controversy in the county.

I’ve also taken a bit of a break from simply researching and writing about these soldiers and returned to my original idea of confirming names/information about local soldiers. I have found and confirmed several more names, but also a few more questions such as one man whose obituaries state he was a soldier, (one even states he fought at Shiloh under General McClellan, LOL), but do not mention a unit. Doing this kind of research again has been fun, though still challenging as I still have a lot of partial names I have not confirmed. Still, the progress I have recently made has been satisfying.

That said, I did start on a couple other stories that I thought would be shorter or “easier” than the Abert and Guthrie ones, but both have turned out to be different than I expected, one because his grandfather was a Revolutionary War soldier (as were a pair of his grandfather’s brothers) and Campbell County  pioneer, and the other because some records indicate he had a brother (or two?) in the Civil War, while other records don’t show those additional names. Figuring out what really happened will be a task, plus his father was a local businessman and politician for years and a Home Guard soldier, so it may turn into a family story, instead of a quick tale of one soldier.

That’s a little bit frustrating, but it is also good. I believe there are interesting and important stories to write and  these latest two might be prime examples of that, especially from a county history perspective. Nothing as noteworthy as him being captured or killed during the war makes his story an obvious one to share, but other pieces of their lives do. A person/soldier/family need not be famous in order to be an important piece of the county’s past. I hope I can do these men and families justice and help others understand better Campbell County history overall and in the war.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Minister Herman Grentzenberg, 12th Missouri Infantry

Many of the men who fought in the Civil War saw their lives cut short, whether by bullet or disease, during those four long, blood-filled years, but among those who survived, some lived extremely long post-war lives. 


One man who lived much longer than expected was Herman Grentzenberg.  


He was born in Danzig, Prussia on October 18, 1836 and arrived in the United States about 1860. He was working as a barber in Dayton, Ohio in that year. 


One year later, he was in St. Louis, Missouri, part of a maturing nation that was about to face its toughest challenge, which started on April 12, 1861 when Confederate forces fired on United States troops in Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, igniting the Civil War.


Grentzenberg supported the national government in his new homeland, joining what became the 12th Missouri Infantry (U.S.A.). In this regiment, he originally was a 2nd Lieutenant in company A before promotions to 1st Lieutenant and, in September 1863, to captain of company B.  He also had previously been in unofficial command of companies C and D of the regiment, even though he was on furlough for illness for much of the spring of 1862, after the fight at Pea Ridge. 


The 12th Missouri remained in the Western Theater of the war, starting in the Missouri and Arkansas area, including the Union victory at Pea Ridge, Arkansas on March 7 and 8, 1862.


These men also took part of the Union thrusts that eventually captured Vicksburg, Mississippi on July 4, 1863.


According to Herman’s obituary, “it was during the second onslaught on the heights of Vicksburg, under General Grant, that… (he) became inspired to be a minister, and after serving three years in the war, did so.”1


During the rest of the war, he fell ill again, as diarrhea and an intermittent fever forced him to go on furlough away from the army in September and October of 1863, just after his rise to captaincy. 


He was apparently back with the unit by the time they fought in the battles around Chattanooga in late November of that year. 


A few months later, the 12th Missouri took part in the Atlanta Campaign led by William T. Sherman. On May 28, 1864, Grentzenberg became a casualty of war near Dallas, Georgia, suffering a “slight” wound in his left foot, apparently so slight that it did not cause him to miss any more time.


He mustered out of the army in November of 1864, and proceeded with civilian life. In 1874, he married Margaret Von Tschudi (possibly Tschudy), with whom he had three daughters and three sons.


He also answered the religious call he had received, pursuing a career as a minister at churches in Cincinnati, St. Louis, and other midwestern cities.2  


In Cincinnati, his church was the Third German Methodist Church; he also worked as an assistant editor of a German Methodist newspaper called The Apologist.3 Some of his editing work occurred in the early 1890s, when he lived in Newport.

In an interesting bit of trivia, Herman “and the late James N. Gamble were the two oldest representatives attending the dedication ceremonies of the opening of the Western Hills viaduct two years ago.”4


That James Gamble was the son of one of the founders of consumer goods corporate giant Proctor and Gamble, and was also the chemist who created what became known as Ivory soap.5


His work as a minister continued until his retirement in 1910, after which he was a member of the Auburn Avenue Methodist Church.6


He was also a member of the George H. Thomas post of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a post-war fraternal organization of Union veterans.7 The GAR also became involved in politics, earning itself the nickname “Grand Army of the Republicans.” 


His post-war life was much longer than his antebellum years, lasting until his death on May 8, 1934. His six children survived him, and like so many of his comrades, he was buried in Cincinnati’s Spring Grove Cemetery. 


Herman Grentzenberg lived an extremely long life, in two countries, on two continents, and survived the deadly battlefields of the American Civil War. Living until age 98, he was, perhaps, the longest-living former Civil War soldier associated with Campbell County. 


1Cincinnati Enquirer May 9, 1934




5, Accessed October 9, 2022

6Cincinnati Enquirer May 9, 1934




Monday, September 25, 2023

A Good and Brave Soldier: Jacob Goetz, 15th Kentucky Infantry

Standing 5 feet, 8 inches tall, this new Civil War soldier featured a light complexion, gray eyes, and dark-colored hair. He worked as a steamboat man, and had been born in Baden, Germany. Newport, Kentucky was his current post office address. 

 This recruit was Jacob Goetz (sometimes spelled “Getz” as on his headstone), who was born in approximately 1820.


Before immigrating, he had married Mary Seabert (or “Seibert”) in January of 1843 in Baden. The couple produced three sons and two daughters during their time together.


After coming to the United States and witnessing the start of the Civil War, Jacob enlisted as a corporal in company I of the 15th Kentucky Infantry at Camp Webster in Jamestown (now Dayton), Kentucky for a three-year term. He joined the unit on October 14, 1861, enlisted by George P. Webster, a local attorney who was raising a company. Jacob was mustered in on December 14 at New Haven, Kentucky. He was about 42 years old at this time in late 1861 though other paperwork shows different ages.*


The 15th Kentucky, which mostly formed around New Haven, Kentucky, also included a few other men who, like Jacob, had joined at Camp Webster. It became a tough and reliable regiment in the Western Theater of the Civil War. It saw fierce combat near the Bottom House at Perryville, the largest fight of the war in its home state, and also fought at Stones River before marching in the Union’s successful Tullahoma Campaign, which maneuvered the Confederates out of central Tennessee with amazingly little bloodshed by the standards of this war. 


The 15th was then part of the biggest battle in the theater, at Chickamauga, in northern Georgia, on September 19 and 20, 1863. Only the three-day fight at Gettysburg caused more casualties than did this contest, two months after which the men of the 15thKentucky joined in the battles for Chattanooga.


In the new year of 1864, the biggest action in this region of the war was the Atlanta Campaign, and the 15th Kentucky fought in multiple battles during the fight to control that important city. It mustered out of the war in January of 1865 in Louisville.1


Starting in June of 1862, Jacob spent much of his service time on duty as a regimental teamster, at least until August 151863when he was sick in a hospital at Cowan, Tennessee.


He remained in the facility until November 12, then helped guard Confederate prisoners being sent to Bridgeport, Alabama. 


At the end of 1863, Jacob was again with the unit and remained on duty at the start of the following year but soon became


sick during the month of May 1864 while on the March from Chattanooga Tenn. to Atlanta, Georgia, his disease was Typhoid Fever, he was unfit for travel and had to be sent to Hospital at Chattanooga where he died.


Surgeon Edward Dunn continued his statement in Mary Goetz’ pension application.

“I was at the time surgeon of the Regt., and it was by my order that he was sent to the rear.”


“He was a good and brave soldier and fought gallantly at Resaca” 

On June 5, Jacob passed away in U.S. Army General Hospital No. 2 in Chattanooga. 


Diseases killed more men than did bullets during the war. For Jacob, and many others, the scourge of typhoid fever was the killer. Poor drinking water was the source of this plague as “water near camps and battlefields in the early part of the war contained a bacillus that produced an acute, infectious disease that could be fatal.” This was typhoid fever, which “was among the first diseases to appear in army camps.”


 It spread quickly. “By the summer of 1861, it had attained epidemic proportions.” Its symptoms included “high fever, diarrhea, uncontrollable nausea, dehydration, and violent spasms,” and it was commonly known by several other names, including “camp fever”, “continued fever”, and “break bone fever,” among others. 


Treatment for the disease was not effective early in the war, often relying simply on “what the surgeon had at hand,” as the cause of the disease was still a mystery to military doctors. Treatment did somewhat improve as time passed due to better hygiene, “camp conduct,” and knowledge of the disease and its causes. 

The improved effectiveness in fighting typhoid did not help Jacob, and still “a fourth of all deaths from disease in the armies of North and South came from typhoid fever.”2    

Jacob was buried in Chattanooga National Cemetery.


His widow Mary received a pension of $8 per month, plus an additional $2 monthly for each child under age 16. 


*Most records show him to be around 42-44 years old early in the war years, but his page, memorial i.d. 2980931, as accessed on April 9, 2023, shows his birth year as 1830.



1, Accessed April 9, 2023

2, Accessed April 12, 2023

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Killed in Action: Lambert Scott 23rd Kentucky Infantry

Here is another story I have found in my research of Civil War soldiers and sailors from  Campbell County, Kentucky. 

Camp Near Murfreesboro, TN, March 30th, 1863

Mrs. Sara Scott




It becomes my painful duty to inform you of your husband’s death. It was caused by the wound he received at the Battle of Stones River Dec. 31, 1862, while fighting gallantly for his adopted country. His wound was not considered dangerous at that time, but he caught cold, and death ensued. 


You have the sincere sympathy of his comrades in arms, both men and officers in this your hour of bereavement. Enclosed you will find the necessary papers to enable you to receive his back pay and whatever allowances that are due him from the Government.


If there should happen to be any trouble about your receiving the pay & etc., address me at any time and I will render you any assistance in my power and madam I am 


Very Respectfully,


Geor. W. Northup, Capt. Co B

23rd Reg Ky Vol. Infy. 


This was the sad news Sarah (Parker) Scott received early in 1863, as the Civil War was continuing to create such sadness for families throughout the divided nation. 


Lambert Scott had been born across the Atlantic Ocean in Dublin, Ireland around 1815, and by the mid-1850s had arrived in Kentucky, where he married Sarah in Jefferson County on April 23, 1856. 


Four years later, they were living in the Carthage district of Campbell County one of the state’s northernmost counties, where he worked as a school teacher. They had two daughters and shared their house with four boarders, possibly relatives of Sarah.  


When the Civil War started in April of 1861, Lambert was one of many immigrants who chose to fight on behalf of their new country. He enlisted as a sergeant in Captain George Northup’s Company of the 23rd Regiment, Kentucky Infantry, which became company B of that regiment. He enlisted at Camp King on September 18, 1861 and officially mustered into the service on December 8. He signed up for a standard three-year term and his post office address was listed as Newport. 


When he joined the army, he stood 5 feet 10 ¾ inches tall. His complexion was noted as being “light” and he possessed gray eyes and gray hair. 


The 23rd Kentucky recruited many men from Campbell County and then fought in numerous major battles and campaigns in the Western Theater of the Civil War. Included on their resume was the bloody Battle of Stone’s River, a Union victory sometimes called the Battle of Murfreesboro, near Nashville, Tennessee.


It was during this fierce contest that Lambert became a casualty of war, suffering a gunshot wound in the neck on December 31, 1862. He survived this injury on the battlefield and was sent to Nashville Hospital Number 4, but his luck worsened there, when he died of his wound on March 22, 1863. 


According to the National Park Service, the Union Army suffered losses of about 1,700 men killed, 7,800 wounded, and 3,700 missing at this battle.1 Lambert was just one of those approximately 13,200 casualties from those three brutal days, and was buried in what is now known as the Nashville National Cemetery.


A note in Sarah’s widow’s pension file also contained this certification of the sad event:


I hereby certify that Lambert Scott late a Sergeant of Company B., 23rd Regiment Kentucky Volunteer Infantry did while on the said service and in the line of his duty at the Battle of Stone River Dec. 31st, 1862, receive a gunshot wound in the neck, in consequence of which he died in the Hospital No. 4 at Nashville, Tenn. March 22nd, 1863.


            Given under my name at Readyville Tenn. this 18th day of May 1863,

            Henry G Shiner, 1st Lieut., commanding co. B


Another document, signed by fellow Campbell Countian Robert Townsend, indicates that Lambert had no personal effects to send home. 


Lambert’s will directed that any debts he owed be paid, then left “all my estate of every kind which I may have at my death” to Sarah. 


When Sarah was in the process of getting her widow’s pension, a May 1863 document shows she had moved to Fulton, Ohio, probably to live with family.

On October 15, 1881, the Cincinnati Enquirer published a story that a man in England was trying to locate Lambert’s widow Sarah because “there is a large estate left to her in England.” A reader of the newspaper had informed the journal that Lambert had died in Nashville as a “soldier in the rebel army.” This report was erroneous, as he was a United States soldier, but it remains unknown if this mistake was corrected or if the Englishman ever found Sarah. The story did note that she had resided in the northeastern section of Campbell County.2

Sarah passed away on November 8, 1904, per a document in her pension file.

From findagrave memorial 157997478


1  Accessed July 22, 2022

2Cincinnati Enquirer, October 15, 1881


Saturday, July 8, 2023

Boy Soldier Perry Wright, 15th Kentucky & 5th Ohio Infantry Regiments

When I started researching local Civil War soldiers, this was the type of story I never thought about finding. I just had never heard of anything like it in the area, but it makes sense that it was just as likely to happen in Campbell County as anywhere else. That last line is something this project has really reinforced to me, along with a realization of the lack of previous study or sharing of knowledge about the war here. Hopefully I am addressing at least part of that. 

One Campbell County Civil War soldier who encountered some issues because of his youth was Perry W. Wright. He had been born in Ohio in 1846 but lived in Jamestown (now Dayton) in Campbell County in 1860.


After the Civil War started, he may have been infected with war fever, like so many other men and boys throughout the country. He did not act upon it immediately, but on October 10, 1861 finally gave in to temptation and signed up for a three-year term in company H of the 15th Kentucky Infantry, a regiment featuring several other young men with Campbell County ties, telling the military officials he was already 18 years old. He enlisted at Camp Webster in Jamestown, likely a very brief walk from his home.


The 15th Kentucky marched and fought in many of the most famous campaigns and battles in the Western Theater of the war, but in late 1862, Perry’s age and the legality of his service came into question. 


Paperwork in his file describes the issue. 


Perry W. Wright was this day before me this day under a Writ of Habeas Corpus and it appearing that he is a minor under 18 years of age and that he was enlisted without consent of his father who claims his services. He is hereby discharged from the Army of the United States. 


Given under my hand as judge Campbell County Court this 27th December 1862, W.J. Berry, Judge C.C.C. 


(“C.C.C.”  was the Campbell County Court.)


Another form states:


Mr. James P Wright on Petition for writ without of habeas corpus states to the Hon. Judge W. J. Berry of this County Court that his son Perry W. Wright is detained without lawful authority as an enlisted soldier into the 23 (this was a mistake) Regiment of Kentucky Volunteers, that he was taken and enlisted without the consent of any one authorized to give consent and that he was so taken & enlisted before he was seventeen years old, and that he will not be eighteen years old before the 14th March next .


Subscribed and sworn to this 27th Dec 1862 by James P Wright,


WJ Berry, Judge CCC

Despite this note from the courts, at least one military officer had questions about its authority and if the army should honor the request to discharge the young soldier.


Provost Marshall Office, Newport, KY 
March 31, 1863
Maj. Genl. Burnside, Comdg. Dept of Ohio:
I respectfully submit to you the enclosed document which is now presented to me as a reason for the discharge of Perry W. Wright, a volunteer in 15 K.Y. 
 I am not satisfied with the paper for the reasons following:
 1st   The complaint does not charge any person with restraining the party of his liberty.
 2d No person was served with notice to appear and show cause why the soldier was detained nor was such notice received.
 3d Such proceedings are not attested by the seal of any court. 
Shall I hold or discharge the Soldier?
FM Keith, Pro. Mal. Newport & Major, 117 Regt OVI


(The Provost Marshal was  Fordyce M Keith, a major in the 117th Ohio Infantry regiment. The job of the Provost Marshal was to maintain “order among both soldiers and civilians” much like modern military police.)


No other specific information about his case  appears in his file, but other records show that the final decision was to discharge him from the army, which officially happened on February 1, 1864. 

His father had won. 


 Perry still wished for a military career, and, just one week later, on February 8, as he likely was now officially  age 18, he enlisted in company E of the 5th Ohio Infantry Regiment as a private. 


As he joined this new unit, it saw action in the famous Atlanta Campaign, an expedition that would have a major effect on Perry’s life.


On May 25, 1864, he was wounded during the first day of the Battle of New Hope Church in Dallas, Georgia. Perry was one of about 1,665 Union  casualties  during this contest. 


He then spent the next few weeks trying to recover from his wound, but passed away in a hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee on June 15, still barely more than a boy at just 18 years of age.  His body lies in the Chattanooga National Cemetery. 


Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Book Review: Tar Heels in Gray: Life in the 30th North Carolina Infantry in the Civil War

By John B. Cameron
McFarland & Company, Inc.
Copyright 2021

As the back cover of this book states, “The 30th North Carolina was involved in most of the major battles in Virginia from the Seven Days through the surrender at Appomattox.” Most of its men joined early in the war, but others were drafted and served unwillingly. 

“What was the war actually like for these men?”


It is that question, and others like it, that this book explores and discusses in a deeply-researched text that those interested in the men of the Civil War armies should read. 


Tar Heels in Gray is a good book, an enjoyable and detailed biography of a regiment’s time in the war, focusing on non-combst-specific challenges the unit and its men faced, including recruitment, motivation, disease, desertion, hunger and others.


It is not intended as a military study of campaigns and battles like most regimental histories are, but focuses its attention on other important details about daily soldier life that contributed to the regiment’s ability to arrive at and perform in battle. This is a good approach by the author and produces a valuable look at the challenges the unit faced just to have enough able-bodied men to fight.


This book is generally well-written and easy to read, but I admit that some of the statistical discussions, and the descriptions of how the author decided what fit in which category and how he assembled the statistics, were not as enjoyable as other parts, though the graphs and charts were helpful. That may just be me - I often don’t enjoy the deeply analytical and statistically-based articles about sports I follow either - but I do understand why he included these sections in the book to show his methodology. I do wonder, however, if some of the discussion of the methods could have been included in an appendix.


My personal taste on that one issue aside, I especially enjoyed the letters to and from the home front and the descriptions of camp life and relationships between soldiers were outstanding and valuable. (The discussion about Louis McLeod and Francis Moore was especially interesting. I wish their friendship had lasted longer do that their story would have been longer and provided more material for the author. That was a perfect discussuon for this type of book and showed the humanity of these men in terms of the appreciation of friendships and the feelings of loss or betrayal.)


 The 30th North Carolina was just one regiment, but this is a look at it likely shows similar experiences as men in other units, especially Confederate ones, faced. 


I also enjoyed the discussions of the various diseases men in the men of the 30th faced. Some medical terms are technical and/or in Latin, but the overview of the diseases, how common they were, and, especially, how some were likely misdiagnosed was enlightening, and might help me on my current project. 


This note might be another quite picky one, but the author’s style of writing dates - the day, followed by the month, then the year (e.g. 23 June 1865) - is a bit distracting at least for me as I am accustomed to the more traditional style (e.g. June 23, 1865).


This is a relatively short book, 161 pages including the endnotes (which are worth reading, as many include additional information other than sources), plus a six page bibliography, but is well-researched, with the use of many soldier letters, census records, tax records and more. It is clearly the product of much work (such as the analysis of how to classify the economic and occupational statuses of the more than 1,000 soldiers in the regiment, and the discussion of the wounds and diseases these men suffered). It is an impressive effort, with a fine result that provides good insight into how a regiment and its men joined the army, lived, survived, were motivated, deserted and/or died in the dangerous and deadly years of the Civil War.


*Please note that I received a copy from the publisher for no charge. I have published my honest comments herein without allowing how I acquired it to affect my opinions.  

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Charles Mount, 20th Ohio, Letters Home

I recently posted about a soldier in the 20th Ohio named Charles Mount

Four of his letters home survived the war and are in his widow’s pension file on Fold3.

Here are my attempts to transcribe them, though some words are unclear. I tried to add modern spelling, spacing, and punctuation to help make them easier to read. 

On the final letter, he wrote the start of it on the bottom half of the page, then the last half from bottom to top of the top half. It was a mess, and he also had a habit of writing in the margins, both on the sides and then back at the very top. I tried to put everything in a sensible order but could not find another closing that fit, so those lines seem to dangle, but at least they were generally legible and sensible.

Emphasis (underlining) is in the originals. I used italics for illegible words.  

Letter 1


Camp King Dec. 10, 1861, Tuesday afternoon

My Dear Wife & Children

I hope you are well & sharing the blessing of health with me. I am writing in great haste with my sleeves up to my elbows, having just finished wiping dishes. Major Rigby is expecting to leave for home in a few minutes & I am in a great hurry to write you a few lines again. I wrote you yesterday. If it is as warm with you at home as it is here it will be very necessary that that pork should have a strong pickle put on it. If it has not been done already, request Mr. E. Estill to do it for me if G or Mr. – has one is not at hand. 

If there is anything that you want done that you deem it necessary for me to know about, please write. This is decidedly a romantic county in this locality. It is said that the land here, although in places very hilly, is worth $100 per acre. I was out one afternoon with 2 others after straw & I was delighted with the scenery. We called on some 4 farmhouses, one of which is said to be sesesh, notwithstanding we were treated with marked kindness & civility, had quite an interesting chat and when we left let us each have a paper of the latest date. 

My dear wife, believe that your Chas. is doing well & in good health. I wish that you was in such a case. It would rejoice my heart. 

I commend you & the dear ones to the protection of our Heavenly Father. 

With my love to you all & to inquiring friends, I remain your affectionate husband, Chas. Mt. 

I had a testament given me last night.

Letter 2


Sat. Morning 10 o’clock, Dec. 14, 61

 My dear wife I would be glad if you & the children as good health as I am.

I made a great discovery in the bottom of the basket, a nice roasted chicken. A 1,000 thanks to you again. How shall I repay your kindness? The first opportunity I have of sending you cranberries or any other thing you will let me know you wish, I will send.

Get what cranberries you wish at Elliott’s or anything else he may have that may add to your comfort.

If Mr. Harmon has not taken the measure Sylvia or Ella a pair of shoes, it perhaps had better be done so that they can get them.

Shoes for Charley & Martha it may be had better be bought at Mr. Cox’ or illegible & though last not least you need a pair if you have not got them, you will please get. If you need money let me know, or there is a few accounts which if not paid in soon Gideon will look to these things. I hope you will not be backwards about writing to me in time, that you may be cared for in time. 

Those cakes which were put in my satchel, I have them except one. You will think it strange perhaps that I loved them so well at home & get here, have cared so little for them. Their turn will come by & by perhaps.

I would say that when Lieut. Rogers got in camp, it was night & had no supper & the men that came with him had no supper. I done what I could for their comfort & took W.R. into our tent & opened the basket of good things which you sent. He partook of the biscuit, butter & cakes & divided most of the apples to the boys that there happened to be in. I had not discovered the chicken there.

Mr. Dunedin(???)  gave us a pail full of apples as we passed his house. I have a few yet. We can get them here in camp 2 large ones for 5 cents, or small ones for 1 cent apiece.

I remain your affectionate husband, Chas.

— Letter 3


City Barracks – Cincinnati – January 24, 62

Good morning my dear Phebe. I hope you and the children are well as Corman & that you have rec’d 3 letters from me since a week ago last Wednesday, for they have been sent from my hand, and I am very sorry that they have not reached you. I am entirely well so far as I know except a cold & that, after coughing & spitting a while I am relieved for the day.

Will you suffer me to take the time to write to Gideon. I guess I will try to have a letter each for Frederick for him by Wednesday evening & one for you on Thursday evening. 

I write now go & eat breakfast for we have flights of stairs to descend before we reach our table. We cook & eat out-of-doors & sleep in the 2nd story above the basement.

I will try & get my 2 shirts & white gloves washed as I hear that it can be done for 3 cents illegible to be illegible.

The Ohio River is higher than it has been for a number of years past, so I am told. I would like very much to see it.

I toasted some bread for myself & buttered it with some of that roll which you sent me & it helped a good deal as our cooks did not have a very good meal. 

There is a talk of the company being taken out this morning for recreation & to see the rivers.

Wm. Ball of Co. A who worked for me at Jms. Chambers has just come up from Warsaw on furlough & I expect to send this by him & it will reach you Saturday morning. Good for the luck.

It is now near noon & I have just finished washing our new bed tick & hung it up to dry. 

The men that went out in Company’s this forenoon are now in & I will try for a nap this afternoon.

I will be obliged to you to send a dozen illegible sticks by Will Baer when he returns. 

This from your husband Chas. 

Letter 4 (it begins in middle of the first page)


Friday evening ½ past 4 o’clock

I have been out in the city about 3 hours taking a look at the river wholly & in part submerged.

Went to see the city reservoir, bought some foolscap paper 15 cents, illegible 8 stamps, 2 quarts dried peaches, at 10 cents a quart for you & ½ ¼ tea for self & Miles at the rate 1.50 lb., but I guess I could get as good elsewhere for 1.25. 

Coffee is 2 cents.

I would like to have got some apples  (move to middle of last page) for you, but I had nothing to carry them in. Can you get any in town & at what price? I can get fine apples 5 cents t or lb. What do you have to pay for them there?

I am glad of the opportunity of sending this to you as it will reach you so much sooner than I expected & I hope that you and the dear children are well as could be expected. 

Write often & much.

From your unworthy, Chas.

Top of first page: Friday evening ½ past 6.

While Billy Ball is blacking his boots & brushing his clothes I have been writing. I am writing more than I expected. I thought I would use the upper half of this sheet in writing to Sylvia, as you will see on the upper half of this on the other side is to be read from the bottom upward. 

We have so much confusion here I hardly know what I have written. 

You will make all allowances.  

I wish I was to be the bearer of this like I was the other time, but I guess it will not be so this time. 

From your affectionate husband, Chas. 

(Last section starts in left margin on final page, then moves to the middle of page and goes upward.)

I know exactly one man to my knowledge in this city to my present knowledge, that is Benjamin Fogal, illegible once but now in the provisions trade 39 Vine Street. Elliott & the merchants of our place do business with him J. Johnson particularly. 

He has been here to see me & I called on him in his office today. He told me Martha Young & her husband called at their house yesterday. Illegible – perhaps his? name I do (not) know nor could he recollect. He wished me to call & go to church with them. 

I have made an acquaintance with Wm. Waddle of Mt. Vernon, an illegible Presbyterian, a fine young man, I think.


Popular Posts