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Askew family Correspondence - MMS 1380

Robert, Matthew, and James Askew's letters to their sister Hannah, living in England. Robert who was a clergyman who did not join the service, explains the mood of the country in the Fall of 1861; Matthew who served in Co.D, 1st O.V.I. describes his experiences during the Battle of Stones River; James who was in Co.A, 12th O.V.I. writes about camp life in the Kanawha Valley and his brief period as a prisoner.

Robert Askew Letter

United States of America
Columbia, September 16th, 1861

My Dear Bro.

It is with great pleasure I now set down to send you a few lines to let you know that we are all well here at present. By the blessing of God we are in the enjoyment of good health and strength for which blessing the temporal in their nature we are laid under renewed obligation to praise God, the Giver of all good.

I received your kind letter on Monday Sep 9th and was very glad to hear from you. It seemed to do one good now to read even a letter that is not all war news. The last letter I sent you I deferred in riteing, expecting by delay to send you word that the rebellion would in the mean teim receive its fatal blow. But for some reason that we cannot comprehend at present, our army was defeated. But rest assured that that defeat we experienced at Mannasas has waked up the country to a proper feeling on the subject of the rebellion. We know now fully the work that lays before us and we are shaping our course accordingly. I will send you this letter without delay, tho I do not know but they are fighting at Washington now. We have had no regular dispaches from the Capitol since Thursday night and the last dispach was that the rebels was driving in our pickets. You will bear in mind the pickets is out 3 miles from the main army.

Thair has been a wonderful change in our armys for the better since our defeat. Gen. McClellen, tho a young man, the whole country has full confidence in him, the right man in the right place. He has had a thorough military education and he is a man that fears God and that is as good as an army with bannars. I do not go beyond the truth in telling you that Genl. McClellan has got 200,000, 2 hundred thousand men in and around Washington City. If the rebels attack Washington City, you will hear of the most terrible sacrifice of human life that has ever been recorded since Waterloo. The General is in his saddle nearly night and day and it seems his energy and strength grows with the labour. But I must not say much more of the efficiency of this great and grand army of men till they have been tried. Suffice it to say they have voluntarily taken oath they will die on the spot before they will run. There will be no more Sunday fighting and marching unless they are attacked. Chaplains is appointed into every regiment and the great majority of chaplains is Methodists.

General Fremont is appointed to the command of the grand army in the west. He has about 100,000 men under his command. He has put Misura under Marshall Law and declared all the Negroes free that has taken all America by suprise. But the President of the United States fully indorses his action. I daresay you will have heard of a great battle fought in Misuri where Gen. Lyon and Sigal on our side and McCullough and Price rebel. Our side 8000, rebel 22,000, 22 thousand. Sigal won a glorious victory. Lyon was killed in the early part of the day. Sigal is a Hungarian and a splendid artilerist. He mowed the rebels down like grass. It was reported McCullough was killed, but he was not killed, but his horse and sword was captured. So it appears he was only dismounted. Lyon and Sigal attacked the rebels just at daylight in the morning, captured their pickets and too the rebel camp by surprise. Our side got posesion of the hills on each side of the rebel camp, planted their guns within nise range of them and Lyon with infantry attacked their center. The struggle was very severe but the rebels was driven out of their encampment, all their baggage was captured or destroyed. Our fleet under Gen. Butler and Comodore Stringham bombarded and took 2 forts on the cost of North Carolina, Forts Clark & Hattaras. They took in addition to the forts 750 prisoners and 750 officers. There reason their was so many officers they were holding a court martial in the rebel forts. Our army has gained another victory in western Virginia, Gen. Rosecrans our side and Gen. Floyd, rebel. Our boys marched 17 1/2 miles that day and came upon the rebels in a strong entrenched position at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Gen. Rosecrans held a counsel of war with the officers on his staff and they declared their willingness to give the enemy battle. So they mormed in line of battle and marched up to the enemy's entrenchments and fought them till dark and then laid down on their arms to wait for daylight. But in the darkness of night the rebels sliped away, escaped over Galexey River, burned the bridge and escaped. James' Colonel, Col. Lowe was shot dead in leading his men up, but so tremendous deadly was the volly from our boys that they had only one killed and one wounded. This is in James Regiment. In connection with this letter I will send you a paper that will give you the full particulars. James has got through the second fight without a scratch. During the fight they had 18 killed and 78 wounded. Number engaged, 5000, rebel 5000. The rebels lost all their tents, baggage & horses and 50 head of beef cattle.

I would like to send you news other than war news if I had any to send, but it seems there is nothing, nothing but war. You wished in your last to know about the length of time of enlistment, it is 3 years or during the war, if the war is over in 6 month they get their pay and an honourable discharge and if the war lasts for 6 years it will be all the same. About the pay, that is 13 dollars per month, food and close. Equivilent to £2.12 per month, 2 good suits of uniform per year, 1 good woolen blanket, 1 India rubber blanket lined with cotton, 2 pair of shoes. If they are wounded they get a pension of 8 dollars a month and wounded or not so they get 160 acres of good and land if they behave well in service 100 dollars extra at the end of the service. You will ask where will they get all the land to give. In the first place all the rebel property will be confiscated. Texas alone is 6 times as large as England and without the rebel property there is millions of good land in the territories that the rebels wants so bad for slave territory. But they will not only get none of that, but will ultimately lose all they have and good enough for them. I firmly believe the Lord will smite them with a curse. He will bring the Counsels of the Ungodly Hypocrites to nothing and the Lord will have them [?]. Rest assured dear Bro. There will be a day of reckoning with these rebels for their high handed crimes, murdering private individuals and burning property has been their course.

Uncle and his family is all well and send their kind love to you all.

But the decree has at last been sent forth from the president of the United States. No quarter to rebels in arms. Yesterday I spent a good portion of the day in Camp. Camp Clay has had its name changed to Camp Corwin. 1 regiment of cavelry is all that is in camp here at present. Thousands of troops is moving nearly every day to one point or another. The Col. of this cavelry is a Methodist. His name is Col. Taylor. He was in our Sunday School yesterday, Sunday morning and adressed the school. I think I am not going beyond the truth when I tell you there is thousands of our Church members and ministers gone to the war. 2 ministers right here that I know are become captains. As for my part, I have plenty of work at present, but have no idea that it will last long. Business of all kinds is nearly suspended. If needs be I am ready to take up arms to defend my home, my civil & religous liberty. Perhaps you will think it strange for a minister of the Gospel to go to the field of battle. But necessity know no law, the rebels has drivin us to this last alternative and we are determined. By the grace of God and a strong arm to put down rebellion. Our trust is in God who made heaven & earth. Our cause is both just & holy, and we are relying on the old maxim now that God helps them that helps themselves. The rebels so far have have been very successful by theft & cunning, by lies & deceit & by all dishonourable means that it is possible for depraved man to practice, but the decree has at last gone forth, the hand writeing is on the wall and the so called Southren Confederacy is weighted in the balance and found wanting. 20 millions of free men will spill their hearts blood ere the contest will end. We are waiting every hour for the click of the telegraph to anounce the Year of Jubilee to the fettered Negro. Genl. C. Freemont has opened the door in the West and it will soon become general.

I have not had a letter from James for 2 weeks, but he was very well when I last heard from him. James' Company is armed with the English Enfield Rifle. They are certain death 1/2 a mile. I will give you a little knowledge of military matters. A regiment is devided into ten, these are called companys. Regiments are numbered with figures, 1,2,3, etc. James is in the 12th Ohio. Companys is numbered by letter, A, B, C, etc. Each Company contains 100 men, rank and file. James is in Company A, 12th Ohio Regiment. Matthew went into Camp last Monday, Col. McCook, 1st Ohio Regiment. James' Regiment was 500 miles away and marching through the mountains on the track of Floyd and had Matthew started for James, more than ten to one he would have been murdred before he could have reached him. Matthew is in camp at Dayton, Ohio, 60 miles from here and I do not know what company he belongs for I have not had a letter from him yet. He will undoubtedly belong to Co. A, as they are all picked men for that Company.

The P.O. you spoke of not understanding in your letter is Post Office. Thair are hundred of things crowding in my mind just now I would like to send you, but my letter is full. Tell our dear mother she has not a son who will be shot in the back. We will stand for truth and right as the beaten anvil to the stroke. Give our kindest love to all our friends at Dalton. Everyone hold up our hands by prayer that we may prevail. I send you the envelope of James last letter. The South said they could whip our boys 5 to 1, but it has always been the reverse. I shall send you papers every week. My wife joins with me in love to you all.

Yours in Christ,
Robt. Askew

MMS 1380 - Askew Family Correspondence
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