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Jonathan Ayres Correspondence - MMS 1634

Adjutant Jonathan Ayres Letters, 144th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Originally published in the Wyandot Pioneer.

Jonathan Ayres Correspondence

Originally published in the Wyandot Pioneer May 27, 1864, p.2

Fort McHenry on the Banks of the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River
May 16th, 1864

Friend Brunner-

After a ride of 60 hours from Columbus we arrived at the Monumental City of "Maryland, My Maryland" yesterday at 11 A.M. with but one unpleasant circumstance to mar the delightfulness of our trip. Irvine Straw, a member of Co.-of our Regiment, was standing on the rear end of the third car from the rear, when the train started very suddenly, throwing him from the top between the cars. Four sets of wheels ran over him, breaking the right shoulder, tearing the flesh from the arm, fracturing the left hip and foot, the brain exuded from a hole in the skull on the top the size of a silver dollar. He was left at Pittsburgh, Pa. for burial.

At Pittsburgh the Soldiers Relief Association gave the Reg't a supper. Captain Cook made a very appropriate speech of thanks to the ladies for their kindness shown during our short stay in the "Iron City."

A lady of the Association told me that they had fed over two hundred and sixty thousand soldiers since the Association was formed.

The Commercial published in Pittsburgh said that of all the Regts fed in the City Hall they never saw a body of men who behaved with so much credit to themselves, or words to that effect.

On arriving in Baltimore, we were marched up to a large building carried on after the same manner as that in Pittsburgh to eat our dinner, then marched out to this fort, where we may remain for the 100 days. Possibly may move in a few days but the general opinion is that this will be our station for the time of our service, so might it be.

We are quartered in tents with board floors and wooden barracks, the noncommissioned officers and privates in tents, the field and staff in barracks. Our organization as it now stands after consolidation is as follows:

Col. S.H. Hunt of the 19th Battalion, Lieut. Col. F.R. Miller of the 64th Battalion, Major M.D.L. Buell of the 64th Battalion, Surgeon J.L. Mounts of Morrow, Warren Co., Ohio, Chaplain J.G. Baughman 19th Battalion, Adjutant Jonathan Ayres 19th Battalion, Q.M. Jno. N. Reid 64th Battalion, Assistant Surgeons Granville M. White Columbus, Ohio, Edward F. Baker Cleveland. Sgt. Major B.F. Swartz 19th Battalion, Quartermaster Sgt. Addison E. Gibbs 19th Battalion, Hospital Steward Henry T. Gatchell 19th Battalion. Col. Len Harris' famous 7th O.N.G. arrived this evening from the city, a fine looking set of men, well officered, all the field officers have seen service.

The 8th New York Heavy Artillery left for the front via Washington. They were 1800 strong, well drilled having been here two years, most of the officers had their wives with them.

Last night 5 prisoners escaped by cutting a hole through the room, they laid blankets on the floor to deaden the sound as the plastering struck, the detail for guards was made from the 149th O.N.G. yesterday. There was neglect shown in not placing a guard on top of the roof as was usual prior to our arrival. The reg't (149th) received marching orders and left at 6 P.M. for no knowing where.

The boys are enjoying very good health and merry faces are to be seen all through the fort. Now if you can gather any sense from this heterogeneous mass, you are welcome to it.

(Jonathan Ayres)

Originally published in the Wyandot Pioneer, June 3, 1864, p.2

Relay House, Md.
May 26th, 1864

Friend Brunner-

Why do you not send me a Pioneer occasionally? I have not seen one since I left home, and if it would not be asking too much, I should like to hear from you by letter occasionally. The first duties we performed for the Government, as a regiment, was at Baltimore, Md. We arrived at this city on Sunday the 16th inst., about 11 o'clock. Two of our companies, G, and K Captain Wm. Frank and P.W. Hathaway, arrived a few hours in advance of the regiment and reported to Gen. Lew Wallace and were at once detailed for duty. Co. G was sent to Ft. No.5 near Baltimore and Co.K to Ft. Dix, near the Relay House. The remainder of the regiment was sent to Ft. McHenry. On Monday morning following, Co.B, E, and I were detached, B and I were sent to Annapolis, Md. and E was sent to Wilmington, Del., thus leaving but five companies in our command at the fort where we remained doing guard duty. Until the following Wednesday when we were ordered to the Relay Barracks to report to Brig.Gen. E.B. Tyler commanding the 1st Brigade, Middle Dept. We arrived here about one o'clock of the same day when we took up our quarters and expect to remain for the balance of the term of our service. Relay Barracks, being only a few rods from Ft. Dix brings Co.K within our command so that we have six companies together and the prospects are that the other four companies will be ordered here before long. The boys are well as a general thing and in fine spirits, and say they would have no objections in trying the metal before the enemy.

Our camp is delightfully situated on the west side of the Baltimore & Ohio R.R., a few rods north of the Relay House covering a beautiful spot of ground, gently sloping to the westward upon which grows large Chestnut, Oak, Cedar, Pine and other trees, affording a delightful shade over the entire camp. We have plenty of the substantials to eat and as for the luxuries, as all it requires to obtain these in abundance is a few greenbacks. I had green peas for dinner twice last week and strawberries once.

I noticed, by letters received by the boy from Upper Sandusky that reports have reached them that Col. Hunt bartered away two of his companies for the sake of obtaining the position of Colonel. Such reports are without foundation; the Colonel's actions in the consolidation of this regiment were honorable to the letter. I know that he made no sacrifice of his command for the position. I think the report must have been created by some gentleman whose patriotism oozed out when he got to Columbus and found that he required to take an oath to serve his country for 100 days in whatever state of states he might be ordered.

Write me as often as you can find time to do so.

Respectfully Yours,
J. Ayres

Originally published in the Wyandot Pioneer June 17, 1864, p.2

Relay Barracks, Md.
June 9th, 1864

Friend Brunner- Dear Sir:

I received yours of the 3rd together with a Pioneer for which I am much obliged. This received your letter giving a list of the men drafted in Wyandot Co. which created quite an excitement in camp. The news soon spread among the boys that I heard from the draft in Wyandot county and that some of them had been drafted, and it was but a few moments that I was entirely surrounded by the boys, each anxious to learn which among them was so fortunate as to draw a prize in Uncle Samuel's lottery. There were three lucky ones in our regiment. Among them was David Moody of Co.A. It would have done your soul good, however, to see the manly spirit with which they received the intelligence. They joke each other freely about their good fortunes & c. Not a murmur was heard from them against the government or the authorities for this calling upon them to serve for three years when they had already volunteered for 100 days. They could not constrain their gratification however at learning the large portion of Butternuts drawing a prize. They regard the result of the draft in Wyandot, taking it in a whole as a good joke.

I was at Baltimore yesterday and the day before to attend the great Union convention. It met in the Front Street Theatre and although that is a large and capacious building, it was filled to overflowing and a more intelligent and harmonious assembly was never witnessed by man and what is more and better they were nearly all for Old Abe. You have no doubt heard the particulars and result of the Convention by this time, so that I can give you nothing new. It must have been highly gratifying and inspiring to a Union man, who witnessed the city of Baltimore with her stones, clubs, and brickbats being hurled at Union soldiers in 1861, to have been there yesterday and seen the thousands of Union banners and Stars and Stripes from almost every building top and window in the city. Amidst this display of the glorious old Stars and Stripes, I noticed a splendid silk flag suspended from the portico of Barnum's Hotel immediately opposite the room occupied by the Ohio delegation, upon one side of which was inscribed in golden letters "Ohio has sent 231, 652 of her gallant sons to the defense of the country." I tell you it makes an Ohioan's heart swell with pride to look upon that flag, and I may say just here that the Ohio delegation was the "big toad in the puddle"; they took the lead in the whole Convention.

The remains of Col. Porter of the 8th New York Heavy Artillery was brought into the city in the afternoon of yesterday, escorted by Gen. Wallace and Staff, Gen. Morris and Staff, and the 7th O.N.G. Col. Harris. The 8th was relieved at Ft. McHenry by the 144th O.N.G. and sent to the front the same day we got there. The day wound up with a grand ratification meeting in the evening in monument square at which Parson Brownlow and others were to be heard. I did not stay to attend the meeting.

Yours Truly,
J.A. Ayres

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