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Robert H. Caldwell Papers: Transcripts - MS 623

Correspondence from Robert Caldwell - March 1862

March 9, 1862

[Camp] Andrew Jackson
Nashville Tenn March 9th 1862

Dear Parents

Last Friday I received another letter from home dated march 2nd and I cannot describe the feelings with which I behold one of thos yellow envelopes with that heavy plain direction of Fathers as it is handed to me, as I know full well, that I have once more received a letter from my dear home, I am glad to think that you are so punctual

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you spoke of X(?) Captain Gibbs intentions I make the assertion, that he will be entirely broke, at the end of one year from this time poor man, he should have acted differently[.] I have lost all confidence in him, since his arrival at Elmore, and the assertions that he has made in regard to Co I. however I bear him no ill will. Mother spoke of the U.S. Brethrens success of late, I am pleased to hear of it, there is quite a chance for a reformation in E. We have received news of the evacuation of Columbus K.y. I hardly know whether to credit it or not.

I begin to think that the back of Rebellion is broken and that a few more victories on the union side will terminate the struggle[.] The main body of the Rebels has fallen back upon Chatanooga Alabamma, distant from this place about 100 miles, doubtless wee will be called upon to advance upon them ere long. There is a small force of Secesh Cavalry in this vicinity in command of the notorious Morgan that are constantly putting us to a great deal of trouble, by firing upon our pickets and committing all sorts of deprectations, and, and yesterday afternoon while a number of horses and wagons were out on the road about two miles from camp for the purpose of foraging Morgans men made a dash on them and succeeded in captureing 100 horses and a number of teamsters, the wagons they undertook to destroy by fire but could not make them burn, Genl Mitchel came very near being captured himself, but got to camp and immediately ordered out the 2nd and 33rd Ohio and 10th Wis in pursuit of them, besides a large force of the 4th Ohio Cavalry they pursued them and succeeded in recapturing all the horses and teamsters besides getting 3 of the seces, and they are still after them with a fair prospect of capturing the whole of them. You can appreciate the audacity of the rascals when I inform you that our Cavalry pickets extend a distance of four miles from camp, and consequently they had to pass our pickets in order to surprise our men, but never mind they will run their head into a halter one of these times or I am much mistaken The country is now being scoured for miles in the direction from whence they came. Mother, as you say, I have seen the Elephant and have had an opportunity of viewing him in his different positions and can say that it is well worth the price of admission. The prices of everything in Nashville would astonish you, boots $20.00 per pair, coffee $1.00, Saleratus .65 cents and everything else in proportion. Ephrain Rice is going to Elmore and I will send $20.00 by him, I would send more but I had to pay $5.00 for my boots, and we only drew $26.00 two months pay.

whenever I need postage stamps I will write for them as they are not to be had in the Southern Confederacy

March 14, 1862

Camp Andrew Jackson
Nashville Tenn Mar 14th 1862

Dear Parents,

Thinking you might be anxious to hear from me, I seize this opportunity to inform you that I am still in the land of the living, and with the exception of sore feet, occasioned by blisters caused by marching, I am enjoying the best of health. I have not received a letter from home for some time, but expect a letter to day, I received a letter from Juliet yesterday, she wrote from Oberlin. You will remember, in my last, I spoke of the notorious Morgan, that was prowling round in this vicinity, committing all manner of depredations, Yesterday afternoon, quite a force of our troops were sent out in pursuit of him, Genl Mitchel had a large number of wagons ordered out for the purpose of carrying our boys, the plan was to proceed up the road to a point some 20 miles from this place, where it was supposed the scoundrel would be overhauled, Well after proceeding about 10 miles, they were met by Morgan and 20 of his rangers bearing a flag of truce, Morgan gave Mitchel to understand that he wished to see Gen Buell and have a conversation with him, whereupon, in company with Gen Mitchel, he went back to the headquarters of Buell, Mitchel leaving the wagons and soldiers in the road to remain until he should return, in due time they returned (Mitchel and Morgan) and the troops were ordered back by Genl Mitchel and arrived in camp this morning at one oclock I have not yet heard what disposition they have made of Morgan, but doubtless they will hold him prisoner[.] Day before yesterday, Genl Nelson moved up the road with a Brigade and it is thought he will have an engagement at a place distant from this place about 20 miles[.] That affair of Morgan's is enveloped in mystery, this same fellow has been cutting round in this vicinity ever since we arrived, and it is said he daily enters our lines, in the guise of a citizen and spies out everything that is calculated to forward his cause and hinder ours should he act upon information gained, I am in hopes Gen M___ will not allow the rascal to outwit him, We have received the news of the evacuation of Manassas and the defeat of Price, in Arkansas our affairs are still gaining in brightness and I look for a speedy reinstatement of Uncle Samuel's authority in what is termed the Southern Confederacy I know not how soon we are to be ordered from this point but I am of the opinion that our stay is to be of short duration, I think our next move will be to occupy Chatanooga and take possession of the R. Road at that place. Genl Buell's whole force is concentrated at this point, said to consist of upwards of 100000 men. But you see I must close as I am going to commen[ce] working on our pay rolls I have been detailed by the Capt to make them out.

From Robert
In my next I will write to Willie

March 14, 1862

[March 14th 1862, to Sister (Juliet)]

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I received your kind letter of the 6th inst, it came to hand last evening, and I can assure you, it was a truly welcome visitor, you can hardly imagine the amount of good that a good long letter from home! does me. home, did I say. well I suppose you call Oberlin your

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to a great extent, as doubtless you are aware, in this vicinity the rule is, that a mans respectability is measured by the number of Slaves owned by him. During our late march a large number of contrabands had from time to time joined our army, with the intention of leaving their (much loved!) masters, when these facts became known to these afore mentioned amiable gentlemen, they immediately saddled their horses and started in pursuit, and without a single exception, they were returned to their lawful! masters. I pitied the poor fellows, as they appeared to feel so bad, doubtless anticipating a a score or two of lashes upon the bare back. But the Capt of Do D. is in possession of a fine little fellow, that he captured in Bowling Green. the owner of his property not being on hand to prove property and pay charges, and consequently, the little contraband will, if no unforeseen event should take place, see Ohio and breathe free air for the first time in his life. Such are the chances of war!

We are now in the midst of Secessionists of the most violent character, the city of Nashville as you are aware, having been a counterpart of Charleston S.C. but there are some Union citizens in the city also. When we arrived here the city was partially submerged on account of the recent heavy rains and presented a sorry appearance indeed. Yesterday we received the intelligence of the evacuation of Manassas, and the defeat of Price, McCulloch & Polk, in Arkansas. victory follows victory in rapid succession, and I now begin to believe that the war is to be of short duration. Have no fears in regard to the soundness of my heart, as I am not, nor have I yet been troubled with the heart disease but there is no telling how long I shall be able to say it with truth, as I see some very fine girls during my travels. but I must close

Robert

March 16, 1862

Camp Andrew Jackson, Nashville Tenn Mar 16th/62

My Dear Mother

I received your long and interesting letter last Friday, dated the 6th and 7th, and I was truly grateful, on the receipt of it. I also received those Postage Stamps that were in it. I also received those stamps that were sent in Juliets last letter, that she wrote before she left for Oberlin. I mentioned the receipt of them in one of my former letters I will not be in need of any more for some time but when I do I shall not hesitate to write for them, as they are not cometable in the Confederacy. We have been having considerable rain for the past few days, but it has concluded to dry up for a short time, and I am in hopes we shall have better weather as the Spring advances. I suppose to judge from the tenor of your letters that you are still having cold weather in your region, well as for this vicinity I must say that the weather is rather on the summer order, we, as a general thing are having very warm weather, the boys run round in their shirt sleeves, and barefoot and very comfortably at that. The plumb trees and peach are out in blossom and present a very fine appearance This is the finest country I ever saw, it is just hill enough to make it dry, and pleasant, and then the climate is delightful during the winter months, but I am of the opinion that we will get singed next summer if we remain south during the warm months. We are encamped upon a high hill, overlooking the valley, and the country is cleared up in most part, and there are some splendid residences within sight of camp. The Cedar grows wild on the hills, and the Planters can furnish their dooryards with the finest kind of shrubbery at small expense. The State Lunatic Asylum is located at a distance of about three miles from camp, we passed it a few nights ago, when we were rallied out for the purpose of reinforcing the Cavalry at the time they were attacked by the Rebels. It is a very large and fine building, The principle part of the building is four stories high and it is built of brick, it is the finest building of the kind that I ever saw. I have received a letter from William and answered it, he wrote from Camp Chase and I directed my letter to Paducah. Yesterday we received, (that is the 21st Regt.) 800 French Rifles, with their accoutrements. They are a fine little rifle, and in a trial that was made, they made better shooting than the Enfield rifle, with which the Flanking companys have always been supplied. I believe ours is the only Regt in the Division that is supplied with the French rifle. It is a much smaller and lighter gun than the musket, and of much smaller caliber. I hear it stated that in the next march, we are to have the advance, but it wont do for us to believe every camp rumor, and that would be too good news to be true as we have long been promised that position. I suppose long before this, that you have read all the news in regard to Nashville and its surroundings, in the papers and therefore I shall say nothing in regard to it. I sent the Nashville Patriot to Father the other day. There are three papers printed in the city at the present time. In one of my former letters I stated that I had sent some of my superfluous clothing in Lieut Woods trunk, and as he neglected to send it I informed you of the fact and stated that I would send them the first opportunity that offered, I left them in his trunk and thought they were there still, until yesterday when I went to get a shirt for Johnny Caldwell to wear, he having all his shirts in the wash. When Lieut Wood told me that he had sent all the clothing some time ago, and had directed the box to Gen Wight, and if the box ever arrived you can get my package by applying to G. Wight. Give my love to Father, and all the rest of the folks.

from Robert

I suppose Ephrain Rice has got home. if he has, mention it in your next

March 23, 1862

Camp Van Buren, Murfreesboro Tenn March 23rd

My Dear Parents

Thinking you might wish to know something of my whereabouts &c and thinking I had better keep a letter written, so as to be ready in case an opportunity occurs for sending I write. The arrangements have not yet been made for sending mail, but I thought I might possibly have an opportunity of sending it to Nashville by a Teamster, or otherwise, I wish to keep you posted as far as possible, in regard to our movements. We broke up camp near Nashville on the 18th and started for Murfreesboro[.] We were told that it was 30 miles distant from camp, and intended to make it in two days easy march, consequently we made what we considered to be about one half the distance on the first days march, and encamped for the night, intending to occupy the town the following day. Toward morning it commenced raining with a fair prospect of keeping it up for some time, things looked quite dubious I can assure you, as we struck tents in that most unamiable rainstorm, ugh it was chilling but there was no use to give up to it so, and with the rainwater running down our backs and into our boots, and threatening to submerge the whole of us, we marched out into the road and took our way to the superannuated town of Murfreesboro, distant (it was said) 12 miles. After having gone several miles we asked some of the citizens how far it was to town, and were told, fifteen files, that was encouraging to say the least, but after going a few miles further and then being told that we were, seventeen miles from our destination I declare, I began to get discouraged, well we trudged on and on until we had the distance reduced to nine miles, and began to congratulate ourselves that we had got the road fastened at last, and were overhauling it finely, when happening to meet with a planter, we risked the question once more, how far to town, when oh! horror we were told, just twelve miles, I confess I felt very much like giving vent to a little profanity, but managed to check the unlawful inclination. Well to out the matter short after having marched just 21 miles, we camped within 5 miles of the town. I must say it was a hard march indeed as our overcoats had become completely saturated with water, and one of those coats it is said will hold something less than a barrel of water, That night we slept without tents, and in the morning after having shaken ourselves, we marched into town through another delightful rainstorm, ok it was so refreshing to feel that water running down our backs, why should we grumble, it was all ordered, for the good of our country, and if uncle Samuel ordained that we should be washed occasionally without soap, whose business was it, not ours I am sure, and if some of us were drowned in the operation, what matter, it was to be classes with the casualities of war, and let go at that.

During the march, we passed several cotton fields The cotton had been picked, but the stalks were standing, it is planted in rows, about two or three feet apart, and hilled up, something like corn, A field of growing cotton must be a very fine sight indeed, as the plants are planted in perfectly straight rows, and not a weed is left standing, I saw several cotton Presses I don't know whether you have ever seen such a thing or not, but I will endeavor to describe one.

In the first place, a large and strong box, the size of a cotten bail, is placed upon timbers and a frame is erected over it, with a large crop beam, and through this beam a hole is cut, with a thread cut in it, and a very lage upright shaft runs through this, also with a thread cut upon it, and on the top of the shaft, there is a long sweet reaching down to the ground, where I suppose a horse, or probably , a gang of Negroes is hitched and after the cotten is placed in the box, the whole thing is screwed down, and thus the cotten Is packed into bales, The whole thing is clumsily gotten up, but answers the purpose very well.

Murfreesboro, is a very old town, and contains a population of perhaps 5,000. It is situated upon Stones River, and in a direct line, is about 30 miles from Nashville. Before leaving, the Rebels burned both wagon bridges, and also the R.R. Bridge. Our forces are at present engaged in rebuilding the R.R. and one of the wagon bridges, there is a face of about 1000 men engaged daily, in getting out timber for the bridges. There are two pikes running into town, and one R.Road. On the same night that we encamped back 5 miles from town, the pickets of the 3rd Ohio, a few miles back on the road to Nashville were fired into, by Morgans Rangers, and had one man wounded in the arm, the 3rd Ohio Pickets fired three volleys into the rangers, when the latter fled, I did not hear the loss sustained by the Rangers but doubtless it was considerable, as they left a large amount of blood behind them, scattered in every direction on the road. The citizens of Murfreesboro are all undisguised Secessionists, and brag of it and declare that their troops will yet get us, but we are prepared for them in any shape whatever Charles Vantine, or Captain rather, wishes me to say, that he received that Power of Attorney, and that he received it to late to draw the pay when we were last payed off, but he will attend to it and draw (Jones?) his pay for him and send it when next we receive our pay, which will in all probability be in 30 days He would have liked very much to have drawn it for him but the Paymaster had left before it came to hand. Probably you will have the pleasure of seeing Geo Claghorn home in a few days, in the capacity of a Recruiting Officer, in case he should happen down your way, we all want you to help him all you can, as we stand very much in need of the men. Capt Vantine sends his respects to you all. I have experienced no bad effects from that wetting and don't expect to

Give my love to all, from Robert

March 30, 1862

Camp Van Buren
Murfreesboro Tenn Mar 30 1862

My dear Parents

I seat myself to inform you that I received a good long letter from Mother today, and that I also had the pleasure of receiving 3 day before yesterday, one from Aunt Mary dated the 17th, one from Father of the 13th and also one from Juliet of the 13th. I received all of those stamps, in four different letters nearly $3.00 worth in all, I acknowledged the receipt of a part of them in former letters, I disposed of $1.00 worth of them as you wished me to do. Mothers letter of the 23rd was written upon (Foolscap?), and you wished me to excuse you for not writing upon note paper, I would just say, that in future have no scruples in regard to writing upon Foolscap, as I had rather have long letters written than short even if the paper is not quite so stylish. You cant imagine how much good a good long letter does one. I am glad to think that you are all so punctual about writing. In several of you last letters, you have mentioned that you were having very high water, and one of Fathers letters stated that that pile of white ash lumber had capsized, which caused me to fear that he might lose some of that Sycamore, but in Mothers last, she stated that the water was falling, and I am in hopes that the lumber is out of danger, for the present. Capt. Vantine received a letter form his wife today, that stated that you lost about 2000 feet of Walnut, but it must be a mistake as you mentioned nothing about it in your letters, I was sorry to hear that the fence went off, but it can be again replaced. I suppose the engine is very badly rusted, if so, there is a good job for somebody to clean it up once more, I shall expect to see the engine bright and shining upon my return home. I received that three cent piece and intend to keep it and probably give you a chance of overhauling it once more, I was glad to hear that there was a prospect of business opening briskly in the spring. The 3rd O. Cavalry is this side of Nashville some of our boys have seen several of the Elmore boys, but as they arrived after we had left I did not get to visit them[.] Mothers last letter said that it was quite muddy in Elmore. There is quite a contrast between the weather at this point, and at E. I declare, I never saw anything to equal it, if there is any fault to be found, I think it is a little too warm. I guess we will catch it this summer down here, I am of the opinion that McClellan had better hide his head, if those wooden guns were sufficient to keep his vast army in check for so long a time. I don't wish to brag, but I am of the opinion, that had Buell been in command upon the Potomac, they would have left long ago. I am well pleased to see the western army taking such an active part in crushing the life out of the rebellion. Mother wishes to know something in regard to our Chaplain, Well I can only say that during the 7 months that he was in the service he did not average one sermon to the month, and those few, were so execrable, that the Officers of the Regt signed a petition, requesting him to resign, and he did so, and went home he left us at Nashville. He was a good man but not the person for Chaplain of a Regt. We have prayer meeting twice a week, Chaplain Gaddis of the 2nd Ohio of our Brigade preaches occasionally to our Regt. He is a very smart man. Mother you promised (in your last letter) to send me a Leslies upon the event of our forces capturing island 10. I shall look for it daily, but am afraid according to latest news, that it will be some time before that important event transpires as it is very strongly fortified. I will answer Aunt Marys letter next. Poor Athenia. She is left a Widow. As Brown has left for the west.

February-March 1862

Camp Nashville Tenn [February-March 1862]

My dear Parents

We arrived at this place this forenoon, and I hasten to acquaint you of it. We broke up camp 8 miles this side of Bowling Green last Saturday morning. Co I. Had been ordered out on Picket, and as I had nothing else to do, I went with the boys, it commenced raining shortly after dark, and put in for the remainder of the night, and as a matter of course, we got completely soaked, and all things were progressing finely! When at about 2 oclock in the morning, a Corporal came out with the order to proceed immediately to camp, as we were to march by daylight, we immediately started for camp, where we arrived in due time, wet enough I can assure you. Rations were to be cooked before starting which occupied the remainder of the night. We left camp at daylight and marched through a drenching rain a distance of 16 miles and arrived at Franklin at one oclock, a town of about 1000 inhabitants where we took possession of the public buildings for quarters. In company with Mr Barnes, I visited the house of the Town Marshal for the purpose of drying our clothing, and were invited to take dinner with the family, and did so, While our coats were drying, we got well acquainted with the folks, and it being about supper time, we were pressed to stay to supper and we could hardly refuse such an offer and sat down to an excellent supper and after that had been discussed we remained and spent the forepart of the evening very pleasantly. I shall always remember their kindness toward us. The gentlemans name was Murphy, although I am confident, he was not an Irishman. The citizens generally, advocated the Union sentiment, and appeared to be well pleased with our advent. They stated that the Rebels went through that place upon doublequick, a few days before our arrival. We left Franklin next morning and marched 13 miles, Monday morning we again started and made 22 miles, and were then just 11 miles from Nashville. We camped in the open air without pitching tents, as we were to start in the morning at 4 oclock. We slept very comfortably as the weather is very warm where we now are. We left camp this morning at 4 oclock, and marched about 6 miles before daylight, and when we had arrived within 2 ½ of the city, we were ordered back 2 miles where we are now encamped Some of our boys went down to the city and brought the news that Nelson arrived with his Division this morning, by steamboat but he did not have the pleasure of capturing the city, as our Cavalry had already done so before him. It appears to be the heighth of his ambition to get the start of Gen Mitchel, as he had said that we should never have a taste of Bowling Green until he had taken it. And he has lately been straining every nerve for the purpose of arriving at Nashville before us, but how sadly has he failed in both instances, poor old fellow Genl Mitchel is one too many for him The enemy has retreated back 30 miles from Nashville and I expect we will soon be ordered to take another foot race in pursuit of him. Most of the Farm houses along our route had been deserted by the inhabitants, we met large numbers of them returning to their home. We are in hopes that the enemy may soon make a stand somewhere and put a stop to this infernal foot racing in pursuit of them. There is hardly a man in our Division but what had rather fight than chase them all over Gods creation. We crossed Ky. & Tenn line last Sunday afternoon at about one oclock P.M Direct to Nashville Tenn &c&c&c I will answer Juliets letter next.

Robert

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