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Robert H. Caldwell Papers: Transcripts - MS 623

Correspondence from Robert Caldwell - May 1862

May 4, 1862

Direct to Nashville
Mitchels Division
To be forwarded
Huntsville Ala May 4th __62

My dear Parents

I hardly know what to write as I have lately written so many letters home, and as yet, received but one since arriving at this city, which occurred nearly one month ago, but that Confounded Morgan is the cause of all our trouble in regard to our Mail matters[.] He lately captured our mail that was going north, and as I had several letters on the way at that time I presume they were all read by other persons than I intended should peruse them, And as I wrote in my last the enemy, burned a whole Division Train of ours upon the R. Road, a few miles to the west of us, and all of the mail for Mitchells Division was destroyed and of course I have been cheated out of one or two letters but the worst of all is that that Prince of Rascals Morgan lately captured 265 men of our Division, who were on their way to join their respective regts, they were principally Convalescents that had been lately discharged from the Hospital, I am somewhat inclined to doubt the Statement in regard to the number captured, but Capt Ewing of Co D. 21st Ohio was taken prisoner, and released in Parole of Honor, also Fred Mitchel Aid to Gen Mitchel was a son of the Genls and was immediately exchanged We having a brother of Morgans in our possession [.] Capt Ewing had been home on Furlough and was returning to his Regt. There was also 11 of Co Hs boys of the 21st captured, so you see they have been dipping into the 21st pretty extensively of late. Capt Ewing is now with our Regt waiting I suppose to be exchanged. It is feared that Capt Cating Co H 21st Ohio was burned to death on that Div train that was lately burned by the Rebels, as he was aboard of the train at the time of the disaster and he has not been seen since. As I wrote in my last letter, the enemy had set fire to the R.R. Bridge with the expectation of cutting it off, and as the Engineer was attempting to run the train across the burning Bridge it fell and the whole train with the exception of one car was destroyed by fire, as was also their contents.

In my last I gave you a description of our late movements in the direction of Chatanooga, and of the Prisoners captured, and of our hasty return to this city in anticipation of a big fight and also of our disappointment in not getting sight of the enemy, he having commenced falling back before our arrival. The notorious Price had a force of several thousand with which he made great calculations upon retaking this point, but the result shows that Genl Mitchel is not to be surprised and that with one Division he is capable of controlling 100 miles of R. Road in the very heart of the Confederacy to say nothing of the country for several miles in other directions. I don't see why that other Division has failed to arrive that I had been informed was comeing for the purpose of reinforceing us at this point.

One of our boys received a Fremont paper to day by some means or other, that stated that Surgeon J.B. Rice of the 72nd Ohio was taken prisoner at Pittsburg Landing, as was also the Assistant Surgeon. I am afraid that William has also fallen into their hands, When you write let me know if you have seen Geo Claghorn and if you received that $20.00 that I sent you, I sent it with Capt Vantines package addressed to you. The other Recruiting Officers have returned to the Regt excepting the Sergeant of Co K. I understand that Claghorn is sick which delays his comeing to the Regt. I am in hopes of getting letters before long but cant tell how it will turn out, the whole county is literally swarming with the enemy, fighting Guerilla fashion. The 3rd Ohio was fired into day before yesterday at a point 15 miles from this place as they were passing a little town by the mine of Painted Rock and several men were wounded[.] The Colonel stopped the train, captured the men, and burned every house in the town, that is the only way in which to stop these depredations of the enemy, they have often fired into our trains as they were passing near that point. Love to Aunt Mary, Will and all of my friends.

Robert

May 7, 1862

Huntsville May 7th /62

My dear Parents

Hearing that one of the boys of the 21st leaves for home in the morning I take this opportunity of sending a letter to the outposts of Civilization in order to have it mailed. I am afraid that you have failed to receive several of my last letters owin got the capture of our mails by the notorious Morgan, I am somewhat puzzled to know what to write on account of having written all that I thought would be anyways interesting to you In my former letters I gave yo an account of our recent trip to Stevenson, a town situated upon the M. & C. R.R. distant from this city about 60 miles. Genl Mitchel had sent an expedition in that direction consisting of five or six Regts and our was among the number, but our Regt did not arrive in time to take a hand in the grab for prisoners that took place, The advanced Guard had a slight brush with the forces of Gen Ledbetter, but of course as might have been expected, the Secesh Skedaddled as soon as they received our fire, we captured quite a number of prisoners a part of whom have been sent to this point, the remainder being yet back, some 44 of them have arrived here. The Rebel retreated across the Tennessee River, burning a portion of the Bridge adjoining the other side of the river. The Bridge crosses the river where there is quite a large island, and consequently there is what might be termed two Bridges the Island laying between them. The Rebels in their haste to burn the bridge, did so leaving quite a number upon the Island, our men picked them up, they appeared to feel quite satisfied with their situation after being captured, one of them declareing, that he would not exchange situations with Jeff Davis preferring confinement in a Yankee prison to a Seat upon Jeff's Throne, well honor his Judgement.

The route for the most part led through a great Swamp the water being almost a foot deep upon an average. We had an eight mile march to make after night, and I tell you it was gloomy enough, it was so dark that we could hardly get along, and with no music but the song of the frog, and whippoorwill, it was what I call dismal marching, but as everything must have an end so had our march, After staying at Stevenson for a day or two, we received orders to return to Huntsville as Price was then advancing upon the city with a large force, and driving our forces before him, when we arrived we found the tables turned, Price in turn being obliged to fall back, our forces following with a prospect of captureing a large number of his forces[.] I have not yet heard what success they met with but I presume Price has escaped with his force. The Citizens of Huntsville were quite jubilant over the prospects of our forces being driven from the city, and openly proclaimed that now they had the Yankees just where they had long wished to have us, anticipating that we were all going to fall into their hands, but now imagine the length of their faces, when they still see a Yankee Guard placed at their doors, The Screws are now drawn even tighter than ever upon them[.] The Women even spit upon our soldiers, I consider it quite a lucky thing for them that they have never used me in that manner, there is a point beyond which I cannot control my temper, and that would be quite a piece beyond that point. I hear that New Orleans, Yorktown, and Mobile, are captured, good news, We will soon have peaches down here, they are now as large as quail's eggs, Wheat will do to cut in 3 or 4 weeks. Capt Vantine sends his respects,

[END OF PAGE LOST]

May 21, 1862

Camp Taylor, Huntsville Ala May 21st/ GA

My dear Parents

Knowing that a letter no matter how old, will be acceptable to you, I will, although there will be no chance to send it until the Division Train arrives, and departs once more, which in all probability will not occur for at least one week[.]

I sent two letters by the last mail and doubtless you have received them by this time. I also received a letter from home about ten days ago, which brought the pleasing intelligence that you were all well. Father mentioned that some certain men that had taken the mill, were running it and that they were well satisfied with it[.] That being the first intimation that I had received of Fathers disposing of the mill in any manner I am rather curious to know what disposition has been made of it. In your next, please explain the whole matter, as I am confident you have already done in your former letters, that I failed to receive an account of that rascally Morgan's band of Marauders. But never mind there is a plan on foot to capture him and his whole command[.]

An expedition consisting of 1000 Infantry a considerable number of Cavalry, and 4 pieces of artillery left this point last Sunday morning for some purpose or another I could not exactly find out Genl Mitchels intentions and its point of destination &c. but we are daily expecting to hear from it. I was very glad indeed to see by your letter that William was save, as I have borrowed considerable trouble on his account but now it is all set right once more.

I hear good news from the Eastern Armies and expect that ere this reaches you Virginia will be numbered among the redeemed Prodigals. We have of late received cheering news from almost every point, only think of New Orleans, and Norfolk being in our possession and Richmond will surely follow next. I think I can begin to see through this little matter, and the future looks quite bright to me, although I don't expect to be able to celebrate the 4th of July in Ohio. Yet I am in hopes that glorious anniversary may find us celebrating the downfall of rebellion throughout the whole United States. That it may witness our Flag flying over every fort, and foot of soil of the South that it may witness the reunion of our lately distracted and unhappy Country, and last but not least, that Arch Traitor, Jeff Davis suspended by this neck from the tallest tree this side of Jericho, then can I truly say that the time has come for us to lay aside the musket and return once more to civil pursuits Then Oh what a time will that be, the reunion of broken and separated families, Then will us wanderers be able to experience the blessings of home, that I fear too many of us have heretofore experienced without so much as one spark of thankfulness on our part.

I suppose Juliet has once more taken up her residence in Elmore. I want her and Aunt Mary to write to me also Willie. Excuse this short letter. I will write more at length when I hear from home. Your last letter that I received was dated April 18th more than a month ago. R.C.

May 23, 1862

Huntsville Ala
May 23rd/62 friday

My dear Parents

The Mail arrived yesterday but brought me no letters. You can imagine my disappointment _________ If there is one thing more than another that is calculated to cheer one up when far away from all that he holds dear, it is the receipt of a good long letter, announcing that all goes well with the dear ones at home.

The last letter that I got from home was dated Apr 18th and what might not have happed at home during that long intervening month.

Only think what good fortune has attended our arms during that time[.] Yorktown, Norfolk, and N. Orleans have fallen into our hands and there now remains but two places where they will be at all likely to make a desperate stand, Richmond and Dorinth, and if good fortune attends our cause at those places, then is the back of the rebellion effectually broken. We receive Louisville papers almost daily, and I see by them that the foreign powers begin to talk as though there was a probability of Uncle Sam still asserting his authority, in such a manner as to bring his unruly children once more under his paternal roof.

Let England beware how she comforts herself in future[.]

I believe I have never yet given you a description of Huntsville and will now endeavor to do so.

It is situated in a valley enclosed surrounded by high mountains or hills, that are covered with a growth of quite heavy timber. The city is watered from the finest Spring I have yet seen, it bursts from underneath a high ledge of rocks just at the edge of the city. The water is then elevated by means of water power (obtained from the Spring) into a Reservoir and then distributed by means of pipes through the city. There are numerous Fire plugs at the corners of the streets, piped in such a manner that in case of fire a hose can be attached and water thrown to a considerable distance. The dwelling and business houses are lighted by gass. before the rebellion broke out the streets were also lighted but that has been discontinued[.]

There are several large business houses in the city also a large Seminary, that usually accommodated from 100 to 200 Ladies students, but I believe it is closed for the present. Huntsville has the reputation of being the finest city in Alabama. The streets are well shaded, There are numerous fine residences in and around town, and some of the finest gardens and yards I ever saw.

The houses are literally imbedded in trees and flowers, and such roses, I thought I had seen some roses in our front yard at home, but that is as nothing compared with some of the yards in this city although I would give more to see our pleasant front yard, than to own all the flowers in the South. And such evergreens they are trimmed to grow in all sorts of shapes and present quite an odd yet pleasing appearance Strawberries and cherries have been in market for some time, also new potatoes. Peaches will be ripe by the latter part of June, and then wont we live on peaches they grow wild one might say, in this country. The R.R. line is almost covered with peach trees how they came there I cant say, but they all hang full of fruit. And not being fenced are free to all, and for that matter they would be free to us if there were fourteen fences round them, we confiscate all such property, our onions, radishes, &c. cost us nothing, draw your own conclusions

Hurrah for our side, we are bound to live well, Officers as well as privates.
Love to all
Robert

I have received no letter from William since the Battle.
Please tell Mose Willson to write me.
Don't forget that
R.C.

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