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Robert H. Caldwell Papers: Transcripts - MS 623

Correspondence from Robert Caldwell - November 1862

November 6, 1862

Camp D. Nov 6th/62

Dear Father

I have not heard from home this week but am looking for a letter to day. I expressed my trunk home this morning. I did not pay the express charges on it ($1.00) on account of being a little short[.]

I have purchased a pair of boots, good ones, I paid $5.50 for them, I have also bought a Rubber Blanket for $3.00 and am now prepared for wet weather. I could not get a pair of boots at this place that suited me, and had to go to the city for them. While there I visited the Gunboat that is building there. It is to mount ten guns four eleven inch Columbiads and six 24 pounders.

Those guns were some, the round shot weighs 180 pound I thought I could lift one with ease, but upon trial had to let out the job. The plating for the sides is 3 inch wrought iron, the decks being covered with one inch plating.

The side wheels are driven by two powerful engines. In addition to the side wheels, there are two Propellers, driven by two propeller engines. Those engines were splendid.

The propeller engines were about two foot stroke, and 18 inch bore. There was three boilers about the size of our boiler in the saw mill. The Smoke Stacks are about 10 feet high above decks. The whole concern is protected by plating with the exception of the Wheelhouses. I also visited the Waterworks. The machinery is driven by four engines.

Two, perpendicular ones of about Six feet stroke and three feet bore, they were the most splendid engines I ever saw. The other two were horizontal, and twelve feet stroke by two feet bore, they were of the old style of Steamboat engines, but very powerful. The works are being extended, and another engine of still larger dimensions erected[.]

There was a fire in the city and I had an opportunity of seeing those famous Steam Fire engines work. There were five of them on the ground and all read with steam up by the time that they arrived on the ground. The fire caught in an Oakum house, and spread to a Lumber yard, and destroyed a large amount of lumber, it was finaly subdued, as what fire could withstand the deluge of water that was thrown by those engines. Enclosed find the key to that trunk, those check shirts are mine, the tobacco Capt Vantines, the Tea is Bumpuses, those cants of fruit, Mrs Paynes the empty cans speak for themselves, I got the boys to carry the rest of the articles. We will probably leave in a few days as the way is now open to Nashville


November 1862


[Early November, Camp Dennison]

notice the Flag pole that stands in front of Head Quarters.

Those long dark buildings to the left of Hd Qrs are the Quartermaster & Commissary buildings[.] That cluster of small ones contingent to the Pole, are the Officers of those belonging to Hd Qrs. That two story white frame building in the background is a boarding house, and that long low one to the left of the boarding house is a stable for the horses used in camp by Government.

You will notice the Guard House a little to the right of the pole with the cross on it. You know what a guard house is used for and I will not have to explain its use. It takes four pictures to complete the set, but I only got two, the others are very much like the two that I send you, with which you can form an imperfect idea of Camp Dennison.

The Hospital Wards, are being plastered so as to be comfortable during cold weather

Your affectionate Son

(P.S) I wrote to you in a former letter that the box had come

November 9, 1862

Camp Dennison Nov 9th/62

Dear Mother

Your long and interresting letter was recd yesterday afternoon, I had about made up my mind that I should not get a letter that week (as yours was the only one I got during the week) but yesterday afternoon the mail came and I was fully rewarded for my patience by receiving your long and very interresting letter. I am so glad that you and Father intend having your pictures taken to send to me, as I always wanted them. Yes indeed that is news in regard to the marriage of Fred & Lizzie A good match indeed in my opinion neither will be much the gainer by the operation.

That was truly an awful affair. The murder of those two young ladies. The gallows was cheated of its lawful victim by his committing suicide[.]

Lieut Wiley has gone home to Perrysburg, and we are looking for him back tomorrow. he sent word by one of our boys that had been home on furlough, that we would leave for the Regt next wednesday, but I dont place much reliance in the report. however I am both ready and anxious to be moving but you may still continue to direct your letters as before and they will be forwarded if we have gone.

I was glad to hear that Father was getting along so well with his sawing. I am still in hopes he may be able to sell out to Mr. Crane.

Yes the Country will suffer greatly in the loss of such a General as was Mitchel and it will be difficult to replace him. Oh how glad I am that old Buell has been removed from the Dept of the Ohio and a good fighting General put in his place, and one that we know is a loyal man.

Now don't fail to have your pictures taken and sent to me.

I expressed that trunk home the trunk belongs to Mrs Vantine

Dress parade and I must close

November 12, 1862

Camp D. Nov 12/62

Dear Father

You must excuse me for writing with a pencil but the pens are all employed and for that reason I use a pencil.

I recd your letter containing Yours and Mothers likeness and I can assure you I was very glad to get them, They are very natural and I prize them very much indeed[.] I shall take good care of them

You wish to know if I get any letters from William. Not since I left home I have not even had an answer to the letter in which I sent William my Photograph and I think it is no more than fair that he should write first. That likeness of yours it is lying before me, and I can hardley keep my eyes off from it. those spectacles of yours look so natural, and Mothers picture is just as natural as can be. I see that Nashville is at last relieved and now the Mail will go through once more. I wish I could get a letter from Capt Vantine & Lieut Wood, I am so anxious to go through to the Regt and don't see why we are detained, now as communications are again open O! I had rather go to Nashville, and live on pork & crackers, than lie in this camp, with soft bread and chicken fixings. You said that Gesshart and Bennett had got home, I have got two Shirts for Bennett that I was taking through for him[.] I will now send them back to him at Elmore by express and he can get them by paying express charges O! I am so glad that our army is not going into winter quarters[.] I want to be moving all the time, it is perfectly galling to me to lie inactive. Buell is to stand a Court Martial, bully that the way to use the Confounded old Fogey with Rosencrantz at our head we are going to accomplish wonders this winter.

The 4th Tenn Regt came into C. Dennison this morning

The Regt is an Infantry Regt and is going to be turned into Cavalry so I am told. The Colonel of the Regt is a Son of Gov Johnson of Tenn the Lieut Col is a son of the noted Parson Brownlon[.] I was over to see the Regt they are a good lot of men they were at Cd Gap, under Gen Morgan, and have been lying at Gallipolis for some time. I am going over again to see them and will endeavor to get a sight at the Col & Lieut Col as I did not see them this morning.

Lieut Wiley is at Columbus and we are looking for him to day, and are in hopes we may start as soon as he comes. I will express those Shirts before we leave if I don't get any different orders. I sent you $20.00 by express several days ago.

November 15, 1862

Camp D. Nov 15th/62

Dear Father

I seat myself to acknowledge the receipt of your two last letters.

One of them was one of Williams letter with a few lines from you

What a good letter that was of Williams I wrote to William last and he owes me a letter, but I wont wait for him to write first but will write to him. I read that letter containing $5.00 for which receive my thanks[.]

I am happy to be able to announce at last that we leave camp D this afternoon en route for Nashville. The boys are perfectly wild with delight, and none more so than myself[.]

When you write you had better direct Nashville, Via Louisville, if there are any letters on the way for me they will follow We leave Daniel Wight in Hospital, he being unable to go with us[.]

I sent James Bennetts Shirts home by Express, they go this morning, they were directed James Bennett, Elmore Ohio

I of course did not pay the Express charges on them, he will have to do so when he gets them. Weather is very fine and I hope we may arrive at Nash in time to join the 21st in case it takes the field once more, a campaign this fine weather would suit me exactly

No news to communicate and you will have to excuse me if I don't fill this sheet

I never enjoyed better health than at present

You affectionate son

P.S. I will write the first opportunity

November 21, 1862

Nashville Tenn Nov 21st/62

Dear Father

We arrived at this place yesterday and I hasten to communicate the fact to you

We bade good bye to Camp Dennison last saturday and came as far as Mitchelsville Tenn by R.R. and from there to this city on foot. Mitchelsville is about 40 miles from Nashville[.] It went pretty hard with some of the boys, marching. On the second days march it rained nearly all day, and the overcoats of the boys becoming saturated with water, it made heavy work for them, We made 25 miles the last day. The boys thought it a pretty serious introduction to Tennessee. Their feet became blistered and I will own that mine were not much better.

Nashville is indeed a well fortified city, but it is useless for me to attempt a description of its fortifications, and I will not attempt it.

I found the boys all well and in a flourishing condition

We got to Edgefield, (a town directly opposite Nashville with the Cumberland dividing the two places) on Wednesday night, and took up quarters in a building, on the following morning we crossed over and took our way to the Regt[.] Lieut Col Neibling met us half way, and when he saw our Colors and Banner flying he was pleased I can assure you. Old Co I. was overjoyed to see new Co I roll in, and with a few, very few exceptions manifested the greatest delight, You know well enough who the exceptions were, and I need not tell you their names, but it is enough for me to say that the Privates all welcomed me and my recruits with open arms.

I have reported for duty, and expect to take hold again and resume my accustomed duties. Parson Brownlow speaks here to night, and of course I will attend. I had the pleasure of seeing the renowned Preacher, but mail closes, in a few minutes and I must stop[.] I am enjoying good health.


November 24, 1862

Nashville Tenn Nov 24/62

My dear Brother

This long continued silence on Yours as well as my own part, why is it. I wrote to you from Home, and sent you my Photograph which you neglected to answer, or in answered I failed to receive[.] I should be happy indeed co carry on a regular correspondence with you, and why should I not, I feel satisfied that there has nothing transpired between us that is calculated to create a coolness between us, far from it, I can only lay it to our confounded carelessness laziness, or what shall I call it, and in future, for my part I intend to do better, as the penitent says.

I just more than enjoyed myself while at home, among friends, I was at home just for weeks and then left for camp, We lay in C. Dennison almost eight weeks, but finally left for this place, where we arrived last Thursday morning. I brought fourteen Recruits to Co I. and left one in Hospital at C. Dennison. He will doubtless join us in a few days.

The prevailing opinion now is that the 21st is to winter in Columbia Tenn. If I could have my choice between the two places I should stay at Nashville, as I could enjoy myself hugeley this winter.

I heard Parson Brownlow speak a few evenings since[.] He is a perfect trump and hard to beat, if he isnt capable of abusing the Rebels, then they are entirely above abuse, that's all.

He is going along with our army into E. Tennessee and He says He is bound to cry aloud and spare not.

He made the expression that he wanted to see Hell greased for five miles with the Gut fat of his enemies.

O, he is a regular rip roarer (an elegant expression, can you interpret its meaning)

We had a visit from Lieut James Luckey & Sergt Major Maines 3rd Cavalry, this morning[.] They look well, Jim is almost as large as his Father.

I believe I have no important news to communicate. Nashville is still being fortified, and is not pronounced almost impregnable. The 21st is now attached to Gen Negleys Div We dont expect to find a Mitchel in Negleys uniform. Poor Mitchel. When you write direct to 21st O.V. Nashville Negleys Div &c&c

Please present my respects to Maj Rice.

Your affectionate Brother

November 24, 1862

Nashville Tenn Nov 24/62

Dear Father

I wrote to you upon our arrival at this city, and told you of our safe arrival.

I was on Piquet guard last night and feel very dull this morning, and therefore you must not expect much of a letter from me this time.

This morning I was much gratified to receive a visit from E. Haines, Lieut James Luckey & Dewilton Wood 3rd O.V they are to remain with us all day, They look well James Lucky in particular Jim is almost as large as his Father. I was some in hopes that our Regt was to remain in this city at least a little longer but it is finally decided that the 21st is to winter in Columbia Tenn I went to hear Parson Brownlow a few evenings since. Oh I do wish you could have heard him. He just beats any thing I have ever heard.

He can abuse the Rebels if any body can. If I wanted to have any man abused according to Hoyle I should employ old Brownlow by all means

He is just the man that I expected to find him. Rough! Rough dont begin to tell half the tenth.

He is a medium sized man, with long dark hair without any beard whatever. He appears to be about forty five years of age. Your first glance at the old Hero will satisfy you at once, that he is a man clear through. He takes nothing back that he once asserts, and shows the utmost contempt for the threats of his enemies, who, if they could gain possession of him would tear him limb from limb.

Brownlow is a perfect trump in my mind, and just such a man as I should like to follow into East Tennessee. The main body of the army of the Cumberland is encamped in and around the city of Nashville. a part of Rozecranzes army is, on the Murfreesboro road the advance being about ten miles from this city.

Murfreesboro, from all I can find out is, still in the hands of the enemy. Fortifications are still being erected in this vicinity. Fort Negley, is quite a formidable structure and is to mount ten heavy guns.

There are several Forts of that description all mounting heavy Siege guns. We are expecting marching orders daily. I am ready to go at any moment.

Love to all

November 30, 1862

Nashville Tenn Nov 30th 1862

Dear Father

To day is the first leisure time that I have had for several days past, on account of being called upon to make out Pay rolls for the Company, besides a lot of other writing that I have had to do for Capt Vantine. I have not had a letter from home, since I left Camp Dennison[.] Why it is I cannot say, as most of the Recruits have received letters from home, but I am confident you have not failed to write, and that in time they will arrive. This makes the fourth letter I have written since arriving here, one to William, and three home.

In one of my former letters I wrote you that I had heard Parson Brownlow speak I also heard the Hon. Horace Maynard the same evening, it was a rich treat, I can assure you. I never listened to such an interesting Speaker, as was Brownlow. He gave the Rebels a sound dressing out. and if there is any person on earth capable of doing it effectually, that person is Brownlow.

Our Camp is very pleasantly situated in the edge of the city, we have breastworks thrown up on the outer edge of our camp, The whole Piquet line is enclosed with breastworks, and felled trees, and consequently piqueting is not very dangerous[.]

Our Regt comes on Duty about once in five days One Regt goes out at a time on Piquet. Our Forces still continue to forage upon the surrounding country. the train is usually escorted by two or three Regts Infantry, a battery of Artillery and a battallion of Cavalry. I suppose before this you have read a notice in the papers about the late fight at Lavergne, between the forces of Gen Sill, and the Rebs[.] of course our side was victorious as usual in these parts. I have not yet heard the particulars

There was also quite a smart skirmish down in the vicinity of Fort Zollicoffer. about 75 of our Cavalry attacked and routed 175 rebel Cavalry. It so happened that, in their retreat the Rebs ran into the rear of our forage trains, and the Battery accompanying the train opened on them and just more than scattered them.

We had Brigade inspection yesterday, everything passed off in order, and to the entire satisfaction of all concerned

I heard that we had a slight engagement at Murfreesboro a day or two ago, but I cannot vouch for the truth of the statement. Those Colors have not yet been presented to the Regt we are awaiting the arrival of Col Norton who is expected daily. Capt Vantine is well pleased with my success in recruiting, but I fear that Claghorn will be unable to get a Discharge, as the surgeons have decided to give no more discharges, but Camp Vantine has promised to give me the full benefit of any change that may occur in the Co The 21st Regt. numbers over 900 effective men at present, Butter $1.00, eggs .75cts, Apples .05cts a piece, Turkeys $2.00 and chickens in proportion. Capt Vantine says it costs him $5.00 a day for living, quite expensive living.

The weather has been splendid for the past two weeks, warm and dry. Just the kind of weather for campaigneing, but here we are and I dont know how soon we will move. We are frequently visited by some of the 3rd Cavalry, James Lucky was here again yesterday, and also Bidwel Hulls. but I must close

Give my love to Mother, Juliet, and Willie

I suppose Juliet has got home has she not


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