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Letters from Soldiers in the 87th OVI and 2nd OVHA

[This first letter was written when Aleshire was a 1st Lieutenant in the 87th OVI. This was a regiment with a 3 mo. enlistment and was organized at Camp Chase in Columbus in June 1862. After duty in the defense of Baltimore they were ordered to the defense of Harper's Ferry. Harper's Ferry was surrendered in the middle of September. The soldiers were sent to Annapolis which was the center for exchange of prisoners, and they were parolled. They mustered out at Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio on Sept. 20, 1862. Lieutenant Aleshire, who wrote this letter, was later promoted to captain and became attached to the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Heavy Artillery regiment. Letters from that regiment can be seen below this letter. N Elvick]

Camp Banning, Harper's Ferry, July 16th, 1862

Jas. Harper.—Dear Sir:
     I have been threatening every day for the past fortnight, to write a line or two to the Journal, and thus by one letter, let all my friends in "old Gallia" know of my whereabouts and how I like soldier's life. I want to be brief. So I will go from general to particular things. Our Regiment is the 87th Ohio, 1020 strong; and a finer looking Regiment I never have seen up to this time. It is composed almost entirely of the young men of Ohio, Lawyers, Doctors, College Students, Clerks, Farmers, &c. Our field officers are the best and most efficient set of men, and the most competent to take charge of such a Regiment as the 87th—in fact, to cut the matter short, all of us, privates and officers worship them. Col. Banning is the pride of the Regiment, an Ohioan by birth, a medium sized man, and of prepossessing appearance; a good natured, whole souled "regular Buckeye." As regards his fighting qualities, he has seen service as Captain of a company in the 4th O. "He has been there and still would go." Lt. Col. Faskin is a large, broad-chested Scotchman; if you could hear him swear at "th-a-t 4-r-t Sergeant" on battalion drill, however warm the day, or however tired you were, it would put you in the best humor in the world. This poor unfortunate Sergeant is the cause of many a titter through the column on such occasions. Colonel Faskin served for years in the English army, also faced the rebels in this country at the famous battle of Winchester.—When I mention the fact that Samuel F. Leffingwell is our Major, this is all that is necessary. You Printers will all recognize him as a brother in the profession. He may be a good printer; I know that he is a good soldier. He served in the Mexican war, and as you are aware also, filled the position of Major in the 31st Ohio. He passed through Gallipolis with a detachment of his Regiment last summer. He speaks very highly of our town and the acquaintances he formed there. Adjutant Long was a member of the "old 21st Ohio" in the three months' service. We have a great many of the "21st boys" with us, and you know more about them than I can tell you.—Our Regiment probably, will be re-organized as soon as our three months are up. And who could wish to go under a better set of officers?
     Now a few words about our company. We have the honor to be Company A, and I feel safe in saying that our boys deserve the position. Our officers are: Captain, D. H. Moore; 1st Lieut., E. S. Aleshire; 2nd Lieut., J. H. Jenkins. It does not become me to say anything more about them. Our company numbers 101 men, the maximum number. But I am getting most too extravagant in the use of your columns. One thing more and I will close. It is something prophetic, a remarkable coincidence; the rebels had better take warning, and their superstitious old women take off their spectacles and open their ears. It is this. The first picket guard sent from Harper's Ferry by the 87th, was commanded by Sergeant John Brown of our company. I'll tell you how I like a soldier's life next time I write.
     Truly yours,
     E. S. Aleshire, 1st Lt. Co. A, 87th O.

The Gallipolis Journal
July 31, 1862

Second Regiment Heavy Artillery, Covington Barracks, Oct. '63

Mr. Editor—Sir:
     As we have many friends in Gallia county, and what is more a good many of her brave boys in our Regiment, I think a short sketch of our camp life published in your paper will prove interesting to your numerous readers. Our Regiment is stationed in Barracks, which are situated about 1 1/4 miles from the Ohio river, on the outskirts of the City of Covington, and our quarters present a pretty appearance from the distance. Before the organization of the Regiment we were rather crowded, but since five companies left us, we have good, roomy, and comfortable quarters. The boys in Company F, of whom I intend to speak particularly, enjoy general good health. Absence from home and a sudden change in food and water will naturally bring some sickness along, but that will only be of short duration.—Our Company is well armed and equipped, and the boys received their premium and first installment of their bounty, amounting in all to twenty-seven dollars, the largest amount of which sum has been sent home. Of our officers (among whom I have the honor to be one), I won't say much, as I am not the proper person to do so; but I know if the boys could not have gotten their present officers, there would have been great dissatisfaction among them. Our Regiment makes a very fine appearance on dress parade, and our good military band helps a great deal to enliven the spirit of the boys.—Our field officers are just such men as we want, and are mostly regular army officers. Discipline is enforced, and I am proud to say that I think that there are few Regiments in the field that have succeeded in so short time to enforce as thorough discipline and order. As soon as we are sufficiently drilled in Infantry service, we will be supplied with siege guns and will be put through Heavy Artillery Drill.
     At sunrise our bugler sounds the reveille, and a few minutes afterwards the boys jump out of their bunks for roll call. The Orderly Sergeants then bring in their morning reports to Headquarters, and at 6 1/2 our breakfast has to be done. Seven and a half to nine o'clock, drill, and then guard mounting. Ten to eleven, recitation for Commissioned officers; twelve o'clock dinner, and the last call is certainly the best attended. Three to four P.M., officers' drill; four to five, Company drill; half-past five, supper; six o'clock, dress parade; eight three-fourths, tattoo; and nine o'clock, taps.
     Such is a short sketch of our daily routine. On Sunday [Saturday] afternoon general cleaning up, and Sunday morning inspection. Divine service is attended twice on Sunday; and I hope it may go on that way, as I think it will be of good use. Our Chaplain said last Sunday, "the army is a place where men become corrupt, and we must counteract the evils as far as we possibly can."
     I cannot exactly say that our Company furnishes more boarders than other Companies for the guard-house, though we have had several members in that necessary institution. Our military prison is pretty crowded with deserters, and I warn all men that belong to that class of beings, to look out for their salvation, for at the present time, deserters are not treated like gentlemen. Any man in Gallia county that belongs to that sect, better give himself up, because caught he will be, if not now after a while, and the Ohio Penitentiary has always room enough to harbor these kind(s) of human beings.
     Our rations are pretty good and plenty, and our boys are now and then able to sell some surplus grub, and furnish themselves with vegetables, tobacco, stationery, &c. About politics there is very little heard, although our boys take a good deal of interest in political matters at home. Cincinnati dailies are every morning brought to Camp, and the progress of our army watched with as much anxiety as at home.—Valandighamers are rather a scarce article to the best of my knowledge, and if there is [sic] any at all they had better keep quiet; because, why? just because it won't do. I would like to let all the friends in Gallia county know where we are going to be stationed, but that is really more than I or any body else can tell. Now and then our boys go over to see their friends in the First Ohio, one Company of which is stationed above us almost in speaking distance.
     That is all I know for the present; take it as it is. I never called myself a good correspondent, but all I wanted was to satisfy some of our many friends in old Gallia, and I know I could not have done it in a better way than through your paper.
     Benicia Boy
     2d Regiment O. V. Heavy Artillery

The Gallipolis Journal
October 15, 1863

[This is not a letter from a soldier, but is put here because of its relavence to this regiment. Captain Aleshire had also served previously on a 3 month enlistment in the 87th OVI. N. Elvick]

     Our young friend, Edward S. Aleshire, Captain of Co. F 2d Ohio Heavy Artillery has been presented by his company, with a magnificent diamond-hilted sword. We are not informed of its cost, but judging from the price of others made known to us, its value must be several hundred dollars. The Captain may justly feel proud of this splendid gift, not only on account of its intrinsic value, but because it is a good indication of his standing with the company, and that they find him an honorable gentleman and brave soldier. The company have also honored themselves, in presenting a sword worthy the acceptance of a Major General.

TRIBUTE OF RESPECT, Morning Dawn Lodge F & A. M., April 22d, 1864
Whereas God in His all-wise but mysterious Providence has removed from us and taken home to Himself our beloved Brother, Columbus C. Drouillard, therefore.
Resolved 1st—That in this dispensation we recognize the hand of Him who in Infinite wisdom controls and guides the Universe, without Whom "not even a sparrow falleth to the ground," and bow submissively to "Him who doeth all things well."
Resolved 2nd—That while we cherish in our sad hearts the memory of our departed brother we would not forget the high privilege of having enjoyed so long his bright example and consistent Christian life, but take comfort in the thought that he is not lost but gone before.
Resolved 3d—That as a lodge of which the deceased was so long a member, we humbly acknowledge the chastening hand of Him who "doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men."
Resolved 4th—That we deeply sympathize with the bereaved family from whom has been taken a beloved and devoted husband, a kind and obedient son, an affectionate brother, and earnestly commend them to the sympathy and love of the compassionate Savior who has taught us to "weep with those that weep" and is able to make all grace abound unto them, and enable them to rejoice even in this sore trial, and to say in the spirit of resignation, "the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away and blessed be the name of the Lord."
Resolved 5th—That the above be published in our county papers, and a copy furnished the family of the deceased.
     J. F. Williams, Saml. A. Nash, D. B. Hebard, Committee Attest Jno. C. Vanden, Secretary

The Gallipolis Journal
May 5, 1864

Hd-qtrs. 2nd Battalion 1st Reg.O.V.H. Arty., Knoxville, Tenn., April 25th, 1864

R. L. Stewart, Esq., Editor Gallipolis Journal— Sir:
     In view of the approaching nomination of candidates for Representatives in Congress and the subsequent elections, we the soldiers and officers of the 1st Ohio Volunteer Heavy Artillery wish to present before the Union Nominating Convention the name of our worthy and highly respected Lieutenant Colonel Fordyce M. Keith of Jackson county. You as well as the majority of the voters in the 11th District will agree with us, in saying that the vote of the soldiers in the field, will be no light element in the coming election, and that their interests in the protection and preservation of the Government with its free institutions, for which they are battling, are of greater importance, than are the interests of those at home conducting the civil machinery of the Government; therefore we ask to be consulted in the selection of the candidate who is to represent us in Congress. Gallia county is largely represented in our Regiment, and we are proud to say that at last fall's election not one vote was cast by the Gallia boys for the opposite ticket. One man, Philip Siders, from Green tp. who is now a deserter, voted for "Landinham" which came very near spoiling our record, but as there was no such candidate on the track, the vote was cast aside.
     We want no such man as Wells A. Hutchins, but we want a man that is tried and true, and the army is the place to find such men. Lt. Col. F. M. Keith is a man of high moral standing, temperate and moderate in all things, except when dealing with the enemies of his country either North or South, a man of good sound judgement and of great intellectual attainments. In the army he is one of the particular favorites among the Stars because of his rigid discipline, his excellent administrative powers, his indomitable will and his promptness in executing orders. He is now Judge Advocate of the 23rd Army Corps which is a post of honor.
     We have no hesitancy in saying that if every soldier now in the army from the 11th District, knew Lt. Col. Keith, as we of our Regt. know him, he would be endorsed by all as the man to be nominated for election. If in the event, you should nominate a candidate who does not please us, one in whom we cannot place the most implicit confidence, you may expect us to be as silent, on election day as the tomb, because we will not be inveigled into any political snares. Give us the man who is in the service of his country, who has adopted "his course true to the line, and has swerved not a hair, but kept onward right on" and like John Brown's soul will keep on, in spite of the combined forces of the Northern Copperheads and all the rebels in the Southern Confederacy.
     Hoping that the delegates, who will soon meet in convention will not forget the soldiers' petitions. I remain,
     Very Respectfully, Your obt. servt.,
     T. S. Mathews, Major 1st O.V.H.A.

The Gallipolis Journal
May 12, 1864

Head-quarters Co. F 1st Batt. 2nd Ohio Heavy Artillery, Charleston, Tenn., July 10, 1864

Mr. Editor:
     As I am pretty well acquainted in your section of the country, and also know that our Company has got friends there, I write these few lines for the benefit of those concerned and interested in the welfare of Company F, 2nd O.H.A., under command of Capt. E. S. Aleshire, of your town, and ask the favor of you to insert them in your paper, knowing how extensive a circulation the Journal has. Your columns have contained letters from our Company when in Covington and Bowling Green, Ky.; but now as we are in Charleston, Tenn., only some 38 miles from Dalton, Ga., and mail matters slow and uncertain, I think a few remarks would not be unwelcome to the parents, relations, and friends of the boys.—The health of our Company is good considering the hot weather, and though we lost one man since our arrival, there are but few in the Hospital. Uncle Sam's rations are plenty—in fact, the supply is greater than the consumption—therefore, the men have a chance to trade for vegetables of all kinds, which are in abundance. Salt sells for 50c. per pound, or even up for a pound of butter, and it is preferred to money.
Charleston is situated on the Hiwassa river—quite a large and beautiful stream. The place is small and truly a "deserted village;" its only inhabitants are a lot of refugees, mostly all women and children, some rebel deserters, a few niggers, and a great many dogs; the latter nightly make themselves known, to the great annoyance of sleepy officers. Our camp, with that of two other companies of our Battalion, is situated on raised ground near the bank of the river, and consists of lot [sic] huts covered with the eternal "dog tents." This "edifice" is again covered with bowers rudely constructed of evergreen, etc., etc., rudely laid out in three long streets, on the whole, presenting a neat and quite a romantic appearance.
     Our means of defences [sic] consist of a Fort and a Block House, the latter strongly built, and would resist any fire of small arms. The rail-road bridge is quite large, and trains are daily passing up and down from Chattanooga and Knoxville, occasionally bringing us letters and papers. We have no reason to complain, and the boys as a general thing are better satisfied here than when in Bowling Green; and have a better chance to keep their money, give less trouble to officers by getting drunk; for whisky of any kind can not be got, except at about eleven dollars per gallon, and that scarcely over 24 hours old. The writer considers himself a pretty good judge of this article, but prefers to be excused from indulging in the vile stuff to be had here at rebel prices. Occasionally the Post Commissary, who by the way is a regular "Buckeye," and Lieut. Dilly of the 103 O.V.I., gets [sic] a brl of U.S. whisky, but the shoulder strapped gentry, together with "leakage," generally manage to consume it in the course of a week.—Guerillas are here jus* like everywhere in the rear of the army. They steal and plunder when there is no danger of getting caught. Scouting parties are daily sent out from our Battalion to scour the country; but then all is quiet, as they immediately take to the mountains where pursuit is useless. It is gratifying to see the strong Union sentiment that prevails in this part of Tennessee.—It is not like the chivalrous "Kentucky loyalty," but such as is found in Ohio and Indiana. Lincoln and Johnson is the war-cry in East Tennessee.A citizen hailing from Benton, Tennessee, came in a short time ago to report the presence of some guerillas in that neighborhood, and in conversation, inquired of one of our officers: "If he thought the Copperheads would carry the State of Ohio at the coming election." Upon receiving a negative answer, more expressive than elegant exclaimed:—"Thank God for that! It is some encouragement to us."
     As to our proficiency in drill, infantry as well as artillery, and knowledge of Military tactics, there can be no question. How our fighting qualities are, will have to be proven, and may be shortly, as an order from Gen. Sherman at any hour, to join our Corps, the 23d, would not surprise us. Our routine of camp life is the same as always, and is known by all. Our drilling we do early in the morning, and in the cool of the evening. I am glad to state that punishments have to be seldom resorted to, compared to when we were in Bowling Green and Covington, Ky.—The boys have all the privilege to leave camp and go abroad with a verbal permission of the company Commander, so they keep inside the picket line.
     A great benefit to the health of our men is the Hiwassa river, which offers a chance for bathing; a good spring is near our camp, and no pedlars who sell old pies and unripe fruit. Evening nine o'clock, is taps, and 9 1/2 tatoo. Early rising in the morning is unnecessary, for that is the best time to do the work. I wish the friends of our boys in Gallia county, would send them stamps, letter paper, and envelopes, for these articles cannot be got at all, and if you should fail to hear from them, you must attribute it to the want of regular writing material.
     I must now bid you good night, as the Captain, "looking meaningly" at me remarked that some one had to drill the Company to-morrow morning at 5 o'clock.
     Yours truly,
     Benicia Boy

The Gallipolis Journal
July 21, 1864

[A note at the top of this letter indicates its delivery has been delayed because of military operations.]

Head'qrts Co. F, 2d O.H.A., Knoxville, Tenn. Nov. 26, 1864

     As you see by the opening of my letter we have left "London," our former station. The change I suppose is permanent. Our baggage arrived here this evening. We were ordered away hurriedly and left everything behind us—came here by cars and marched to Flat Creek, about a mile and a half from Strawberry Plains, where we lay from Friday until Sunday evening, without shelter and entertained (?) with a rain, such as are only experienced in Tennessee. We came back here one week ago, and are daily expecting orders to move toward Bull Gap, where we will go from there is hard to tell. The 1st O.H.A. is also here besides other troops destined for this expedition. Maj. Gen. Stoneman and Brig. Gens. Ammen, Tillson and Gilham are here. The object is, I think, to cooperate with Gen. Burbridge, who is moving a force from Kentucky. So you see we will make it "unhealthy" for Breckenridge. Speaking of our baggage and company property arriving this evening, reminds me of my Quartermaster Sergant [sic] John L. Thompson, of Gallipolis, who is an excellent soldier, and of great assistance to me. He is competent and trustworthy in every respect; also my Orderly Sergant [sic], George Boster, from Gallia county, is invaluable to me. This is a difficult position to fill, yet he fills it with great credit to himself and to my satisfaction. Lieut. Gibson of my company, who by the way learned the printer's trade in the Journal office, has been appointed Chaplain of our Regiment. A council of the field officers and Captains was convened when he was unanimously elected.—This is an appointment that gives general satisfaction to the Lieutenant, as well as to the officers and men of the regiment. Lieutenants Hebard and Baer, are still "alive and kicking." If you had seen them on the march the other day, you would scarcely have recognized in them the spruce young men of former times, to say nothing of "Lieut. Jim's bed, a mud hole with a few blades of corn thrown in for appearances sake," and Lieut. Baer standing before a fire all night, swearing about the Tennessee rains, while Maj. Hoffman and myself, were snugly fixed in a "shebang" constructed with three rails and two gum blankets. I started to write you an "official" letter in reply to yours of late date and have wandered. While I have been writing there has [sic] been about a dozen officers in here "gassing" so you must make due allowances. The "Journal" is received regularly and meets a hearty welcome. It is like an old friend from home—will close now.
     Truly yours,
     E. S. Aleshire, Capt. 2d O.H.A.

The Gallipolis Journal
January 5, 1865

The 2d Reg't. O. H. A. was lately mustered out at Columbus. The following order of Col. Gibson may prove interesting to our readers.

Headquarters 2d O. H. A., Camp Chase Ohio, Aug. 20th, 1865; Orders No. 137

     The Regiment having been mustered out of service, and about to be paid and discharged, it only remains for the Colonel to announce that after this day the Second Ohio Heavy Artillery will no longer be borne on the Rolls of the Army of the Union. Proud of the reputation the Regiment has acquired during its service of the past two years, in garrison and in the field, he will never cease to recall his association with it with sincere pleasure, or fail to cherish kindly feelings towards each and every member. To the enlisted men he will ever be grateful for their general good conduct, obedience, and faithful discharge of duty. To the officers who have lightened his labors by their cheerful support and counsel, he can but feebly express his deep and heartfelt obligations. With no other ambition than the welfare and reputation of the Regiment, and with an earnest desire to do justice to all, your late commander has labored diligently and faithfully since his first connection with it. The ideas of discipline, good order, and morality which he has endeavored to inculcate, he is convinced will bear fruit in later years, should our country again need your services; and now, in returning to your homes, you will be none the less good citizens for having been good soldiers.
While your services have not been conspicuous, yet their importance cannot be undervalued, and you have the proud satisfaction of knowing that wherever any portion of the Regiment has confronted the foe on the field of battle, its record is clear and honorable. Humble though it may be, you have done your part in the salvation of your country and the preservation of its Union.
     In parting with you, the Colonel tenders to each and all of you, his heart-felt wishes for your prosperity, health and happiness; and he feels sure that when you return to your loved homes and friends, your services in the 2d Ohio Heavy Artillery will be often remembered as an agreeable episode in your lives. And thus proud of you as a Regiment without its superior in the service, with feelings of sincere regret, he bids you an affectionate farewell.
     By command of Col. H. G. Gibson, James E. Hebard, 1st Lieut., and Adjt., 2d O.H.A.

The Gallipolis Journal
September 14, 1865

Transcribed by Eva Swain Hughes

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