Return to Letters from the Army of the Potomac

Return to Civil War Page 2

Return to Civil War Page 1


Letter from soldier in 141st Ohio National Guard

[This letter was written by Andrew Wiseman, a private in Co. F in the 141st Ohio National Guard. This was a three month enlistment, and according to the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors web site they performed garrison duty in the Charleston, West Virginia area. However, Mud Bridge is about halfway between Charleston and Huntington and is in Cabell County. After the war this bridge was rebuilt in 1875 and is an historic covered bridge with a span of 112 feet and can still be seen near Milton, WV. N Elvick]

Mud Bridge, West Virginia, June 1st, 1864

Mr. Editor:
     I suppose that all who are especially interested in the 141st Regiment O.N.G., are advised of its whereabouts at this time. I will not, therefore, tax them with a detailed account of our voyage, march, tired limbs and empty stomachs; but will try to write something which may be of interest to the friends of the detachment stationed at this place, and more especially to those of Capt. Ripley's company (Co. F). And though like Marmion with Douglass, we might

Have somewhat too plain of cold respect
To stranger guest,
Sent forward by Uncle Abe's behest.

     Yet on the whole it is not so bad as might be; and if well treated hereafter, we will feel disposed to forget the past. But if I were responsible for ordering out a regiment of men from such a post as Gallipolis just at a time when they had eaten their last ration, (as was the case with us) and their destination not known without supplying them with rations. I should not expect ever to have the privilege of doing so again. Who is to blame? Ah, whoever it be he is under shoulder straps, and that makes him invulnerable. Now let none think that we have suffered greatly. No. Most of us had some greenbacks, which will buy bread anywhere; even of a black-hearted secesh; but that you know was not according to our contract with Uncle Sam.
     But to the point. We are (Co. F and D) stationed in something of a fortified position on the bank of Mud river. The boys are bouyant in spirits beyond what could reasonably be expected under the circumstances, and if we were not grossly neglected by the authorities somewhere in a way of which it is best not to speak now, they would be as jolly a set of boys as ever went into camp. We have reason to believe there is just as good fighting material here as ever raised a rifle to the shoulder. There are some secesh prowling through the country some miles away and we have slept on our arms three nights since here. A squad of our cavalry went up the river some distance a few days since and brought back one of their number dead and two wounded by the bushwhackers who are hated even by sympathisers here.
     It is due to say that at present we have full rations, middling good quarters, few vermin, plenty of hard drilling, picket duty about every third night to the man. Thus we are spending our hundred days. May the God of Nations who deals justice to all, grant that ere these days are over secession with all its legion of fiendish spirits together with the doomed herd of confederate swine, may be hurled down the steeps into the gulf and choked together that our nation may once more sit clothed and in its right mind.
     A. Wiseman

The Gallipolis Journal
June 9, 1864

Mud Bridge, Va, June 8th 1864

Mr. Stewart:
     Since my last some incidents of interest have transpired, to wit: June 4th, P.M., a four-horse team belonging to company D, went just outside the pickets to get wood, but contrary to orders, took no guard with it, having three men unarmed. The wood was loaded and the boys mounted on the wagon, when three armed rebs, or thieves, made their appearance and ordered them to dismount, which they did. The Rebels took the horses from the wagon and made good their retreat. The Boys were released after traveling so far that they could not give the alarm in time to effect anything. This smacks of Yankee!
     On the 6th Lt. Col. Hampton and Adjt. Goodspeed started to Barboursville with a four-mule team of Co. F. The Col. and Adjt. being in advance, turned off to a spring to get water when the Col. received a kick from the Adjutant's horse which fractured his leg below the kneee. I saw him a few moments after the accident and though he must have been suffering much, he bore it patiently and talked cheerfully while being conveyed to Barboursville. The same evening there came up a thunder storm, and the lightning struck Mud Bridge, where our pickets were stationed, shocking them severely but not dangerously.
     Capt. Mauck now commands this Post. We have plenty of ammunition, and are ready to give the rebs a warm reception, should any be so foolish as to come for us. The weather is very wet and our quarters very leaky, which with picket and guard duty every other night to the man is telling very unfavorably on our health. One of co. F has been sent to the Hospital at Barboursville. We hope the weather will soon be more settled, duty lightened, health improved, and the light of God's approving smile shine upon us. Christian friends in Ohio remember the 141st; pray that while sacrificing worldly interests for our country's sake, we may not sacrifice our religion.
     A. Wiseman

The Gallipolis Journal
June 23, 1864

[This was probably a civilian who was delivering the donations from Gallipolis, although the fact that they were fired upon might indicate they were in uniform. He doesn't appear to have signed his own name. The account has numerous grammatical mistakes and misspellings, and is presented here exactly as it appeared in the original newspaper. N Elvick]

Mr. Stewart, Dear Sir:
     I avail myself of the present to give the numerous readers of your interesting paper, a short sketch of our ride from Mud Bridge to Barbersville in an ambulance; but in the first place I must tell you how we come to take this trip. On the 17th of June, I started for Mud Bridge, West. Va., by the way of Guyandotte and Barbersville in company with one of my neighbors. I call him fat John. The design of our visit was to take donations to Capt. Ripleys company, co. F 141st O.N.G., which is stationed at Mud Bridge. On the morning of the 17th, we embarked on board the steamer Clairmont at 9 o'clock A.M., she haulled in her string and steamed away for Guyandotte, which place she reached about 2 o'clock of the same day; when we got up in town we found several of the boys from old Gallia, belonging to Capt. Ripley's company, also the 141st O.N.G. Among them was Lieut. Clark from my township, we encamped with the boys that night, and next morning Capt. Riley started a team with the donations for Barbersville, under an escort of six men for guards. We reached Barbersville about eleven o'clock A.M. on Saturday, the 18th; there we met the train from Mud Bridge, and reshipped the donations, and started for Mud Bridge, which place we arrived about five oclock the same day, and found the boys all enjoying good health and you may guess we were welcome visitors. When the boys saw the boxes of pies, cakes, butter, caned fruit, and baked chickens, sent to them by their dear ones at home, sow belly and hard tack had to stand back. They soon fell to work and opened their boxes, and enjoyed themselves at a plentiful table, which reminded them of home. We staid with the boys till Monday the 20th, about half past six o'clock we bid good bye to the boys and started for home in company with four of uncle's boys; one was the ambulance driver, the other accompanied us as volunteer guards to Barbersville. The old ambulance rolled along at a pretty good gate we enjoyed ourselves pretty well and having a social chat as we passed down Mud river valley, all peace and quiet until we got within about three miles of Barbersville when I cast my eye up the hill side on our left I discovered three of the fiends of hell, ambushed awaiting our approach, a little farther on there was three or four more. As soon as I saw them I told the boys their was the d----d villains now, but no sooner said than they opened fire on us and sent a volley of leaden hail down into the old ambulance among us. Reader you can better imagine our feelings than I can describe; our position was far from a pleasant one, but notwithstanding we received their salute very cool and calm. We returned the compliment by giving them six shots, whether they were effectual or not we could not tell. A. W. Kerns a boy in his 17th year was sitting on the back end of the seat with his back towards them; he was wounded in the back, the ball passed through his cartridge box strap and into his back about 1 1/2 inches and still remains there. He fired two shots at them after he was wounded, one with his enfield rifle and one with his revolver, in attempting to give them the third shot the exploded cap got foul in the hammer, and while trying to adjust that and the ambulance going at a rapid gate caused a premature discharge and inflicted a slight wound in the calf of his leg. Joseph Smeltzer was sitting facing him also on the back end of the other seat. He received three wounds two slight and one severe, one on the breast, one on the right shoulder and one in the right thigh. The balance of us were more fortunate, although the scoundrels made three bullet holes through my coat and one through fat Johns coat, the other two did not get a scratch, the distance they fired at us was not more than 50 or 60 feet. They were right above us in an old railroad cut, there was not less than 25 or 30 shots through the ambulance about half passed through the top of it. It is a mystery to me that they did not kill us all; the driver was as cool and calm as could be in a case of that kind; he had an old leather persuader and the moment we discovered the villains he applied it to uncle's horses as though he was determined to take us out of that critical position and he did so. We were under their fire about two hundred yards, we arrived at Barbersville about ten o'clock A.M. There the surgeon of the 141st O.N.G. dressed the boys wounds. We remained in the latter place until about one o'clock P.M., of the same day, when we left for Gallipolis, where we landed at 11 o'clock Wednesday, the 23d, and reached home the same evening with our wounded doing as well as could be expected.

The Gallipolis Journal
July 7, 1864

Hurricane Bridge, W. Va., July 3rd, 1864

R. L. Stewart:—Sir:
     Feeling as though I could drop you a line or two that would be of interest to the dear ones at home, I seat myself to do so. Co. E. of the 141st N.G. is now at this place. We were ordered here from Coal's mouth on the 25th of June, while I was at Charleston.—I returned to find picket headquarters and all other quarters of Co. E without a man in them. I soon roused some of the sleepy inhabitants to learn what was the matter, not knowing but that the rebs might have cleaned the Boys out; but I soon learned they had gone to Hurricane that evening, starting at 6 P.M. and making the march in about four hours; the distance being 12 miles, which was good for new troops and hot weather.—I went through with the train the next day and found the boys all enjoying themselves as best they could at their new homes, calling the place all sorts of names. We occupied the shanties the cavalry had, but soon the fleas, flies, &c. were too much for us. We evacuated and for several days have been moving our quarters to a better location nearer the fortification, and now seem to be at home again, yet the recolection [sic] of having been in better places still lingers in the minds of some.
     Since we are where there is little else to be had than army rations, and the absence of the gentler Sex, who by the way, were quite an addition to soldiers' fare at Coal's mouth, softening the hard tack and preparing the rations for many of the Boys, are luxuries not easily forgotten. The situation here is pleasant. A beautiful plain lies West and South, a fine valley northeast toward Winfield and Kanawha. But war has left its mark on all. I would suppose that at least 1500 acres are lying around us in commons, and the site is all that is left of the village. The boys have been out foraging and succeeded at getting a few cherries at twenty cents per gallon and pick them, one man standing sentinel watching for bushwhackers. At this time there seems to be but little excitement about the guerilla bands under Slick Pete Carpenter, Chapman and Clawhammer Witcher. Some fortaste [sic] of Hunter's circular may have had some influence as there are two mills less on that noted stream called Mud. Many houses shared the same fate and many more no doubt merit it.
     Send the Journal. We are very news hungry, especially for home news, to tell us what is going on in our rear.
     S. Rothgeb

The Gallipolis Journal
July 14, 1864

Mr. R. L. Stewart:–Sir:
     You will confer a favor upon the members of Co. F, 141st Regiment by inserting the following in the Journal:
More than one year ago, Lieuts. J. Scott and N. Waddell, having previously coiled themselves into the confidence of the members of our company (F, 141st Regt. O.N.G.), were almost unanimously elected to the position of lieutenants, and for some time enjoyed the confidence and esteem of the whole company, but we deeply regret that such is not now the case. They have clearly proved themselves unworthy of the confidence once reposed in them. Some days after we arrived at Gallipolis from West Virginia, we were sent home without having been discharged and paid off. This was in consequence of the pay roll not having been made out in time, which was no fault of ours. Before we returned home from Gallipolis, we requested Lieutenant Scott to receive our money for us, which he did, and for this he charged something near seventy members of his company one dollar each. Lieutenant Waddell received a part of this sum, and was therefore virtually privy to the whole affair. They are therefore earnestly requested to resign their commissions by request of the members of Co. F, 141st Regt. O.N.G.

The Gallipolis Journal
October 20, 1864

Transcribed by Eva Swain Hughes

Top of Page