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Letter from soldiers in the 4th West Virginia Infantry

For the Gallipolis Journal. Head-quarters 4th Va. Reg., Ceredo, Va., Feb. 25, '62

     On behalf of the sick soldiers of my command, I return thanks to you for the bountiful supply of Hospital delicacies brought to this post by Mrs. Aleshire of your town. You have acquired by your deeds of kindness and love to the suffering soldiers in the Hospital at Gallipolis, a reputation as broad as the land. Too much credit cannot be given you for the disinterested kindness shown the soldiers. Your reward is in the blessings of the thousands whose beds of sickness have been cheered by you. I rejoice to be able to bear testimony to the excellence of your association, and hope that the "Almighty Giver of every good and pefect gift" may return you four-fold blessings.
     J.A.J. LIGHTBURN Col. Commanding 4th Va. Rgt.

List of donors:

Mrs. R. Aleshire, 1 jar blackberries, 2 bottles wine, 4 pair socks
Mrs. Dr. Hebard, 1 jar grapes
Mrs. Peter Sanns, 1 can tomatoes
Mrs. Capt. Hutsinpillar, 1 jar quince marmalade, 1 glass jelly
Mrs. Rob't Black, 2 glasses currant jelly, 1 glass blackberry jelly
Mrs. Frank Mathers, 1 can peaches
Mrs. V. Carel, 1 can quinces, 1 can peaches
Miss Maria Drouillard, 1 glass peach jelly
Mrs. L. Frank, loaf sugar and fruit

The Gallipolis Journal
March 6th, 1862

Headquarters, 4th Reg. VA, Fort Lightburn
March 20, '62

Mr. Editor:
     Permit the undersigned on behalf of the men of their Company, to return their thanks to the Gallia County Military Committee, for their bountiful supply of coverlets, socks, &c., presented by them through their agent to Company I. We are gratified to say that the donors can assure themselves that the Committee to whom they entrusted the distribution of the articles, have bestowed them where most needed.—And further, that the articles have caused the recipients to bless the kind ones at home who have contributed to their wants and comforts.
     Capt. A. Vance,
     Lieut C. A. Shepherd,
     Lieut. J. W. Dale

[This writer is identified only as Milton. He is probably the Milton Conner in the 4th West Virginia Infantry, which was formed at Point Pleasant. This unit had a Lieutenant Colonel named William H.H. Russell who would probably be the Lieutenant Colonel Russell mentioned in the letter. It was addressed to his brother but with the apparent intention of bringing it to the attention of the Gallipolis Journal. N. Elvick]

For the Gallipolis Journal, Camp Piatt, Va., May 13th, 1862

Dear Brother:—
     As I have a few leisure moments on hand, I will devote them in writing you a short account of our march to Chapmansville, where companies B, C, D, & K are now stationed, in command of Lt. Col. Russell. On Monday, the 5th inst., we crossed the river to Brownstown, encamping there for the night; early next morning tents were struck and knapsacks were slung, and before the sun had peeped over the mountain tops, we were "stretching out" at a rapid pace regardless of the heavy load on our backs, Big Coal river was crossed about noon, two miles further on, we pitched our tents, camping for the night, having marched 15 miles till 1 o'clock. Wednesday morning found us again on the tramp, at midday we crossed Little Coal, and halted for dinner; again we were moving forward laboring over the rough mountain roads, and through the hot, broiling sun, now wading through streams of water at every few rods, and again climbing steep, almost perpendicular hills, until pretty well "gone up," we halted at a farm-house, the proprietor of which is known by the very euphonious name of "Forked John Miller," in order, I suppose, to distinguish him from the rebel Col. John Miller, who is now lying very ill at home, and, as one of the boys very knowingly informed, on his "patrol" of honor.
     The wagons—on account of the bad roads, failing to reach us that night, we were forced to retire almost supperless to bed with no covering save the "starried canopy" above. The third day we again resumed the march—minus our breakfasts, and reached Chapmansville about noon; here a great slaughter instantly commenced—not on the secesh, but on the numerous fish, flesh, and fowl; but we had scarcely time to attend to this matter, before word was brought that a body of rebels were within a short distance, attempting to elude the vigilance of the "Bloodthirsty Yankees"—as some of them have chosen to designate us. Instantly Capt. Dayton with upwards of 100 men was sent in search of them, but failed to find their retreat.
     The following day, Lieut. McMasters with 20 men of Company C, crossed the river (Guyan) and chased up the band we were in pursuit of the day before. A few rounds were fired at them, and one very important prisoner captured. He was Acting Quartermaster of the 129th Virginia Militia, and was in Richmond in January, when Wise's Legion was starting for Roanoke. I forgot to mention that two prisoners were taken the day before, one of whom had in his possession nearly $200 in counterfeit Waynesburg, Pa., notes, "Big Sandy gold," and Confederate money. Lieut. Col. Russell relieved him of his burden for the present, and I suppose he will not have much use for it for a few months to come. Our wagons reached us the day after we arrived. Co. D, Capt. Goodspeed, who was their guard, had a severe time cutting roads, building bridges, &c, &c. On Friday night Capt. J. L. Vance with 105 men started to Logan Court House to cut off the retreat of the rebels, and surround Col. Morgan if possible, who was there attempting to collect the Militia. When we left the next morning he had not been heard from, but it was supposed he was doing good work. Capt. Dayton with 40 of his men were detailed as a guard for the wagon train. We arrived here on Sunday and start our return this afternoon.—When you write direct your letter to Charleston.
     Your affectionate brother,

The Gallipolis Journal
May 22, 1862

[The recipient of this letter is probably the Milton who was the writer of the letter above. Milton Stewart seems to have begun his military service as a corporal in the 4th WVVI and transferred as a captain to the 13th WVVI, where he was later promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. We only know the writer as David. There were 24 Davids in the 4th WVVI. This letter talks of military strategy as would be expected between two officers, but there were two officers named David, Captain David B. McElvain and Captain David A. Russell, so it was probably written by one of those two men. This letter between soldiers was apparently then reprinted in the Journal. N. Elvick]

A member of Co. K, 4th Va., near Vicksburg, writes Capt. M. Stewart of the 13th Va., formerly of the 4th Va, as follows:

Camp near Vicksburg, Miss., May 24th, '63 (Station[ed] under a hill behind a big tree.)

Friend Milton:
     You may want to hear from the fight by this time, which is now in progress, and the Lord only knows how it is going to terminate, yet I have hopes for the best. We have them comfortably surrounded, and there is no way they can get out without they cut their way out, and we are throwing up rifle pits every night, and in a few nights we will have a row of rifle pits along the whole line. I should not wonder but we could stop them without, but nothing lost by being on the safe side. I do not think we can drive them out, as the rebels' works are very strong, and they have plenty of men to put in them too.
     Our regiment in one charge lost one hundred and fifty men killed, wounded and missing. Lieut. Bell was wounded, Major Goodspeed killed, Lieuts. Dale and Ong were wounded, taken prisoner and paroled the next day. They are now at Young's Point, La. Jim Neal, the color bearer, was killed.—We had our flag up to their works but both bearers were shot, and when they fell back they grabbed up one flag and took it with them, and Cpl. Clendinen fell as though he was dead, and lay until night, when he took the other flag off the field safe. He was promoted the next day to Sergeant. Our boys fought well and have made themselves a good name. Capt. Roswell was wounded in the side, Adjt. Stanbury was shot in the arm, and other officers received slight wounds. Capt. Lightburn came near being shot; it struck his watch and tore it all to pieces, thus saving his life.
     "Old Joe" is here now but has no command as yet. Some think he will be assigned a command in our Division. If he does, he will be in our Brigade. He was very uneasy when he heard how near we were approaching a fight, and he not there. He got here in time to take us into the last charge we made; he took command of two Regiments, and Gen. Ewing the other two. Both led off like heroes.—Gen. Ewing had his sword shot off, and old Joe had some holes shot in his clothes.
     Boss Brooks is all right; he has gone into every charge with us, and was the only one of the "sheep-skins" that did. I must now close. By the way, I forgot to tell you Capt. Grayum was wounded in the arm.—Col. Dayton is all right; he took things as cool as if it had been a battalion drill. Write soon.
     I am yours, &c.

The Gallipolis Journal
June 11, 1863

[The Sergt. Henry Reeves mentioned would appear to be William H. Reeves who is buried in Campaign Cemetery in Addison Township.]

Larkinsville, Alabama Feb. 11th, 1864

Editor Journal:—Sir:
     Being aware that many of the friends of the 4th Va. are readers of your paper, (by your permission) I wish to inform them that the 4th has re-enlisted for the war, and will in all probability, be at Gallipolis, as we intend to stop a few days in your city, on our route to Wheeling, Va. We were mustered in to-day. We will bring back a trifle over three hundred men, a small regiment, but tried and true. We are enjoying good health. Nothing in a military line. Sergt. Henry Reeves of your city died here a few days ago after a long illness. He was a good soldier, and a young man of rare abilities. His death is deeply regretted by the entire Regiment. To his parents and friends we extend our sympathies. His remains have been sent home.
     Yours  Respectfully,
     W. H. H. Sisson, 1st Lieut. Co. B

The Gallipolis Journal
February 25, 1864

[This letter was probably written by Joseph A. Walsh, whose rank was musician when he first joined, but who was Quartermaster Sgt. when he mustered out. As he describes below, he would not have been a participant in the fighting. One other soldier had the same initials, Jackson A. Winters, who was a private and would most likely have taken part in the fighting and so was probably not the writer. Snickers Gap was in the Shenandoah Valley campaign by Gen. Philip Sheridan. The 4th WV Infantry had started out the war going up and down the Kanawha Valley, but then were sent to the southern Mississippi Valley, and participated in the seige of Vicksburg. They subsequently marched to Chattanooga and then home on furlough where the regiment re-enlisted and then on to Virginia. They had recently been in the battle of Piedmont. N. Elvick]

Camp 4th Va.V.V. Inftry., in the field near Snickers Gap, Va., July 19th, 1864

Mr. Stewart: Sir:
     Thinking a brief statement of facts in regard to yesterday's fight may not be uninteresting to your patrons, many of whom have friends and relatives in the 4th Va. Inftry. I hereby subjoin one the source of which is perfectly reliable. I was not a participant. I will commence by stating the order of crossing the Shenandoah river at Snickers Ford, distant from Snickers Gap one mile and a half and about one mile below the crossing on the Turnpike.
     The 1st Brigade under Col. Wells in the advance followed by the 2nd Brigade under Col. Thoburn and 3rd Brigade under Col. Frost. The whole commanded by Col. Thoburn crossed at 3 o'clock P.M. Skirmishers were immediately thrown out to the front and the Div., formed as follows, 1st Brigade on the left, 3rd Brigade in the center, and the 2nd Brigade on the right. In this position they lay for nearly an hour without any show of hostility and indeed without scarcely any indication of the enemy in our front. Up to this time, not a shot was fired.—But now it was discovered that the enemy were massing on our right. The 4th Va. Inftry. was ordered on the double quick to the extreme right and formed near the crest of a small ridge running paralell [sic] with the river. Still further to the right and a little in advance of the 4th Va. was placed a strong body of Dismounted Cavalry as skirmishers and for the protection of the right flank of the line of battle. Whilst the 4th Va. Inftry. were forming, the enemy were seen in a strong force moving to the right and into a dense woods.—They here threw out into the skirt of the woods and in full view, a small line in order to make a show of charging us, whilst the main body of the enemy passed on under cover of the woods until they got entirely clear of our line and within three hundred yards of the Charlestown road which runs parallel with the river and along which our line extended. They then filed out of the woods and marched directly toward the river bank. The dismounted cavalry, which were placed on our right to protect our flank seeing the enemy bearing down upon them in such heavy force, fell back without firing a shot. Col. J. L. Vance of the 4th Va. Inftry. immediately then took two companies to the right to protect our flank thus left wholly exposed. But the enemy availing themselves of the advantage thus gained had already taken position behind a stone fence running at right angles to our line. From this point they poured upon us a terrible enfilading fire. Simultaneously a galling fire was opened on us in front. Here Lt. G. W. Scott was killed, a loss severely felt by all.—He was an efficient officer and a perfect gentleman. His relatives and friends at home have the sympathy of the entire regiment. Here also Capt. W. S. Hall & Capt. C. A. Shepard and Lt. M. Christopher were wounded; indeed here it was that all our loss occurred.
     This situation however was not to be endured. Col. Vance seeing there was no other alternative, gave the command to fall back, whereupon they fell back in some haste to a stone fence some fifty yards in our rear and immediately upon the river bank. The whole line, as well upon the left as upon the right fell back to the river bank. A great many especially Dismounted Cavalry, rushed into the river and I have learned many were drowned. At the stone fence on the bank of the river Col. Vance rallied the 4th Va. and others and formed line, the advance of the enemy was now checked and driven back, that body on our right however, continued their flank movement until it was discovered they were in the road and on the bank of the river. At this movement the 116th O.V. Inftry., commanded by Col. Washburn came to our assistance and while moving to the right its noble commander fell probably mortally wounded. But the men drove the rebels off the road and took up position. And here let me in praise of the 116th say that better soldiers are nowhere to be found. We maintained our position at the fence until dark and then under imperative orders recrossed the river bringing all off safely. We could have held the position all night and Col. Vance requested it but it was denied him.
     During the time we lay along the fence the enemy made repeated charges upon us and each time were handsomely repulsed. They did not once attempt a swooping charge of their whole line else they must have certainly taken us. But they charged first at one point and then at another. We were compelled when the enemy charged on our right to take men from the left to strengthen the right and thus the men were kept continually changing from point to point. At one time the enemy charged on our left with a strong line and was repulsed by less than fifty men. As they retreated fresh men were brought up and they were punished severely.
     The officers and men of our Regt. behaved nobly. In bringing off our little command Col. Vance withdrew a few men at intervals along the line and sent them over on to a little island that lay near the middle of the river.—He then selected a few more and ordered them to the main bank on the opposite side of the river and this he continued to do until all had passed over except himself and six men, these he crossed successfully having accomplished all without the loss of a man. The heroic conduct of Col. Vance in the trying ordeal cannot be too highly extolled. He labored incessantly to beat back the insolent foe and after having accomplished his object was the last man to cross the river.

Co. F—1st Lieut. George A. Scott; Private Daniel McNeer
Co. D—Corporal George Howsen
Co. I—Sergt. Francis M. Clendinen
Co. G—Corpl. Walter Guard, Privates Moses Knapp and Isaac N. Kitterman
Co. B—Private John Kinser

Co. G—Privates George Wallace in leg, slightly; George W. Flesher, also in leg, slightly
Co. B—Privates Joseph B. Pursinger, in shoulder, severely; Lewis P. Cubbage, in shoulder, severely; Andrew Roberts, in arm, severely
Co. K—1st Sergeant John C. Hailay, slightly; Corp. Anthony Betts, in face, slightly
Co. C—Corp. John Samson, in arm, severely; W.W. Edmonds, in arm, amputated; Privates John Terrill, in hand, George W. Townsend, in hand, slightly Co. H—1st Lieut. Michael Christopher, in leg, severely; Private I. Terrill, in hand, slightly
Co. A—Sergt. Thomas Pascoe, in thigh, slightly; N. N. Knight, in face, slightly
Co. F—Capt. W. S. Hall, in side, severely; Sergt. F. D. Chalfant, in side, severely; Privates: David Hamilton, in right shoulder, severely; B. A. Safreed, in knee, severely; Allen Robinson, in shoulder, severely
Co. D—Private J. A. Lewellen, in hip, slightly
Co. I—Capt. C. A. Shepard, in foot, severely
P. S. By later intelligence I learn that Lieut. Scott was not killed, but was most probably fatally wounded.
     Very Respectfully Yours &c.,

The Gallipolis Journal
August 4, 1864

Transcribed by Eve Swain Hughes

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