Michigan in the Civil War

Smith, John A.

Twenty-five letters written to his family (1861-1863) while he was serving in Company A, 67th Ohio Infantry. The first letter from Camp Oliver, Toledo tells about standing guard, digging ditches around the barracks' sleeping place; attending Sunday services. He comments on food, houses, cook shanty, and stores. There is a fiddler among them and they dance. One Sunday he went to a Catholic church, and he describes the ceremony.

From Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio, he describes the train ride from Toledo to Columbus, the camp, and the guarding, of prisoners. There is a Dutch company in camp also. The church gives them Testaments. They receive their coats and guns. They look for letters from home.

On to New Creek, Va., they go by cars and ferryboats. At a camp in one place they took chickens from a rebel. He protested-with a gun. The gun was taken from him and the men raided his house for food, then made him give three cheers for the Union. New Creek had only two families left. The men were quartered in a nice brick house. A scouting party took thirty head of cattle.

At Harrison Landing, Va., there was desolation-houses empty and contents broken-up. In August they left Yorktown, and the town was burned. He visited the battlefield of Big Bethel. They lost all their equipment which had been put on a boat for Fortress Monroe when the boat sank. In November at Suffolk, Va., they built forts. He described their good quarters. In December at Black Water, when on a scouting expedition, they had an encounter with the rebels. He comments on General Burnside and the battle of Fredericksburg.

Again on the march he describes their cars and boat trips. One ship was wrecked by a storm on Chesapeake Bay. Men and horses swam to shore. Then on to Camp Wilson, Va., through rain and mud. At camp they cut down trees to have a clearer view for using the cannons. There is picket firing and skirmishing.

In May 1863, at Camp Folly Island, S.C., he receives a box from home (sugar cakes). He doesn't believe that the Negroes will ever be free. At Camp Folly Island (June, 1863) they are shelled by the enemy while lying in ditches. They build a fort; trade coffee for tobacco with the rebels; and shell a steamer that tries to run the blockade causing it to run aground. They loot the boxes of dry goods, medicines, fruit and whiskey.

The collection includes a partial subject index.