Michigan in the Civil War

Browse by Name: Travis, John D.

Travis family

The papers of the Travis family of Montpelier, Ohio, include letters of John D. Travis, who served in Company G, 68th Ohio Infantry. There are about twenty letters written to his brother and sister in which he talks about home affairs and girl friends at home. He describes many of their camps, such as Camp Chase and one late at night when most of the men are sleeping. He writes about the long hard marches, often through beautiful country, though fatigue, little food, and a hot sun cause casualties among the men. There are foraging parties that yield potatoes, pork, chestnuts, and honey; or they guard a forage train Of 300 wagon loads of corn.

General Grant reviews the troops. Bands play for parades or serenade visiting generals, such as the 20th Ohio Band, and "you had better believe they made good music," he said.

Yanks and Rebs greet each other across picket lines or rifle pits, trading hardtack for tobacco; or exchanging comments such as, "Has our firing killed any one on your side?" "No, but we killed two of your best friends, Yank. One was a Negro and one was a hog." Then they went to shooting each other again.

They are engaged in the battles around Vicksburg where boats, protected by cotton bales, are running the blockade with provisions for Grant's army. In the battle of Milliken's Bend, Travis said all the Black officers but one were killed.

There are many encounters on the way to Atlanta. He said "I never saw such slaughter of grey backs in my life. They had five men killed to our one." ... "The Rebels say that Hood said he intended to destroy either our army or his own. I think he came as near destroying his own army as was necessary."