Letter written by 2nd Lieutenant Thomas Ocker of Company F, 6th MD Infantry, US, to his cousin, from the camp of the 6th MD Regiment in Brandy Station, VA. Ocker writes the townspeople have a crippling fear of an invasion by Robert E. Lee. He voted for the “Old State” to “no longer be classed with the slave states.” The “copperheads” were not pleased with the outcome. Ocker describes how Unionists manipulated the secessionists into not voting. He has enclosed a photographs of Generals George Meade and Ulysses S. Grant with his letter.
Camp 6th Md. Regt.
Culpeper County, Va
April 26th/ 64
Jason I . Cover
Supposing you are at all times glad to hear from friends as myself, I thought of sending you a few lines this morning. I have been blessed with another privilege of a short visit home. I found them all enjoying reasonable health. Alfred Troxell’s health has not been very good for the last winter, but is getting better now. Aunt is well as usual, & all of uncle’s folks to.
The only fatal disease at present in the neighborhood is the fear of Old Robert [E. Lee]. They appear
think of nothing else by day or night. I think I can say they had him crossing [the Potomac River] a dozen times the short time I was there. For a soldier to say that is the place for to fight & whip them, causes an aching in the[ir] heads directly. I was home in time to vote for a convention, & the Old State can now no longer be classed with the slave states. Jace, it was a soldier’s harvest to stand at the polls & see the copperheads bite their lips before they could take “horrible oath” as they term it. There were some 30 of us at the polls.
The drum has just called for companies to go out for target firing. I must stop until noon.
Target practice is over, & will resume my seat to finish. Every man that favors secesh
has challenged the oath, & then a long list of questions was asked, and if he could not answer satisfactorily, ‘you can’t vote.’ In the morning they thought of running their hard cases in early, but the first man left with a flea in his ear. It was amusing to see some of the old codgers sneak off without trying to vote. Best of all, neither of their candidates got their vote. But don’t understand that they had not full privileges. They was just as sure of their vote as I or anyone else, if they would comply with the Governor’s order. I wrote Josiah; say to him to answer my letter if he pleased. I have never got a scratch of pen from him since have been in the service.
Enclosed you will find a photograph of Genl. Meade. This I can recommend as a true picture. Meade just as he is. Also, Genl. U. S. Grant.
As for Grant’s, I have not yet had a good look at it, but think it is a good picture. If this weather lasts long, we will have to soon move out of [winter] quarters & commence to the tug of war again.
My health has been quite good. During the winter I have not had a cold yet, and I feel ready for coming events. If I can march to Richmond, as the boys say, at a right shoulder shift, I can take hardships as light as the next.
I must close. My love to Aunt, & wife, in fact, to all.
Hoping to hear from you soon, I am, as ever, your cousin.
Lieut. Thos. Ocker
6th Md. Regt.
2d Brig. 3d Divis.
6th A. Corps
Army of Potomac
Thomas Ocker was born in 1837 and lived in Westminster, MD. He enlisted in Company C, MD 6th Infantry on August 18, 1862. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on May 1, 1863; and to 1st Lieutenant on November 17, 1864; then to Captain on January 23, 1865. He died at City Point, VA on May 4, 1865 at the age of 27.