Letter written by former Brigadier General August Willich of the U.S. Volunteers, to the editor of the Cincinnati Commercial, from St. Mary’s, OH. Willich is criticizing a letter written by General Judson Kilpatrick, concerning the battle at Missionary Ridge which was published in the newspaper. Willich writes that Kilpatrick manufactured heroes in his article by giving credit to a few select officers, rather than the whole Army of the Cumberland, whomoved forward as one without the direct orders of their leaders during the battle. Willich hopes that his letter will be published, to “help lessen the stupid and nefarious hero worship.” A note written in the margins, possibly by the editor, gives the title, “The Battle of Chattanooga and the vindication of history.”
St. Marys January 19th 1876
The Comercial of January, 13th contains General Kilpatrick’s story of the storming and taking of Missionary Ridge.
Public opinion had settled down to the belief, that the whole line of the army of the Cumberland had been carried simultaneously forward and over the entrenchments of the enemy, on the top of the ridge, by an enthusiastic impulse of the soldiers, without order of their leaders.
Those next concerned in this act were willing to let it rest so. Gen Kilpatrick now opens again the manufactory of heros, kept in full blast during the war by so many correspondents, and writers of official reports. In a few phrases, in the sparkling of ey[e]s of one or another intended hero, he absorbs, all the merits of thousands of galant and devoted soldiers and their leaders. A statement of the naked facts of the storm of Miss. Ridge will have the approval of all, who participate in it, and who do not claim, but their due share of the credit connected with it. It may also throw some light on the manner of heromaking, and may help to lessen the stupid and nefarious hero whorship. I ask the favor of you Mr. Editor to give this a place in your paper and oblige Yours Respectfully
August von Willich was born in Brausberg, Prussia on November 19, 1810. After graduating from a Berlin military academy he entered the Prussian army, rising to the rank of captain.A follower of Karl Marx, was court martialed and fled to the U.S. in 1853. He worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a carpenter, and in 1858 became the editor of a German language newspaper in Cincinatti. After serving as a lieutenant and A.A.G. of the 8th OH Infantry in 1861, he recruited and was commissioned colonel of the 32nd IN Infantry. His strong combat record at Shiloh, Perryville, and Stones River (where he was captured) resulted in his promotion to brigadier general July 17, 1862. Once exchanged, Willich fought as a brigade commander at Chickamauga, and was foremost in leading his troops in the famous assault of November 25, 1863, up Missionary Ridge. His troops were the first to reach the crest and break the enemy line at “Sharp’s Spur.” Willich was wounded in the shoulder at the Battle of Resaca, GA in May 1864, and later served as commander of the post of Cincinnati, OH. After the Civil War, he went to Germany to fight in the Franco-Prussian War, but was ultimately thwarted in seeing combat. Returning to the U.S. he lived in St. Marys, OH until his death on January 22, 1878. He was rather fondly known for being an eccentric, including having a pet raccoon.
Letter written by Private J. P. Graves of the Warren County MS Light Artillery, Army of TN, to his mother, from Floyd Hospital in Macon, GA. Graves suffered a minor head wound at New Hope Church, at the battle of Pickett’s Mill, but plans to go to Eufaula or Columbus if the doctors let him. Graves was wounded in the charge made by Union Major General Oliver O. Howard’s Corps against Patrick Cleburne’s Division. He mentions hearing that several friends were safe and remarks on the number of prisoners taken and casualties suffered. He also recounts the casualties at Resaca and Calhoun. Graves writes that he is tired of fighting and mentions getting a ring made for a young lady. He admits he didn’t know what it meant to be a soldier until he joined, sleeping on rocks and marching for miles each day.
Macon Ga June the 1/64
I arrived at this place last Sunday as one ofe the wounded soldiers; I was lsightly wounded in the top of my head; the ball cutting the skin a bout two inches; I am getting a long very well now. I will try to get to Eufala or Columbus [???]; If the Doctors will let me. I forgot to tell you wheir I was wounded at It was at New Hope Church [Battle of Pickett’s Mill, near New Hope Church, GA, Friday, May 27, 1864] last fryday I was wounded a bout an hour before dark in the
charge that Howard Corps made against Cleburn their was only three Brigades of Cleburne Division in the charge. Bud came through safe. I saw a man in the 45 Ala; he said Mr Barnett came through safe also Hendon and Dose Glenn we captured three hundred prisoners and seven hundred stand of small arms. This makes three fights I have been in too many Resaca Calhoun New Hope Resaca we lost ten men kill and wounded in our Company Calhoun 1 man wounded New Hope we lost two men wounded
I am tired of fighting now; and willing to come home since I got my wound. If you have any money on hand I wish you would send me some; I have got some but it wont pass here. Tell Sallie I have got her ring made but have not got the sets put in it yet I have got a yankee ring that come off a dead yankees finger at Dug Gap but I dont reckond you would want it. I want that money mostly to buy some paper and envelopes as they are cheaper here than
any wheir else. The Ladies visit the Hospittal evry day. I have been looking out for Miss Love Upshaw but have not seen her yet Tell sister that I will write to her in a few days. I did not know what Soldiering was when I came out but I no now I have been sleeping on rocks for the last three weeks some time we would march 15 miles a day and would have to march back to the same place that night and form a line of battle but I am willing to stand to it. Give my love to sister Net and Sallie
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and take a good share your self I remain you dutiful Son
J P Graves
J.P. Graves enlisted on March 20, 1864 in Dalton, GA in Captain Swett’s Company L, the Warren Light Artillery. He survived the war and is shown on a muster roll of Confederate soldiers paroled at Greensboro, NC on April 26, 1865.
Letter written by Private John D. Compton of Company G, 105th OH Volunteer Infantry, to his siblings, from a camp near Murfreesboro. Compton describes how he was taken prisoner while foraging . He is back in camp after being paroled and describes his experience as a prisoner of the Confederates for three days. Compton says they were mistreated by provost guards. He attempted to leave the parole camp to visit his comrades in the 105th, but the guards found out. Compton writes disparagingly of the Union officers he was captured with. He suggests that his brother stay out of the army. Despite the tone of his letter Compton insists he is not homesick, and does not want his parents to worry about him.
Camp Near murphysbrough
Feb 19 1863
Dear brother and sister as I have some Time I will rite a few lines to you to let you no that I am well at presant and hope these few lines will find you the same Well Jim I thought I would rite and give you a decription of how I was taken I had ben with the Reg 9 1/2 days they sent us out ot forage some stuff for the need to eat on the 21 of Jan got a bout 6 1/2 miles from camp when the Reb began to fire in our front We got one of our wagons and loded our guns and some of the boys fired into them the oficers was taken captin Canfield and lieutenant Torgee 3 otherSeth Perker and my Self Was all that Was taken before that you new but [???] Renginan Was taken We are all here in camp the oficers I supose will put us in the ranks but if they do for the [???] is broken they say but that is nothing to do with us they must be careful how they get in a fight with me for I think I am very good shot with the gun they give me Some of the boys has got home and When We get Paid off I Will leve too I think I have my PP [Provisional Parole] in my pocket Well Jim I will tell you how we lived while the Reb had us We stayed in a cart House We lived on corn
bread and bisket with some sow bekon [bacon] the bread no salt in it but they had none neither so I could stand it they kept us 3 days then give us our P.P. and took us out of their lines and set us out for our selves We Went to Munfordsville Ky got on the cars and started for Lusville Went thus 3 days in [???] then Went to Nashville Tenn Kep 2 1/2 days then went to murphysborough stoped 2 days I ran away and went to see the boys and back every night they found out that We Were found to [???] they said that We might go out to camp so rather than to lay in fall we went the gard said that they was glad to get red of us they said dam the 105 all Hell could not Keep some of them and I was one of them you can [reckon] but Jim I said I would tell you What i had to eat we had flour from the time they Paroled us till we got out of their lines we mixed it up on a Plate and backed it on a ford with out any salt or shortning it Was flour and water that we got from a inn by the side of the rode they treeted us as well as they used their own men but we did not get enough of that When we got a mong the Dam northern sholder straps Jim if I live till the War is over their will be some of the Straps Ketch Hell I think one has got his just do Torgee is a mong the Reb and god noes I hope he will stay their till the War is over
Jim you no what he rote Home a bout me When Was taken before he rote Home that I and Seth Parker was Drunk I hope they Will Keep him till he can learn to tell the truth and I guess they Will Jim I am a single man and can stand it but it is Well for you did not inlist When I did and I will give you some good advice you ar out and do you keep out the boys has gone out expecting a fight before they get back I should have had to go if it had not have ben that they did not no whether they had a rite to ask us or not I expect every day When they Will if they do old Hall will get the first charge from my gun if he goes in front dont tell or sho this to every one for it might get out you no and it might go hard with me but I Will do as I say if I get a good chance for I should have ben home now if it had not ben for him and I [always] Pay my Debts I gess he will get his Pay for the Boys all owes the same debt I gess some of them will Pay the debt Well Jim you may think that I am Home sick for the Way I rite but I am not but it makes me mad to think how they Will beg a fellow to get Him Draft once is a nough I think tell our fokes not to fret for I will come out all rite tell Pa to send
get my clothes at Columbus if he sent them When I last herd from Home Pa Was Sick I hope he may get well tell him not to fret a bout me for I am well and tuff rite to John D. Compton Co G 105 2 Brigade 5 Division Murphysburough Tenn
Care of Captin Crowell
tell Pa to send me some stamps so I can by some Paper
John D. Compton was the son of farmers Rueben and Margaret Cary Compton. He was born in New York in 1842. Sometime between 1850 and 1860 the family moved west and settled in Kingsville, Ashtabula County in Ohio. He was killed on July 22, 1864 during the battle of Atlanta from a gun shot wound to the abdomen.
Letter written by Private Isaac B. Jones of Company C, 3rd Battalion, 18th U.S. Infantry, to his cousin Helen Sofield, from a camp near Iuka, MS. He details his regiment’s movements, including their stay in Columbus, KY. Though he describes the camp as being well situated, many men have gotten sick with the Mississippi River as their only water supply. The Confederate pickets are now within shooting distance, and a few of their men had been shot from a barn near camp. The regiment will be building a heavy entrenchment around the camp. Jones inquires after his wife, and explains some of their recent marital difficulties that have been exacerbated by his wife’s family. Jones writes he will come home “honored and respected” or not at all.
Camp near I-u-Ka July 10th/62
Thinking that perhaps you would like to hear from me and know of my whereabouts, etc. I will take this opportunity of writing to you. I received a letter from my wife about two months ago. She said that she had received a letter from you and you wished to know my address. I would have written to you sooner, but it was impossible for me to get a stamp, and can’t even here for love or money. I have finally concluded to write at your expense. I need not mention that I don’t think you will complain. I enlisted in a volunteer light artillery company the 10th of last October. On the 7th of March our company was discharged on account of the government not wanting any more volunteer artillery. I then re-enlisted the next day in the 18th U.S. Infantry. I don’t like the regular service so well as the volunteers; we cant
have half so many privileges. The regulars are exceedingly strict. The army regulations has to be carried out to the very letter. And you know the military law is the most t[y]ranical thing on earth. I left Harrisburg, Pa. and went to Camp Thomas about 3 miles from Columbus, Ohio, where we stayed a little over two months instructing our men. From there we went to Columbus, Ky., and encamped right across the river from where the battle of Belmont was fought. The Rebels evacuated the camp we were at a short time before we went there. It is a splendid situation for a camp, laying very high on the east bank of the river. But I think it was one of the most sickly camps that I ever was in. I am well satisfied that if we would have stayed much longer there that very nearly the whole of our detachment would have been in the hospital. The greatest trouble we had there was on the account of water.
We could not get a drop to drink except that that was hauled out of the Mississippi, and it would stand from morning till night. The Secesh before they evacuated that camp worked hard three nights and days sinking and destroying their pieces, torpedoes, etc. But since then we recovered some very valuable artillery pieces. We have any amount of ammunition at that camp of every kind. We left there the later part of June  & came through Tennessee and this far in Mississippi. Tenn. & Ky. Are the greatest places for fruit ever I seen. There is a great abundance of most every kind. The country is very thinly settled, and as a general thing, heavy timbered. The buildings are very poor with but a few exceptions. I like this camp better than any we have been at yet. The Iuka Springs are close to camp, where there is three kinds of water running, each separately, viz
sulphur, alum, and iron. And there is a number of springs of very good water besides. We are expected to get into an action almost every hour. The enemy’s pickets & ours are now within shooting distance. The night of the 3rd of this month our men carried two soldiers in camp a little after night. One was shot three times, and the other was so badly wounded that he died in the morning. They were shot from a barn a short distance from camp. There was a few men sent out in my charge. We went and burnt his barn down, also his house and brought the gentleman into camp. Just a few days before that, one of their guerrilla bands killed 3 of our privates and wounded a capt. so badly that I think he will never recover. The force of the enemy exceeds ours about 4 or 5 to our one. But we will have the advantage of them. We are throwing heavy entrenchments around the camp, and also in Iuka.
Humboldt in Tenn. is a very nice place and so is Jackson. I think that Jackson can boast of the prettiest dooryards in the U.S. They are at least by far the nicest I ever seen. Corinth is not a very nice place. There are some very good buildings in the place, but everything is upside down and torn to pieces. We had to march from Corinth to this place, and carry heavy knapsacks. It was a very hard trip. Quite a number fell out by the way with fatigue and a few was sunstruck. One of our sergts. fell out and we had a hard time to bring him to his senses. However, we got here safe. As well as I like to move from place to place and render myself useful to my country, I would feel well satisfied if we could stay her a few months. For I am almost worried out. But I
expect we will soon have to go on into the state of Alabama. We are now only sixty miles from the line. Please tell me in your answer to this, whether my wife answered you or not. If she has, I suppose she will endeavor to screen the conduct of her relatives and self as much as possible. However, I hope I may at some future time see you, and plead my own case. I think it would require but very few facts to be made known to you to satisfy you that I have pursued the right course,at least after I left Williamsport. I won’t cast a reproachful word towards her, for I know she has been misled by that contemptible Updegraff faction; and I will never rest until I have my revenge. That I will have, if it sends my soul to eternal torture. You may think that this is rash talk, but I have a good reason for it, and the more I -Page 7-
think of it the more determined I feel to carry out my designs. I received a letter from Lucy [wife] while I was in the State of Ohio, stating that she would be glad to live with me any place, west or south that I might think best. That will do very well that far, but she must also forsake entirely certain ones of her relations, or we had better always stay apart. For just so sure as they ever would interfere with our domestic concerns again, I know it would be the means of making me guilty of some great crime. It requires all the energy I have to keep hands off as it is. I came away as much for that as anything else, and I though my grief would not be so great by being a distance away, but I find I can’t help loving my wife; I would gladly sacrifice my life if it would make her happy. I know she is far from being happy where she is. I intend to come [home] honored and respected. If I can’t do that
I will never show my face in my native state. Recollect, cousin, I don’t pretend to try to make you think that I have done as I should. I know I have not, and have acknowledged that fact hundreds of times, and have felt truly sorry. But I have found to my sorrow that repentance and acknowledgments will do no good with their stony hearts. I will close for the present. Give my love to Alfred and those dear children of yours. From your affectionate but unworthy cousin,
Isaac B. Jones
P.S. An answer to this would be gratefully received. If you will be so kind as to write, do so immediately, or perhaps I will not get it, as we expect to move before long.
Co. C, 3rd Batt.
18th U.S. Infty. Iuka,
Care of Capt. Knight Mississippi
excuse this dirty paper
Isaac B. Jones was a carpenter from Williamsport, PA. He originally enlisted with Captain Joesph E. Ulman’s Battery of Light Artillery PA Volunteers at the age of 27. The company was discharged March 7th, 1862 and Jones re-enlisted with the 18th U.S. Infantry. He was killed in action on December 31, 1862 at the Battle of Murfreesboro.
General Orders No. 263, issued from the War Department in Washington D.C., assigning Major General Joseph Hooker to the Northern Department and relieving Major General Heintzelman.
GENERAL ORDERS, WAR DEPARTMENT,
No. 263. ADJUTANT GENERALS OFFICE,
Washington, September 28, 1864
I.. By direction of the President of the United States, Major General JOSEPH HOOKER is assigned to the command of the Northern Department. He will immediately proceed to Columbus, Ohio, and relieve Major General HEINTZELMAN.
II.. Major General HEINTZELMAN, on being relieved in command of the Northern Department, will repair to Wheeling, West Virginia, report thence by letter to the Adjutant General of the Army, and there wait until he receives orders.
BY ORDER OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR:
E. D. Townsend,
Assistant Adjutant General.
Assistant Adjutant General
Samuel P. Heintzelman graduated from the United State Military Academy in 1826. He served in the Seminole War, the Mexican-American War, and the Yuma War before being promoted to Brigadier General in May of 1861. He led the III Corps of the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsula Campaign. He was eventually relieved of command due to his age and waning aggression. He retired in 1869 and passed away in 1880.
Joseph Hooker graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1837.He served in the Seminole War and the Mexican-American War. Heresigned from the military in 1853 and moved to California after his reputation was damaged by testifying in the court martial of General Gideon Pillow. At the outbreak of the Civil War he returned east and requested a commission. He commanded the 2nd Division of the III Corps in the Peninsula Campaign, and was appointed to command of the Army of the Potomac in January of 1863. He led the XX Corps in the Atlanta Campaign of 1864 until he was sent to the Northern Department. He was at the head of Lincoln’s funeral procession as it traveled through Springfield, IL on May 4, 1865. He retired from the army in 1866 and passed away in 1874.
Letter written by Private John A. Morris of Company B, 126th OH Infantry, to friends, from Maryland Heights near Harper’s Ferry. Morris writes how he longs for peace so that he and others may return home. The previous day, General Joseph Hooker ordered out two regiments and some artillery. General William H. French is currently in command at Harper’s Ferry. Morris heard that another division was ordered to Antietam, and he supposes there will be news of something happening in Virginia or Pennsylvania. He writes that the Confederates have been firing off their guns from a distance for fear of the Union’s heavy artillery. Morris addresses a rumor that his company was taken prisoner and killed. He thinks the war will come to a close within six months.
Meriland Hights [Maryland Heights]
near Harper’s Ferry, Va June 28/ 63
This morning while sitting here in my tent my mind runs back to some past times when peace was in our land, and we enjoying ourselves as civilized people. But now it is different. A war is waging in our land. But we must look and hope for the future. hope that peace may once more be restored to our once happy land, and that we soldiers may all be permitted to see our once happy homes and friends therein. I am longing for that time to come. Then if I should live, can sit around the old family circle and have something better to eat, and hope right smart better cooks than we have here. I, for my part, am getting
tired of cooking. Things is on the stir. On yesterday evening 2 regiments and some artillery was ordered out, we do not know where. General Jos. Hooker was here on yesterday, and gave such orders. He is not here now. French has taken command of the forces at Harper’s Ferry, and it constitutes the part of the right wing of Hooker’s army & is considered or kept as strong reinforcement.
This morning I understood that one division was ordered to go to the old Antietam ground for some purpose. I think against this week rolls round you will hear of something being done in Va. or Penn. The Rebs are supposed to be fortifying the old Antietam battleground and South Mountain. Our cavalry pitches in some Rebs every day. Yesterday they caught 50-odd, and some wagons, ammunition, whiskey, etc. I think this raid is going to put an end to this war. Those Rebs we fetched from Winchester said it had to go one way or the other inside of 2 months. I understand they are getting up into
the north a good piece. If they come into Ohio, you must kill or capture every one of them. It don’t look like as if they had as much sense as a brick, the way they are doing now. Our pickets yesterday could see some of them riding around at a distance, and last night could hear them firing off their guns. But they did not come very close upon us, for they are afraid of some things [heavy artillery] we have fixed upon Md. Heights, and other places around. I reckon you have heard of Capt. W. B. Kirk leaving his company. If he is at home I want you to tell me, tell what the people think of him around there. If I was there I could talk about something a little with you. But don’t say anything about it now. Pap, I have heard that you heard our regiment was all taken prisoners and cut to pieces. This was only a part of Co. I, and some stragglers taken. I don’t know of any one in our regiment who got killed. It will be in the Chronicle, if so. We are going to have
inspection this evening by Gen. French. He is going to review his army in marching time. The boys are all able well, with the exception of Geo. Harris. He is not very well. My health is pretty good now. Well, mother, how are you getting along? I hope pretty well, for I know when you have not got letters from me regular, and things being in such an uproar you would be uneasy, if not almost sick. Rest easy and take things that may, for I think things will come to a close in 6 months time. The Rebs is going to get one of the biggest whippings ever they got. Well, Callie, how are you getting along? Having a good time, I reckon. I would like mighty well to take drive with you today, but I can’t do it, I guess. Tell Vorhees and George I send my love to them and I want to see them the worst kind of a way. I want to see all of you. I want you to write. Tell me all the news about the talk of our new governor, and conscripts, etc., how you are getting along with your work, harvest, & etc. Give my love to all and yourselves, especially to Aunt Ann. Direct to Harpers Ferry, Va., Md. Hights., Co. B, 126th Regt. O.V.I, as ever, your son, John A. Morris.
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I have not heard from you for a long time; never since the retreat. Write soon. I want to hear badly
John A. Morris enlisted at age 19 on August 11, 1862 in Company B of the 126th OH Volunteer Infantry. He was wounded at Spotsylvania, VA, May 12, 1864, and was mustered out of the service May 18, 1865. As a part of Major General William H. French’s 8th Army Corps, the 126th OH was ordered to Washington, D.C. on July 1, 1863, then to Frederick, MD, and it participated in the pursuit of Lee’s army July 5th -23rd.