Letter from Orlando L. French to Lydia French

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Letter written by Orlando L. French to his wife, Lydia French, during his service in the Civil War.

This is a scanned version of the original image in Special Collections and Archives at Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vt.



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Dec 7th I feel that you will get out of patience waiting for this letter but I have had hardly time to think since I returned my monthly reports were past due + I had to make them all alone and there has been three times the amount of extra work that there usualy is this must be my excuse I should however have written you a short letter but for the chaplains going just as he did which would remove all anxiety and assure you of my safety and now I must continue the events of the campaign and I am reminded while sitting here in my warm cosey tent with everything fixed up and arranged to my satisfaction of the capture that I made on the morning of the reconnaissance which was nothing more or less than a good specimen of a wall tent in which I am enjoying myself now we found a deserted rebel camp they got in such a hurry that they left their tents standing and also left a large amount of quartermasters stores - I captured one of the tents and carried on my horse to where the wagons were coming along and left my boy to guard it It is very difficult to draw any tents through the quartermasters Dept now other than shelter tents

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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It was about three oclock when we reached Rossville at a gap in Missionary Ridge + this was the extreme right of our lines- Sherman had beaten them back on the left and made those gallant charges up the hillside of which you have doubtless read and the enemy was gradualy pulling back along the ridge to where we were but we were just in time to prevent their getting possession of the gap ( a strong position by the way which would have cost us many lines to have cleared) up the steep hillside our boys went -not a man faltered or struggled everyman was in his place - there being four Regts in the advance of us and the ridge being narrow so that only theo regts could be put in one line we were necessarily in the rear and formed a support in the third line be-the first Regt up the hill met the enemy just at the brow and at a double quick charged on them and drove them thirty or forty rods where they rallied behind some works and here the contest grew fierce for an hour- we were close in the rear of the line doing the fighting and the bullets fell thick and fast and the men were ordered to lie down- at this place I was standing by the side of the Colonel so close that there could not have been a space of two feet when a ball went between us just above our shoulders which was the closest call I have had

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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At half past ten the next day we started out on the Grayville road following them up and nothing occurred until after dark when we came in sight of the Rebel camp fires the advance was now made quietly + cautiously- skirmishes were thrown out in the advance and for an hour we move very slow but now crack, crack, goes the rifles and then a whole volley but it lasts only a few moments and a rebel wagon train of ten wagons + four wires of Artillery is surprised and captured and after this is disposed of we move forward but slowly feeling our way along and before going up a range of hills this Regt is in the advance three companies are sent forward as skirmishes and Col Bismett in command of them when bang! goes a gun + perhaps another I halt the Regt but there is no reply some boy is excited and imagines he sees an enemy - so we go for two or three milse over the hill + down the valley and everything goes into camp but this Regt which moves farther on + place our skirmishes as pickets while the rest camp in a little ravine and sup on coffee + hard tack and lie down by the fire for a few hours of sleep- an hour passes by and every man is sound asleep except the faithful sentinell at his post when bang, bang, - a half dozzen shots - our picket line is attacked! fall in ! fall in! and in a little less than no time we are

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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For an hour they held us but soon the command was given charge! boys, charge! and with wild yells of triumph our boys fell upon them and a complete rout + paree was made in the rebels , guns and equipments Haversacks, [blunkets?] and every thing that would impede this escape was scattered in evey direction - what I have said of this running will not apply to them all for this Brigade took in over three hundred prisoners- these were exciting times a total rout of the enemy and we following them up on a run stumbling over the dead and wounded [?] victory was ours + a shout on every tongue- we followed them untill nightfall and returned to the top of the mountain and camped for the night and I made my bed on a pile of stones this whole ridge is covered with small stone from the size of a mans head down to a hickory nut and on these I made my bed but sleep I did not as it was awful cold The next morning was occupied in burying the dead the wounded had been removed the night before both ours + rebel The losses in which our Brigade took a part were very surprising to me; the enemy were under cover of their work and our men exposed + our loss was only four killed + [twenty?] wounded while I counted twenty five of the enemy killed

Last edit 24 days ago by MaryV
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6 under arms and quietly moving to the support of our pickets but only a few more shots are returned + everything is quiet again - a squad of cavalry had rode up to our lines fired a few shots and retired and we retired and finished our nap with no more alarms that night The following morning we expected our Brigade would have the advance + this Regt the advance of the Brigade but a Div of the 15" Corps came up and ws entitled to it so that we were stuck in the rear again but it proved a very fortunate thing for us - As it proved we had camped only three miles from Ringold and about 10 oclock skirmishing began in the front and we were able to see which gradually deferred into a fight and we were hurried rapidly forward The Div in our advance had began what appeared to us to be a severe job It promised to be but a repetition of what done at Missionary Ridge on the left + center; the location of the ground was similar + the disposition of their forces such as to give them every advantage this force appeared small but the advantage of position was worth more than men The fight now conducted on our side of Brig Gen Osterhaus with his division only - The Rebs had three pires of artillery but were not of much use to them The mode of attack and the

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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