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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rods from our camp There are four stations, and from each station there are two outpost of eight men each, making eight outposts in our half circels, and they are about thirty rods in advance of the station, and from them four sentinels are thrown out about the same distance, and they stand about twenty rods apart, although this varies to suit the character or location of the ground, as it is desirable to leave the sentinel as little exposed as possible and the shelter of some tree or fence is made use of when practicable, where they can see and not be seen and here where there is so much timber they are able to avail themselves, in most cases of this protection, but it is often the case that the sentinel is obliged to stand out in the open field in plain sight for miles arround, - In case of the approach of any force of the enemy, the sentinels as soon as he is satisfied they are enemies, discharges his gun, and falls back to the outpost and a messemger if sent with the alarm to the station, and from that into camp, & then the long roll beat which signifies: "fall in to resist an attack." in the meantime the outposts that have received the retreating sentinels, are to skirmish with the enemy, falling back as slowly as possible to the station

Last edit 4 months ago by amyl13
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and with this help to dispute the advance loading and firing on the retreat, which gives time for those in camp to prepare for this reception One thing I forgot to mention, the stations are numbered from right to left, one, two, three, four, & so on as many as there hapens to be and if the first station sends out two outposts they are numbered first & second outposts from the first station and the sentinels from these outposts are the first, second, third, fourth, &c of the first outpost of the first station, and also the same numbers from the second outpost of the first station, and the next station has the same number of outposts & the same of sentinels, and they number in the same way except that they refer to the second station instead of the first, and in case of an attack. and the messenger is sent in, he is able to tell what station and outposts and what sentinels have met the attack, and the commanding officer is able to prepare himself accordingly. and in the right direction

Just about Sundown, the Colonel, the Major and myself made the grand rounds, by visiting every station, outpost and sentinel to see that they are at their post, and at the stations and outposts in the day time on the approach of the officer of the day or any officer who may be making the rounds, the

Last edit 4 months ago by amyl13
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reserve fall into line and "present arms" and the offices in command answers my questions that may be put to him and the sentinels as the grand rounds approach salutes and answers such questions as may be asked and if the sentinel gives evidence that he does not understand his liasions the grand rounds will perhaps attempt to pass the lines generaly at full gallop but if he knows what he is about before we reach the line by ten paces he will give the command "halt" which brings us up standing but sometimes they loose their wits and forget to give the command until after we are all by- then the poor fellow gets a talking to At 12 Midnight we went the rounds again and it [?] only that every one had to halt us at thirty paces and ask who comes there the armies is "friends with the countersign" as "grand rounds" when the order is dismount friends or grand rounds and advance when one of the party generaly an orderlies for that purpose dismounts goes forward and gives the countersign while the rest remains behind until that is given as a sentinel is not to allow more than one to approach him at a time in the night sentinels sometimes fall asleep at this post some of our regiment were found in that condition by the Colonel only a short time since he did not treat them very harshly but punnished them enough so that they will be apt to remember it

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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page 9 At 4 in the morning we went round again to see the see that all wsa right to prevent any morning surprise the rest of the time we were back in camp sound asleep so that in my experience in picketing there is nothing unpleasant but on the contrary I have enjoyed it [muchly?] for the novelty of it but I have an idea that the part I took in it is not exactly like shouldering a musket and standing there my allotted time especialy on a cold rainy dark night and I have no curiosity that would lead me in that direction The regiment was relived at ten oclock and we are quietly in camp again It was the expectation that we would be relived Saturday noon but it seems that the relieving divisions could not get here until sometime Sunday and one days rations were sent out to us and as the weather is very pleasant and the fresh pure air is invigorating and we are satisfied to remain Sunday evening April 5th This morning was one of the finest of the far famed "sunny south" the air was warm with a soft gentle breeze just the day for a stroll or to indulge in a day dream of home

Last edit 4 months ago by MaryV
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in fact a model day for any pursuit and after we had breakfasted the Colonel addressed me in the following morning "Frends: are you ripe for an adventure to day?" I made answers and said that I was never in a better mood for any thing of the kind- "well' he says "dare you ride where I dare ride" I respectfuly submitted that it was my firm conviction that wherever he was a mind to ride that there he would find me by his side- "well then we will make a reconaisance in front to day and perhaps we will be able to perform some brilliant feats and get our names into the papers we can get gobbled up I guess if nothing more Having armed ourselves with pistols each of us with one small belt pistol and one large colts Navy in our holsters we mounted our best horses accompanied by one mounted Sergeant with swords left behind as we were not on duty and after having laughingly bid the boys good bye saying that the mext thing they would hear from us would be that we were in Libby prison or some other sweet scented place ^in Secessdom we left them The course taken by us was to go back towards our old camp so far as to get outside of our Salem pickets and leave us outside of the pickets of the grand army and through streams and vallies over hills and racks we winded our

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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