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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way over to the Shelbyville pike and we were the most of the time about a mile in front of our pickets and to the Shelbyville pike from where we started about three miles we then followed out this pike as the Colonel knew there was a station of cavalry posted out something like two miles further we soon found them and further on we passed this outpost Beyond this there were only the videtts and just within the lines of the videtts was a large plantation the house with its wealth of negro cabins was only ten rows from the lines but he said to me that there were two very fine ladies over in that house and if I felt inclined we would make a call -I said that I was very fond of young ladies and I thought that an hour passed in their society would do much to remind me of home and that I thought the sight of a goof true union Lady would be good for sore eyes "Ah: but" they they are the wickedest little rebels in the world but as this would promise a [?] interview I expressed a wish to call on them - all right , he says but in the first place I must have you sworn to not reve- never mind Colonel I swear without your saying anything further "well he said "there is one other subject on which you are to have a definite knowledge

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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which is that there is no such a personage in existence as Mrs Col Bennett on this subject your knowledge - is to be positive and unqualified I assured him that such would be for this day my absolute knowledge of this matter The house was a half mile from the pike on the left and out of sight from the videtts on the pike and as we rode up to the house I could not but remark of they knew we were there to come down the hill side dash through the videtts surround the house and gobble us up before we could have time to say Jack Robinson - but I retained my own opinions and rode up to the gate where we dismounted leaving our horses in charge of the Sergeant with orders to not tie them but keep them, ready to mount at a moments notice and to keep a good look out with this precaution we applied for admission - The house is a large two story one - commodious + tastefuly built the yard was prettily laid out with evergreens and shrubbery and evidences of womans care + handiwork were visible in the many pots + beds of flowers some of which were in bloom One of the blackest of Africk daughters attended our summons and bade us enter and were shown into a very pleasant sitting room and after the first greeting I [smelt?] a very large sized mill for I discovered that our [sober?] quiet dignified Colonel was on terms of intimacy at this mansion which could only have been obtained by very frequent and welcome visits

Last edit 4 months ago by MaryV
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page 13 The lady of the house was apparantly about thirty years of age while her liege lord + master had seen nearly twice that number and his locks were sprinkled with grey but the lady was fair fat + full of fun We found here also Capt Hutchinson of the the 10th Ohio Cavalry who was in command of the whole picket force - after having presented me to the company as Quarter Master French the conversation flowed smoothly along in which I engaged the old man and the colonel the lady and as there appeared no particular use for the Capt he took the hint and left and then from the [recesses?] of his clothes the col brought forth Sunday newspapers and mysterious looking packages all of which wre duly presented and among the rest was a half pound of yellow snuff which was received with evident marks of pleasure + satisfaction I will here take the occasion to say that the use they make of this article is to eat ot or in their own words to dip to squab and the mildest form is to rub which is performed by placing a small quantity on a tooth brush and them rubbing the teeth with it and the use of this article of commerce in this manner is voted an elegant accomplishment

Last edit 4 months ago by MaryV
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by the aristocracy of this chivalrous land and they indulge in it liberaly One other little thing I noticed that I regard as very indicative among the papers was one copy of the Chicago Times and the avidity with which it was perused and the expressions of delight as they found some copperhead sentiment or slur at the government was sufficient evidence of their opinion of the character of the paper All this time I was wondering where the nice ladies were but I soon found out for presently the Col "well where are my girls" and a respectable looking darky maid was dispatched to request their appearance and after waiting a half hour one of them made her entry and was warmly greeted by the Colonel + presented to Quarter Master French (to whom he made his most profound obeiance) as widow Brown: and I was struck with the resemblance this lady bore to that estimable lady in Illinois that bears my name -it was not only a resemblance but almost an exact copy- but soon the other Lady came in and in the dazling splendor of his countenance and dress poor widow Brown for the time being sank into insignificance but the Beauty was the greater rebel of the two and the Colonel so far outranking me and as she by virtue of some previous understanding claims the honor of exclusively entertaining him I trandfered my attention to the widow

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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we were now invited into the parlor a room very comfortably furnished with mahogany mask sofa chairs center table Pianno and what attracted my attention more particularly was a very elegant chandelier suspended in the center of the room - a truly beautiful + costly one also the large cheerful fire place with its brightly polished trappings + ornaments I cannot undertake to report the conversation as it would prolong my story to a length far beyond my present limit for I assure you we talked fast as all restraint was soon removed and they were free + easy social + chatty as one could wish- I afterward learned that this had been the picket ground of our regiment all winter and that the colonel had made this his head quarters and judging from appearances that he had made rapid strides into the affections of the beauty The status of the war was discussed freely and we gave it to them as our firm conviction that they would be forced to sue for peace before another winter - they frankly confessed they were sorry they had rebelled but doubted our ability to whip them They were ladies of good minds and ^of liberal educations but so free + social that in a half hours time you would have supposed us intimate friends and two hours passed rapidly away but I noticed that the colonel was somewhat uneasy for he would make frequent trips to the window and scan with an anxious

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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