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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196 glance the direction from which we might expect visitors and a little after noon the col. turned to me in a joking manner + said "French what would you do if the rebels were to jump in here and surround the house demanding our surrender - but before I had time to reply to his question we heard the clatter of feet up the walk into the hall and the parlor door thrown open and - not a rebel but our Sergeant appeared and in an excited manner said "Colonel there is a man out here that wants to see you" Our belt pistols lie on the floor but they were soon [buckeled?] on and out one went but as I passed out I glanced at the ladies to see what effect it might have on them -the widow was several shades paler and the others was visibly excited We found the Capt of the pickets at the gate who said that he had been attacked by about forty rebel cavalry upon the pike and had driven them back but he expected they would not give it up so and as the colonel was the ranking officer wished he would he would go up and see how the matter stood we mounted and was soon at his outpost where his pickets had retreated The colonel and myself by his side went forward to the scene of the attack and found it all clear but the country on both sides of the road was very rough and withal very dryly wooded and a lurking enemy would have all the advantage of being able to witness our approach while under cones himself but nevertheless we went forward nearly a mile farther until --- we arrived at whay is called the "look-out" where the road for three miles was in plain sight but all this time the gallant Capt kept twenty rods in our rear and our Sergeant was with him and the Capt told him that we were very daring in riding on so far that he would not without being supported perhaps we were but I should have ridden there if I had known it was my last ride after having said what I did to the Colonel - in the morning but I did not feel all allon

Last edit 4 months ago by MaryV
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[written upside down] you will of course read the account of my remarkable doings to friend Carpenter and he will have to excuse you from work a week or two while you read it [/written upside down]

page 17 197 but on the contrary I did want to see one rebel and have the satisfaction of discharging my pistols in his direction I am inclined to think however, that I should not have been so well pleased had we met ten instead of one; But the adventure was not to end just here; The first glace after we had arrived at the look out revealed the scamps about a half mile from us down the pike - thirty or forty in number but they were going from us but a glance to our left through the thicket revealed a solitary horseman watching our movements he was not ten rods from us --- ---- and was dismounted but the ground was such that we could not approach him so we sent him the best we had from our colts navy but either we were poor marksmen or the distance was too great he made his escape We remained here a short time but as no new developments were likely to be made and the enemy had left the road about a mile from us we picked out way to our left to an eminence where we could over look the country for miles arround and down at our feet not over a mile from us we discovered a rebel camp of cavalry five hundred strong and saw the squad that had been up to see us enter this camp and turn out their horses - with this we retraced out steps - and rock on to the house to bid adieu to the ladies; when we returned I was the first to enter the

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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parlor and I could perceive the deepest anxiety depicted upon their countenance and eager were their questions as to what we saw and whether any one was hurt I ased them "why this anxiety have you friends with this force" when they frankly told me they had three brothers in the rebel army and they believed they were near by - After this the Colonel was more restless than before but as dinner would soon be served and they urged us hard to stay + dine with them they pursuaded us to remain but after they had pronounced it ready to serve it was two hours before it was ready to eat and the meal was undoubtingly as good as they had but I could have made a better dinner off from army rations - with the exception of a cup of millk they gave me which was realy a treat as that article and my palate have long been strangers - After a decent lapse of time so as not to show a too hasty retreat we ---- rose to bid them adieu but before I left the toom the widow sepped in front of me looking me square in the eye in her keen penetrating way and in such an abrupt way as to throw me entirely off my quarel asked me "how long I had been married" - Well did I disown you then - think you ?- no Sir E I did not but answered promptly that I had been in that interesting condition twelve years- I am glad that I acknowledged it and you? for she might have fallen in love with me if I had not and then how bad I would have felt and you too

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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I said to her that as long as she had drawn Mrs F into this company I would present her in person and as she looked at your portait her first words were- "Why: dont she look like me? I said tht it did very much and that this circumstance had enhanced the pleasure of my visit at which she looked incredulous and said "What? true to your wife while you are down here in ths rebel land among rebel ladies? verily Quarter Master you must be a model husband" I told her that this was the opinion of Mrs French but the happiest seasons must end and after inviting us to their plantation after they had gained this indepevence we bid them adieu and returned to camp but our division had been relieved to back we toddled to our old camp near Murfeesboro well pleased with and feeling much better for our trip But the boys could hardly credit ^our account of the skirmish but on examining our pistols they found five empty barrels in mine - so the matter remained for two days until I read the account of it in the Nashville paper ( a copy of which I send you with this) which said the charge was made by the picket force of the 10th Ohio supported by a detachment of the 75th and routed them killing two we declared the account correct with this exception that the detachment made the ground charge + was supported by the 10th Ohio and we noted the detachment some

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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Saturday Morning April 11th My little story is but half told but my time had been very much ocupied with other duties so that I could write but little each day and as it has been nearly two week since I mailed a letter to you I will finish this sheet as I have a chance to send it by Capt Giles But of the points of my little story where the Col and the ladies were mentioned are not to be breathed aloud for you will redirect that I was under oath I would copy my little adventure for the folks at home if I had time but as it is I wish you would mail it to them after you have read it I ought to write to them all and will do so soon but we have no clerk now and I have been very busy making up our monthly and quarterly reports Tell Carpenter that he will find Capt Giles one of the wisest men in the world - so far as heard from there is nothing but what he knows and especialy of all little secret matters he has been made a confident of for instance my case he understands to a dot notwithstanding this I consider him (and I am not alone in it) one very large sized ass- but it will no doubt be very interesting to hear his definition of war matters I expect a letter to day from you acknowledging the receipt of the money and if I do I will write a little tomorrow My health was never better in the world than at present - you have never sent me that little picture I asked for all done up in your pretties I dont want a case to it- one other thing I must tell you must not tell to any one except Carpenter and that is that Remington has at last sent on recommendations for a Captains commission and if he gets it why there will be a vacant Q.M. appt in this regiment more on this subject hereafter - While I remain always your devoted Orlando

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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