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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335

Headquarters 75th Ills Vol Chattanooga Sept 27th 1863

Dearest Lydia, I take this first oppor-tunity to give you in detail some of the movements of this Regt & of myself in particular Exerpt a short letter of a dozzen lines the last was written from the summit of Lookout mountain near Little rines falls while doing picket duty and at 11 oclock A.M. of the 18th this Brigade was ordered forward the whole army having gone forward and this Brig was left behind as rear guard - This morning the wind whipped round into the north & it became cloudy which was every way favorable for a long severe march which we plainly understood was our fate for that day, twenty five miles being the distance we must make before camp

Last edit 3 months ago by MaryV
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336 The road was very dusty + being in the rear of a large wagon train our progress was hindred so that we arrived at our destination (Stevens Gap on the opposite side of the mountain) at midnight or I should say that the Colonel + myself arrived there with perhaps a corporals guard of the Regt the ballance lie along the road for ten miles back- the nght was extreme-ly cold there being a heavy frost that night Our Head quarters wagon was not to be found so that I barely had one blanket but I built a fire wrapped myself up and lie down to rest but not to sleep one side of me was too cold for that - + I passed the night the best I could + breakfasted on hard tack + coffee We soon received orders to place our regt. in company with one other of this Brigade in position to hold this gap with instructions to hold it at all hazzards while the other two went to the foot of the hill some four miles distant After having made a satisfactory disposition

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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337 of the forces (Col Brunnett being in comannd of the two Regts we fixed up for a comfortable stay as we were told that we would probably ocupy this place ten day A short exploreing tour disclosed the fact that within a mile of camp we could overlook the whole confederacy and I shall ever remember the sight there presented- you will remember that this was Saturday the 19th the day on which the battle began + from the look out the two lines of battle could be discerned although not very distinct as the whole valley was one cloud of smoke + dust The distance was too great to hear musketry but the rear of Artillery was incessant and the clouds of smoke ascending showed us plainly their position: and camp fires of the two armies sparkeled brightly in the night air presenting a beautiful picture but the scene lost much of its beauty when we thought of the suffering wounded soldiers that

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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338 must lie on the cold ground without the soothing hand of friendship to ease this pain or kindred ear to catch their expireing breath- a sad, sad thing is this war.- At 3 oclock the next morning we were arroused with orders to hasten to the front and at daylight we began our march to the battle ground then twenty miles distant We soon heard the roar of cannon which gradualy drew nearer and we expected in two hours to join the other two Brigades of the division and take our chances with the rest but at 2 oclock we came to the lines of Gen Mitchels cavalry forces who were there protecting the right flank of our army but had been cut off himself and was waiting our arrival and he gave us the gratifying intelligence that we might not hope to reach the Division except by another road + that by Chattanooga

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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339 Sheet 2 But it became necessary that Col Post (commdg the Brig) should report to Gen Davis + one of the Col's staff - a Capt from our Regt volunteered + got arround the enemy's lines and made known to Gen Davis our condition but before he had returned Col Post + Gen Mitchel had decided to move forward to Chattanooga + at 4 P.M. we started distance yet 20 miles we left this place in company with Gen Mitchel + his cavalry - at this place there were nine hundred of - our wounded who were left behind + the enemies cavalry followed us right up- I rode back along the line of our Regt/ + told the boys the fix we were in that we were cut off + that Rebel cavalry were closely pressing our rear that all who stragled + fell behind would be certain to fall into Rebel hands and that we must make Chattanooga that night and as I told them that now was the time for them to show their manhood + spunk

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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