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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28th The line of battle formed today was facing the town + having for its front the river- during the day the evening made several attempts to throw across a pontoon but under the destructive fire of our batteries it was impossible + was soon abandoned + so far as we could see contenting themselves with watching our movements keeping up a random fire Our retreat from this point took place on the morning of the 19th about 9 oclock A.M. + then only a few miles until this Brigade was again selected for rear guard + flanking + were placed on a commanding hill covering our right flank + rear; here we built another line of works + remained until 9 oclock in the evening in fact the whole army halted near here until this time when the army was again in motion moving towards Franklins It appears as was developed that evening that all of Hoods cavalry + a part of his Infantry had crossed the river to our right + were moving reapidly up a pile nearly parallel with us + as the advance neared Spring Hill they were fiercely assailed by the rebel cavalry but were handsomely repulsed causing only a temporary halt + no stampede with the train although each individual mule + driver seemed painfully conscious of immediate + imminent danger + were hurrying forward with all

Last edit 4 months ago by MaryV
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possible speed: When this Brigade reached the point it was all quiet + we passed through leaving some part of the 2nd Div to bring up the rear: During the remainder of the nights march some part of the column was constantly annoyed by Rebel cavalry firing from the adjoining fields +near the head of the train a few wagons were burned + mules shot but doing no serious damage - during all the nights march all or nearly all of Hoods force were encamped but two or three miles to the right of Spring Hill their camp fires showing a pretty strong force + when I said their fires + found them in force so near us I thought we were ruined + visions of an involuntary visit to Dixie + the gloomy walls of Libby loomed up before me + I was not the only one that thought so for I am told upon the best authority that derives thoughts were entertained of abandoning the artillery + wagons at this place + it is concealed by all that they missed their opportunity in not attacking us in force during this night We however reached Franklin about 11 oclock AM of the 30th + found the troops garrisoned at this place as well as well as those who had come in advance of us busily engaged in throwing up earth works- we were at once assigned to a positino in the line + began our works

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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our boys were very tired + sleepy + had already built so many lines of works over which they had not been permitted to fire a shot that they had no heart in it + grumbling + complaints were heard a thing that an old soldier seldom does however at 4 PM we had tolerable works- at 3 the rear of our army was in Franklin During the quiet the Col + some others had availed themselves of the opportunity + had snathced a few hours sleep but for me there was no such good luck as it was the last of the month + several reports due I had to work The position chosen was admirably addapted for defense it being in a semi circle in an open burst ground with the flanks resting on the river At 4 oclock the Johnnys burst upon us like a thunderbolt - the cry of "the rebs are coming + are driving in our pickets" together withe the immediate rattle of musketry which brot evey man to his port Casting my eyes to the front I saw the rebel line of battle preceeded by a strong line of skirmishes rapidsly yet steadily + in pickets as they advanced our pickets are soon all in forward at a double quick they come reserving their fire

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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sheet 3 The excitement is now intense but our command is "hold your fire until you get the order" on they come until within a hundred yards when the cry rings out "Fire by file" "Battalions ready" Fire! but it was almost a volley- They waver many fall they halt they break they rally steadily silently each loads his piece + now Tactics having played out "give it to them boys give them hell" + it is done with a vengeance completely routing + drivin them back in confusion so ended the change upon the Regt resulting in no loss to us but to them although not positively known to us must have been heavy Further to our left in the front of one Brig of our Div + in front of the 23d Corps a series of changes was made eleven in all + as many times resulting in disaster to them we were momentarily expecting a repetition of their assault on us + were constantly on the alert until midnight when everything but a skirmish line was quietly withdrawn + crossed the river headed for Nashville= To Col Bennett was assigned the important yet dificult task of drawing in the skirmish line + acting as rear guard also of destroying the bridges which may

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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accomplished without accident the enemy followed him closely however + appeared on the opposite bank + tried to extinguish the flames + save the bridge but the guard together with a battery made it too hot for them In the anxiety to clear the town with all possible speed wagons Ambulances Artillery + troops had been hurried across the river + were now in one confused jumbled up mass mixed up with much loud talking + hard swearing but the troops taking to the fields + giving up the roads to the wagons + Artillery order was soon restored + the living mass was soon moving with creditable speed towards the "Cirty of Rocks" nor did we halt for anything to eat or drink form the loss of sleep were intense two days + this was the 2d night without sleep + with only one meal of victuals during the time was taxing nature to the utmost limits of endurance I repeatedly fell asleep while riding along + if I dismouted it was not much better Many of the mass walking by my side wre sound asleep + snoring as loud as if in their camp beds We arrived here about three oclock Dec 1" + you may safely believe I did some tall sleeping between that + the next morning Dec 3d yesterday I was taken with one of my congestive

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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