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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November 14th 1862

Dear Girl, As I have had no chance to send this off, yet I think I had better write a little more so as to make a sizeable letter of it. There is now a connection made with the Bowling Green and Nashville railroad, by stage back forty miles to Mitchelsville, so that one can now send and get mails daily, and the tunnel on this railroad, that was blown up by the rebels and stoped communicartion. Will be repaired (in a few days) when everything will go on all right

Yesterday I made a visit to the great city of Nashville, looked over it carefully, and concluded not to buy it, although I picked me out a house to live in, which I think, will suit you. Nashville was evidently built when land was very scarce, for the streets are hardly wide enough for two teams to pass and it all looks to me as though they had built a lot of houses and then tumbled them all into a heap. Some are end up and some anothers

It is an irregular, old, dried up concern, although there were some as fine buildings as I ever saw

I went up to the state house and went all through it, and it was one grand, massive thing

[Upside down at top of letter] What a time there will be when peace is declared and we are ordered to lay down our arms, there will be one grand forward movement of the whole army, but it will be for the north, and many a heart will leap with joy, while many, very many will sink in sorrow.

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It is built of limestone but of a different quality from anything I have ever seen, being beautiful clouded like marble. Everything about it is of the same material; the partitions are of solid stone from two to four feet thick and through all the doors and openings, arched and finely carved. The main columns were 7 feet in diameter and 25 feet high, all of solid stone. In passing through the different halls and windings I saw the rooms ocupied by the different department of state, and one attracted my attention in particular—over the entrance was the word Governor, miss spelled Surrounding this building is a wall of stone and dirt to just hide some big peace makers, that lie quietly snoozing in the sun with a guard silently walking to and fro, —, I counted in all ten heavy Pareot siege guns and two 12 pound howitzers; —upon the second balcony all arround there is piled a row of cotton bales for beast masks for sharp shooters. — Down on the banks of the river I saw the old father of guns; what it was called or what the weight of shot I shall not pretend to tell, but I could crawl into the mouth without any trouble, and don't know but I could turn round and come out

We are having to day one of the finest of those fine, warm, smoky days of the Indian summers

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but they are nothing new to us, for the most of our journey has been made in just such weather; we have been particularly favored in that, but we cannot always have it and we will soon have a change, when it will rain nearly all of the time; Then will be the time that will "try mens souls" as well of boots and shoes, as well as the other kind.—

We are camped in a beautiful little grove in the [?} of Edgefield, one mile north of Nashville; We landed here, cold, tired ragged, and one mass of filth and dirt, but now order has come out of chaos and we are blacked, washed, combed, and slicked up generaly, which, with some new clothes had brightened us up wonderfuly, and our camp is all cleaned up and swept as nice as a parlor.— I have my wash all done and expect to have a pleasant time while we stay here— Our regiment ^is sadly decimated There were only three hundred & fifty men on this mornings report fit for duty, the remainder are sick, either in camp as in the hospitals all along the road from Louisville to this place. Notwithstanding our great loss at the battle, our greatest enemy has been sickness, — Oh! this war is a sad thing.— We started out with 850 stout able bodied men, it is now only three months

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and two thirds of them are either lying under the bed or in the hospital which is about the same thing, for if they do not get there now, they will contract diseases which will send them home with poor broken down constitutions

I have received no letter from home yet.— I wish they would write to me.— I have written one to them shall write again to morrow and also to Post. I know he is looking for one every day by the way our Brigade commander name is P Sidney Post. I do not know what relation he is to our old friend, but suppose him to be a near one, judgeing from his characteristics, one in particular, in which he is said to be a good judge of whisky.

Well I have written a pretty lengthy letter to you this time, — you ought to send me three or four of your kind of letters for it, but write when you can, but don't write when you are homesick or lonesome. Make Carpenter write, he must not expect me to write very often, for I suppose you read the most of these letters to him which must answer for the whole family, little Johney—included how is it. has Carpenter raised on the price Johney yet, he called him worth five dollars but I always thought he would take less than that

Give my love to Mrs Carpenter and take as much as you can carry for yourself, while I am your Husband Orlando Q. M. Sargeant 75th Ill. vol

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