Civil War letters at Middlebury College

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Letter from Orlando L. French to Lydia French

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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

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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

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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

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591 Head Quarters 75h Ills Vol Near Nashville Tenn May 2d 1863 Dearest Lydia I have received your letter of April 24" and I see that the hours and days drag wearily by to you and the only thing that sustains you is the thought that it is only four months more to be sure that is only a little while but we think it will not be that long before we will see home of nothing happens The talk is that the 62 troops are to be mustered thirty days every thing indicates that this will be done there is nothing official on the subject yet but our Division Commander is of the opinion and it is the talk in all military circles - I do not like to raise any false hopes but I am so positive of it that I venture to communicate it to you The paymasters with three millions of money are now in Nashville to pay the 4" corps but we

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the report is that they are not going to pay the 62 troops until they are mustered out and if we are to be mustered out in a few weeks I presume this will be the case however we will know in a few days as they begin the payment this week If I knew that in thirty days I should be at home with yu a citizen once more I should be the happiest man in the world Only think of it the war over our last battle is fought our last march is made and we are homeward bound and peace is in the land after three years suffering strife and bloodshed Oh if ever mortals should be thankful it is ourselves who have passed through all this + seen so many fall by our sides while we are saved to return to our loved ones We have a beautiful camp the weather is fine I have enough to do to keep me busy but not too much My health is good + amvery hapy in the prospect of so soon being with my darling wife -this I know cheers you up and although you are annoyed and embarassed in many ways you will meet them bravely hoping that when your good for nothing

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husband returns he will be able to make your duties less burdensome and your path more pleasant I have now something over eleven hundred dollars due me and there will probably another month pass before we are mustered out congress has also voted us three months pay proper which would be one hundred and fifty more if we stay until the war is ^over and if we are discharged before our time is out I cannot see how they can construe it to mean anything but that the war is over I am however owing some but will have enough with the prospects I have to feel pretty independent I have waited to finish this and the mail is already to go + I will write again in a day or two Ever your loving Husband O L French Adjutant 73 Ill Vol

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Head quarters 75th Ills Vol Camp near Stevenson Alabama Aug 21st 1863 Well, Dearest of Women I am located once more and find myself down here in the wilderness in the midst of musquitoes fever + ague cholera and the rankest kind of secession and all the rest of the "ills that flesh is heir to" I guess We are camped within a few rods of + on the line of the Memphis + Charlston railroad and about one miles from Stevenson where the Nashville + Chattanooga railroad crosses It is a little town of at least a dozzen old dried up dilapidated buildings It is one of those towns where the enterprise is all of the sitting down kind We left our pleasant camp at Winchester Monday the 17th at 2 'clock P.M. and arrived at the foot of the mountains at 6 'clock where we found Rosencrans head quarter train + the signal corps stuck with no one to help them up so we camped here for the night and made our supper of roast corn At 6 in the morning our Brigade was stationed at the bad plans stretching from the foot to the top of the mountain 2 miles

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+ a half and lifted pulled pushed and otherwise assisted the miles and at 2 oclock we had our Brigade train all on the top some of the way was very steep and all one solid ledge of rough jagged rocks On the top of the mountain we found a very fine spring of pure cold water where we halted The question was what fed the spring + where did it come from it being on about the highest point in that vicinity From the top of the mountain we marched about eight miles and went into bivouac for the night at 6 oclock and a barrell of whiskey was issued to the troops of this Brig - the other two Brigades of this Div were behind getting up their trains we went to sleep with orders to have reveille at 2 'clock and to march at half past 3 - this Regt to take the advance and at that hour to move right out without further orders which we did it being at this time dark as Egypt The road was not very plain and we had some dificulty in keeping the road but at daylight had

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made about three miles The distanc from one brow to the other is twenty miles of rolling table land of light sandy soil thickly covered with timber but of small growth but as we approached this side the trees were larger + of greater variety among which were the yellow or hard pine Tamarack + a few spruce We found six or seven log huts on the road and a few small fields of corn arround each but was a liberal supply of pigs + youngs ones the latter half naked dirty + wild we saw no guerillas but when the 2nd Brig came alond they were fired upon and two men badly wounded one of Davis' orderlies was wounded and the villain that did it was captured Rosa determined the fate of all such fellows two weeks ago in a general order which is that they be quietly suspended by this weeks until the wind is taken out of them Down the mountain this side it is very very steep + in some places the wagons had to be let down with ropes + for this purpose three Regts of this Brig were left and we were sent on to this place traveling as body guard

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for Gen Davis At the foot of the mountain we struck into and followed down a deep ravine a hundred rods in width which grad-ualy widened to nearly a mile of rich fertile soil covered with a luxurious growth of corn dotted with an occa-sional log hut-I saw the tallest corn stalks here that I ever saw in my life a great deal of it standing fifteem feet high- Down this valley we also found a large crop of peaches to which we helped ourselves without restraint At 12 oclock we had made 16 miles and halted for dinner - this part of the march was made without any trouble and the boys felt first rate but the remainder of the route lay along the foot of the mountain on the southwest side where there was no circulation of air and they way the sun poured in onto us was enough to suffocate a salamander- we had two men sun stuck but both have since recovered When we reached the camp which we did about 6 oclock of the 19th we had only a hundred men to stack arms the rest lay along the road side

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