Civil War letters at Middlebury College

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Letter from Orlando L. French to Lydia French

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with his battery of four 12 pound Parrotts and his range was such that he had to throw them exactly over us or ought to have done so but many of them went low not as high as high as our heads even and some struck in our midst and exploded but no one was hurt At dusk the firing in our immediate front ceased & I relieved our skirmishers with a strong picket detail and found me a place sheltered from the cold wind built me a little fire lay down in my blanket + was soon sound asleep the last thing I heard that night was one continued roar of musketry not fifty rods from me and when I awoke at midnight wet from a drizzling rain in the early part of the night and chilled through with the cold the firing had ceased and all was quiet except the shreiks + groans of the wounded + dying who had not yet been removed from the field I was told that the fight had been closed for an hour that the Rebels had ingloriously fled having ^left their dead and many of their wounded on the field - I arranged my waiter (colored) replenished the fire and thawed put my benumbed limbs had a cup of coffee made and indulged in the luxury of a hard tack and then shiveringly dreamed of home and its loved ones - wife mother sisters + brothers all

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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were with me that night happy scenes happy days long gone filed past me and I reveled in this pleasure and for the time forgot (although their groans filled the night air that these rocks were stained by other husbands sons + brothers blood- oblivious to ought else I saw rise from the carnage hope + peace and with outstretched wings hover near + then with smiles of gladness and shouts of joy mount heavenward; and then I saw the deep the holy joy of the wife the mother as she welcomes the return from the battle field of her loved one who has left a true a Patriot record At early dawn I had the command under arms ready for any little tricks they might wish to play but we were not disturbed - and at 7 AM in connexion with the 84" Ills made a reconnaiscance for nearly a mile on our front but found nothing but rebel deserters took in over a hundred of these + returned Hookers command had now began the forward march to participate in the coming battle of Missionary Ridge and as our Brigade went past we took our place we gad received our horsesduring the night and I almost said that I would neve send mine to the rear again when going into an engagement but mine will not stand fire and a person presents a less conspicuous mark while on foot

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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Dec 7th I feel that you will get out of patience waiting for this letter but I have had hardly time to think since I returned my monthly reports were past due + I had to make them all alone and there has been three times the amount of extra work that there usualy is this must be my excuse I should however have written you a short letter but for the chaplains going just as he did which would remove all anxiety and assure you of my safety and now I must continue the events of the campaign and I am reminded while sitting here in my warm cosey tent with everything fixed up and arranged to my satisfaction of the capture that I made on the morning of the reconnaissance which was nothing more or less than a good specimen of a wall tent in which I am enjoying myself now we found a deserted rebel camp they got in such a hurry that they left their tents standing and also left a large amount of quartermasters stores - I captured one of the tents and carried on my horse to where the wagons were coming along and left my boy to guard it It is very difficult to draw any tents through the quartermasters Dept now other than shelter tents

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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It was about three oclock when we reached Rossville at a gap in Missionary Ridge + this was the extreme right of our lines- Sherman had beaten them back on the left and made those gallant charges up the hillside of which you have doubtless read and the enemy was gradualy pulling back along the ridge to where we were but we were just in time to prevent their getting possession of the gap ( a strong position by the way which would have cost us many lines to have cleared) up the steep hillside our boys went -not a man faltered or struggled everyman was in his place - there being four Regts in the advance of us and the ridge being narrow so that only theo regts could be put in one line we were necessarily in the rear and formed a support in the third line be-the first Regt up the hill met the enemy just at the brow and at a double quick charged on them and drove them thirty or forty rods where they rallied behind some works and here the contest grew fierce for an hour- we were close in the rear of the line doing the fighting and the bullets fell thick and fast and the men were ordered to lie down- at this place I was standing by the side of the Colonel so close that there could not have been a space of two feet when a ball went between us just above our shoulders which was the closest call I have had

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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At half past ten the next day we started out on the Grayville road following them up and nothing occurred until after dark when we came in sight of the Rebel camp fires the advance was now made quietly + cautiously- skirmishes were thrown out in the advance and for an hour we move very slow but now crack, crack, goes the rifles and then a whole volley but it lasts only a few moments and a rebel wagon train of ten wagons + four wires of Artillery is surprised and captured and after this is disposed of we move forward but slowly feeling our way along and before going up a range of hills this Regt is in the advance three companies are sent forward as skirmishes and Col Bismett in command of them when bang! goes a gun + perhaps another I halt the Regt but there is no reply some boy is excited and imagines he sees an enemy - so we go for two or three milse over the hill + down the valley and everything goes into camp but this Regt which moves farther on + place our skirmishes as pickets while the rest camp in a little ravine and sup on coffee + hard tack and lie down by the fire for a few hours of sleep- an hour passes by and every man is sound asleep except the faithful sentinell at his post when bang, bang, - a half dozzen shots - our picket line is attacked! fall in ! fall in! and in a little less than no time we are

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5

For an hour they held us but soon the command was given charge! boys, charge! and with wild yells of triumph our boys fell upon them and a complete rout + paree was made in the rebels , guns and equipments Haversacks, [blunkets?] and every thing that would impede this escape was scattered in evey direction - what I have said of this running will not apply to them all for this Brigade took in over three hundred prisoners- these were exciting times a total rout of the enemy and we following them up on a run stumbling over the dead and wounded [?] victory was ours + a shout on every tongue- we followed them untill nightfall and returned to the top of the mountain and camped for the night and I made my bed on a pile of stones this whole ridge is covered with small stone from the size of a mans head down to a hickory nut and on these I made my bed but sleep I did not as it was awful cold The next morning was occupied in burying the dead the wounded had been removed the night before both ours + rebel The losses in which our Brigade took a part were very surprising to me; the enemy were under cover of their work and our men exposed + our loss was only four killed + [twenty?] wounded while I counted twenty five of the enemy killed

Last edit 3 months ago by MaryV
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6 under arms and quietly moving to the support of our pickets but only a few more shots are returned + everything is quiet again - a squad of cavalry had rode up to our lines fired a few shots and retired and we retired and finished our nap with no more alarms that night The following morning we expected our Brigade would have the advance + this Regt the advance of the Brigade but a Div of the 15" Corps came up and ws entitled to it so that we were stuck in the rear again but it proved a very fortunate thing for us - As it proved we had camped only three miles from Ringold and about 10 oclock skirmishing began in the front and we were able to see which gradually deferred into a fight and we were hurried rapidly forward The Div in our advance had began what appeared to us to be a severe job It promised to be but a repetition of what done at Missionary Ridge on the left + center; the location of the ground was similar + the disposition of their forces such as to give them every advantage this force appeared small but the advantage of position was worth more than men The fight now conducted on our side of Brig Gen Osterhaus with his division only - The Rebs had three pires of artillery but were not of much use to them The mode of attack and the

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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manner of conducting this battle has been disapproved by almost every one who saw it - to attack our enemy in front where the men are in an open field and the enemy under cover of a dense thicket and to charge up a ravine exposed to an enfilading fire and from both flanks would not been to indicate good Generalship when flank movements were practicable and promised the same results with little or no loss We were placed in position supporting the first line but did not discharge a gun; the fight lasted for upwards of three hours and our loss was severe - over five hundred killed + wounded - the last hour of the battle I lost for I laid down on the ground and with th music of eight pieces of artillery (five or ours having arrived and joined in the engagement ) and four thousand Infantry I fell asleep and when I awoke the enemy had gone and quiet was restored Eighteen months ago I should have considered it poor music to sleep to but overtasked nature and a constant presence with danger changes a man wonderfully The Rebels left here a large quantity of corn which was fed to loyal stack during our stay at this place- the town was entirely deserted except some cripples and a few women + children some of which followed us on our return

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398

7

At four oclock on the day of the battle this Brigade was sent out in the direction the 7 baty took on this retreat + I gathered the objects of the movement before we started which were to capture a train of wagons that had become delayed but we were to late and we found the enemy in considerable force and it was thought advisable to keep out of the scrape but remained occupying the position we had taken until after dark we then built fires as if going to camp and with drew

We remained at Ringold until the afternoon of Nov 30th in the meantime the railroad track had been torn up + the rails bent or destroyed by fire and every bridge Railroad or wagon in the vicinity had been burnt and this afternoon [ (30th) ?]we moved out in the direction of the Chicamauga battle ground + camped for the night in that vicinity and the following morning assisted at the interment of the unburied gallant dead that fell on this memorable field:- a greater piece of inhumanity was never perpe-trated than by Bragg in his treatment of those who fell at the battle of Chicamauga - The sight was a fearful, a ghastly one - our men by the hundreds lie scattered over the field all stripped of their shoes and many of their clothing- Some they pretended to bury but all they did was to throw a little dirt over them as they lay on top of the ground and the sight is now more hideous

Last edit 4 months ago by MaryV
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then if they had remained untouched for the rains have washed the dirt away and leaves an arm a leg a skull and often half the body exposed I conversed with some woman who lived near by who said they wanted to buy them but Bragg threatened to shoot every man he caught performing such a deed I will here relate what is well vouched for but I saw no evidences of it The citizens assert as a positive fact that after the battle of Chicamauga that the ladies from Ringold and some from the neighborhood held a Pick Nick on the battle ground and that they severed the heads from some of the dead union soldiers + carried them round on poles others they fasten to the trees + stumps Brig Gen Cruft at that time commanding our Division states this as a fact + I cannot doubt it for it was corroberated by many of the citizens This mournful task accomplished we took up the line of march for Chattanooga and camped near that place for the night and Dec 2d reached our present camp our starting point for the battle I fear that my account of this campaign can afford you but little satisfaction other than as a record of my thoughts and feelings I have had to write it amid a pressure of business and a little at a time and I know it is poorly composed but you will understand the reasons + I shall send it without an erasure I will write to you all soon in the meantime write to your P.S. send this to Ephraim for the folks at home as I will not have time to copy it { Ever loving O L

Last edit over 1 year ago by LibrarianDiva
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