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  Civil War Letters
John Milton Piles, ID1278
Sarah Hamilton Piles, ID1285
Co. E, 71st OVI

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Letters Index
Date From Location
Introduction  [01]    
6 Dec 1861  [02] John to Sarah Camp Dave Tod, Ohio
10 Apr 1862  [03] John to Sarah Pittsburg Landing, Kentucky
12 May 1862  [04] Sarah to John Pyrmont, Ohio
16 June 1862  [05] (Cover Only)  
22 July 1862  [06] Sarah to John Pyrmont, Ohio
21 Nov 1863  [07] John to Sarah Gallatin, Tennessee
27 May 1864  [08] John to Sarah Elk River, Tennessee
11 June 1864  [16] John to Sarah Elk River, Tennessee
19 June 1864  [20]    
Undated  (May-Aug 1864)  [09] John to Sarah Decheard, Tennessee
18 Nov 1864  [17] John to Sarah Pulaski, Tennessee
20 Dec 1864  [18] John to Sarah Near Columbia, Tennessee
24 Dec 1864  [19] John to Sarah Nashville, Tennessee
Undated  (Early Jan 1865)  [10] John to Sarah Huntsville, Alabama
31 Jan 1865  [11] John to Sarah Huntsville, Alabama
16 Apr 1865  [21] John to Sarah Greenville, Tennessee
18 May 1865  [22] John to Sarah Nashville, Tennessee
22 June 1865  [12] John to Sarah Vicksburg, Mississippi
4 July 1865  [23] John to Sarah New Orleans, Louisiana
24 Aug 1865  [24] John to Sarah San Antonio, TExas
3 Sept 1865  [13] John to Sarah San Antonio, Texas
15 Nov 1865  [14] John to Sarah San Antonio, Texas
22 Nov 1865  [15] John to Sarah San Antonio, Texas
     
     
     
     

 


Letters of  John M. Piles
Drummer Boy & Private. Company E.
71st Ohio Veteran Volunteers
(1)

 

 

John Piles was born to Jesse and Mary (nee Williams) Piles in Lewisburg, Preble County, Ohio August 26, 1840. John's parents must have died sometime in the late 1840s. His father does not appear in the 1850 Ohio Census.(2) In an affidavit in support of Piles' pension application in 1893, Samuel Snyder(3) of Dayton said that John had come to live with him when the boy was nine years old, and that John lived with Snyder until he enlisted.  In fact we know that John was an orphan boy. In a letter to his childhood sweetheart he talked about the sadness of not having parents and growing up without them.(4)

John Piles was a farmer when he enlisted as a Private in Company E of the 71st OVI in October 1861. He was 5 feet 4 inches with dark complexion, brown hair and hazel eyes. Piles enlisted at Pyrmont in Montgomery County. He was initially enrolled as a drummer in Captain Callender's Company, Co. B, which was later designated Company E.

In 1861 John Piles was a farmer from Preble County when he enlisted in the 71st Ohio. He was single and did not marry his wife Sarah Elizabeth Hamilton(5) until March 1864, while he was still in the Army. They had been friends since childhood, growing up in the same area around Lewisburg. Their son O.K. Piles was born in 1867, and then a daughter Lola in 1868(6), daughter Jessie K. in 1881.

At the age of 21 Piles mustered in with his regiment at Camp Dave Tod in Troy. He served initially in Company B as a drummer, a position he enjoyed very much as it removed him from many of the mundane and physical activities of a soldier. He was with his regiment at the Battle of Shiloh, after which he became quite ill and was sent home on sick furlough. In a pension affidavit in 1890, David Shiverdecker, also a Private in Company E, recalled that Piles "contracted a severe cold in his lungsÖand the impression among the boys was that John Piles was about done for." In July and August of 1862 he was at the Convalescent Barracks No. 1 in Louisville. He is also listed as present in September and October 1862 at Camp Lew Wallace as a paroled POW. Perhaps he had returned to his regiment and was among the men of the 71st Ohio surrendered at Clarksville, Tennessee. His service record is not clear on this point, however.

John Piles was present for duty with his regiment throughout 1863 until his discharge at San Antonio in November 1865. He applied for a pension after the War because of problems with his left arm due to vaccination for smallpox. According to David Shiverdecker a member of the Company had died of smallpox and the regimental surgeon ordered smallpox vaccinations be given. John Piles wrote in a letter home how sore and swollen his left arm was, and Shiverdecker recalled in 1890 "it was the worst thing I ever saw, his arm became very much inflamed". Statements by Piles and other members of his company written after the War attested to the fact that he was chronically bothered by a weak and sore left arm that interfered with his occupational duties as a painter.

He suffered another debilitating injury in March 1865 when the train his regiment was riding was wrecked by bushwhackers who had torn up the tracks. According to Colonel Henry McConnell and others, his command was being transferred from Huntsville, Alabama to East Tennessee when this accident happened. Piles was thrown from the car and fractured his left fibula and dislocated the ankle. Dr. Hoagland, the regimental surgeon, treated these injuries. McConnell was well acquainted with John Piles after the Civil War and opined that he felt this left leg injury had permanently disabled the young soldier from his usual occupation as a farmer.

Noteworthy is the fact that several pension affidavits state that Piles suffered from chronic "disease of the eyes" since his service. There are copious records that suggest the 71st Ohio suffered an epidemic conjunctivitis or keratitis that for many resulted in chronic visual problems.(7)

After the Civil War John Piles and his new family lived in Preble County. By the early 1870s they had moved to nearby Arcanum in Darke County. He made his living as a house painter, having had to abandon farming. By 1884 the Piles were living in Dayton where he and his son O.K. maintained a painting business(8) before eventually moving to Cleveland in 1910. He and his wife took up residence in the home of their daughter Jessee and her husband Harry Rust in Cleveland's 6th Ward.(9) At the age of 78, John M. Piles died of a stroke in Cleveland March 24, 1919. He was buried nearby to where he lived on Krather Rd., in Brooklyn Hts. Cemetery.(10) His wife Sarah continued to live in Cleveland at the home of her daughter and son-in-law at least until the early 1920s. Their son O.K. also lived in the same household(11), and he is buried with his parents. Sarah died in 1928.

(1)  US National Archives Civil War Service and Pension record for John M. Piles.
(2)  Jesse Piles is recorded in the 1840 Preble County Census for Lewisburg. He was between 40 and 50 years old, living with 2 sons, 3 daughters, and presumably his wife aged 20 to 30. There is no listing in the 1850 census for him. No listing could be found for John Piles in 1850 or 1860.
(3)  Possibly Samuel Snyder, a 32 year old farmer in Twin Township, Preble County, in the 1860 Census. However, John Piles is not listed in Snyder's household.
(4)  John Piles letter to Sarah Hamilton Nov. 21, 1863.
(5)  Sarah was the daughter of Jacob Hamilton, a shoemaker in Twin Township, Preble County. 1850 and 1860 censuses, q.v.
(6)  Lola died in 1871 and is buried at Terrel (Shiloh Lutheran) Cemetery, Twin Twp., Preble County.
(7)  Altic, Stephen. "Epidemic Kerato-Conjunctivitis in the 71st Ohio Volunteer Infantry". 1996. Revised 2009. Unpublished manuscript.
(8)  Williamsí Dayton Directories for 1893-1894, 1894-1895, and 1896-1897.
(9)  US Census, 1910, for Cuyahoga County.
(10)  John and Sarah Piles are interred at Brooklyn Hts. Cemetery (216-351-1476), Hawthorne section, lot 641, graves 1 and 2. I visited the cemetery and the graves of John and Sarah on February 10, 2006. The cemetery is located between Broadview and State Rds. I found it quite odd that most of the memorials, even those from the early half of the 20th century were flat. I have never encountered a cemetery before from that era having so many flat stones. This fact presented a significant problem in locating their graves. Most were covered with snow, and partly mud, grass, and leaves. I had to scrape all of that away from the stones to photograph them.  The memorials are simple granite pieces. The name Piles is engraved as 'Pyles', representative of a name spelling change or an engraver's mistake. The cemetery curator was helpful in locating the graves, set back in the second row from the road. Their son O.K. is buried next to them but his grave bears no headstone or marker.
(11)  US Census, 1920, for Cuyahoga County.
S1,

 
 

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[02]6 Dec 1861 - John to Sarah - Camp Dave Todd, Ohio  - Acc002518 -
Transcription   S1,

December the 6th, A.D. 1861[00]

Camp Dave Todd(1)
Miami County, Ohio

Best respects to all especially to you my love Sarah Hamilton. Well, Lib(2), it is with pleasure that I sit down to write you a few lines to inform you that I am well at this present time and hope that these few lines may find you in the same state of health. My intention was to come down today but it was a mistake. The Colonel(3) got orders to keep all of the soldiers in camp until the 15th of this month and maybe not then if we don't get to come home we will break guard and come home. Oh, how I would like to see you Lib once more agin. I'll be dad sure if they don't let me come home before long I will come anyhow. Well I will. I have got a convenient place to write my letter. I am sitting down on a case and writing on my drum, Oh, my dear how I would like to see you again, and talk with you again and have the times that we used to have when we was together. Lib, it seems like it was two years since I seen you. The news is good now. I think we will come home and stay. If we don't may the Lord be with us all and spare us our lives and all come home safe and sound. A few more lines on this side and then I must quit. We got our overcoats this morning and the boys was glad but it don't make me proud. But if I could see you it would make me proud then. Well, it would. I will tell you I am coming home before we go away from here. We will leave from here in 30 days. I think we will go to home or somewhere else. I hope we will go home, don't you Lib. Dinner is ready now but I won't eat any. John Schreel(4) is writing too. He won't eat any neither. We will buy some cheese-------. We have two niggers for cooks and I can't eat with a good apetite. Dad shame a nigger to eat after. I can't do it.(5)
I am (the) drum(mer) in the company and I like it very much. I don't have to stand guard now and that is what I like. Standing guard don't agree with me. I will not have to be in the rain now that is so. Charles Schreel was in the guard house the other night but I wasn't. But I don't know how soon I will be but they must be sharp if they get me. I bring my letter to a close now. Good by my love good by. I will come home. I send my best respects to you all. Write soon. Write to Camp Dave Todd, Troy, Miami County, Ohio.

John M.D. Piles

(Cover addressed to Miss Sarah E. Hamilton Pyrmont Montgomery County Ohio. It is postmarked Dec. 6. Troy, O.)

(1) Camp Tod was located at the Miami County fairgrounds in Troy and was named after then Ohio Governor Dave Tod. It was the mustering camp of the 71st Ohio in late 1861.
(2) In these letters John Piles was writing to his girlfriend, who later became his wife, Sarah Elizabeth Hamilton. He addresses her using a variety of names: Lib, Lizzie, Sarah, Sallie.
(3) Although Rodney Mason had been appointed Colonel of the 71st, his first appearance at Camp Tod was in late January 1862 (Stewart, p. 20). Barton Kyle, Lt. Col. of the 71st, was a Troy resident and was responsible for the organization of the troops in camp. So this might be a reference to Lt. Col. Kyle.
(4) John Schreel was a good friend and messmate of John Piles. John Schreel, his brother Charles, and their cousin Harrison, were all Pyrmont farm boys and good friends of John Piles. (The article by Keuchel and Jones states that Charles is the cousin of Harrison and John. I believe this is incorrect. Based upon the 1860 and 1850 census records it appears that John and Charles Schreel were brothers and that Harrison was their cousin.) Together they enlisted in Company E of the 71st. The Schreel boys' parents were German immigrants. There was an enormous migration of German settlers to Miami and Montgomery counties in the 1830s. (see "Charley Schreel's Book: Diary of a Union Soldier on Garrison Duty in Tennessee, Keuchel, E.F. and Jones, J.P. in Tennessee Historical Quarterly, V. 36, no. 2 (1977); (1850 Perry Twp., Montgomery Co., Ohio census); (1860 Twin Twp., Preble Co., Ohio census).
(5) For comparative statements of another soldier see Stewart, pages 17-18. Civil War soldiers' letters are abundant (although not universally) with like sentiments directed toward the American negro. It serves to illustrate that not all Union soldiers were primarily motivated to fight for abolitionist causes. Indeed, most joined the army to preserve the nation, not free the slaves. Prevalent historical revisionism and political correctness do not alter this fact.


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Summary:     S1,

From Camp Dave Tod in Troy, shortly after mustering, John Piles writes a fond letter to his sweetheart Sarah Elizabeth (Lib) Hamilton. He is indignant over the fact they have "two niggers" for company cooks. He declares that he can't eat with a good appetite because of this, and that he and his messmate John Schreel, will buy some cheese to eat instead. This is striking evidence that not all soldiers enlisted to free the slaves. John is quite pleased with his duties as the company drummer, hoping it will keep him from guard duty. He tells Sarah of John and Charles Schreel's activities. Sarah and the three boys grew up together.

 
Cover:

Patriotic Cover "Union"

"In Camp/Troy/Ohio (script, blue ink)

Address:  "Mis Sara E/ Hamilton/ Pyrmont Montgomery/ County Ohio"

Postmark:  Circular  "Troy O./ Dec 6 1861"

Stamp:  Red 3Ę Washington  (1861-1875 Issues) - (Scott Stamp Catalog Illustration A25)

 

 


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[03]10 Apr 1862 - John to Sarah - Pittsberg Landing, Harding County, Tennessee - Acc002530 -
Transcription:   S1,

April the 10th 1862
Pittsberg Landing Harding Co. Tenn.(1)

Dear Sarah I Received your letter a few minutes ago and was happy to hear from you all and to hear that you were all well. Your letter found me well and all the rest of the boys. Dear love I must tell you about the desperate battle that we had this week last Sunday morning the 6th. They attacked us and they run us all day. Sunday the 6 they came in our camps about 7 o'clock and fired on us, the greatest force I never seen. There was one hundred thousand rebels. We retreated about a half mile and then formed ourselves in line of battle and we stayed there about one hour and the rebels still advanced on us and we then placed ourselves in a gulley and the rebels still shot at us and trying to bombshell us. The cannon balls all went over us. They came right on us and our Colonel gave command to fire. We fired on them and then fell back and still shot and retreated. They run us about 3 miles and still getting closer on us. They had a very large force. I tell you dear the bullets whizzen around our heads and the bomb shells such a time never was heard of in the world the greatest battle ever was half as hard as this battle. Well we fight them all day Sunday April the 6 and the gunshots still kept them back. They were still the best all day Sunday and at about 4 o'clock General Buell's army came across the river with a very large force and the gunboats fired on the rebels all Sunday night and kept them off of us. Then on Monday morning the 7 April we then started out to the battle
field and the greatest battle never was heard of. We fought till 3 o'clock in the afternoon and the rebels had to run. We run them 15 miles and whipped them complete. Sarah I can't tell half I know. The greatest sight never was seen. Dead men layin' all through the woods and dead horses, wounded men some with their lages shot off and some their arms and some their heads. I can't tell all, Sarah. Some places there is 400 hundred dead men layin in a pile. Oh, Sarah, I can't tell half. The greatest sight and the hardest battle never was half as hard as this battle, Sarah. I will tell you the good news now. Pyremont boys are all alive and sound except Frank Taylor(2) was crippled in the lage but he will soon get able to be all right. Sarah, I can't tell all. I tell you some more good news. We met with your dear brother James Hamilton. He is right close (to) where we are camped. He came in our camp yesterday and the day before. He is well and hardy. I tell you he was glad to see us boys and John was glad to see his dear brother. Dear Sarah, it was through the mercy of God that we all met together. Sarah, I can't tell half of this great battle. James looks hardy.(3) I tell you Sarah it is enough to make us all look hardy to be in a great battle like this battle and fightin two days and layin after night in the mud and rain. Sarah, I can't give you half of the war but dear by good luck us boys all got through safe except one of our men in our company got killed and two got wounded. We got through safe. I think the 71 regiment did not lose many men in the desperate fight. I thank the Lord that he spared so many of our men, Sarah. I think that we will be at home before long now sense this hard battle. Sarah, tell all the folks that we are all well and sound. Tell my folks that I am well and alive but it was through the mercy of God that I am alive. Dear, I think that we have seen as much of war as any man ever did. Sarah, I must tell you we killed General Johnson, the rebels general. We buried him in our camp. Secesh layin all through our camp, and I guess we killed General Beauregard, and I know we go General Bragg. He is one of the lot with his arm shot off. We killed three rebels to our one, but there is a good many of our men layin dead, but not half as many as there is secesh. Sarah, I must close this letter. I can't tell you all I would like to tell you, but I must close and bid you goodbye. Tell all the folks that we are all safe yet and hope that we may get home safe. I must close.

Yours truly Sarah Hamilton from your dear lover John M. Piles

Direct to Paducah and it will come safe. Good bye.

 

(1) Pittsburg Landing is in Hardin County on the west bank of the Tennessee River, where the battle of Shiloh was fought on April 6 and 7, 1862. To Southerners it was known as the battle of Pittsburg Landing. This letter helps provide primary source evidence to counter the long held view that the 71st OVI cowardly ran at Shiloh. Recently this and other sources have caused historical scholars of the battle to correctly revise the history of this regiment at Shiloh. The 71st Ohio was so maligned after the battle (and not long afterwards, its surrender to an inferior force at Clarksville re-enforced the negative reputation) that it was not until its valiant stand at Nashville in late 1864 that the honor of the 71st Ohio was redeemed. New evidence to prove that the 71st Ohio maintained a stand against the enemy at Shiloh is so strong that at the 150th anniversary events at the Shiloh National Military Park, park rangers devoted a special lecture and hiking tour to the efforts of these Ohio boys.
(2) Probably James F. Taylor (Frank Taylor) of Company I (Stewart, p. 66). He was 24 years old when he enlisted as a private in Co. I December 1861; he was discharged for disability September 8, 1862, having been wounded at Shiloh. (Ohio Roster; Shiloh casualty reports).
(3) More likely than not this is James R. Hamilton, Sergeant of the 57th Indiana. Sarah Elizabeth Hamilton's brother James R. is listed twice in the 1860 census in Twin Township and in Washington Twp., both in Preble County, as a 20 year old printer, with an Eaton, Ohio PO Box. It appears that in Washington Twp. he was living with an older man who was a printer and his family, likely as an apprentice. James R. Hamilton is also recorded as living with his parents Jacob and Lydia and his siblings in Twin Twp. in 1860 as a 20 year old printer. This is likely the same man just counted twice in the census, as often happened. James R. Hamilton enlisted as a Sergeant in Co. E, 57th Indiana in December 1861. This regiment was mustered at Richmond, Indiana, just across the border from Preble County. It was quite common for soldiers near a border to enlist in regiments from the neighboring state for a variety of reasons that involved family, friends, opportunity, and sometimes politics. Moreover, the 57th Indiana Volunteers was engaged at Shiloh, and it is reasonable that John would have encountered his future brother-in-law there as described. Therefore it is my conclusion that Sarah's brother James was a Sergeant in the 57th Indiana. He was later promoted 2nd Lieutenant and after the war was a printer. (n.b. prior catalogue publications of this letter state that James was a member of the 71st Ohio. That is false; there was no such person in the regiment. And obviously the context of the letter implies otherwise.) James R. Hamilton appears to have served previously as a private as well in Co. C of the 20th Ohio (3 months unit) in the summer of 1861. The men of Co. C were virtually all from Preble County.


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SummaryS1,

Written from the battle field of Shiloh. John Piles tells Sarah about the experience of the 71st OVI during the battle. He mentions the death of Sidney Albert Johnson. After the battle Sarah's brother James Hamilton visited the camp of the 71st and brother John and the rest of the Pyrmont boys. Frank Taylor was wounded in the leg.

 
Cover:

"Battle/ of/ Shilio" (Cursive, in pencil)

Address:  "Miss Sarah E. Hamilton/ Pyremont/ Montgomery/County/Oh" [torn]

Postmark:  Double Circular - unreadable except for "APR"

Stamp:  Red 3Ę Washington  (1861-1875 Issues) - (Scott Stamp Catalog Illustration A25)


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[04]12 May 1862 - Sarah to John - Pyrmont, Montgomery County, Ohio  - Acc002527 -
Transcription:     S1,

Pyrmont, Montgomery County, Ohio(1)
May the 12th AD 1862

Dear Love,
I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well at present time and hope that these few lines may find you (in) the same state of health. John is a little better. I think so. He has a hard time of it. He can't sit up yet. He looks bad. I wish you could see him. He said he would like to see you and talk with you. I know he hated to leave you boys for he talks about you.(2) Dear love, I know he has seen hard times and you too and all the rest of the boys. Dear love, I was sorry to hear that you was not well. Oh, how I wish you was well for there is nothing like enjoying good health. John I want you to come home if you can and stay till you get well. Oh, I want to see you dear love. I feel sorry to think you don't get my letters. You thought I had forgot you and forsaken you. Now, I haven't dear. I love you. I never will forget you as long as I live dear. I will tell you how many letters I have wrote. A letter April the 3rd and 7th and 23rd and the 25th and the 26th and one the 1st of May. I tell you how many I got from you since you left Camp Todd. I got 14 letters. Well, dear if my letters don't go I can't help it. Dear, I will still write to you and you must write to me for I like to get a letter from a soldier. John, Mary Jane was here yesterday and they are all well. John, me and Mary Jane is a going to go to town tomorrow. I am going to get my miniature for you if I can and maybe I will send it by mail. I don't know whether it will go or not. I can't do but you can look for it. Old rebels thought they was getting something when they got my miniature. John W. Curry, he was in the 47th Indiana. He died the 5th inst. and was brought home to his bereaved wife Wednesday.(3) He was followed to his grave every day. They brought home Ike Johnson's boy. He was buried yesterday. He was dead two weeks before they brought him home.(4) I wish you boys were home dear. This is a sad time to all the folks. Better believe the roses are nice hear now. John, I think that there will be fruit this year. I can't hardly wait till the war is over to see you. You don't know how bad I want to see you and talk with you dear. Do what is right. I hope to meet you. Well I must close for this time and bid you good bye. Write soon. Sis Hamilton. John Good By.

(1) This letter is written from Sarah Elizabeth Hamilton to John M. Piles. It is unusual to find a collection of soldier's letters that includes some that he received from home. Usually soldiers destroyed the letters they received. In any case this means that John Piles kept this letter (and the next), took them home, and they were retained along with those he had written.
(2) Sarah is writing about her brother John H. Hamilton, 16 years old when he enlisted on October 30, 1861 in Co. E of the 71st OVI. John was quite ill at home.
(3) John W. Curry enlisted as a private in Co. B of the 47th Indiana Nov. 15, 1861. He was from North Manchester, Indiana, which is in Wabash County in the northern part of the state. According to the1860 census Curry was born about 1842 and lived in Twin Twp., in Preble County, Ohio, working as a painter. Curry must have moved to northern Indiana in 1860 or 1861.
(4) Ike Johnson was likely Isaac Johnson, in 1860 a 47 year old grocer in Twin Township, Preble County. A census search found no other likely candidates living near Sarah Hamilton. One of Isaac Johnson's sons was Samuel J. Johnson. A soldier of that name and his age (21) was a member of Company E of the 22nd Ohio. That company had been raised in Preble County. Records indicate Samuel died of disease on a hospital boat at Pittsburg Landing May 4, 1862. The Ohio Roster and the Roll of Honor indicate he was buried at Shiloh, although there is no current burial record for him at the Shiloh National Cemetery. Many soldiers had temporary graves and were reinterred near their homes. I believe the soldier that Sarah Hamilton writes about is likely Samuel Johnson of Co. E, 22nd OVI, the son of Isaac.


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Summary:   S1,

Sarah Hamilton is writing to John Piles and tells of how ill her brother John is. John H. Hamilton was only 16 when he enlisted and then became quite ill in early 1862. She talks of how many other soldiers are being sent home dead and the daily funerals, including John W. Curry from Indiana(1) and Ike Johnson's boy.(2)

(1)  The 1860 Census for Twin Township, Preble County lists John W. Curry as an 18 year old painter. He was a private in the 47th Indiana when he died, and was from North Manchester, Indiana in Wabash County. Although it appears he had moved to northern Indiana, Sarah's letter strongly implies his body was sent home to Preble County. There were a number of Curry families in Preble County.
(2)  I was unable to determine who he was.

 
   
   
   

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[05]Letter Dated  16 June 1862 (Cover Only) - Acc002553
Cover, Front: (All in cursive except for Due Stamps

Left side:  Soldiers Let [Torn]/ R Maser Col 71st

Postmark:  Clarksville Te./ Jun 16

Address:  Mr John Piles/ Pyrmont/Montgomery/County/Ohio

Cover Markings:  DUE 3/ DUE 3/ DUE/  Large 9

"Death of Uncle John/ < H"  [Cursive, black Ink]

Stamp:  No stamp nor indication that a stamp had ever been applied to the cover

Address:  Mr. John Piles/ Pyrmont/ Montgomery/ County/ Ohio

 


Cover, Front
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Cover, Back:

"Read" in cursive

 

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[06]22 July 1862 - Sarah to John - Pyrmont, Montgomery County, Ohio - Acc002528 -
Transcription:   S1,

Pyrmont, Montgomery County, Ohio
July the 22nd AD 1862

Dear Love,
Again I am seated to answer your most kind and welcome letter to let you know that we are all well except me and John. He has been bad for the three last days. John, I don't know what to think about him. I thought he would get well. I think there is no hope for him now. Oh how I wish you and John was well for there is nothing like enjoying good health.(1)

I was sorry to hear that your health was still poor but I hope that you may soon be restored to good health, but health and life is to us very uncertain. Dear, I am glad to hear that you are very well contented. I was afraid that you would not like it (in) the hospital. Oh, dear, when I seen hospital my heart ached to think that you was in a hospital. John, it made the tears come.(2) Dear, I want you to come home and stay till you get well. Since you left it seems like someone is dead and I fear very lonesome with(out) you. We got a letter from Jim. Oh how glad I was to hear from him once more. He is in Alabama, at Decatur.(3) He is well and hearty. I would like to see him. I was a working (?) to Mr. Emrick. I went the next day after you left. I come home on Sunday. He is a old secession out and out.(4) The talk is that they are a going to draft. I hope they will for there is some I want to go and I don't care how some fare. I want to see how they will do when they get in a battle. Some of the boys ---- Mr. Dasher talk of Go and Jack Trick and John Trick. Mr. Dasher went to Eaton today to see about it and we will hear what he will do. He wanted to be a Captain and get up a Regiment. I think he will make a good Captain. I wish he was you boys' Captain.(5) I can't write much for I feel very bad. I can't not speak above a whisper. My lungs are swelled. I got wet and that is why I can't speak, but that is nothing new for me you know. If you was well I wouldn't care for myself so you was well. But dear take good care of yourself and don't forget me for I will not forget you. I have dreams about you every night since you left. John, Mr. Dasher is Captain we heard today that he is. Mary Jane was here on Sunday. They was all well. John come home if you can, for I know you can't stand it. I told you so. I think they might let you come home. I will quit for the present by saying Good By. Now I want you to write soon and tell me how you are getting along. Love, Sarah E. Hamilton. Good Bye dear.

John M. Piles


(1) Sarah's brother John H. Hamilton died at home August 16, 1862 of disease. He was only 16 years old and had been a soldier in John Pile's company.
(2) According to his service and pension record John Piles suffered from a lung infection, likely pneumonia, and was hospitalized at Convalescent Barracks No. 1 in Louisville.
(3) A reference to her brother James R. Hamilton. His regiment (57th Indiana) was in northern Alabama at this time.
(4) Sarah is likely referring to 66 year old Jacob Emrick in Twin Township. He was a well to do farmer with a large family. While there are several other Emrick males in the township, the demographics of their ages and economic status do not suggest Sarah would have been working for them. (see 1860 census). She implies Mr. Emrick has pro-southern sympathies, or at least that he was not in support of the war. In southern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois there were many such people who felt the South should be allowed to secede in peace. They were known as "Copperheads".
(5) Matthias Disher was a prosperous farmer in Twin Township. At age 45 Mr. Disher formed a company of Preble County boys, and in August 1862 he enlisted as 1st Lieutenant in that company (Co. H) of the 93rd Ohio. He was almost immediately promoted to Captain. But his martial career was brief as he had to resign in late November 1862 because of poor health (Ohio Roster; 1860 census; History of Preble County, Ohio, R.E. Lowry (1915); Jack Trick is likely one Jacob Trick, a 22 year old farmer in Twin Township; there are several by the name of John Trick in the 1860 census, but Sarah is probably referring here to her contemporary 18 year old John Trick, a farm laborer. It is unclear if the Trick boys enlisted.

 


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Summary:   S1,

Sarah writes that brother John is failing. (Her brother John died at home in August 1862). She mentioned Jim, probably her 21-year-old brother James R. Hamilton(1) and that he was well and in Alabama. Sarah speaks of Mr. Dasher trying to raise a regiment and that he became a captain.(2)


(1)  James R. Hamilton is listed as a private in Company C of the 20th Ohio, 3 months regiment, Company C was raised in Eaton, so the geography supports that this man was Sarah's brother. I have not been able to determine in what later regiment he belonged.
(2)  Matthias Disher (not Dasher) enlisted as 1st Lieutenant August 2, 1862 in Company H of the 93rd Ohio, which along with Company G were raised in Preble County. He became Captain August 13, 1862. At age 45, he was a well to do farmer in Twin Township and had a large family.

 

 
   
   
   

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[07]21 Nov 1863 - John to Sarah - Gallatin,  Sumner County, Tennessee - Acc002529 -

Transcription:   S1,

Gallatin, Tennessee(1)
Nov. 21st, 1863

Dear Absent Love,
Your long letter came to Hand the Eavning. I was truly glad to Hear from you again. Your letter found me with all the rest of the boys well & hardy & in fine spirits. Sarah, this is Saturday Eavning and the weather is very disagreeable. We have had very rainy weather for the last three days & there is good Prospects of having some more rain. But as luck favors us and we have a very comfortable quarters. We have a very comfortable House to stay in. We jest finished it the other day & we are very much Satisfied. We canít expect any other wise & situated especially well are Soldiers. All I can ask now is good Health, but I will Put my trust in god & try to live a Happy life while I live. & when god calls me from this world I Hope to go in Peace & meet my god. Sarah there is nothing like living with a true Heart with our god. Altho I must acknowledge that I have been callous, but I am trying to do as near right as I know how. Well, Sarah, I am truly happy to learn that you are trying to do what is right. Sarah, I want you to do what is rite & so will I, & if we donít meet in this world, we will meet in a world much better than this world. Sarah, I am truly Happy to take advise from a Christian. Sarah, you have given me some very good advice in regard to what cine of company I go in. Well, Sarah, I always try to keep myself in as good company as Possible. Altho there is all sorts of roudys in the army, but a man can do rite in the army Jest as well as he can at Home although there are a great deal of things to lead a man from his duty that he --- to His god at Home as well as in the army. Sarah, I donít think a Person can do exactly rite. Every Person Has His faults, Hanít it true Sarah. I donít think we can find too Persons Jest alike, every one Has His one faults. But I think every one can Serve His god from Home or at Home. Now, Sarah let us try to do what is rite & if we donít meet in this world we will meet in Heaven. Sarah, I Have friends in Heaven that I want to see. Yes, I have a dear mother & father & brother in that good world & I trust to god that I may meet them there. Sarah, jest think for a moment for Instance if you had a mother & father dead you certainly would want to meet them woulden you. Yes I now you would. Sarah, there is nothing like a good father & mother. Altho I donít know what a mother & father is. I was separated from them when I was but quite young. Sarah, only think over these serious subjects. When I get to thinking of them my Heart Aches. Sarah, I woulden want to live the time over again & be with Strangers as I have been although I was used very nice, but you now a orphan Hanít used as well as a one child.(2) Well, Sarah, I will close on this subject at once & try to tell something else. Well, Sarah, take my advice, & do what is rite & if we donít meet in this world we will meet in Heaven.

Well, Sarah, we have bead tattoo & it is nearly bead time, but I will finish this letter if it takes me till midnite. Sarah, I can enjoy myself better when I write to you than I can at anything else. Sarah, I love you & you canít help it & I love to get letters from you & I now you like to get letters from me, donít you. Yes, I now you do. Well, Sarah, you tole me to keep in good Hart. Well I do. I am enjoying myself as well as any Soldier can. I donít see anything to discourage a Soldier especially when we are so well fixed. & another thing I always think of, is this, we are striving in a glorious cause. We are Sacrificen our lives for our country. Yes, we are trying to Save the glorious Stares & Stripes, & we intend to Stand firm to the old flag that our four fathers fought & died for.óyes the old flag must be Preserved. Altho it Seems Hard to Part with so many of our brave boys, but thank god they Have given their lives for their country. Sarah, I think Jest as a Major out of the 50th Regiment O.V.I. who spoke in this town a few weeks ago. He said He thought every Soldier that gives His life for His country will go to Heaven. Sarah, I believe the Same for I do think we canít give our lives in a better causeódo you

Well, Sarah, we only Have one year yet & I Hope & Pray that this war may be over & our Stares & Stripes waving triumph over the land of the free & the Home of the brave, the union now & forever.

Well, Sarah, I donít Hardly believe I can finish this letter this eavning, but I will try to finish it. Well, Sarah, we Hanít taken Prisner yet, as you Heard, but Sarah it is Hard to Say when we will be taken, but I donít think there is much danger. But it is Hard to Say what may Happen yet before our time is out. Well, we must Put up with everything. We must cultivate the virtue of Patience, & Hope for the better to come, this is my motto, & I always find it the best way. Altho there are things to contain with that goes agance the grain, we must take everything Smooth & calm. We must look always on the light side of everything & I assure everything will come out right.

Well, Sallie, you spoke of your Granfather. Well, I would like to see the old cuss & Have a chat with Him. Well, Sarah, tell the old Gentleman that I Send my Respects to Him. Tell Him I would like to Hear Some of His good stories again.

I think Perhaps I will get to come Home this winter on a furlough, but I canít Promise for certain weather I will come or not. But I am agoin to try to come. Sarah, is your grandfather so full of His Jokes yet. I always liked to Hear Him talk, I could set & listen to Him a Hole night, but I recon He is getting too old to talk much. Well, Sallie your grandfather was quite mistaken when He thought I was the father of that little babe. Well, Persons will be mistaken sometimes. Nearey time is it mine nor I donít wish for any such luck, do you Sarah.

Well, I will close on this side and turn over & try to fill the other side. Sarah you must excuse my Poor writin for our candle gives very Poore light but I suppose you can read it. If you canít I want you to save it till I come Home & I will Help you to read it. Sarah, you will get tired of reading such a long letter I suppose but you must take your time to it & think of me. But if you are like me these long letters will Suit you. I always like to get a good big letter from you. I could Set & read your letters all the time & never get tired.

Well, Sallie, the boys are gone to bead except I & Charley. He is writen a letter to his brother George.(3)

Sarah, you ought to see the negro Soldiers down Hear. There is nine Hundred negros camped close to our camp. They would be tollable good looking Soldiers if they Had another color, but I think they are good enough to fight the rebles. I say arm every negro & kill every reble.

Sarah I got a letter from your sister Melissa this eavning. I was much surprised when I say it was from Her. I diden think she could write so good. Well, I must send Her a letter too.(4)

Well, Sarah, you tole me your dream, so I must tell you my dream. I dreamped the other night that I & you was together was together & I thought I Hugged you & kissed you & I thought you was so well Pleased because I had come Home. I thought we were married too. Well I suppose my dream would be so if I would get to come Home. I now I would Hug & kiss you for keeps, donít you think so.

Well, dear Sallie I will haft to close for this time for it is getting is getting late & the boys are all asleep except I & Charles. Sarah, old Harry is a laying flat on his back & sound asleep & Snoreing like a good fellow.(5)

Well, tomorrow is the Sabbath day & I do wish I was at Home & go with you to Church, but there is no use of talking, for it donít do any good. Sarah there will be meetin in our town tomorrow, I think I will go. Well, Sallie excuse my short letter& I will try to do better the next time. Now I will close by asking you to write soon, from your true Admirer, yours till death.

John M. Piles

Sarah E. Hamilton

Sarah, give my best wishes to all the folks. If you see any of my relations tell them that Puss is all ok. Tell John Henry to answer my letter if he thinks enough
of me.(6) Well, I will now haft to close for my Paper is nearly full. Well write in this corner I will close.


(1) The 71st Ohio had been stationed in the Gallatin area since the summer of 1863.
(2) John's parents Mary and Jesse Piles left him an orphan by the age of nine. His father died in 1844 and his mother before 1850. Likely his mother Mary died circa 1849 since we know John was "adopted" by a local farmer when he was nine years old. In John's pension application there is an affidavit by Samuel Snyder in 1893 that John had come to live with him when the boy was nine. There was a Sam Snyder who was a young farmer in Twin Township when John Piles was orphaned. At the time of his affidavit the Sam Snyder who had adopted John was residing on West 3rd Street in Dayton. It is unclear if these two men are the same. What is known is that a man named Samuel Snyder adopted John Piles when John was a boy of nine, and that Snyder was residing in Dayton in 1893.
(3) Charley Schreel was good friends with John Piles. He and his brother John Schreel and their cousin Harrison Schreel all enlisted in Company E of the 71st OVI. George was the 18 year old brother of John and Charles and remained at home in Twin Township.
(4) Melissa was only ten years old at the time she wrote the letter. (1860 census).
(5) Refers to Harrison Schreel. John Piles and the three Schreel boys were messmates.
(6) John W. Henry was a 26 year old farm laborer in Twin Township (1860 census).

 

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Doc3569.pdf

 

Summary:   S1,

A very long love letter. There is a short paragraph describing an encampment of 900 Negro soldiers close by. He describes them as being tolerably good looking soldiers if they were another color, but that they were still good enough to fight the rebels.

This letters confirms my previous suspicion that he was an orphan. He writes to Sarah that he misses his parents, hopes to see them in heaven, and that he was raised by a family who treated him well.

John mentions that everyone is asleep except him and Charles who are writing by a single dim candle, and that Harry is flat on his back asleep and snoring. These are undoubtedly references to his close friends Charles and Harrison Schreel.

 

 
Cover:

"Joke/ on Harry"  (Cursive in pencil)

Various subtraction notations in pencil:
1864 - 1843 = 21               1863 -1843 = 20      1904 -1881 = 23

Lower Left Corner:  "Soldiers Letter" in cursive

Address:  "Miss Sarah E Hamilton/ Pyrmont Montgomery/ County Ohio"

Postmark:  Circular "Gallatin/ 22 [remainder unreadable]

Stamp:  3Ę Red Washington (1861-1875 Issue) - (Scott Stamp Catalog illustration A25)


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S1,

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[08]27 May 1864 - John to Sarah - Elk River,  Tennessee - Acc002526 -
Transcription:   S1,

Elk River Tennessee(1)
May 27th, 1864

Dear Wife,(2)
Your welcome letter of the 24th came to hand last night. I was truly glad to hear from you. Your letter found me well and in fine spirits. Sallie I can't write much this morning as I just sent you a letter. Sallie I stated in my last letter that I would send my money to Pyrmont by mail. But I have took another notion. I will send it from Dayton to Brookville by express and you tell your father to go and get it. I will send it in his name so he can receive it. Tell him to go after it just as soon as you get this letter. I will start the money tomorrow night.(3)

Sallie I was up to Tullahoma last night and I expect to go up tonight again. I am Acting Assistant Postmaster. I go one night after the mail and the other man goes the other night. We take turn about.(4)

Well Sallie I haven't heard from your Brother yet. I sent him a letter a couple weeks ago. You wanted to know whether I have wrote James wife a letter yet. I have but haven't got an answer yet.(5)

Sallie I am sorry to think that you weren't well when you wrote last to me. I hope these few lines may find you well. Sallie I got a letter from my new Brother-in-law last night. Mr. Samuel Klinger.(6)

Sallie I will close for this time. I will send you another letter in a few days. Sallie don't forget to tell your father to go to Brookville and get your money. Tell him I will pay him for his trouble. I will send it in his name and then he will have no bother in getting it. As I stated before. I will send one hundred dollars. Sallie let me know just as soon as you get it whether it came all safe or not. Well I will close. I have the letters to counter sign. So I will close for this time. Excuse these few lines. I remain as ever Your true husband till death.

Well Sallie I reckon I will leave you sleep with me when I come home. Well I will.

My love to you dear wife. I am well and all the rest of the Boys.


John M. Piles
Your Husband


Sallie Piles
My Wife

Cover addressed to Mrs. Sarah Piles Pyrmont, Montgomery County, Ohio
"In Haste"


(1) The regiment had left Gallatin and traveled to Elk River Bridge in Tennessee by rail and horseback in early May 1864. Elk River was where the Nashville and Chattanooga Rail Road crossed over. (Stewart, p. 156.)
(2) John and Sarah were married March 18, 1864 in Preble County while he was on furlough.
(3) Brookville is a small town in Montgomery county just a couple miles northeast of Pyrmont, which is also in Montgomery County, and borders adjacent to and just east of Twin Township, Preble County. Sarah Hamilton's (now Piles) father Jacob Hamilton would pick up the money expressed.
(4) Tullahoma is several miles northwest of Elk River.
(5) A reference to James R. Hamilton in the 57th Indiana.
(6) Eliza Piles was an older sister of John. She had just married Samuel Klinger May 19, 1864. Klinger was a farm boy from Preble County. In 1860 he was living in adjacent Perry Township in Montgomery County working as a carpenter and by 1870 he moved his family to Wabash County, Indiana. (1850, 1860, 1870 censuses).

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Summary:   S1,

John Piles writes to Sarah, whom he now affectionately addresses as "Sallie". They are newlywed just 2 months. He tells her he is expressing money to her and that her father (Jacob) should go to Brookville to get it. He mentions writing to her brother James.

 

 
Cover:

"speaks of Money sent home"  [Cursive in pencil]

Address:  "Mrs. Sarah Piles/ Pyrmont Montgomery Co--/ Ohio"

"In Hast --"

Postmark:  Double Circular - Unreadable except for "Jun 8  - Killer Cancel on stamp

Stamp:  3Ę Red/Rose Washington (1861-1875 Issues)  - (Scott Stamp Catalog illustration A25)


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[09]Undated (May - Aug 1864) - John to Sarah - Decheard, Franklin County, Tennessee - Acc002523 -
Transcription:   S1,

Head Quarters 71st O.V.V.I. (no date)
Decheard Tennessee(1)

Dear Wife,
I seat myself this morning with pleasure to answer your kind and welcome letter which came to hand this morning before I got ---. I was truly glad to hear from you once more. It had been a long time since I got the last letter from you. I began to think that you had forgotten me, but I find that I was mistaken. Sallie I got two letters from you this morning. One of them was wrote the June 18 and the other the 27. They was carried through to Chattanooga. I suppose that is the reason I didn't get them any sooner. Sallie I am truly happy to know that your health is good. My health is good but I have a terrible time with my Arm. It still gets worse instead of getting better. I am in good hope that it will get well before long. I am still doctoring with it but it seems like nothing does it any good. Sallie I don't think I will have to go to the Hospital not unless it gets worse.(2) Sallie I don't want you to get discouraged about the way I wrote to you. You wrote in your letter that you thought I didn't care much whether I got home or not. Sallie I would love to come home this morning, and if I could I would start this very moment. But it is no use of thinking of coming home till this cursed war is over. Sallie if my thinking would do any good, I would think all the time and write the same way as I think, but it is no use of thinking or talking about home. Sallie, there isn't a soldier in the Army that would love to be home as much as I do, but I think the less a soldier thinks of home or writes of home, the better he gets along. Sallie I don't want you to think that I don't think anything of home. I do wish I was home this morning but I am a fare distance from home and God only knows whether I will ever get home. But I trust that I may meet you in Heaven. Sallie if God spares my life to stay my three years out I then will come home and live with you. Sallie, I think if five years hant long enough to serve, ten years isn't long enough. But I think this war will close before two years more. I hope and pray that it may close before six months. Sallie I am so anxious to see the day when this war closes as I am to set down to a good table to eat a meal of victals. Sallie you said it makes you feel sad to read my letters. Sallie I don't want to write anything to discourage you. Sallie I don't want you to think hard of me. Perhaps I may get home before long. If my Arm don't get better, I will have to have something done with it. I am a little uneasy about my Arm. I have an awful Arm and it pains me a great deal. Now Sallie don't think hard of me. I didn't mean to discourage you. I am for the union and do love to be a soldier, but I will come home just as soon as I can.
Sallie I will close on this sheet and try and write some more.

From Your Husband John M. Piles

Mrs. Sallie E. Piles

(Accompanied by a cover marked postage due and signed Soldier's Letter R. Mason, Col. 71st OVI.
Franked Clarksville Tenn. June 16)
(This cover, however, is not for this letter. Mason was cashiered as Colonel in 1862 after the Clarksville debacle. So this cover is for another letter from June 1862).


(1) Decherd is southeast of Elk River Bridge. The 71st OVI was stationed at Decherd on its way to Georgia for a couple months. From the context dates of this letter it was likely written in July 1864.
(2) John had received a smallpox vaccination from which he suffered an untoward reaction. In an 1890 affidavit David Shiverdecker, a member of John's company, attested that, "it was the worst thing I ever saw, his arm became very much inflamed". (John Piles pension record, National Archives).


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Summary:   S1,

Written sometime between May and August of 1864 Decherd, Tenn.

Excellent letter from John to Sarah telling her how sore his arm is, describing a very severe smallpox vaccine reaction.


 

 

 
   
   
   

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[11]31 Jan 1865 - John to Sarah -  Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama - Acc002520 -
Transcription:   S1,

Huntsville Alabama January 31, 1865

My Dear Wife,

Must I still do all of the writing and get no answers? My heart is sad to think that I don't get more letters from you. Lizzie I have no right to think that you don't write for I believe you write as often as I do. But it's strange that I don't get them. Lizzie I shant quit writing because I don't get any letters. You shall hear from me just as long as I am able to write. Lizzie I haven't much to write this morning. I did think that I would get a letter from you this morning but I was very much disappointed. Lizzie we have very beautiful weather. It almost seems like Spring. But I understand that the weather up North is very cold and good sleighing. I would like to be home and sleigh ride with you. But I can't.

Lizzie the talk is now that we are going on another campaign. I hope that we will not. I want to rest till Spring. Then I am ready to start on another campaign. Lizzie I am sitting in my log hut writing. I have the door open and it's very comfortable. So you may imagine what nice weather we have. I don't think that I could sit out of doors and write if I was at home, but I can down here.

Well Lizzie I had quite a strange dream last night. I dreamt that I saw Harrison Schreels. I thought he stepped in my tent and spoke to me. I thought he came in after his cloth which I have boxed up to send home. I thought he asked me what I boxed his cloth up for. I told him that we heard that he was dead. Why, says he I was well in a couple days. I told him it couldn't be for Charles Schreels came after you and has taken you home. Well, says Harrison to me and laughed, I am all right yet. Lizzie, I can't tell half of my dream. I had an awful dream.(1)

Lizzie I also thought that I was with you but my dreams did not amount to anything. Well, I hope that I may soon get home then I can talk to you instead of writing. Oh, I do hope this cruel war will end pretty soon. I think that there has been enough blood shed on both sides. I think that we have accomplished enough to satisfy the Rebels that they must succumb. We will conquer them if it takes 10 years to accomplish it. Well Lizzie I don't think that I will be successful in getting a furlough. I am afraid that chances are slim. You need not look for me home until you see me coming. Well I will close for this time. This leaves me well and in fine spirits. I hope this may find you enjoying good health. Now Lizzie I want you to write to me. Also tell the rest to write. I will answer all I get.

This is from your absent Husband. My love to you. Compliments to all of the family. Write soon.

John M. Piles (to) Lizzie Piles
Good By Dear

(Cover stamped Nashville Feb. 5 to Mrs. Lizzie Piles, Pyrmont, Montgomery County, Ohio

Soldier's Letter Post Haste)


(1)  Harrison had died a month earlier. His cousin Charles, a former member of the 71st OVI, retrieved his body and took him home to be buried. His remains are at rest near his home, at Pyrmont Cemetery in Montgomery County.
 

 


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Summary:   S1,

John writes to Sarah that he is sitting in winter quarters in his log hut and the weather is spring-like. He describes a surreal dream in which his best friend Harrison reappears to him.

 
Cover:

"After Nashville Battle" - cursive in black ink

Address:  "Mrs. Lizzie Piles/ Pyrmont Montgomery/ County/ Ohio"

"Soldiers Letter. Posthast"

Postmark:  Circular  "Nashville/ TEN/ Feb 3 or 5"

Stamp:  has been removed


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[10]Undated - (20 Jan 1865)  - John to Sarah - Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama - Acc002519 -
Transcription:   S1,

Huntsville, Alabama (no date)(1)

Dear Wife,
It's with the greatest pleasure this lonesome Sabbath afternoon (I) seat myself to write you a few lines informing you that my health is at present good. I hope if these few lines come to hand may find you and all the rest enjoying the same blessing. Well, Lizzie, I suppose you think that I think but little about you. The reason why I have been so long answering your letter is this. We have been here 10 days and I haven't had any time to write until this afternoon. We just finished our House last evening and you know as well as I that chances for writing are very poor especially while on a campaign. But I think that we will have chances to write home to our wives and families and friends now. I think that we will remain in winter quarters till March next and perhaps till May. We have comfortable houses to live in and plenty to eat. I hope we will stay at this place three years. Lizzie if there are any chances of getting (a) furlough I will come home. But I don't want you to look for me till you see me coming. I do want to come home to see you and my Sisters once more. Well Lizzie I wonder at this moment what you are doing. Oh how I would love to step in your Father's house this evening. Lizzie I suppose (you know) that Harrison Schreels are dead.(2) Oh how sorrow(ful) I am to think that I have lost my Best friend. Lizzie you don't know how lonesome I am since Harrison and John and Charles are gone.(3) But to think that one of the three are gone forever. I did not get to see Harrison after he was wounded. Oh how I would of liked to speak to him. Before he died Israel Johnson and August Keohler put him in the ambulance. They say all that he spoke was when they put him in the ambulance they bid him good bye and Harrison said good bye. That was all that he said I believe. Lizzie the reason that I did not see him was this. There was so many wounded and it got dark before we got all of the wounded off the field. So I did not get to see him or Henry Horner.(4), (5), (6)

Well Lizzie I haven't seen James(7) since we came here but I shall go to see him before long.

Lizzie tell John Schreel that I will write him a letter tomorrow.

Well I close for this time. I hope this will find all well. My love to you and compliments to all.


Lizzie direct your letter

Huntsville Alabama
2nd Brigade 3rd Division 4th AC
71st Regiment O.V.V.I.

Your Husband John M. Piles

Write Soon and often
Good Bye

To Lizzie Piles


Cover addressed to Lizzie Piles, Pyrmont, Montgomery County, Ohio, missing stamp, postmarked Nashville dated "20"


(1) The regiment went into winter quarters at Huntsville on January 5, 1865. This letter is accompanied by a cover stamped on the 20th at Nashville. So it was written sometime in mid January 1865.
(2) Harrison, John Pile's best friend, was mortally wounded at the battle of Nashville December 16, 1864. He suffered a gunshot wound to the chest, after which he was treated at USA General Hospital No. 2 at Nashville for "vulnus sclopeticum" (gunshot wound) of the chest. He died in hospital December 27, 1864. His family had his remains sent home where he was interred at the Pyrmont Cemetery in Montgomery County, Ohio. Harrison was 21 years old when he died.
(3) His friends John and Charles Schreel, Harrison's cousins, had mustered out December 6, 1864, prior to the battle of Nashville, and had gone home.
(4) John was upset beyond words that he did not see Harrison after he was wounded and taken off the field and clearly felt guilty about it.
(5) Israel Johnson was a cooper from Pyrmont in Perry Township, Montgomery County (1860 census). He had been appointed Sergeant in Company E (71st Ohio) from Corporal, but was reduced in rank to private (Ohio Roster); August Koehler enlisted as a private in Co. E and was promoted Corporal December 7, 1864. He died of disease at Louisville July 31, 1865. (Ohio Roster). He is interred at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville (Roll of Honor).
(6) Henry Horner was a private in Co. H of the 93rd Ohio, the company raised by Matthias Disher from Preble County. Henry was mortally wounded at Nashville December 16, 1864 and died at Nashville Christmas Eve 1864. He had enlisted with the inception of the regiment in August 1862. Horner is interred at Roselawn Cemetery, Lewisburg, Preble County, Ohio.
(7) A reference to James Hamilton, Sarah's brother.


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Doc3572.pdf

Summary:   S1,

John writes to Sally telling her of winter camp and that the boys had "just finished our House". He tells her how he wishes he could be with her at her father's house. He is upset to have lost his best friend Harrison Schreel (Harrison was 2 years older than Sarah and was a farm boy who was a close neighbor of hers. Harrison was also in Company E and was mortally wounded at Nashville Dec 16, 1864; he died December 27). John writes poignantly of how Harrison was put in the ambulance by Israel Johnson(1) and August Koehler and transported off the field. He very much misses him, as well as John and Charles Schreel, both of whom were mustered out Dec. 6, 1864 and went home. He mentions that he wants to see James, Sarah's brother, and that he did not get to see Henry Horner before he was taken wounded off the field.(2)

(1)  Israel Johnson was a Sergeant in Company E of the 71st Ohio. He was a cooper from Pyrmont in Perry Township, Montgomery County (1860 census).
(2)  Henry Horner was a private in Company H, 93rd Ohio, Captain Disher's command. He died Christmas Eve of wounds he received at Nashville December 16, 1864.

 
Cover:

"Harrison's/ Death/ ?? |  1864"

Address:  [Faded]"Mrs. Lizzie Piles/ Pyromont Montgomery/" [rest unreadable]

Postmark:  Circular - "Nashvil/ 20"

Stamp:  has been removed


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[12]22 June 1865 - John to Sarah - Vicksburg,  Warren County, Mississippi - Acc002525 -
Transcription:   S1,

Vicksburgh
Thursday June 22, 1865

Well Lizzie I have a few minutes to spend this morning, so I'll drop you a few lines. We have just landed at the City of Vicksburgh and I have a few minutes to seat myself to drop you a few short lines to let you know where I am and how I am getting along. Lizzie I have very poor health. My health hasn't been good since the 12th of this month. I have been right sick for a few days. But I feel some better this morning. I think I will be all right in a few days. I have had something like the yalow janders, & fever. I look quite slim, but I feel in hopes that my health may be restored again. I haven't seen much satisfaction on this trip. Well Lizzie I suppose we are bound for New Orleans or perhaps Texas. I can't say how long we will be here, but I don't think we will stay long.(1)

Lizzie, I haven't much time to write much. The boats will start out before long, and I must mail this before we leave.

Lizzie we left Nashville the 15th Inst. I think we will land at New Orleans by Saturday or Sunday morning.

Well I close. I (will) write again just as soon as we land again.

I hope this may find Lizzie well. I send my love to you.

May God be with you and me.

I hope to meet you soon. Good By dear Lizzie. Write soon.

J.M. Piles
Your Husband

Cover is postmarked Vicksburgh Miss Jun 22. Addressed to Mrs. Lizzie Piles Pyrmont, Montgomery County, Ohio
"Soldiers Letter Forward in Haste"


(1) The 4th Army Corps, of which the 71st OVI was a member regiment, had travelled by rail from Nashville to Johnsonville on the Tennessee River on June 16. They boarded vessels that then transported them down the Tennessee to the Ohio, then the Mississippi Rivers. On June 22 the 71st Ohio landed at Vicksburg, spending just a few hours there before it made its way to New Orleans.


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Doc3574.pdf

Summary:   S1,

John writes to his wife about poor health and having "yalow janders" and fever. He anticipates his regiment's being sent to New Orleans and Texas.

 

 
Cover:

Front:

"Spoke/ Yellow/ Fever     Sent/ to Texas"

Address:  "Mrs Lizzie Piles/ Prymont Montgomery/ Co-- Ohio"

"Soldiers Letter forward in Hast"

Postmark:  Circular  "Vicksburgh/ Miss./ June 22"

Stamp:  Stamp has been cut out of cover

Back:

"J. M. Piles/ Vicksburgh"
 

 


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[13]3 Sept 1865 - John to Sarah - San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas  - Acc002524 -
Transcription:   S1,

San Antonio, Texas
September 3, 1865

This Sabbath morning has presented itself, affording me this privilege of seating myself to answer three kind and welcome letters from my dear companion, which was received last night after dark. I was so glad to hear from you my dear once more. One of your letters was dated the 4th of August. The other two were not dated. I suppose you forgot to date them. Lizzie this is a very beautiful morning. I do wish I was at home so I could go with my dear to church, but I am so far away that there's no telling if I will ever get to see you. Lizzie I imagine that I can see you this morning. Oh if I could only travel as fast as my memory flies, I bet I would soon see you. Lizzie I suppose our Corps will be consolidated in one Division. I think our Regiment will be consolidated in the 75(?) Ohio Regt. As far as I can understand I think we will have to stay in Texas till next Spring, perhaps longer. Well they can keep me till my time is up and no longer. All I ask is good health. But I would like to get home this winter, but I guess I can't. Lizzie I have good health and am very hearty, but I can't tell how long it will last. There are a great many of our Reg't. sick. We buried one yesterday by the name of William DeHayes.(1) Lizzie tell John Schreels that Jacob Heckman in Co. B is dead.(2) Our Regiment is very small. We have 24 men in our Company. All of the one year men go out next month. We will then have about 150 men in the Regiment.

Well I close. This leaves me well and hearty. May it find Lizzie the same. My love to you. Write soon. GoodBye.

John M. Piles

Cover addressed to Miss Lizzie Piles Pyrmont Montgomery County Ohio


(1) William DeHays was born in 1845 in Mercer County, Ohio. At the age of 16 he enlisted in Company A (along with his younger brother Isaac) in the 71st Ohio. He reenlisted as a veteran in 1864 and was promoted Corporal. In August 1865 William developed dysentery and died September 1 at the regimental hospital of the 71st Ohio. William is at rest far from home in the San Antonio National Cemetery. (Ohio Roster and Roll of Honor; Military Service Record; US Register of Deaths of Volunteers 1861-1865, Record Group 94, National Archives.)
(2) Jacob C. Heckman enlisted in Company B. He was promoted Corporal in May 1862, Sergeant in May 1863, and 1st Sergeant December 1864. Sgt. Heckman was wounded at Nashville in December 1864. He died of dysentery at Victoria, Texas August 20, 1865 under the care of Dr. Hoagland, regimental surgeon of the 71st. Initially buried at the Brownsville National Cemetery, his remains, along with all other soldiers buried there, were reinterred at the Alexandria National Cemetery at Pineville, Louisiana. Unfortunately, it seems that Jacob Heckman and several thousand others lie in a common grave of unknowns. Soldiers who were buried originally at Brownsville had been moved there in 1867 from various sites in Texas, including Victoria where Sgt. Heckman died. These graves were marked. In 1911 the soldiers' remains in the marked graves at Brownsville were relocated to the Alexandria National Cemetery in Louisiana, but in an act of neglect and disregard they were all placed in a common grave of unknowns. Thus, Jacob Heckman had been laid to rest in a marked grave at Victoria, Texas, moved to the Brownsville Cemetery about 1867 in a marked grave, and for a third time buried in a mass grave of unknowns in 1911. (Ohio Roster and Roll of Honor; Stewart; US Register of Deaths
of Volunteers, Record Group 94, National Archives; American Military Cemeteries, 2nd ed., Dean W. Holt (2010) 14-15).


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Summary:   S1,

Johns writes to his wife that he wants to be home. He mentions the death of William DeHayes (whose inkwell I own) and Jacob Heckman(1). Only 24 men are left in Company E, and only 150 left in the regiment itself.

(1)  Jacob Heckman was a farmer from Twin Township (1860 census). He died in Texas August 1865. He had been mortally wounded at Nashville December 15, 1864, as 1st Sergeant in Company B, 71st OVVI.

 
Cover:

Blue Cover

"150/ left/ in 71 regiment" [Cursive in pencil]

Address:  "Mrs Lizzie Piles/ Pyrmont Montgomery/ Co. Ohio"

Postmark:  Circular - Mostly unreadable - "SEP"     Circular Killer cancel over lower left portion of stamp

Stamp:  3Ę Red/Rose Washington (1861-1875 Issues) - (Scott Stamp Catalog illustration A25)


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[14]15 Nov 1865 - John to Sarah -  San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas  - Acc002522 -
Transcription:   S1, San Antonio, Texas November 15, 1865

Dear Lizzie,

I seat myself this evening to drop you a few lines. I am well and in fine spirits, hoping these few lines if received may find you the same. Lizzie, I received a letter from you a few days ago. I ought to of answered it before this but my delay was this reason. We soon expect to start home. I thought I would only write one letter yet. So I expect this will be the last letter that you will get from me. I think I will be home the last of December or the first of January, '66. We are making out our muster roles which we will finish the last of this week. We then expect to be mustered out immediately and start for the Gulf. We have two hundred miles to march before we get to the gulf. We will get on board of the ships at Indianolia and sail on the Gulf to New Orleans.(1) It will take us a month before we get to Columbus, Ohio after we start. So I think you will not be disappointed if you look for John about the first of January.

Lizzie I haven't nothing to write so I'll close.

N.B. But Oh I am a happy lark to think that I will soon see that smiling face of yours once more.

So, I will close. Yours till death.
J.M. Piles


(1) Indianola, Texas was a busy port on the Gulf of Mexico near Victoria. It is now a ghost town, having twice been wiped out by hurricanes after the Civil War and then a fire.

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Summary:   S1,

John tells his wife they are readying to muster out and they will be marching to the Gulf soon and shipping out to New Orleans.

 
   
   
   

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[15]22 Nov 1865 -  John to Sarah -  San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas  - Acc002521 -
Transcription:   S1, San Antonio, Texas November 22, 1865

Dear Lizzie,
Yours of Oct. 27 has just arrived. I am sarow to learn of your ill health. But I hope ere this reaches its destination that your health will be good. I am enjoying the best of health. I am in the best of spirits. There are good hopes of our starting home in a few days. We have our Rolls all completed and expect to be mustered out tomorrow or the day after.(1) I am very anxious to get out. It has been a long time since I have saw home and friends, that is if I have any friends. If I have no friends I am satisfied, and also if I have friends I'll be satisfied. Lizzie you need not write any more for I think it useless. I'll be home in one month from this day if everything goes right which I hope it will. We have a long road to travel before we reach our homes. And we have a great risk to run. All I dread is sailing over the Gulf, which we will have to do. After we reach New Orleans I'll be contented although we have a long road to travel before we land on a sound foundation. I expect we will land at Cairo, Illinois, and there take the cars and run to Columbus, Ohio. There are some talk of our stopping at Troy a few days. But I hope we will not for I am very anxious to get home. Lizzie, I think this will be the last letter I'll write if everything goes right.

Lizzie, there will never be any danger of J.M. Piles turning to a Butternut(2). I think too much of my Country. And have more respect for myself, and friends. I'll let everyone understand that I am a true lover of my Country's rights, and a bitter enemy of Butternuts. Wouldn't it be a great act for a Soldier to turn traitor to his Country after so long laboring and toiling through this bloody conflict. But I must acknowledge that the Government have kept our services longer than we expected. There is none of us likes the way we have been used. But I hope it's all for the better.

Mr. J.K. Schneels voted for Morgan. Well I have nothing to say to that. Only this. If I would of voted I should of voted for Cox, but I did not vote. I think I had good reasons for not.

Well I close. Look for me home about the first of January.
So good by. Yours till death. J.M. Piles

Camp Salaro, Texas.

( Cover addressed to Mrs. Lizzie Piles Pyrmont Montgomery County Ohio Forward in Haste)


(1) The men of the 71st were mustered out of service at San Antonio of November 30.
(2) Colloquial term for southerner or southern sympathizer.

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Summary:   S1,

John writes his wife that they are mustering out and he looks forward to coming home, but that he dreads "sailing over the Gulf". He expresses disgruntlement over how the 71st Ohio has been kept in service so long after the War ended.

 
Cover:

"Last/ Letter/ 1865"    "Arrived/ Jun 6/ 1865"   [Cursive in blue ink]

Address:  "Mrs Lizzie Piles/ Pyrmont Montgomery/ Co/ Ohio"

"Forward in Hast"

Postmark:  "SAN ANTONIO/ TEX/ Nov 29"

Stamp:  Stamp has been cut out of cover

 


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[16]11 June 1864 - John to Sarah - Elk River Bridge, Tennessee  -
From CatalogS4 p 46 #395

395.  WENT OUT AND KILLED A REBEL CAPTAIN AND SOME PRIVATES,
Elk River Bridge, Tennessee, June 11th, 1864, two large pages with a stamped cover from
John M. Piles, 71st Ohio to his wife, mentions the constant rains at camp for the past
week, thinks the Rebellion will soon end and the banner will fly proudly again, mentions
boys going home, his money due from the government, just went down to the spring with
a piece of soap and had a good wash, men went out the other day and had an engagement
with the Rebels, killed a Captain and six Rebel privates, none of our men were hurt, long
newsy letter with stamped cover . . .

 
   
   

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[17]18 Nov 1864 - John to Sarah - Pulaski, Giles County, Tennessee -
From CatalogS4 p 46 #396

396.  THE REBEL ARMY IS MOVING TOWARDS NASHVILLE.  Pulaski, Tenn.,
November 18th, 1864, four page letter from John M. Piles, 71st Ohio to his wife with
stamped cover, he has just been detailed as orderly, have received marching orders to
leave this place in the morning for Nashville.  All reports are that the Rebel army is
moving in that direction, have been very busy carrying dispatches, more personal news,
with stamped cover . . .
 

 
   
   

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[18]20 Dec 1864 - John to Sarah - Near Columbia, Maury County, Tennessee -
From CatalogS4 p 46 #397

397.  THE BATTLE OF NASHVILLE.  In the line of battle near Columbia, Tenn.,
December 20th, 1864, two pages in pencil to his wife by John M. Piles, 71st Ohio, he
relates, I am well but sad to report that Harrison Schrells [Schreels] is dead, he got shot at the
second days fight at Nashville, our regiment's company C lost 18 killed and wounded,
750 were killed and wounded in the regiment, Henry Horner was killed, we had such
hard fighting but thank God we whipped the enemy and routed them and still after
them.  We have captured 50 pieces of cannon and hundreds of their men, have not seen
James since the battle, concise but good account of the 71st action at Nashville, . . . 
 

 
   
   

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[19]24 Dec 1864 - John to Sarah - Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee  -
From CatalogS4 p 46 #398

398.  HAD A HARD BATTLE AT FRANKLIN, TENN.,  December 24TH, 1864,
Headquarters, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 4th Corps, Nashville, two plus pages in pencil
with stamped cover from John M. Piles, 71st Ohio to his wife, he relates...they had hard
fighting since he last wrote especially on the evening of the 30th of November at Franklin,
Tennessee...we have had heavy skirmishing with the Rebels for the last week or more
and have retreated to Nashville and intend to fight them..have a very large army here
now...the reason we retreated was that before now we have not have enough of a army to
fight them...they tried to whip us at Franklin but they lost heavily...can't give the losses on
either side, we had to let our wounded lay on the field in the Rebel hands, excellent letter
on the Battle of Franklin, with cover
...

 
   
   

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[20]19 June 1864 - John to Sarah - Elk River Bridge, Tennessee -
From CatalogS4 p 46 #399

399.  BUSHWACKERS ATTACKING, GENERAL FORREST HAS A LARGE
FORCE NEAR, HE KILLS HIS PRISONERS !
  Elk River Bridge, Tennessee, June
19th, 1864, two large pages in ink to Sarah with stamped postal cover, our regiment is
shattered again with; several companies being positioned between here and Nashville to
guard the railroad, some of our mounted boys and cavalry went out the other day and
killed 29 bushwhackers and captured some 30 horses, our losses were on Captain and two
horses, the rebels are trying to make their way north, I understand bushwhackers are in
Indiana and old John Morgan in Kentucky trying to get into Ohio again...we are looking
for a fight her understand General Forrest has a large force, understand he does not take
any prisoners, he kills them  !, Excellent letter mentioning the rumors of Forrest's
atrocities  with prisoners
....

 
   
   

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[21]16 April 1865 - Greenville, Greene County, East Tennessee -
From CatalogS4 p 46, 47 #400

400.  LINCOLN MURDERED IN COLD BLOOD,  Greenville, East Tennessee,
Sunday April 16th, 1865, from John M. Piles to his wife Sarah, three pages in ink on the
Assassination of President Lincoln...he laments...my heart is very sad over the death of
our President in cold blood, how sad every heart is as we have lost one of the noblest men
we will ever see, there is no punishment enough for the murderer...it had been only a few
days since we had heard the glorious news (surrender of Lee) and now we hear of the
death of President Abraham Lincoln. I don't think it will prolong the War it is a terrible
blow to us.  I guess the Rebels made their words good as they swore they would never
submit to the administration of Abraham Lincoln as they have put him out of the
way...only if the man could be found he will be hanged higher than heaven...thinks there
will be a little more fighting before Johnston surrenders his little army.. hope our men will
kill every last Rebel and General Johnston and Lee in retaliation...excellent letter written
only days after Lincoln's Assassination calling for retaliation for the death of the
President,
...

 
   
   

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[22]18 May 1865 - Camp Harter, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee -
From CatalogS4 p 47 #401

401.  OLD JEFF WILL HANG HIGH, HIS WIFE'S PETTICOAT WILL NOT
HIDE HIM,
  Camp Harter, Nashville, Tenn., May 18th, 1865, four pages in ink from John
M. Piles to his wife (71st Ohio), describes his loneliness for his wife, the camp is fine in
Nashville but the men always complain, but there will be no more fighting as old Jeff
Davis is had, he will hang, he will be hung on a sour apple tree, his wife's petticoat was
not big enough to hide Jefferson, more on coming home to his beloved wife, rumors of
when they will be discharge, stamped cover home included, interesting, commentary
on Davis who had been reputed to be hiding in his wife's clothing when he was
captured
...

 
   
   

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[23]4 July 1865 - New Orleans, Louisiana -
From CatalogS4 p 47 #402

402.  THE PRESIDENT IS NOT THE MAN ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS,  New
Orleans, La., July 4th, 1865, four page letter to his wife in ink with stamped cover by John
M. Piles of the 71st Ohio...mentions ready to go to Texas and get out of this place, he
does not think much of the President (Johnson) as he will never be the man Abraham
Lincoln was but there will not be another President like Lincoln, believes that if President
Lincoln was still alive they would be home now, more on his feelings for his new wife,
he is reading to Texas, with a stamped cover post marked New Orleans, La...

 
   
   

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[24]24 Aug 1865 - San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas -
From CatalogS4 p 47 #403

403.  MARCHED OVER THE SANDY TEXAS DESERT FOR 14 DAYS.  San
Antonio, Texas, August 24th, 1865, four page letter in pencil to his wife Lizzie, comes
with stamped cover postmarked New Orleans (Sept. 5th).  He relates about the terrible
march the 71st Ohio had getting to San Antonio, we marched 14 days from the 10th to the
23rd a distance of 175 miles over the sandy desert of Texas and could only get water
every 15 miles and very poor it was and had only half rations on this trip and only wormy
crackers to eat...hardy soldiering in this time of peace !  We are camped five miles from
San Antonio, can't tell how long we will be here, I am tired of Texas !  We have traveled
nearly 200 miles in this state and I don't think we have seen 50 houses.  The people are all
colored people, negroes, Indiana, and French and they can't understand our language and
we can't understand theirs...the boys are all downhearted and we have lost many of our
brave soldiers since we have been in Texas due to the hot weather and they just gave out,
some days I though I would too give up but my courage kept me moving...hopes to be
home by December and compares Texas with Hell...Excellent letter from a member of
the post-war occupation force
...

 
   
   

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Sources
 

Source Citation

Image
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S1 Dr. Stephen Altic:
-  The Introduction, Transcriptions and Summaries were prepared by Steve from the original letters which he owns.
-  "I have tried to clean up his syntax and spelling except when it reveals how he would have actually pronounced a word."

I wish to express my deep appreciation for the kindness and assistance shown by Steve by sharing these images, transcriptions and so much other relevant information.
 
S2 Book:  Stewart, Martin. Redemption: The 71st Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. Miami County, Ohio: Self-Published, Hardbound edition, 2012. Bk3744  
S3 Book: Proceedings of the annual reunion of the 71st O.V.I. Association. Troy, Ohio: Miami Union Job Rooms, 1891. (Google Books) - Bk3754 Google Books
S4 Catalog of Civil War Letters, pages 44-47.  Unknown author or date (estimated to be in the 1990s).  Obtained from Steve Altic, via Martin Stewart, 2013. 

[1]  The catalog mistakenly gives the date of the 21 Nov 1863 letter as 9 Nov 1863

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