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Civil War Letters of Captain John A. Ritter, M.D.

49th Indiana Volunteers


October 1861 - December 1861

The letters which appear below are  letters written by or on the behalf Capt. John A. Ritter during his service in the 49th Indiana Volunteers from Oct. 1861 to December 1861. The letters were transcribed from the original letters or copies of the original letters in the possession of descendents of Capt. John A. Ritter. The letters appear exactly as written. No effort was made to correct apparent misspelled words. Many of these apparent errors may be the result of differences between modern styles of handwriting and styles in use during the 19th century. Blanks were inserted where words or phrases were totally illegible and underlining was used for words or phrases for which the correct interpretation was questionable. 

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Letter to Gov. Oliver Morton

Paoli, Ind.

28 Oct. 1861

O. P. Morton, Gov. of State



_____?: We take pleasure in recommending to your favorable consideration the appointment of Dr. John A. Ritter to the office of Lt. Col. of 49th Reg. at Camp Joe Holt Ind. Vols.

Orange County has five Companies now in the field, and has sent sent many privates in other companies, and other companies are now forming in this county, hence we believe that our county presents a fair claim for the above office, and we hope you will deem our case deserving this appointment.

Joseph J. Field

Jno. C. Albert

Moses N. Elrod

T. N. Braxton

John G. Hoff

Jonathan Lindley

Francis Wilson

A. M. Black

W. N. Kemp

O. L. Geter?

P. L. Worrell

Jno. Vestut

J. W. Webb

W. W. Worrell

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Nov. 9, 1861 from Camp Joe Holt

Camp Jo Holt

Nov. 9th

Dear Margarett

I will not be at home at the time set. Lut Pinick Has to leave. Charles and I will have to stay till he Returns. I have given 9 of my men furlows for ten day. I will be at home in _________?. We drew our tents to day. We are as well sutuated as soldiers are acustom to. The tents are water proff. The tents have a plank flour coverd with straw. I have a tent for my self & the Lutenant & they are double.

I do not know how Soldering will agree with me. I am will and harty at present

I slept at Jeffersonville last Knight with a Mr Skegman. I took breakfast In town this morning.

I have made no appointments for any of the Non comishiend officers Except Orderly Jas Fawcett. Two of my men got week in the Knees and did not take the Oath, ______? & ______?. All of the men were Recd., none Rejected.

I have not herd a smuty word or an oath from any member of my company, no not a word that might not have been uttered in the presane of the most Refined Lady. I have been very busy ever since I have been in camp. I have not had my men on drill Since we came in camp. We got to camp the Knight that we left home about 11 oclock tired & hungery and no supper till it was cooked for us. Ray spoke at Orleans the day that we left.

I will be at Home as soon as I can. I need not say any things about wishing to be at home. The boy are all will and seame to injoy them selves well. I may go to Indanopolis before I Return home. I have had no opportunity to Know what my chances are for the position that I am asspiring. I was informed that Ray was all right for me.


John A. Ritter

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December 4, 1861 from Camp Jo Holt

Camp Jo Holt Decr 4 1861

Dear Margarett

I read your letter this Morning and I was glad to heare from you you do not know how much good it does me to heare from you. I have been unwell for a few day past with a bowell complaint which has run me down for the length of time that I had it. It has stoped? on me. I am at camp to day. I have been at Mr Johnson's since Sunday last till to day. They took good care of me they made me a bed by the fire in their room and gave me every attention that I could have recd. Also they have a good a_____? of Black berry wine that they furnished me freely and I think helped me very much. The measles is in our camp about 15 or 20 of our boy have them in the hospital. I shall every remember the Kindness of Mr Johnson and family. I am Quite week not able for duty that is to do my self Justice and I expect to do Justice to my self first & uncle Sam next. The cold weather is hard on the boy in camp. I will be glad when we get Organized and all fixt out right. No one knows the trouble & Responsibility of getting a camp army? fixt-up all right the list of clothing etc. We are today returning our overcoats and drawing others in there place to hunt up all the boy and get they coats & and have all right is no small Job. Our boy have drawn 1 pr pants 2 shirts 2 pr drawers 1 Cap? 1 Jacket a Round about coat one over coat and all that wanted Shoes or socks but few of the latter have been drawn.

I do not Know when I will be at home. I will come as Soone as I can. I expect that we will go into Qtrs? soon. I have not yet ________? my __________? but it has been around.

I expect that I will be at home in a few day or at least some time next week. If you could leave home I wold like for you to spend a weeke at Jeffersonville & New Albany. You know how your affairs are. I expect that you have got my pants & vest Made. _____? was to have the cloth by the next monday after I left home. If you can so arrange your affairs make arangements to spend a week at Jeffersonville & New Albany. I hope you are well. I am sorry that you are sad.

chere? up trust in God and feare no evil.

yours, write soon

John A Ritter

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December 6, 1861 from Camp Jo Holt

[No date on letter, envelope dated Dec. 6, 1861]

Camp Jo Holt, Jeffersonville

Dear Maargarett,

I take this oportunity to write you a note. We have just Rec. marching ordes to leave here day after to morrow at 9 oclock. I want you to send me my clothes by Theopholus. I want you to send them by Theopholos by tomorrow night. I have many ______? send home. I expected to have come home to night but I have no prermshion to do so. I will come as soon as I can. I will write to often. I did want to see you.

If you have not time to fix my clothes send them Grigsby's or Taylor, he will fix them for me. I must hury.

Yours as ever,

John A. Ritter

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December 15, 1861 from Camp Dumont, Near Bardstown, KY

Camp Dumont

Near Bardstown Ky

Sunday December 15 1861

My dear Margarett

It is with pleasure that I write to you at this time from the fact that I have the pleasure to say that I have intirely recovered from the Illness that I had at camp Jo Holt. I took a severe cold when I first went to camp. It continued till I took the Dierah? or I had almost Flux. I have intirly recovered my health has not been better for years. I throwed down two of the best Boy I have in my company. I made the march from Camp Jo Holt to this place in about 2 1/2 day a distance of 40 miles. We are camped in the Fairground of Nelson County Situated about 2 mile from Bardstown on the Pike leading to Louisville. It is a beauty full place full of trees sedars etc. Dry cleare of Mud, we had good weather on the good Road turnpike all the way. The Boy made their way with their packs etc. well but with soar feet. There was but two of our men that rode any of the way. Mickler got Sick the last day and Rode. One fo the men William Inman feet got so soar that he caved in. John and Tom Buskirk went through? like old soldiers. John wold want to Know if we was not agoing to rest occasionally?. The last two miles we made in 30 Minutes. It was strange to see the difference in different neighborhoods that we passed through. Some of the Houses the women had the doors closed and seamed to be afraid to Show themselves others wold come out and wave their Hats, Handkerchiefs,and Husaw?. One man tryed Shake hands with the whole Regement. I could relate many interesting Inscidents that happened but I will Save them till another time. The advance guard on the 2nd day took one Seses a prisner. They were ordered if they herd any one hollow for Davis to march him into the ranks. One fellow told them that he was a seses and if they wanted to see one look at him. Jack Kenon broke down his gate and rushed into and marched him out. He said that he was a good union man. They kept him till the Col releised? him. He was scard. He sayed that he thought all Jokes was free in haves?. Ray told him that Haves? was over and it was now Thrashing time and by the way we had an alarme last night about midnight. When all was Quiet and still the long Roll was beet a call to arms. The filed Officers run from Quarter to Quarter hollowing to armes. The boy did turn out some with any thing but shirt and Drawers some with one boot some bare headed all enxious for a fight. We march out in company in double Quick time to the parade ground. We were the Second Company on the ground and wold have been the first if we had Known where to have gone to. We had but two of our company that did not turn out. One of them was sick the other had the stupper? broke off in his gun. Luther Hopper had just got in from Jeffersonville Hospital and had no gun. He went out sick as he was without any gun. Our chaplin s-----? a gun and went out with his ammunition in his pocket.

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December 16, 1861 from Bardstown, KY


Decr 16 1861

My dear wife I wrote this letter yesterday but knowing the facility for mail that you would not get it till the last of the week I did not send it. I am in the hospital at Bardstown (not sick) but try to cure the sick. I have been detailed? for two day as surgeon of the Regment while Pearson will be absent to Jeffersonville. We have about 40 in this hospital. I am boarding at a mr Glaslys?. It is Quite different fair to ______? fair. My dear wife I expected to have Seen you about the first of last week. You may imagine how much I was disapointed. I had made my arangements to come home on Tuesday but Monday Night we were under marching orders. I beged hard for a permit to come home but was positively refused. My heart is their. If I could get one Kiss from your lips and see my little ones but Love of Country duty say no. I never was more resigned to the will of providence than now. I often pray. My prays have been somewhat answer. May the Lord bless you. Write soon.

John A. Ritter

[page 1 margin]

I hope you are well. Your Letter are welcome visitors. Camp life is a hard one yet it agrees with some. I think it will with me. I am in my Country service. Where or when I will go I no not.

[page 3 margin]

There is one thing that I have learned that I can walk and that I can fight. The alarme the other night showed who wold Flag? and who wold not.

[page 4 margin]

If I get sick I will Resigne and come home. I? never was better ______? than I have been for a few day. I walked every step of the way from Camp Jo Holt to Camp Dumont and did not complain. The Boys say that they wold carry me if I gave out.

[short note enclosed on separate paper]

I am under a thousan obligations for the likeness you sent to me. I love to look on it. I am timpted to got to camp two miles to night to see it. When I find it in my Kachet? it thought is was tobaco?.

yours John A Ritter

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December 22, 1861 from Camp Dumont

Camp Dumont Decr 22, 1861

My Old Friend

Theodore Sir,

I take up my pen to drop you a line. This is Sunday to day it is raining. The Boys are all in their Quarters except the fellows on guard. A cold rain slightly sleeting. I just passed sentinal who acosted me thus this is a devil of a time on us poor Devils, yet they are as Comfortable fixt as the circumstances will admit of. They have two coats, two Blankets, the overcoat a large coat, one of the Blankets ________? yet a soldier has a hard time. Yet most of them meet if cheerfully. It would be hard for a fellow to have the Blues in camp. There is always something on hand to Keep a fellowing stiring. Out of a thousand men promisculy thrown together you may forme Some Idea of the tricks & tantrums but your Ideas will fall fare short. We are drilling prety hard about this time. The general order is four hours a day Sunday excepted, but if double the hours & and not not Except Sunday it would come nearer what we are doing. We are buisy at Some duty from daylight till Nine oclock P. M. I never was tighter to Buisness than I ever was. We go by the tap of the Drum and Bugle. We wake up by the drum, we get up by the taps of the drum, we call the Roll by the drum. Military discipline has one tendency to make men regular in their habits. I have been deparred of doing many things that I wanted to do. I wold like to visit the Sick boys oftener than I do but cannot. My duty are in camp or on drill and they have me to Stand Square toed to the work. Our boys that are in the Hospital are all better. I sent Orderly Faucett to see them yesterday also to take them some dride fruit yet they may not get it. He left the fruit in the hands of Mr. Parker. Parker has been Nurse at the Hospital ever since we came in to Camp. He looks after the Interest of Our Boy. We have _____? Pinnick, George Linley, Wm. Street, Martin V. Dishin, Andrew Fite all but Dishin had the Measles. They are all better. Linly is the worst off of any. The Hospital is two miles from camp a large brick building formily usid for a Female College in Bards Town. We are campt in the Fairground, a beautiful place, the stabls are fine places for our horses. We have no such stables any fair ground in _____? that I have seen.

I was detailed as surgeon of the Reg. two day this week in the absence of Dr. Pearson. I made the acquaintance of a Number of people in Bardstown mosly Union Men but some Sesesh. They are clever, they treated me well especially the union ladys. They visited the sick in Hospital and brought them many little delicacys that none but women Know how to prepare. God Bless the Women. A sesesionwoman brought our sick soldiers soap but before I would let them have it I inquired of the Lady that Boarded with whether it might not be dangerous for them to use it. She told me that the soap was all right that the woman was a good woman that her heart was all right but her heart rong. We have a peaceable time that is the sitizens have to what they had before the troops came to Bardstown. The union & sessesion men were on the eve of a revolution a fight among themselves but the session are now Quiet. I talked with one Judge Newman. He told me that he had a notice served on him that if any of the sessionist was taken up or had any legle proceding had a gaist them his life was to pay the penalty. He said that the night of Golden Circle had their Regular meeting and have a regular weekly communication with the Rebal Army.

My old friend, I want you to write to me or if at any time you could send me a paper to read. We want reading matter verry much. Anything that is printed is snacked at with a rellish. I am well never was in better health than now. I have been improving ever since I left Camp Jo Holt. My soward I prise very high. I love it as though it was _____________? matter. I shall ever cherish a warme recollection for you and all the good people about Orangeville.


J. A. Ritter

John Buskirk has had diarah for two day. He is not sick enough to go to Hospital & I hope will not have to go there.

If you see Joseph Dunkin or any of our boys tell them to report themselves at General Buells head Quarters Louisville for a pass to come out to Bardstown. Buells head Qts. is at Louisville.

All the Boy are well except as herin named.

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