Civil War Letters of Captain John A. Ritter, M.D.
49th Indiana Volunteers
January 1862 - August 1862
The letters which appear below are part of a set of letters written by or on the behalf Capt. John A. Ritter during his service in the 49th Indiana Volunteers in the Civil War. The letters on this page cover the period from January 1862 to August 1862. 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.
January 14, 1862 from Marion County, KY
Marion County Ky
Jan 14 1862
I take the present opportunity to drop you a line. We are again on the March. We left Camp Morton on the 11 and have been out three days. We are orderd to Lunden in Lorrel? County near Cumberland Gap but the Col. is in town to night it is said that the order has been Countermanded or that there is sealed orders for this Reg. We are campt to night 5 miles from Lebinen on the road to Danville. We were ordered to Lundon by way of Springfield, Lebinen, Danville. If we keep on I expect that we well be in Danville day after tomorrow. I expect that we will go through the Crab Orchard. We have cold weather the coldes that we have had since we left home. It raind Sunday snowed last night the snow was wet as soft at noon? it made verry sloppy walking but it was better on us than the rain Sunday. A man got shot Sunday acidently he was a citizen? he was shot in the hand. One of the advance guards went in to a mill to get out of the rain when he went to go out the hamer of the his gun struck the dome? facing which discharged his gun. I was asked to see him the regiment got a head of me. I never overtook the Reg. till night. We marched three day we have come a crooked road which you may see by reference to the Map this was in order to keep on the pike we have but one waggon to a company when get of of the pike I do not Know how we will get a long we will get out of a pike at Danville and a verry rough road. I expect that we will have to through away some of our plunder the boy will have to pack their knap sacks I have a number of the Boys Knapsacks halled. Many are the the silent Tear? that steels down my cheek to see the boys tired? with their heavy loads on their backs. We have a lot of little boys that wold? be better off at home. They are a dear? expence to the goverment & no prophit. My Company is a bout the best company in the Regment.
We staid last night a mile from Springfield at one of the stronger union men's he was worth half Milions dollars and he was ready to do any thing to make us comfortable. Washington county the county at Springfield has eight hundred soldiers in the field we meet with many warm reseptins? some however not so, but the warmes reseption that I expect to have is when you and I shall meet but when that will be I am not now able to conjecture?. I had hoped tht I wold have see you soon but that hope is blasted for the present. I hope that the time will not be longer. I hope and believe that the time is not far? till this Rebelion will seace it must seace it cannot continue at Such a grand scale as it is now carried on, I am in tollerable Health. I have been Sick. I had the Flux. I was verry weak when we started on the present march. I was reported sick on the day that we marched. I expected to have to go to the Hospital at Bardstown but when the Boy started the Boys lookedlike little children without a mother but I have got better every day since we started our boy are generaly well John & Tom Buskirk stand the march verry well. I had Johns knapsack halled to day. I wold like to be at home to see you and the children to time seams long since I saw you. I wold like to see little Billy. I expect that he often talks of me. I know that he will never forget me the other children often think of me. I know that they love and respect me. I know that you have taught them such lessons, since I have been unwell Ajutant Quinn has not put me on duty. We take it day about being officer of the day. I have not served since I have been complaining. Had Capt Quinn not been a good fellow and a paarticular friend I wold have had to have gone to the hospital or? took my turn. Major Thronton let me ride his Horse to day. The Major is as clever as he knows how to be. If you in future years ever see Quinn I hope you will esteeme him for the favors to one that is as neare to you. Also if ever you should see a Man any of the family of Thomas Glessner? of Bardstown when he herd that I was sick he sent me word to come to his house. I should have a Room and he would take care of me with out any pay. When I came through Bardstown Sunday he beg me to stay with him to take the till I got well or to stay at his house till Tuesday morning and then to take the rail road to Lebinon. He was a good union man that I Boarded with when I was attending the Hospital. I must close. I have so many things to say to you that may paper never holds out.
J A Ritter
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January 16,1862 from Camp Young, KY
January 16, 1862
Camp Young is situated about 4 miles east of Leabanon Marion County Ky on the Road from Lebanon. We were order as you have been informed in last letter to London Ky. The order has been countermanded. We are ordered to stop wheare and await further orders. We will likly remain wheare we are for some time. General Ward told Col Ray that we would be likly station at Leabanon for some time. It is the opinion of some that we will go to Summerset. We are busily fixing out our Pay Rolls taking Recpt for clothing furnished the men. There is more to do in in an army than any one wold think of. More reports than any one that never had any thing to do with such things would think off. We have been here two day. We were well tirred out. We were glad to Rest. I did hope that if we went on or have to go we would have to stop at Danville where I could have seen some of our Kind but but we have to stop when the word halt is given or go when the word is given to March. I am well which I Know will be good news to your for well do I know how much interest you take in my Welfare. I have been unwell but not confind at any time. I had the flux for neare to a week. I should have had to have gone to the Hospital had it not been for the Kindenss of Capt Guinn who is the Adjutant? of the Regiment. It is his business to detail all the men to do the special duty. He has not had me on duty for over two week and how much longer is yet to be seen. One of the officers said to him today that he thought that he had to go on duty oftener than some others. The Ajutant told him that he Kept the Books the Regiment. I shall alway have a Kind feeling for him for his favors while I was unwell. Some ot the offices were very kind to me. Others that I might have looke for othe treatment did not seame to Know that I was sick. All the ment in my company treat me with all the Kindness in their power. It is now night. The men are singing good religious songs. It sounds like a camp meeting. We have drilled any since we came to this camp. We have got new tents. All of our men have stoves in the tents. They are warme and comfortabl. The tents are round and tall like a sugar Loaf with an opening in the top. The stove sits in the senter. The stoves are sheet Iron about 18 inchs at the bottom taprs to the top about 7 feet high. They are a great invention. When we move the Joints all slip in each other and does not take up much Room. We have not Recd any pay yet. I am getting short of means. If I do not get some money soon I will be out of cash. I have to board myself which taks right smart of funds. Charles and Pinnicke are intirly? out of money. We Boards together. Faucett also Boards with us. He draws his regular Rations however but our cook prepairs it for him and we all eat and sleep together. We Jim Faucett? have many talks about home. About our wives etc. He said to day if he every got home he would nevr Leave his wife again. He often say to be What would Margarett think if she would come in our markey? and see how we managed things. He Keep up our spirits with his dry Jokes. He is a good fellow and if it was not for him I do not Know how I would get along. He helps me do all the buisness of the company and if he and I were out of the company I do not Know how it would get along. All of the men are good men but they lack the buisness tack?. This is to go no futher and this is the reason that I could not get to come home from Jo Holt. I did want to come home verry much. I have been disapointed very much that I did not get to come home. If my health should fail I will resigne and come home but my health has been good excpt the spell that I had at Jefferson and the spell of the Flux. I am now well and harty. I hope you will write to me often. I love the heare from you. A litter from you is a great treat to me. Write. Direct your letters to Lebanon and if we shuld be gone the letters will follow us. I would like to be at home ______? if it was only for ive minutes. I want to see little Billy and I want to see Billy Nanny and I Know that Billy mammy wants to see his dady. Tom and John Buskirk are well. Tom is in my Quarters Reading by my light. The Taps have been sounded, Lights out that is in the company Quarters. All the Boys are tolerable well. We left some 17 in the hospital at Bardstown. Many of them nother amater? hardly.
J A Ritter
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January 20, 1862 from Camp Young, KY
Camp Young, January 20, 1862
My Dear Son,
I take the present opportunity to answer your Letter of 12 Inst which I Recd. a few day ago. Let me assure you my son that I was much pleased to think that you thought enough of me to write me. I Read your letter over and over. I was glad to see that you was able to write so good a letter. I hope that you will do so again, it will be a sorce of great plasure to me to get a letter from you. You said that Billy made Nap go double quick and that he was very mischevious. I would like to see him cutting up his funny pranks, I want you to take good care of Billy, also be a good boy, learn your Book, be a good Scholler, make a man. In order to be some acount you mus respect and obey your parents, whilst I am gone you must obey your mother, you have a good mother and if you will be governed & directed by her you will be respected by all good people. It is now late at night, I am officer of the day. My duty is to see that evry man does his duty in the camp, that the camp is kept in proper order, that the guard is put on and taken off at the proper time. It mght be said that the officer of the day was the Governer of a thousand men, and each captain has to take day about being officer of the day. They dirict us to clean up the camp and it is done, drain diches and have all done that is thought best condusive to the health & comfort of the Regiment.
We are under marching orders. We have ordes to march in the morning at 7 1/2 a clock to Danville, Ky. about 25 miles from Camp Young. I expect that we will not stay long at Danville. It is more than likly that by the time we get to Danville we will to go futher. I would be glad to see you all and I know full well that you would be glad to see me but when will meet is yet in the future
J. A. R.
Master Thomas B. Ritter, Sir,
You did not write to me but I will say a few words to you. I want you to be a good boy. All that I have sayd to John I would try to impress on you, I need not repeat it. The weather is warme and rainy. It has been raining and cloudy for several weeks and our camp is verry mudy. We have halled saw dust and straw to keep a walkway in frount of our tents. We will start in the morning on a march. The road that we travil is or will be verry sloppy. There are a great many waggons traveling the road halling provisions for the soldiers.
J. A. R.
I must say a word to you. I often think of you and your anxious looks, the questions that you have asked me if I was going to ware. I know that you Love me, you will all of the children. If you will use the means & proper industry the advise of your mother, you have the native element to be smart indoustrous children.
Mr. Theophilus C. Ritter, my dear beloved Son,
I will not devote a space to you. You have arrived at an age that when perhaps you kneed the advise and the watchful care of a Father but for the time you are deprived of my presence to watch over you. Obey your mother, never say or do anything that you would not say or do if I was present with you. Do not keep bad company, I am not saying that you are guilty of any of these things, I hope you are not but cautioning you to be on your guard. I am depending on you to Keep up the Stock, the farme etc. a great deal with the advise of your Ma and others to do all my buisness.
We in the 12th Brigade. Our general is name Carter from Tenessee. We go in to a Brigade with one Tennesee Rejemt & one Ky. Rejment. Some do not like it much they wanted to be all in Indianas. Write to me. I am well. Hope your are all well, give my respects to all. I remain,
Yours as ever,
John A. Ritter
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January 29, 1862 from Crab Orchard, KY
Crab orchard Ky
Jan 29 1862
I Recd your more than welcome Letter Saturday also the Letters from Harriett and my? owne? Maley?. I was much pleased to see that the children could write as well as they do. I hope that they will continue to write to me often. You can direct your Letters to the craborchard for the present. Our destination is London 37 miles from here. We are orderd to put the Road to London from this place in good order which will take two weeks. We are camped 1 1/2 miles from craborchard on the same ground that the 33 Ma Reg was campt. Some of the peple here was well acquainted with Enos Holbert. It is a poore part of the world. I would not give congress price for the land that is beyond the craborchard. It looks like a God for saken place and the people are poore yet they say before the troubles comensed? that their land was worth 30-50 dollars per Acre. The Land from Lebanon to the craborchard is good. Some of it you have seen. I thought I would like to live in Ky but if I was at home and the country at peace I would be a happy man more so than ever before. If I could spend a day or an hour at home ________? I would be glad of this pleasure we are denied by the Wickedness of men.
I have never had any credit? for the saddlery that I furnished the store. You could come something near the amount by Monsons? Books. Thers are some that Cal Fitts got out of the store that I got. Pay for 1 Bridle that Jim Jim Faucett and 1 that Br Tomson got one pr of B______? that I used my self all the Saddles and menary? ect on monsons Books. I had a Bill of the first Sat that was furnished the store. It is some wheare in my pappers?. It amts to somthg over $80.00. You had better have the matter of the Donky? closed up. Billy can do it, and have those that are owing for his service? to settle up by note if no other way close up the partnership being as fare as possible.
I am well at present. My health upon the whole is as good or better than when I was at home. I am passing the time of as best I can?. The time passes of Rapidly. My time is almost ocupid?.
I need not assure you of my warme wishes for your welfare etc You Know how that is. I often visit home in my dreams and if the Body was as fast as thought I should have been home before the close of these lines. I saw on Sunday last two guns two swords two knap sacks taken in the late battle at Sumerset. The ware news you have it all affast as we can get from the papers. I will write to you soon. Write to craborchard.
Yours as ever
john A Ritter
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February 12, 1862 from Barbourville, KY
Feb. 12, 1862
My dear wife I wrote you last night from camp which is 4 miles from this place. I was detailed to bring back to this place some sick and to get a waggon mended and as it will take some time to get it done, I will improve the time in writing to you. I expect to be detained here till Near night. I am well and hearty hope you are. I do not Know when I will have an opportunity to write you a gain. I will say to you that I am in full hope of speady termination of this ware. Our general is a man that we all have confidence in from present appearance we will be in Tennessee Soon if we can get their. I am injoying _______? consolations of the religion that nerves? the poor wayfaring man in hope of that rest that remaineth for the faith full, not but those that injoy Knows. There? is a great deal of wickedness in an army. Will you trust in God, I do. We are on our way to Cumberland Gap.
I have traviled on foot over the mydyes Roads, the bigges hills that I ever saw before this trip. The Boy are generaly well. Some we have left behind in the post hospitals We left Joh Wear at Bardstown. I have not herd from him for some time. We have three others at Bardstown ______'s? men. John C. Fitts owes me something over a hundred dollars a hundred & four I believe. I Borrowed the money from Andred Ables and let him have it. He is to pay ten percent Interest. I do not Know of any other buisness that you may not find out by the Books and papers. If anything should turn up that I should not come home I want my buisness settled up with out any ______? of ______?. I want all of my debts paid the remainder for you and the children. I want you to stake the buisness in your own hands. Save our Land etc. give our children an education as fare as our means will admit. I hope we may meet soon if not there is a place that there is no more ware. Will you meet their. Train our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
I have been doing the doctoring of the Reg. almost ever since I have been in it. All of the sick that were not taken of to the hospital. I have been imposed on. Every one of the commishioned officers wanted me to be assistant Segeon but the field officers. They recomend Mc Coy. He as appointed and a man made out of paster parris would almost do as well. The Reg. has been officered by a lot of Penitinshry pets. All of the were officers in or attached to or a bout the state prison or Clark county men except Pearson & Major Thornton and I hope that there will be a day of Reckning. Al present it will not do to let these thought out but Keep this Letter till the propper time. File it away carefully and as to my buisness I wish it to be done as here in directed if any ocasin should require it.
Your Faithful and Respectfully
John A. Ritter
Direct your letters to Barbesville
The citizens? are on their way to Cumberland Gap with their guns and provisions on their own hook.
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February 16, 1862 from Camp Cumberland, KY
Camp Cumberland, Ky.
Feb. 16th 1862
My Dear wife,
As this is Sunday morning I have a few moments Leasure I will improve the time in writing you a few lines. We struck tents early yestrdy morning and moved up to Cumberland River to the fourd six miles. It was a bad day to move yet we went at it in good spirits, the snow fell about 4 inches deep night before last. We shook the snow off of our tents as best we could loads our waggon and was redy to move by 7 o clock. At our new camp we had to scrape off the snow. We went up on the side of the mountain got a lot sedar Brush and put over the ground which looked verry well. Some caveralry came into see us. They came in to my Quartes and was much pleas at what they termed my Lucky carpet. I was officer of the day yesterday. I had but little sleep last night. Pearson has resigned his position as Surgeon of the Reg. A large majority of the men and officers want me to get his place. I have told them that I would take it but I do not expect to get is as ______? ____? _____? _____? and my company will oppose me leaving them. The field officers will also oppose me that is if they do as they always have done except Major Thornton & Capt. Quinn they are my fast friends, I am easy however verry easy about it except that I do the Buisness and Someone get the prophets etc.
We are within 14 miles of Cumberland Gap where the enemy is in force. If that place is taken East Tennesse is ____?. There are Tenesesian coming in by the 10 & 20 making their way through the mountains. Robert Johnson made a speach to our Reg. day before yesterday. The most Barberous wicked savage that God permited to live the Rebes beats all. He met many of his old friends from Tennesee. They would aske him questions while he was speaking about their friends. He would tell the name and the place where this friend was hung and by noon? my heart grew sick at the resital. Women were robed of all that they had to eat or wear. They shoes & stockings were taken, the children's shoes were taken in many cases cut to pieces and thrown a way worthless. Bed clothing in fact everything is being taken for no other crime than being Loyal. If there is a just God the day of vengense is not far a head but woe be to the Rebles that falls in to the hands of the Tenesseans. Johnson was in prison 6 months. He and two others made their escape and the first free breath that he drew for six months was when he was taken prisner by the pickets of the 49 Ind. Vol. The tenth part has never been told. Men have been hung with the permit of seeing their wives & children when they were in the Same town. One man was Hung and his son was compelled to sit on the Scaffold and witness the seane. Women have been Shamefully treated. When o when shall these things sease. My prayer is for my Country that I love but will these people ever live in peace. I think not one or the other will have to beexterminated or move.
Col. Monday's Caveralary went day before yesterday to the Gap. It was said that the Rebel caveralry were in the habit of coming down to the ford where are now encampt and a trap was lain to catch them. Our infantry was in ambush. Col. Monday was to go up and get them after him and lead them to our infantry and then take the whole fource of the enemy but they would not follow. He charged on their pickets with ten men took two prisners, killed 7, wounded so that he thinks will die 2. He went up in face of the Rebbs C battery took 8 horses, 7 guns, 9 sabers. They shot their cannons? at him. He shook his fist at them and say he would see them in Hell before he would leave till he got the Horses of the Ded Rebbes. He caught their Horses, cut up their sadles and galloped off whilst the dust and sand was flying at them being kicked? up by the enemy cannons? and not a man of ours hurt. A litter? Boy Killed, one the Col. Killed, one the Col. say that he never hated to do any thing so bad as to Kill the fellow but is was to save himself. The Col. had his sabir? cocked he called on the fellow to surrender. He turned and in the act of cocking his gun the Col. shot him through the Head. He found another one that he took prisner in the water of a creek. The Col. asked him what he was going to do, nothing was the reply, then turn the musel of your gun afrom meand come out at this time. One of Monday's men was going shoot the Rebble. The Col. told him if he shot the man that he would shoot him.
I am well and harty. My health was never better since was grown. Hope you are all well.
Jno. A. Ritter
All of the Boys that went from about Orangeville are well that are with me. Some left behind.
Direct your letter to Barbesville.
I would like to see little Billy portrate. If I have an opportunity I will have my likeness? taken in full uniforms and send to you. Mrs. Johnson has one.
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February 18, 1862 from Camp Cumberland, KY
Camp Cumberland Ky
Feb 18th 1862
I take up my pen to write you a line. We are campt at the ford on the cumberland river 14 miles from the Gap. We had snow a few day a go. Night before last it Rained hard. Our camp is in a little Bottom on the side of a creek. We have a cavalry company just above us east. West a company of Cavalry. There are several Regiments of Infantry below us on the River. The rain raised the river so it cannot be forded so we will not advance till the water falls. We have a ferry boat that our pickets cross the cumberland in. The Rebel pickets have been in the habit of coming down to the ford but they have stoped that one thing. Our pickets are over the river every day. It is supposed that the pickets will meet some of these day. We are cutting off the timber on both sides of the River for some distance up the River. On the other side of the riveris a Frame Brickhouse. The owner in the Southern army. Some of mundy? caveralry went over last evening and returned with Fat Hog. They had Skined it and had it well dress?. They sayed that the hog tryd to bite them and that any hog or sheep that would have the empudence to bit any of the caveraly had to die. They Say that fence rails sometimes snap at them. I have been looking for a letter from you for some time but have been disapointed. There is a strong desire for me to be Surgeon of the Reg. I am in good health. Our camp is verry mudy equil to a hog pen but if it seases to rain it will dry out in a few day. I hope you are well and all of my numerous friends. I have no news of importance to write to you. I suppose that you would be very uneasy about me and that I would write to you, our men are generally well. Our camps are diched? to drain? So as to make it dry?.
Col. Mundy? say if they will apoint me Surgeon that he will furnish me a Horse. He presented Mrs.? General Carter with a horse. He took nine Horses the other day and Killed nine men took two prisner with ten men. He did not leave one of them to tell the tail.
Say to Dr. Carter that I Recd a gazett? N A Leager? and Louisville Democrat which were welcome visitors. I subscribe for the daily Louisville Journal but they do not come to hand but one and a while. I suppose that the rasculy post masters take them out and read them and keep them from coming to had in due time.
I must bid you fairwell for the present. I know the Deep ________? that you feel for me I feel? for you. So my dear wife be as cheerful as you can and trust in god.
yours as ever
John A Ritter
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February 28, 1862 from Camp Cumberland, KY
Feb 28 1862
I Recd yours of the 18 this day and as might naturaly supose I was much please to heare from you. I hope you will write to me often it does me so much good to heare from home. I Recd a letter from Theophilus, Harriet & John that I have not answered. I will when ever I can get the time. I am detailed as Surgeon of the Reg at present. I have been doing the business almost ever since I have been in the service. I told them that I wanted to be let alone that if I had to do the buisness and and Some one to REceive the honors and pay that I wanted them to do the worke. I am only Temperarly Surgeon wheather I will be permently Surgeon or not I do not know. I think I will not get the appointment. The Boy in my company are complaining some. We were campt in a creek bottom or I might say a river bottom about 5 or 6 acres ehmed in by verry high mountains. It comensed raining last Friday night. It rained hard till 9 or 10 o clock Saturday night. The river and creek raised over the bottom so we had to move out of the bottom late Saturday night while the rain was desending in torrents. We moved on to the side of mountains. We pitched our tents in the rain on the damp wet ground. All of our clothing bed clothing etc was wet. It was altogether the hardest time that I have seen since I have been in the service. It was enough to kill a grown hog and form the effects a number of men are not so well. Some? among them is Bent McColley he is verry sick. I am affraid that he will not get well. You may informe his people. I have him in camp in his tent and will do every thing for him that can be done. He was well till he got the wetting that spoke of. None of the boy but Bent are confined. All are on foot but rather on the granting order. Let me here say that my boots were full? of water my clothes wet my bed that I slept in was wet. I expected to be sick but it did not. I am well and harty have been well since I got over the Flux in January. I have been clearer of the Rhumatism this winter than for years. We are expecting to be paid of perhaps tomorrow or soon. The paymaster is paying off the Reg in this Brigade. We will only be paid to the first of January one months 23 day we have two months pay due us tomorrow that we will not get paid for at this payment it is a great deal of trouble every thing connected with the service has to be done over and over again we have made out at least twenty different muster Rolles or pay rools as they are called. The pay rolls have to have everything just exactly right. Report after report is called for. Requisitions to watch over and keep up the clothing arms amunitions camp equipage company property such camp kittles mess pans plaits knives forks & all have to be inspected once a week with this the drill and military service etc you may judge what time one has for leasure moments. I have formed many acquaintances in the service that I shallcherish as long as I live and there are some that think me their friends that if the time comes I will pay them up with interest. I hope and expect to get home but what I said about my buisness is what I have long intended. I alway intended to make a will, but neglected it and if at any time you should out live me that is the way that I want my affairs settled.
Austin did not pay me the money that he borrowed. The note on John Scrogan for a hundred dollars is due me. I left it at home in a bunch of notes in my large pocket Book.
There many interesting things that happen in the service. Some complain that they have nothing new to write about I could fill a dozen sheets every day if I had the time to write it. We had three prisners from the sesesh army come it to our camp a few day ago handcuffed. One of them was dondemed to be shot for deserting the other two was condemed to be shotfor Killing a Leutenant but they broke guarde and made their way to our camp. They wanted to enlist in our army. We were of opinion that they were spys. They have been under strict guard but I expect that they tell the truth as a union man that the sesesh had prisner in the guardhouse that they ______? knew them and seyd that he was in guardhouse with them and that they were under sentence of death they say that we may keep them as long as we please and all that they ask is not to let the sesesh get them.
I must bring my letter to a close. It is now bed time. My partner Leut Charles is asleep. I shall alway remain your affectionate Husband.
John A. Ritter
March 1st. Raining spiting snow _________? company g on duty repairing Bridge across a creek in charge of Leut Charles. Verry disagreable day. No news from yesterday.
(in margin, page 1)
making out our monthly Reports _________? & ___? the sick are generaly Better.
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March 2, 1862 from Camp Cumberland, KY
March 2nd, 1862
My Dearly Beloved Wife, I take up my pen to write you a line to let you Know that I am well and still among the Living. We were this day paid of? to the first of January. I have about paid all of my liabioitys and have One Hundred dollars to you. We have two months due us but cannot get the pay till the muster Rolls are sent in and inspected. When we will get any more pay I do not know. I Bought a par of Boots a? peace for our men. They were to pay be when they made their first draw. There were 11 of the men behind sick that did not come up to get their money so I had to advance the pay $55.00. I have their Recpts for the amont which will be good, they cannot be mustered out of the service till they acount for their clothing but it is verry Inconvenient for me to wait. We have cross? the Cumberland River since I last wrote you. Out artilery has also crossed the River. The Ohio Reg. of our Brigade has crossed the River. What will be next I do not know. My wages up to the first of Jan. was 231.05 of which I send you 100.00 by Major Speed paymaster to be expressed to you. I have to pay my cook and a comisary bill and the 55 dollars to L. Hurrle? of New Albany, $17.00 for a colt pistol, and 14.00 to L. Bradley for the pistol that I sent you which Leaves me but about $40.00 dollars, But my outfit is about all paid for. I would be glad to return to sevil life a gain. I do not know any thing about wheather I will be Surgeon of the Regiment or not. I would like to Know if I was I would get me a horse. As it is I have to walk and when in camp to visit the Sick when I am weary.
I hope you are well. If I get time I will write an an answer to Theophilis Letter and Harrits. It is now mid night and Taining?. Tom Buskirk is on duty at this time. We have had but little cold weather.
Harriet wishes a lock of my Hair. I here with send it. ______? for ______? events. I will write to you soon.
Yours as ever,
John A. Ritter
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March 18, 1862 from Camp Cumberlandford, KY
Camp Cumberlandford Ky
March 18 1862
I have just finished a harty dinner and I feel tolerable good over it. We had for dinner to day pork fresh Beaf potatoes Coffee Corn bread & Dryed peaches. The potatoes I paid 75 a bush for the peaches 2.00 per Bush. The peaches were brought up in a waggon from the north or about Louisville. They also had dryed apples but I could only get a Bush peaches. The only thing I have bought outside of the Comisary department with paying more it was worth. Those union men & women that love the union so well come in camp with a sack full of what they call corn Bread a little meal _____? up in a little water & Baked ten cents for a little pone? not larger than your fist and some times fifteen cents and the Boys will Buy of them at the same time they ahve meal & Flour in abundance. We have a plenty of provisions as a general thing at times we are scarce during the high water the men were on half rations but these times are not common when we are on the march we often get short of food of some kinds. We generally draw three to five days Rations when we march. This Rations are halled in the company waggons in Kettles pans etc. They often over ______? _____? the coffee Beans Rice & sugar or some thing that way. I believe it takes more to do troops marching. B R Smith is sick P _____? Several of our Boy are _____? not able for duty. We have no thing new to write to you since I last wrote I was ______? in an unsettled? state of mind I could not hardly make any sense out of the letter after it was writen we have exciting times here acasionaly. I think that if we hold on which I think is the policy now the men at the gap will leave it they are their in force sufficient to make a tolerable fight but it is prety well understood that we can take the gap when we wish how this is I am not able to say the heads of departments Keep their own secrets how they aim to manage I am not able to say there continues a continual influx of emigrants form East Tennesee they are forming four new Reg which will make 6 Tennesse Reg there were near 800 come over in one day.
There is a road down the river called the Big Creek Gap that they pass through the Rebels thought they would put a stop to them coming over and put a force in the gap (Big creek) a party of men under Liut Col Kegwin went out over two day a go they went through the Big creek gap and to a town in Tennesse called Jackson. They have not yet returned they sent back a dispatch that they had a fight killed 2 took 15 prisners took 57 horses 7 mules 14 wagons camp equipage for two companys complete they ahve not yet return Kegwin took 90 men from our Reg the balance of his forces wer Tennesesans it is sayd that the Tennesesans shouted hoop & hollowed like wild men when they got over to Tennesse to their old homes some that had to leave to save their necks some for 6 months have not seen their family it is say? that Kegwin force has _______? to ____? wheather this is true or not I think doubtful but the oject was open? up the way in to Tennesee this I guess was been done in every place except the at Cumberland Gap. The enemy deserters come in from the camp and a prisner of our that they had ______? the union sentiment in among the troops the prisner sayed that if they could have got the men out of the fort he could have raised two companys of union troops in one Regiment but they watch them so slose that they cannot get away. The deserters say that if we had attacked them the other day that one regiment was a going to throw down their arms. I believe that I wrote you about going to the gap the other day last Tuesday well the Ohio 16 and Ind 49 went up to the gap looked around as long as they wished. Ohio Boy came back to camp and? staid till morning they were already in front of their Breastworks could see through the gap and was in range of their guns but they would not shute they scouts about till dark nearly came back about 3 miles and campt till morning their camp fires in full viewe of each other. I must close believe me ever the same? it is not worth while to say any thing for well do you know that the attachment between thee and I are such that no language could convey. As to buisness affairs you do the best you can if you think best Rent a part of the gorund or here keep if it can be had till all the ______? _______? for me I have Recd John & Tomys letter and if I do not answer them soon enough tell them to Read this and write tome again. I am still doctoring the Regment. I am well.
John A Ritter
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March 24, 1862 from Camp Cumberland Ford, KY
Camp Cumberland ford, Ky.
March 24th, 1862
T. P. Carter sir,
I availe my self of the present opportinity to write you a few lines. I am safe in our old camp. All of our boy are safe and unhurt yet we have seene the Elophant?. We were under marching orders on the 21 at 8 o clock A. M., destination not known. We started toward the Cumberland Gap, followed the main road till with in 5 miles? of the gap, then took of a left hand road if road (it could be called Road) that run down a deep creek (yellow creek). We followed that creek for 4 or 5 miles winding around? muddy? with hardly sufficient Room for a wagon to pass and if they sleept? or mised? there was not telling wheare they would land (in the creek of course). We finaly came to a creek runing nearly an east course putting in to yellow creek. We took up this creek, followed it for some 3 or 4 miles to the foot of a mountain which we ascended. By this time it was dark and snowing. You must Know that we had two cannon with us and their amunituin wagons. We campt, that is the troops, on the top of this mountain in 3/4 mils of the gap. My company was sent out as picket guard.
We (my company) went back the road to the base of the hill or mountain and remained till morning 22 when day light came and soon was herd the roar of cannon. We were anxious? to get up but was ordered to Remain out on picket till order in. Not long till the sound of small armes was herd. We remain out till about 8 1/2 when we Recd. orders to come up and take our place in the ranks. We moved forward. When we arrived we found that it was the Rebbels Battery opened on our men. It was the intention of Gen. Carter to have with drawn his forces but all was anxious to _______? them a while. Out men sliped a long to near their Right wing with their long range Rifels and when a man showed any part it was shot at. Wheather they were hit or not is was imposible to tell. They all fell down when shot at. This kind of war was Kept up all day. At 12 ____? we got our cannon in position and returned their fire. We knocked over some of their tents and we continued to throw shells in their works all the day. We had a position on a mountain 1 1/2 mils from their works neare their center. I think that they never thought that any body could get guns at the place where we had them. The 49 took position in the rear of our left gun, in range of the Rebbes guns. After they had fired at our guns twist we moved to the left undr the brow of a hill. Their shells would fall short of our forces or go too high. They had a gun up on a high mountain that shot over us. Some of their Balls went 4 miles Some of their shells would burst in the air before they reach us. We Kindl up a fire, cooked and eat as though nothing more than common? was on hand. We were their to protect the Battery. We continue in that position till three oclock when our Regiment was sent out on our Extrm right as skirmishers. We took down the slope of the mountain in our Rear taking a west ward course till we reached the main Road in front and in full view of all their works. We crosed the road, marched into an old field. Here two companys were deployed forward as shirmishers. The balance of the Reg. about faces, marches left in front of my Company in front we marched back to the road, filed right inside of a stubble field marching not in line of battle but a flank movement left of the Reg. in front right in face of the enems heavy guns. Here there were stakes draw up marked with ______? like a road had been surveyed out. The meaning of these stakes wer plain to be. It was the Rebbels had tryed the range of their guns. As soon as I passed one of these stakes they threw a shell at us which bursted in a bout fifteen paces from the head of collum. The peaces flew on both sides of us, I dodged one piece. We then filed to the left, marched a cross the field to the left. Another shell fell striking the corner of the fence scatering the misels of death in all directions but no one hurt yet the fence rails flying in the air. Here my company was order to deploy as skirmishes on the side of a mountain in full range of the enemys guns. This we did, They threw shells at us. One struck a tree, nocked down lots of limbs which I thought would Kill lots of out boy but no one hurt. Another shell fell about 15 feet from my 2nd plattoon and exploded, covered some of the Boy allmost up with dirt, leaves etc., yet no one hurt. I would comand, "Lie down." which was done with a will. This saved my men. Had it not been for this there would be no more Billy Higgins and several others. One of our shells silenced the gun that shot so close to us. I was standing in full view. I saw the Rebbels clapping their hands and cheering when they were shooting so close to us but a shell fellin to the riffel pit and and explode. When the smoke cleard a way there was no gun or men to be seen nor did they shoot at us any more from that gun. We had some verry narrow escapes. My men behaved well. The first shell that fell confused them some but they will fight. I was up on the mountain wheare I could see all that was going on. Capt. Hawhee? was in front of me. He was cool and collected. We were left in this position a way from the Balance of the force but the enemy would not come out but continued to throw their shell at us. At length we were order to Rally on the ______?. When we moved around the mountain to the rear where we joined the Regmt. and returned to the guns, our former position. Here we remained till the mext? morning, the 23. When we pulled up stakes and marched back to our old Quarter with the lose of a single man. Col. Bird of the first Tennesee had a ball cut through his over coat dress coat but did not Brake the skin. One Liut. of the Ohio 16 had the skirt of his coat cut of barly grasing the skin, another had his Bayont Bet shot in too but not hurt. I am well. All the time _____? out it Snowed every day. It snowed in our faces when we lay on the ground. I must close for the present.
I Recd. a letter from T. B. Wear? & T. S. Shirly? Red this to any of my friends. The Rebbls still hold the gap, we cannot get them out with the forces that we have.
Write to me soon, I have Recd. Billy likness?. The mail is waiting, I must stop.
John A. Ritter
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March 29-30, 1862 from Camp Cumberland Ford, KY
Camp Cumberland ford
March 29, 1862
My Dear Margarett,
I Recd. your Kind litter of the 23 last night and was glad to here from you. You say in your letter that Sunday the 23 was a gloomy day to you, that it was cloudy with squalls of. Though we were separated by a large space of distance I was in that same Kind of weather on that day. We were on our march from the Cumberland Gap to our former camp which was on the Cumberland River on the Tennessee side of the River aposite the mouth of a creek that divids Knox and Harlin county. We moved on the Ky. side of the River day before yesterday. We were out from camp three days and two nights. When we went to the Gap we weare verry weary, almost worn out. I never felt as near out of the scrape in my life. In snowed and Raind every day whilst we were out. The mountains tops were white with Snow. We lay on the ground without tents at night. I wrote to Billy Some of the particulars which I suppose he read to you. It seames to me it was only the interposition providence that we not Killed. We were marched in ______? collumn in Ranks of four right up in range of the enemys Battery. They fired on us with five guns (how many more they had that they did not fire I do not know). The first shot the shell fell in thirty feet of me (I was at the head of the sollum) and bursted flying in all directions but it did not hit one of us. We were marching by the side of the fence, a lane in side of a field on the left side of the fence. The second shell struck the corner of the fence. It Bursted and made the rails fly in a furious manner. It looked like that the rails would Kill or cripple all of us but they did us no harme. My company was deployed as skirmishers forward and to the left which still threw me nearer the enemys battery. We were on the side of a mountain in some timber as skirmishers. The balance of the Reg. except half of Capt. Hawhee Company was marched back out of range of the guns from the Battery. Whilst on this mountain they threw a number of shells at us. Some of them went over us some distance. Some of the shells burst before they got near to us (in the air). Two shells fell close to us. I had command of the first plattoon of my company deployed on the side of the mountain. Liut. Charles had command of the second plattoon. There being not roome enough to deploy I directed Liut. Charles to get a safe position enough and Keep the Second plattoon as a reserve. In this position they threw a shell at the 2nd plattoon that struck the top of a tree imedialy over them and exploded. The lims fell all arround them. I was on the hill so that I could See all the movements of the enemy. I could see then load their guns and tuch them off. An other shell fell in about fore feet of two of our men and exploded. This two men, B. Grigsby and R. A. Spaulding, were about fifteen feet in the rear of the 2nd plattoon. They were almost burried with dirt, leaves etc. but strange to say was unhurt. A small missel truck of our men on the little finger and barly graind? the skin. This was all the damage done to us. If a shot gun was fired in to a flock of patrys 500 in number and Kill none it would be as likly as the seances that we went through (I can only attribute it to providence). They shot at the 49 about 12 shots, some say more and some say less, Capt. Wetmore of the Ohio 9 Battery had two guns was all that we had. He turned to Gen. Carter and say, "General, they have oppened on the 49." The general Reply, "Cant you do something for them?" "I will try," was the Reply. The first shot he threw a shell into their Battery and exploded. When the smoke cleard a way there was no gun or people left in sight. They did not shot at us any more. Wetmore looks like a little boy, not more like a man than Theophilis. He is about twenty two years old, a west pointer, but he shoots his guns wheare he pleases. His shells did not explode well, a number of them did not explode. There was not any of our men Killed or wounded by the Rebbels. They oppend fire on our forces early in the morning of the 22 and continued all day. A great many of their shots fell short of us. They had a gun 64 to on a high mountain much higher than we were that usualy shot over us. This would have been a ugly costomer if properly managed but it did us no harme. We have deserters coming in with various Reports. The Rebels report that they found 60 graves wheare we buried our dead and that they did not Know how many we carried off but we Returned to camp with every man except one that took sick and stopt 6 miles from out camp. This fellow they talk of treating him as a deserter. He could have come in if he wanted to. I had some Tea in my pocket. As we returned on Sunday about noon, I Borrowed a tin Tea Kettle. Capt. Johnson of Crawford Co., Jamces Faucet and myself went out by the side of the Road where the Col. could not see us when he passed Kindle up a fire and made a Tea Kettle full of Tea, had cold Baken, cold Beaf, and hard crakers and made a harty meal. After eating which we felt much better. I never rellished a meal better in my life. What damage we done to the Rebbes is hard to tell. Some desertes report 40 Killed, some 16, some 4. The latter is probily true. It was the Intention of Gen. Carter to make a ______? of their works. After he had assertained that they were reinforced Carter learned that they went out 3000 to intercept or cut off the Expedition that went to Big Creek Gap which you have seen acount of in the papers. I have seen a sesesh paper that gives a worce acount of the Big Creek affare than we do. I presume that many of the men did not return to their forces that we did not take prisners and they supposing that we had taken them they Report a much larger number of prisners in the Big Creek affair than we got. Some of our men have been sent to Indianapolis with prisnrs taken by us. About 80 or 100 in number. Liut. James W. Higgins is one of the men. If there should be any men Recruiting for the 49 in that country some of them will call and see you by promise. I could not advise any of my friends to come in to the 49 for reasons that will be made publick at the proper time. Indiana will produce an other Col. Bowls. Yet the men will have no stigma set to them. Every man to his traid. Polititishiens do not alway make eficent officer. Men? sometimes order there men in danger wheare there is nothing to be gained and wheare they do not go them selves. This may seame ambigus. You can draw your own Inferences. At the proper time many things that is now supressd will be placed in possesion of the publick but whilst I have my hand in the Lions mouth I must hold.
March 30, 62
I am well this morning, Sunday. It is a Clear Spring morning. The peach trees are in Bloom, the birds sing their sweet songs, all seames Lovly to the Eye. But the heart is fare a way from Camp visiting the Loved ones in the distance and anxious to Know when we shall meet. With fond antispation we look forward to the time but when shall it be. The answer comes not......The anxiety of the many absent friends are Known only to those that experience. I am on duty to day, officer of the day. I had a petition Recomanding me for surgeon of this Reg. signed by a majority of the offices yet a man that never done anything toward filling up the Reg. was appointed. A man that did not live in the District, Dr. Monroe of Semore. All these things will will at a future day have to be acounted for... I am as well satisfied as any one could be under the circumstances. Some of my men are sick. Benj. Smith, Nick Dilling, Cle? More, J. W. Potts, J. W. Simmons. Others that is not able for duty, in all about 15. I have mounted guard and went through the camp. Since I comenst writing this morning it is thundering and likly will Rain. We have a great deal of rain. The water rises and falls verry fast. We may have to take to the hill again. We have a beautiful camp. It was an old field. The water when it over flows left a coat of sand on the surface. We have Ditches dug to carry off the water from the camp in all directions. We have three Desserters from the Rebbe camp since we up their. They were sworin? in to the ______? in one of our Company. They report that we Killed 4, wounded 1, 1 mortaly, 5 others slightly. They say that there is one Regment at the gap, all pressed into the Rebble service and will leave when ever they get a chance. When we were throwing shells that Regment was put in front. We Killed two mules at the gap. This is a long letter. I want you to Keep some of the matters in this letter to your self. You can let Billy Carter Read it with the injunction of secrecy?. Liut. Pinnick is a going to Resigne on acount of Bad health= he has been unwell for some time. I Recd. a letter form Harriett, will answer soon. I think that all of my letters do not come to hand. I write to some one about Orangeville every day. The mail has Just arrived. No letter for me, a Louisville Journal which I am taking. I have $22.60 of Bent? ______? money. You pay him that amount James McCarthy? and whin I send home I can send what money I may have to spare. You pay 22.60 and I will keep Brents money. I send Molly another Ring. Tom Briskerk? is in my Quarts. John has a pass to go out of camp to day. Farwell for the present. I remain yours as ever, naught but Death can sever.
John A. Ritter
Tell Buskirk that John ______? paid me for his Boots. I paid _____?
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April 4, 1862 from Camp Cumberland, KY
Camp Cumberland, Ky.
April 4th 1862
My Dear Margarett,
I take this opportunity to write you a few lines. I Recd yours on the 1st Inst. I need not say that I was glad to heare form Home. I have also written a letter that I presume had not come to hand. I hope you have Recd. before this. I haist to answer your letter knowing the anxiety you all feel for me. I am well in good health better than my usual health at home. I eat harty and have plenty such as it is. The nesesarys of life is a luxury. This country has been eaten out by the Rebel army. Last fall our teames that was fine when we came in to this country has went down verry much. I am sure that we could not move back over the Road that we came over. The weather is fine. The spring of the year has come at last. The Roads will soon dry out if the weather continues fine.
A number of our men are sick. We have had several deaths, 9 in our company. N. J. Carr, Wm. Wininger, Mason C. Carter, Jacob Dishon, Jno. W. Rarmer?, Thomas A. Baily, N. F. Dilling, Ben McCalley, & Benj. Kesterson. It makes me sad to see the men sick. It makes me sad to bury them in this strange country a way from the graves of their friends & Relations. I Buried Bent McCalley on a little nole, a beautiful place set with Trees & cherry, peach, pear etc. Since that time the little knowls has been almost filled with grapes.
I was or will have toom stones put up at all of the grave of my men. I will turne from this sad picture. I was at the Hospital yestrday which is on the other side of the River from us. It is at the ford. It is a brick house that was once a tavern stand?. The owner was once Rich. The place was once in a fine state of cultivation. The Best farme that Ihave seen since I left Danville. A River Bottom farme. The farme cost $13,000. The place was once a place of note. The Garden was set with a variety of Flowers, large Quantity of Current Bushes etc. Our men was tearing down the out Houses to take them down the River to Rebuild to put provision in. The gards fence was down all of the fencin on the farme gone. The window lights broke, store house torn up all gone to the fare? winds. I inquired for the owner. Gone to the South. Moved his negroes to Powels Valley when we came here. He moved to Mississippi. Alas poor traitor so far the Rebellion cost him dearly yet I could but admire the Roses, the Honey Suckle & other marks of taist. This might have been a place of comfort but it was a place of misery. This same man lost two sons Killed in the Rebbel army. Killed, he himself & family an exile. We have desertes for the Rebbe army. Three came in last night. One of them a verry inteligent man we look on him rather suspiciously. He say that he was in the union army and was taken prisner at Harpers Ferry and went into the Rebel army waiting a chance to make his escape. He is a good man or a verry bad man. I think we will keep him close.
Pinnick has resigned and will start home in the course of a few day. Some 8 or 10 day. Faucett will likly be the 2nd. Liut. of the Company. Maple has resigned and starts home today. A number of men in our Reg. are resigning. Some of them will likly call and see you. I have many warme and esteemed? friend in the army. Some that I shall always recollect with pleasure.
We are expecting to be paid off soon. If so I shall have more money than I shall have any use for here. I will send it home. Pay out and spend any money that you have. Do not keep it because it was hard earned. I have 2260? of Bent McCalley money, pay his father and take his Recpt. for it and send me the Recpt. I have the promise of a Sesesh paper that I want to send home. I have seen some printed on Brown paper. In close I send you a Small Seseh Bill which I Supose that the blue Bellyed yankey would like to see. You must do the Best that you can with the farme. I know that you must have your hands full. As for the cotton sock I can do very well with out them and I am only allowed to have 100 lb. hauled. I cannot carry but few clothing. I have enough or as much as I can Keep along. If is was to start a gain I could fix better and with much less expense that I did before. Fine flannel shirts that does? not not need? any starch or ironing is the Kind that is needed. If there was any express line from here home I would send some _____? my clothes home and get others in their sted. Harvey? Holley is quite sick. I have some good boy with me that was not much account at home. Bob Knight is one of that kind.
I must close. Yours as ever.
Jno. Alex Ritter
I Recd. last mail a letter from? ___? Henson? & some? time? ago? two papers?. Write soon? and often?.
Faucett informt? me that his letters that he? _____? the _____? _____? charged ___? _____? if ____? is ____? __________? _____?.
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April 4, 1862 from Camp Cumberland Ford, KY
Camp Cumberland Ford
April 4th 1862
I take my pen in hand to write to you this good Sabath. I hope you are well and cleare of the blues. You wrote me that you hoped that I had not the blues as bad as you?. Well I can say that I am comparatively cleare of them and look forward with pleasure to the time when we will return to our loved ones. I believe I shall get home, I feel like I shall. I have that faith that _____? that has protected me thus fare. I believe will still shield me. I should not be much siprised if the principal part of fighting was over. I think that the Rebbels will evacuate the gap. From the news their Cause is growing worse. I do not think that a majority of the people in the South are Loyal. Their papers & politicans to the contrary not with standing. We have deserters & fugitives in our camp often and some of them verry inteligent. They rule with a reign of Terror and let me say to you my dear wife if we had not met them and driven them back our homes would have desolated as theirs now is. How the people are to get along in these seseeded Stats I cannot tell unless they are fed by the Free States. They perhaps have bread for this year but large portions of the country they cannot rais any crops this year. Their farmes have been lade waist?, their _____? burned. This is especially so in East Tennesee and if peace is not soon established we will have an army in their country which will have to be at least measurably subsisted by the Country. An army is a Scurge to any Country that they may be in will all the efforts of a government armys will have to subsist more or less on a country that it may pass through. Hay, Oats, etc. have to be had for horse in this country wheat that has not been thrashed have often been taken to feed on and when an army want such things and they are to be had they buy them if the owner wishes to sell if not they take them paying a just compensation for the article. At Barbervile the seargon wanted some Liquors for the sick. He went to a man that Kept Liquor for sale & found some Apple Brandy and this brandy was all the liquors in or about the place. The surgeon proposed to buy it. The liquor man did not wish to sell. The man would not agree to let him have it at any price or in any quantity. The Doctor went to the hospital got up as many of the sick as could march with fixed Bayonets marched up to the grocery and ordered him to Roll out the Brandy which was done. The doctor had eighteen men and went off with the Brandy but told him when he wanted the pay to call down. The citizens were verry mad at the man that had the Liquor and sayed that they would not had it happened in their town for three times the amount & paid him for liquer.
We moved our Camp yestrday out of the bottom on the side of a mountain. The company are all Quarterd together but without any regularity. In a Regular camp their is a regular palce for every tent but the ground was not ______? enough for us. I have one tend in the bottom yet. Caward? W. and Solomon More is in it. They are to sick to be moved. I sent ten men to Lexington & thirteen to Flat Lick Sick. I expect the most or all of them will get furlows to come home. John Buskirk went to Lexington. I understand that a lot of the men at Flat Lick are sent back to Lexington. I do not Know who or how many went. We have had a great deal of sickness in our Regement & my Company has suffered as bad or worse than any other. We have had Typhoid Fever. It has taken down a goodly number of my men and they will not be sufficient for duty for some time those that have had it will be a long time getting up stout. We have a doctor from Jeffersonville out here volunteer his service. He Seames to be much of a gentleman. They herd that we were sick and the people sent him out to assist in taking care of the sick. Brother L. M. Hancock is elected chaplin of our Regment. I expect he will be coming out soon if you could get some Brown _____? and make me a _____? of shirts. I weare my shirts with out starch or ironing. A number of the men will have yellow _____?. It does not make much difference wheather you send them or not. I have a plenty. The only difference they look better with out ironing. Most of the officers weare fine flannel shirts _____? _____? ____? etc. I have plenty of clothes to do me. I want you to see Brother Hancock before he starts which I presume will not be long and if he can bring them send me a lot of Envelopes & Paper. Tell him to suply him self with them also stamps etc. They are hard to come at out here. You may tell him that he does not want much clothing. A small trunk will or ought to hold all that he will need to have a long when he moves. He will all way have more than he wants to take a long and when he stops he will not have as much as he needs and what I say about shirts he may prophit. The Boy wash my shirts white & clean but we have no Iron or Starch and some times we get washing done out by the women but I have not had a shirt done up fit to weare at home since I left Bardstown. I thought when I comensed this letter that I would have written to Theophilis & Harriett. I Recd. their letters. Harrietts of the 29 ___?. I am in only tolerable health. I am not as well as I have been. I took a dose of Blue _____? it is working off. I think I will be better. I have been able to go all the time. We have a Telegraphic? to camp. If anything happins I will Telegraph to you at any time.
J. A. Ritter
Faucett say to tell you he is injoying himself to day? ______? in a _____? ____________________________________? to? me he has taken a great ______? of interest in my affairs. He watch? over my health? with the care of a Brother.
Brother Sullivan the chaplin of the penitenyary is out here. His son is Sick.
Yours as ever,
John A. Ritter
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May 9, 1862 from Camp Cumberland Ford, KY
Camp Cumberlandford Ky
May 9th 1862
T P Carter Sir
I take up my pen to write you a few lines not that I have any news that sould be new to you. We are still at out old camp. We have been here near three months in that time we have moved out camp six times. The first move was six miles from a place that we caled camp Pogue in honor of the man on whose land we camped. Since that move all of our moves haven been by hand that is we moved out tents camp equipage etc. on the Bone waggons. It is thought that is is not healthy to stay two long on any one Camp. All the moves save the first is in an area of half mile. We have throwed up some earth works arround our encampments or at two points we have earth works. What isis for I do not Know. I do not think that we will ever be attacked here yet such a thing might be. It is alway good policy to be ready. I think it well not be long till the Rebbels will soon have to fight or? surrenders at the gap & in that region? of Rebbledom or I ought not to use such a terme? as I have least it might convey that Idea that the people arround about the gapare rebbles they are not the Rebbels in all east Tenesse are in the midst of their enemys?.
I have not a doubt but that if the Rebbels held the same sway in Orange County would turn out as many traitors as any county in East Tennesse. Yet many of them are in the Rebbel army. They are forced in if they attempt to escape to Ky it taken they are treated? as guilty if Treason for which the penalty is death. They are often left to elect between death of imprisonment for life or inlist in the Southern army. There are several gaps through the Cumberland Mountains that the loyal Tenesseans made their way to Ky. It is Reported that the Rebbels are blockading all those passes and that they have troops in them to catch the fugatives as they call them. How true this is I cannot say. I am sure that they do not come over like they did a few weeks a go. It is also sayd that the mountains are full of men hiding from from the officers of the Rebble army to Keep from being impressed the Southern army. We are in Telegraphic conection with the world. The Generals Keep us posted with all the news that we ought to Know. The wires brought us the _______? of the evacution of York Town Williamsburg. Dumots? rout? of Morgan's Caveraly at Leabanon Ten and of Popes movements. I think that the gentlemen at the gap will soon be cut off or have to fight their way out. They may undertake to come over _____?.
We have had and still have a good deal of sickness. We sent fifteen of our Company to Lexington & we have eight at Flack Lick. We have some five? that has not been with us since we left Bardstown which makes 36 absent sick. We have we have a number sick in camp five that quite sick, Solomon More Edward More John Baily Wm W. McCracken Edward & Solomon More I think are improving. They had Typhoid Fever. They will not be fit for service for some time to come which makes my company verry small. If they were all well it would be a sorce of great satisfaction. We are looking forward to the time when we will get home but various are the opinions about the length of time we will have to be out. I hope that we may be relieved from continueing in this valley. All our provision is halled from Lexington & Leabanon. It was a hard country at Best but circomstances make it much more So. All the Troops want to get on some other line when we will make a move I have no Idea. The signes of the times Seamed to be last Sunday evening that there was Some move on hand. Seven Reg struck Tents & was put in motion three or four pieces of Cannons were also sent forward but they were all orderd back Sunday night. We had an allarme Sunday night. We all that was able and formd a line of Battle and remained for about two hours when we were order to out Quartes. The cause of the allarme was some rebal Caveralry firing on our pickets. They took one of our men prsner? they got one gun & 8 knapsacks. Our men Killed one of the Rebbles took another prisner. They had two thousan Infantry coming down the Road but they did not come near out Camp or to our pickets. If they want to fight if will come down or? _________? as we have down they cat get it.
From present appearances it looks like tht we were a going to stay here for some time. All the preparations look like fixing to stay here.
My health is improving, I am weeak. I have a tolerable apetite. I think I will be well as common as soon? as I regain my Strength. The Boy from about Orangeville none are seriously Sick Billy Higgins fell down and dislocated his arm. It is doing well. Wm Street is on the puny orders John Mc Donal a man that went from Heavy Dennys? is quite Sick. M A Spear had a sevear spell of Typhoid fever not able for duty yet. My respects to all. I Recd a Letter from Margarett of the 4th. She sayd that the people was agoing to send Some provisions. It is a rough road to Send any thing out a lot. All the consentrated meats were spoiled. It is almost imposible to send such thing that will not Keep when exposed to air.
J A Ritter
I mailed you a Sesch paper to day. I hope it will get to you.
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May 17, 1862 from Camp Cumberland Ford, KY
Camp Cumberlandford, Ky.
May 17th, 1862
I take pleasure in the present opportunity of trying to put a few thoughts together on paper for your perusal. I do not know that I can give you any news of much interest. I presume that some of our boys have got home by this time. I understand that Dr. _____? was sent to Lexington to Furlow our sick from that place and I understand that he furlowed two hundred of the 49. Whether that is true or not I cannot say. I hope it is. If our boy could get home for a shile they would recruit? up fast and soon be ready for service if their service should be needed. I think that is more than probable their service will not be much more needed by the government. We got hold of a circular issued by Jeff Davis to the governers and commanders of the Confederate states in which he say that defeat stares them at every point and if the people to not rais? in mass to repell the Northern invaders that their government cannot stand three months. This circular also calls for men and money and if not responded to their government is a failure but he demands of them to Burn their Houses, their towns, cotton, Tobacco, and run that the northern free lootes shall not get it to lay wais their country but wheare will they run to? Shame on such Hypocricy. Well ______? he Know that the property are only safe where our armys go. Yet he is trying to make the people believe that the object of this war is plunder and if they Burn their property who will be the sufferers. With all of our troubles we have great reasons to be thankfull (we of the Free states). You are not ______? like the Loyal women of the south. We have her six Regiments of Teneseeans. I talked with one of them yesterday. They have recd. word that their family are all ordered to leave the state. The man is a Methodist minister, Chaplin 1st Ten. Reg. He sayed that he was looking for his wife every day to come to camp a foot with three little children, perhaps a bundle clothes tied up in a Handkerchief. When he talked the fire almost sparkeled from his eyes. He sayed that it might be wicked but he felt like killing and never stopping as long as there was one lift. He also say that he wold have to hunt a home for them. I told him that he might send them to you and you would take care of them. He sayed that he left a property worth thirty thousand dollars but his property was but trash if would let his family alone. They had imprisoned his father 70 years old but had released him. The Rebels have got in to the pasess of the mountains to prevent the Teneseeans from getting though yet one get through ocasionaly. Some men here have not herd from their family for 5 or 6 months.
One man I talked with a few day a go sayed that he left home on the 2nd of August and had not herd a word form his family for that day and he could reach home on foot from here in twenty-four Hours is there was no Rebellion between here and his wife if she is yet living. I have an old friend that comes to see me every day. He was over last Sunday morning. I was dressing and as it happened all my socks were durty. I was hunting for a pair of clean socks he say that his wife had smugled? him som socks that he had gave his Capt. one pr. and that I should have another pr. So the socks were brought forth. He braged on his wife and the fine quality of his socks. I wish you could see them. I gladly recd. them. I shall wear them. They are good socks but they are not such fine socks such as we see at our agricultural fairs. He say that he has the best wife in the world that he never Knew her to do but one foolish thing and that was when she married him. I wonder if she is all the woman that done such foolish Tricks. The Tennesee boy are _______? and want to get home bad and if they had the Rebel army out of East Tennesse they would be at home to see their wifes and little ones that they have been separated from. May the good Lord haisten the time.
I have but one page left. I must devote it to other subjects. My health is improving. If all the balance _____? well I would say that I was well. We still have some sickness. Eav More is better, Solomon More is no worse, Tom Buskirk is almost well, Billy Higgins is better, Wm. Street is tolerable well not yet able for duty, Josep Charles tolerable sick not dangerous, Wm. H. McCracken some better, Faucett not very well, hardly acknowledge that he is sick. I hope he will keep well. I shall try to take care of all the sick as best I can. There are several others that are not reported for duty as I do not think that they are able for all the duty that a soldier is called on to perform. So they can do what they are able and cannot be forced to do when they are not able. James Denny is rather on the puny? list. Joseph Fitts is about well. Tell his wife that I all that she has herd about Jo is not true. Jo had a spell of Typhoid fever in a light forme. He was down with something that I would call the blues. He would sit around and have but little to say to anyone, but when he did do anything or say any things was not of the character of a crazy man. Anyone that has this fever is affected in the same way more orless. Jo is clear of all such Spell for some time past but as to him being crazy he never has been. Whilst he had the fever he was not exactly right. Our Regiment will likly be sent back to Lexington or Louisville to Recruit up. This however is not yet settled. The Box of provision have not arrive.
Hohn Alex. Ritter
The people of Jeffersonville sent a lot of provisions for the sick. All of the consentrated meats were spoiled. All of the lids were off. The roads are so rough that is is likly that I will be in the same fix.
We have not yet got the provisions sent of wheater we will or not is very doubtful. We are keeping a shart look out for it. When we get if, if ever, ____? will let you Know.
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May 18, 1862 from Camp Cumberland Ford, KY
Camp Cumberlandford Ky
May the 18 1862
Theophilus John & Thomas Ritter
My dear Children
This Sunday after noon I take up my pen to write you a few lines. This letter leaves me in tolerable health better than I have been for some time. Several of my boy are sick not many of them to say intirty? well. I hope and think they will all get well. Some of them that have been evrry sick will be some time before they get stout enough for duty. Tom Buskirk is not verry well. He wanted to report for duty this morning. I did not so report him. When a man reports for duty when they want any duty performed he as to do it no difference? about the time of day or night or what Kind of weather or how laborious they have to go so I thought that I would put Tom as such thing at such times as it would not hurt him. We had an Irish man in the Regiment that went to illustrate a soldiers life. He went to his capt and sayed, See here Captain, what you have brought me to. When I was at work on the Turnpike about thirty miles from New Albany I had my little Shanty. I had a good feather bed to sleep on. I had Tea & Coffee for supper my wife to sleep with. I had Beaf stake & Hot Rolls for Breakfast and they called me Mr Alaferty?. But Now Captain what is get up you Irish sone of B_____ at 4 o clock in the morning to Roll Call with out any bitters." All of which he gave the Irish Brogue. Poor fellow he now Dead.
Since I comensed this I have stoped to go to meeting. Brother Sulivan of Jeffersonville preached. He preached a good sermond. He had a son here that has been verry sick. I attended him. He came verry near dieing? bit is now getting well and will start home tomorrow. He is a slim pattern? now he is about 17 years old his name is Beverly Sulivan he say he is coming back as soon as he get well.
Billy Higgins is sick not dangerous I think. Some better to day. He is all the one here that is sick from Orangeville. Several have been sick but are well but not sufficient for duty. I am Keeping them like Tom Buskirk. Most of our sick have been sent back to Lexington. Some to the Flat Lick. Flat lick is about 8 miles back a little town where they use to make salt. I started a sesesh paper to your uncle T P. Carter. I have an other that I am a going to start to him. I do not know wheather they will ever come to hand. Enos Holbert eat dinner with me to day. I also visited the 83? Reg this evening. They are camp about half mile down the River from us. There are two Kentucky Regiments between us and the 33 there are two Tenesee Reg just above us all _____? to the cumberland River all but the Tensess Regements are campt on the side the mountain. We ______? in the bottoms between the base of the mountain & the River wheare we camp the mountains raise up in every direction. __? looks like the river is intirly rosed? up.
A ring for little Billy if to large Moly?.
The Ring buisnys is followed up here verry close. The boy that are not well and well enough to make rings they have quit making wooden Rings and turned to coal?. They make some verry nice rings. The boy read every thing that they can get hold of. News papers is in great demand. We take several papers. I am taking the Louisville Democrat. Tom Buskirk takes the Louisville Journal Mc Craken takes the New Albany Ledjer. Decker & Jim Denny takes the Cincinati Gazette and the men come around to Borrow as paper. We lone them some times there is an old Teneseean comes every day to get the news. They call him old stud. Old Stud is a great old fellow. He was in the Florida ware the Mexican ware and has see some hard fighting. He say that when we get in to east Tenesee I must go and see his folks and stay with them a month or two but if I get any time to be out of the army a month or two I will be at home that spare time but I do not expect to have any time to go to see any body till I get released from the service. Then I will make my way home on double quick. We drill every day and attend to the doings of ware fight sham battles charge Bayonets skirmish. Drill is a prety thing the men lay? down & shout & shoot Load on their Back Load & shoot Kneeling they scater out till they look like they are all tangled up but they get to gather? in company? quick.
I have one page left. I will quit till morining as the mail has gone out to day and I have write aboutenough for this time after a nights sleep I may think of something that will interest you.
Monday 19. I have just finished my morning rounds to see the sick and do up the other regular buisness and sit down to fnish my letter and whilst I write my mind visits home. I supose or fancy that you are out at work replanting corn and going on verry agreable like three little Brothers and if one get behind the otehrs keep him up with his row. I want you to be agreable? with each other. I hope that you do not get mad at and quarrel with each other and surly you do not fight one another. I can not think that a sone of mine would be guilty of so mean a trick, but how pleasant itis to see Brothers swell together in peace and when you get mad alway think of a fathers advise if I had any reason to think you were guilty of any mean thing it would wound my feeling? verry much. Above all thing be obedient to your Ma. I hope to get a letter from you soon and learn how you are getting along with yur farming. The Neighbors write me that you are doing well. Some say your do better than when I was at home. This I am glad to hear. Do not under take to do to much as what you do well. Our sick boy are much about the same. Most of them are better. There were some verry large cannons came up here yestrday evening. I think the war will sone come to a close. I will be glad how soon.
Your affectionate Father,
John A Ritter
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June 13, 1862 from Boston, KY
June 13, 1862
I take up my pen to write you a Few Lines. I last wrote you from Barberville which place we left day before yesterday. We were ordered to Williamsburg, Ky. but was ordered to stop at this place. How long we will remain here is very unsertain and when I will have an other opportunity to write to you is also unsertain. There is no maile from this place and it will be some time on the way. We left the dismal place of Cumberland ford last Sunday. We may likly go on to Williamburg or or we may stay at this place or go to some other. This is all unknown to me. We are about 30 miles from Barberville on the Elkhorn fork of Cumberland river. Boston is a very deminitive? place, some 4 or 5 houses. I have not been in the town. There is a beautiful valley of land? at this place hemed in by mountains on all sides. There is enough for two or 3 farms of the valley. From Barberville to this place is a hard country. Some of the very hardest specimens of humanity. Ignorant till Ignorance is a bliss.
I expect that harveest will soon be on hand. I think you can get out wheat out and put up by the use of our mechiens. If the neighbors will help you you can return the help by the mechine and I would advise you to sell off all the stock that you can turn in to money so that you will not have them to winter. Sell the cows (Muly Excepted) or any others that you can spare. I do not Know of any other advise to given you as regards our affairs more than I have already given. If Cal Fitts is still at home I think that you had better get Theadore Stackhouse to take the matter in hand and get me seecured some way that is the Abels matter. I also bought a note from Sam Wilson on Cal Fitts for $20.00. I believe and thinke he paid $16.00. The balance is unpaid. Get Theador to attend to it imedialy and get it secured or fixed up in the best posible manner. You may say to Stackhouse that Cal has not come upto the Marke about the matter but if he can fix it up it will all be right. I left Faucett at Barberville, not able to come with us. He is improving verry fast. When we left we also left Wm. L. Higgins & Solomon Moore sick. Some 10 others that was thought not well enough to march.
Since I last wrote you Col. Ray has been ordered a way from the Regiment To Nashville. It is suposed to answer charges against him. The Order, as I understand, was to reporte himself to General Dumont for duty and Nashville, Tenesee. The Col. took the thing harde. He cryed like a child. I was Sorry for him. He at least took the mater as a sensure of himself. Lieut. Keigwin has command. Heis a man that all have confidence in. For the last 5 or 6 weeks Col. Ray was Quite a different man to what he had been up to that time. He done all that he could for the benefit for the sick men after they began to get sick so fast and perhaps for this he has been called a way from the Reg. I hope in the providence of a divine being to see you before long. The report is that the rebbels have left Cumberland Gap which I expect is true. Our forces can get in to Tennesee with going through Cumberland Gap. In fact, I was in Tenesee this evening. Our camp is only 1/2 mile from Tenesee Line. The Rebbels have left the Gap and gone to Knoxville. Thay may be our destination. There is nothing in the way by Bad Roads and tall mountains to keep our Hords? out of East Tenesee.
We came to this place at 11 A. M. this day making a march of 15 miles a day. I marched through. My health is much better than it has been for Some time. I an Quite tired. My feet are some what sore but I have improven on the march and it has always been that I enjoyen better health when marching than any other time. It never was intended for me to be still. Our surgeon has offered his Resignation. He has not yet got an answer wheather his reisgnation will be excepted or not. I expect that the place will be vacant but you may rest assurd that I will not fill it. I could not accept the place under existing circumstances. I will not have the place. All of our men are improving in health and they are as merry as you ever saw a set of fellows. There are always hangers on for all the crums that fall from the publick Table. The man that run against Brother Hancock was out here last week hunting?. Some place there is a Doctor from the penetentry?, a verry cleaver fellow.
I must close. I hope you are well and doing well. There are many things that transpire in the service that would be interesting if I had the time to write them. If I get an opportunity I will give the children a letter about the fatte? of a deserter.
J. A. Ritter
(page 1) Kiss my little one for me. I would like to see them. I shall as long as I live love the people about home. The provisions that they sent came in good condition.
June 14. Orders to march at 7 1/4 o clock. Dont know any thing further, only that the Rebbels have skeddaled from the Gap.
(page 2) It is now bed time and I must go to restby comending you and all to the care of that one that is able to protecte.
(page 4) Still write to me. Direct your leffer to Louisville to the 49 Reg. Ind. Vols. and they will follow on. I will try to keep up communication with you.
Cal Fitts can tell Stackhouse all about how thing stand between he and I.
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June 19, 1862 from Cumberland Gap, TN
Cumberland Gap, Tenesee
June 19, 1862
I take up this verry earlyest opportunity to write to you. I last wrote to you from Pine Mountain or Boston. The little slip was writtn at the foot of Pine Mountain, Ky. Since then we have done some hard walkin & Running not from the Enemy but to find him. We stopt last night after being being on the march thirty hours, a good ______? of the time on force March. We marched thrity Eight miles from two hours by Sun in the evening of the 17 to dark last night trying to Bag the Rebbels but they were to fleet footed for us. We Climed the Pine and Cumberland mountain a place that they thought imposible to be passed with trains or Artilery and was trying to get in their rear. They left the Gap at 8 oclock 18th. We took posesion of the gap. We came up to it in the Rear. One Battery & a Reg. went up and fired the cannon last Evening. The doore is now open to East Tenesee. The enemy retreated to morristown. But if they would not stand a fight at Cumberland Gap they cannot stand any wheare.
We crossed the Cumberland Mountains about 25 miles below the gap or West of the gap at a place alled Big creek gap. This Big Creek Gap is one of the grandest seeans? that I ever saw. We crossed a spur? of the mountain, desended a very steep hill to a creek. This creek cuts through the mountain in a narrow gap with sollid? rock to an enormous hight on either side of the gorge. Gen. Spears Begade? was posted? first at this gap where he had a little little skirmish with the Reb Caverlary in which the Reb lost 3 horses, two men, 8 guns, 3 _____?, oen prisner. This was all the obsticles that we met to dispute our march in to East Tenesee Except those formed by nature. We took our waggons and Cannons there it looked like that it was imposible. The enemy so thought. Gen. Spears intercepted a Rebble Courier which was sent to Order forces to Big creek Gap. In that is say that the enemy was crossing the mountains but it was imposible for them to Bring their Trains and artilery and a small force could Keep all the infantry in the world from passing Big Creek Gap and that the Rebbels must hold that gap in spite? of H---- but they did not get the dispatch. We went through Big Creek gap Monday morning which let us in to Powels Valley. Powels Valley runs nearly west Bounded by the Range of Cumberland mountains on the north and a range of mountains on the south or powels River. This valley is from three to ten or 13 miles wide which is a good Farming country and in a tolerable state of cultivation. Some fine Farmes. In this valley there is none of the Evidence of the destruction of property that there is in Kentucky where the Rebbel army passed. The corne? seames to be suffering for Rain, the Oats are no account from Rust, the wheat is tolerable. Some were cutting wheat but the farmes fencing, houses all seamed to be unmolested. The peopl accused? the sesesh of being great Rogues but the nost that they complained of was taking their Eatabels. Some of the nativs at least was verry much disapointed in us. They suposed that we would Kill, murder, burn and destroy as we went. One old Sesesh, a Duchman, had his negrows? hid in an out house to Keep us from stealing them, his corn hid under his Barne Floor. Our Quarter Master went to him to buy grain. He showed them all that he had as he sayed in a crib and he had to have his bread out of it and that they could takewhat they were a mine to, leave him what thought was right. There were dividing with him when a Negrow Leaked out the hiden corn under the Barne floorthen they took what they needed.
The Rebbels were campt at his farme and we expected to have a fight their, but they Run of in the night. We found Flour that they ahd left their. Our men bought the Flour also. Their were several Horses and mules to mark C. S. on his farme but we left them. He sayed that he had bought them. I tryed to get the old Lady to get me my Dinner but she declard? that she had nothing to get, that the sesesh had stold all the meat that hey had etc. The Old Woman was in great distress. She though that we were a going to ruin them. She wanted to Know of some of the Boys if we would takak? all the horses they had. The boys tolk yess that they did not intend to leave her a thing. The old Lady was a methodist. She sayed to me if ever there was a time that peple should be pious and trust in the grace of god it should be now or such a time as this but I could not get the Lady to get my Dinner or to sell me a ham or meat. Some of the people were rejoice to see us, others cryed. An old Like Lady stood on the side of the Road asked me if all these men were union men. I told her that they were. I am so glad so see you, the union men have had to hide and run and lay out like they had commited murder or some heneous crime. Some sayed that they felt like that they could fly away. Many were the seans and incidents that occured on our march. We left Cumberland Ford on the 9th, staid at Barbville till the 11. From that time till now we have been on the march over some of the Roughest, steepes hills that is posible for men to pass. We had a Block and _____? & 20 horses to one cannon to get up the Hill.
We passed over a place that the nativs call the Jump up rock. We come to a ledge of Rock side ways. The waggons have to be lifted arround. There is not Room to turn. This ledge is about three feet high the first offset it then raises like star? steps for some 10 feet. Over this all of our waggons had to pass and if they went over bord I do not Know where they would have landed. The horses were unhiched from the waggons, a chain fasten to the end of the tong?, the horses hitched? on to the chain and as many men as could get hold of or around a wagon and in this manner the waggons were lifted and pulled over?. We passed this place at night. The mon shown brightly. I wish it had been day time so that I could have see it and the surrounding Country. At some future day I may write still further about our travils on this trip. We have marched over a hundred miles and find our selves 14 miles where we started and for all we think it a cheep service? for by it we have possession of Cumberland Gap perhaps the strongest position now in North America. Military men Say that the place is the Strongis that there is. Military men say that 10,000 men could hold it against the world if the provision supplys were Kept up. It is incredable how much work has been done. The fortifications are verry Extensive & scientificatt?. I spent all this afternoon and only had time one side of the Gap, the right hand side. All things go to show that the Gap was evacuate in a hurry. All their Tents were left but cut to pieces. Their powder was thrown down the hill, 6 cannons were left, some of them thrown over the clift, large Quantity of shot and shell were lef, some Flour, some bacen, and picked? pork. There is a well about 15 feet deep. They filled it up with Flour and pork. They left a large number of huts that I supose that they did not Burn because they migh have raised the alarme but if they would not fight at Cumberland Gap there is no use for them to talk about fighting any wheare. I am truly glad that we did not have them to fight in the Gap yet we may have to run them down but I am of the oppinion that Tenessee is virturly clean of rebels. I think that hte Rebbel cause has gone up. I hope how soon it may be acknowledge by the Rebbes. I must close for the present. Mail facility will be Kept up Regular hereafter. I am will, my heath ahs imprved every day on the march. Feet sore.
Jhn? A. Ritter
The mail is jist starting. I have not time to finish this letter. I am Babville?. Came Down yestrdy?, 21 June?.
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June 25, 1862 from South of Cumberland Gap, TN
Camp Cumberland Gap, Ten.
June 25, 1862
My Dearly beloved wife,
With more than ordinary pleasure I take up my pen to write you a few lines. I am with our Brigade (Gen. Carter 24) encamapt three miles south of the Cumberland Gap on beautiful camp ground where we have good water in abundance. There is a great difference in the water South of the Cumberland Mountains and north of the mountains. I went last Friday to Barberville 35 miles from here and I did not get a good drink of water from the time I crossed the mountain till I Returned on Sunday. I think that we are in a verry heathy country. The heath of our Reg. is improvng verry fast. I am in good heath at at present. My heath has improved every day since I left the Ford. I passed the ford going and coming from Barberville. I was sent to see how our sick were. I found most of them well and anxious to come up to the Reg. Faucett is improving verry fast and I expect him up tomorrow. We sent waggons down yestrday to bring up the camp equpage? etc. and all the men that were well enough to come. I found about 60 that are able to come to camp.
I wrote you a letter when we first came to this place. I was so hurried that I scarcly Know what I did write. I wrote you a letter form Boston but the mail facility are so bad I think it doubtful wheather you got it or not. I Recd. a letter from you last night of the 17. I saw R. Higgins and A. Knight at Barberville. J. B. Pinnick left here day before yestrday for home. He say that he would call and see you. It so happened that I was not with him but verry little whilst he was out here. He is a good talker and he can give you much information. Our Caverlay captured 25 wagons loaded with provisions and 500 Enfield rifles from the Rebbels last night (Mondays Caverlay). They also took 15 Beaf Cattle. They took one Col. and two Leut. Cols. of Sesesh Caveralry guarding the train. The train was from Lexington, Ky. They were captured in Virginea. The Rebbes were surrounded before they Knew that they were in danger. They tryed to Run as usual but they met forces every way and they hoisted the white Flag. We have but little information where the Rebbels are. They left the Gap and went to Morristown. It suposed that they have gone to Georgia. It is thought that there will be no more Fighing in Tenesee. There are still squads of Rebbe Caveralry in the neighborhood.
Col. Ray has been ordered to Nashville. It is suposed under sensure. If he comes back and takes command of the Reg. there will be but few offices left in the 49th. This ismy opinion and I think I am not mistaken. I am realy sorry for the Col. His hopes are blasted for the Future as a military man. I have no confidence in him. I feel disposed to defend him as fare as he is right. He took it verry hard that he had to Leave that he had to Leave. If he had continued with us we would have been left behind in the expedition taking the Gap which is considered disgrace to be ordered to the rear at a time like that ocasion. Col. Keigwin has the confidence of the offices and men and if he does not keep the command since Col. Ray has Left and Keigwin has command all things have new life. The men are increasing in numbers for duty. As for the Drawes you may send them to me. Jim Faucett needs some drawes. We tryed to buy them but could not. We can get govermet Drawes but they are no acount. If you get this in time you may sent Faucett a couple pr. Drawes. I want a fine pr. pants but you cannot get them for me. I will send to New Albany for a pr. the oportunity that I have. I let my measure with S. S. Moor at N. A. and if he still has it he can make me a pr.
The military goods have changed since I came in to the service. It is a light Sky blue. We have not got any news for some time. The lates paper that I have seen is the 11 and what is going on out side of our little world is all unknown to us. The mails are to be established to this place imedialy. The contractor was to have been here yestrday. How long we will remain here is all in the future. Col. Keigwin sayed that we would likly remain here five or six weeks but of course this was only his opinion. If the Rebbels had have stood their ground and fought us at the Gap we never could have taken it by fighting them in the Gap. It is suposed to be the Stronges place in the U. S. The aproaches to it are narrow and their Battery could have slain men faster than they could have been filed up.
If Liut. Charles has not left he can bring me a pr. of pants from S. S. Moors and you can send the money to pay for them By Mr. Buskirk when he goes to N. A. and if Moore has sent them to me by any one Charles need not bring them. He can inquire wheather he has sent them to me. I have the _____? you sent me _____? by all. The provision are a Barberville yet I expect them tomorrow. They cost us $9.00 Freight. I must bring this letter to a close. I hope and expect to see you before Long.
Yours as ever,
John A. Ritter
(page 1) Give my respects to all.
(page 4) Tell Billy that I have no recollection of making any Bill with Wilson & _____? since I settled with them and I paid then ____? _____? at the time.
Hope you are well and all the balance of the Ritters.
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June 29, 1862 from Camp Cortrell, TN
Camp Cortrell Ten
June 29 1862
I will devote a few moments lesure in corresponding with you. This is Sunday evening. I have just taken a nap on my cot and feel verry much refreshed. I am in good health better than I have enjoyed for a long time. I have regained my usual strength. I have not been confined to my bed at any time, I wrote you a letter from Barbeville that I had not time to finish. I do not now know where I left off but I will not try to resume the same subject. We were cut off from all mail communication and til with in a few days pass we have been almost lost entirty? with out news. Our mail maters were ordered by Gen Morgan to Williamsburg and it had to be orderd back and it took some time to make this change but the mails has come at last. I Recd two letters from you one the 5th the 17th. I need not say that I was glad to get them. I also recd a lot of papers that let us in to some doings of the world. We sometimes think that it will not belong the war is over but at other times we are led to think that it may be some time before the war will close. We are anxious for a spedy but Honorable termination But if the things are to be fixed up for a short time to be soon involved in strife the thinking part of the army is to let it continue, the final result of this strife I have never entertained a doubt but the length is uncertain?.
You wish to Know what to do with the money you have on hand. I am hardly able to advise you. The Paoli Bank or any of the free Banks I think not a verry safe institution. They are based on state stocks. It is time that there is an individual liability of the stock holders but most of the Bonds of the Southern States I think will depriciate. The Bank of the state would be safer. I will have Some more money to send home soon that is if the paymaster get sober longe enough to pay us off. We have four months pay due us tomorrow. The paymaster has been here for two months are more and has made one payment. He is a whiskey soaker and should be dismissed? from the service. Liut Barr? will be sent to take the money to Jeffersonville. It will be expressed from Jeffersonville to you. The heath of the Reg is improving verry fast. We have over 400 for duty now and there are lots of men at home that are abler to be in camp than many that are here. Some that are at Lexington are welland loafing arround town. There is an order for all the soldiers & offices to report them selves in 15 day. That will stir out lots of them and if they do not turn out they will have to suffer the penalty. Some never left home to do any service. Others have stood to the ____? pipe? every day. Faucett has come up to the Reg. He is mending verry fast. He is not reported for duty yet. He does all that he is able. I shall always be under many obligations to him for the many Kind offices that he has done me. My interest has been his interest and he has watched over me and when sick nurst me like a child. Col Ray still absent from the Reg. We have not herd from him since he left Lexington. Liut Col Keigwin is in command. The offices and men have the utmost confidence in Keigwin as an officer. As for the money you have on hand do the best you can. I would not like to loose it but that is a ____? to men?. The Bank of the State I expect will be the safest institution at Bedford____________________????.
We had a good sermon from Brother Hancock. He is ______? and respected by all. The Tenesees have fell verry much in love with him. Gen Carter & Lady attended his meeting do day. Mrs. Carter is a fine sociable lady. She says that all the Carters are clever good folks. I told her that the cleverest woman that I ever saw was name Carter. We have Gen Carter Col Carter & parson Carter with us. All Brothers. The Gen & the parson are verry prominet men in Teneses. Parson is a presbyterian so is the gen. The Tennisee women flock in to see their men since we have crossed Cumberland mountain.
Since we have began to _____? our heath there seams to be new life in the camp. All joy mirth & life. I have never witness a grater change. The dull drag of camp life seams to be considrably mellowed _____? We had one deth in our Reg to day. The first one for some time. A man from Crawford county. There is meeting to night. I will close for the present. Did you get the letter I sent from Boston I want you to get stackhouse to settle with Cal Fitts. I wrote you from Boston about it have the claim secured and I do not care about the money ____? Did you find a note on Cal for 20.00 payable to Sam Wilson with a ___? of $16 dollars.
J A Ritter
(page 1) Maj Thornton has just Returned. He reports 60 that went back to Lexington on their way to camp. Some of our boys I do not know which.
I sent you a Box by McGill out sutter to be expressed from Lexington that you ought to have Recd long ago?. It was sent at the time that Higgins? returned.
(note in margin on later page is not complete - off edge of copy)
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July 8, 1862 from Camp Cotrell, TN
Camp Cotrell, Ten.
July 8, 1862
It is eight months to day since I entered the service. In some Respects It seames but a short time. Time passes of rapidly in the army. I presume that it so happens that one that does his duty does not take time to think how time is passing but in many things it seames long. It seames a long time since I saw the children. So long in all probability that little Billy would not Know me but as to the balance, I expect that they would readily recognize me. They perhaps have grown very much: how this I can only conjecture. I presume that the changes would be more susceptible to me than to any that has been with them all the time.
If our once beloved Country was a peace I would love to be at home. I Recd. yours of the 2nd of July, also one Sunday last. The mails have stoped for a while. I do not Know wheather they will be regular for a while there is to be a regular daily mail for here to Crab Orchard in packs but they have not comensed yet. I hope it will not be long I was verry much out of sorts when I got no mail and perhaps the letters that I have sent home have been delayed and at best I think that the letters lay in the office several days before Starting. At theoffice at the ford it was Kept by a woman and a large amount of mail mater on had & frequent missent letters would likely occur. Since the army has been in this Country Several little one horse establishments have grown to be large. This is especialy true in mail maters. We have fine pleasant weather at present excepting it is quite warm. The nights are cool. I read the two chapters sited to me and I feel like they strengthen me. I have faith to believe that I shall get home. On the 22 of March when we were marching up on the Batterys I felt like that I was marching on to certain destruction but when they opened fire the first shot that fell near me & exploded & I unhurt. I felt like that was not be harmed by them that I should be spared to return to you a gain. I still believe the same wil a firm confidence in him that ruleth all things for good and I think it only a question of time. I think and hope it may not be long.
I have not idea when we will leave this place. I think it will be a long time. The Sect. of War Telegraph Gen. Morgan to fix himself so that he could hold it and as long as there are rebels in reach there will be force enough to hold it. I have spent two days passing through the intrenchments. They are verry extensive. I walked till I was tired down. No one would have had an Idea of the strength of the place it could only have been taken by a regular seage or by strategy as was the case. They believed that we had a much larger force than we did have. He made them believe that they would be surrounded & all chances of getting provision cut off. They could have take all our provision with out any one to resist them. We left it at Flat Lick with out any force to protect it for ten days but they did not come out of their hole but comensed moving. We got close after them. They burned a lot of their provision, destroyed everything that was of much value. I am in tolerable good health. I have the headache every day or to.
Yours As ever,
Jno. A. Ritter
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July 12, 1862 from Camp Cotrell, TN
Camp Cotrell Ten
July 12 62
I set down this pleasant morning to write you a few lines. I am well. I Recd yours of the 2nd of July. The mails have been verry iregular since we left the Ford so much so that we have been for near a week at a time with out any mail. It is expected that the mails will be regular in a short time. The mail is to be carried daily from Crab Orchard to Barberville in hacks. The amount of mail is so great that it cannot be carried on horse back. A large amount is left at the different post offices. A gentleman told me that he was in the post office at London & that there was at least fifteen Bushels of mail in that office awaiting transportation. We have just been paid off from an other two months service? for March & April. There is due us two months more May & June. The drunken paymaster will be a long time before he get arround a gain probably two months longer. I understand that he is orderd to Washington. I hope to be disciss from service.
I send ;you $200.00 dollars if you want any thing spend the money freely for it. I think if I was you and had as much money as you have got I would get me a good sewing machine one that would not get out of Fix. I think singers the best and I would have it warrented by responsible partys. These are only sugestions. Act acording to you own Judgment. I had a fellow call on me yestrday claiming me as his son. His name was William Ritter. He had a son that emigrated to Ind about thirty years ago hearing that there was a Ritter in an Ind Reg he concluded that it was his son but he was mistaken. The fellow was green but that is nothing uncommon in this country. It is astonishing the amount of Ignorance that there is in this Country. The natives seam frienly but I expect that it is the power of uncle Sam that Keeps them as Loyal as they are. A sesesh will not do to trust ____? _____? When we were at Big Creek Gap A Teneseean went to his home from the Army. The sesesh neighbors called on him and implored his his protection that they had done but little and was forced to take sides with the south and that they had not done any thing in the way of acual hostily to the govement only express their simpathy for the south and as soon as our army moved a way to ward the gap these same fellows were making arangements to have the man arrested for Treason to the southern confederacy. I am tired of handley? such men so easy. We had twenty five prisners that were to be sent to Lexington. One company from our Reg was detailed to take them. They spoke to me about it. There was to be aroun ten days Rations for the trip. I told them that it would not take ten days rations to do me that I Knew that the prisners would all try to get a way and that I would ____? them before I was out two day and that they would all be shot in in the back so they concluded that they would not send me. I spoke this in a joke but I believe that they thought that I would Kill the last one of them. I did not want to go. It would have been a long hard march.
Liut Charles has not yet Returned to the Reg Liut Faucett is recoverning?. He is not very stout yet he does most of the buisness in the quarters which is verry considerable. No one that never had the experience the amount of buisness that there is connection witht he Army it would take a good clerk to Keep up the buisness. I send per Liut Thms Barr $1166.00 to be express to John B Buskirk Orangefille Care of Nugent & vestal? Orleans. This money belongs to the men of my company. I also sent 80.00 Campbellsburg & 40.00 to ______? making 1280.00. There is not much over half of my company present. They are scatterd at Lexington & at their homes. I have orders to Report all that are at home on sick furloughs as deserters. We think it hard often that we cannot be Furloughs but when we see how the system is abused it is no wonder men get furloughs and get home and never come back. There are men at work on their farmes etc. all that are at home had better begin to brake out or they will get in to trouble by some men inosent & good men have to suffer but this is the way the world goes. I must close hope you will be of good cheer.
Yours as ever
John A Ritter
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July 15, 1862 from Camp Cortrell, TN
July 15, 1862
Camp Cortrell, Tenesee
I take my seat to write you a few lines. The mails are so iregular that I do not here from you often. I have recd. but two letters fro you since we came to this place. The 18 June one from Harriett. I think it is all the fault of the mails, and if the Letters are as tardy from here you must be verry much annoyed. I have nothing to new to write. I am well and I know that that will be good news to you. I was on picket Sunday and Sunday night. I spent the day lonsome my thoughts was fare a way. The weather was fine. I slept but little Sunday night all that I did sleep was rapt in my overcoat sitting or learning against a tree. In that short & broken naps I dreamed of home the loved ones fare away strange as it may seame for the first time since I have been in the serivce, but I awoke to find it but a dream. The time passed of slowly till I got in to camp about 10 o clock Monday morning where I took a good nap on my cot for three or 4 hours after which I felt all right a gain. I have had good health for some time past with the excepting I have had frequent spells of head ache.
Liut. Charles & Benj. R. Smith arived a camp do day they look better than I expected to see them. The other boys are expected in this evening, John W. Buskirk & others. The Liut. tells me that he ahs some drawers for me in his trunk that has not come up yet. The Box that I sent home to you was left at Crab Orchard. The card got torn off so that they did not Know where to direct it. Mr. Gill out sutter started to Jeffersonville Sunday. He sayed? that he would remarke it & send it on by Express to you. I sent you my likeness by R. Higgins which I learned that you have received by your Letter. I have this much to say it is a verry poor picture. The Artist could not take a picture. There is a good artis here now & if I knew the size of the frame I would have an other taken & send to you, but if I do not I have it taken at some future time if oportunity affords. I was _____? when I saw the picture. I had it taken a number of times. We have had a dry time here. The corn blades are twisting. It has some appearance of rain. A good shower would be a great help. At present, we have one company from each Rej. to work on the gap every day. It looks like there had been enough worke done their already but it was to resist a force from the Kentucky side but it would be difficult to get into it in any direction. I want you to continue to write. I expect that your letters will come along after a while.
16 Liut Charles trunk has arrived with the drawers you sent. They are the verry article that I wanted. Charles brought me a pr of gloves. They are not what I wanted. They were a good glove. Faucett took them. I have a pr of the Kind that he brought me. I wanted a Kid glove or a thin neat Leather glove that I could carry in my pocket. The gloves that I have comes nearly to my elbow. They are so much bulk about them that they are unhandy to Carry. The Taylor at New Albany did not send the pant to Lexington according to arangements he was to make them and send them to Lexington by express. Charles staid at Lexington two day waiting for them. They did not come up. He made arangement for them to be sent on by governet Wagons. It is likly that we may get them but they may be lost. It is sayed that the Rebble Morgan is in the neighborhood of Lexington. He may capture them. John Buskirk & several of the boys got in to camp yesterday. They generaly look well. It have no news. We are in Telegraphic communication with the world but we have not got any dispaches for some time at least they have not been made publick. My subscription to the papers are out so I am quite? scarce. I must close for the present as the mail is about starting. My gound that you sent me is admired by every body. I have been asked often where I got it from, they would like to get one.
John A. Ritter
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July 29, 1862 from Cumberland Gap, TN
Cumberland Gap, Tenessee
July 29, 1862
I take up my pen to write you a letter, not that I have any thing new to write. The mails have been stopt at this place for some time and I do not Know wheather the lettes go through that are started from here. If they have not you may look for a lot of lettes but they will not be of verry resent date. I have herd from home to the 11th of July. Also I got a Eagle of the 17th but I am informed that the rout is now open and that the mails will be regular. We get no papes and we know but little that is going on. We are in Telegraphic comunication. Also the Morgan raid cut the wire & took possesion of the Telegraph ofice at Cumberland and by that means got all the dispaches from this division but I presume that we are done with him at least for a while. I expect the got my pants. The man S. S. More was to have made them & sent them by Express to Lexington to Liut. Charles. He did not do it. Charles staid two days waiting for them. They did not come. He made arangement with Capt. Brown to have them sent on. They started for Lexington about the 12th or 15th. I expect they have never come to hand. Charles had a pr. in the same Fix. Also a Liut. in our Reg. had a full suit of clothes that in all probability Morgan got all of them. He got our sutlers? wagon & team, four mules & his riding? horse and I expect the Box that I sent home to you some time a go. The Box contained a Cap & Feather, some old clothes, several shirts, 1 pr.pants, 2 prs. Drawers, those that you made for me last fall, some Soldies? Bread, a lot of papers, pay and muster Rolls that I wanted for future reference & several little notions. One Lonal? pipe Caven? out by a Sick Soldier that he presented me with as a token of his respect & gratitude for my attention to him. They were left at Craborchard. The ______? got off and the sutler when he started home sayed that he would remake the Box & forward it on to you and his wagon was on the road between Craborchard & Lexington when Morgan took it, & I have no doubt but what the Box was it it but if so it is only lent.
I do not Know but that I am happly ______? in some particulars at the time that all seames to dispond?. I am in good spirits, never more so. We are in close proximity to our sesesh meighbors. We are bringing them in regular almost every day and in this part of the world they are being waiken up. They are at Taswell 12 miles from the Gap. Our forces go over to see them every once & a while but they invarbly run. DeCorsys Brigade went over Saturday and run them a cross Clinch River. He went to their Camp & took their Hay and forage, drove off their guards. Their men are deserting verry fast. Some of their companys loos as high as 18 a week and most of them are willing to quit if they could quit as they say Honorable. Most of their prisnes that we take do not want to be exchanged. They would rather be sent North. We have a Liut. that refusen to be exchanged. They have been misinformed about the union army. They thought the yankees would Kill every one of them and they manufacter many horrable yarnes. A very respectable Gentleman told me that the day that the Rebbes left the Gap that he had been up in Virginia and was on his way home and that the women and children were scard nearly to death. One lady that Knew him ran out to meet him to Know what she should do, that the yankees had got over into Powels valley and was coming up it and Killing all the women & children, burning all the houses, laying waist the whole country as they came. She had Just herd that an old lady 70 years old had been Killed and the Sesesh soldiers told this as they were leaving the Gap. He told her that it was all a mistake. To remain at home and behave her self & and he would be acountable for all damage. The third Ky. went up in to Virgina and took a lot of prisnes among others an officer. When his wife herd that he was taken she suposen that he would be Killed or verry badly treated and she concluded that she would die with him. When she saw our soldiers and offices she way to an old acquaintance or the man that raisen her that she had been imposen? on that were not the monstes as had been Represented, that we were gentlemen and after remaining a few day she went home satisfien leaving her husband a prisnr but I am of the opinion that we treat their prisnes to Kind while if we were to ill treat them they would ______? but I think if high time that the government should begin to let them Know that is was in _______?.
I have already writen more than I antisipated when I comensed but there are a number of incidence that I want to write about. For some day past there has been Flags of truce passing. What the meaning of them all are I have not been able to find out but this much I have found out that there is a better feeling existing between the offices of each army since they have got better acuainted. One Rebbel officr came in with a flag a few day a go and was returning after night with a escort of about 40 men. We had a Regiment out scouting, one co. of the 49, they Knew nothing of the flag of truce. They suposed it to be Rebel caveralry trying to capture our pickets. They formed on each side of the road and when the flag escort got in between them one company fell a cross the Road to cut of any retreat & in this condition open fire on them. Col. Keigwin was at the head of the escort. How many was Killed we were not able to find out. There are some 18 mising. Capt. Lyon was badly hurt. It was thought that he would not Live but he is Recovering. Col. Keigwin was considerable hurt though not seriouly?. He is still lame & not able to ride horse back. His horse was shot in three places. There is a mark of a ball a cross the skirt of his coat and a spent ball struck him about the head. His Knee is the worst hurt that he has at present. His horse fell with him and he was run over by other horses. That hurt him worse than any thing. Cap. Lyon was thrown from his horse and was run over by the other horses which came near tramping him to death. Col. Keigwin by hollowing saved all the party that was saved. The Capt. that had command of the company of the 49 Knew his voice & run up and down the lines and orderd them to seace firing. The Col. voice was herd above the roar of the fire Armes. He says that he was hollowing for dear life and when the stopt firing if any poor sinner ever thanked God he was the verry fellow. He says that if must have been an interposition of an unseen hand that saved him. There is a letter in the Eagle of the 17 that they say that Keigwin wrote. I should not be suprised if Keenan had a ______? on this subject soon.
I have filled an other sheet and have not room to sign my name so you will find it somewhere.
John A. Ritter
(margins) I sent you 200.00 Dollars that you ought to have by this _____? ______? ______? _______? _______?
Perhaps the most important news to you I have intirly left out. I am in good heath & find spirits.
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July 31, 1862 from Camp Cumberland Gap, TN
Camp Cumberland Gap, Ten.
July 31, 1862
Theophilus C., John A., Thomas B., & William V. Ritter
I take up my pen to write you a few lines to let you Know that I have not forgotten you and that you still have a father that cares for you though fare a way. I often think of you all and wonder what you are doing & how you are gettig a long and am glad that you are not compelled to undergo the hardships & Fatigues of a campaign life for be assured that we see rough times at times and I expect that none that has been out has had a much harder time than we but when we all get home together I will have many things to tell you and till that time be obedient children. Do not disobey your dear Ma. I expect that she has her hands full. I Know if I was their I could take many things off of her but I must trust to you to fill my place as fare as you can and when I shall have spent my life I shall be proud of my sons. You may do much to make her happy. I do not Know when I shall be at home. I have not the remotest Idea. Yet I feel assured that I will get home some time. I an ingaged Building fortifications with my Company at Cumberland Gap. The Rebbels done a vast amount of Fortifying but it was to Keep us out of the Gap coming up on the other side. Now we are fixing the Tennessee side so that they could not get us out if they were to try which I don't they will. If they do I think they will rue it.
I was down at the Camp a few evenings ago. As I came back stopt at the 2nd Tenessee Regiment. The men was playing soldier. There were some 80 or a 100 on a side. One party Represented caveralry. The caveralry were stradle of sticks for Horses had little bunches of Bushes for swords some of them had staves in the shape of paddles. The Infantry had staves for guns. The Infantry would forme up in two ranks in line of battle. The Caveralry would forme up in to ranks and make a charge on them and such cutting & slashing with the bushes was not see every day by a good deal. Some times the Caveralry would brake the lines & scatter the Infantry, sometimes the Infantry would scatter the caveralry. They would soon reforme and make an another charge in this way. They plaid soldier for an Hour or two and I left them at. I expect that they had a Jolly time but to think that men an sticks for horses Galloping like little boys. Occasionally one would get his horse Killed or crippled and some times they would take each other prisners. Each party had their commanders and all was done up a good deal like they injoyed the sport fine but soldiers when they get time must have their sport. I will say to, Theophilus that you must not think of enlisting. You are to young, you cannot stand a camp life at your age and attend to things till I get home and then I will try to get you in at West Point and give you a military education. John and Tom Buskirk is at camp with me and are will. My respects to all Write me a letter soon. I am always glad to hear from you.
Jno. A. Ritter
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August 2, 1862 from Cumberland Gap, TN
Cumberland Gap, Ten.
Aug. 2, 1862
Yours of the 21 is Recd. and this is the third Letter that I have got from you this week. I am alway anxious to get a letter from you. I always wish that they were longer and when it is long between letters I hunt up some old one, reread them but alway when I make a move I burn or tare up all old letters so that if my trunk should fall in the hands of an enemy that they will not have the pleasure of reading my letters. I do not Know how long I will be at the Gap but I expect for some time if we do all the worke that is laid out for us to do. It will be white frost before it is done. News is verry scarce at this time. We have a lot of prisners here. I often talk with them and am sorry for the poore deluded fellows. One of them told me that it was the opinion that nine out of every ten in the free states were abolishonist and that we look upon negros as our equils, that they were allowed to eat at our tables, sleep in our beds, galant our Daughters etc. This he said had been taught him all his life and that he was honest in his opinions. Oh, for Shame, I hope that this eturnal harping about the Negro will stop. We have no stock in the negro. We have passed through Kentucky and have not stold? any of the counterbands and we have got thus fare in Tenessee on the same footing but if this war does not seace there will be rougher means used than has been. It makes me mad to detail my men to stand guard over rebbel property which is done daily and as long as traitors are protected and their property defended whilst the union men are unprotected Treasan is at a premium and the Shackels will soon fall off when this comes I pity the poore women and children. You may thank your maker that the war is not on our borders. Hard as your ____? are you are in a good fix to what thousands are but I wish that you was better fixed than you are. It has been one of the objects of my life to make you happy and to fix so that our family would comfortable but this wicked Rebelion has deprived us of may comforts of life that we might have injoy but with such a state of affairs as our once happy country was in but now bleeding at every pore. It was once thought that Kind treatment would win them back to aligance but it has failed and now there must be an other policy must be persued. I have no fault to find of out offices but when I see my men standing guard over Rebbel property and then on half rations or when it comes to buying from sesesesh. Of all the awful, onions two for 5 cts., Honey 50 cts. a bb.?, corn _____? 10 to 25 cts. that any one man could eat at one meal, bacun?, hams 25 cts. a ___?. Shall we stand these things, can we indure it? Those in orthority must begin to open their eyes. I would be glad if this thing was settled but it will have to be settled by the soward and by Hemp. It is better under this colougne water for a man to be sesesh than a union man. Here a union man is not protected only by the generosity of the soldiers whilst they are not allowed to tuch the property of the sesesh but those Dough face union men I have no faith in them. The most of the men are union whilst our forces are in their midst but when we pass them by they raise up in our rear, cut off our supplys like they have done or tryed to do in Kentucky. The notorious Morgan got the box that I sent to you. It is not much value to him but is ony lent. I expect to collect it with Intrst. My pants have not yet been herd from. I expect that they ahve gone the same way.
Col. Mc Red? of Bloomington is here. I will try to get him to look after them. We have a Capt. Johnson that was at Lexington and got a suit of clothes of the same man. He may have charge of my pants. Liut. Charles has a pr. of pants that is with my pants, if they have not parten company. The boys are generaly well as for sorry dog pups. You guess well but I think in my present situation that it is not best at altims to give publisity to ones opinions. I will here say that there are some men went into the service that never intended to do any good when they left home. They play old soldier from the start. They get in to a Hospital and they stay their always behind the Reg. This Hospital caveralry are a great drawback to the service and there are many more of them than one would supose. I was at Barbersville after some of our men that was sick at that place. I marched them out into an old Orchard, formed them up in two Ranks and picked out such as I thought was well. And out of this number I selected 60. The Col. sent for every one of them, some that pretended to be sick, that they could not walk half mile but they all had to come. One of them tied to the end of the wagon for mile or so but when he found out that the thing was no go he agreed if they would let him loose that he would go to Camp which he did and every one of them were as well as the men in camp except that they had been laying arround taking no exercise. When I came back and made my report to the Col. he sayed that if he new? what one were able to come he would bring them. Pulled out the list of their names that I had taken. He then sent a Liut. imedialy after them with orders to bring all on my list.
As usual I have finished the amount of paper usualy appropriate for a letter but am not yet done. This is Sunday the 3rd of August. It is a beautiful day. All things is quiet. The sun shines will all its lovelyness. There has been but few army teams a stir to day. It looks more like sunday than usual. There is little reguard paid to the Sabath in the army. Gen. Carter is an exception to the general rule of army offices. I think he is a christian. When he does any thing on the Sabath it is a necesity with him. I am lonsome. I have gone through the regular rotiene? of duty of the duty assigned to Sunday morning, that is inspection of the Armes, Amunition, Clothing of the men. I have not got any of my company in the hospital that is with me. Some are back at Lexington. All that is here is up on foot. There is 3 or 4 that is a little on the puny order. James Denny, John Pennick, Robert Knight, and Johnithan Clark. I expect a lot of the boys up from Lexington soon with Capt. Johnson. We have some their that might have come up before this if they had wanted to but those that are not able for duty we do not want them to come till they are well. We have a deserter Just in from the sesesh Army. He says that they have about 4 Regments of Caveralry at Knoxville that was about ready to start out as Garillars. The people may look out for Kentucky. He says that they ahve nothing to eat but salt meat and Bread that he has not see any Coffee since he has been in the service. He says that he was prest into the service in Louisana with some 60 others at New Orleans that they were sent to a camp and put under guard and was divided out in smapp partys, put in to different Regiments, that he was sent to Knoxville from where he made his escape. I have not seen the man. They say that he is verry inteligent. An other fujative has Just come in from Georgia. He says that the crops are verry short in these states on the southern coast and that it will be with great difficulty that they can subsist their Army. We have a lot of sesesh prisners here. I have got quite intimate with severals of them. I often talk with them and get their ideas but the most inteligent of them are verry Ignorant of the resorses? of the Free States. I learn that recruitg is going on verry fast in our state, that the new _____? is fast filling up. I am affraid that Theophilis will want to volunteer but he is to young but if he should take a notion to go wheather or no I would rather you would send him to me yet I may not stay in present situation. This depends on circomstances. These scircomstances are about this. If Col. John W. Ray comes back & takes command of the 49th I expect that there will be at least one less Capt. in it. I hope and trust for the good of the men & my bleeding Country that he may not come back. If I should leave the 49th I am willing to serve in some other. I love home, I love my family, I would like to be with you but I Know with the state of things now existing that I could not stay at home satisfied. I want you to sum up all your patriotism. I Know it is hard for you to be left as you are but your country demands it at your hands. I am well and in fine spirits. We have had to subsist on government suplys for some time, hard Bread, bacon, dryed beans, sugar, Coffee, Rice, and mixt vegetables. We have Just bought a bucket of poteates and a bucket of Beans and we got today two sugar cured hams. If we could get such vegetables we would live better than we do at times. If we could get transportation we would be glad to have butter and such things from home as could not be had in this country. All that we get of the government we get at a reasonable price. It is furnished at the cost to the government and we could not ask anything. If we Still reamin her I do not see how this army can subsist next winter. It is a verry bad _____? at best but when the winter weather sets in the roads is almost impasable. The government ought to take negroids enough to make a good road and put them to work on it but there will be a detachment of soldiers to do it if done at all. We are still at work making fortifications. I shall learn something about the business as I am observing things verry closely as they progress. The man in charge of the worke aims to work the same men that are at work at present till the works are completed. I have been a part of two day writing this letter and as I have taken a long nap to day between times Knowing that it cannot go off till tomorrow this has been truly a scrap letter and I have not taken the time to read. I may have made several repepetition. If I had an opportunity I would get my Teeth fixed. The loss of my front teeth affects my voice. Tom and John are well. John is too young to stand the hardships of a soldier like older ones. I often favor him but if he was put throug like some he would see a hard time. In fact, I favor all of my men and they all Know it and speak of it. I Know that they would not be willing for me to leave them under any circomstances. It is reported that our men have had a skirmish with the enemy near Taswell to day and that we have captured 300 prisners. I do not believe this to be true though we sent over in that direction about 4000 Soldiers yestday and if they came a cross any enemy they would have had a brush. It is a great place in camp to get news and if one would believe half he herd he would always be taking trouble or Joy to be disaponted? when he gets the facts. Both or our surgeons have turned their Resignations.
J. A. Ritter
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August 14, 1862 from Cumberland Gap, TN
Cumberland Gap, Ten.
Aug. 14, 62
I take up my pen to write you a few lines to let you Know that I am still on the land. My health is verry good. I straind my foot some time a go that gives some pain ocasionly. That makes it some what inconvenient for me to walk much but as I have but verry little walking to do it has not set me back. The health of my company is tolerable good. Tom Buskirk is not well. I have no one in the Hospital that is up here. There is several back yet that has not come up with the some that will probably never come up but acording to an order their pay stops on the 11 of this month & on the 18th they are to be musterd and all that is not present are to be Court Matial. This I think will stir up their minds by the way of Rememberance. There are some of our men that have been home & at Hospitals under full pay that have never earnd five cents for the governmt and it is getting time to stop the game. We have men in my company that have not done one weeks service all told and such men is a disgrace to any lady or community.
You have perhaps seen an account of the skirmish that _______? had. The Rebbels faired? badly at the time. It is well understood that they lost a great many men in that fight. Some of the prisners put it 600, some at 250. How this is will perhaps never be Known. I think the ware will soon be at a close or that the fighting part of it is or will be done in a short time. I think the calling out the 600,000 men will have a better affect to convince the people in armes that we are in earnes than any thing yet and to let them Know that we have? the stringth. I would like to see some men drafted. Their are those that would not defend their own fire sides if the enemy was in our country and if it was not for those that are out in the _____? Keeping them back they would be in Indiana quick. There is nothing but the Bayonets that Keeps them from sacking all of these men that are at home injoying all the comforts of the private life. I am still at the gap making fortifications and I expect that we will stay here perhaps to the end of the ware. Gen. Morgan toldone of the Capts. that has a company here that he was agoing to have Houses built for the men that built the fortifications? and that they had to stay & defend them but the tide of ware is uncertain. He may take an other notion.
John A. Ritter
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