Wednesday, December 1, 2010

February 16th, 1862

Camp Dennison Feb. 16th 1862

Dear Mary,

I take my pen this evening amid the bustle and confusion of a hundred men, most of whom regard the Sabbath, the same as any other day, or rather as a day of amusement, hilarity, and fun. Some are fiddling, some are playing cards, some hollering at the top of their voices, some are idly looking on, and a very few are reading or writing to friends and loved ones at home.
Dear Mary I am well, physically at least, but I am down hearted, nothing from you and the children. I’ve not got a word from you since your first letter, but dear wife I know it is not your fault. It is either because you cannot get your letter to the office or else it is the fault of the mails. I am also very sorry that I have not been able to send you money, and I am afraid you are suffering from want of it, this cold weather. Ever since I came to camp it has been warm weather till about three days ago it commenced snowing and snowed till it was about 4 inches deep, and has been quite cold since, though not uncomfortably so.
Today I got a leave of absence for myself and Isaac Jolly, and we went down to the 54th(Zouaves) saw Dan Taylor, A.J. Ferguson & several others from the Valley and Unionville, also Dave Conklin & John Thompson of Watkins. While we were there a dispatch came that they had marching orders, in an instant Lieut. Taylor ordered his men to form, in less time than it will take me to write it, some 8 or 9 hundred men were paraded in front of their barracks and were too full to contain themselves, they whooped, hurrahed, shouted, and danced, and the funniest of it was the throwing of their hats. They would throw them up and catch them as they came down, I could compare it to nothing better than an immense flock of crows flying and gyrating through the air.. When their enthusiasm had sufficiently subsided, Col. Smith addressed them somewhat as follows, “Attention Battalion, I have the very great pleasure to inform you that we have got marching orders. We have orders to march to Paducah, I was asked how long it would take my regiment to get ready and I told them fifteen minutes, but we have some more than that, pack your Knapsacks and be ready at a minutes notice!” He then called for three cheers for the Adjutant Genl. Buckingham,(picture upper right) they were given with a hearty goodwill, he then called for three cheers for Post Adjutant Genl. Wade, these were also given, then three times three for the flag, of our Union, I verily thought the boys would go up this time. They cheered and cheered and kept on cheering. They did not know when to stop, but they did finally stop. Then some of the boys proposed three cheers for Col. Smith, they were given with new enthusiasm, sufficient to assure the Col. That he could depend on them in a brush with the Sucsesh. The battalion was then dismissed and taken to their respective quarters where a luxurious feast was served up in double quick and the boys set about getting ready.
While we were there, we attended preaching, W came back and went into the barracks adjoining ours to hear pastor of the first Reg. Artillery, I have heard him several times, he is a very learned and eloquent preacher and appears to be a pious man. With that, dear Mary I write this letter to you, you may read such parts to others as you see proper, strictly to behave myself in this mixed company so that you would not be ashamed of me were you present.
From your loving Husband, Mit ( I assume short for Milton his middle name)


  1. Taken from The Life and Letters of Thomas Kilby Smith by Walter George Smith
    "During all of the autumn of 1861, and until the 16th of February, 1862, Colonel Smith devoted himself to the duties of preparation for the trials that were to follow. Mounted upon a magnificent chestnut stallion, he rode about the Camp during the mornings, and until late in the day was occupied with the arduous duties of his new responsibility.

    At last orders came to take the field ; the 54th was directed to proceed to Paducah, Kentucky, and report to MajorGeneral Halleck at St. Louis by telegraph. Promptly and without confusion, the command was transported to Cincinnati and placed on transport steamboats. On the 19th of February, 1862, the Colonel reported to Brig.-Gen. W. T. Sherman, then commanding at Paducah, and by his orders was assigned to the 2d Brigade of the Fifth Division, Col. David Stuart of the 55th Illinois Infantry commanding. At that time General Sherman was a brigadier-general of volunteers, and Colonel of the 13th Infantry of the Regular Army. The little town of Paducah is situated on the Ohio River. The 5th Division was made up of four brigades, and each brigade composed of three regiments. This was the first large command exercised by General Sherman, and as the soldiers composing it afterwards became veterans and served with great distinction, it will be of interest to give the composition and names of the commanding officers. They were almost all more or less distinguished in the old Army of the Tennessee, an organization that will go down to history with a record untarnished and illustrious. The first brigade consisted of the 6th Iowa, Col. J. A. McDowell; the 40th Illinois, Col. Stephen G. Hicks ; the 46th Ohio, Col. Thomas Worthington, and the Morton Battery, Captain Frederick Behr. The second brigade : the 55th Illinois, Col. David Stuart; the 54th Ohio, Col. Thomas Kilby Smith, and the 71st Ohio, Col. Rodney Mason. The third brigade : the 77th Ohio, Col. Jesse Hildebrand ; the 53d Ohio, Col. J. J. Appier, and the 57th Ohio, Col. William Mungen. The fourth brigade : the 72d Ohio, Col. R. P. Buckland ; the 48th Ohio, Col. Peter J. Sullivan ; and the 70th Ohio, Col. J. R. Cockerill."


    Our regiment was introduced to the music at Fort Donelson on the morning of February 13, 1862. Late that afternoon the rain commenced falling, and we were not allowed to kindle any
    fire. Our colonel took a cold lunch, and said he would "rough it" with the boys. We all lay down together, and about four inches of snow fell on us that night. The next night the colonel said we would have a fire if the Johnnies did shell us, and, laying off his coat, he helped us to make a log-heap, and you can bet we were glad to have a fire to lie beside that night.

    But, boys, that was not going to last long. You know how that was ; and you know how it was going up that hill, over that down timber. Our colonel, with hat in one hand and sword in
    the other, led the way, shouting, "Come on, boys! Gad!we've got them." And so we had them; but all who went in did not come out as they went in.

    W. S. Hawley.

    pg.280 Green County In The War Ira S. Owens