Civil War letters at Middlebury College

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Letter from Orlando L. French to Lydia French

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amid so much excitement must surely mean something, and I expect it is no good, for we never knew any good the democratic party has done yet, - these are not only my feelings, but it is universal

Jan 26th

I awoke this morning feeling like a new man, for it was without a head ache, and an appetite for some breakfast, - a condition of things I have not known for three weeks before, and I felt so much better after dinner that I thought I would take a ride. I had my horse saddled, but when I tried to mount, I found out just how weak I was, it was no use trying, I could not do it alone, but when once mounted I rode off very comfortably & went down to the city of Murfreesboro, - on the road I passed a large pond and the frogs by the thousands were pouring out their music by the wholesale, which reminded me of early may in Illinois, in fact everything looks like Spring, the trees are full of birds and in the morning they are very musical

Murfreesboro is an old, dried up town of three or four thousand inhabitants, - The citizens nearly all left with the army, and the city is now one entire hospital, the most of our wounded are there, and there are between fifteen & twenty hundred [Secrph?]

Last edit 4 months ago by SusanE
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In camp at Murfreesboro Tenn April 5th 1863 Dearest Lydia I received yesterday your letter written last Sunday and I also received one from Eph + Emily for all of which I am very thankful but in yours I find a few things that want answering I do not like what Carpenter sais to you I can not will not like it - that he expected you would work for him as long as I was gone by which it would seem that all he wants you to stay there for is to work for him and that you have got to work whether you are well or not now that smells a little too strong of selfishness and if that is his feeling on the subject I want you to have there if it takes all I can to keep you He shall not make a slave of you if I can help it By the way Emily writes that Mother and Jane talk of going east this summer and that if they do you are going to live with Elvira now I think this an argeeable arrangement and hope it can be brought about but if this should not happen there is one thing you must abandon and that is the idea of housekeeping unless you

Last edit 12 months ago by LibrarianDiva
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2 can get convenient rooms in a house with some good family then you might posibly enjoy yourself better but it would cost you more but if you are satisfied that your happiness will be in-creased do no hesitate on that account There is one other little sentence in your letter- although you did not write it I know -I reads something like this- that I probably find other society down here that I can enjoy myself with better than I could with yourself - now I dont think you wrote a word of that it was just a slip of the pencil but if you did write it I want you to take it all back and ask my pardon and do it very humbly too I have a great deal to write about this time but I am affraid it will fail to interest you but if it does not-you may consider that you never got this letter Last tuesday March 31st our regiment was ordered to Salem and the Colonel invited me to accompany him which I did and something of ^what I did and thought and saw you will find here recorded in the form of a diary which I took down while gone Salem March 31st 1863 the regiment received orders this day at 12 M to be ready to march to this place

Last edit 11 months ago by LibrarianDiva
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3 at two P.M. with four days rations and by invitation of the Colonel thought I would be one of the party and see what was to be seen and hear what was to be heard We are here to relieve Sheridan division and two brigades of our division are here What the precise object of keeping a force stationed here is more than I can tell: we are about three miles out from the advance pickets of the grand army and are here alone that is two Brigades -there is no doubt a good and sufficient reason for our being here but none that I have questioned on the subject are able to tell me what it is As we came in here to camp an officer rode along at full speed from our left saying to the Colonel ------- that the enemy was coming in force and that they had driven in the pickets on the extreme left- he looked and acted very much as I do when I am excited in fact battle scared but that could not have been the matter with him - notwithstanding this we staked arms and the command pitched this shelter tents and the 59th Hq one of our brigade went on picket Tomorrow night it will be our turn and of my experience in picketing for the first time

Last edit 11 months ago by LibrarianDiva
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4 I will write hereafter on occasions of this kind the Head quarters team always accompanied the command by which the Colonel always has his cooks and tent with him and to day -- he has kindly taken me under his wing to eat at his table and sleep in his tent and to night we retire with orders to be up in line before day break to prevent any surprise as this is an advanced and exposed position and draws frequent skirmishes and attacks from the enemy and when our regiment was here before they were surprised in the morning by a line of battle of cavalry in their rear that they saw fit to leave after firing one round April 1st The Colonel had his command up in line before day break and I had my command of three six mules trans up and harnassed ready for any emergency but day dawned and the sun crawled up through the trees in the timbers in which we are camped clear and warm and no enemy appeared to disturb us- It is now 9 oclock A.M. of April fool day and my mind naturaly wandered back to my boyhood days when the arrival of this period of the year was an event of great importance and I recall many little scenes where all our strategy and subterfuge were brought into requisition to expect an april fool of a brother and notwithstanding we were ever on the alert of the many times we were victimized with the rest - but those day + the present afford a strong contrast

Last edit 11 months ago by LibrarianDiva
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5 4 oclock P.M. I went back to camp to day after the mail found Dr Warner of Dixon there but no particular news from home and no letters for me- contrary to our expectations we do not go on picket to day so we are laying here with nothing to do and plenty to eat Thursday noon April 2nd--- This morning at ten oclock our regiment went out on picket and I went along to see them place the guard It takes two regiments to make the entire picket and they are placed in a circle and our Regt makes half of the cirels + is divided into four stations and the ranking officers of the squad is the commanding officer and here he makes his head quarters his outposts are then numbered and squads are sent out under charge of a Sergeant or Corporal who relieves those already there - this is all that has been done at this time and the Colonel had returned to camp where he can stay only making his grand rounds three or four times in the twenty four and on these trips when he visits every picket to see that he is at his post and doing his duty I shall accompany him and will report according-ly by the way the stations are only about fifty

Last edit 11 months ago by LibrarianDiva
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each from our camp There are four stations and from each station there are two outpost of eight men each making eight outposts in our half circle and they are about thirty rods in advance of the station and from them four sentinels are thrown out about the same distance and they stand about twenty rods apart although this varies to suit the character or locations of the ground as it is desirable to have the sentinel as little exposed as possible and the shelter of some tree or fence is made use of when practicable where they can see and not be seen and here where there is so much timber they are able to mail themselves in most cases of this protection but it is after the case that the sentinel is obliged to stand out in the open field in plain sight for miles arround In case of the approach of any force of the enemy the sentinels as soon as he is satisfied they are enemies discharges his gun and falls back to the outpost and a messemger if sent with the alarm to the station and from that into camp + then the long rollis beat which signifies "fall in to resist an attack" in the meantime the outposts that have received the retreating sentinels are to skirmish with the enemy falling back as slowly as possible to the station

Last edit 11 months ago by LibrarianDiva
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and with this help to dispute the advance loading and firing on the retreat which gives time for those in camp to prepare for this reception one thing I forgot to mention the stations are numbered from right to left one two three four + so on as many as the hapens to be and if the first station sends out two outposts they are numbered first + second outposts from the first station and the sentinels from these outposts are the first second third fourth tc of the first outpost of the first station and also the same numbers from the second outpost of the first station and the most station has the same numbers of outposts + the same of sentinels and they number in the same way except that they refer to the second station instead of the first and in case of an attack and the messengers is sent in he is able to tell what statio and outposts and what sentinels have met the attack and the commanding officer is able to prepare himself accordingly and in the right direction Just about sundown the Colonel the Mayor and myself made the grand rounds by visiting every station outpost and sentinel to see that they are at this post and at the stations and outposts in the day time on the approach of the officer of the day or any officers who may be making the rounds the

Last edit 11 months ago by LibrarianDiva
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reserve fall into line and "present arms" and the offices in command answers my questions that may be put to him and the sentinels as the grand rounds approach salutes and answers such questions as may be asked and if the sentinel gives evidence that he does not understand his liasions the grand rounds will perhaps attempt to pass the lines generaly at full gallop but if he knows what he is about before we reach the line by ten paces he will give the command "halt" which brings us up standing but sometimes they loose their wits and forget to give the command until after we are all by- then the poor fellow gets a talking to At 12 Midnight we went the rounds again and it [?] only that every one had to halt us at thirty paces and ask who comes there the armies is "friends with the countersign" as "grand rounds" when the order is dismount friends or grand rounds and advance when one of the party generaly an orderlies for that purpose dismounts goes forward and gives the countersign while the rest remains behind until that is given as a sentinel is not to allow more than one to approach him at a time in the night sentinels sometimes fall asleep at this post some of our regiment were found in that condition by the Colonel only a short time since he did not treat them very harshly but punnished them enough so that they will be apt to remember it

Last edit 11 months ago by LibrarianDiva
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page 9 At 4 in the morning we went round again to see the see that all wsa right to prevent any morning surprise the rest of the time we were back in camp sound asleep so that in my experience in picketing there is nothing unpleasant but on the contrary I have enjoyed it [?] for the novelty of it but I have an idea that the part I took in it is not exactly like shouldering a musket and standing there my allotted time especialy on a cold rainy dark night and I have no curiosity that would lead me in that direction The regiment was relived at ten oclock and we are quietly in camp again It was the expectation that we would be relived Saturday noon but it seems that the relieving divisions could not get here until sometime Sunday and one days rations were sent out to us and as the weather is very pleasant and the fresh pure air is invigorating and we are satisfied to remain Sunday evening April 5th This morning was one of the finest of the far famed "sunny south" the air was warm with a soft gentle breeze just the day for a stroll or to indulge in a day dream of home

Last edit 11 months ago by LibrarianDiva
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