1861 Letter - 36th Ohio Chasing After 100 Confederate Cavalry in Western Virginia

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1861 Letter - 36th Ohio Chasing After 100 Confederate Cavalry in Western Virginia

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Item No. SQ6180988

Offered here is an interesting Civil War soldier letter written upon decorative stationery featuring a federal shield with the inscription from the Book of Genesis, "Fear not Abram, for I am thy Shield, and exceeding great reward." The letter was written in October, 1861, by Private Ezra A. Chapman of the 36th Ohio Volunteers, a unit that saw action in both the eastern and western theaters. Writing to his friend Frank Palmer, Chapman described how anxious he and his comrades were to see the rebels. When a scout came into camp with the location of 100 Confederate cavalry, Chapman and 60 of his friends ran off after them. The letter reads, in full:

Summerville Va
Oct 31st / 61

Dear Frank
I have plenty of paper and ink so I intend to occupy my spare moments in scribbling to you. Our regiment all being here makes camp duty very easy— 

Nov 4th I get so far and [Sergeant James] Haddow called me out and told me I had got to go into the cookhouse cut my letter short for awhile. All the boys that you know anything about are all well and in good spirits. Saturday and yesterday were stormy and I was so busy I did not go to church. Part of our wagons went to Gauley after provision they found the General fighting and he wanted the wagons to haul. He sent word to our Colonel if he wanted any provision he would have to send another train. It started yesterday. I expect we will be put on half rations. We are sure there is fighting going on somewhere for we can hear the cannon. We are the highest excited set of men and boys you ever saw wishing the general would send for some of us.

I have nothing important to write at present unless it is for you to send me 6 postage stamps so that I can send my lady friends a letter. Such a thing as a stamp cannot be got here. I guess I will give you an account of a little scout we had. A man by the name Dorsey came into Camp one afternoon and said that about 15 miles from here there was 100 Cavalrymen. He saw them (this was before all our men came). The officers called out all that was able to run. Of course I was wild to go. There was 60 of us started and crossed Gauley in our own canoe. Run over to where we expected they would cross Hommany Creek. We laid down in the brush and waited for them to show their cowardly heads. A scout, Dorsey, went out to hunt for them, found where they had been, but they had gone. Nothing for us to do but go home. When we got to Gauley the advance guard were crossing the river and us boys were stringing along the river to get us a drink. We were shot at by our own Pickets on this side of the river one of the boys was on his knees drinking. The shot cut through his hair and hit his knee. We all said don’t shoot and every thing else that we could think of. I thought I’d go and see how the boy was getting along. He was setting on a rock rubbing his knee. I was getting down to see how bad his knee was hurt when another gun was fired at us. The gravel flew right at my heels. I had to say was I am glad it did.

It is my opinion that the 36 regiment is a fine set of men. When we get on parade over a 10000 of us all dressed in dark blue and black hats and the Officers in fine glittering uniform and so many guns with bright bayonets. It is a fine show. I tell you what I want to see, a battle.

Tell EHP that I will answer his letter as soon as I get time. Give my best wishes to all the friends. Be sure and stay at home and be a good man and never think of going to war as long as you can help it. The boys that are so young cannot stand privation and exposure like those older. No more at present. Write as soon as you can. Be sure and snd the stamps.

E. A. Chap

I. Frank Palmer

The letter is written on all four pages of a 4 3/4" x 8" stationery sheet. The paper is in excellent, sturdy condition, not stiff, and not particularly delicate. It has two creases from the original folds. Little wear to edges and corners.

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