Brigham's War: Letters from the 27th Ohio Infantry Pt. I

In July 1861, a company was raised by Captain Milton Wells in southeastern Ohio and went to Camp Chase at Columbus to join a new regiment. The company called itself the Monroe and Noble Rangers, named for the two counties from which the men enlisted, and became Co. D of the 27th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. In its ranks, an unknown soldier who went by the pen name 'Brigham' wrote a series of letters to the Woodsfield Spirit of Democracy giving a detailed account of life in the first year of the Civil War, the last of which was published in February 1863. Billed as “A Soldier's Jottings,” Brigham's letters come to us as rather chatty descriptions of life in Uncle Sam's service in the western theater in the early years of the war. This blog post includes some of the highlights of this correspondence.

The 27th Ohio Infantry served in the western theater, initially going to Missouri and taking part in several successful operations along the Mississippi River. In April 1862, it sailed up the Tennessee River to join General Henry W. Halleck's army at Pittsburg Landing where it took part in the siege of Corinth. Following the Rebel abandonment of Corinth, the 27th Ohio remained in the area until late in the year and during that time took part in both the battles of Iuka and Corinth. On the last day of December 1862, the 27th Ohio clashed with Nathan Bedford Forrest's troopers at Parker's Crossroads, Tennessee which closes out “Brigham's War.”

Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio
July 29, 1861
“It is Sunday in Camp Chase. Not Sunday as it is among the green old hills of Monroe, but as it is where war is the whole business of the community. At 5 o'clock the soldiers are aroused from their slumbers by the drum and in 15 minutes all have to be on hand and dressed. At half past five the roll is called after which the men are put through a short drill before breakfast. Part of the regular performance is omitted on this day and the leisure thus obtained is spent in various ways by various men. Some dedicated it wholly to amusement, while others employ it in writing letters to friends and relations. Sunday is generally a dull day here, for the hacksters and peddlers of all kinds are absent, and a stranger is seldom seen in the camp while a general stillness seems to pervade the whole place, as if the soldiers are thinking of the good old times of yore and dreaming of their distant homes.”

“The company that came in today, I noticed, contained a large proportion of youths. The circumstance caused me to look around and I find it is the case generally. Fully one-third of the soldiers in camp are boys not over 18 years of age. Why it is so puzzles me to determine. Perhaps the love of adventure that occupies the mind at about that age has something to do with it. I will close with a word with regard to our company. We have had the experience of most companies in finding out that all the men that came to camp with us did not want to fight. Some 15 or 16 have deserted us since we came here and have returned home or somewhere else, and thus fastened a stigma on themselves and posterity for years to come. All of our men are well and seem to enjoy camp life with the greatest gusto. ”

Company D was mustered in Federal service on August 3, 1861 at Camp Chase, Ohio by Captain Howard Stansbury of the Topographical Engineers.

August 7, 1861
“For the past few days, the proper officers have been busily engaged in disbanding the three-months' men. Some three or four regiments have already been mustered out of service here and still they are coming daily from “the sacred soil” of the “Old Dominion.” I was present when a few companies of the “Bloody Fifteenth” as its own members ironically called it delivered their arms. It had just returned from Virginia where they had done far more chasings than fighting, and they were all in good spirits, having lost only one man during the while campaign, he being shot dead in a skirmish with the Rebels. It was interesting to observe the various moods the men assumed as they advanced to the place of delivery. Some came up laughing and talking, as if little caring whether they were on their way home or to the battlefield, while others preserved the sternness of the true soldier, and never for a moment relaxed their attention to their position orderly. One belonging to the former class I observed in particular. As the company advanced, he was the most boisterous one in ranks, but as he approaches the window and his companions had their muskets inspected and received, his merry mood began to sadden and when his turn came to deliver, he burst into tears and cried as he clasped his gun to his breast for the last time and kissed it through pure affection. 'Old fellow I hate to leave you.' More eyes than his were moist as he passed on and gave way for the next. I watched him for awhile as he mixed with the crowd and was pleased to see his old boisterous mirth return to him again, although once and awhile a sigh escaped him as he for a moment cast a glance on the building that contained his old companion.”
Colonel John W. Fuller, 27th O.V.I.

“The 27th Regiment has the full number of companies in it, although but six are mustered into the service of the United States. The officers, Colonel [John W.] Fuller, Lieutenant Colonel [Henry G.] Kennett, Major [Z. Swift] Spalding, and Adjutant [Philip B.] Cloon all appear to be fine men and are no doubt well-drilled officers. The men, so far, composing the regiment are among the best in camp, being mostly above the medium size and generally well-drilled for raw recruits. Our colonel expresses himself as being very sanguine in the belief that he can make the 27th one of the most effective regiments in the service and if he continues to labor as he has done since he arrived, we will be culpable if his expectations are not realized.”

Whitelaw Reid: “This regiment was organized at Camp Chase, Ohio in August 1861. The enlisted men who composed it were from all parts of the state and were, to a great extent, strangers to themselves and to their officers. On the morning of the 20th of August 1861, the regiment marched out of camp 950 strong and took the cars for St. Louis, Missouri. On its arrival the regiment encamped near the city and great efforts were made to perfect the men in drill and discipline.”

Off to War: Missouri under Fremont and Halleck
August 1861-February 1862

Benton Barracks, Missouri, August 24, 1861
“Just as the sun arose last Tuesday morning, the whole regiment was out on the parade ground, knapsacked and equipped in full, ready provisioned for a two days' march. With regret in some and joy in others, we wended our way through the gateway and to the railroad, certain we were leaving Camp Chase but not positive whether our destination would be Missouri or Cairo. Aboard the cars we rushed to the West in a hurry. One by one, the little towns along the road were passed as Ohio, smiling free, greeted us on every side. Ohio, our own dear native state, we your sons will do you honor. Every person in the fields, in the houses, in carriages, and wagons, greeted us as we passed with flags, handkerchiefs, hands, and arms, and welcomed us on our way. When we would for a moment halt, the cars would be surrounded by boys and girls eager to help us to water or anything we wanted.”

“About two o'clock Cincinnati hove in sight and soon after we rushed into it and to the depot when we formed in the street preparatory to a change of conveyance. Marching along several streets (which were crowded with spectators), we reached the river and were informed that steamboats would carry us for a short distance on our way. Previous to our departure from Camp Chase the report had spread freely that at Cincinnati we would receive a free dinner. Whether there was any foundation for the report or not, many felt disappointed at not receiving it and the city rested under the condemnation of the regiment. Three steamboats had been secured to carry us and aboard them we went and down the Ohio we steamed our way, the hours shortened by our band which furnished us with quite a variety of music. Many had never been on the river before and this was the pleasantest part of the journey.”

“Twenty miles from Cincinnati brought us to the first town in Indiana, Lawrenceburg, where we landed again to take the cars. One by one the companies wended from the boats and formed as they marched into town. Most of them were weary and felt like resting when resting was not allowed and when the regiment halted to await the cars, many felt like sinking to the ground through mere exhaustion caused by heavy loads and the galling straps with which the knapsacks were held to their place on their backs, but God bless the good people of Lawrenceburg. Men, women, and children all flocked around us eager to satisfy our many wants. Some came with water, some with coffee, some with bread, some with cakes, some with peaches and apples, and all with something and never before or since did a regiment of soldiers receive a better treat.”

“Between Lawrenceburg and Washington, Indiana, one part of the train became detached from the other and our company together with three others arrived at the latter place just at daylight, and the inhabitants had but slim chance to show their hospitality to us. When the remainder of the regiment arrived, they were prepared with all kinds of eatables and drinkables and the recipients say that the luxuries enjoyed were fully equal to those of Lawrenceburg and many thanks to them for it, for these two towns were the only ones on the route outside of Ohio that showed any interest in our welfare. To the ladies of the two places I can say they need not live in fear of dying old maids, for nearly every man in the 27th married as well as single declares than when the war is over, they will visit them to secure wives.”

“Somehow our train was a remarkably slow one and we did not arrive opposite St. Louis until late in the evening on the second day from Camp Chase, although we traveled at the same rate night and day. After forming from the cars, we marched down to the river where we found two large steamboats ready to receive us. Aboard them we marched, and the weather having the appearance of rain, the Colonel thought it advisable to remain aboard during the night. Before sunrise on the morning of the 22nd of August, we crossed the Mississippi and landed in Missouri, being the second regiment from Ohio, the 39th Ohio having preceded us by one day.”

“The inhabitants of St. Louis showed very little feeling as we marched through the city. Large crowds collected on either side of the streets, but no one welcomed or cheered us, and a gloomy silence seemed to hang around all until we arrived on the outskirts of the city. Once in a while one ventured to wave their hand and then a handkerchief until every house we passed had the fair ladies filling the windows holding flags which called forth one continued shout from the Buckeye Boys.”

“Camp Benton is a new camp just forming and the soldiers now in it occupy canvas tents until the barracks, which will hold 20,000 men, are finished, which will be in a few days. It is situated from the city about two miles and will be when the buildings are finished by the pleasantest situated camp I have seen. The ground around is rolling and from many respects resembles some parts of old Monroe. Pleasant groves and heavily ladened orchards are visible on every side and all day long it is the resort of hundreds of visitors. It is supplied with water from the Mississippi which is now hauled to the grounds by teams, but which no doubt will be shortly conducted by scientific means. Around it are many temporary camps, all filling with men, and it is reported that no less than 32,000 troops are now within three miles of St. Louis, under the command of General [John] Fremont. He is busy making preparations to concentrate a grand army here with which to do tremendous work the coming fall and winter. Soldiers are arriving daily at the rate of 2-3,000. Ohio will have one brigade at least under the command of Fremont and may the Buckeye Boys distinguish themselves.”
Major General John C. Fremont

Camp Benton Missouri, September 6, 1861
“Since I wrote last, nothing very exciting has occurred here, and a general monotony has prevailed. We are not idle, however. At 5 o'clock in the morning we commence drilling, and we continue it all day with very little intermission. Indeed, we are so constant that our drilling averages more than 9 hours a day, besides many other little duties we have to attend to. Our men submit to the continued labor without a murmur and the effort is plainly visible in the appearance of our regiment.”

“On the first of last week, a man by the name of Lawrence, a private in Company A, became intoxicated and unaware to the officers, wandered from the camp and straying over the country alone, night overtook him. He started toward camp but being too drunk to keep the route, he got lost and strayed in the neighborhood of the fairgrounds, where the cavalry from Ohio is stationed, and the guards intercepted his way. Under the influence of the baneful drug, he became enraged and attempted to break guard, using a knife to force the sentinel from his post. The guard's gun being unloaded, he gave way, at the same time calling for the sergeant of the guard. The sergeant came and having a loaded revolver, succeeded in breaking the infuriated man's weapon with it, but in vain. The soldier still pressed on him and in self defense the officer fired. The ball penetrated the breast and passing near the heart, came out just under the arm. The wounded man was immediately conveyed to the surgeons, but medical aid was of no avail and the wretched man lingered for two days in the greatest agony and died. On his deathbed he requested the chaplain, who bent over him in his last moments, to write to his sisters, his sole living connections in the far Green Mountain State [Vermont] and tell them that he had been shot, leacing all connecting circumstances untold. Thus died Private Lawrence, the first one lost from the 27th Ohio and what a warning!”

“No place in the whole world will a wild rumor be circulated for a fact so soon as it will in a camp. The most incredible tales are believed by all and hundreds are in constant circulation. Our regiment moves about twice a day according to them, each time in a different direction. Day before yesterday Kentucky had seceded and we had orders to move immediately to Ohio. Yesterday Arkansas was our destination and we were to foot it all the way. Today nine companies are going up the Mississippi while the other remains and guards the camp. Thus we are constantly living under excitement and the soldiers seem to love it, and are willing to believe the most absurd fictions to enjoy the pleasure of speculating on the probable result of such and such movements.”

Camp Benton, Missouri, September 13, 1861
“Company D is left alone. On the 6th nine companies of the 27th and the same of the 39th Ohio regiments were ordered to march a 6 o'clock in the evening and at that time the two regiments were on their way to the city to receive orders to which point to march, leaving our company of the 27th and one of the 39th to guard the property left behind until their return. As our regiment fell into line armed and equipped, they presented the most beautiful sight I ever saw. One by one the companies formed amid the clangor of music and shouting of spectators, and I dare say that there was not one in the whole line that did not feel his heart beat with pride as he beheld the enthusiasm in favor of the Union. Just as the shades of evening began to settle on the tents and barracks of Camp Benton and vicinity, the order to march was given and the 27th Ohio was away for the second time to a destination unknown.”

“There are, at present, four or five thousand Ohio troops in Missouri, cavalry and infantry included. Indiana and Illinois have a far larger number of both and the contrast between the men I propose to notice. In the first place the officers are entitled to attention. I presume the uniform of officers in the United States service is prescribed by law, and as they have abundant means, a company of officers collected anywhere show no outward signs whereby the states of their nativity can be ascertained. But how is it with the men, the rank and file, the backbone of the army? The whim or parsimoniousness of each separate governor seemed to have been the law whereby they were clothed. Indiana sends out men with two or three different colored uniforms, Illinois the same, and Ohio without any uniform at all. Buckeye Boys are noble souls and as good material for an unconquerable army as ever entered the field. But how have they been treated? 'There go Ohio boys; I can tell them by their ugly clothes' is a common remark and a true one. A coarse wool hat, a linsy, woolsy unlined blouse (never made to fit and never did) of a color similar to a north hillside in old Monroe newly plowed, minus stripes or anything else to make a uniform of them, heavy brogan shoes of the quality we used to call 'penitentiary,' and you have the complete visible uniform of the 27th and 39th Ohio! A man covered with it and dressed looks like a Hottentot and a Hottentot would look like a man, or in short, it is calculated in no way to show the physical man to advantage and seems intended in every way to degrade the wearer.”

Whitelaw Reid: “Early in September the regiment moved by steamer to St. Charles and thence to Mexico on the St. Joseph Railroad. Soon after this, orders were received to march to the relief of Colonel Mulligan at Lexington. The troops moved rapidly across the country but before they could reach the city, the enemy had seized all the boats and so rendered it impossible to cross the river. The command moved up the north bank of the Missouri and crossed over to Kansas City. In October the command marched to join General Fremont then moving on Springfield.”

Springfield, Missouri, November 5, 1861
“We left St. Louis on the 10th of October and going to Kansas City by rail and water, from thence we took it afoot across the prairies of Missouri. The first day we went only five miles and camping we rested one day and we thought the greatest time of a soldier's life was to come, and we were not disappointed for that day was about the last one we rested on the way. We marched 14 days, averaging about 18 miles a day, and if that is not good marching, I don't know anything about it. In 24 hours we marched from Greenfield to Springfield, a distance of 45 miles, the road we traveled on being a direct one. The report had become circulated that General [Sterling] Price was within 20 miles of the latter place, and that was why we were forced in with such rapidity. On our way from Kansas City to here many things transpired, a few of which I will note.”
Major General Samuel D. Sturgis

“Between General [James] Lane and [Samuel] Sturgis there have for some time existed a coldness and the difference in their modes of treating the Rebels no doubt tends to increase it. General Lane treats the Rebels as enemies and has no scruples as to how he used them and their property, while our General will not permit a rail even of the rabid secessionist to suffer, and would rather see half his command starve than allow a single beef to be taken from them without a full equivalent. Lane is like a perfect tornado when he becomes excited, as his performances in Missouri will show. In his passing from one point to another, he makes his track and the Rebels fear him. When he took command of his present forces, the greater part of them were infantry but since then he has converted most of them into cavalry and that, too, without any expense to the government. A good mule or horse is seldom passed by him, while on the other hand, Sturgis pays a full price for what he requires, and as he goes along, the farmers bring out their stock to trade, a thing they would not dare to do dealing with the former. The contrast between the two gives rise to many comments and the many different opinions formed of the two men in very surprising.”

“Springfield is a small unimportant looking place not larger than Woodsfield, not being one-third as well provided with comfortable houses. Of course most of the inhabitants have fled but are returning every day. About ten miles south of it is the old battlefield as it is called, and it is now reported that it is occupied by 500-600 Rebel cavalry which is no doubt about as true as such reports generally are in camp. There is now a vast army concentrated here and as I dare not give figures and particulars, you would be surprised at the immense resources of the Western Department. Tents and camps meet your eye on all sides, a single glance of which renders the mind certain of the success of the Union cause in Missouri.”

Georgetown, Missouri, November 20, 1861
“We arrived at this unimportant town on the 16th and have been camped among the hazel and persimmon bushes ever since, doing no good for ourselves or anybody else, not even excepting old Uncle Sam. From Springfield we had a hard time of it, owing to the abundance of dust and scarcity of provisions. One was with us all day and other not with us all night. In fact, we had only half rations half of the time and none at all the remainder. We were eight days on the road and had not more than eight crackers apiece for the time, but we made it through cheerfully and have plenty to eat now and are making up for lost time. Want of provisions is not and was not the greatest grievance Ohio soldiers have to complain of in Missouri. Ever since we left Camp Chase, we have made out with the poor excuse of uniforms we received; but now they are used up and we have no more to answer in their stead. All other troops in Missouri have, and have had, overcoats for a week while we are shivering out our existence and doing the same duty they performed.”

“Fremont has left us and the vast army of the West which the prestige of his name had collected has passed from him to other commanders without a single murmur on the part of the soldiers. Newspaper correspondents had companies and regiments laying down their arms and vowing to follow no other leader; but when these cases have been researched after, they are found to have had their birth in the brains of the persons referred to, and therefore resulting in no very serious calamity. Day after day forced marches were endured with the greatest patience under difficulties that cannot be described, all sanguine that the end would annihilate the Rebels and preserve the fair state of Missouri for the Union. Report after report was circulated, each bringing nearer and nearer the looked-for contest. It was here that, like the power that felled the walls of Jericho, the news came that not a foe was within 55 miles of Springfield. Then came the question in every soldier's mind: why march and drag us away out here to meet and lay watching each other where not a single hundred Rebels are to fight us? Something was wrong, something was rotten, somebody was to blame, somebody had to bear the responsibility, and who could that person be but the commander-in-chief of the army of the West, but Major General John C. Fremont? The soldier had looked up to him as a child to a father, and swift as lightning, and with stunning force, the idea, whether true or not, flashed through his mind that he had been trifled with, and at this very nick of time Fremont was removed. Was it any wonder that none felt it to be his duty to resist it? Fremont was superseded, and not a single sensible soldier regretted it.”

Sedalia, Missouri, December 5, 1861
“ We reckon the 27th Ohio just for the present is the happiest collection of Buckeyes out. Since my last, we have received a full uniform, overcoats, jackets, pants, caps, shirts, drawers, hose, and shoes all of very good material and make, with the exception perhaps of the shirts and drawers which to be of a rather inferior quality, but among so many good things are acceptable. But the greatest cause of this effusive happiness is the late sight of the often-wished-for and seldom-seen person the paymaster, who paid us a flying visit long enough to place in the pockets of the aforesaid Buckeyes a snug little roll of Treasury notes. New tents for the regiment have just arrived of which we have been sadly I need, not having enough to accommodate the men. They are of the Fremont pattern and are large and commodious.”

“Music is all we have in camp that is always and ever a bore. Everything else, at some time, is acceptable to the soldier, but music, never. It wakes him in the morning and troubles him all the day; and many are the curses horns and drums have to bear. Some have vowed that when the war closes, they will inaugurate a crusade against everything of a musical tendency.”

Sedalia, Missouri, December 15, 1861
“Missouri is a land of splendid failures, grand hoaxes, unparalleled fizzles, contemptible bores, and mortifying sells; the very latest of which we have the honor to record as we are certain none else will contest the field. On the morning of the 12th, long before daylight, the 27th Ohio was in line and on the road to Georgetown. The sun was up when the town was reached and from thence, in company with the 1st Nebraska and four pieces of artillery all under the command of Colonel Noyes of the latter regiment, a move was made northward. It was rumored that a fight was hourly expected and all were on the alert, eager for the fray, but noon came and the hours wore away toll evening began to draw on space but sill nary a Secesh turned up. “

“By this time the Blackwater River was reached, which was waded although it was rather cool for bathing, and advancing two miles further a halt was ordered to rest preparatory to the fight as the Rebel camp was now within a mile and a half. All were worked up to the highest pitch of excitement at the prospect and words cannot picture the universal disappointment that pervaded the whole regiment when a messenger rode up with orders to proceed no further as the cavalry which preceded us had captured the whole camp. The swearing, we fear, was both loud and deep as the news flew along the line. Thirty miles in one day and Missouri miles at that and nothing to do only to march it over again tomorrow. The bare thought made the men desperate and only the coolness of the officers prevented a general outburst against everything Secesh. Weary and discouraged, the tents were pitched, but was hardly done when the long roll was beat and all were under arms in an instant, only to be again disappointed as it was, of course, a false alarm. The number of Rebels in the camp against which a force of 16,000 was sent amounted to just 49 all told, armed with shot guns and rifles from which they never fired a bullet for fear of annihilation. Glorious war!”
Major General John Pope

Sedalia, Missouri, December 22, 1861
“Since I last wrote, we have had exciting times here. On the 15th, we received orders to march, our forces being under the command of Brigadier General [John] Pope. The direction marched on that day was south, but on Monday it was changed to southwest and moved with the utmost rapidity in order to cut off a body of men near Warrensburg on their way to reinforce Price. Twenty-eight miles were made by 3 o'clock but the Rebels hearing of our approach struck off from the road across the prairies and escaped, all but 150 overtaken by our cavalry, together with a few wagons and mules. Tuesday we only marched a few miles and camped awaiting the return of our cavalry which was still in pursuit of the scattered Rebels. In the evening four men who were acting as scouts attempted to go home [to Warrensburg] but were fired on from the brush and had to return. Between us and the town was a large bridge which was thought expedient to guard, which duty was assigned to the 1st Nebraska and cheerfully performed. Wednesday morning still found our cavalry absent, and we moved a short distance and camped about three miles from Warrensburg in a low prairie covered with high grass which caught fire soon after the tents were pitched and came near burning everything up. Our cavalry came in about noon. During the night, a prisoner who was sent out under a guard to bring a load of wood, attempted to escape. The guard fire and hitting him in the neck, killing him almost instantly. A hole was dug, and coffin-less and shroud-less he was pitched into it and covered over and left to his rest, with very little ceremony.”

“On Thursday we moved on through Warrensburg which is quite a flourishing-looking little town and is the county seat of Johnson County. Most of the inhabitants, however, are secessionists and many houses were closed. About 2 o'clock our advanced guard came up with the long-looked-for enemy who were strongly posted in a wood near Millford and immediately engaged them, but were obliged to fall back and await the arrival of the main forces. When they came up, the Rebels, after a few rounds, saw the folly of resisting and surrendered. Our loss was two killed and fourteen wounded. Their loss is unknown. The engagement was a slight one but the result was important. The prisoners numbered about 1,300, among whom were no less than three colonels and seventeen captains. One thousand stand of arms was given up, together with 64 wagons heavily ladened with provisions and camp equipment, 1,000 horses and mules and a considerable amount of ammunition. But the most amusing part of the capture consisted of 25 or 30 contrabands of many different hues who were along with their masters as waiters and cooks. No account was taken of them by the commander and they wandered from one camp fire to another telling many tales to the great merriment of the boys. The honor of conducting the prisoners from the battlefield to camp was awarded to the 27th Ohio, and a coveted duty was never more nobly performed.”

Sedalia, Missouri, January 16, 1862
“A person that never lived in a tent or, perhaps, never even saw one can form no idea of the subject under consideration. A tent, when it is properly made and furnished, is not at all uncomfortable, even during the severest weather of a northern winter. A tent ought to be a large one of good materials, the Fremont tent being the best pattern I have seen, and ought always, summer and winter, be furnished with a stove or heating apparatus of some kind. For if it is not needed for warming, the soldier is often necessarily exposed to rain, when it is requested to dry his clothes, for volunteers are few and far between that are owners of two suits. With a good tent and a good stove, a soldier may defy any climate, provided of course, that he has plenty of fuel at his command. The 27th Ohio regiment has the Fremont tent in large size, being about 20 feet in diameter and having six to a company, five for the men and one for the commissioned officers.The government never furnished us with stoves but private enterprise and capital has. The article generally used is a sheet iron concern costing from $5-7, and the amount expended in our regiment alone will not fall short of $600, all of which will be a dead loss when spring comes unless the means of transportation is more ample than it had every formerly been.”

“Camped as we are on an open prairie with no protection in the way of woods or hills for miles around, I have very little doubt that half in the regiment were never more comfortably situated in their lives than they are at present, as far as quarters are concerned. During the coldest times we have had, and they have not been trifling ones when the thermometer was below zero and the wind sweeping all before it, enter one of our tents and all would be found comfortable. Although the men are furnished with only one blanket apiece, I never yet heard one complain of sleeping cold. The way they manage the thing is two, three, or four join together and make a joint stock of their blankets under which they lay in a remarkably small space by means of 'spooning,' and when one turns, all turn to keep under the cover. Some of our boys have furnished themselves with rubber blankets in addition to those drawn from the government. These are very convenient where the ground is damp and no straw at hand, although they are a desperate cold thing even in cold weather.”

“Our band (and we have a good one) was the other day presented by the regiment with a full set of new instruments and where heretofore we have only had discord, we will now have soul-stirring music. The only objection I have to the arrangement is there was a new bugle among them and everybody knows that that instrument made noise often enough when it was old. Hope it will soon break.”

Whitelaw Reid: “In February 1862, the regiment was ordered to proceed to St. Louis where it arrived after a severe march on the 20th. The next morning the regiment moved down the river and landed at Commerce. In the organization of the Army of the Mississippi, the 27th Ohio was assigned to the First Brigade, First Division.”

Commerce, Missouri, February 25, 1862

“A journey during the winter season is to be dreaded, even when all the modes of conveyance with which civilized society is blessed are at hand. How must it be with an army when a long march of hundreds of miles lies before it, and no way to perform it but only on foot? On the third day of February, we struck tents at Sedalia and started for Jefferson City, distance 89 miles. The weather was extremely cold and snow on the ground four or five inches deep, making walking slavish in the extreme. On the first day we made 14 miles and just as the sun was setting we entered an old field covered with corn stalks and uneven just as the plow had left it, and we were told it was our camping ground for the night. An old fence ran on one side and the order was issued that a rail should not be disturbed, but, freezing as we were, recklessness took place of subordination and regardless of orders manifestly unjust, the fence was soon torn to the ground and blazing fires were quickly seen springing up on all sides by soldiers who never disobeyed an order before or since. The wagons soon afterward came up but brought no comfort in the shape of shelter as the ground was so hardly frozen that tents could not be pitched, and the wife canopy of heaven was our covering. Many nights have we spent in Missouri, far away from the prairie, but never did the 27th Ohio suffer as it did that night of the 3rd of February, 1862. One hundred yards from where we lay was a thick heavy piece of timber, and in it we would have been comfortable. Who the blame rests with I will not say, but an intelligent people will not be long in determining. Perhaps it would be well to say that our camping arrangements were far different on the rest of the way.”


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