Assuming this letter is "legit," it's one of the best single missives of its type I've ever seen:
Assuming this letter is "legit," it's one of the best single missives of its type I've ever seen:
What a letter. Thanks for bringing that to attention.
Would that he mention the wearing (or non-wearing) of colorful uniforms for this 'Zouave regiment' consisting of many of E.E. Ellsworth's U.S. Zouave Cadets....
If you're interested, I can send you scans of two 19th Illinois badges I have. They're both of the same style with a Lion's head holding a chained acorn with !9th Illinois Vol. Inf. Regt. inscribed. I had an ancestor who was in the unit until discharged for medical reasons. Let me know.
Great letter! Thanks for posting the link!
Support CWPT and battlefield preservation by attending:
"After the Battle: Fredericksburg 2008", November 14-16, 2008, Fredericksburg battlefield, Virginia
Great letter from the 19th Illinois.
For those interested a reprint of the 19th Illinois regimental history is available from the following link:
I just got a copy of the 104th Illinois book. They're done on a digital copy system on acid free paper and are hardbound. The photographs aren't the best quality but the price is right. 104th price was $65 plus shipping and with original books running many hundreds of dollars this is a good alternative.
Ohhhh, please stand by while I find some hard drive space. That is toooo cool. And if you have any post-June 1861 documentation on Zouave attire, I've love to hear about it...
Awwwww, now you tell me! Seriously, thanks for pointing that out. I'm going to pass that info along.
At some point in the near future, that eBay page will be lost in cyberspace, so here's the text of the letter.
Camp Jefferson Ky Jany 19th 1862
My Dear Brother & Sister,
.....I have again concluded that I could in no wise spend an evening in a more profahitable nor pleasant manner than in writing to you who have ever been so thought full of my welfare ever since I left home & in fact always I am glad that while seated here in my tent I have such friends to think about & write to...you can hardly know how anxious at times to see you all again but when that time will come none of us of course can tell...we are hourly expecting an order to advance, and the further we get from home the less chance there is of getting a furlough, as much as I would like to see home and friends. I have never asked for a leave of absence for a longer time than Forty Eight Hours. I do not think I shall ask for the time to go home untill affairs in our country assume a different shape than they do at present...I do not wish to leave the Company and the Company dont want me to leave them...when they get to complaining about not going home, I tell them that I am in the same situation as themselves which generally settles matters. I visited each Privates tent in my Company this evening as I often do and remained some time in each answering questions and talking in such a manner as to make them all feel that they have some one to look out for them and see that they are comfortable...although the mud is very deep and refreshing showers still continue in much perfusion after my return from my visit through the quarters I could not help remarking that I had never seen the men feeling better, or more cheerfull than they do at this time...I very seldom am called on to punish any of them by sending to the Guard House or otherwise for they obey with alacraty whatever order I may give...Several nights since they gave me seven and a , (as the in the regiment is called) in each of their tents and moreover declared their determination to fight with me and for me through thick and thin...as I am dwelling at such length on our household affairs I may as well talk a little more about our arrangements...the company are divided into six squads, and each squad has a tent...the tents are round and are about Fourteen feet in diameter...they will hold Twelve or Fourteen men very comfortably for the good order and cleanliness of the men. I have placed over each separate squad a Corporal, who's duty it is to see that the men pay proper regard to cleanliness that they keep their quarters clean, wash their dishes, & air their beads...also that they pay proper attention to dress...the last duty mentioned is as important perhaps as any of the others for I have known Officers to be reproved & men sent to their quarters for failing to dress exactly right...the Corporals also have many other duties to perform which I will not take time to explain...the tents are placed in one row, right in front of the Officers tents...the Sergeants tent stands between my tent and these of the men...over this presides Orderly Sergeant S.S. Hamilton with great dignity...his duties are numerous...he makes out details for guard details for Police duty details for grand guard duty...he also gets out the company for all drills and dress Parade Superintends drawing rations makes out the reports of the company of How many are sick how many absent and how many are fit for duty...these reports are made out daily and handed in to headquarters...he also has many other duties to perform, in all of which he is assisted by Sergeant Hill Sergeant Kent Sergeant Marcy and Sergeant Brissle...they are all good men and render me great assistance...I have often thought that good non commissioned Officers always made a good company and quite the reverse if they were ...At the further end of the row of tents and a little removed stands the cook tent...One man is taken from the company and tends exclusively to cooking...has everything taken to him in the way of water provisions & ...I will speak here of our rations...are generally good and in abundance...they consist of Beef or Pork sometimes Ham, Beans Potatoes Rice Onion Occasionally Coffee & sugar...the men sometimes have more of an article than they need...in that case they are generally very apt to make trades with Farmers & get Cabbage, Turnips, Chickens...when the men go to the grub pile as they call it and get their share of the food, which is divided...out to them by a Sergeant, there is frequintly some considerable strife to see who shall be first served...it takes but a few moments to serve them all and the cook is left to meditate alone untill ...another meal is ready to serve up...Soldiers have...apetites and frequently act as though they never expected to see another mouth full of food while they live...the day we came to this place I bought...small sweet cakes, and set it out for the men. I thought they would taste good to them after a long days march...I was in no wise disapointed for the cakes all disappeared in about three minutes. I sat by enjoying the sight very much and was lead to reflect about ships and smaller boats being swallowed up by the Great Malstrom on the cost of Norway and malstroms of all sizes down to these as small as a mans mouth. I will now spend a few moments in speaking of my tent, which is a nut wall tent about twelve feet square...in one corner I drive...stakes in the ground and on the top of these I placed a board which makes a fine table...I am using it now...I take some pride in showing it to my brother Officers...on one corner I have marked out a checker board, which I frequently use to "Chase dull Hours away"...near by stands my cot, upon which lies the little pillows & the Shall sent from home...on the oposite side stands my two trunks, which makes very good seets...at the back end stands a small...iron stove which send out any quantity of heat...over my head suspended is the Flag Pole that came from Chandlerville, also the same beautiful Flag, with its Golden Eagle & glittering stars & bright stripes swinging gracefully to & fro moved by the air that comes in at the opening in the tent (dont you think my house well furnished)...on the left stands the Servents tent...the cooking is done at the rear & when prepared is placed on this table and generally eaten with great relish...I discovered last evening that rich food dont aggree with me. The Major of our regiment sent me a mince pie which was very rich...I eat some, the result was that I was warned about eating rich food by some severe griping pains in regions under the belt. Before leaving Company matters, I will mention some other little matters that may interest you. When the Companies are wanted to turn out on drill or parade the Assembly is played by the Band. Upon hearing this the Orderly Sergeant goes to the Company quarters and calls on the men to fall in. After waiting a sufficient length of time he calls the roll...those not present are marked as such, and are concidered good subjects for extra duty...he next causes them to right & count off in twos & whole numbers from right to left...divides them into Plattoons & sections. Placing corporals on the right & left of each, he then sends for me...as I approach the company he commands Present Arms...at the same time he raises his left hand as his right shoulder touching the musket held there, and informs me that the company is ready. I return the salute and then give the command, Shoulder Arms, cause them to right face & take them wherever they are wanted...Soldiers salute Superior Officers when without Arms by raising the right hand and touching the visor of the cap. Abe Hess makes quite a laugh around camp by the manner of his salutes...all this is hardly worth speaking or writing about but it will perhaps show you some of the little Courtecies of camp life. The weather here is quite comfortable much more than in Illinois I expect. Have had but little snow & ice not to excuse one sixteenth of an inch in thickness...I dont, However, like the country as well as home...it is said by the Boys: to be more Holy than rightious...the saying originated from the fact that there are any number of Holes and caves all through this region. I visited one some time since which I wrote to you about...talk of going to see a much larger one tomorrow...there is also a small cave within the lines of our encampment...along the banks of the creek can be seen many holes some of them with water gushing out, one place a short distance from here...the water can be heard as it runs under ground Paralelle with the creek...there seems to be quite a fall, and can be planly heard as it leaps over the rocks in its dark subterranean Passage...the water finds its way into the creek a little further down through three Openings...this is truly a county of caves...Trees cover the surface here...I have often thought that this would be a poor place to fight a Battle...it seems to me that opposing fources should be drawn out on a large Prarie where every one could have a fare show & then pitch in...but military men seem to think that one place is about as good as another for fighting...I will of cource yeald the point as my experience is somewhat limited...Owing to the muddy condition of the road by orders from General Mitchel details have been made from each company to turnout & fix the road so that we could get Provisions Hauled from the Depot to our camps...I sent six men to day and am called on to send Ten tomorrow...the Sergeant that went with the men informs me that there wer about Four Thousand men at work, and had made about Two miles of road to day...the road is made by first grading, then timbers...are lain on the ground Close together...the whole is covered with about six inches of dirt...it makes a splendid road...it seems to me that the great talk about moving is all Blow for I dont see how our teams could follow even if the troops could go themselves (which I very much doubt.) The time to have pushed ahead was when we first came into the state...then the weather was pleasant roads were good but that time has been allowed to pass & I am of the opinion that the Spring months will find us not a very great distance from this place. I sometimes get a little impatient at the apparent inactivity but suppose that the Powers that be know what is best...there has been a great deal of talk in the Regiment about England interfering with our arrangiments and all unite in saying...should she declair war against us that they are all ready and willing to serve as long as they may be wanted...we can hardly estimate the numbers that would rally around our glorious Flag...we could count them by millions, & rivers of blood would flow untill that ...Government was humbled in the dust...Ii should prefer, However, to have them wait untill the Present difficulties are settled, for it is not advisable to take too much on...at once...Some time since you are aware that I visited Louisville...it was quite a treat I can assure you and as I hinted to you before, I made good use of my time...we hired a Carriage & made the rounds of the city...went to the waterworks which is Four miles from the Place...went through the building examined with interest the Beautiful & Powerfull Machinery that fources the water through an iron Pipe Four feet in diameter to the top of a hill about a mile distant...the grounds are beautifully laid out and embrace several Hundred acres...there will be when completed artificial Lakes Mountains Ructick Bridges...the great beauty of the place consists of Rocky clifts that lye along one side & just above this lies the Resovoir some three hundred feet above the plain all tastefully arranged with pavement stairways and rustick seats...here we saw a great many negros...I spent an hour or two very pleasantly took the carriage and returned to the city. Next visited the Artesian well, which is truly worth going to see...through the Building into a court yarde in the center of this was the fountain...the water was playing most beautifully...an old darky accompanied us & explained everything...the well is said to be One thousand & Eighty Six feet deep...the well is about Thirty feet from the fountain...this is great...for Invalids owing to the Medical Properties of the water...I tasted a little & came to the Conclusion that the remedy would be worse than the disease...the Negro gave us a list of the ingrediants also a very full account of the astonishing cures...he also said that a pleantifull use of the liquid was shure to provide Matrimonial feelings consequently I drank several glasses but have not experienced any change...A large Bathing establishment is close by also a papermill which I went all through, having never been in a factory of this description...I examined every thing minutely, from the time that the dirty rags are ground untill they come out in a remote part of the building, nice white paper. I forgot to mention that the negro tole us that he had hardly left the building for Six years...he said that he could get along very well for he had an easy time moving visitors around, if he could only go to meeting but he was deprived of that & it made him feel very Bad. I sympathized with him the best I could and started back to the Hotel...found supper ready & Partook very Heartily...at Six Oclock the next morning, took the cars & started for the Regiment...when I arrived at the Place they were encamped...when I left I found they had just started for this place. I kept right on...I beat them here about Five Hours...Since then I have been back to Elizabethtown on Business. Stayed over night...while seated at the Bar...the landlady came to me and said that there was a lady with a sick chile that requested that I would check in the room adjoining hers for she was afraid of soldiers stroling about. I very readily consented and began to reflect upon the course to [follow should] she [be] disturbed in any way during the long watches of the night. I determined however to act in a very gallant manner & rescue her...the night passed of quietly. When I awoke in the morning it was by the crying of a chile in the next room. I could hardly make out what it was at first for it was the first inocent wail I have heard since leaving home. I rather enjoyed hearing it...the sound was quite musical...very soon I heard the servant girl speaking to another chile that seemed to be in the same room...the chile it appears had been doing something wrong...she declaired that if she was its mother she would punish it within an inch of its life...I was considerably Interested...while writing the above we have been visited with a thunder storm as hard a one as I ever witnessed...the wind blew terribly threatening every moment to blow the tent down over my head...I here that a tree has fallen accrost a tent in another Regiment & killed Four men. Please to tell Abbie that I have not heard from her for near Two months. Good night from your Brother with much love.....
Great minds think alike: I was actually planning to put this on the forum but you took care of it already. I've already saved it in a Word file though. This offering, of course, raises the possibility that there are other letters by this same officer that are in the dealer's possession. What a shame if this were so and, as too often happens, the collection gets broken up.
For "provenance," here is some additional information from the seller:
This is a letter written by Captain Knowlton H. Chandler, Company F Unit 19[sic], 19th Regiment of the Illinois Infantry, on the 19th of January, 1862. Captain Chandler was both loquacious and eloquent, this being an absolutely huge 4 page letter, with each page measuring 17 1/2" by 11" ! In fact, I was unable to place this letter on my scanner, and have had to provide digital photographs of it, seen below. This letter has some fascinating information about life at Camp Jefferson from the layout of the camp to the terrain to the specifics of Captain Chandlers tent / furnishings, "grub", camp procedures, traveling within Kentucky, the relationship Captain Chandler carefully and thoughtfully established with his men, building roads, soothing the nerves of a distressed woman, descriptions of papermill factory and an Artesian well, and more.
This is the web ID page for the seller's eBay "handle" spectacular-vernacular:
I'm sorry to say Captain K. H. Chandler, of Company F "Cass County Guards," 19th Illinois did not survive the war. A search through the regimental roster indicates he was "killed in battle" in an unspecified engagement. Obvious places where this might have happened were at Stones River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge or during the Atlanta Campaign. What a shame.....
Last edited by markj; 02-15-2004 at 06:50 PM.
A very interesting letter, indeed!
Apparently death by falling timber was more common than I thought. He speaks of a tree falling on a tent, killing four men. In Company Aytch, Sam Watkins writes of a tree falling on 10 men, killing them.
I suppose you had to keep your eyes open for falling tree more than for the enemy....
Seems like you could take the date, the ORs and other official stuff, and that fellow's letter and use his description of the geography to find almost the exact spot where the regiment was camped. He's describing natural features that probably still exist, unless development has dropped the water table so much that the underground waterfall he says they could hear is not there any more. Or maybe there's a KFC on the site... still, it would be a neat project to find this site....
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