Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Condit Letters

When the Seventeenth was being formed at Hartford, Ohio County, Kentucky in November of 1861 two brothers, Wilbur and Isaac Condit, were among those who answered the call of their president and Col. John McHenry.  Isaac (Co.G), aged 24, died of measles and pneumonia on 12-18-1861 before the unit was officially mustered in to the U.S. Army.  Wilbur (Co.A), however, survived the war as did a number of the letters written to his family.

Cincinnatus Condit, the older brother of Wil and Isaac,  joined a Union regiment in Knoxville, TN and served as a sergeant until promoted to 2nd Lieutenant.  In 1864 his feelings toward the war began to change and he received a dishonorable discharge in August of that year.

The trials and tribulations of the Condit family in particular and Ohio County in general are preserved for modern readers in Beth Chin Harp's Torn Asunder, Civil War in Ohio County and the Green River Country, along with transcripts of many priceless letters from Wilbur and Cincinnatus.  Copies of Torn Asunder are available from Helen McKeown.

One letter from Wilbur Condit to his sister, written in the field near Corinth  is reprinted below to give a flavor of his writings.  Future posts will usually feature excerpts for the sake of brevity.  Wil also wrote to his parents and brother while recovering from illness on this day in 1862.

May 22nd 1862
In Camp 2 1/2 miles from Corinth

Dear Sister, I have just received your very welcome letter of the 13th and was very glad to learn you were all well.  I am not at present but hope to be able to enter Corinth with our regiment in a few days, our pickets have been fighting within 1/2 mile of us for a week but to day things appear to be rather quite[sic]- as we hear but little musketry and no artillery yet it is now about one o'clock and the fight may begin in earnest before night.  Our regt have taken 10 prisoners (or deserters rather) to day- they say that Ky or Tenn. Men are not trusted in picket as they will come over to us their best friends.  Sis, I cannot say when this horrid war will cease but I state hope to be home by the 4th of July. If I do not you may conclude your self that I am doing the best I can for myself and country if I should fall in this struggle I hope to meet you all beyond the narrow limits of time- give my best respects to all of my lady acquaintances, as I want to write a few lines to Mother and Father.  I will bid you farewell at present- write soon and often- you will hear from me after the fight.
     For the present I remain your affectionate brother Wil.*

*Hart, Beth Chin, Torn Asunder: Civil War in Ohio County and the Green River Country,  2003, McDowell Publications, Utica, KY
pp 315-316.

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