Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Study in Contrast

Compare the following letters, both written on this day in 1862. It is easy to appreciate the broad range of commitment to the cause expressed by the volunteers.  Surely, all were ready to go home by this point, but their sense of duty to God and country dictated their actions.

By order of the Secretary of War:
WAR DEPARTMENT, May 23, 1862.

Major-General H. W. HALLECK, Camp near Corinth:

Your dispatch of 10 yesterday forenoon received.* Neither the Sanitary Commission nor the Governors of States have any authority from this Department to removed troops, under pretense of sickness or any other cause, without your authority. You are authorized to make and enforce any regulation you deem proper in respect to the sick or wounded, and to prevent any interference or conflict with your own regulations. Three regiments of infantry, one regiment of cavalry, and two batteries of artillery have been ordered from Kansas to join you.


By contrast, Lieutenant Wilbur Condit (17th Ky, Co.A), who is currently sick and whose home state is under attack from rebel forces, is anxious to rejoin his company before the battle begins.  He truly reflects the image of a soldier we all can admire.  On this day he writes home with a description of his current situation, showing concern for the secessionist activity back home.  It must have been terribly frustrating for the Kentucky volunteers to hear of the impunity with which John Hunt Morgan was marauding their state while they were taking the battle to the heart of Dixie.

May 23rd

Nothing new this morning- not so much as a sign of a fight as there has been for a week past- I would not be surprised if we did not fight much here at all but we may be held here in suspense for a month and then have a hard battle- all our officers and men are in good spirits and confident of gaining the victory tho fact is we are bound to gain it- we are under strict discipline and are always on duty that is either on picket- in line of battle or ready to march at a moments warning.  I hope the fight will ever come off and when perhaps we will not have such a hard time of it- a great many then we will be sent back to Ky to suppress any out breaks which many fear there but I don't think we will go soon but if we conquer Corinth we will not have much more fighting to do. Tell all of my friends that I would be very glad to get a letter from any of them and would write to them but have actually have not time or opportunity- give my best respects to all of them collectively.  You must not let the  Seisch [secessionists] crow over you at home as we are suffering as much so much away down here in Dixie to protect all of you from all who have come out openly to rein our government.  I would rather do my fighting in Ky.  It is a hard life but we will do the best we can and hope for better times.  I expect to return to Ky. when the war is over as all that is dear to me in this life is there.  I am learning to appreciate the advantage of friends and the name of Father, Mother, Brother or Sister seems dearer than ever.  Tell Katy I have not forgotten her yet and would rather be waked up to a good breakfast a little too soon than to a  breakfast of sheet iron crackers and bacon with orders to arms at 4 o'clock.

Good bye to all- do write often,
Wil Condit**

*ORE correspondence courtesy of my Favoritye Link, Ohio State's eHistory

**Hart, Beth Chin, Torn Asunder, Civil War in Ohio County and the Green River Country, 2003, McDowell Publications, Utica, Kentucky  p 317

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