Civil War Love Letters: October 12, 1862
Following the battle at Perryville, Kentucky, and the retreat of Confederate general Braxton Bragg, the Union forces of General Don Carlos Buell continued their pursuit of Bragg and his men. The Sixth Division, commanded by Brigadier General Thomas J. Wood, engaged the enemy near Harrodsburg, Kentucky, on October 11, leading to another retreat by Bragg’s men. James and his company were not part of this skirmish, but they could hear cannons in the distance as they marched between Danville and Harrodsburg. James explains that he was part of Buell’s Army of the Ohio, III Corps, Ninth Division, 32nd Brigade. The commander of the brigade was Colonel W.W. Caldwell, not Colwell. Perhaps James made this mistake as a result of his cold and “biliousness,” a 19th-century term for bad digestion and stomach pains.
Oct 12th 1862
Camp at a creek bet Harrodsburgh and Danville, Ky.
My Dear Molly
I wish to tell you here our present place in the "Army of the Ohio". We constitute part of the 32d Brigade - Col Colwell commanding - which is part of the 9th Division General Mitchell commanding (instead of Jeff C. Davis) which is part of General Gilberts 3d Corp. D‘Armee. Now if you see any of these Corps mentioned with killed or wounded or marching it includes the 8th Kansas whether we are along or not.
As to the past I will also say a word for myself. I have been very weak with Diarhea, but am now recovering as quickly as cold & wet will allow. I rode in the ambulance for two days before the battle, but when we fell in line, & the fighting begun I joined the company & have been with it since, though really getting weaker daily. I only suffer from a severe cold in the head at present & expect to be all the better for this little spell of biliousness, if I can protect myself from the weather.
I got the cold on the field of battle. I had to lay all night without blankets, coat or overcoat, in rain & wind this last two nights were the worst but I managed to buy an overcoat from a wounded soldier & I sent back my "nigger" several miles after one blanket, all I can carry & all he could get out of the wagon. The wagons have to keep a good distance behind, as we require all the room in the road, woods or fields to manuevere.
Well after I closed on the 10th we had supper still in the heavy rain. We built shelters & thatched them with Secesh wheat & went to sleep about 8 o,clock but at ½ past ten, orders to march arrived, & in 15 minutes we commenced a darksome march over creeks, & ravines & fields for 5 or 6 miles bringing up in line of battle at Oneida or Nevada, I dont know which, where we stood till morning listening to the cannon of Woods Division, who were skirmishing with Bragg in force. It rained all night & on the 11th was cold & frosty. We kept moving around all day anticipating a fight hourly, but it gradually got fierce & loud in front, & then it moved off into the distance. At dark we again marched 3 miles toward Harrodsburgh, where Woods Division was said to be attacking Bragg's entrenchments, but the news met us on the way that Bragg had fled again, leaving more arms & 500 prisoners in our hands & taken the route to Danville. Now as it was a fine moonlight night we turned around & marched to a creek on the Danville road 7 miles from where we were & camped where we now are, had a quiet night & a good sleep, well wrapped by a warm fire. Troops are moving out now, over 20,000 have gone & we are just about to follow. I think Bragg will soon have to leave Kentuck or be taken prisoner with his whole army. I hope so.
My Dear Molly - I am so glad to hear that you & all are well as I did from Alex yesterday. Take care of yourself my Dear girl for my sake - & believe me ever
James E. Love
Read the original letter by James E. Love.
Read more letters.
Read more about the project.