Vivid five month summary of the 53rd Ohio’s experiences at the Battles of Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Corinth, and the grim Shiloh.
July 30, 1862
Charles K. Crumit was 36 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Cousin Eliza, was 32 when it was received.
Charles K. Crumit died 49 years, 5 months, 2 days after writing this.
It was written 158 years, 5 months, 17 days ago.
It was a Wednesday.
Fort Pickering, Tennessee
July 30 1862
My dear cousin Lizzie,
After a silence of more than a year I return again to address you a few lines and first let me ask pardon for neglecting for as long a time to fulfill my promises in regard to regular correspondence. My only excuse is to find in present unhappy state of the country and in the fact that for the last year I have been actively engaged in the cause of my country. Early last fall I was appointed recruiting officer in our military district with the rank and pay of 2nd Lieut. Of Infantry. When the Reg. for which I was recruiting was organized I received a commission as a 1st Lieut. And in February left home and took the field. Our Regiment the 53th Ohio was ordered to report to Gen. Sherman at Paducah, Ky. On the 7th of March the army started up the Tennessee River. This was after the taking of Forts Henry and Donaldson, the former on the Tennessee River, the latter on the Cumberland. The fleet proceeded up the river and in about twelve days landed at Pittsburgh landing since famous for battle fought near there on the 6th day of April. Your unworthy cousin was in all that terrible fight which lasted two whole days and our brigade had another fight the following day in which we lost about fifty men killed and wounded and the fight did not last more than ten or fifteen minutes. We had pursued the Rebels about four or five miles from Shiloh when we came up with the rear guard of the Rebel army When the fight took place, we stopped to bury our dead and then returned to Shiloh.
On the 28th of April, the army under Gen Hallock commenced the advance on Corinth, Miss. And after daily skirmishes with the enemy we entered Corinth the Rebels having evacuated on the 1st of June.
The Rebel army seemed to be very much demoralized for they were continually deserting by fifties and hundreds after they evacuated. Memphis being a place of great importance, our army then marched here and will perhaps remain here some time at least during the continuance of the extreme hot weather. The army___ that was before Corinth is very much scattered. Gen. Buell’s army being in west Tenn. Gen. Mitchell in Ala. & Gen. Wallace in Arkansas. Gen. Pope’s old command at Corinth. Gen. Sherman’s and Hurlbut’s Divisions alone being here.
I was foolish enough when I left home to wish to see a great battle, and every one of our volunteer army that I have conversed with wished the same. Their curiosity as well as mine is entirely satisfied now on that point. I wish that I had the pen of a Sir Walter Scott so that I could describe the scenes of that field after the battle of Shiloh but I will not attempt it further than to say that there were six or seven thousand dead bodies lying upon that bloody field and until Wednesday the 9th there were still hundreds of wounded still upon the field. You could have there seen wounds of every conceivable kind.
The field of Shiloh was up to that time one of the hardest contested ever fought on this continent and will be here after visited by the curious and they will find for years to come ample evidence of the sanguinary struggle.
Though I have only the position of Lieut. Yet I have had the command of our company almost ever since we came to Tenn., the Capt. Having been sick and absent on sick leave in Ohio ever since the battle of Shiloh. Our company lost three killed and twelve wounded and had only about fifty men able for duty at that time, 30 percent loss.
I received a letter from Father and one from sister Louisa a few days since they were all at that time. Louisa’s third son “John” has enlisted and is now in Virginia I think. Her oldest son (Mortimer) is married and second son will be soon. I suppose Louisa is already a grandmother.
Father’s health is not very good yet, but he is able to work which he still continues to do.
I also received a letter from my wife a short time since, the family was all well.
I think I am getting about as tough as an Indian, sleeping on the ground many times without any covering but the sky (a gorgeous canopy sometimes) and no bed save, mother earth. Many times lying in the rain and mud getting up in the morning to a nice breakfast of hard bread and fat meat, the whole washed down by a cup of muddy water, but such is soldier’s fare on a march and I do not complain, on the contrary I rather like it, but it was rather hard at first.
But I must close my somewhat lengthy epistle as dinner is ready, this sheet is nearly filled up. Write soon to your cousin, C. K. Crumit.
PS Direct to Lt. C.K. Crumit, Co. F,
53d Reg., O. V. Inf., Memphis Tenn.