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Letter (#13) from 1st Lt. Manuel B. DeSilva, Co. E, 16th OVI
Camp Cumberland Ford, Kentucky - May 28, 1862
to the Holmes County Farmer newspaper at Millersburg, Ohio
Published June 12, 1862
Web Author's Notes:
This is a letter from 1st Lt. Manuel B. DeSilva of Company E, written to an editor of the Holmes County Farmer newspaper in Millersburg, Ohio. It was written while the regiment was encamped at Camp Cumberland, near Cumberland Ford (now Pineville), Kentucky, where Gen. George W. Morgan was massing his troops in preparation for a late spring assault on nearby Cumberland Gap. The Gap was held by Confederates and considered a critical stronghold by both sides throughout the Civil War.

In this letter, DeSilva tells us about the regiment's mission toward Cumberland Gap with the intention of capturing a Confederate force that may have been attacking Union forces at Big Creek Gap.

The letter was researched and transcribed by long time website contributor John Pierson, a likely descendant of 16th Ohio soldier Pvt. Enos Pierson, Company C.

newspaper article


CAMP CUMBERLAND, (two miles above the Ford,

May 28, 1862.


After long delay and much anxiety, the powers that be concluded to make a forward movement. For a few days everything was in a state of agitation; the knowing ones winked their eyes and whispered of great events to come, giving positive assurance that we would have a fight or a foot-race, very soon. Every man felt better. In fact the hope of getting out of this confounded wilderness is enough to make any one feel good. The long looked for day came at last. At noon on Thursday, 21st inst., we left camp, reaching this point at 4 o'clock P.M., where we encamped for the night. We expected to start again the next morning by 4 o'clock; but by nine that evening we found that the design of the expedition was to capture some six regiments of rebels that had left Cumberland Gap for Big Creek Gap, which is some thirty miles from this point. Unfortunately they started to return before we started after them; this information stopped all further movement. We are now encamped on Clear Creek, engaged in throwing up works for defence, with the pleasing prospect of staying here until the year nineteen hundred. One consolation is, that we have any quantity of company in the shape of bugs, snakes, and lizzards, of all shapes, colors, and dimensions. The nights are melodious with the songs of frogs, toads, bugs and ever persistent nighthawk, whose cry is changed in seeming mockery at our delay to 'whip 'em well," whip 'em well. The boys curse them and swear they would like to have the chance.

The number of our brigade is 26, commanded by Col. de Courcey. Lieutenants Stine and Beal are on his staff - the first aid de camp, the latter as acting assistant Adjutant General. This change leaves Col. Baily in command of the 16th Ohio.

That ever welcome personage, the paymaster, visited us on Saturday last, paying us for two months; on Monday next we will be paid for two months more. Just as we were being paid off, a suttler quartered near our lines; he as soon surrounded, and any quantity of sausage, cheese and fancies captured. He had to call for a guard to protect him. That's the way the boys get back some of the interest on the money they loaned him.

The news of General Hunter's proclamation created quite a stir in our camp, its endorsement by the President would have lost to this division not less than thirty officers, and entirely disorganized the Ky. and Tenn. Regiments. They, like many others, can see but little difference between rebellion for negroes and rebellion against negroes. They declare that if they must fight against the Constitution, they could not help sympathizing with the South. No doubt many conscientious men may think that such talk is profane - that they are all rebels - but the hardships and perils that they have endured, refute all such insinuations, and should show to the nation that when the abolition of slavery is attempted by the President, then indeed, is the Union gone. The great mass of the army will never fight under an abolition banner, and the more the question is discussed the greater heart-burnings it causes to our soldiers, and causes them to have less faith in the power, of the Government. As soldiers and lovers of the Union, we pray for the time and men that will treat this question in a fair, manly, and constitutional manner.

Yours, truly,

M. B. DeS.

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