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Letter (#7) from Private Oscar Derostus Ladley, Co. E, 16th OVI (90-day),
to his mother, Catherine and sisters, Mary and Alice and friends in Yellow Springs, Ohio
Camp Philippi, (West) Virginia - June 23, 1861
Web Author's Notes:
This letter was written from Philippi, (West) Virginia, where the 16th Ohio had participated in one of the first engagements of the Civil War at the Battle of Philippi, on June 3, 1861.

Images of this letter courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University.

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Camp at Phillipi.

June 23, 1861.

Dear Mother, sisters and Friends,

I received the second letter from you since coming into this State, and of course I was very glad to hear from you but it seems that you letters are rather slow in getting here. since I come to think I have answered your last, but it is no matter I will finish this one as you would like to hear from me often. Well in the first place we have been expecting an attack for several days and have fortified our position. We worked one day and part of two nights in the trenches. we have torn up the floor in the big bridge and baricaded all the roads coming in here. we also have four mounted rifle cannon twelve pounders, brass [?]

There is onley three companies of our Regiment here at present the other companies are scattered about at different points.

I see by the papers that there is a great wish that us fellows should stay for three years, and some of the letters sent to us advise us to stay during the war. all I have to say is that those persons writing in that strain should enlist themselves for a while, and shoulder a musket weighing fifteen pounds, a knapsack full weighing about from thirty five to forty pounds, a haversack contains rations weighing two or three pounds a canteen with water weighing two pounds, a large overcoat and other cloths, a cartridge box when full which weighs six pounds and then let them go half fed and be ready to march at a moments

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notice through rain or hot sun shine over these Virginia hills, and after a march of fifteen or twenty miles, if they should go through with all this as I have and live through it, and still have an anxiety to live a soldiers life for three years, why just tell them to come along at once, as this is the place for such men. I omited one thing that must be considered and that is standing picket guard for twenty four hours most of the time in the rain (as it has rained almost all the time.) Here is the place for such men. but those who censure us most for not going for the war would be the very last ones to come and take our places. now this is all so. We have not written half that we have suffered on account

of not wishing to make our friends at home uneasy, but we will have to speak out and then the half will not be known. I supose some of the boys have written rather favorable accounts of our living but if they were at home they would tell you different.

The officers of course would contradict such statements but they are true!

When at Camp Jackson most of the boys wanted to go for three years but now ask them what they think of it, and they will tell you [???] Our officers keep promising us new cloths new guns and better grub but we have seen nothing of them as yet nor will we. Towards the end of our three months they will get very clever and very active in getting us plenty to eat, but when they have us in their clutches, we can whistle. Officers generally go to war for pay and honor, but not a bit of the latter will we even get and we see it sticking out all ready in letters written here and in some of the Springfield papers and some

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others that I have read.

They have another plan now of entraping the men for three years, that is to get us a splinded (as they call it) Zouave Batallion to be commanded by Capt. Kershner to have a nice Zouave dress and splendid Enfield rifles and be a sort of an indipendant consern. and it takes very well with some of the boys and others can see through it; and another is that we all will have a furlough to go home as a company at the end of three months and have a fine time and make a big show and a Large name for the Officers! That is all very fine to talk

about but not so easy to do. I forgot one thing, that is we have enough leather on our backs to make a full set of harness for an old virginia waggon horse. You would pitty us to have seen us out this morning on drill (Sunday) with all our harness on our backs, on the side of a mountain, the hot sun pouring down upon us for three hours, then march back to quarters, stand there about half an hour waiting for orders then receive orders to march over the hill to fire off our guns. this took up the whole fore noon (it is now one oclock) then receive orders to clean our guns (which is no small job) and be ready to drill at three oclock, then

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have Battallion drill at six. You care to see by this that our time is pritty much taken up. Well I must close. I think this will be a big dose for the first one and I will quit.

Dont get uneasy we will try and take care of ourselves as best we can. Give my love to all the folks, and some in particular. The boys send their respects.

Write soon and remember


P.S. To make any word good for what I have said We the under signed certify to the fore going.

J. M. Richardson

Osborn Lynn John L. Conklin

J. W. Swope M. E. Lawrance

D. C. Lawrence

T. B. Burkholder.

P.S. You have the privilage of reading this to any one who may wish to hear it read.


But they must excuse bad composition as I was in a hurry and was very tired

The boys when they read this letter said we had been keeping the truth back long enough and that for bearance had ceased to be a virtue.

We are under marching orders and expect leave here tonight but do not know where.

Anne said she would write but I have received no letter from her. tell her to write.

P. S. Keep this letter, do not let any one have it.


Salsberry is afraid to sign this as he thinks the officers here will get hold of it. so he put in a note you need not show it. ODL.

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