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Letter (#21) from Private John F McClelland, Co. B, 16th OVI,
to his wife, Rachel Lockhart McClelland in Nashville, Ohio
Camp Virginia at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee - August 8, 1862
Web Author's Notes:
Images of the following letter were provided by Valerie Davison, great great granddaughter of John McClelland. The letter was written by John McClelland, a private in Company B of the 16th OVI, to his wife, Rachel Lockhart of Millersburg, Ohio. The letter was written from the Union encampment, Camp Virginia, at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, shortly after it had been taken from the Confederates and occupied. In this letter Pvt. McClelland describes what was later termed The Battle of Tazewell, Tennessee. The 16th Ohio and other regiments in Col. John F. DeCourcey's brigade went on a foraging expedition toward Tazewell and were surprised by an overwhelming force of Confederates. The 16th Ohio bore the brunt of the action and casualties, including the death of Joseph Edgar, the Captain of the John McClelland's own Company "B".

Additional history tells us the letter's author, sadly, was later captured during subsequent action at Cumberland Gap and died of disease on September 20, 1862, probably as a Confederate prisoner, just 43 days after the below letter was written. Below the images of the letter are transcriptions made by the donor, Valerie Davison. Thanks to Valerie for sharing these precious artifacts from the colorful and poignant history of the 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantryand the American Civil War.

Please note the contrast of the letter images has been enhanced to make them more readable. Spelling is transcribed as near as possible to match the original author's and end of sentence periods were added, when necessary, to make reading easier.

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McClelland Letter 21 page 1
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Camp Virginia Cumberland Gap Ten
Aug 8 62
Dear wife I take this oppertunity to inform you that I am well at present and am happy to say it. our Brig has just returned from another Foraging Expedition. we started on Saturday last and marched in the direction of Taswell. this place lies Eastward from here on the Knoxville Road is 13 Miles distant is the County Ceat of Claiborne Co and is in Tenn. we arrived at Taswell about 5 oclock P.M. and Col. de Courcy took his headquarters in Town with a very respectable Family by the Name of ____________ [leaves blank]. they are good union people. but as nothing occured worthy of note except a little picket firing I will come down to yesterday where the principal object of my story lies. in order to be well

understood, I will state that the 16th was Stationed along the Road at intervals and not more than Two Companies in a place. they wer beyond Taswell, and over extended along the road for some ways while the Main Boddy was this side of Tazewell, leaving the 16th entirley unsupported. I should of said above that the 16th was on Picket guard. Company B and Tanneyhills Company wer at the Advance Post. they had been there but a short time when all of a sudden they heard a cracking in the Bushes and before they had time to Ralley received a terrible volley of Bulletts which sent many of that small band to their final home. before they had hardly realised the condission they wer in. they soon discovered however that they wer surrounded on all sides

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by at least Ten times their numbers. they saw at once that escape was impossible, all though several did all most miracuasly the particulars of which I will give you by and by. they fought desperatley but were soon overpowerd, by overwhelming numbers and wer obliged to Surender which they very reluctantly did all though a good many of them had already boldly Surenderd up their lives in their fruitless attempts to cut their way thrugh their unwavering colum. Capt Edgar was one of the first that fell. Sargent Tipton fell by his side. I regret to say that a great many of them fell to rise no more. as for my self I came off all write. Paul Wilder got off a very curious way. he broke thrugh their lines. was obliged

to take a roundabout way to get to our camp. on his way through the woods he heard the sound of Horses Hoofs. he stopped behind a grove of [?]. A Rebel Col rode up. when he got got near enough, Paul steped out, presented the mussel of his gun and said whitch do you prefer Surender or have a bullet through your head. he soon decided upon the former and he took him gloriously into [Camp?]. I will here state that there are at present about Thirty missing from our Company but some more may yet come in, and Twenty-Seven from Tannahills. Capt Tannahill is wounded in the left arm. I will give you further particulars soon. No more this time from your Aff Husband, John McCleland. answer soon. My love to all and a kiss [to?] the little ones.

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McClelland Letter 2 page 1
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I will mention a few of the missing, which is hard for me to do. among the number are Samuel Miller & Thomas [Miller], [Newt?] Gosage [Gorsuch], Thos. Linn, Henry Livingston, Jr., and Cyrus Martyn. it is to be hoped that they are not killed but taken prisoner of war

Note: Below is information that may reflect the names listed by McClelland, above, but cannot be confirmed:

Samuel B Miller - Company B - shown as died, September 14, 1863, Keokuk, Iowa - no reason stated
Thomas B Miller - Company B - mustered out with Co., Oct. 31, 1864
Robert "Newt" Gorsuch - Company B - mustered out with Co., Oct. 31, 1864
Thomas B Linn - Company B - later transferred to Field & Staff as musician; mustered out with Co., Oct. 31, 1864
Henry Levingston, Jr. - Company B - discharged April 18, 1863, on Surgeon's certificate of disability
Cyrus Martyn - can find no record of a soldier with this name

we do not know, but it is quite likely that some of them may yet return. The rebbles were repulsed by heavy loss. our batties played on them most charmingly. I lost my pocketbook in the fuss. my hors was nearly run to death. wright soon and let me know how you and the children are getting along. your affectionate husband

John McCleland

This is the original envelope which contained the above letter sent by John McClelland to his wife, Rachel, postmarked Cumberland Gap, Tenn., Aug 9:

Envelope for McClelland Letter #21

Mrs Rachel McClelland
Holmes County

Cumberland Gap Tenn.
Aug. 8

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