Zink Letter #1 Soldiers Letter Index 16th OVI Home Page Zink Letter #3
Letter (#2) from Pvt. Charles Zink, Co. B, 16th OVI
Camp Cumberland, Cumberland Ford, Kentucky - February 17, 1862
to the Holmes County Farmer newspaper at Millersburg, Ohio
Published March 6, 1862
Web Author's Notes:
This is a letter from Pvt. Charles M. Zink, Company B, sent to the editors of the Holmes County Farmer newspaper in Millersburg, Ohio. Zink is writing from Camp Cumberland, at Cumberland Ford (now Pineville), Kentucky, where the regiment was camped.

In this letter, Pvt. Zink seems to respond to an apparent backlash by Republican citizens of his home county of Holmes, Ohio, to comments he made in a private letter to a friend which was inadvertently published in the local newspapers. Zink defends himself and clarifies his dedication to the United States and the Union cause. Interestingly, this defense from a man born in a foreign country yet enlisted and ready to give his life for his new country, having only been a U.S. citizen for three years. The private letter of which Zink speaks is probably the one available on this website. See previous Zink letter.

newspaper article


From the 16th Regiment.

CAMP CUMBERLAND, KY., Feb. 17, 1862.

J. A. ESTILL, ESQ.--Though I have never had the pleasure of an extended personal acquaintance with you I regard you a friend, especially a political friend. I am neither an orator or a newspaper correspondent. It having been but a few years since I crossed the "Briny Ocean," I do not consider myself capable of writing for an American paper. I was therefore surprised to find in your columns a private letter I had written to a friend. Some of my fellow soldiers who are Republicans have taken umbrage at what I had innocently written, and charge me with being a secesh, that I had charged the government with treason and the army with cowardice.

When I came to this country, at the age of 17 years, I did not understand the language, much less the politics of the country. During the Presidential campaign of 1860 I read the papers and listened to the speeches of both parties and concluded to connect myself with the Democracy, and I hope I may live to be a worth member of the Democratic party, ever deserving of, and receiving, the name of 'Union-schreacher' and 'Union-saver' which were sneeringly applied to us less than two years ago by Republicans.

The letter written to Mr. Harris was a private, friendly letter, not designed for publication; but there was nothing in it that I have any disposition to recall.

Some charge me with being opposed the cause for which I am enlisted to fight. I enlisted to fight for the preservation of the Union as it was, for the permanency of the Constitution as it is, for the enforcement of the laws throughout the entire country, to maintain the legally constituted authority of the government whether administered by Republicans or Democrats, and finally to preserve the fame, name and flag of our country from the ruthless hand of traitors in arms and Abolitionists in civil life and to hand them down untarnished to coming generations, and if this be treason in the eyes of my Republican friends, then, am I a traitor, and they may make the most of it. I gloried in being called a "Union saver," and I have no objection to being classed with President Lincoln, Secretary Stanton, General McClellan, Buell, Halleck, Butler, and others as a traitor, since they are fighting for just what I am. Our Republican friends must abandon the notion that a man can't be a patriot and a Democrat.

Had my heart not been in the cause in which I am engaged I would not have left a comfortable home and a good situation to expose myself to the trials, privations and dangers of camp life.

I never charged our army with being cowards. What I said about the spunk of Zollicoffer I repeatedly heard said by Union officers at Somerset, Ky.

Some of them say I charged President Lincoln with being an Abolitionist. The papers are against them on this proposition. It was such leaders of the Republican party as Wade, Cameron, Sumner, Hale, &c., that I referred to.

I did hope my Republican friends would not take home to themselves what I said of the Abolitionists; but those who take it to heart should institute a self-examination, and see whether they are really in the straight and narrow path.

Our Regiment is in good health and the boys are in fine spirits. They are very anxious to try our rifles on the rebels. The boys from little Holmes are all prospering well.

Truly Yours,


We can assure our friend that the cry of traitor, secessionist, &c., raised against Democrats last summer are all played out. The Abolitionists are the enemies while the Democrats are the true friends of Mr. Lincoln's war policy. And the President has acknowledged this by removing Cameron and appointing Mr. Stanton as Secretary of War. Things are reversed here since the 16th Regiment left this county. Now the Democrats, with what conservative Republicans there are, do the talking; the adherents of Cameron, Sumner, Greely, & Co. are hated, despised and compelled to sing mum.

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