Zink Letter #5 Soldiers Letter Index 16th OVI Home Page Zink Letter #7
Letter (#6) from Pvt. Charles Zink, Co. B, 16th OVI
Cumberland Gap, Tennessee - July 13, 1862
to the Holmes County Farmer newspaper at Millersburg, Ohio
Published July 31, 1862
Web Author's Notes:
This is a letter from Pvt. Charles M. Zink, Company B, sent to the Holmes County Farmer newspaper in Millersburg, Ohio. It was written while the regiment was occupying Cumberland Gap after having taken the natural stronghold from the Confederates on June 18.

In this letter, Zink tells how the Fourth of July (1862) was celebrated by the Union forces at Cumberland Gap. He goes on to talk about the state of the divided nation as well as seemingly bad news received that Gen. McClellan had been defeated near Richmond, Virginia. Zink relays speculation that Cumberland Gap would become a permanent military post and that some troops would end up being sent east.

newspaper article

From the 16th Regiment.


July 13, 1862.

MESSRS. ESTILL-- On the morning of the 4th, when the first sunbeams fell upon the summit of majestic Cumberland, a national salute was fired by the artillery from the Gap, rousing the weary sleeping soldier from his hard bed to salute the great anniversary of the American Republic. A great day indeed, for each American. But, where is the enthusiasm with which this national holiday was greeted in times gone by? We are told that it passed by almost unnoticed. The usual festivities were disposed of and but few efforts were made for its celebration. We are not surprised at this, when a nation which used to be united, and especially on such occasions, showed the world that combined in harmony and union its strength would be invincible, is now separated and thrown into the greatest of all evils - a civil war. Two armies, which in happier days were fighting under the Banner, are now standing in the field face to face, ready to deal the death blow upon each other, to decide the future existence of a Government which never saw its comparative in the annals of the world's history. Brother against brother, father against son and son against father, and waiting the opportunity to send the deadly messengers to each other's hearts.

This is the phase of our once happy nation! Yet thousands have left their families at the grace of a merciless foe, to rally under the banner which had protected them so long. Permit me to narrate one instance which I observed some days ago: One day being in a photographic institution, I saw a gray haired father surrounded by four sons as objects before the apparatus, who like thousands of their fellow citizens, had been driven from their homes by ruthless traitors, but devoted to their country's banner, they crossed the mountains to join the Federal army, and are now members of the 1st Tennessee Regiment.

The fourth passed quietly in camp, the roaring sound of the cannon only, firing the national salute at sunrise, noon and night interrupted the usual quietness of camp. At eight o'clock in the morning a dispatch was received stating that Gen. McClellan had be defeated at Richmond and fell back 35 miles, &c. You cannot imagine what a sensation this report created in camp. Each one seemed to feel the blow as if it had been dealt upon our own division, and you could read in every face that no one was prepared to receive such information. Soon you could learn who approved of his way of doing and who were opposers. Some would condemn this noble General entirely, charging him with disability of conducting the command of so great an army, and they never had expected anything but a defeat while he commanded on the Potomac. We are whipped - badly whipped - disaster has befallen us, was the general exclamation of the Anti-McClellan party. I am certain there has never been a gloomier day in camp, since we organized than the fourth of July, 1862. However, the next day brought a dispatch which contradicted the previous report, and showed that it had been exaggerated in the extreme. This was sufficient to suppress the sensation entirely, and new hopes were cherished for the success of General McClellan's army.

The general opinion is, that our division will hold this point, and that Cumberland Gap will be formed a regular military post. More artillery has arrived and fortifications are being strengthened and new ones erected.

A rumor is circulated today that the probability is, that our division will have to move to the Potomac, and I suppose there would not be five who would not gladly accept a change of position.

Last night about 11 o'clock, we were aroused by an alarm, but soon the order arrived to go to bed again as the alarm proved false.

Lt. Colonel Baily is home on a furlough and Major Philip Kreshner is commanding officer. We have at present three daily drills, one from 4 1/2to 5 1/2 A.M., the second from 7 1/2 to 9 1/2 A.M. and the 3d from 5 1/2 to 7 o'clock P.M. Every Sunday morning a regular inspection of arms, accoutrements, as well as quarters, takes place, the former under the company officers, the latter under the commanding officer and surgeon of the Regiment.

The health of the regiment is tolerably good for the season of the year. Company B is doing fine. I suppose you have heard of the death of our comrade Simon P. Price, of Holmes county. His untimely death is deeply regretted by the members of the company.

Like a noble and worthy son of his country he responded to the call, filled with bright hopes for the future. Soon he won the affections of each soldier and was loved by all who knew him. But disease came upon him, of which he never entirely recovered, and on the 15th of June, his Father called him to the spirit land: Silent does he slumber in the cold grave, where the ringing sound of the musket shall not disturb him. Far from home, sweet home, does he rest in a strange country, where no loving mother nor sister's hand can plant emblems of love upon his grave as a tribute to the departed one.

Friend and comrade, though thou art gone to a better land, yet, thou will be remembered by all who knew thee until we meet again in that region, where war shall cease, and eternal happiness shall be our portion.


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