This letter was written by Edgar O. Miller (1846-1889), the son of Beneville Miller (1818-1881) and Elizabeth Poorman (1817-1881) of Austinburg, Astabula county, Ohio. Both Egar and his father served in Co. C, 29th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI), enlisting in August 1862. Edgar Miller would later be wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg as was his friend, Thomas J. Merrills, who is also mentioned in this letter. Both Miller and Merrills were sent to Summit Hospital to recover from their wounds.
Thomas J. Merrells (also spelled Merrills) was 20 when he enlisted as a private. In the spring of 1863 when the first letter was written, the 29th Ohio were participating in Pope’s Campaign in Northern Virginia.
Edgar wrote the letter to his friend Timothy “Dwight” Root (1845-1871), a private in the 14th Ohio Heavy Artillery. Dwight later enlisted in the 14th Ohio Light Artillery.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
March 7th 1863
It is with pleasure that I seat myself to answer your long looked for letter. It found me well & kicking about as usual. I would like to be there to go to some of them singing schools you spoke about but I suppose I have yet most 18 months to serve yet unless the war closes of which I don’t see much prospect. But we are on the last half & time will fly faster.
You wanted to know if there was any girls down South as pretty as Carrie. I used to think when I went to school to the brick [schoolhouse] that there was no one like Carrie Markham. ¹ But since I have enlisted, I have seen girls that would just leave her way in the shade. I don’t know but you will think I am treading on your toes but I shall have to express my opinion. No harm, I hope.
You had ought to have been with Tom [Merrells] & me when we were in Alexandria last summer. You would of had an old snorting time. You may bet your boots on that. But I will tell you all about that sometime or other if nothing happens. I suppose that Old Holbrook thinks that we can fetch the [ ] to his milk & if he can’t do it any other way, he will knock him there but he will find out that every time he hits him, t’will only make him the worse. I know that by experience.
But I must halt for this time. Give my best wishes to all & write soon to your friend & well wisher, — Edgar
P. S. As I have been writing to Bill, I will put them both in one envelope. It will go just as well. — E.
¹ Probably Caroline Markham (b. 1847), the daughter of Abijah Markham and Mary Ann King of Austinburg, Ashtabula, Ohio.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
April 10th 1864
I received your letter of the 30th Thursday but neglected to answer it for want of time. I should think that you had a pretty hard time getting down to Dixie but you are there all safe and sound and we will talk of something else. I am glad you like the battery so well and hope you will during the three years you have got to stay there. Everything goes on quietly at home because the mud is so deep that it cannot go any other way. I attend school this term. We have a very pleasant school but we cannot go up to your room when we want to. That is the room you had last winter. Wilcox and Walker got this term. They are pretty hearty boys. Mr. Barber leaves town on the 1st of May for Oberlin. James and David go with them. I suppose they intend to graduate.
I am sorry you have changed your views about the Negro. They are a poor, ignorant race—just what slavery has made them. They ought to be pitied but I suppose that you see fifty times more in one day than I ever saw and I should think that you would have to take out a lantern with you in the daytime in order to see a little when they are around. But I will let the negroes go and talk about something else.
Willie Burton came home Thursday to stay thirty days. He has reenlisted for three years. He looks as tough as a bear. Mr. Stahl had a telegraphic dispatch the other day stating that the surgeon thought Henry would not live till the dispatch got here. I heard last night that he had another dispatch to the effect that [he] was getting better. How do Mr. Arnold and Andrew Reed get along? Do they fight, drink, or swear any? Simeon McCord has two cousins here to school and they are Bully good boys, I tell you. Do you know a Mr. Strong in the Battery? Do you see many Rebs down there? We heard that a company of them had taken the 14th [Ohio] Battery prisoners but it would not take more than one company to do it (wouldn’t it?).
What kind of a place is Athens? How does Harvey get along? He does not get drunk, does he? I had a letter from Frank Rich the other day. He says he is doing all he can for his country laying around chewing tobacco. He is a gone succor, is he not. Now Dwight, don’t get your head knocked off and keep out of bad company and I will risk you. I can not think of anything else to write so goodbye.
From your friend, — Edgar
P. S. Franky sings when this cruel war is over then (we) will meet again.