This letter was written by Isaac Newton Smith (1842-1912), the son of John Archibald Smith (1803-1883) and Mary Ann Beach (1809-1878) of Plain Township, Franklin county, Ohio. At the time of the 1863 Draft Registration, Isaac was enumerated in Franklin county as a 24 year-old married carpenter with no prior military service.
22 year-old Isaac enlisted with his 25 year-old brother, John Wesley Smith (1838-1923), in Co. B, 133rd Ohio Infantry—a Hundred Days regiment that began its service on 2 May 1864. The regiment was immediately ordered to Parkersburg, W. Va., where it arrived on May 8. From this place it was ordered to New creek, thence to Washington, D. C, and on June 7 was ordered to Bermuda Hundred, where it arrived on June 12. On June 16 the brigade to which it was assigned was ordered to destroy the Richmond & Petersburg railroad. The regiment was assigned to the support of a battery, which opened a cannonade on the enemy, and then with other troops, succeeded in holding the Confederates in check for 5 hours. On July 17 it embarked at Point of Rocks and proceeded to Fort Powhatan, where it was employed on work on the fortifications and in repairing telegraph lines. On Aug. 10 it proceeded to Washington, thence to Camp Chase, where it was mustered out on Aug. 20, 1864.
After the war, Isaac enrolled in the Eclectic Medical College at Cincinnati where he graduated in 1875.
Addressed to Mr. Archibald Smith, Hope P. O., Franklin county, Ohio
Postmarked Old Point Comfort
June 14, 1864
Dear father, mother, sisters and brothers,
As we have got to the place we started for I will give you some of the particulars. I have not been well since we left Newcreek. I had a diarrhea when at Washington, and when we got on the boat going down the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay, I got seasick. We was almost out of sight of land and the sea was quite rough. When I got here I was taken with the flux but am so as to be around. Dr. [Sylvester William] Ranney give me some medicine. I guess I will [get] along.
We are between the James river [and] the Appomattox. Our fortifications extend from one river to the other and guard on the river by the gunboats. When we got here, we commenced making what we call bomb proofs. We dig down and throw the dirt towards the enemy, then lay logs up and across, then cover with dirt to the depth of 2 & 3 feet which forms quite a safe place in case of a bombardment. The rebs throw a few shell once in awhile but don’t bother us much unless we commence it and then they shell pretty rapid—but not since we have been here.
[Brother] John has got the flux also but is so as to be on duty. There is some of the boys sick. Stephen Smith has got the measles. Charley Johnson is sick with a kind of chill and fever. There is some others sick but around. It is a bad place for water. There is no good wells except at the forts. We do not get any bread here—nothing but hard tack, meat, rice, beans and coffee. They have give the men a gill of whiskey apiece with quinine in it for awhile.
One of the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry boys was here just now. It is the regiment James Beach was in. I intend when I get well enough to go and see them. They are camped about 1 mile from us. The gunboats fired this morning. They make an awful noise. The shell makes a sound like they was tearing something, making a fellow feel quite scary. You may know how near to the front we are when we can take our Enfield rifles and kill a reb off of their works. Our pickets are so close that they stone the rebel pickets as they are not allowed to fire at each other.
I do not know how many men we have or the rebs. There is 7 or 8 regiments of Hundred Day men here. I cannot answer Homer’s or Eliza’s letter separate just now. I will try and do it when I get more time. So goodbye for this time.
From– I. N. Smith