This 1863 letter was written by Pvt. John Forsyth (1827-1907) to Martha, his wife of fifteen years. The Forsyth family resided and made their living farming in Muskingum county, Ohio. Forsyth mustered into Co. G of the 97th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) on September 1, 1862 and was transferred to the 1st Veteran Volunteers Regiment on July 18, 1864. The 97th Ohio saw action at Perryville, Stones River, Chattanooga, Resaca, Dallas, New Hope Church, Kennesaw, Atlanta, Jonesboro, Franklin, and Nashville.
Two of Forsyth’s letters are housed in the Special Collections of the University of Tennessee and may be viewed on line. “The first letter, dated September 12, 1863, was written from Bridgeport, Alabama amidst the Chickamauga Campaign. Forsyth mentions that he is at work fortifying the the southeast bank of the Tennessee River and discusses the Stones River and Perryville campaigns, saying that Confederate General Bragg would not dare take a stand against General Rosencrans after those battles and praising the brave 97th OVI. The second letter, dated May 27, 1864, was written from Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Forsyth was working at a rock quarry to gather stones for a fort.”
There were three Pioneer Battalions brigaded under the command of Brig. Gen. James St. Clair Morton that served in the Army of the Cumberland. The men were drawn from all of the regiments of the XIV Army Corps under the command of Gen. Rosecrans, each battalion supporting its three wings.
October 20, 1863
Mrs. Martha Forsyth
My dear wife,
I embrace this present opportunity to let you know that my health is good and I hope these few lines may find you and the children enjoying the same blessing.
Well, my dear, we are still fortifying Chattanooga and we are getting up some powerful works here. We don’t know what hour we may be attacked but if the Rebs attack this place, it will be to their sorrow for we can slay them as fast as they approach our works. This army is in fine spirits although we lost a great many killed and wounded in the late battle [Battle of Chickamauga].
The weather has been quite wet for the past week. I think that we will have the Rebs wiped out by spring. From what I can learn, the Old Buckeye State gave [John] Brough a heavy majority for Governor. That is the way to do business. That is worth a victory to our armies.
The last letter that I received from you was written on the 2nd of last month. I should like to hear from you and the children a little oftener if you please, my dear. I will close. My love to you and the children. Direct to Stevenson, Alabama, 3rd Battalion Pioneer Corps, Company C, in care of Lieutenant Callaway.
John Forsyth to Martha Forsyth