These letters were written by Pvt. Theophilus Law Todd (1841-1863) of Co. C, 93rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). Theophilus was the son of John Snodgrass Todd (1808-1878) and Nancy Boal Robinson (1816-1879) of Hanover, Butler county, Ohio. He wrote most of the letters to his sister, Agnes Jane Todd (1845-1923). Agnes later became the wife of Asa Mulford who served in the 11th Ohio Independent Battery (see—1861-64: Asa Mulford to Family).
He also mentions a brother, John “Chalmers” Todd (1847-1873), and a sister, Anna Bell Todd (b. 1858).
Theophilus died on board a steamer on 11 February 1863 while enroute back to Ohio.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Camp near Louisville, Kentucky
September 19, 1862
Mrs. Arnold arrived here yesterday morning. You had better believe there was some glad eyes—not only of her own acquaintances but of almost everyone. Although I did not know her at home, when she came here she seemed like an old friend [and I] was very glad to know that you were all well.
Oh carry me back! When I saw the good things which she brought to me (and the other boys), I knew it would be so if Mother & you had any chance of sending anything. Oh those peaches & light cakes! If our mess did not have a good supper yesterday eve, it was not your fault. I divided one can of peaches & the cakes with about ten others & they all send their most sincere thanks to you & Mother. It was the first Ohio bread & fruit they had eaten since coming into Kentucky. That flannel shirt & those undershirts & drawers were most acceptable and timely as I had worn my flannel shirt ever since you made it. You may think that strange but when we left Lexington, I thought I would wait until we got to Camp Dick Robinson (where we thought we were going) and then I would put on a clean one. The towel & handkerchief & socks also I needed very much. This morning I dressed up clean and you better believe I feel good. I am very thankful also for my pants & shawl but as I have a good blanket & pants, and we are kept moving around so much, I will send them back if I can as you need them there & I cannot carry so much in my knapsack. We drew knapsacks last Saturday eve.
Your letter did me much good as it contained a great deal of information. I was very much surprised to learn that you did not hear from me for so long as I have written four letters home since coming to Kentucky. You have no doubt received them by this time. Was also surprised to know that you had written so often as I got no letter from home since August 30th until day before yesterday when yours of the 4th came to hand. I also got one from Florie & one from Mary Eliza the same day & yesterday I received one from Ralph Naylor. He said that Pa had made arrangements by which he would get possession of that farm this fall and that you were going to move in two weeks. He seemed very much rejoiced to think that you were coming up there to live. If you do, it will stop your going to school at Ham[ilton], won’t it? Or will you stay and board with Florence? She would like that, wouldn’t she? I suppose they will have good school at Monroe, however, & you and Chalmers can go there, can’t you? or is it too far from that farm? While you are at school, improve your time & make the best of it.
It seems that our commanders are bound to keep this brigade moving as we have moved our camp four times since coming to the vicinity of Louisville. We are in the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Army of Kentucky under Brigadier General [William Thomas] Ward. I don’t know what brigade Col. Anderson has or will have as he has been sick ever since we came here, being out to camp this morning for the first time.
We had a grand bore the other day in the shape of a Review of our brigade, ordered by [Brig.] Gen. [James Streshly] Jackson. The day before it came off, we drew 5 days rations—two of which we cooked & packed in our haversacks, and were called up the next morning at three o’clock, took down our tents, packed up everything, and loaded it in the wagons, formed line of battle at daylight, and after standing about an hour, were started toward town where we all expected to take the boats for Cincinnati or the railroad for some other place. We reached town about 9 o’clock where we formed in line on Broadway and were compelled to stand for about three hours in that position awaiting the arrival of Gen. Jackson to review us. After he rode past, we was started on and marched down Broadway to Twelfth Street, on it to Main Street, up Main Street in sight of the river—but not toward it. On we went till all hopes of going on the river was given up and now we thought certain we were going to have to take a long march. We went on a while through the hot sun & dust without halting till we began to see that we were going back the same way we came in.
Well, to make the story short, we were marched right back to the camp we had left in the morning—not more than 100 men coming in with the regimental officers. The rest had to drop out from sheer exhaustion & heat. We had not been allowed to rest all day. You had better believe the men were enraged at Gen. Jackson—he having been the cause of our suffering. In one or two instances, he is reported to have struck sick soldiers with his sword because they would not keep in ranks. One case I know to be true—that is, of our 1st Lieutenant [John E. Chatten] who had just come out of the hospital the day before and was riding in one of the wagons, he having permission from one of the surgeons. When Jackson came along and saw him in there, he stopped the wagon and with an awful oath ordered him out and made him join his company, at the same time calling him one of the vilest of names. I will not repeat it. I hope we will be removed from his division or that he will be removed.
We are in camp now on the east side of the pike leading to Louisville in a very nice field part of which is an old orchard. We are immediately west of the cemetery—a high poled fence only being between. There is no water here but it is hauled to us in barrels from town. It is reported that the rebels are advancing on us here. If they do, we will give them a warm reception—at least we are preparing to as we have commenced digging entrenchments. I was working on them a while yesterday afternoon and 12 men of our company are working today making rifle pits just in the rear of our camp. I will have to work again tomorrow, I suppose. We get very good feed now—have fresh beef twice a week, and get a great deal better quality of crackers than we did at first. The ones we get now being very eatable.
Sabbath morning—September 21st, 1862
You will no doubt begin to think now that the letter is long enough but as we did not leave last night and I did not get it mailed this morning, I felt like writing some more although these details of camp life may not be interesting to you.
This morning we had a new order given—viz: “prepare for inspection.” And then we all had to put in our dress coats, brush our pants, & pack up and strap our knapsacks on and put our cartridge box, take our guns, & form in line in front of our quarters when our officers inspected our arms, examined our cartridges, and knapsacks.
We are to have preaching today at 11 o’clock by the chaplain. I should like very much to got to Louisville to church but that is an impossibility as we can get no passes. We have been living very well since coming near Louisville as the camp has been thronged with women selling pies, cakes, bread, apples, peaches, &c. which they generally sell very reasonable—much more so than the sutler does. He has been very much inclined to fleece the boys when he can, charging very high for things. He sells 4 ginger cakes for 5 cents, 3 crackers for a cent, a small bottle of ink is 10 cents & other things in proportion. Thus you see the apple women interfered considerably with his trade and now they are not allowed inside of the lines but the boys can buy them across the guard line.
Bob [Hannaford] and I had a good breakfast [this] morning. It was crackers & milk. The milk we bought off a man who had it in camp to sell, paying 5 cents a quart. It was quite a scarcity and was very good. I would like to have it often.
Those papers you sent were very acceptable as they contained a great deal of interesting reading matter. I would like if you can for you to send me one every week. You get them pretty well read by Monday morning. If you could send them then, I would generally get them that week.
There is not much Novel reading here as I expected to see. It may be because the boys have not had time, but I think most of them would rather have more solid reading matter. There is another good feature about this regiment—they are not quarrelsome. I have not seen nor heard of a fight since the regiment has been in the service, which is rather a rare thing where so large a body are together.
Is this lead pencil writing easily read when it gets there or not? I would write with ink but it is so unhandy to carry. I must now close as it is nearly church time. My love to all.
Your brother, — Theophilus L. Todd
P. S. Tell Anna I saw lots of little girls in Louisville the other day, waving their little flags, and hallowing “Hurrah for the Union” at the soldiers as they passed, but I saw none that suited me so well as my little black-eyed sister. There was lots of little boys like Jimmy & Naily too, making themselves very useful by filling the soldiers canteens with nice, fresh water while they were standing in the sun.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Camp 5 miles from Nashville
Thursday, November 27, 1862
Dear Sister Agnes,
‘Tis just a week today since I dated my first letter to Mother. This one I thought should be to you. Since then I have been rather impatiently waiting for a letter from some of you, as the mails are running regularly now to Nashville. You see by the heading of this that we are still in the same camp and I think it probable that we may remain here some time yet. There is no certainty of it, however, as we are liable to be ordered off any day.
Movements of the army are made you know as the necessities of the times indicate, without regard to the comfort or wishes of the troops. I think if the wishes of the Brigade or Regiment were consulted, we would be allowed to go into winter quarters here although the duties are pretty heavy now as we have to go on picket every 4th day, have a detail of 5 men from a company every day for Regimental & Brigade guard, [and] also two men to go with the teams every day for wood, hay, corn, &c., have company drill 4 hours each day [and] also have to clean up the grounds every morning. All these duties with the cooking & mending & writing that a soldier has to do makes even camp life very busy.
The health of the regiment is—I am sorry to say—not improving very much. It takes some time for men to get well while lying in camp, even if they have nothing to do. There are now men here who are not very sick, are able to walk around and eat, & do some duty, yet are kind of worn out & weak who would be entirely recruited up in two or three weeks if they could have the attention that they would receive at home. But as it is here, it is very slow mending. Some will get well—others get worse. Yesterday three or four were taken to the hospital at Nashville from our regiment & we heard that all the sick of the Ohio troops here now are to be taken to Camp Dennison. I do hope it is so. They will be so much better attended to there & they can have some chance of seeing their friends.
Mr. Wm. E. Brown was here yesterday afternoon a short time. He came to see about getting [Sgt.] Robert Beckett taken home, who is worse, in the hospital. I saw him (Brown) but a few minutes as he had not long to stay. He said he came away in a great hurry & therefore had no particular word for any of us from our friends at home.
There seems to be a mania or homesickness taking hold of our officers as 3 or 4 lieutenants have resigned and gone home since we came here (among them Lieut. [John E.] Chattan of our company) and several others are expected too, or have handed in their resignations. Our company, you see, is thus left in command of Lieut. Alex Scott if Capt. [Henry H.] Wallace never returns to us.
This is Thanksgiving day in Ohio and you are no doubt just at this time preparing for church as we used to do on other Thanksgivings. Would I were with you today. But Providence has ordered it otherwise, and we must submit willingly and thankfully. How many things we have had and now have to be thankful for—thankful for life, health, friends, food, clothing, homes, country, liberty, and above all for the one great gift, Christ Jesus, on whom we trust & depend. We will always be thankful whatever may be our situation in this world. I am just trying to think how we spent this day one year ago, but cannot. If you were here, no doubt you could mention some incidents or something that would recall it to my memory. I know that Mary E. was at home then & that Uncle John McDaniel was lying very sick &c., but whether I went to church or not, I don’t remember. I think though that I was staying with Uncle John. How changed everything is in one short year.
I’ll bet you are all invited out someplace today to a turkey dinner, for if I am not mistaken, the country folks up there are great for such things. I hope you will enjoy it. If we had the nice fat turkey & fine sweet potatoes today that the boys brought in last Monday when they were out foraging, we could have a big dinner too. We are now living well. Have plenty of rations and lots of nice sweet potatoes, a mess of mush every day nearly, and once in awhile a small porker which the boys manage to capture. They do raise as fine sweet potatoes down here as I ever saw, but Irish potatoes I have not seen any worth anything since coming into the state.
This is a very beautiful day—just such a one as I used to enjoy at home—sun shining & cool & bracing, makes one feel full of life—especially when they are working for object—doing work that seems to be accomplishing something. But the work we have to do here, although it is very necessary, yet when done we don’t see the result of it. The same has to be done every day.
As it is almost noon, I must soon quit writing for I can think of nothing to write that would interest you. Please write soon. My love to all. A kiss to you, Anna, & Mother. Maybe I’ll think of something else to write before night. All write often. Your loving brother, — T. L. Todd
P. S. Enclosed you will find 2 or 3 more of my letters. Please take care of them. When you write, send me a sheet of paper & envelope in your letter. Tell all the friends to write to me. Do write soon. Send me a newspaper once in a while if you can when you are done reading them. They come very handy to me. Accept my love. Bob sends his best respects to all.
Your loving brother, — Theophilus L. Todd
Direct to Nashville, 4th Brigade, 2nd Division
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Hospital No. 8
Saturday, December 13th 1862
Dear Parents, Brothers & Sisters,
You will perhaps be looking for another letter from me by the time this reaches you (I wrote Tuesday afternoon). This should have been written yesterday and then it would have started this morning. As it is, it cannot go till Monday. Before that time, I hope to hear from you.
Well, I suppose you want to know how I am getting along & I am glad to say that I feel a good deal better than when Pa left. Yesterday afternoon I took a walk around town. Called on Winn Hannaford awhile. He had been out the day before to see Bob [Hannaford] but did not get to as they were out on picket. This morning I helped the nurses distribute the spittoons around, helped to sweep, and gave some of the patients their medicine, and I intend to go out again this afternoon if I feel able & can get a pass. The more exercise one takes, the better—that is, if he does not fatigue himself. My diarrhea is checked up, I think, and if it can be kept so, I will gain strength gradually.
The water here is very bad for one having that disease. Indeed, if the patient drinks all that his appetite craves of it, it is almost impossible to cure him. I drink just as little as possible. That little fellow that I spoke of as intending to go home died last night. He went down very fast since then. He eat nothing at all scarcely for 2 & 3 days—just wanted to drink. His disease was chronic diarrhea. Had been here 3 or 4 months.
On Wednesday as I was down on the street, I saw Captain McKee passing and called to him. He came up to my room and seemed very glad to see me in such a good place. He came again the next morning before going out to his regiment, and in the afternoon his wife and another lady in company with Robert Beckett called on me. We had quite a pleasant chat. Mrs. McKee is going to stay here awhile and said she would call again before long. I also had a visit the same day by Mr. McCraken of Hamilton. Mr. Stewart had seen him and told him to call and see me if he could. He is a very fine man. Is here on business connected with the hospitals, attending to the distribution of clothing &c. sent by the state or by the Sanitary Commission.
Mrs. McKee sent me lat eve a copy of the Atlantic Monthly and a paper. You will thus see that I find friends here—more than I expected—and spend time very pleasantly.
There has been several sent out of this room since Pa was here to make room for newcomers. There are no wounded men brought in here at all. I would just as leave go in to the convalescent room when I get a little stronger as not if it was not for one thing—viz: going up and down those stairs to meals. On another account I would rather be in the other room, & that is, there are no diseased persons in it. The cots are not quite so nice but the bedding is just the same.
I saw Lieut. Richards of Co. F, 98th Regiment, yesterday. He had come in the ambulance in charge of 5 men whom he left at the other hospitals. As I was standing on the corner yesterday afternoon, who should I see riding along but Will[iam H.] Kell. He is in the 2nd Ohio [Volunteers] with his father [John Kell], who is Colonel of that regiment.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
Hospital No. 8
Thursday, December 18 
My dear sister Agnes,
I have been looking every day this week for a letter from you & Pa as he said in his letter that he would write as soon as he got home. I feel very anxious to know how you all are and how you got along while Pa was down here. I suppose you got my letter written last Sabbath in answer to Pa, which was received that morning.
This morning I feel better than I have felt for two days past. I caught a slight cold last Sabbath or Monday & cough a little at nights. Last night, though, I slept very well and hope the cough will soon leave me.
Being in the house all day and not getting to take exercise, we are more liable to take cold and gain strength more slowly than if we were someplace where we could go out a few minutes at a time whenever we wanted to. We have permission to go out here right after dinner and stay an hour or two, but again one would [not go] around town that long and goes up and down the three flights of stairs that we have to. He feels pretty tired & perhaps has done himself more harm than good. I am going out this afternoon if we get a chance to.
I got a letter from Ebb Hannaford ¹ yesterday. Bob [Hannaford] had been over to see him & told him where I was. He wrote a very good letter, telling me to keep up my spirits, & hoped I would be well soon and said he would have liked very much to have had Pa gone over & see him while here. Sent his respects to all of you. I have not heard from Bob since I left camp except through Ebb & Win. Perhaps you have though.
The boys at camp are kept pretty busy now, I expect. They have had to change camp 2 or 3 times since Pa was here and had an alarm one night and the whole division was drawn up in line of battle about 10 o’clock. Many persons think that there will be [a] hard fight near here before long. We are well prepared for it, however, and have no fears as to the result. The news last night from Burnside is very unfavorable. I hope it is not true or that the disaster is but temporary.
I received two Presbyters from Cincinnati on Monday. Am much obliged to Pa for having them sent. Mrs. McKee & Robt. Beckett’s called again and left a Harper’s Weekly for me to read. The other boys also get papers & magazines which one can read when not in use.
Several of the boys occupy their leisure time in making rings of mussel shell and laurel wood sand of which are very nice. What do you think of the pipe Bob sent home? The box that I sent to Anna I could not finish for want of time & tools. If I had it here now I could make quite a nice little box of it. I have a ring pretty near done which I will send to you if I get it finished to suit me.
On Monday while out on the street, I saw Mr. Beaty & wife stepping along. He with fine uniform & shoulder straps on and she about as usual. I hardly know him. I went up and spoke, however, & they seemed very glad to see me. They had been in this hospital the day before & would have called to see me had they known I was here. I heard since that they have gone home.
Friday Morning 18th
I had just been waiting this morning until the mail came in to finish this letter & had just finished reading a couple of chapters in the testament when Mr. Sayres came in & brought me your very good and kind letter. Glad was I indeed to learn that they had got along so well at home while you were away & that the weather had not been so severe as we were expecting it had been.
Chalmers & Mc., and Jimmy & Naylor too are fine boys, I tell you, to get along [with]. Won’t we have a team of boys to drive things along? In a year or two, “Pa” won’t have to work at all, will he boys? You ought to have got my first letter before you wrote this one, but the stoppage of the railroad that day, I suppose, threw it behind time. I wrote another to you on the 14th. Uncle Thomas’ folks are moving things around in a hurry, ain’t they? Ralph’s gone to house keeping, Uncle Thomas going to move to town so soon, & everything changing around. Why if I was to come home, I would hardly know where to find all the friends.
In regard to getting a discharge of which you spoke, I don’t want you to build much hope on that for unless I get worse or have a something the matter with my lungs—which I hope is not the case—it will be very hard to do. I will keep a look out though. Also, if there is a chance of being transferred to Louisville, I will accept it.
I heard yesterday that the Governor of Indiana was going to have all the sick Indianians taken to their own state—he taking the responsibility of having them all returned to service again in the spring. If such a thing could be done, thousands of lives, I believe, would be saved to the army this winter. It would certainly be cheaper to the government also as it would save a large amount of transportation, of hospital stores, & also do away with hundreds of officers who have to be paid high wages. They (the sick) want to have their own climate & water before they can recruit up very fast. It is the will of God, however, that it should not be so and we must be satisfied.
We had another death in this room this morning. He died of typhoid fever. Yesterday afternoon I went down to see William Hand and spent an hour or two very pleasantly with him. I have not got my descriptive roll yet but hope to before long. Ebb Hannaford wrote to me that perhaps Lieut. Scott had no blanks to fill out & as they were hard to get in camp sometimes. I had better get one & send to him. So yesterday afternoon I went to the printing office and got one. Do you remember the red-headed little fellow that lay just before me when you were here. He has been worse since & [his] father is now here & has got his discharge, I think, & is waiting till he gets better to take him home.
As this sheet is full & dinner is ready, I will stop now and write some more this afternoon.
¹ Corp. Ebenezer (“Ebb”) Hannaford served in Co. B, 6th Ohio Infantry. He was wounded in the fighting at Stones River (see letter six) and was later transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
Hospital No. 8
December 29th 1862
Dear Sister Agnes,
I wrote a letter home on last Friday but as the railroad has been torn up between here & Louisville, you will not get it any sooner than this one. I was much disappointed in not getting one from you before the mail was stopped. There is one on the road for me someplace, no doubt. We are having somewhat exciting times here now in anticipation of a fight at Murfreesboro [Stones River]. I was down this afternoon to Win Hannaford’s & there saw a man who had come in from the Sixth Regiment. He says our men are within a few miles of Murfreesboro but have had no fighting yet except some skirmishing. If they make a stand there though, we may expect a big fight.
Mrs. McKee & a Mrs. Doughty called on me this afternoon. Was very glad to see them indeed. They said that I looked better, they thought, than I have for some time. I feel better too but still am very weak and do not yet begin to gain flesh. I am taking no medicine of any kind or anything except bread & tea or coffee with a little butter & beef sometimes. We don’t get quite as much variety to eat in this room as in the sick room but I don’t mind that.
Tuesday morning, 30th
This is a very damp, foggy, dark morning. Has been raining a good part of the night. Will be very hard on our men being out in the ran & mud without their comfortable tents, which they have been used to all winter. The country around here looks very different from what it did a week ago. Then it was all dotted over with the white tents of the soldiers. Now, scarcely a tent can be seen except those left to guard the city. Since I commenced writing, the Ward Master came in & said that today would decide the fate of Murfreesboro as our troops were within a mile of it and formed in line of battle ready to attack it this morning. If that is so, we may look for a large reinforcements to the hospitals in a day or two, and some, no doubt, who are now here will be removed to other places. Whether they will be taken to Louisville or not, I can’t say. They can’t take them there now but I think the railroad will be repaired in a day or two so that the cars can run again. If I can get transferred there any way at all, I will do it.
I expect you all think that I ought to have a discharge or a furlough home, and that if I was to try, I could get it. I tell you it is a pretty hard matter to do, and it owing a good deal to what kind of a doctor you are in charge of. The one…[remainder of letter missing].
If I hear anything more of interest before mailing this, I will write. Oh how I want to hear from you all. Hope the mail will be running in a few days. — T. L. Todd
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
Hospital No. 8 ¹
January 8th 1862 [should be 1863]
I was one of the favored few that got letters from home last night. It was the first mail we have had for 2 weeks and right glad I was to get yours & Chalmers’ letters of the 24th. The letter you said you wrote before telling me about the wedding &c. I never received. I am now in that large brick church which Pa will remember stood just across the street in front of the hospital. It has been fitted up very comfortably and is considered a branch of No. 8. There is about 200 men in it. I am in the basement & can walk out on the street whenever I want to.
Yesterday was the first time I had heard anything certain from our regiment since the fight. John Woodard ² of our company was brought in & laid on the cot next to me. He is only slightly wounded in the foot. William [C.] Stewart ³ is over in the room where I was. He is wounded in the arm—a ball passing clear through it about halfway between the hand & elbow. I was over to see him this morning. He says no bones [were] broken & that it does not pain him much.
Our regiment was badly cut up. Col. [Charles] Anderson is not killed but badly wounded. Major [William H.] Martin mortally wounded. [Sgt.] Jerome Falconer thought to be mortally wounded. Wayne Thompson killed. Zac[hariah] Dodge of our company killed. Sergeant [Lewis L.] Sadler wounded. That is all that I know of now from our company that are hurt. Bob Hannaford is safe but Ebb is very dangerously wounded—a musket ball entering his neck on the left side & passing out near the right shoulder blade. Win was out with him two or three days. Col. [John] Kell [of the 2nd OVI] is killed—also Col. [John] Minor Millikin [of the 1st Ohio Cavalry]. Captain McKee is also very badly wounded in the breast. He is some place in Nashville but I don’t know where.
Dear Agnes, your notion about teaching school in the spring is just the thing exactly. I am glad to see that you think you would like it. As to your being a “grand gloomy & peculiar” teacher. I don’t think you would be a very gloomy or peculiar [teacher], but I am pretty certain you would be a grand & good one.
Has Mr. David Stewart been up to see me yet or did you write to him that I was not at home? He is certainly very much interested in me & if I get home again, will be sure to go down & see him. Won’t you go along to see Anna Mary? She would like to see you no doubt. You may let Anna Bell have that ring you spoke of. I sent a shell one in another letter to you. Whether you will get it is doubtful. I will answer Chalmers’ letter before long. Will have some more news then perhaps.
Give my love to all the friends and keep a large share at home for yourselves. Your loving brother, — Theophilus L. Todd
¹ The No. 8 Hospital in Nashville was located in the Masonic Hall on Church Street. From Pvt. Todd’s letter we learn that he was placed in the large Presbyterian Church across the street from the Masonic Hall. The address of the church today is 154 Fifth Avenue N.
² Pvt. John Woodard enlisted at the age of 28 in Co. C, 93rd OVI. He was discharged on 2 December 1864.
³ Pvt. William C. Stewart enlisted at the age of 25 in September 1862 to serve three years in Co. C, 93rd OVI. He died on 3 February 1863 at Hamilton, Ohio, of wounds received in the fighting at Stone River.