These letters were written by Joseph C. Arnold who enlisted at age 22 on 6 August 1862 in Co. E, 96th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) for three years. He was promoted to corporal on 4 February 1863. He was wounded in July 1863 in action near Jackson, Mississippi. He was transferred to Co. C. Battalion (VRC) in November 1864. He mustered out of the service on 7 July 1865 at Mobile, Alabama.
Joseph wrote all three letters to his sister, Sarah (Arnold) Rush (1838-1898), the wife of Elijah Rush (1838-1923) of Claridon, Marion county, Ohio. Elijah and Sarah were married in March 1858.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
December 5, 1862
Dear Brother and Sister,
I received your letter that you wrote the 1st of October. That gave me great pleasure to hear from you. We marched from Nicholasville to Louisville and then we took the boat and we were on it 7 days. We have been here about a week. We have marching orders in three days but I don’t think we will leave here for some time. This is a very pretty place here. The boys is all well but James Brattan and Isaac [N.] Mouser. They have got bad colds. I have been well ever since I have been here. I would like to get back against spring. Then if I can save money enough, I will go in with you to get [ ]. That would suit me very well.
We hain’t had any cold weather yet. It snowed last night but it is very warm now. We have built fire places in our tents and we can live very well. This is good land here and a very pretty country but I don’t like it quite as well as I do there in Ohio. I would like to be there. I would have a big time there but I can’t be there. But I don’t think it will be long till I get back. Then I will spread myself thin and I want you to speak a good word for me to some of them while I am gone. I would like to see you again. We don’t get much news here for we don’t get the papers. When you write, write all the particulars and what is a going on.
Well I must close for this time but still remain your friend. Write soon. Direct to Memphis, Tennessee. See Co. E, 96th OVI in care of Capt. [Samuel] Coulter
From Joseph C. Arnold
to Elijah Rush and family and all, both great and small.
Write soon as you can.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Camp near Vicksburg [Mississippi]
March the 1st
I just got your letter—the first that I have had for a long time. I am well but there is a good many sick and lots [that have] died. There has 9 died in our company and 1 was killed in battle. I have had my health very well and have not been excused from duty. We was out o an island for 14 days. Then we lived fat but when we are in camp, we have fat pork and hard crackers and tough beef that has been dried on on foot and the lice is so thick that when you lay down the next morning, you don’t know where you will be.
There is a large lot of men here but I don’t know whether they will fight or not. They will have to do something before the weather gets so warm that we can’t stand it for it is [so] very warm now that we can’t hardly stand it. But I don’t think we will stay here long. The first place that I get where I can get that likeness taken, I will, and then send it to you, But you need not send any money for we will be paid off.
Well I must close for this time. Direct to Memphis, Tennessee. Co. E, 96th O. Reg.
From Joseph C. Arnold to Sarah Rush and family. Write soon.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
April the 2, 1863
Dear [Brother] and Sister,
I received your letter and was glad to hear from you. We are in tolerable good health. There has a good many of our boys has died but I have been spared. I have not been sick yet.
We have moved up the river 18 miles and there is talk that we will go to Kentucky again. That is just what would suit us. Then they will fill up the regiment with contrabands. They will have to try the hot country but that is not half so bad as it is. We could not stand it here. The boys is well and in good heart. They think that they will get home in furlough but if they take us up the river, I will be very well satisfied as long as I am well.
The weather is getting warm and when it does get hot, it is hot for certain, they say. I suppose that the men there is in trouble but they need not for this is not hard work. But they can’t get home just when they want to come. There is lots that have died just because they could not get home and three is some more that will go in the same way. But if Abe Law goes to war, he must think that he will go through my things. This is hard work but we have got into it and we must fight it through with it.
We have plenty to eat and to wear and nothing to do. We have good grub now and don’t have to drill but once a day and then not long at a time. I think that will play out after awhile. Then we won’t drill. I wish that this fuss in the North was settled. Then I think the war would close. But as long as the North is split, this war will last. They had better make peace at home, then go South to fight. But as long as they can’t have peace, they need not come here to make peace. Peace at home, then we will have peace.
Well, I must close for this time but still remain your brother until death. From Joseph C. Arnold
To Sarah and Elijah Rush
Direct to Memphis, Tennessee, Co. E, 96th OVI, in care of Capt. Coulter
Write soon and don’t forget I like to hear from you all.