This letter was written by J. Henry Hine (1843-19xx), the son of Joseph Hine (1809-1878) and Rebecca Ann Hill (1812-1890). Joseph was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and came to Mount Washington, Hamilton county, Ohio in 1832, where he married and took up farming. Joseph and Rebecca Hine may have had other children but there were only two enumerated in their household in both the 1850 and 1860 US Census Records—Lizzie, born in 1836, and Thomas, born in 1838. From service records we know that Thomas enlisted on 20 July 1861 in Co. D, 39th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). His numerous Civil War letters are posted on-line at Bull Dog Fighting. Lizzie (1836-1915) never married. She is buried in Salem Heights Cemetery in Hamilton county, Ohio, with her parents.
J. Henry Hine was 21 years old when he entered the federal service on 2 May 1864 as a sergeant in Co. H, 138th Ohio Infantry (National Guard). This 100 Days Regiment left Ohio for Washington, D.C., on May 14. They were on picket duty at Harper’s Ferry, W. Va., from 16-22 May, and then reached Washington on May 22 where they were attached to 1st Brigade, DeRussy’s Division, 22nd Army Corps. They were then assigned to garrison duty at Forts Albany, Craig and Tillinghast, Defenses of Washington, south of the Potomac, till June 5. They then moved to White House Landing. Va., on June 5 where they performed picket and guard duty till June 16. They then moved to Bermuda Hundred, Va., on June 16 and were assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 10th Army Corps, Army of the James. Picket and fatigue duty at Bermuda Hundred, Point of Rocks, Broadway Landing and Cherrystone Inlet till August. Sgt. Hine mustered out with his regiment on September 1, 1864.
Addressed to Miss Elizabeth Hine, Mt. Washington, Hamilton Co., Ohio
Postmarked Old Point Comfort, VA
“Camp Shady” near Broadway, Va.
July 7th 1864
Dear Sister Lib,
Your letter was one of the good things that helped to while away the Fourth of July. I was down to the post commissaries on Saturday and did not get your letter until I had read one from Delilah about the same time as yours. You owe me no apologies for not writing although I should have been glad to received one from you at least once a week. I have a much better idea of the disadvantages that soldiers labor under so far as keeping up a regular correspondence is concerned for in more than one instance I have been compelled to drop pen or pencil to perform some duty ordered by the powers that be—and when time permitted to return to my notes, not only all my ideas, but frequently paper and all, were gone, of course, by the unkind assistance of some light fingered friend. It seems to be the ruling passion to take anything that falls in the way of some mens fingers. This is not so much the case in our own company as many of the others composing our Regiment. We have been quartered a good portion of the time among the Old Vets and few of them have any consciences [or] scruples. I cannot blame them much for no one knows the hardships and privations they have endured. And it is but natural they should envy us the little conveniences and comforts we have. In fact, the hundred day men are not looked upon with much favor by the vets. There are some exceptions for I have talked with many who say that we are entitled to a share of whatever success Grant may gain over the Johnnies (even though we may not fire a single gun). Well, though we may not return home covered with much glory, I have no doubt we shall return covered with dirt—or it may be with “gray backs.” And yet up to this time we have not been troubled much with them. I shall hope by much scrubbing with a plentiful application of soap and water to make good my escape.
You say the heat is intolerable at Rural Choice. So it is here, yet me manage to survive by indulging in all the drinks of the season, come at able in the Army. The marches that you dread so much so far as the 138th Regiment is concerned have not amounted to more than forty miles since we have been in the service. It is claimed for us that we have traveled a greater number of miles in fewer days than any other Regiment ever has since the war began.
We are longing for rain. There has not been a drop of rain fell since we left Parkersburg except one little shower some six weeks ago which was hardly sufficient to lay the dust. I have no doubt you are longing for the appearance of “Jake” Beenlzoine and equipment on the North porch. Indeed, I should like to be there and I hardly think black looks would cause me to beat a hasty retreat.
I expect it will be as well to say here that I am enjoying the best of health and as far as I know our boys are well as can be, not more than twelve or fifteen on the Sick List out of the entire Regiment. We have become so accustomed to hearing cannonading that it has lost all novelty and I think no more of it than I should at home to hear a clap of thunder during a storm. We are beginning to think of home and some are counting the days we have to remain. I hoped when we came out that Richmond would be taken before we were marched home. I have my doubts about its being accomplished so soon. Should not wonder if it took our One Hundred Days yet to accomplish the work. That Grant will succeed, no one doubts—but it will take time. I think the hardest fought battle will be near Petersburg.
Have you ever heard from Cleveland? I saw him as we passed through Western Va. He was stationed at New Creek then. I should like to know the number of his Regiment and where it is stationed. I expect Jno. Mears can tell. How are all the folks in Salem? How is Uncle Berry getting along with his house? Are the prospects encouraging for the church’s completions. Company H has some few grumbling in its ranks, and no doubt I come in for a share of their silly charges of injustice being imposed on them. My conscience is clear, however, for I have only obeyed orders, and have endeavored to deal impartially with all. Some have written him yarns about the officers and messes, that I think had better never been said or written. Some of them holding positions in the church and society of our neighborhood that I had thought would scorn to misrepresent the truth. It is hard for some men to come under command. I think the besetting sin in my case has been that I had money enough with you to buy whatever I wanted and was liberal enough to do so. Some whom I thought friends are the greatest growlers. Should I ever again go into the service, even though but for one hundred days. I should not want more than two or three acquaintances in this Regiment. Then I should expect to grant no favors nor ask for any. But enough of this.
When do you hear from Tommy? And how are the boys of Company D? I wrote him to send his letters to me as usual so you can read them should Delilah get any. How is Mother on the question of Subs? How does Brother Maddy stand it with you all now? Understand he does not preach the “Last Man” and “last dollars” since he escaped the conscription by [Gov.] Johnny Brough. There are several other diseased individuals about Mt. Washington that we have had no tidings from since we left Camp Denison. I hoped some of the Loyal Gals would present them with a P______s. How is George getting along with his crop? Tell him I have not secured a partner for him yet. Most of the Nigs in this country are of the yaller kind and would not suit him. Colter has one that he will bring home.
I scribbled the foregoing down last night intending to draw it off. I find I have not time to do so. Must therefore ask you to excuse all mistakes. Hoping this may find you all well and happy, I will close this by asking you to write whenever you have time to do so.
Truly yours, — J. H. Nine