1862 Portsmouth, Va - Civil War Letter - 58th Pa Infantry - Peninsula Campaign For SalePostal History
This letter was written by Sergeant Theodore F. Ostrander (1845-1891), the son of Osmond B. Ostrander (1826-1864) and Elizabeth ("Betsy") LeClear (1824-1913), who were inn keepers in Shippen, McKean County, Pennsylvania, in 1860. Theodore married Nettie A. Wilcox (1851-1899) in 1869.
Theodore served in Company F, 58th Pennsylvania Infantry. His father, Osmond, served in Company D, 53rd Regiment. Both regiments were at the Battle of Cold Harbor in the spring of 1864 but did not serve together. Osmond was in Barlow's Division of the Army of the Potomac. Theodore was in Brooks' Division, Army of the James. Barlow's Division was much more heavily involved and suffered far greater losses. It was here that Osmond lost his life in early June 1864.
In this letter, Theodore writes from Portsmouth, Virginia, following the debacle of the Peninsula Campaign. He shares his views on the war and attributes the failures of the army to unsatisfactory leadership among its generals.After the Civil War, he moved to Superior, Wisconsin, then to Wadena, Minnesota, then moving south because of his health to Tennessee.
September 18th 1862
I now seat myself for the purpose of writing you a few lines in answer to your letter which I received yesterday and was very glad to hear from you after so long a time and Lottie did you find writing a remedy for melancholy? I think it would be a poor remedy for me.
Oh how does Dr. Robbins prosper? Does he get plenty of business to do and does Dr. Lasher practice also? I think if she does, Dr. Robbins stands a fair chance to get a living by his profession. But enough of that and we will talk about war matters.
I think as you say after those cities are taken that you mentioned, I think somebody will get their eyes open. I think that these draw backs [are] due to the fault of our generals and not the president. I do not think that we could get another man more fit for the place that Old Abe holds than he himself. But I do think we could place a General at the head of our army more fit for that office than those that now hold that situation. Perhaps we have not. If so, I think it is time to give up the ghost. But as you say, we must turn the best side out and keep up good courage. But the way the thing has turned for the last few days, it is almost impossible to do so. For my part, I think it will all turn out well. But where there is one that thinks so, there is three that is almost discouraged entirely.
I suppose there is some good Union people in Norwich that laughed in their sleeve at McClellan's repulse before Richmond. I wished some of them would get drafted. But I presume it will be their luck not to if they get drafting going on there. I do not know but McKean [County] has filled up her quota. I think I have heard that she had.
Well, I shall have to close my letter. My best respects to all. Please write soon and often to Theodore F. Ostrander
Co. F., 58th Rgt., Postmaster Norfolk, Virginia
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