Feb '63 Civil War Letter Union 94th Ovi 2nd Murfreesboro Benj Field Medical Dept
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Feb '63 Civil War Letter Union 94th Ovi 2nd Murfreesboro Benj Field Medical Dept:
Union Civil War Letter - February 19, 1863
94th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
"Hospital Dept., 1st B, 1st D."
Private Benjamin Field
[A Man in his Late 40s] -"Nurse in Hospital" and Surgeon's Assistant
At Murfreesboro, TN after Perryville and the Battle of Stones River
[Later in Veteran Reserve Corps, 7th Inf. Reg.]
[Surveyor and Farmer, Father of 6 Children]
- 6 x 9-5/8" thin lined paper stock, center-folded into 2 leaves (4pp.)
- Penned on all four pages, and including a return address to the "Hospital Dept 94th R. O. V. I. 1st Brigade, 1st Division via Louisville Ky & Nashville Tenn."
Civil War letter by a Private Benjamin Field with duty in Union field hospitals assisting surgeons and nursing men during the so-called Kentucky Campaign or Confederate Heartland Offensive - including the Battle of Perryville (aka Chaplin Hills) - and the Stones River Campaign in the fall and winter of 1862 - including the Battle of Stones River (aka the Second Battle of Murfreesboro).
Perryville was an engagement Oct. 8, 1862 between Confederate General Braxton Bragg's Army of the Mississippi and General Don Carlos Buell's Union Army of the Ohio that ultimately determined control over the border state of Kentucky for the rest of the war (Bragg won the battle, but the Union kept control of KY).
Stones River was a very bloody battle Dec. 30-31 1862 and Jan 1-3 1963 (with the highest percentage of casualties on both sides of all the battles in the Civil War) that was inconclusive but permanently quenched Confederate plans to try to control middle Tennessee.
The letter dates from about 6 weeks after the Battle of Stones River, and Private Benjamin Field describes his duties as a surgeon's assistant during amputations as well as the terrible screams of the battle wounded and their mangled bodies. At the time the letter was penned, Bragg's army was only 30 miles from Field's location at Murfreesboro TN, and he writesabout his concern that there maybe "another battle at any time. He also writes that he was in contact a Tennessee man with Union sentiments in the area who told him that many like-minded menwere "fleeing and enlisting in our army" due to Bragg's enforcement of the conscription act because they were determined that "if they must fight they will fight for their sentiments." He describes his duties as light (and his pay and rations good), but that is to belie the toll that doing medical duty during and after a horrific battle like Stones River must have taken on him.
Standard sources show that the 94 OVI was organized Aug. 1862 for 3 years service under Colonel J.W. Frizell and was almost immediately thrown into the fray, proceeding at once to KY, and experiencing extreme suffering for lack of food and water in the retreat to Louisville. It was in the Battle of Perryville, tthe advance on Murfreesboro Dec 26-30, and participated in every day of the Battle of Stones River.Thereafter it had duty at Murfreesboro until June. It was called to the Tullahoma Campaign Jun. 23-Jul 7, Hoover's Gap June 24-29, and the occupation of middle Tennessee until Aug. 16. Thereafter it was involved in the Chickamauga Campaign Aug. 16-Sep. 22: at Davis Cross roads (Dug Gap) Sep. 11, the Battle of Chickamauga Sep. 19-21, Rossville Gap Sep. 21, and the Siege of Chattanooga Sep. 24-Nov.23.
On Sep. 23, 1863, just after the Battle of Chickamauga, Private Benjamin Field went over to the Veteran Reserve Corp. and did not experience the remainder of the 94 OVI's war, but they continued in a long list of maneuvers and engagements, sobering to contemplate, including the Battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge; Sherman's Atlanta Campaign; the Battles of Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain, and Peachtree Creek; the Siege of Atlanta, the Battle of Jonesboro, Sherman's March, the Carolinas Campaign, and the Battle of Bentonville.
The text of the letter is as follows (we normalized the punctuation), and some information about Benjamin Field follows:
Murfreesboro Tenn Feb 19/62
As I have not heard from you since I have been in the army I thought I would write you a few lines hopeing [sic] you will answer the same.
We have had another severe fight with the rebels, the particulars of which you have undoubtedly read in the papers.
I was in hopes the battle of Perryville or Chaplin Hills would be the last we would ever see, but it was ordered otherwise.
I am employed as a nurse in the hospital, and a very easy position it is. I receive better wages than a private, it being $20,50 per month and clothing and rations.
My business's during a battle is with the Surgeons on the battlefield assisting in dressing wounds + amputating legs and arms.
It is terrible to hear the roar of cannon, the rattle of small arms and the screams of the wounded during a battle.
In going over the battlefield during a battle + afterwards, it is a horrible sight to see the dead and dieing [sic] so badly mangled to pieces.
Braggs [sic] army is only about 30 miles from us and we may have another battle at any time.
I was talking yesterday with a union man who lives in the conty [sic] where the rebel forces now are, and he says the rebels have been greatly encouraged this winter in consequence of the difficulty in the North. He also says that a majority in his county are union men, and as Bragg is enforcing the conscription act, the union men are fleeing and enlisting in our army, as they are determined if they must fight they will fight for their sentiments.
I wish you would answer this + let me know how my family is getting along, whether good or bad, I want to know all. I have not heard from them since the first of last month. I donot know whether they neglect to write, or whether the letters are delayed on the way.
You will direct Benj. Field Hospital Dept. 94th R. O. V. I. 1st B. 1st D. via Louisville Ky. + Nashville Tenn.
Tell R. R. Chase I have heard nothing from him since the 8th of Jan.
But I will close.
If the writer of this letter sounds mature, that is because he was in his late 40s at the time, already a well established family man with six children and a surveyor by trade. We easily found several records for him - military and US Census.
Military - The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio(in U. S. Civil War Soldiers and Profiles, 1861-1865 (on ancestry.com) shows that served almost 3 years, the last two of them, after this letter was written - in the Veteran Reserve Corps - or the so-called "Invalid Corps" - which performed light duties suitable for the partially disabled or infirm, thus freeing up more able-bodied men for strenuous duty.
Age at Enlistment: 48
Enlistment Date: 13 Aug 1862
Rank at Enlistment: Private
State Served: Ohio
Survived the War?: Yes
Service Record: Enlisted in Company D, Ohio 94th Infantry Regiment on 24 Aug 1862. Mustered out on 01 Sep 1863. Transferred to Company B, U. S. Veteran Reserve Corps 7th Infantry Regiment on Sep 1863. Mustered out on 29 Jun 1865 at Washington, DC.
Birth date: abt 1814.
Civilian - Census records for Benjamin Field available for 1840 through 1880 show that he had six children, waswidowed and remarried,was born in Maine, livedthe prime of his life in Miami Co., OH, moved to Howard Co., IN in his older age, and worked as a surveyor and a farmer.
- We easily found an 1860 US Census record for him in Milton, Miami, Ohio stating that he was a "Surveyor" and head of a large family: Benjamin Field - age 46, born approx. 1814 in ME, "Surveyor", wife Lidia age 41, born in OH, andfive children all born in OH: Ellen M. 17, Martha 16, Alfano 11, Frances 9, and Harvey 1 (an older daughter Abagail was already grown and out of the nest - see below).
- Working backwards, the 1850 US Census shows the family in the same location with Lidia listed as "Lydia", a daughter Abagail age 16 still in the nest, Ellen M. listed as "Hellen M." and Alfano listed as "Alphius." Benjamin's occupation is illegible in this record.
- The 1840 record is less revelatory, but there was a man, head of a small family in Union, Miami, OH clearly the same Benjamin Field.
- Working forward to 1870, it is evident that Benjamin was widowed, remarried to a woman 20 years his junior, and had moved his family Taylor Twp., Howard, IN, where Benjamin appears at age 56, a "Farmer" born about 1814 in ME, with wife Rachael age 36 born in OH, and children "A." 21 and Francis 19 (that is, the "Alphius" or "Alphano" and "Frances" of the previous records).
- In 1880 Benjamin and second wife Rachael were still in Taylor, Howard, IN, he was still a "Farmer," and all the children were out of the nest. They are shown as living next door to a "Frank" Field age 29 also a farmer and his young wife Martha and infant daughter Verana(?). This is clearly son "Francis" from the 1860 and 1870 records. This is the last Census record we could find for him.
CONDITION: Good Plus or better. Light age brown-spotting. The paper is sturdy, and sturdy at the fold. The ink is sufficiently dark, and the handwriting is quite legible. Please zoom in on the photos.
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