Jewitt-Pennock-Foster and Cool-VanPelt Family History Copyright © 2015
Clarksburg July 5th/62
Dear Ma & Pa
thought I would write and tell what kinde of a fourth of July I had. well in the morning the first thing wast to blacken our shoes brush our clothes up & look like jintlemen (gentlemen). then after breakfast we marched down to town & around it when we was done marching the citizens raised a flag pole but there was not enough men to raise it so the Lieut Col. tolde some men that was on the pavement to help & monge (among) them was olde Jackson & he tolde the Cournal (Colonel) he would see him in hell first before he would help to raise a union pole. The Cournal pitched at him with his _ _ _ but olde Jackson run but we sent squads after him & that double quick too. well they caught him put him in a room but he got out then the whole Regt loaded there guns and started after him. but they soon cought him & now we have got him in the guard house. oh but we made fun of him. there was a picknic here & the Slaves(?) had one to them selves to. there are squads of men sent out every day. this Jackson is a first cousin to Lieut. Jackson (Gen. Stonewall Jackson?) & I tell you he is a big man and mean man too.
Ma I believe you are fretting your self about me. you say I have a harde bed to lay on. but it is not harde it is a good soft bed. tell Charlie that if he would hear some of these canon here he might talk. it shake the very ground you stand on. we spent a good time here on the fourth. now Ma dont fret your self about me I am better here than at home. you think the Army is a bad place but it is not. Charlie said he would like to know if I had my uniform tell him I have got it. it is a Puce(?) & Blue pants. when I get tyard (tired) or sick I will come home but I dont think that will be untill the three months are up. & so you got a letter from Jim. I would like to know if he is well. I want you to tell me if you got the Captains picture now don't forget to tell me in your next letter. Dave Roach came home before I left. I think Charlie acts like a (brother or bother?) I tolde him to write & tell me about all the boys. tell Willie Zimmerman that we make the rebbels run when we get after them. please write often and I will to.
I have just been in swimming & I was washing some clothes. I want you to tell me all about the fourth of July in Minerva. tell that Joe Milner dont write I will never write to him again. just tell him so too. ask him if he is going to stick to his promise. I would like to see you all but we are a great ways a part & it is in vain to see one an other. I would like to help Pa if I could. By the way you talk Pa must be taking the wool in. tell Charlie (Frank's younger brother) he must do all he can for his Pa & be a good Boy. tell Birt Kitzmiller to write tell him that perhaps we will go to where is the man that Baked pies for the 32nd Regt he Bakes for us & he said he knowed John Kitzmiller, & all the Boys in Potts Company.
I would give five dollars if the whole family was here to pick black berries I will bet you neve (never) saw as menne (many) in your life the hills as just covered with them I know of one patch which is 20 Achors (acres) wide & 50 long. you said you was at Sandyville when you write tell how they are all getting. be shure not to forget to tell me about that picture of the Capt. tell Will Haldeman to answer my letter that I wrote to him. tell Simon that I can back(?) him out enna day he ever saw. oh yes I am going to keep my other clothes here because I mite get wet & then I would have something dry to put on. I had some Mulberries as long as my finger. now I want you to write as long a letter as this and a little longer so please write soon.
my love to all of you & to Johns folks. & to Uncle Bills & Jeromes to. kiss the little ones at home that is Johns & Bills & Jeromes.
from your son
I have more questions than answers about this fascinating firsthand glimpse into the controversy surrounding the celebration of our country's Independence Day during the Civil War. It is just one example of the various ways it was observed at such a fractious time that called into question the very legitimacy of our United States. Whether northern, southern, white or black -the holiday celebrating freedom and independence took on many meanings that changed over the course of the Civil War as it dragged on. The skirmish that took place around raising the Union flag in a town where loyalties were divided, was likely typical. And it shines a light on how personal the war was... the enemy was your neighbor or even a relative, not a stranger from another country. Having read that Clarksburg was the home of Stonewall Jackson, I am taking a guess that the guy they put in the guard house may have been his relative. Also, it is very interesting that Frank notes the "Slaves" had a separate picnic that day. This must refer to the slaves living in the town, celebrating the hope that a Union victory might one day secure their freedom.
The letter also gives us more insights into Frank's day-to-day life at the camp. Between picnics, pies, blackberries and mulberries, it is pretty clear that in this and all of his letters, food was definitely central to his days. He mentions a "good soft bed" and seems very proud of his uniform.... and he talks about swimming and washing some clothes (probably to please his mother). He mentions several times about sending them a picture of the Captain (Andrew V.P. Day) and did they receive it? Not sure why that would've been so important... I could not find any other information about Capt. Day. It seems like his family would rather have had a picture of him! But perhaps the one portrait was all a drummer boy was entitled to.
At the same time, Frank takes this opportunity to mention a number of friends, family members and places near home in Minerva. He talks about a Joe Milner - "I will never write to him again... ask him if he is going to stick to his promise" -- no idea what that is about! But some of the names I do recognize from my family records: I believe Uncle Bill and Uncle Jerome would have been brothers of his mother Mary Ann who was a Zimmerman, which leads me to guess that Willie Zimmerman must have been a cousin (probably son of Uncle Bill). Uncle John may have been a brother of his father (Henry A. Foster). He mentions he "would like to help Pa with taking the wool in." My records show Henry owned a Dry Goods store, but the family must have also had a small farm to manage. Frank also mentions Sandyville, which is about 20 miles west of Minerva. Sandyville is where his mother's family was from. (More about Franks' parents - the Zimmerman and Foster histories in future posts).
Just an aside: Birt (Bert?) and John Kitzmiller must have been friends of the family. Frank talks about a pie baker for his regiment as well as the 32nd Regiment who "knows John Kitzmiller and all the boys in Potts Company." The 32nd Regiment was organized at Mansfield, Ohio (about 80 miles west of Minerva). The commander was Col. Benjamin Franklin Potts who was later promoted to brigadier general in 1865.