Jewitt-Pennock-Foster and Cool-VanPelt Family History Copyright © 2015
Clarksburg, Va June 23, 1862
Dear Ma & Pa
I thought I would write you a fair line to let you know how I am getting along. I have not been sick untill yesterday. I _____ headache. The boys are all well and enjoying themselves very much. The Adjetent's (Adjutant - a staff officer) leg was broken just above the ankles he is a getting along very well, that is as well as we can expect from a broken leg. Tell Charlie that I have a good drum.
There was a battery came here yesterday and they left for Buchanan (about 200 miles to the southeast; the front line of the Union campaign). They were all good men and big ones too. They had the best lot of horses I ever seen. There are not many seccesh (Secessionists - Confederate soldiers) about but there are a few bushwackers (informal Confederate militia). But they are very scared.
I like the army very well. The boys will give me anything they have if they something that I have not got they will always share. Tell Charlie I am not afraid to drum with enna thing about Minerva and tell him that I want him to answer that letter and tell me all about the boys in Minerva and how they are getting along. When you write tell how John is a getting along. I want you to tell me everything that is going on. If there is enna letters comes for me sends them to me.
We have a good Capt. John Maron makes a very good First Leutenit. But the second Leut is not worth one snap. He runs about to mutch his name is Blackford. He is from Molborrow (Marlboro, OH about 18 miles north of Minerva). Tell Suckie Woode that the Molborrow boys are well. This Blackford is from Molborrow. I have not mutch time to write the Ordley is a going to take the letters downt to the poste office when you write tell how Fave(?) Shane is getting. George Davis is a good boy. He tendes to his business very well. I believe that is all at presant.
Yours truly, Frank
P.S. When you direct you letters direct them this way Clarksburg Camp Burns. Harrison Co, VA
At the time this letter was written, Union forces in the Midwest, including the Ohio 86th Infantry were tasked with attempting to take control of what is now considered West Virginia, and advance the Union line towards today's Virginia/West Virginia border near the town of Buchanan that Frank mentions. Ultimately the Union was only able to control as far as Raleigh, WV, about 120 miles to the west.
Up to this point, I have not been able to identify the various officers, soldiers and friends Frank refers to in his letters; but I continue to keep my eye out for clues in other correspondence and photos. One thing is for sure - he is very proud of being a drummer boy! The above photo was found on the website of an independent researcher, Dennis Segelquist, who discovered it in a firsthand account: "The History of the 86th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry" written by Private Joseph N. Ashburn. The young soldiers pictured were between the ages of 18 and 25 and were identified as Privates; except for the boy at front right who was 17 and a Musician -- about as close as I could get to a photo of Frank's actual 86th Regiment, Company I.
Confederate Bushwackers or non-enlisted militia, were prevalent in the West Virginia area where the Ohio Infantries were deployed in the years 1862-63. According to Civil War historian, Kenneth Noe, these guerilla fighters were not necessarily "young and landless outlaws on the fringes of society," but as often as not they were "older and propertied men and their sons;" at least during these early years of the war, which often consisted of spontaneous conflicts to maintain local control of the land, rather than battles fought in a wider military strategy. Below is a photo of some 1860's Bushwackers.