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October 28, 2011

WRC in the Civil War - “Sojering” - part 1

In concert with the theme of Archives Month in Ohio, “Buckeyes in the Civil War,” we have continued our research concerning Western Reserve College’s involvement in the war. Over the next 2 weeks we will share the student’s account of their service, taken from the student newspaper, Western Reserve Souvenir, December 1862. The captain’s point of view was shared in earlier postings in July and August.

“On the 27th of May last, when it was represented that the National Capital was in danger, and that there was immediate need of troops, the students in a body, acting on their own responsibility, resolved to offer their services for three months. A telegram was sent to the Governor to see if we were needed. He replied that we were, and that our services would be gladly accepted. That we might not be considered rash in making the move, our President himself went to Columbus and had an interview with the Governor, to see whether the exigency of the case was such as to justify our leaving our studies. He sent back word for us to get ready. Books were immediately laid aside; a company was organized; we took leave of our friends; and in a few days, not without regret, we exchanged our ‘Sanctums’ for the Camp. Two of the Faculty, Professors Young and Cutler, accompanied us, to share in common with us, the labors and privations of camp life. As soon as we were mustered in, we were assigned the position of Co. B., 85th Regiment, O. V. I., Capt. C.A. Young, 1st Lieut. C. Cutler, 2d Lieut. E.L. Webber.

"The first three months of our service we performed that, generally called disgraceful, but by no means easy, labor of guarding the rebel prisoners at Camp Chase, considering that by so doing we were serving our country quite as well as we would have done by lying idly in some camp out of the State. By the care and experience of our officers, and the perseverance of the men, we soon attained the enviable position of the best drilled company in Camp, which reputation we succeeded in maintaining as long as we were there. It is no boast when we say that no company presented as fine an appearance on dress parade, no company could be so implicitly relied upon as Co. B. in doing guard duty faithfully. Notwithstanding all this success, we could not help looking back with longings after our Alma Mater, and wishing the time to speed along more quickly which would restore us once more to her embrace. We were wont to meet together in front of our quarters, after the day’s work was over, and sing the songs which called up the pleasant reminiscences of College life. Never, ‘til then, when we were deprived of the advantages and enjoyments of College, did we fully realize their value. Still we were not disposed to complain of our lot, for we were all together as before, and were constantly receiving good things from our friends at home. The fields and orchards around the camp furnished us with an abundant supply of the luxuries of life. High hedges, big dogs, mad men, or screaming women, did not deter us from obtaining what we had set our eyes upon and deemed necessary for our comfort. Sad was the fate of all the fowls which were so careless as to let us know their whereabouts. In this manner, much sooner than we expected, passed the first three months of our service.”

Part 2 continues next week with a prisoner exchange.

Posted by hxy2 at October 28, 2011 12:34 PM

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