Following is part of a series of letters that appeared in the Williams County Leader on May 16 and May 23 (the Leader was a weekly paper). In one of them, Sherwood responds to "Sumter". This first group of letters was published in the May 16, 1861 issue.
CAMP TAYLOR, CLEVELAND,
I notice many mistakes in my letter of the 26th ult. In one place it is stated that Capt. Fisher arrived from town at 4 o'clock, when we took breakfast. It should have been 9 o'clock.
Since last writing a material change has taken place in the arrangements at Camp Taylor. We now have our meals regular, a new squad of cooks, and things in better order. We have a better supply of blankets, and our barracks only leak when it rains.
The desertions during the last few days have been quite numerous. The Bryan Company have missed seven, and the Stryker and Wauseon Companies each about the same number. I will mention no names.
We are not drilled hard now, and we are all feeling better. The report which was current in camp about one of the Fremont boys being shot dead, proved incorrect--he was only wounded.
Yesterday morning a letter was read to our Company, from A. M. Pratt, Esq., full of good cheer and words of encouragement. At the close of the reading three cheers were given to the write.---Good news from home is ever welcome in camp.
There is some slight foundation for the report that John Brown, jr. is down on the Ohio with 500 negroes. Some negroes are doubtless concentrated there, but John Brown, jr. is not with them. The raid upon Virginia will be by white men principally.
None of the boys from Williams or Fulton are dangerously sick. Capt. Bradley is again in good condition, and is with his men punctually. He is one of the best and most faithful officers on the ground. We have some officers here who should be kept in show cases or band boxes. They seem to pride in nothing but showing their vain persons in gaudy uniforms, entirely regardless of the high mission they are here to perform. They have their "wine and women," and dash about in their gilt trappings and white kid gloves as if on a summer day parade and nobody was expected to be hurt. I trust they will learn ere long that it is much easier to throw amorous glances at fair virgins than to face the mouth of a cannon. I fancy I hear, as one of these kid gloved conceited asses gallops past the ladies stand on the parade ground, a sweet-voiced angel exclaim, "How perfectly enchanting!" For my part I am disgusted with them.
On Friday last the governors of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan met at Cleveland to counsel together.--I presume the object of this meeting was to consult plans for the opening campaign. They were serenaded at the Angier on Friday night, and happy and eloquent responses were had. The response of Gov. Randall of Wisconsin was very fine. It is easy to see what the programme of the Administration is. A vigorous war policy has been fully inaugurated. It has been such from the start. But it is no easy thing to put 18,000,000 of Freemen, or an army drafted from the population on a war footing at once. The events of the coming week will demonstrate that the Administration has been doing all that could be done to prepare for the complete vindication of our national honor. The South will make a desperate effort, but they will be crushed out. No man who knows the relative strength of the two sections, North and South, can for a moment doubt it.
SUNDAY MORNING, May 5th.
The morning broke fresh and beautifully and the sun sends a warm ray of gladness, which is duly appreciated by the inmates of Camp Taylor. We have learned to love the sunshine these few days past.
Our boys turned out this morning at sunrise, and after stretching themselves and picking the straws from their disheveled looks, prepared to form in line for breakfast. We took breakfast at the usual hour, and after a short march were allowed to break ranks and do as we pleased. The barracks present an interesting spectacle to-day.
By invitation of friend Buckingham I took dinner at the American. Capt. Clinton of the U.S. Army is quartered there at present. The Captain is a first-rate fellow and a good officer. The American, for solid comfort and uniform good living, can't be beat. The proprietor, Mr. Ensign, is a gentleman, and the attachees to the institution are so near to it that a stranger couldn't tell the difference. O. L. Chase, Esq. and Col. Wm. Miller, of our county, are also quartered there.
Our distinguished friend, Ikey B., has not enlisted for the wars. He's afraid cold lead might extinguish the fires of his ambition and blot out the family name from the records of posterity.
I will write a letter to-morrow giving the names of the officers of the Bryan & Stryker Companies.
MONDAY MORNING, May 6th.
The following are the officers of the Bryan and Stryker Companies.
Bryan Company.--Captain, Benjamin H. Fisher; 1st Lieutenant, Edwin J. Evans; 2d Lieutenant, Edgar M. Denchar; Orderly Sergeant, Henry Gilbert; 2d Sergeant, George W. Durbin; 3d Sergeant, C. Greenwood; 4th Sergeant, Justus O. Rose; 1st Corporal, Samuel Hansey; 2d Corporal, James H. Long; 3d Corporal, Benjamin H. Coonrod; 4th Corporal, James H. Queen.
Stryker Company.--Captain, E. D. Bradley; 1st Lieutenant, A. C. Bradley; 2d Lieutenant, D. S. Talliday; Orderly Sergeant, O. G. Doughton; 2d Sergeant, Henry Rust; 3d Sergeant, S. M. Hucyk; 1st Corporal, Samuel Donaldson; 2d Corporal, John Boyers; 3d Corporal, Aquilla Coonrod.
I. R. S.
TUESDAY, 11 O'CLOCK P. M.
We have had wet times in camp for two weeks. The men who stood on guard last night suffered somewhat from the cold. It is decidedly a heavy job to carry a fire-lock through a cold and drizzling rain these kind of night.
This morning two men were drummed out of camp to the tune of the "Rogue's March"--a tune usually played on such occasion. The hootings and groanings were perfectly hideous. Deserters are usually served in this way, after having their heads shaved. One of the poor fellows was from the Defiance Company.
Our boys who were not sick are all in fine spirits and making good progress. The Stryker and Bryan Companies are the best drilled Companies now on the ground. Our Drill Sergeant, C. Greenwood, is very faithful in his duties.
Col. Bradley has been appointed Adjutant for our Regiment. The rest of the staff officers, it is said, are to be selected from the Toledo Companies.--Dr. P. O. Jump of Bryan has been appointed Surgeon's Mate--a first-rate birth--and John S. Cannon, Esq., is Secretary to Capt. Fisher.
One or two of our boys will have to be sent home, as it is evident that camp life is wearing on them.
It is now probable that we will remain in Camp Taylor for ten days at least.--I shall write regularly for the LEADER and keep all our friends posted.
I. R. S.
SUNDAY MORNING, May 12th.
This is Sabbath morning, and the camp is unusually quiet. The guard for the day have been escorted to their posts of duty; the band has left the grounds, and nearly half the companies have been marched down town to church. The day is very fine. A gentle breeze comes over the Lake, stirring gracefully the score of silken banners which move over our barracks, and the ever-welcome sunshine sends a thrill of joy and gladness into the hearts of all. The parade ground looks almost deserted. The sentinels who are pacing to and fro with their rusty fire-locks have it all to themselves.
Camp Taylor is now under strict army discipline, and everything runs as regular as a clock. This week we receive our camp kettles, and go upon rations. We are all well pleased with this, and will learn the genial art of cooking with alacrity. The number on the sick list has materially decreased, and with a few exceptions all our boys are in good spirits, full of pluck and ready for any emergency.
I am informed that those who read my first letters from Camp Taylor thought we fared rather hard; and some few who did not share our little grievances with us, have undertaken to say that I have misrepresented things here. In regard to fare and treatment I stated nothing but facts, and I now have the satisfaction of knowing that my letters reflected the sentiment of the entire camp at the time of writing. It is not necessary to say more. Officers and privates are two separate institutions in this camp, and there is a radical difference between the privileges and accommodations of the two classes.--Hence honest differences of opinion.--The only complaint made to me has been that my letters would have a tendency to dampen the ardor of those about to enlist. If men's patriotism is to be cooled thus, they had better remain at home. A man who enlists as a soldier expects to endure all kinds of hardships; if he does not he will be badly fooled.
How long we shall remain in Camp Taylor no one here knows. Our uniforms and shooting irons have not yet been furnished us.
E. J. Evans, Esq., returned from Bryan yesterday, bringing with him a box of good things from kind friends at home. He was literally besieged by the boys, all anxious to hear from their friends. The provisions sent us were gratefully received and eagerly masticated. Pies and cakes are great luxuries at present.
There is nothing near in camp, outside the usual routine of daily duties. So I will close with a cheer for Old Abe, three times as many for the Cabinet, and three times three for our common country. May this war end when Liberty shall be universally proclaimed throughout the States, and not a traitor remains unhung.
Yours for the Right,
The next letter appeared in the May 23 issue of the Williams County Leader.
I understand that Capt. Fisher of the Bryan Guards, now in Camp Taylor, thinks my first letters to the LEADER cast reflections upon him as an officer. I would say that such was not my intention. The contract for feeding the soldiers at Camp Taylor was let to a Mr. Schovill of Cleveland, at 50 cents per day per man, for table board. The contractor, instead of giving the volunteers the kind and quality of fare contemplated in the contract, furnished the poorest and coarsest quality, employed incompetent and dirty cooks, thereby wronging the soldiers, and putting from $1,800 to $2,000 per day into his own pocket. My letters to the LEADER denouncing the arrangements at Camp Taylor are mild in tone compared with the papers on the Western Reserve, outside of Cleveland. It is well known at Camp that entire companies left the tables and went down town for their meals. Mr. Schovill was reported at Columbus and the contract annulled. The statement of these bare facts should satisfy every person. No officer in our Regiment had anything to do with the arrangements at Camp at the time of my first writing, consequently none should take offense at what I said.
The writer in the Toledo Times who signs himself "Sumter," never eats a meals victuals with the soldiers at Camp Taylor--so I am told.
I. R. SHERWOOD.
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