This letter was written by Sgt. John Pringle Neer (1842-1933) of Co. H, 45th Ohio Infantry. In July 1864, he was promoted to Orderly Sergeant of the company. He mustered out with the regiment on 12 June 1865. “During his long period of service he was a participant in some of the heaviest engagements of the war, including the battles of Resaca, Dallas, Kenesaw Mountain, Pine Mountain, and Lovejoy Station. One of the first engagements in which he took part was the Battle of Dutton Hill, Kentucky, and he also took part in the pursuit of General Morgan, the Confederate cavalry raider, through Indiana and Ohio. On October 20, 1863, he was a participant in the battle of Philadelphia, Tennessee, in which his regiment lost in killed, wounded, and missing, one hundred and sixty-eight men. Later the regiment served in the campaign in eastern Tennessee and on November 15 of that same year, at Holston River, lost one hundred and one men, including five officers. In an engagement two days later, November 17, they had a brisk encounter with the forces of General Longstreet. In that latter engagement, Mr. Neer was shot through the lungs and was taken to a hospital, being unable to join his regiment until after the siege of Knoxville. From Tazewell, Tennessee, he then went with his regiment to Cumberland Gap and then on to Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, where he remained about a month, in command of a detail left to guard the town; returning thence to Tennessee by way of Knoxville, he finally proceeded on with the regiment to take part in the Atlanta campaign and was present at the siege of Atlanta.”
John was the son of Joseph Franklin Neer (1804-1869) and Margaret Susan Monroe (1819-1880) of Urbana, Champaign county, Ohio.
Hospital No. 3
January 23rd 1863
Well, Cousin Seddie, I again take up my old pen to scratch you a few lines in answer to yours which I received last Wednesday. I had almost quit looking for a letter from you but it came at last & found me in the hospital where I have been since the 15th inst. I am at a good place to stay but not to live. When I first came here, they had plenty of good grub. But now it is rather scant and of rather a bad kind — such as they had this morning, viz: bread, old fat-fried bacon strong enough [to] knock one down, & coffee not fit for a hog. This was our breakfast. I don’t partake very bountifully on such things. While I have money, you may bet I send out and get what I want, [even] if it is against the rules.
January 25th. Long time since commencing [this letter], is it not? But could not help it. I have been very unwell for the last two days & don’t feel much better yet. Not able to write but I will try as long as I can to send the news of the day of Kentucky.
Our regiment left here this morning for Danville, Kentucky, & I am left here behind. Dave Johnson was brought to some hospital in this town yesterday but I don’t know what one. He has been sick for some time with a very bad cold & has fallen away till he is very poor & weak — so the Captain told me this morning. The regiment will stay at Danville only a short time when they will be furnished horses & go on horseback the balance of the time.
Captain [William] Rhoads will be here this afternoon & let me know where all the sick boys are. He was left behind for to find out where all the sick of the regiment were. He (Capt. Rhoads) is also going to Covington in the morning to hunt for deserters. He said that five or six men deserted last night from the 45th [Ohio Infantry]. There has been a great many desertions since we came here. I have told you about all the news I know of at present. Will try and tell more the next time.
Your cousin, — J. P. Neer