This letter was written by Charles H. Ramsdell (1843-1864), the son of Nathan A. Ramsdell (1811-1868) and Mary Ann Hoag (1814-1905) of Dover, Lenawee county, Michigan. Charles refers to his older brother Ira Ramsdell (1838-1912) in this letter.
Charles enlisted in August 1862 at age 19 as a corporal in Co. C, 18th Michigan Infantry. He was promoted to sergeant in September 1864 and was wounded on 24 September 1864 at Athens, Alabama. The wound was so severe that it necessitated the removal of his left arm but complications following surgery lead to his eventual death on 20 December 1864 at Adrian, Michigan.
The 18th Michigan left the state in September 1862 and saw its first active service in Kentucky where they confronted Confederate General Pegram’s army and prevented the plundering of several towns and villages. They moved on to Nashville, Tennessee, where they served provost duty from November 1863 to June 1864.
A letter written by Charles H. Ramsdell on 20 December 1863 to his father is posted on line at the Michigan Civil War Collection. See ~ Ramsdell, Charles H. – December 20, 1863
Three more of Ramsdell’s letters are archived at The Filson Historical Society in Louisville, Kentucky. See ~ Charles H. Ramsdell letters, 1862-1863
November 15th 1863
I received thy letter of the 23rd all right and my box last Wednesday. Everything came first rate. There — our mail just came in but none for me. Well, I do not know as I can complain for I have not written for over 2 weeks, I guess.
We hear that they have drafted there. Write and let me know who are caught.
I have been busy this morning mending my shirt and washing myself and lastly, catching graybacks [lice]. It is almost as good [as] deer hunting only I caught a right smart [mess] of them. They are gay old fellows to sleep with. They don’t bite but scamper all over a fellow and run races up and down your back. O well, they are splendid little animals anyhow.
Major Gen’l. Rosecrans arrived here last night from the front to take command of this post. Everything is all quiet to the front. They have had pretty hard times since the Battle [of Chickamauga. They] have been living on quarter rations but they have a plenty now. We were short of coffee and sugar but the boats come up now.
Father, thee wanted me to write all about the army. All I hear I get from the papers. We get Louisville and Nashville papers everyday. I am 150 miles from Chattanooga and I do not hear anymore than though I was in Michigan.
We will probably have inspection this afternoon at 5 o’clock. I would have liked to have had thee down here last week to see us skirmish drill. We had plenty of blank cartridges and we made considerable noise.
Has thee sold thy wheat yet? and how did thy corn turn out? Have you had any very cold weather there yet? We have cold nights and warm days like Indian Summer at home.
Dinner, Company C. I always obey that call. Goodbye.
Bread, coffee, and lolly pop for dinner. Well I manage to be fat as a pig on that and several other things. I have got so it does not make much difference. I eat anything to fill up.
Did Ira get his premium on Hattaras? Has he gathered any walnuts this fall? I never saw so many black walnut and butternut trees as I did in Kentucky but give me old Michigan to live in for all the South I have seen yet.
Well, goodbye — C. H. R.
P. S. Tell Ira if he gets drafted to come down here for I would like to squad drill him awhile. Mother, I thank you for those socks and everything else. — C. H. R.