This letter was written by Sgt. Samuel Synder of Co. F, 111th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (O.V.I.) from a Cleveland hospital where he was recuperating from a neck wound received at the Battle of Franklin (Tennessee) on 30 November 1864. In the fight that day, out of 180 men engaged, the 111th O.V.I. lost 22 killed on the field and 40 wounded — many being killed by rebel bayonets. So close was the contest, that the Regiment’s flag was snatched from the hands of the Color Sergeant, but the Rebel who took it was killed on the spot. When the troops on their immediate left fell back during the engagement, the 111th Ohio O.V.I. suffered from an hour’s enfilading fire by the Rebels.
The 111th Ohio was part of General Schofield’s vaunted 23rd Army Corps who, after turning back Hood’s army in Tennessee, were transported east by railcar and then by steamship to North Carolina to assist in the taking of Fort Fisher. One observer in Alexandria, Virginia, who noted the passing of the 23rd Army Corps from the rail cars to the wharf remarked in a letter to his wife that “they were a pretty rough set of men [and] looked as though they had laid in the trenches all winter. They looked hardy and tough as iron.” [Source: Sgt. John W. Piper, 4th Mass. H. A., to his wife, 20 February 1865]
Samuel Snyder (1847-1879) was the 18 year-old son of Jacob L. Snyder (1817-1881) and Phebe Davis (1819-1881) of Hicksville, Defiance county, Ohio. Samuel died at age 32 and is buried with his parents in Hicksville.
Samuel wrote the letter to his friend and comrade, Lt. John W. Cleland (1843-18xx), of Co. F, 111th Ohio Infantry. John enlisted on 15 August 1862 and was promoted from Corporal to 1st Sergeant on 5 March 1863. He was promoted to 2d Lieutenant on 12 April 1864 and to 1st Lieutenant on 2 May 1865. He mustered out of the service with his company on 27 June 1865 at Salisbury, North Carolina. After the war, I believe John moved to Decatur, Illinois.
Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio
February 25, 1865
Mr. C. Sir,
I will endeavor to write you a few lines to let you know where I am and how I am getting along. I am in the Cleveland Hospital and doing fine. Get plenty to eat and [have] nothing to do. My wound is headed up but still it is not well for it breaks out about every weak. Oh! week. I expect you and the boys knows how it goes to ride on the salty [sea]. I expect another thing — there is a fellow about my size will know how it goes before long but I don’t care how soon for by d____d, they put on more style than a country stud horse in a city. The 2d Lieutenants — when they come in the ward — we have to get up in line and stand as straight as a bean pole. Well I will drop that subject.
I will tell you a little of my time that I was at home. The first thing I [can] think of is the big meeting at the church two miles from Farmer west and they had a big time now, I tell you. I only went eight nights. There is not many girls in a horn, I can tell you. My woman got religious — so did [symbol]. Well, I am going home again. I put in for a furlough this morning. The weather is nice here now.
No more. Hoping these few lines will find you and all the rest of the boys in good health and good spirits and I know they will be all that. Write soon and let me know where you are and how you are getting along.
From your friend, — S. Snyder
to J. W. Cleland, Esqr.
Direct to Ward G., Cleveland Hospital, Cleveland Ohio.