1862: Albert Gallatin Heath to Mary Elizabeth Electa Austin


Stationery header of Heath’s Letter — “The Girl I Left Behind Me”

This letter was written by Albert Gallatin Heath (1834-1892) to his wife, Mary Elizabeth Electa (Austin) Heath (1840-1915). Albert was the son of Jesse Heath (1810-1884) and Hannah Allen (b. 1813) of Logan county, Ohio. Albert and Mary were married on 24 August 1856. In 1860, they were enumerated in Perry township, East Liberty, Logan county, Ohio, where Albert earned a living as a carpenter.

Albert enlisted as a corporal on 5 August 1862 in Co. C, 45th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (O.V.I.). He was promoted to a sergeant on 24 November 1862 — not long after this letter was written from Lexington, Kentucky. Albert remained with his company throughout the war and did not muster out of the service until June 1865.


Camp at Lexington, Kentucky
November 6th 1862

Dear Companion,

Yours of the 2nd at hand tonight found me reasonable well with the exceptions of being afflicted severely with the toothache. My face is swollen very much. Had it all night night before last and yesterday & last night I acted as Corporal of the Guard and it rained all night and [was] very cold and disagreeable but I feel some better today. Still able for duty. Was on brigade drill this afternoon. Our officers were as good as pie to me today. It will be all right some of these times.

I was truly glad to hear from you again and to hear you was well. I began to think the time long as I had not heard from you for a week. You just tell them to attend to their own business. I would die if I could not get a letter from home. I want to pay all I owe there and I guess we can write to each other as often as we please and I guess it will be nobody’s business but our own. Who is it that is so worried about your writing to me so much? Nobody knows how much good it does a soldier when he gets a letter. The boys will miss a meal anytime most to get a letter or if they get one, will read it in preference to eating. I want you to send as many or more if you can and let them talk if they want to  as they must talk there you know and while they talk about us, they are not doing anything worse.

I was sorry to hear that filly was no better but hope he is well ere this — or better at least. I was glad to hear you got the 20 dollars & the likenesses all safe. You had better have yours taken from them. If you want any more as they cost so here. Wash Tallman [Tallmon?] is with us now taking likenesses. I wish now I had have waited until now as I could have got a better one taken. But I will have a good one taken when I come home — if ever I do come home. Sometimes I think it will be a good while before this thing is wound up but I bet it would be pretty soon if they would let the boys have it in their hands.

You can hear all sorts of news. One day they are going [to] wind it up in 60 days. All the boys are anxious to have the war closed and want to do what there is to be done and do it up quick and if fight we must, we may as well do it first as last. Some of us no doubt will fall. None knows who but you can’t expect us all to get back safe. I see the funeral procession carrying the remains of some poor soldier to his long home nearly every day. Who knows but it may be his turn next. But for my part, I am going to try and be happy. Still, [I] am in for three years or during the war and am trying to make the best of it I can but am looking for a better time a coming.

We are put through on the fasts now. We are called up for roll call in the morning at 5 o’clock and at ½ after five we take breakfast, and from 6 to 7 drill on squad drill on the manual of arms. From 8 until 9 perform fatigue duty sweeping streets &c. From 9 until half past eleven we are on company drill. Then take dinner & from one until 4 on battalion drill and from 5 until 6 on dress parade. Then we have nothing more to do only to eat supper & do 400 other things until 9 o’clock, then to answer roll call. Well you see by this time it takes us about all the time to do what we have to do. It is all for our good, I suppose, but they are getting it on pretty thick. I guess it will be all right sometime, if ever.

George Embrey ¹ says tell his folks he is all right now. He is getting better fast. He is able for duty now.

Some of my old friends from the 104th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was over to see me — one by the name of [Isaac] Bahney from Massillon and another by the name of Sam Peters ² from East Greenville. You perhaps will know or recollect him. He is a grown up man now. Was but a small boy when I saw him last. He says there is a lot of my old friends with them. I am finding any amount of old friends here in the army.

We are now formed into a brigade with 3 other regiments (Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan). We belong to the First Brigade, Second Division of the U.S.A. in Kentucky commanded by Brigadier General Green Clay Smith and I suppose ere long we will be sent to the seat of war. Don’t care how soon.

Tell all the friends how do you do for me and I must close for this time as my sheet is nearly full and our mess is about out of candles. We have not received our pay yet but will soon. Do you need more money [    ] not. If you do, let me know and I will send it to you as soon as I draw it. Am about strapped now but plenty yet as long as it lasts. The boys all send their best wishes and are making big calculations on having a great time at A. G. Heath’s. I wrote a letter to Old C. H. concerning that money but I don’t suppose he will say beans to you about it. All right, he wants knocking down again I guess. How are they coming on there with the Methodist Episcopal Church. Tell Rach. I received a letter from her today. I will answer it soon as I can. Have you gave her the likeness yet?

We are camped on the fairground where the Rebels camped and the camp is full of body guards [lice]. I expect we will all be covered with them the first thing we know. Has one intends keeping a good look out for them. Well now I must close. It is roll call. Good. Answer immediately and I remain yours, — A. G. Heath

To Mrs. M. E. E. Heath

Friday morning, November 7th 1862 —

Well I thought I would drop a few more lines this morning. I feel pretty good this morning. My face is nearly well but the tooth is very sore. It must not fool much or out it must come.

Well, we had breakfast before day[light] this morning and when the drum beat for roll call, I was dreaming of being at home and was having a good time generally. I thought you was washing when I came in and I thought you was spunky because I had stopped on the streets and talked to the friends there before coming to the house. I saw all if my old friends there and as Mrs. Marott said was enjoying myself with them. I hope that may be the case ere long but there is little prospects now, I think. Well, I think perhaps we all will be home by the first of March. I will try to be there myself by that time at least.

Well I think this is the nicest country I ever saw. Sam [Austin] & I took breakfast together this morning. Had light bread & molasses. Sam is complaining with his ankle a good deal, I guess, by what he says. Nan has sent him that word you spoke of  but as Sam uses me right, I must do so by him and let Nan go to thunder.

It is snowing a little this morning. You wanted to know about that broom [Henry N.] Bennet got. You let him have one of them brass brooms and he will pay you 1.50.

Give my respects to one and all enquiring friends. Sam [Austin] just told me he had lost 8 dollars of his money. He is so careless. No wonder. Just read your letters yourself and if they don’t want to have so much word from us there, why all right. Goodbye for this time and I am ever yours, — A. G. Heath

Direct to A. G. Heath, 45th Regt. O V. I., via Lexington, Kentucky

Care of Lieut. [William] McBeth, Co. C

¹ George Embrey enlisted at age 18 as a corporal in Co. C, 45th O.V. He was captured on 15 December 1863 at Bean’s Station, Tennessee. He mustered out with his company in June 1865.

² Isaac S. Bahney and Samuel R. Peters were members of Co. E, 104th O.V.I. Bahney and Peters both mustered out with the company — Bahney as a Second Sergeant and Peters as a Fifth Sergeant. 

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