This letter was written by John H. Wartenbee [or Wartenbe] (1846-1919), the son of Francis Wartenbee (1818-1871) and Frances Ellen Gabriel (b. 1822) of Waverly, Pike county, Ohio. John’s pension file indicates he died on 11 May 1919 in Jackson, Ohio.
John enlisted at the age of 16 in Co. G, 91st Ohio Infantry in September 1862. The 91st Ohio was raised at Camp Ironton in south-central Ohio on August 26, 1862. After it was organized and mustered into Federal service in September, the regiment was moved by rail to western Virginia and assigned to the Department of the Kanawha, later to the VIII Corps under Brig. Gen. Eliakim Scammon. It participated in a series of raids and operations against Confederate positions in the region.
In the spring of 1864, the 91st Ohio fought in the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain in Pulaski County, Virginia, during Maj. Gen. George Crook’s expedition to disrupt the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, an important Confederate supply line. Later that year, it fought in the Battle of Piedmont and participated in the Valley Campaigns of 1864, including the battles of Berryville and Opequon or Third Winchester. It was in the fight at Winchester that John Wartenbee was wounded in the shoulder and send to Clarysville Hospital in New Cumberland, Maryland. He recovered from that would and later rejoined his regiment, mustering out of the service in June 1865.
Clarysville Hospital was established on March 6, 1862 and was in operation until September 30, 1865. Located in Allegany County in western Maryland, the hospital developed out of the need for suitable accommodations for sick and wounded soldiers who were being treated in make shift facilities in nearby Cumberland. As early as June 1861, patient soldiers had been taken to Cumberland and were placed in hotels, warehouses, and engine houses. Both military and local physicians attended to their care. The area was not in the midst of any large battlefields but was located central enough to fighting that sick and wounded could be easily transported there after treatment at a field hospital. Cumberland was already known as a transportation center because it was situated along the National Road as well as the C&O canal.
Note: John’s older brother Robert B. Wartenbee (1845-1864) served in Co. D, 33rd Ohio Infantry. His letters are posted at 1862-63: Robert B. Wartenbee to Parents.
Clarysville, USA Hospital
Near Cumberland, Alleghaney county, Maryland
August 8th 1864
Dear father and mother,
It is with pleasure that I take the present opportunity to inform you that I am wounded in the shoulder but I think I am mending as fast as can be expected. I got wounded at Winchester. I would be glad to see you all. I would like for you to come to see me if you can. I am in good heart yet I think I will be able to go about in two or three weeks at most. I will try and get to come to see you. As quick as I get able, I will get a furlough. There has been a great many of the soldiers gone home on a furlough that was wounded as quick as they got able.
There is a great many wounded soldiers here and some sick with the fever. There is about one thousand men here wounded and sick and lame and wore out men. We had a hard time this spring a raiding and fighting, yet we have lost a great many men since spring and so has the rebs. We have three of them in the ward where I am in. It is a sight to see the mens legs and arms taken off. There is none of my bones broke. It is a flesh wound. I want you to write and let me know how you all are a getting along down there.
I will close for the present still remaining your true affectionate son. So goodbye for this time. Write soon, — John Wartenbee