This letter was written by John A. McIntosh (1839-1928) of Co. I, 78th Ohio Infantry. John enlisted as a private on 15 January 1862 and was promoted to corporal on 15 June 1864. He was promoted to sergeant on 1 May 1865 just before mustering out on the 11 July 1865.
John was the son of Alexander S. McIntosh (1810-1893) and Ellen Noble (1813-1895) of Madison, Columbiana county, Ohio. He wrote the letter to one of his sisters, probably either Catharine, Jannet or Nancy.
The 78th Ohio Infantry was organized from October 1861 to January 1862, to serve for three years. It left by rail for Cincinnati on Feb. 11, and then by steamer for Fort Donelson on the Tennessee river. At daylight on the morning of the second day at Shiloh it went into the battle on the right and was under fire throughout the day, but with slight loss — 1 man killed and 9 wounded. In August it was in the brisk engagement near Bolivar, but in this affair the loss was slight. For several months it was engaged in movements preliminary to the Vicksburg campaign; participated in the battle of Raymond, losing in killed and wounded, about 80 men; was also engaged in the battle of Champion’s Hill, where it lost 116 men killed and wounded. At Vicksburg it participated in the general charge on May 22, with slight loss, and later was sent to Bovina, where it remained until after the surrender. In January 1864, it reenlisted as a veteran regiment and after its furlough home joined Gen. Sherman’s army at Acworth, Ga. It participated in the battle of Kennesaw mountain and at Atlanta on July 22 it lost 203 in killed and wounded. Of 13 flag and color-bearers of the regiment in the latter engagement, all were either killed or wounded. The regiment participated in the subsequent movements of the Army of the Tennessee till the fall of Atlanta and later was with Sherman’s forces on the march to the sea. It marched up through the Carolinas, then to Washington, and was mustered out on July 11, 1865.
Camp 78th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry
January 25th 1864
I sent myself to write a few lines to you to let you know that I am well at present and sincerely hope that these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. How thankful we should be to Providence for sparing our unprofitable lives whilst He is calling others from time to eternity who are as good by nature as we and perhaps better by practice.
I have just come in off picket. We had a very pleasant time on picket but there is quite an excitement in camp this morning. There is some talk of a scout out towards Jackson. Officer’s call has just been blown. We will know pretty soon whether we go or not. Lieutenant has come back. He says that we have marching orders. We are to go to Brigade Headquarters at one o’clock to hear a speech.
That prize drill has come off and we came off second best in the division. The Hundred and Twenty-fourth came out best — so the judges say. The spectators say that our regiment ought to have [won] it. Some of the best military men in the 17th Army Corps say that our regiment did the best drilling that was done on the ground. We have a chance to challenge them at any time by giving them five days notice and I think that Lieutenant-Colonel [Greenbury F.] Wiles will challenge them before long.
General [Mortimer Dormer] Leggett has command of the Third Division and I believe that he is generally pretty well thought of.
I have no more news of importance at the present time. I received two letters Saturday night — one of the 7th — the other of the 11th or No. 6.
Give my respects to all inquiring friends and accept of the same yourself.
I remain as ever your brother, — John A. McIntosh