1862: George W. Modie to Sanford N. Modie

How George might have looked

How George might have looked

This letter was written by 23 year-old George W. Modie (1838-1913) of Company A, 20th Ohio Infantry. He wrote the letter to his parents, William Modie (1799-1872) and Margaret Gates (1811-1880) of Chester, Morrow County, Ohio. George married Isabelle (“Belle”) Nye (1848-19xx), the daughter of W. W. Nye and Martha Ball in 1870. He died in 1913 and is buried in the Dayton National Cemetery, Section 1, Row 10, Site 42.

Note: The letter is addressed to his parents but the envelope is addressed to his older brother, Sanford Modie (1834-1890) so the letter may not have originally been carried by this envelope.]

George served with the 20th Ohio from October 1861 until July 1865 — nearly the entire four years of the war. In this letter, written between the capture of Fort Donelson and the Battle of Shiloh, George describes the regiment’s journey up the Tennessee River to Savannah, Tennessee in mid-March 1862 on board the steamer Continental which also carried General William T. Sherman. A couple of days after this letter was written, General Smith ordered Sherman to take his command further up the river to Eastport, Mississippi for the purpose of destroying the railroad there. On the way, the steamers passed Pittsburg Landing where the Battle of Shiloh would take place within the month.

1862 Letter

1862 Letter

Addressed to Mr. S. N. Modie, Chesterville, Morrow County, Ohio

Tennessee River
Tuesday, March 11 [1862]

Dear Parents,

It has been some time since I wrote to you so I thought I would commence a letter today and let you know where I am but it may be some days before I will have a chance to send it.

I wrote to you at Fort Donelson a few days after I arrived there and that is the only time since I left and I expect you have got it by this time. I would have written soon but we have had no chance to send letters back.

We stayed at Donelson about two weeks and last Saturday we left and went back to Paducah and met our regiment there the same evening. They had been scattered about and all met there except 2 or 3 companies that are still behind. The next morning we left with the fleet up the Tennessee River.

There is about 50 steamers and about 60,000 men in the fleet. We are on board the largest boat called the Continental. She carries 1,900 tons. She has the 20th and 57th Ohio Regiments on board and several officers — among them is General Sherman.

We have been on the river now 3 days and are about 250 miles above the mouth. We do not know where we are bound but I expect we will go as far as we can by water and then walk. We only stopped at Fort Henry a few hours. This fort is about 80 miles from Paducah and our men intend to leave it as it is now almost under water as the river is very high and it is on very low ground.

Well, I will close for today. It is a hard place to write while the boat is running.

Savannah, Tenn.
Wednesday, March 12th [1862]

We arrived at this town last night about sundown and have stayed here all night and have not left yet this morning but expect to start up the river again soon. It is a very pleasant morning and we all feel first rate. I am up on the hurricane deck writing this morning. Our fleet has been reinforced by several more boats and now amounts to about 80 steamers and 85,000 men. The river is full of boats as far as we can see all crowded with soldiers. We got a lot of arms here last night that the Union men had here and they gave them to us as soon as we arrived.




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