1862: James F. Johnson to James B. Whelpley

James Whelpley & wife in later years

James Whelpley & wife in later years

This letter was written by James F. Johnson (1836-1909) of Company B, 32nd Ohio Infantry. Johnson was the son of James and Catherine Johnson of Concord, Champaign County, Ohio.

Johnson wrote the letter to Lt. James B. Whelpley (1827-1894) of the same company who resigned his commission [due to disability] on 24 January 1862 and returned home to Milford Centre, Union County, Ohio. In 1852, Whelpley “became engaged in the mercantile trade at Milford Center, which he pursued successfully at that point and at Marysville for twenty years, when he retired from the active duties of life. He served the county as Sheriff four years, and was appointed County Treasurer to fill an unexpired term caused by the death of J. R. Russell in 1873. He was elected County Commissioner, in the fall of 1876, and is occupied in that position at this time. He had the entire supervision of the erection of the new court house, the duties of which position he discharged to the entire satisfaction of the people.” Whelpley was married to Arpa C. Beach (1831-1911) in 1849.

1862 Letter

1862 Letter

Addressed to James W. Whelpley, Esq., Milford Centre, Union County, Ohio

Beverly, Va.
March 2nd [1862]
Head Quarters Co. B, 32nd Ohio Regiment

Lieut. J. B. Whelpley
Dear Sir,

Your long looked for letter came to hand and was read with pleasure. I am very glad to hear that your health is improving and it is the desire of myself and the whole company that you may soon be as strong and hearty as you used to be. There has been some changes made in the officers of Co. B of which you have no doubt learned ‘ere this time. George St. Clair [Sinclair] is 2nd Lieut. His appointment appears to give general satisfaction. The appointment was made by the Lieut. Colonel [Ebenezer H. Swinney] in presence of the whole company drawn up in line and the appointment was received by the boys with three hearty cheers. Lieut. H[oratio] G. Johnson was at the same time promoted to First Lieut. Orderly [Henry] Rouse having resigned, there is two vacancies in the Sergeants List, but no appointments have been made to fill them that I am aware of up to this date. John Wiley is acting as Orderly at present but whether he is to hold the position permanently or not I cannot say. But I believe he will be if not already promoted to fill that vacancy. Captain [William A.] Palmer, you know, don’t talk much and no one appears interested enough to ask him in regard to the appointments.

Capt. Palmer and Capt. [Jackson] Lucy was lately in command of a scouting expedition. There was altogether about 300 men and a detachment of about 15 or 30 of Company B. They made a nice thing. They captured 28 prisoners and 40 head of horses (Captain Palmer has just stepped in and says that it was over on the North Branch of the Potomac where the skirmish was). I was under the impression that it was on the dry fork of Cheat River. They killed a Lieutenant and wounded one or two others. Harvey Hill shot the Lieutenant. George Cook also distinguished himself for bravery almost amounting to recklessness. It is said that Cook and another fellow from another company was in advance on horses. They had captured his horse and retreated as fast as possible but Cook dismounted, tied his horse to a limb, and commenced bushwalking on his own account. When Capt. Palmer rode up with reinforcements of about a dozen men, they found Cook behind a tree loading and shooting as fast as he could, yet perfectly cool and composed, and about fifteen Secesh shooting at him. They had shot his horse in the thigh and disabled it. Upon arrival of Captain, the Secesh scampered and left our boys masters of the field. This was, I guess, about all the shooting that was done.

Among the prisoners was a Captain. 20 of the prisoners was sent to Wheeling yesterday under guard of a detail of four men from each company. Sumner Galloway, Joseph Davis, Vernon Jacques, and W[illiam] H. Marriot are the detail from Co. B. They have permission to go home for a few days before they return. You will see some of them. None of our men were hurt in the fight.

The boys of the company are all well except Marion Hopkins. He has something like the fever and is in the hospital. His case is not considered at all dangerous. I was in to see him yesterday. He is well cared for and has a good bed and nice warm room and a good surgeon to attend to him. We have the Post Hospital now.

Will Bailey, [William] Snodgrass and the Milford boys generally are all well and enjoying themselves hugely. Mat [Mathias] Welch sings all the time. You can wake up at any hour of night and Mat will be singing his favorite song of thirty-nine verses and everyone alike. Here is the whole song:

“Twas a long time ago, twas a long time ago
When Jennie she shook her leg at me
A long time ago.”

Joe [Joseph] Nelson has got his whiskers cut off except his mustache and imperial. He declares that he belongs to the duck artillery. He has lately turned his attention to Patent Right Business. Him and [William] Bailey have invented a corn drill. It is an ingenious affair and for further details, I would refer you to a letter written to Charles Fullington and the drafts enclosed therein.

None of the boys have married yet but I think a good many are just as well of as they were. You can rest assured that whatever becomes of the 32nd Regiment, Company B will take care of itself.

Hoping this will find you in as good cheer as it leaves us and sending my best wishes for the welfare of yourself and family. The boys all send their respects and none more than — J. F. Johnson

P.S. Capt. Palmer send his best wishes. Write again.


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