This letter was written by William A. Snook (1832-1917) of Co. G, 95th Ohio Infantry. Snook’s military experience was brief. He entered the service on 5 August 1862 and was wounded 25 days later at the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky. Returning to Ohio to recuperate from his wounds, he was discharged from the service at Columbus on 18 August 1863.
Snook wrote the letter to his friend and fellow soldier, Joseph Mast Maitland (1838-1918), the son of James Monroe Maitland (1815-1864) and Ann Mast of Kingston, Champaign County, Ohio. Joseph enlisted on 8 August 1862 as a private in Company G, 95th Ohio Infantry. He rose to the rank of sergeant before being mustered out of the service. After the war Joseph was married to Arabella Wharton (1844-1916).
In his letter, Snook describes an incident occurring at Camp Chase in which the camp guards stationed there under the command of Major Webber were so incensed by the enthusiastic cheers of a passing party of Vallandigham supporters that they left the camp and halted them, made them kneel and take an oath of loyalty to the union under threat of death. The 17 June 1863 edition of The Crisis (a Columbus newspaper) carried the story.
Addressed to Mr. J. M. Maitland, Co. G, 95th Regiment, O.V.I., 15th army Corps in rear Vicksburg, La. [Mississippi]
Postmarked Urbana, Ohio, 22 June 1863
Kingston, [Champaign County,] Ohio
June 21st 1863
I take this present opportunity to answer your letter which I received some time ago. I have been waiting for you fellows to take Vicksburg before I wrote thinking you might not get it if I did write but I concluded I would write anyhow.
Affairs remain about the same in Kingston as when I last wrote with one exception — that is we do not allow anybody to wear butternut. We have come to the conclusion it is time to stop it so when we see a fellow with one on, if he does not take it off, we do.
I suppose you heard [Clement] Vallandingham was nominated by the butternuts for Governor. I am glad of it for we know how to take them. We consider every man that votes for him a copperhead because there is but two parties now — the Union and Disunion. The Union men nominated Johnny Brough for governor. He will be elected, I think. Every soldier will vote for him who study their own welfare. I was over to Columbus to the Convention. I never saw a larger crowd and better behaved in my life. We had a good time in general. I went out to camp and saw the old quarters. A battery is camped there at this time.
The day the butternuts held their convention, the Madison County delegation passed Camp Chase they gave three cheers for Vallandingham. It made the soldiers mad. They ran out, stopped them, made them get off their horses and out of their wagon, get down on their knees, and take the oath not to assist the rebellion; no vote for Val for governor. One fellow refused. They hollered for a rope that made him succumb. ¹
The people of Catawba was about to hang Dr. Cartmill ² the other day. He was on the scaffold with a rope around his neck. The time has come that the Union men will not put up with treason at home any longer. All the prominent democrats will vote for Brough. There was a big Union picnic at Cable [Ohio] yesterday — a big turn out and a good time.
We are going to have a grand Union celebration at Urbana on the 4th. I anticipate a good time. Take Vicksburg, then all of you get a furlough and come up.
I seen our girls today that brought us that bottle of good old ___ to camp.
I do not feel like writing. I have got a touch of the piles. Tell ole Smith my time is out. They are recruiting for six months but do not get along very fast. The draft will come off soon. I expected I will be elected. Look out for me down there. Ben Hill is discharged. Ben Herr started for the regiment but is in Cincinnati yet. ³ S___ Barker is 2nd Lieut.
Sam Cogle’s wife is dead. Has Corp. [Clinton B.] Sears been promoted to lieutenant? Give my respects to all I am acquainted. Folks here are all well. I must close.
Respectfully, — W. A. Snook
¹ The incident described by Snook was reported in the Columbus newspaper Crisis in the 17 June 1863 issue.
² I could not find a “Dr. Cartmill” of Catawba, Clark County, Ohio. There was a Cartmell family but census records suggest they were farmers.
³ Benjamin (“Ben”) Herr also served in Co. G, 95th Ohio Infantry. He died in Oak Ridge, Mississippi on 11 September 1863. He was initially buried at Vicksburg but his family removed his remains and brought his body back to Champaign County for burial.