These two letters were written by Charles H. Roney (1841-1917), the son of Peter A. Roney (1814-1864) and Elizabeth A. Comer (1815-1881) of Dresden, Muckingum County, Ohio.
Charles served initially in 1861 in a three month unit and then enlisted in Co. D, 16th Ohio Infantry for three years. He was a sergeant from September 1861 until January 1863 when he was promoted to 1st Sergeant. He mustered out with his company on 31 October 1864.
We learn from the 2nd letter that sometime prior to the Civil War, Roney worked for Edmond Foster Mabie’s Circus and Menagerie and that he was anxious to settle a score with someone named Ben Green who must have been traveling with them in 1862.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Addressed to Mr. Peter Roney, Dresden, Muskingum County, Ohio
Camp Hardscrabble, 4 miles from Somerset, Kentucky
January 21st 1862
Dear Father & Mother,
Your letter writing on the 12th came to hand yesterday the 20th and I was glad to hear that you was all well. You say that you have not heard since the letter I wrote on the first. Don’t know how it is for I have wrote you two letters since then — one of them was a big sheet of paper like this and two smaller sheets, and the other was one writing in a damn big hurry to let you know that we was going to leave Camp Clay.
We left Camp Clay on Monday, 13th of January 1862 and was 7 days on the road. We marched 64 miles through mud, rain, and rivers, and carried a damn full knapsack, haversack, canteen, a cartridge box with 40 rounds of ball cartridges. The first day we marched 12 miles, the 2nd & the 3rd sixteen. The 4th day we laid over to rest, and the 5th day 15 miles, the 6th day 13 miles, and the 7th day 18 miles. We got here on Sunday night at 6 o’clock.
When we got here, our men and Old [Felix] Zollicoffer was fighting like hell about 5 miles from here but the Old Col. said that we was too tired to go so we pitched tents and are here yet. But I don’t know how long we will stay. Our forces have whipped Old Zollicoffer and have taken his entrenchments and everything he had and killed the damned old son-of-a-bitch.
The 16th Regiment would have been in the fight had it not been that we laid over the 4th day. That is the way always — one day too late. There is some dissatisfaction amongst the field officers because we did not get there in time for the fight. I wished we had a been there. There was 65 of our men killed and about 3 times that number of the rebels. I heard the major say that we would go to Knoxville, Tennessee but I expect we will stay here for the next 4 weeks to come. We may get orders to march in a day or 2. When we leave here, I will write [and] let you know.
All the forces that was in the fight are coming back to Somerset. There is 3 or 4 Ohio Regiments, 2 Tennessee, & some Indiana Regiments.
I got everything you sent me by Hugh McMurray and the boots come very good. When I write again, I will let you know everything about the battle. No more. Write soon.
Direct your letters to Somerset, Kentucky, Company D, 16th Ohio, Care of Capt. [Milton] Mills.
Your son, — Charles
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Addressed to Mr. P. Roney, Dresden, Muskingum County, Ohio
Camp Patton, [near Pineville] Kentucky
Sunday, 18 May 1862
Dear Father & Mother,
Yours dated 11th came to hand last night 17th and I was glad to hear that you was all well at home. For my part, I am well and doing well.
There is nothing new in camp. Yesterday morning we got orders to strike tent and clean up the camp which we did and about 3 o’clock what do you think — why we got new tents. They are the Sibley tents and now Camp Patton looks like a new city. For my part, I have got a tent to myself so I am not troubled a great deal.
I suppose e’re this reaches you there will be another hard fought battle and this will be at Cumberland Gap for the rebels is a going to make an awful hard fight. They are about 10,000 strong at the gap and we are about 15,000 strong. We have 4 batteries of artillery and two 32-pound Rifle Parrott Guns and two 20-pounder Rifle Parrotts. I believe it is the calculation to start Tuesday 20th and get ready for to attack them Thursday morning at daybreak and you may look out for the Bloody 16th Regiment as being in the thickest of the fight for we are the best drilled regiment in the 7 Division and General [George Washington] Morgan says we can take the gap by ourselves. But don’t be uneasy — the hardest of the fighting is going to be did with cannon. We are going to work them like McClellan did at Yorktown — shell them out.
The paymaster will be here tomorrow or next day. But I don’t know whether he will pay us before we march or not. But if we do march and I live to get through and get paid, I will send it to you the first chance.
We had a Grand Review here the other day. Our brigade and the Wisconsin Battery had a sham fight and I tell you it beat anything circus you ever saw.
I would like to been home when the circus was there. I heard that it was [Edmond Foster] Mabie’s Circus and Menagerie. He is the man that I traveled with. I would like to been there to [have] whipped Ben Green and if I ever get back I am going to give him one of the damndest whippings he ever had — the damn son of a bitch.
Lieut. Moore got here yesterday and he told me he seen you at Zanesville. The captain got yours last night and said he would answer it in a day or two. I believe I have written all for this time. No more. My love to mother and Jenny and Bert, Frank, and the little one. Write soon. Direct as before to Barbersville, Kentucky.
From your son, — Charles, 2d Sergeant, Co. D, 16th [Ohio] Regt.
26th Brigade, 7th Division, Army of the Ohio
General Morgan’s Division
Tell sister Jenny I would like to have her picture, if you please.
I thank you for the stamps and papers you sent me. No more. My compliments to all.
I think my cousins are playing hell, having young’uns. They had better have them before they are married. Before I close I will tell you that there is a regiment of cavalrymen passing going toward the gap. Look out for a fight. Tell ___ what Bart is doing. My love to M.F.