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Samuel H. Bassitt, c. 1890
Samuel H. Bassitt, c. 1890


Part of original letter from Big Shanty, Georgia on 20 Jun 1864

 

The Civil War Letters of Samuel H. Bassitt (23 Oct 1848 - 9 Mar 1925)

Who'll Take the Money! $402 Bounty To Veteran Volunteers. $302 Bounty To New Recruits. Pay, Clothing and Subsistences same as Heretofore. 27th Ohio Vol. Infantry. Persons enlisting now will receive the above bounty in installments as follows: To a Veteran Volunteer, $60 as soon as mustered in, 50 dollars in two months, 50 dollars in six months, 50 dollars in one year, 50 dollars in eighteen months, 50 dollars in two years, 50 dollars in two and a half years, and 40 dollars at expiration of three years. To a New Recruit, 60 dollars as soon as mustered in, 40 dollars in two months, $40 dollars in six months, 40 dollars in one year, 40 dollars in eighteen months, 40 dollars in two years, and 40 dollars at the expiration of three years. All recruits, whether veteran, or raw will receive $75 as soon as mustered into the United States service, as follows: First installment of bounty, $60; one month's pay in advance, $13; premium, $2. Young men desiring to go into the army can do no better than to enlist in the 27th Ohio Vol. infantry, now at Chattanoga. Come, hurry, volunteer; don't risk the "lottery" that takes place soon. Apply to Capt. E. G. HAMILTON 27th O.V.I. Recruiting Officer Office at the Lima House 

This advertisement in the Lima Weekly Gazette undoubtedly caught the attention of young Samuel Bassitt, a boy of 15 who lived on a farm in Bath Township, Allen County, near Lima, Ohio. Despite the reservations of his parents, Samuel volunteered and on 12 Feb 1864 he was mustered into the 27th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (O.V.I.) The following series of letters were sent home by Sam to various family members, who carefully preserved them. They tell the story of his initial excitement and eventual (unsuccessful) attempt to get a discharge, followed by his resigned participation in Sherman's March to the Sea and skirmishes in the swamps of the Carolinas.

[read the first letter]

 

Index of Letters

Date Location sent from Letter addressed to:
19 Feb 1864 Indianapolis, Indiana? Lewis Bassitt (father)
22 Feb 1864 Nashville, Tennessee Lewis and Sarah Bassitt (parents), Samuel and Elsie Bassitt (grandparents), Philo Bassitt (brother)
4 Mar 1864 Prospect, Tennessee Lewis and Sarah Bassitt
22 Mar 1864 Decatur, Alabama Lewis and Sarah Bassitt
11 Apr 1864 Decatar, Alabama Lewis and Sarah Bassitt
5 May 1864 Chattanooga, Tennessee Lewis and Sarah Bassitt
20 May 1864 Kingston, Georgia Lewis and Sarah Bassitt
22 May 1864 Kingston, Georgia Samuel and Elsie Bassitt
31 May 1864 Dallas, Georgia Lewis and Sarah Bassitt
20 Jun 1864 Big Shanty Station, Georgia Lewis and Sarah Bassitt, Samuel and Elsie Bassitt
8 Jul 1864 Chattahoochee River, Georgia Philo Bassitt
14 Jul 1864 Chattahoochee River, Georgia Lewis and Sarah Bassitt
13 Aug 1864 Marietta, Georgia Lewis and Sarah Bassitt
25 Aug 1864 Marietta, Georgia Lewis and Sarah Bassitt and family
6 Sep 1864 Marietta, Georgia Lewis and Sarah Bassitt
16 Oct 1864 Marietta, Georgia Lewis and Sarah Bassitt
4 Nov 1864 Marietta, Georgia Lewis and Sarah Bassitt
7 Nov 1864 Marietta, Georgia Sarah Bassitt
23 Dec 1864 Savannah, Georgia Lewis and Sarah Bassitt
29 Mar 1865 Goldsboro, North Carolina Loretta Edgecomb (cousin)
6 Apr 1865 New Bern, North Carolina Samuel and Elsie Bassitt
28 Apr 1865 Cincinnati, Ohio Lewis and Sarah Bassitt
27 May 1865 Cincinnati, Ohio Lewis and Sarah Bassitt
12 Sep 1865 Augusta, Georgia Lewis Bassitt
22 Jul 1899 Washington, D.C. Lewis Bassitt

There was another letter kept with these letters by the family.  It was from Lewis Alfred Edgecomb, Samuel's cousin and brother to Loretta Edgecomb and was written to his grandparents, Samuel and Elsie Bassitt.  Alfred was killed 21 July 1864 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Questions

1. What statements in Samuel's letters illustrate his attitude about being in the army?  How does his attitude change as time passes?  What experiences do you think influenced his attitude?

2. With reference to the 29 March 1865 letter, why do you think that Sherman's soldiers had such a violent response in the towns of South Carolina?  Compare their behavior to that of soldiers in modern wars.  Do you think that it was justified?

3. There are several examples of the Lima Weekly Gazette included with the letters (20 Jun 1864, 6 Sep 1864, 16 Oct 1864, 23 Dec 1864).  How was the reporting in this newspaper influenced by biases of the 1860's and the prevailing political attitudes of the Lima community?  Compare this reporting with coverage of the Iraq war.  Do you think war reporting is more or less objective today than it was in the 1860's? 

4. Why do you think Sam addressed his letter of 6 Apr 1865 to his grandparents rather than his parents?  Do you think his parents read the letter?  How do you think his parents felt when the family got the letter?

5. The tone of the 12 Sep 1865 letter is quite different from the earlier letters.  In what ways is it different?  What do you think caused these changes?

History of the letters

Many of these letters were donated to the Allen County Museum by Walter Flager where they were transcribed in their collection of Civil War letters. The originals are preserved in the museum archives. The rest where given to DeWitt Bassett by Walter. After his death they were found in his home and came into the possession of Richard W. Bassett, Samuel's grandson. They were later transcribed by Lois (Price) Bassett. There is at least one more letter that is not included here. This letter was shown to Steve Baskauf by Mary Flager in about 1978, but it could not be copied at the time. It's current whereabouts are not known.

Questions?  Comments?  Contact Steve Baskauf