John Drish Leland was named for Dr. John Drish, a relative of his mother. He was a Captain in the Confederate Army and was taken prisoner and confined at Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio. He was with Gen. John Morgan in the raid through Ohio. A foraging party, which he was leading, took a horse from the farm of his Aunt, Betty Stevens, near Cumberland, Ohio. He was captured with these raiders. He was confined at Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio. His Uncle B. M. Leland (Jr.) tried to have him paroled in his care. Not granted. While there he was visited by his uncles Baldwin Leland and Elijah Stevens, husband of Judith Leland. Aunt Judith was trying to get him exchanged. He was pretty handy with a pen as is shown by the letters following:
Camp Chase, Ohio
Prison 3, Mess 48, March 13th
Since the visit of your husband and Uncle Baldwin, I have had no Leisure time to devote to writing, and hence have not communicated with you as I intended immediatly after my interview with my uncles. This doubtless surprises you my dear Aunt, but I assure you that there is much which necessity compels a prisoner to do to relieve the tedium and ennui of prison life. The work of washing, cooking and woodcutting leave little time to devote to friendly correspondence, and as I have been engaged in the culinary department since the departure of my uncles, this accounts for my not writing to you at an earlier moment. The unexpected interview with my uncles was indeed an unexpected pleasure which I had not anticipated. I was under the impression that the system of espionage was carried to such an extent that my relatives would not visit, if twere in their power, their rebel kinsman in Camp Chase, as such act might lead some to question their loyalty. There is much of the stoic in my dispositionm and you must know that such an interview, as was granted me with my uncles, was not calculated to melt this stoicism away. Would that I could have welcomed them with the outpouring of my heart's best feelings! Then and there I could not do this. I will not say more upon this subject - my father has taught me to love his brothers and sisters and you may rest assured, dear Aunt, that your new incarcerated nephew rightly appreciated and will long remember the kindness of his uncles in visiting him while in prison. Had I met Uncle Baldwin elsewhere and under different circumstances, I would never have known him, for you must recollect, Auntie, that I was scarcely seven years old when he left Tuscaloosa. Time has indeed dealt leniently with him, as he looked younger by ten years than I know he must be. I was very much prepossessed in Uncle Stevens favor - honesty of purpose and integrity of character are clearly written on his fine countenance, if the face is, as many believe, a true index to the character. I know that both of my uncles regretted that it was not in their power to effect my release from prison. Oh that I could spend the days of my captivity with my dear father's relatives! But cruel fate decrees that it shall not be so and I must submit patiently until my exchange. The ignorant upon my arrival at Camp Chase of the whereabouts of my relatives, I was very fortunate in finding friends in Illinois and Dubuque, Iowa from whom I have heard often, also some of my old college friends up North, who have written to mem and which has tended greatly to relieve the monotony of prison life. When I came here I little thought I had so many relatives living so near Columbus, Ohio. The short distance separating us only increases my desire to see you all. Uncle Stevens and my Uncle Baldwin have, doubtless, ere this, told you all that I communicated to them in regard to my father and his family. So many rumors are circulated in regard to our exchange that I have ceased speculating upon the subject. It is now rumored that all captured prior to the first of Jany. have been exchanged, but as I believe it to be merely a sensation rumor, I do not credit it. When our exchange does take place we will probably be sent around via Fortress Monroe. It is time to commence dinner and I must close. It would be a novel sight to see me presiding over the cooking department. If I remain here long I will certainly become "au fait" in the business. Let me hear from you often, my dear Aunt. Love to Uncle Stevens, your children and all my relatives when you see them. Accept the fondest love of your nephew, who though he has never seen you, loves his Aunt dearly.
Your nephew - affectionately,
John D. Leland
P.S. Excuse this hastily written letter as I write surrounded by a set of noisy rebel officers. John
In your next letter let me know Uncle Stevens given name so that I may hereafter direct
my letters properly.
Letter # 2, also to Judith Leland Stevens.
Camp Chase, Ohio, Prison 3
Mess 48, March 28th, 1863
Yours of the 19th inst. reached me a few days ago, and I avail myself of a few leisure hours this morning to reply. Your letter leads me to infer that my uncles made an effort to effect my release from Camp Chase on parole, for which kindness and consideration, Aunt Judith, permit me through you to return my heartfelt thanks and to assure you that it is properly appreciated. I think I can now say with saftey that it is highly probable that all the officers confined in Camp Chase will be exchanged in a week or two, so it is possible that this will be the last time that I will ever have an opportunity of communicating with my Aunt Judith. I know that I cannot claim as much of my aunts' and uncles' affection as their other nieces and nephews and this is but natural considering that my father's family has always been widely separated from those of his brothers and sisters, and hence they have known so little of each other. The force of circumstances I am satisfied, brought about this separation, and I can assure you, dear Aunt, that time has not weakened my father's love for his brothers and sisters. he often speaks of the happy days of childhood and early manhood, spent on the banks of the Potomac! Tis seldom my father gives way to any exhibition of feeling, as I have seen him stand over the corpse of an idolized child, my little sister now in Heaven, and to all he appeared unmoved, but I have seen tears start in his eyes when he would speak of those days of yore, those days of his childhood. My dear father, though not a professor of the Christian religion, is one of the purest and most correct men in his life I ever saw. He is one of "nature's noblemen," an honest and honorable man, the "noblest work of God," and his children idolize him, as no man in the world has done more for his children in every respect. A few days ago I received a short letter from Sister mary, mailed the 16th Feb., informing me of the good health of my mother, Father, brothers and sisters. An officer, captured on the 11th Jany. from Tuscaloosa, informed me that Willie was wounded at the battle of murfreesboro, Tennessee. He saw him after the fight, and says father told him it was only a slight wound. Sister Mary says nothing of this in her letter, but tells me that he is now at home and will probably remain there in the Ordnance Department. I will now answer, my dear Aunt, some of your inquiries. I am twenty one years of age and my dear Sister Mary is twenty three. I wish you could see my loving Sister Mary. She is the most faultlessly beautiful girl I ever saw, and what is better, far better than that, she is as good as she is beautiful. No brother could have been blessed with a better sister. She is and has been for years my mentor and to her I go as the sharer of all my joys & sorrows. Should I never have another opportunity to write to my aunts and uncles, who live near you, present them with my best wishes for their welfare and happiness in lifem and may they, at its close, secure entrance to that better world "where the weary are at rest and the wicked cease from troubling." When you write to Uncle Augustin tell him he has my heartfelt sympathy for him in this sad hour of his bereavement, Love to uncle and my cousins. Farewell, my dear Aunt, may Heaven bless and protect you.
Your loving and affectionate nephew,
John D. Leland
P.S. I will write to you when I am exchanged if it is possible.
A poem written by John D. Leland to his Cousin Annie:
This little Album, dedicated to literature & art,
Has claimed some offering from thy cousin's heart.
For the barreness of my verse, you will find my excuses
In the confession that I'm no stranger to Parnassus and the Muses.
Imagination, Heaven's priceless boon, oft paints my
Annie's radiant face.
A vision of loveliness and purity time can never efface.
In our loving correspondence, volumes our hearts have spoken,
And now accept this last messenger, assured it is, of my
affection, a token.
Memory oft reverts to the happy days of yore.
My Annie's loving missives cause me to sigh for their
return the more.
This communion of heart has strengthened love's golden chain,
Oh! may it ever bind our hearts together on life's solemn main.
In captivity when sadness of heart was oppressive,
Angry feelings have been dispelled by Annie's sweet missive,
And, though my soul is dark now, it tells me that I hold still
The rich treasure of the hearts at Pleasant Hill.
May true happiness always be yours in your journey
May you be far removed from trouble and strife;
Seek wisdom and religion, ere it may come too late,
For these treasures, with mortals here below, are not inate.
Your loving cousin,
John D. Leland
Near Columbus, Ohio, April 7th, 1863
"May the Ruler of Heaven look down,
And my Annie from evil defend:
May she ne'er know adversity's frown,
May her happiness ne'er have an end."