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Letters from John B. Wiley to his brother Sanford Wiley

July 2, 1863 & July 8th,1864


35 star flag flown during the Civil War
     These letters, sent to me by LaVonne Platt, July 5, 2002. I do not know who originally transcribed this letter(*see below), but I have tried to reproduce it as I received it.  John B.Wiley was a nephew of Rev. Amos Wiley, who married Sarah Moore Leland. The following is from LaVonne Platt and relates how the letters came back to the Ohio Wiley family. Richard M. Leland 
     "Accompanying the letters when I received my copy of them, was a covering letter, written March 14, 1960 from William H. Lytle, Mayor of Wooster, Ohio, to the Office of the Mayor, Richwood, Ohio.  Text of the letter is as follows:"
 
"Dear Sir:
    I am a collector of Civil War items as well as Mayor of Wooster, Ohio.
Would like you to help me out if you can.
    Recently I acquired two letters written from a soldier in the Union
Army, signed - Jack, and addressed to Sanford Wiley, Richwood, Union County, Ohio.  Copies of the two letters are enclosed.
    Can you give me any information concerning the writer or receiver of
these letters?  Also, are any of the family still in town?
    Would appreciate any information you can give me or anyone else you
think it would pay to contact.

Sincerely,
 

William H. Lytle

Mayor"

Written in longhand beneath the text of the letter was:  "This letter was
given to Mrs. Curtis Callahan by the mayor of Richwood.  She in turn wrote and received the copies.  I have tried since to get the originals but Mr. Lytle couldn't find them as of 1973.   J. Callahan"
 

"J. Callahan is Juanita Callahan, who is the present owner of the letters, and the person who sent copies of the letters to me that I recopied and sent on to you.  She is the daughter-in-law of Mrs. Curtis Callahan, who is no longer living.  I believe that Juanita Callahan should be given credit for
the letters on your website, rather than me, as I consulted with her before I sent the copies on to you, and it was with her permission that I passed them on.  You should also note that the *original transcription of the letters was done by Mayor William M. Lytle of Wooster, Ohio, in 1960."

 
Note: If you are sensitive do not read this letter. It is transcribed as written and uses terms familiar with the time period in question. I will not remove the terms and alter the context of the letter.
Richard M. Leland III

 
Camp 3rd Brigade  3rd Division 
17th Army Corps 
Vicksburg, Miss. 
Wednesday eve.
July 2, 1863

Dear brother Sant:
         It has been a good while since I wrote you and much longer since I have had a word from you, but I know you have not forgotten me - at least I know you have a deep place in my innermost heart and ever shall - come what will (or may) - Do you read the papers  If you do you often read of Vicksburg and perhaps think that "Jack" is somewhere there. Well tonight I am writing on my knee under the fly of a tent - within (musket) shot of thousands of rebels and only safed from their shots by a little hill that fortunately arises between me and them. Of course you are a union boy - a Johnny Brough man. Well so am I and though I would rather have voted for David Tod. I will cheerfully vote for Brough and freedom if living the 2nd Tuesday of October. You men up north should fix Vallandinghams men like Raddy yoked his geese, tie two of them together and hang them acros a big high fence - we are digging and fighting every day - getting the rebels closed in a little stronger every day. We blowed up a rebel fort. Six rebels and two niggers were thrown out on our side. All were killed by the explosion except one nigger - He was thrown high in the air but was not much hurt. Some of the boys asked him how high he went up " Don't know Sah, spec two or three miles, but a white man went furder dem me, when I was cumin down I passed white man goin up". There was one of Co I's man badly wounded to-night as he was lying in his tent. Yesterday morning I was busy writing on the Pay Rolls when zip - came a piece of shell through the tent in less than three feet from me.
         This is a great country - The common horse fly swarms by the millions. Lay a piece of fresh beef down and in twenty minutes it will walk off. "Shetus bite me nose" Lizzards get in your beds while the woods is full of alligator-like worms. Creeping things and bugs ____
______ ______ niggers of all kinds and conditions are thick as black-birds.
       The days are hot I tell you yet we keep well. Tip & Joe, George Keyes and Sparks are well. Tip cooks for us, we get plenty to eat. Don't have very much duty to do and are getting along nicely.
      The rebels thought Johnson could drive us away from here but he cannot - with the help of all the rebel Armies - nothing can make us change our base untill the Stars and Stripes float over Vicksburg and we will fight until we whip the rebels - clear and clean.
      We are going to have a big 4th, All of the 200 & more cannons will open on Vicksburg that morning & many ______ rebel will die. Perhaps the mail will not go out until after the 4th - if not I will tell you about it. Be a good boy, read papers and good books, be industrious, help father work, don't swear, don't tell lies, in short do as our Dear Mother used to tell you when she was alive - be good always
                                                      Good-night    your brother Jack

Next addition to this same letter was marked "June 3rd" which is obviously a mistake and was intended to be July 3rd. It is merely a continuation of the same letter-
      The mail goes out today and I will finish this. While I write there is a flag of truce out & the usual fighting has ceased - The rebels tried to drive in our skirmishers on the extreme left last night in which they failed & lost a good many men killed and wounded - the flag of truce is to give them an opportunity to bury their dead.
      Our right is out in the rifle-pits to-day. The Capt. left me in to finish up Pay Rolls & make out quarterly returns of Ordanance & clothing. Preperations are going on to celebrate to-morrow and could you be here you would hear a big loud noise I tell you.
      We get papers in six days from Cincinnati - at only 25 cents a piece. Suppose you are in excitement again over Lees raid in Penn & Md. Well we are surely waiting for the rebels to line up. Our rear is stronger than the rebels front of us & Johnson & all rebellion cannot make us change our base - untill the Stars & Stripes wave in triumph over the accursed City of Vicksburg.
      Two deserters came to our Regt this morning. They say they had mule meat issued to them last night for the first time. They say great dissatisfaction exists amongst the men & thousands would desert if it were possible.
      The weather is very hot - we begin to think of throwing off our present uniforms and adopting the _______ - a pair of spurs and a hat Please write to me - I am well. Be a good boy. Read good books. Be careful and don't learn any bad words. Hope to see you after a while. Love and good-by
                                                       from             Jack
 
Jack lived through the seige of Vicksburg as is evidenced by the next letter date.
Camp in the woods 
July 8th 1864 
Sant-
      I have just got your letters & have only time to write a very few words. Was glad you were well. We have not had any fighting of any account since June 27 ____ they felt so heavily for me.
      The boys are all right and well. Poor John Smith was killed. We expect to have some fighting before getting into Atlanta.
      We are really worn out by hard marching and fatigue.
      The rebels shelled our camp yesterday morning - seriously wounding one of the boys named Elins Hathaway from Milford. His jaw was broken in two places but he is all right & doing well.
      Don't fail to write - I only have time once in a long while - paper ink everything is so scarce as they can be. I hope to get back to Ohio this fall & ( next nine words were scratched out with the same pen and ink used to write the letter) The P.M. is calling for the mail. Will close & write as soon as possible. Tell Marie I am well
                                                   Yours
                                                                      Jack
 
Note - I have attempted to keep all spelling, punctuation etc. exactly as it was in the original - the transcriber