War rhetoric heats up in the local paper

The rhetoric between the local newspapers and the men in the field continue.

In weeks past we have discussed both Clement Valandingham, who was pushing for compromise, and a newspaper published in Warren called the Warren Constitution, which has been known to be sympathetic to the Southern cause. The soldiers in the field obviously had a great deal of distaste for both. At this point in the war lines have been drawn and established on both sides of the issue. The sacrifices of the men in the field are made abundantly clear as the following letter from a local soldier describes:

Western Reserve Chronicle

April 22nd, 1863

From the Old Seventh

The following is a private letter from a Bristol soldier in the 7th Ohio. Dumfries, Va., April 2nd, 1863

In one of your late letters, you thought it strange that we, (the 7th Regiment,) did not express sentiments in regard to this war. Over two weeks ago we forwarded resolutions to be published in the Cleveland Leader, and supposed of course they would reach you in some manner.

For my part, I consider every compromising or peace man a traitor, no matter whether Democrat, Republican, or Abolitionist. If I could express to you the feelings of my heart at reading extracts from Ohio papers such as the Warren Constitution, two Columbus papers, and others, it would make your blood boil. I cannot speak or write as I would, but my heart is true to my country, and true to home and kindred. We have this for a consolation; if they do compromise this unholy war, woe be to them, for the time will come when they will suffer for their disgraceful and cowardly acts. When we enlisted two years ago, they took us by the hand and said, ”Go and God Bless You.” If you are not strong enough we will come down and help you.

Now look at those same men. Study well their actions. Think of the encouraging words they spoke to us at the commencement of this war, and notice the change. They glory in a Federal disaster, they discourage enlistments, they discourage friends at home by telling them we are demoralized, and they too discourage soldiers in the field by saying, ”it is useless, you cannot succeed, you are fighting for the black man & c.” But thank God it has affected the army in a different manner from their expectations. It has roused our hearts to hatred towards them. We disown them as brother Americans. We ask not their assistance, but this we do ask and insist upon; either remain quiet or speak for right and justice, otherwise as I said before, the time will come when we, the defenders of the Union, will crush them until their black cowardly hearts shall shrink from seeking protection under the old flag. Talk of compromise! Is there a man so base as to wish for peace on such terms as has been proposed? We need not give, but we must take; and if it requires thousands of precious lives to be sacrificed, we shall and will come out victorious.

And here let me say that January 1st, 1864, will see this once happy nation prospering as of old. We can whip them; we have the leaders, and my prayer to God shall be that if it cost millions of lives and property, that we succeed, and by the Eternal – we shall. There are men among you that need to keep a watchful eye on their future course. It is honorable to meet an enemy on the battle field, but to acknowledge them as neighbors and friends drives me to desperation. How proud I would be, to see the Warren Constitution put down, and if I were only in Warren with half a dozen boys of the old 7th; the Mahoning River would soon receive the succession threat.

– Charles A. Brooks

The Chancellorsville Campaign was now beginning. Fighting Joe Hooker had his forces on the move, about 130,000 men, including the 7th Ohio. The letter following illustrates the consternation of the men and their ability to march under horrible conditions and continue.

From the Seventh,

Acquia Creek Landing, Virginia

April 23, 1863

Dear News:

We have made a change of pace. On Monday the 20th, the first brigade broke up camp at Dumfries, and marched for this place to join the division. As the Seventh had just changed camp, and moved into nice little odd shanties, costing time and labor much, we felt little regret. But veteran alike, knapsacks were packed, haversacks filled and the march began without a grumble.

The whole march was a soft thing. On the banks of the classic Potomac, the more rain the more mud, and the two of the three days march were made cooler by the administration of condensed moisture. Of the 18 miles, the end of the first day found us less by six, the next, near Stafford Courthouse, our present location and about 2 miles from the landing.

The march was accomplished with a day’s rations – each man being transformed into a pack mule – besides his clothing, tent pieces, accoutrements and 60 pounds of ammunition – we carried all of this food and extra ammunition, although our division knew we were coming to the next supply depot of this army. It may be right, but?

For several days the whole army of the Potomac has been ready to move instantaneously. Cavalry reconnaissance and balloon ascension’s have been the order of the day, and with a day’s rations packed, and everything in readiness, we were about to contribute a few pages to the history of this great struggle, when the weather again proved unpropitious. About four o’clock this morning, the water dripping through our shelter tends told us it was raining hard, and this morning double-digit as were filled, the ground flooded and the rampant delusion threatening to submerge our blankets, occupants and all. But it will rain not all summer, surely. When it does dry up, then listen!

Compiled by members of the CW150 Committee of Warren’s Sutliff Museum.