The Civil War Letters of William J. Srofe


September 1861 - February 1862

Camp Dennison

 


Shortly after the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter, Ohio's Governor William Dennison commissioned the creation of a training camp for the state militia in southern Ohio to protect the state's southern border from feared incursions by rebels from Kentucky. Then Capt. Wm. S. Rosecrans of the Ohio State Militia, acting under orders from Gen. George B. McCelland, purchased land straddling the Miami Railroad tracks near Cincinnati and laid out Camp Dennison there. Apparently, William Jasper Srofe was an early volunteer since his first letter from Camp Dennison is dated in the month following the camp's creation. Srofe would probably have been a member of the Ohio Militia until September when he joined a newly forming company led by Samuel G. W. Peterson. The company had drawn most of its recruits from Brown County, Cincinnati, and surrounding Hamilton County and later became a part of the 48th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Srofe would have had more training than the average recruit during his somewhat protracted stay at Camp Dennison.

Read more about the events mentioned in this section's letters in the Regimental History


LETTER 1

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Camp Denison
May 18th 1861

Dear Parents

With pleasure I take the present opportunity of informing you that I am well hoping these lines may find you embracing[?] the same good blessing. I received yours of the 14th. Was glad to hear that you was enjoying as good health as possible though a stranger to old age. But we must be contented[?] with our situations. I have never been sick a moment since I left but I do not know how soon I may be. If I should get sick I shall try to get off on a furlow and come home until I get well but it is not worth while to talk about that for it is only supositional[?]. If I should be so fortunate as to survive the trip I shall be at home in two months. They are talking of getting us for three years but I will not enlist for three years. I am willing to enlist for as until this thing is settled and evry [rebel?] is wiped from our union but for no longer. There was 14 or 1500 men come here yesterday and about the same number is getting off the cars[?] now. Major Anderson was through here on Thursday. I tried to get a look at him the old patriot but[?] only got a glimpse of him. I want you to write to me as often as you can and let me know how you and all the nabors are. Mark McKinzie went home on a furlow to day. He got a letter from home stating that his mother was very sick. He will be back on Monday. He said he would come and see you. You must not fret about me for I am not in much danger and if I should be called to action and my bones be left to bleach the enimies land it will be an honorable grave. So no more but still remain your affectionate son until death.

W. J. Srofe

A. K. McGondrick[?] is well and in good spirits.

 


LETTER 2

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John V. Srofe

[from W. J. Srofe's brother, John V. Srofe]

Camp Benton
August 1st, 1861

Dear Brother

I will inform you that I am in good health all but a severe cold that I have been laboring under ever since we come here. We have bin sleeping on the ground all the time but we have plenty of blankets and there has bin no rain since we come here. I [am] thankful to you for raising me the money you sent me. The sword that you left at Burg[?] the Lieut. thought was rather scally to bring. All the officers has fine swords and so he took the money [and] bought me one. He paid $76.00 for the three. They are about as fine as any sword in the Regiment[?]. Our uniforms has not come yet. I paid $10.00 on mine before I left Burg. Mooc[?] the taylor was to express them to the Adj. General in Columbus but instead of this he shipped it on the ? to Cin. and that is the last of them. I don't suppose that we will get uniforms until we are paid off -- and that will [be] in a few days. Tell Sally and Luke that I will send my picture to them as soon as I get it. We are a going through a severe drill. We drill about 8 or 10 hours a day. We a[re] improving fast - at least I think we are. I was very embarrassing at first for me to take to com. but I can put them through about as well as any Lieut. on the ground. We have a first rate Com. It is the youngest Com. in the Regt. as our letter is K[?]. We was on the 31st Regt. but finally to the 27th. I want to see Luke often and tell her that I am all rite and that she ought to be proud of the position that I hold as there is plenty of men in companys that is just as well [?] and perhaps better than myself that is in the ranks as comm soldiers. I think that I have the good will of every man in the company. I have to board[?] myself. I [?] 4 rutions[?] per days. But I can't get them and don't want them as I can board cheaper than think you know. Camp Benton is on an elevated plain that overlooks the city and surrounds the fair grounds which is the finest I ever[?] and I have [?] some there [?]. Now in all the camps and arsenals together in the neighborhoods of St. Louis about 60000, sixty thousand men including cavalry infantry [?] and artillery. You must write often and keep me posted in matters and things and I will keep you posted. Direct your letter to me in care of Capt. Feency[?] Co. K 27[?] Regt. [??] Saint Louis, Mo. Nothing more but remain yours affectionatly.

J. V.[?} Srofe

 


LETTER 3

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Camp Denison
November 19. 1861.

Dear Parents

I take the present opertunity of informing you that I am well at present with the exceptions of a bad cold with sore eyes which are geting better. I hope these fiew lines may find you enjoying as good helth as can be expected. Imediately after landing here we wer uniformed & received our blankets & knap sacks & we had the oath adminestered to us. We have not received our arms yet but will receive them shortly. We are to be armed with minie rifles which are good for 800 yards. Our Captian is a man that has seen service and a gentleman. Our Colonel is regular west pointer and a good moral man. Our company comands the left flank of the Regiment & is a skirmishing company. Our regiment is not full yet. There is about 780 men in it. I did not much expect to volunteer in this kind of company but sometimes we are very changebley in our minds. I did intend to come home this week but the captain requested me to stay that it would be to my adventage to stay a few weeaks so I concluded that I would take his advice. I may be home next weeak but it according to how maters turns out. You must do as well as posible without me for I consider that he who does not turn out & fight for his country in the present war then can leave home is far from feeling the noble impuls of an american patriot. I would like for you to write as often as possible. I am very well satisfied so no more but tel Saly to not take it to hard about me for I could not be in a better cause but to only regret that she has no other son for the war.
Still remain yours

W. J. Srofe

Francis Myers
Sarah Myers

Tell Aunt Emly that I would like to have seen her but I had no time go

Direct to
W.J. Srofe
Camp Denison Ohio
In care of Cap
Peterson Co K. 48 Reg O.V. U.S.A.

 


LETTER 4

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Camp Dennison
Decem 14th 1861

Dear Brother

I take the present opertunity of informing you that I am well at present. I received yours of the 8th today though it came yesterday while I was at Cincinnati. I was glad to hear that your helth was getting better for I had become very impatient to hear the result as I would not have you to be compelled to resign for any amount for your company is one of the best & has a very promising future. I was at home for a few days last week. They wer all well then and ever very ancious about you. The Old man has become very feeble. New Hope presents almost a seen of desolation. Every one has gone to war nearly that can possible leave home. You said you wanted me to write about our officers. Col. Suliven is our Col. And is a graduate of West Point. Our Capt. S. G. W. Peterson was raised in Williamsburg was first Lieut. In the 3 months services is as good a man as ever lived. Our First Lieut’s name is Geer a Methodist preacher & gentleman but no a military man. Our Second Lieutenant is a good man is good to the boys. His name is Bratt. We have now enrolled in our com. 87 men. About one half are from Brown Co. O. The rest from different parts. We are on the left flank of the Reg. One drill master (a private) was in the 3 month service in an Independent Zuave Co. from Dayton. While I was at home I got Doty Sam, Philip, Wrestler so you see I still keep getting one now and then. You said if I wanted any money you would send me some. I would be very grateful you can send me some. I will ever be thankfull, besids will refund when I am able. It is about drill time and I must bring bring my letter to a close so no more but still remain you affectionate Brother

J. V. Srofe            W. J. Srofe

Camp Dennison, Ohio
In care of Capt. Peterson Co. K. 48. Reg. O. V. USA.

excuse my blotted & bad written letter.

 


LETTER 5

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Camp Dennison
December 14th 1861.

Dear Parents

I take the opertunity of informing you that I am well hoping these fiew lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. I received a letter from Jno. Srofe yesterday dated the 8th in which he stated that his helth was improving but said nothing about home are when he was coming home. We wer detailed to go to Cincinnati yesturday after our mules. We got there about 8 O’clock A. M. We had a hard time with them but finly succeded in conquering them but had a hard time. One jumped clear over me. This movement indicates that we will move in a few days. We will undoubtly leave here in side of two weeks to what point I know not but I supose that we will stop at some point in Kentucky. I am very glad of this for should we remain in this place this winter I think we would never see the enimies lands for I think that it will be wound up before spring. But I expect we will never see as good times as we now see after we are taken from here.
The iron arm of rebelion has been made to tremble and is now qualing before the stars and stripes and I do not desire to be sent home again without a fight or at least the pleasure of seeing the enimmy.
We have 42. pieces of artilerry here about [??] Divs. Four thousand infantry 3 thousand cavelry. I want you to write to me as quick as you get this for probly I will be placed so you cannot write to me as pleasure. So no more.

yours
W. J. Srofe.

 


LETTER 6

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Camp Denison
December 28th, 1861

Dear Parents

I seat myself this morning to write you a fiew lines first stating that my helth is very poor. I have not been able for duty since last Friday [a] week ago. I have not taken much medicine yet but it apears that I do not get any better. I would come home but we are looking every day to be paid off. I got a letter fromm Jno[?] Srofe yesterday. He had got perfectly well again but said nothing about coming home. I will not have to go to the hospital unless I get worse. I would like to come home and stay till I would get well but if I leave and the Regiment is paid off while I am gone I will not get any money for two months. We will be paid off between this and New Years Day. I have nothing strange to write so no more but still remain your affectionate son.

W. J. Srofe

 


LETTER 7

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Camp Dennison
Feb. 16th 1862

Dear Parents

I am well. I wish you are enjoying the same. We have orders to march tomorrow at 8 O'clock A.M. Tomorrow's noon will find us ploughing down the Ohio River to meet the foe. Our destination for a while will be Padukah, Ky. From there we expect to march to Columbus where the rebels are very strongly fortified & we expect to meet with no little resistance. What ever the consequences are or will be we cannot imagine. However let my fate be as it may good or bad. I only hope to be able to meet it like I am americans patriot soldier. We to day received the almost glorious news[?] of the surrender of Fort Donleson. The arms[?] & army supplies[?] amounting to $700,000 worth here. Also Breanagaure[?] Jonson [and] other very brave generals of the rebel army surrendered. Our loss was a severe one however[?] we should not look for a much better. I have nothing of [?] to write. I am in a hurry so I must close but ever remaining[?] your affectionate son.

W. J. Srofe


William J. Srofe 's letters, documents and photographs are published here with
the generous permission of Carolyn Srofe and Dan (EBAY ID CD112.4). They may not be reproduced
in any form without their explicit permission.

 

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1/5/2008