The Civil War Letters of William J. Srofe
April 6-7, 1862
"During the day we visited the battle-ground of the gun-boat engagement, that took place on the first of the month, and saw the graves of the rebel dead Their burial bad been hurried, for they were but a few inches under ground and many of their faces were exposed to view.
Tuesday morning, March 18th, after a confinement of twelve days on board the boat, we disembarked at Pittsburg Landing. The only buildings there were a store-house, a grocery and a dwelling. From here roads led to the neighboring villages of Corinth and Purdy. The rebels had erected a battery on the high bluffs above the landing some months previous, but it had been captured by the gun-boats on the first of March."
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880
"We have a rumor to day of an armistis[?] for 30 days. No guns to be fired on either side for 30 days."
William J. Srofe, April 4th, 1862, two days before the Battle of Shiloh
Although there does not appear to be a letter describing the battle of Shiloh, Srofe's description of conditions two weeks before the battle and a skirmish with rebel cavalry two days before the battle are quite interesting. It was probably in this skirmish that Lt. John Geer was captured.
ENLARGEMENT NOT AVAILABLE
FOR THIS LETTER
March 23rd 1862
Near Pittsburg Landing Tenn.
I again seat myself at the pleasant task of writing you a fiew lines first stating that I am well at present hoping these fiew lines may find you enjoying the same. We are encamped in the woods about four miles from the Tennessee River. From here to [the] river is a continual encampment. Ours is the 1st[?] Division 4th Brigade & on the advanced line. It is about 20 miles to where the rebels are fortifying in great numbers supposed to be two hundred thousand strong. It is no more than 10[?] miles to the rebels encampment. Our forces here number about 125,000 and will be increased by about 40 thousand. I have not heard from home since I left Camp Dennison (that is got a letter from you) but have had the pleasure of reading & receiving several from neighbors. I believe that all of you have forgotten me or think that I do not like to read letters for if you are not able to write it seems that there are plenty of people about that you can get to write for you. You could surely get Kade[?] Gibson to write for you if he is not to independent. I have written him several letters & never got any from him but that is played out & I am tired of writing & never getting an answer though I always get answers when I write to any body but those that are a kin to me I can never get a letter from. However I shall still continue to write to you as long as I can get a piece of paper & envelope. I heard very bad news the other day but I cannot credit it until it comes so[?] more directly. It was told to a young man at Paducah, Ky that Jno.[?] Srofe was dead. I am very uneasy but still can not believe it. If it is so[?] I think very hard of you for not letting me know it sooner. There is several of the boys that are not well but are not so sick as to be in the hospital but I think they will soon be well. I again attended the funeral of a officer to day. He was a Lieutenant in Taylors Caverly of Ohio. I visited the ground where the [?] buried their dead that were killed at the battle. At this point some of them was buried about one foot deep & some not so deep. They had been buried about 3 weeks. I saw the faces of 2 & one breast looked very bad. I have found 64[?] lbs shells & balls here that have been shot by our guns boats two miles & a half from the river & frequently dig a piece of a shell out of the ground. I saw one tree (a poplar) about a foot over that a twenty four pounder had gone through & how much further I do not know. We only lost 3 in battle. I must close my letter hoping that you will write to me as soon as possible & let me know the news good & bad do. No more but will remain your affectionate son
W. J. Srofe
Address me at Louisville, Ky. in care of Capt. Peterson Co. K 48 Ohio Infantry Tennessee River Army.
ENLARGEMENT NOT AVAILABLE
FOR THIS LETTER
Camp Shilo near Pittsburg Landing, Tenn.
April 4th, 1862.
I take the present opertunity of informing you that I am well at present hoping these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessings. All the boys are well from [??] and vacinity. There has been nothing of any great importence ocurd since my last letter I believe. On yesterday morning our brigade including the 48th, 70th & 72nd Ohio Regts. was ordered to march with one days rations in our haversacks & [?] luggage. We were soon formed & was on a march. We marched about 3 miles & came to a halt. Company A & the 70th Regt. & Company A of the 72nd were ordered out in advance to attention & marched about 3 miles further when we again came to a halt & company K of the 48th (our company) & Co. B of the 72nd were ordered in advance as [?] (the former companies having taken a different road). Our boys all appeared pleased to have the honor. We marched about 2 miles in advance of the Regt. or brigade when we halted at a small creek & filled our canteens with fresh water. (We numbered about 122 men in all under the command of Major Wise[?] of the 48th & Maj. Rocket[?] of the 72nd. The 2 Majors appeared to be very brave for they rode from 2 to 3 hundred yds. in advance all the time. They halted at a house in [the] center of a field when they saw about 30 rebel cavelry in covering of woods. Major Wise[?] rode back to the brigade for another detachment but Major Rocket remained at the house close to the man & children to keep the rebels from firing at him but as they saw us marching up they fired on him without respect[?] to the woman & children but we were there in time & opened fire upon them. There balls whistled over us but not too high to do any harm. The Maj. ordered us not to waste our ammunition but to fire when they saw an object. The rebels had gone. Cracky[?] how they run. I had to laugh[?] after they had fled to think how they spurred[?] their horses. We then fell back to the brow of the hill to keep them from out flanking us. We deployed taking intervals of 3 paces. We sat down all watching for the rebels but Maj. Wise came up in due time with another detachment so the rebels concluded that they had better let us alone. We did not follow them for it was no use, we being infantry & they cavelry. Nor did we go to see if we killed any of them. In about 10 minutes after the firing, the long roll[?] was heard to been in the rebels camp. Our company & Co. B of the 72nd acted as the rear guards being 4 hunderd yds. in the rear of the brigade & deployed in grous of four taking intervals of 21 paces. We got back into camp about 6 O'clock in the evening making about 14 miles we marched in 7 hours. The boys all took it very slowly as much so as could be expected. We have a rumor to day of an armistis[?] for 30 days. No guns to be fired on either side for 30 days. If this be sure it will give the rebels a good chance to fortify at Corinth. I think if they are going to fight any more why do we not march on. We have enough men here to whip them certain. Well it is dinner and I am tired of writing & must close. Ever remaining your affectionate son
P.S. I would like for you to send me some postage stamps if you please. You must excuse my many mistakes in writing on the wrong side of the paper.
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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