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34th Ohio Battle Letter by Franklin L. Allen - Writing from Fort Toland, West Virginia, with Cover

Frank Allen joined Company C of the 34th Ohio Infantry in November of 1863.  Offered is a 4 page letter in nice dark ink with original envelope having “Kanawha, C.H. Jul. 10” postmark.  The letter is headed “Camp Toland, W. Va., July 8th, ’64. West Virginia became a state in 1863.  The 34th Ohio acted as Mounted Infantry from April to August of 1864.  Camp Toland, now called Fort Toland was near Fayetteville.  Frank is writing his sister.  Her address on the envelope is “Miss Sallie E. Allen, Bellbrook, Greene County, Ohio”.  Here are some of the great lines:

  • In the first place, I will endeavor to give you some of the particulars of our retreat from Lynchburg. 
  • On the afternoon of the 17th of July (He meant June) we commenced the fight and it continued until the evening of the 18th Saturday when our brigade was guarding the wagon train on the retreat. 
  • We traveled that night until about 11 o’clock when we laid down to take a nap and about 1 o’clock in the night we again started on the retreat arriving at Liberty about an hour before daylight and there we again laid down and slept until morning and then we moved through Liberty and encamped there until the whole army past us and by the time it had past it was very near night and in our rear considerable skirmishing was going on. 
  • Our division was drawn up in line ready for the attack and as was expected the enemy advanced and our boys poured the bullets into them thick and fast which sent them back as fast as they had advanced.  By this time it was dark and we again began the retreat traveling most of the night and the next day and for a change we again traveled all night arriving at a place called Salem where we had a right sharp fight and at this place we halted until noon and got something to eat and in the afternoon in the gap on this side of Salem, our Artillery was captured...
  • In our trip we passed through a great many of the fashionable resorts of Virginia.  White Sulphur Springs, within about 1 ½ miles of the Natural Bridge, but they say a “this is as good as a mile”, Warm Springs, Hot Springs, - at the later place I took a bath and the water was so warm that you could hardly stay in it; the Peaks of Otter and Hawks Nest at which place you can look down upon New River.  I suppose it is about 400 feet down and the river looks like it was very near straight down but I saw several of the boys trying to throw in the river but they did not succeed.

Condition is fine with just a few spots.

#L517 - Price $495

 

Transcription:

I have not as yet received any answer to my last letter but as you requested me to write often and I am at leisure at present I have concluded to write again. 

In the first place, I will endeavor to give you some of the particulars of our retreat from Lynchburg. 

On the afternoon of the 17th of July (He meant June) we commenced the fight and it continued until the evening of the 18th Saturday when our brigade was guarding the wagon train on the retreat.  We traveled that night until about 11 o’clock when we laid down to take a nap and about 1 o’clock in the night we again started on the retreat arriving at Liberty about an hour before daylight and there we again laid down and slept until morning and then we moved through Liberty and encamped there until the whole army past us and by the time it had past it was very near night and in our rear considerable skirmishing was going on.  Our division was drawn up in line ready for the attack and as was expected the enemy advanced and our boys poured the bullets into them thick and fast which sent them back as fast as they had advanced.  By this time it was dark and we again began the retreat traveling most of the night and the next day and for a change we again traveled all night arriving at a place called Salem where we had a right sharp fight and at this place we halted until noon and got something to eat and in the afternoon in the gap on this side of Salem, our Artillery was captured which I suppose you have read the particulars in the paper.  After this nothing transpired worth mentioning.

In our trip we passed through a great many of the fashionable resorts of Virginia.  White Sulphur Springs, within about 1 ½ miles of the Natural Bridge, but they say a “this is as good as a mile”, Warm Springs, Hot Springs, - at the later place I took a bath and the water was so warm that you could hardly stay in it; the Peaks of Otter and Hawks Nest at which place you can look down upon New River.  I suppose it is about 400 feet down and the river looks like it was very near straight down but I saw several of the boys trying to throw in the river but they did not succeed.

When we arrived in camp I was needed at Regimental Head Quarters and I stayed there until a day or two ago when I was detailed at Averell’s Head Quarters and soon after our regiment was dismounted and once more our regiment was placed in another Brigade (Infantry) which throwed us out of Averell’s Division and once more I returned to my regiment and am now with my company. 

I will state before closing that on that try to Lynchburg I was more discouraged than I have been since the war has commenced.  In the first place they say that the Rebels are about starved out.  In passing through the valleys I have never saw better crops of wheat and corn in Ohio.  In the 2nd place, in reading the Rebel papers, a great many of which we captured in the mail, nearly every paper contained and editorial requesting the people to collect together to pray for the success of the army, and editorials of this kind seldom occur in our papers.  And in the 3rd place, in the commercial of July 4th you will find extracts from their papers in which they give accounts of our march & etc. to Lynchburg and I must acknowledge they give it a great deal more correct than our own papers with the exception of the number of their killed and wounded.  And lastly our money is becoming (like Rebel money) worthless. (*but they say that the darkest hour is just before day, I hope so) I will close this time by asking you to write soon and often.  From your brother, Frank