These letters were written by James Patrick Ramsey (1827-1912), the son of James Ramsey (1785-1859) and Abigail R. Synott (1790-1869) of Canfield township, Mahoning county, Ohio. He was married in 1851 to Rebecca Weaver (1833-1896) and together they had at least five children before James enlisted in Co. A, 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI)—aka the “Opdyke Tigers.” At the time of his enlistment in August 1862, James was living in Canfield township on a farm near the Chubb family. He wrote his letter to Ensign Chubb (b. 1846), the son of Henry and Catherine Chubb.
Ramsey was listed among the wounded during the fighting at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, in December 1864. He mustered out with his company, however, on 8 June 1865.
Reference book: Opdycke tigers, 125th OVI, by Charles T. Clark
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
March 4, 1863
I received your letter and was glad to hear that you was well and that I am well at present and hope that these few lines will find you the same and I will tell you about the times we have down in secesh. We have had hard times. We hunt down here but we don’t hunt coon or opossum or mink but we hunt secesh. But we have to look out or they will shoot us first and we have to look out or they will hunt us first.
I will tell you the prices that the things are selling at here. Coffee is worth $1.25 cents per pound and sugar is worth $1 dollar per pound and butter is worth 75 cents per pound and cotton cloth is worth 75 cents per yard and Ketucky james [jeans] is worth $4 dollars per yard and tobacco is worth $2 dollars per pound and eggs worth 25 cents per dozen.
And I will tell you about the country. It is the best that I ever saw. Thet can raise cotton, tobacco, corn, wheat and everything that we can raise to the North.
We had a fight with the rebs and got defeated but they had fifteen thousand and we had about three thousand and then we got reinforced and then they run and we could not get them to fight but we run them to Columbia and then they crossed the river and our men came back and left them. The Boys are all middling well at present.
I wrote my wife a letter and I wrote Wm. Brooks a letter and I forgot to date it but you can tell him that it was the 13th of March—the same as yours.
The land is all covered with limestone and it is about as hilly as it is around in Ohio where we live. There is plenty of negroes here. They are a hard looking set of devils as you want to see. They come in by the hundreds and [we] ask them where they are a going and they [say] to Nashville. The people are all secesh here. They are Union as long as you are facing them but as soon as you turn your back, they are the secesh or the Devil. I do not know whether they ever will be Union or not.
I have heard that they are agoing to draft but I hope not. You can tell Rebecca that I have not got that box yet but I am agoing to see about it today and I forgot to tell you the price of salt. It is worth $75 dollars per barrel.
No more at present.
When you write to me again, direct your letters to Nashville, Tenn.
125th Regt. OVI, Co. A
or Co. A, 125 Reg. OVI to follow the regiment
Your affectionate friend, — James P. Ramsey
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Camp near Franklin, Tennessee
April the 3rd 1863
Ensign Chubb, Sir,
I wrote you a letter the same time that I wrote to my wife. I take my pen to inform you that I am better today. I am better than I have been for two weeks. The times are middling good here now but they have been middling hard. There is plenty of negroes down here and plenty of Union men. There is about thirty thousand troops here. The country is almost ruined. The rebs have taken their living out and the Union men have taken the rest that is left and the people are hard up. Our men capture some of the rebs almost every day. They captured thirteen yesterday. The rebs have nothing to eat here but corn bread. The rich people have wheat flour but the rest have corn. They think that the war will end about the first of May but I think that it will last until next fall.
I will give you an account of the times down here and the prices of the things. The cotton cloth is worth 75 cents per yard and Kentucky janes [jeans] is worth 4 dollars per yard and calico is worth 60 cents per yard and coffee is worth 50 cents per pound and sugar is worth 50 cents per pound and salt is worth 75 dollars per barrel and all other articles in proportion. We have had hard times in the army. We have hard crackers and bacon and fresh beef and that is about all that we have. But the Boys are all in middling good health.
Jacob B. Calvin is dead and Samuel Kistler died April the first. There is a great many that has the diarrhea and the dysentery and the doctor cannot cure it. The land is the best that I ever saw. It is sandy soil and they can raise almost any kind of grain. They raise cotton, corn, wheat and tobacco. They can raise all that we can in the North and the timber is about the same that it is in Ohio—all but the Locust and Cedar and then there is what they call Red Bud and two or three other kinds that I have not heard the name. There is limestone and a hard sand stone. The peach trees has been in bloom about two weeks but it has been frosty and I think that it has hurt them.
The people have planted their corn, potatoes, and made their garden. The people around in this part are all Union as long as the Union men are around but as soon as they turn their backs, they are secesh. So I myst bring my letter to a close. You must excuse my bad writing and you must write as soon as you can. This is from your old friend. YOurs with respect, — James P. Ramsey
I send you some corn.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Addressed to Mr. Ensign Chubb, Canfield, Mahoning Co., Ohio
Camp at Loudon [Tennessee]
February 16, 1864
Mr. Ensign Chubb, Sir,
It is with the greatest of pleasure that I take my pen to inform you that I am well and hope that this will find you the same, and try and answer your letter that I received today. The times are first rate for the cars run through from Chattanooga to Loudon—the place that we are encamped at—and I expect that we will stay here until the Spring campaign commences. The times that we had at the Strawberry Plains and when we was at House Mountain, there was a snow and we shot all the rabbits that we wanted. The country is the best for rabbits that I ever saw in my life, and there was some deer, but I did not see any of them.
I expect you think it is hard times, but you know nothing about hard times. And I would like to come home and see awhile but I cannot see the Veteran Service well enough to enlist again. And you say that Peter Kline is sick and not able to get about. I would like to see him and all the rest of the boys and I would like to be at home and hunt this winter and have some fun with the [boys].
We got some hard tack today and that was the first for one month. And I have also heard that Peter and George Rupright has got into the grocery business. And I was in another fight since I got your last letter and the bullets [flew] thicker than hail in a hail storm but I did not get hurt. But we did all get out safe.
The weather is fine and the people are plowing and sowing their spring wheat and they are also plowing for corn. And the grass is green as it [is] in May.
We have had some of the hardest times the army has seen since the war has commenced. We have had no grub from the government for three months—only once in a while. But the times are good now and I hope it will always be the same. There is nothing more that I can think of and you must write as often as you can and I will do the same.
From you old friend, — James P. Ramsey
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
Addressed to Mr. Ensign Chubb, Dogstreet No. 1, Mahoney Co., Ohio
Camp in the field, Georgia
June the 8th, 1864
Mr. Ensign Chubb,
It is with pleasure that I take my pen to inform you that I am well and hope that this will find you the same. You say there is hard times in Ohio but they are nothing to the times that we have down in the army. We have the rebs to Atlanta and are resting now. We have had two hard fights with them and cleaned them out both times. Cornelius Infield was killed on the 7th on rocky ledge. He was [shot] through the head and there was fifteen killed and wounded—five killed and ten wounded—in our company in all that we have lost since we have started on this campaign.
Corn is almost knee high but the army takes it for fodder for the teams. The rebs are about done for this time and I hope it will end this summer and that I will get home safe and sound. This war is getting desperate for we fight to put the rebellion down this summer.
The weather is warm and there is plenty of rain but the country is not very good. The soil is thin. The timber is about the same as it is in Ohio except the pine and there is no sugar tree and there is very little beach timber.
We have hard times for it [is] so warm and our clothes is all woolen and it makes one sweat a great deal and sometimes we have to march middling hard and then it tries the men. We was under fire for ten days in the last fight that we had with the rebs and there was a great many killed and wounded.
I wrote a letter to my wife and dated it the 7th of May and it should have been the 7th of June and you can tell her so. I saw Jacob Lynn in the 124th OVI but I did not talk to him for he was marching and had not time to talk with me. The people have all gone south with the rebel army and there is no people at home. I expect there is some hot times about the election for the President. You must write as often as you can and I will do the same. There is no more news that I can think of this time.
From your old friend. Yours truly, — James P. Ramsey
I forgot to tell you that I got your letter that was dated the 28th of April. — James P. Ramsey
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
Addressed to Mr. Esign Chubb, Canfield, Mahoning county, Ohio
Camp near Atlanta, Georgia
August the 21st 1864
It is with the greatest of pleasure that I take my pen to inform you that I am well hoping this will find you the same. There is some hard times in the army and some that is easy but as to the shelling, it is awful to see the men shot down in the prime of life they way they are in the army. You have no idea how the war is carried on. It’s first the negro, and then comes the money, and then step around Mr. Private or you will get hell or something worse—and that is the way they do on the army.
The battles that has been fought in front of Atlanta has been hard. We was in one of them. It was a hard one and the rebs got the worst of it. They lost about three thousand killed and three times as many wounded and thy have fought four such battles since we have been here and yet they have a large army yet to contend with.
The crops are all gone for horse feed. The corn was middling good but there is none to be seen within ten miles of camp. The timber is not very good. It is the awfullest country for brush that I ever saw. It is like Church’s thicket all through the country. And the people have all gone to the south part of the state and the cleared land is not as plenty as it is in Ohio.
You said that the rebs had played the Old Harry ¹ in Pennsylvania—that they had burnt the half of Chambersburg. That is nothing for them to do. You ought to see the country that both of the armies has passed through. We have drove the rebs one hundred miles and there is nothing but one of breastworks after another all the way and we have fought over ever[y] foot of the ground. And I think that the war will close after the election—that is, if someone is put in besides Old Abe for there is to[o] much negro wool in him to stop the war.
I received your kind letter that was dated on the 7th and was glad to hear from you. I do not want you to kill all of them cranes and squirrels this fall for if I get through all safe and sound, I want to get home this fall and help you kill some of them. There is nothing more this time.
I remain yours as ever, — James P. Ramsey
¹ To play “Old Harry” means to make mischief or to cause ruin or serious damage. “Old Harry” was a nickname for the devil.