This letter was written by Pvt. Perry J. Ramsower (1838-1880) of Co. L, 1st Ohio Heavy Artillery. Perry enlisted as an artificer in June 1863 but was reduced in rank to private and discharged from the serve at Cincinnati in August 1864 on a surgeon’s certificate of disability.
This regiment was mustered into the service as the 117th Ohio Infantry in September, 1862, at Camp Portsmouth, Ohio. The following month, the regiment was ordered to Kentucky, where, for the succeeding seven months, it was engaged in guard duty and expeditions against guerrillas. In May 1863, orders were issued by the war department changing the organization into the First Ohio Heavy Artillery and on 12 August 1863, it was so reorganized, with twelve full companies, aggregating 1,839 officers and men. During the process of reorganization the regiment constructed the extensive fortifications around Covington and Newport. During the fall and winter of 1863-64, the regiment, in battalion
detachments, was engaged in guard duty at various points in Kentucky. On 19 February 1864, it started under orders, through heavy snow and extreme cold, over the mountains to Knoxville, arriving there March 9th. We learn from this letter, however, that poor health prevented Perry from remaining with the regiment and he returned to Covington where he performed guard duty until his discharge.
Perry married Margaret (“Maggie”) O’Brien in Seneca County, Ohio in October 1868. He also mentions his brother-in-law, Simon Combs who married Sarah Ann Ramsower in Carroll County, Ohio, in September 1847.
Addressed to Mr. John Stormes, Portland, Ionia County, Michigan
Postmarked Covington, Kentucky
February 15, 1864
With the greatest pleasure I embrace this privilege of answering your letter which I received some time ago but my leaving Camp Nelson and you directing to that place caused it some time longer before I received it. I suppose you will think it strange of my not remaining at Camp Nelson. Well, I shall give you the particulars in full.
My company and two others were ordered to the front — that is, to Knoxville — and as my health has not been anything extra for some two years or three and the exposure of this winter laying out on the ground was more than my constitution could bear, and in the first place, the day we got off the cars to march to Camp Nelson it commenced raining that night about eleven o’clock and rained all that night. Next morning we started in the rain and rained on us all that day. Well, you may think we was some wet that night. We pitched our tents without any supper or dinner in the mud and water up to our knees. We laid there all night and I took cold and I was not able to march 200 two hundred miles so they sent me back here with about one hundred men to guard the forts here. What they will do with us is more than I can tell. They are moving all the troops off from here, This is a point that must be guarded and likely they will keep us here. I hear some talk of them going to put us in the Invalid Corps but I never will consent to go there if I can help it.
But I can tell you the army is not what it is cracked up to be. Tell Charles if he is not subject to the draft [to] stay home for a little while.
I was surprised to hear of such a change as has taken place in Portland since I left there, but that is the way with the people — never satisfied.
Well, Mr. Stormes, in your letter you said that you had paid my taxes and that there was some money left and you would send it to me. Well, I cannot tell how long I will stay in one place and it will not be safe to send it. But you can send it to my brother-in-law Simon Combs, West Independence, Hancock County, Ohio, and he will send you a receipt for the same. I am much obliged to you for your trouble and I will, if I can get a discharge — I shall try for it at any rate. Mr. Stormes, if you want to work any of my land, do so, and if you don’t want to trouble much with it, just see that they do not destroy my timber and fences. It may be too much trouble for you to rent it. Just see to paying the taxes and write to Combs. He will send you money to do so. But do as you please with it.
Please write soon and let me know if there is anyone living on it or not. This is all. Write soon. My best respects to you and hope these few lines will find you in the best of health. My respects to Garry and Charley and all that inquire.
Direct to Perry J. Ramsower, Co. L, Covington, Ky. in care of Lieut. Davis
No more at this time. Yours truly, — P. J. Ramsower
John, the war is going to be over this summer.