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Primary Sources for the 157th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Glover Letters

Camp Relay
May 26th,64
Dear Sisters and all,
I take my opportunity this evening to let you know that George & I are well at present and hope that you are all enjoying health. This has been a very disagreeable day it has rained all day & is a raining now & George has gone to stand guard but he has a good gun & woolen blanket so he can keep dry. Every thing looks very good here the grass in some places is almost knee high & the people are a working their corn it looks very nice it looks as if i ought to be at it. I have not seen any sheep since I got into maryland. there is very little stock kept here. The county is nice here it is moderately hilly but I think [page 2] It is not very rich. Camp life Is a life of continual disturbance. You can see al sort of carrying on. Some are reading in the bible, some praying, singing, swearing, playing cards, lying, playing ball & I tell you they are good at stealing. I have seen more sin committed within the last two week then I ever did see befor in two months. Last knight we had 15teen loves of bread, 15 tins, 2 butcher knives stolen. We found out that Company C. had them and I think they will get their hands full of it. The capt is a going to report to the colonel. Well it is roll call now and I will have to quit a short time. Well we have got through. I had two boards packed to sleep on to knight. I left them out side and it was not long until they was gon so I had to do without. I am sorry to say that the measles has broke [page 3] Out in our company. I think that it will keep Averly Naylor busy to get well he is very bad & we have not a very good chance to take care of him. Griff McMillan & John Scott took them today they are at the hospital to night but I think that they will get along all rite. There is about 500 soldiers here beside our regiment in an other incampment. their is a small fort just a small distance be low the rela house they have six piece of artilery there they say that their is soldiers a bout every mile between here and wheling. John Courtright substitute got here yesterday. We have
heard that Brose more got here an that he is wounded I was very sorry to here of the other boys getting killed so but that is the way soldiers is used. [page 4] While I was at camp chase I saw the funeral of a soldier that was in the hospital. It was a solm sight he was halled in an ambulance and the bang marched before and played a very solm piece of music it will bring a person to their feeling I tell you. I expect you have quite a singing now. If it would not be to much trouble I would like fer you to send the Oriental Glee book I thing I could pass my tin very advantiously and call John. We have plenty to Eat. I have not been on guard yet. George has sent two letters and this is two for me. but I will give you the directer for fear you did not get the Direct to Comp H, 157 Regt - O.N.G. st.__po, Baltimore CO, MD. [page 1] Remember me [page 1] Jefferson Glover[page 1] I had a mess of straw berries and onions.[page 1]

[page 1] Fort Delaware [page 1] June 7th, 1864 [page 1] Dear sister [page 1] I take the pleasure this morning of writing a few lines to you to inform you of our whereabouts. We are now at fort delaware on the delaware river. We left the Relay house Sunday the 5th and arrived here the 6th. None ofus expected to leave so soon as we did, but when the word came that we were to go the most of them were anxious to get off. We had to march from one depot to another in Baltimore a distance of about four miles, as we passed along we saw ex-governor Todd at the city hotel. The boys gave him a hearty cheer as they passed along. [page 2] It was about four o'clock when we left Baltimore and we arrived at Newcastle by the break of day Monday morning we crossed two arms of the chesapeake bay on bridges. I suppose they were about a mile wide. We crossed the Susquehanna river after night. The cars were run onto a boat and taken across. We came from Newcastle to the fort on a steamer, a distance of about seven miles. It is a much pleasanter way of traveling than on the cars. The fort is situated on an island in the delaware river. it is about four hundred feet square and mounts about two hundred guns. There are about fifteen hun- dred union troops here. three full batteries and our regiment. those that have been here say that [page 3] it is a very healthy location. There is a good breeze blowing from the river the most of the time the tide raises about six feet twice a day. There are about eight thousand prisoners, among them are about five hundred com- missioned officers. There is also a great many convicts, some of the prisoners have taken the oath such as have they do not keep in confinement, but allow them to be out they have them to per- form all of the rough labor. I have not seen many of the rebs yet but those I have seen were very dirty looking mortals each man is furnished ten rounds of amunition. We have very comfortable bar- ricks and it is altogether prob- able we will stay here the remainder of our hundred days. We have both had our health [page 4] very well since we left. yesterday morning, I ate most too much cheese and fat meat and I was pretty sick last night but I feel pretty well this morning. I was glad to hear that every thing is prospering so well in Jefferson Co. and that you are all getting along so well. Tell mother to pass the time the best she can the hundred days will soon pass around. I could enjoy a chat with you all very well, and partake of a good meal with relish. well I have written about all the particulars this time and will close. I want some of you to mail a letter each mail to one of us for it does us a great deal of good to hear from home. You can tell father that Findley is our captain and he is not any better than Davidson. I will close by giving my love to you all. write soon and direct to Fort delaware, Delaware. the rest of the direction is as it was given before. [page 1] Nothing more but remains [page 1] your affectionate Brother [page 1] Geo W Glover[page 1]

“General Tyler had his headquarters at Relay House, Maryland. This small railroad station, at the time seven miles distant from the city of Baltimore, was one of the vital locations that the 100-days men had been mobilized to protect.

Relay House got its name from being the place where stagecoaches would get fresh horses. Located southwest of the city, it was near the banks of the Patapsco River. On May 20th, the unit marched from Baltimore, arriving at Relay House around 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Their tents had not arrived, so the men slept under the stars.

The regimental surgeon explains their function in a response to a question from his wife:

You ask why we are at Relay House and think it folly to stay here. There have been troops here ever since the war commenced and also at Baltimore…. This place is at the junction of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the Washington & Baltimore Railroad. They both pass through a sort of notch in the hills and if these gaps are protected and the railroad bridge across the Patapsco River, there is little danger of the guerrillas injuring the great thoroughfare which now transports more army supplies and men than all the other roads in the Union. If this point were not guarded the rebs would soon put a stop to the whole road.

Our regiment released a larger number of men than it contains who have gone to Grant’s army – some of them since we came here. They were Maryland and Delaware troops. I think we have strengthened Grant’s army as much and even more than if we have gone to it. [7]

Upwards of 40 trains a day passed through the junction. In addition, the unit was providing a military presence outside Baltimore, which was noted for its sympathy to the South during the war.

The name of the site was variously called Relay House, Camp Relay and Camp McCook, the latter after the commanding officer of the regiment. Life there was typical of military camps of the time, but this was an eye-opener to some of the naïve Ohio farmboys. A member of Company H wrote to his family:

Camp life is a life of continual disturbance. You can see all sort of carrying on. Some are reading in the bible, some praying, singing, swearing, playing cards, lying, playing ball & I tell you they are good at stealing. I have seen more sin committed within the last two week then I ever did see befor in two months. Last knight we had 15teen loves of bread, 15 tins, 2 butcher knives stolen. We found out that Company C. had them and I think they will get their hands full of it. The Capt is a going to report to the colonel. [8]

Company C was composed primarily of factory workers from the industrial district of the city of Steubenville; the letter writer was from the rural farming community of Dover in Jefferson County.

Minor organizational changes within the regiment continued to be made while it was stationed at Relay House – Sergeant Benjamin H. Fisher from Company D was promoted to the position of Assistant Surgeon, and Private William D. Robb of Company B was discharged so he could accept a commission in the United States Navy.

As had been expected by the lead surgeon, disease began to take its toll once the regiment was camped in close quarters. Measles came first, followed by pneumonia and typhus. Some days more than 20 men were excused from duty because of illness in addition to those in the hospital. The unit also suffered its first loss here, when George W. Thompson of Company I died of spotted fever on May 27th. About this time, the men were given smallpox vaccinations.

Because of its limited term of duty, the regiment was not deemed worthy of being issued the regulation Sibley sleeping tent, so the men had to sleep in two-man dog tents to keep the rain off. Officers ate at local boarding houses, but slept like the private soldiers in tents on the ground with cedar boughs as mattresses.

Hospital conditions were no better: the surgeon lamented to his wife:

Our Hospital is nearly ready to receive the sick & we have a supply of bed-sacks that would astonish you – viz. 15 old ones. There are now 20 sick men in the Hospital besides nurses and we are having men come down with measles and fevers every day. They send 10 old blankets also & about the same proportion of every thing else. I wish the Sanitary Commission could know how shabbily Ohio Soldiers are used in the Middle department. They would send part of the stores which have been so liberally contributed by them & other to their aid…. The poor fellow that died the other day here with spotted fever died on a hard board with a little hay under him. [9]

The daily routine of a soldier in camp was described by Irvin W. Thompson of Company K in a letter that he wrote to his brother back in Carroll County, Ohio:

In the morning we have to get up and wash our faces, that is to be done before sun up and then have to go out on squad drill at five and half o’clock and drill till half past 6 and then we come in and eat our breakfast and then we go out and in company drill one hour and then we haint nothing to do till three P.M. then we go out on company drill till four o’clock and then we come in and wait til five and we go on dress parade and then we are march up till supper then we have Roll Call at 08 and the lights out at 09 o’clock. What do you think of that? [10]

One sidelight of the camp’s proximity to the nation’s capitol was the influx of visitors. Secretary of War Stanton had given political patronage positions in Washington to a number of his Steubenville associates, so many of these former Ohio residents came out to Relay House to visit their old friends and acquaintances from back home.

Chapter 4

To Fort Delaware

Prepare the One hundred and fifty-seventh Ohio

After two weeks at Relay House, the 157th Ohio was ordered to break camp. ”

Hundred Day Wonders At Fort Delaware
The Story of the 157th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War
Richard H. Cole, Jr.

157th_ohio_volunteer_infantry_primary_sources.txt · Last modified: 2019/06/12 12:52 by admin