The 126th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Letters, Accounts, Oral Histories

Letters of First Lieutenant Rufus Ricksecker

Part I, Letters 1-10
October 12, 1862-May 25, 1863
Part II, Letters 11-20 | Part III, Letters 21-30

The original letters are held by:
The Rare Books Library of the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
[Edited by Eric T. Davis]


Parkersburg [then in Virginia]
October 12th, 1862

My Dear Sister [Adelaide],

I shall now attempt to answer your letter which has remained much longer without a return than I anticipated.

I have been very busy last week as we have been employed in making out the monthly reports of Provisions Received & Secured, also camp equipage & clothing.

Since I last wrote home there has been nothing of particular note in a military point of view in this neighborhood.

I forgot one case and that was that the first blood from this Regt. has been drawn. The following is the way in which it came to pass. On last Wednesday four men were taken out of each company to go on a scouting expedition ([Sergeant] Jim Moffit & [Private] Dave [W.] Newbold among the number) under the direction of Lieut. [Andrew] Dingman. They had gone about 20 miles up the country when some of them commenced to "give out". One of them came home with his hand tied up & the first joint of his thumb shot away; he claims that it was done by a "bushwhacker". Others place very little credit to that account but think he either done it accidentally or purposely. He has applied for a discharge. As Dave was not well when he left, he also "gave out" & was brought home "to camp" by a farmer. The boys are generally very anxious to get out of camp on expeditions of that character.

Those that went out a few days before had a little skirmish with a party of about 30 cavalry. None of our men were hurt, one of the rebel horses was killed & it is supposed the rider was badly wounded.

The boys say the folks in the part of the country they were in were really to be pitied; they saw a couple of old people that told them they expected every day to leave all they have of this world's goods.

It is reported of us that we are to be thrown into Gen. [Robert] Milroy['s] Brigade. I & all the rest of the soldiers & officers want to avoid it if possible as to tell the truth they are a pretty hard set of men; but at the same time have the name of being good on a fight.

I was down to Parkersburg this AM & went to the Presbyterian Church, as it is the first time I have been in church since I left home it seemed more like Sunday. (although we have meeting in camp two & three times on the Sabbath). It seem quite queer to sit down in the main audience, especially as they have a choir - it almost seemed as if I ought to go & assist when they sang the opening piece.

They have very good Alto & Tenor voices, at least I thought so. I may go down to Episcopal meeting this evening if the weather keeps clear.

It has rained several times since we have been here & we all look forward with dread to the rainy season which will soon be coming out. Night before last it wakened me by the roof letting the drops through at a place where they fell just on the top of my head.

I suppose you have very pleasant singings. I sometimes think of you on Tuesday eve gathered around the piano singing, talking & laughing together.

I suppose you get along finely since Sally Wood got back and you can assist in the singing. Does Mrs. Deardorff lead since Ileft [?]. Give Sally my best respects if she asks for me. Also Phoebe - tell her I am waiting for an answer - ___. __ ___ & all who may inquire. Does Joe Deardorff ever play with you? Tell him I think it is time he answers my letters if he ever intends to. As I want to write a few lines to "papa" I close. I am all right as far as health goes, & like soldiering first rate so far. Write soon and give me all the news.

Write soon.

Rufus


Cumberland, Md.
October 22, 1862

My dear Sister,

I will endeavor to write you a few lines in order to inform you of my travels in the military service of our _______ country.

On last Sunday morning we were told that we would be moved on the following morning. So we kept particularly busy on that day on making preparations for the anticipated move. I was busy until about Eleven o'clock packing the balance of clothing & provisions that were on hand & did not get to bed till nearly mid night as the authorities that be came & told us we would have to take the early train which left at 7 in the morning. Accordingly after a few hours sleep I got up about three A.M. & got to work. The principal [reason] we had to get up so early was caused by the arrival of about 500 overcoats on Sunday evening which had to be opened & distributed yet that evening which of course put a stop to packing.

After a good deal of hard work we were at last ordered to load our goods. We left Parkersburg about 8. Some of the leading citizens of the place came up to see us off at the same time expressing a regret to see us leave them, as they said we were most decidedly the best set of men that had ever made a stay in the neighborhood. Which I think not streached [sic] any as we had not a man from our regt. arrested in the city, during our stay there which was exactly a month, having got there on the 19th of September & left on the 20th of October. We came from there in freight cars. We passed a good many trains loaded with troops going West. At Clarksburg we passed the 30th Ohio, but I did not get to see any of the boys from our neighborhood. There was a good many other Regiments there; also some cavalry & artillery. We got to Grafton just at dusk. I saw the Iron Bridge that has been talked so much about; it is truly a nice structure. I got off the train at Grafton & got some supper - was just going it on some good coffee & warm Biscuit when the train gave us notice that they were off. We just got out in time to get on the last car & consequently had to ride on the outside for about 10 miles. During the first part of the night I kept awake in order to see as much of the mountains as possible. I saw the high trestle at Cheat Mountain - also the mountain itself. But as it became darker I gave up my occupation & rolled over on some of the boys to try to sleep. [Click for another description of this train trip from a member of Company A] Got awake about a dozen times nearly frozen especially my feet. We reached this place [Cumberland, MD] about 5 o'clock on Tuesday Morning. We are on the outskirts of the town about halfway up a pretty high hill - have a most splendid view of the city. We have about half tents enough. This is the first letter I write you which is really from the tented field. As I am tired & do not feel much like writing I hope you will excuse this hasty scratch as I thought you would like to hear of my whereabouts as soon as possible.

I am well - hope you & the rest are also. Write soon as I want to hear from you all.

I remain
Your Brother
Rufus


Martinsburg, Va.
Jan 9th, 1862 [1863]

Dear Folks at Home,

Having received a letter from Addie [Rufus's sister Adelaide] and Thedei [Rufus's brother Theodore] the other day I concluded to answer as soon as possible. I can no more say that I feel first rate; I however sleep in town and get my breakfast there also. The weather has been very changeable since I last wrote having been either snow, rain or heavy winds every day, sometimes changing several times in twelve hours. For this reason I still stay in town. The place is what I would call a very old rickety town. I however suppose the principal cause of its being so badly used up is on account of the ravages of war. The lady with whom I stay is a loyal woman from principal. The are a good many who want to _____ Union over the federal boys just out of pure fear lest they be arrested. Our Colonel is commander of the post and he makes them all both great and small come up to the mark. A man can't leave town much less take anything out with him unless he first takes the oath of Allegiance & gets a pass from the Provost Martial. But I believe that all both Union and Sesesh would rather have Uncle Sam's troops here than that other kind for the simple reason that the former behave themselves like men. My mistress told me that the Rebels of the place shut their own doors against the Rebel troops. There is not a rail fence in sight of camp, all having been used up by the Hoardes. We are getting a good many darkies around here as I suppose a good portion of them have heard of the Emancipation Act. The other day a man who had took almost all his slaves south & sold them came home & came to our camp to claim him (as he the Darkie is cooking for one of the companies). His errand was fruitless & such a hollowing as he was serenaded with going out of camp was I should think sufficient warning to him to keep his distance...

The Baltimore & Ohio R.R. is once more in full running order. Day before yesterday the first through train went up to Cumberland - it caused great rejoicing among the citizens as they have hopes of a renewal of business. When our Regt. first came here there was not a place of business open except a few groceries. Every day you see a shutter or two sliding down. If a man wants to go to the city for the purpose of buying goods he has to take the oath, get a pass to leave town & go over the R.R. also one to show that he is licensed by the Military Authorities to but & send goods to this place [?]. If that doesn't show one phase of war I do not know where to look for it.

The opinion seems to prevail in camp that this will be our Wintering place. What up with the Dover [Ohio] news? Was the editor "busted up"? Do you intend to make use of the chances to get into a printing office? Have you not settled on your trade yet?

Indeed did I think of you often during the holidays. I can imagine Julie [brother Julius, author of Rufus's biography] and Thedei stretching their necks to see if it was not time to see what the stockings contained. I was glad to notice in your letter that if the war is going on Santa Claus is still making his yearly visits. It must have been a very interesting sight to see Genie at his. I suppose he didn't drop it till he got through. I also see that Julie has improved a great deal in his writing [Julius would have been about 14 at this time]. You must try to be a good boy as well as a good pensman. Always recollect that gold pens frequently fall on the point if good care is not taken of them.

I must now give "Ma" a history of my further investigation of the articles sent me in that Box. The socks or stockings you sent I did not particularly need as I got a couple good pairs of drawers. However I wear them now. One day this week we tried the can of peaches found both of them damaged the cover very little & it tasted very good, but the peaches I am sorry to say were so sour we could not use them at all. Today for dinner we had a first rate "noodle soup" the first since I left home. One of the jars containing pickles was very nice - the balance have not been tried yet. Tell Genie he must hurry & get to be a big boy & write to "Rupert" too [Rufus's youngest brother Eugene was about 2 years old at this time].

As it is getting towards 11 o'clock Addie will have to wait till next time to have her questions answered. You must have patience with me for not writing oftener (which I hope will not deter any of you from writing as usual) until we get our back work finished up. I have not heard from Auntie or Lottie for a long time - perhaps the letter was lost. With much love to you all & my best wishes to every one.

I remain
Your Son & Brother,
Rufus

P.S.
I got Five dollars each in two different letters which I forgot to mention in my letter. I think I have received all the money you sent to me & hope I will not be compelled to do so any more as we certainly have a right to expect the paymaster to pay us a visit before very long.

At least I hope so together with about every body in the service.

Your Son
Rufus

We have the (small pox) among the soldiers here. Do you know if the vaccine matter that was used on me took proper effect? Answer as soon as possible.

Please send me some letter stamps.


Martinsburg, Va.
Jan 21, 1863

My Dear Sister,

I thought it would hardly do for me to write to Nippsie without sending you a few lines also. I will have to limit myself however as it is after "taps" that is to say all lights must soon be put out. I am very glad you were enabled to go to Canton & would liked to have see[n] you all scramble when the accident occurred on the road. However I was glad to know no bones were broken. As I suppose Nipps will tell or read you my letter it is not necessary to repeat its contents.

Last Sunday afternoon Capt. [Oliver W.] France the Adjutant & myself rode about four miles out the Winchester Pike & I visited a very curious spring. It comes out of a hole in the solid rock on the side of a hill in a stream about a foot deep. It - the water - is literally black with small fish up to the very mouth of the rock. As we rode our horses in to drink they mashed a good many with their feet. This stream after running about 300 yards sinks into what appears to be a solid rock in the hill side. It is decidedly the greatest curiosity I have seen as yet.

Evening before last I had a very pleasant time as I went down street and heard a young lady play on the piano. She plays a good many of the pieces you do. I staid there till about 9 o'clock. It is the first time I have been in the same room with a piano since I left home. She - the lady - gave me a standing invitation to call as often & just when I saw fit to do so which will be pretty often if we stay here long.

What has become of Sallie Wood? I have not heard from her for a long time? If you or Nipps write to her ask her if she got the letter I directed to Green Castle Ind.

The prospect for a good cold night is very favorable. There have been several deaths in the regiment & a great many that are sick. On Sunday a man was buried who left a younger brother in the same company. he took it very hard & I pitied him very much. They are buried in a very nice place in the Cemetery: it is decidedly the nicest place of that kind I ever saw. Hoping soon to hear from you.

I remain as ever

Your brother
Rufus


NOTE: Although his letters don't mention the difficult winter he had at Martinsburg, his brother's biography describes Rufus's health woes in the Martinsburg winter camp:
"At Cumberland, Maryland, he had a severe spell of lung fever, and at Martinsburg, Virginia, he lay so low with typhoid fever for six weeks, that his life was despaired of, but by careful nursing from his comrades and close attention of the surgeon and chaplain; he finally recovered, and from that time on he enjoyed better health than ever before. "
These severe health problems no doubt explain the two-and-a-half month gap in letters from Rufus.
Martinsburg, Va.
April 9, 1863

My dear Folks at Home,

I received your letter last evening, was glad that you were all so well & hope you may all continue to enjoy the same blessing; I am glad the money arrived safely, as I was rather anxious in regard to it for I thought I ought to have had an answer sooner.

There is nothing of particular interest that has transpired here for the last few weeks; things are still moving along in the same quiet way. Yesterday Co. G returned to the regiment, and filled up the vacant space that was left for them in camp. The boys all look first rate, and feel good. They have had very good times since they left here, having scarcely a sick man, and not much guard duty to do. For my own part I am very glad they have come back , as I will have a place to pass some of my leisure moments.

Dave Newbold, [Sergeant] Ed[ward S.] France and all the "Dover boys", including [First Lieutenant] Arthur [Dingman], look better & fatter that I ever saw them. Arthur still keeps on in his curious ways, still I think he is not as bad as he used to be; the boys say the night they were threatened with an attack & were obliged to shift their quarters, he got up and without even putting on his clothes, grabbed his knapsack, & a sack of old _____ - never thinking of his gun - & left for the new quarters. I have been sending him the "Moravian's" after I got through with them, he was very much pleased that I did so; for he said he knew "Grandmother" had not any money to spare & he did not like to bother her anyhow. I told him his money had arrived safely; he said I should tell you he was much obliged, & sends his best respects.

Day before yesterday there was a long train went bye of "Paroled Prisoners" passed here; they stopped about half an hour; after the train had left I understood some of the 51st Ohio were along, I did not get to see any of them. This evening another one passed coming the other way with Rebels. I suppose they are going to be exchanged, they did not appear to like the idea very much, as they said they were so much better fed in the North.

[April] 10th.
Yesterday a woman came to town having passed the Rebel pickets down the valley; she says the poor people are in almost a starving condition. She went in a store here; inquired when they got so many goods; said she had not seen the like for two years; she wanted to purchase some shoes; on asking the price was told $2.50 thought there must certainly be a mistake, as she had seen some not near as good as they on sale for 15 dollars & considered very cheap at that; she then showed a pair she had on, made of the commonest split leather, which she had paid nine dollars for.

Yesterday there was a note sent up here [Rufus was the commissary Sergeant of the regiment] asking if we had a pair of pants to spare (as the signer a woman wants to go into service). She says she thinks it is her duty to do all for the Federal Government she can, her husband was taken prisoner, & she wants to avenge him. I don't know if she will get the pants or not.

Yesterday was eight months since I signed the muster roll; it does not seem to me as if it had been so many weeks. On the whole I think I have had very pleasant times; how long they may continue is hard to tell, but the prospect is pretty good for us to remain at this place.

I was considerably surprised to hear that there was a prospect of Thedie's [brother Theodore, 16 or 17 years old at this point] going in the Drug business, especially to the "City of the Western World". [editor's note: Theodore did move to New York City where he became a noted perfume manufacturer. We will meet Thedei again when the 126th is sent to New York City in August of 1863. Theodore had no descendants]. I hope if he goes he will like the business & the place. I think papa had better quit the watch business, as I know that out door work is more pleasant to him & will make him feel better (I hope) if he does not over do it. I see a good many gardens in this place are being fixed up, some are all ready to plant. I was surprised that Wm. Scott is discharged. What is the reason of it? Have you heard anything from Dr. Bradshear lately?

I had some pictures taken the other day, I will send you one, they are not very good, but are the best I can get here.

In regards to the money of mine if you think watches are the best investment, get some & keep them at home till I send for them. I do not think I could dispose of them just now but might at some future time. Get me An American the balance nice fancy anchor levers that I can sell from 18 to 22 dollars.

As mail is about closing I must stop. My best wishes to you & all who may inquire after me.

I remain
Your Son & Brother
Rufus


Martinsburg, Va.
April 23rd, 1863

Dear Folks at Home,

I have just been told that [Sergeant] John Kriter is about to start home on a furlough & thought I would write you at least a few hasty lines; I am in good health & was gratified to learn that you were all well when you last wrote. I suppose Thedy has left you by this time for his new place in the city. John I suppose will give you all the news about camp matters so that there is no use of my writing about that.

I had forgotten entirely about my birthday [April 19, 1842] until about 2 o'clock when your letter came to hand, I am very much obliged to you all for your well wishes, just now while writing I think of the 21st of April & wish Addie much joy & pleasure in her new era, hope she & we all may live to see many more 21sts. I can assure you, for the first-time the "birthday cake" & "table" were "no _____".

The weather here is very disagreeable as it rains all day about every other day. Today is an awfully dreary day; more mud for the week.

I forgot to mention a very important Birthday present in the shape of a Photograph which Auntie sent me through cousin Lottie. I think it is very good & shall keep very good care of it.

I should like to see Gene very much as I suppose he is very lively & I know very mischievous if he has improved in that in proportion to his growth.

It is getting very late & I must close as John leaves at Mid night.

I wish you would send me my violin if there should be a chance. If John can not bring it send me a four keyed flute as I want something to make a noise on - if you send a flute send a book along. What could I get a pretty good cloth (blue) coat for? If the price is not too great I want a decent coat.

Hoping soon to hear from you one & all.

I remain your
Son & Brother Rufus Ricksecker
Com Sergt.


Martinsburg, Va
May 11th, 1863

My dear Sister,

I shall now send you a few lines in reply to your letter. I think it is a most decidedly unfortunate occurrence to me at least that Thedei has left home if I am not to hear oftener than I have thus far since he left. I did not get the letter you sent by John Kriter until yesterday. So you see it has been over two weeks since I heard from any of you. I am very glad you sent me Thedei's letter as I was very anxious to know how he is getting along - about a week ago I got a letter from Charlie he seems to be enjoying himself at school.

Now a little about my own affairs. Last Friday two weeks ago I had quite a severe attack of the bilious fever; it made me very weak & sick. On the following Sunday morning I was called upon to perform duties connected with the movement of the Regiment, I was hardly able to do so. Still I am happy to say I am all right once again. The regiment has had pretty hard times since they left this place [the 126th OVI was chasing General Imboden in West Virginia, and was gone from Martinsburg from April 26th through May 21st /22nd]. Having to lay out in rain, mud, snow & hail. I did not go along as I was not able to do so. Yesterday morning the Quarter Master Sergeant who was along with the Regiment came back after the cooking utensils; the boys having cooked coffee in their tin cups & and roasting their meat over the fire with a stick. He said I could be glad that I was not along. The boys have done some pretty hard marching - on last Sunday they went 32 miles. They have not been in an engagement yet; they have fortified and blockaded all the mountain passes in their neighborhood. They are in the vicinity of New Creek Station about 20 miles west of Cumberland. Last night the Q.M. & about 60 men left for the Regiment, taking the ambulances with them; they were rather expecting that the Regiment would be sent on toward Parkersburg as it is said there is quite a large Rebel force in that neighborhood. There have been a great many troops passing that way; four or five Regiments having got on the trains here. (they coming from Winchester). Last night the 8th Pennsylvania which has the reputation of being the best drilled regiment in the service went on toward Parkersburg. Also this evening the 10th Virginia are to load. There are six companies of the 14th New Jersey encamped at this place; they are not liked as well as the old 126th Ohio, which is shown by the Request of the Citizens of the place sent to Gen. Kelly viz; that the 126th Regt. Ohio should be left at this town as long as it was thought necessary for troops to remain here. So you see I belong to a regiment that has the name of being called the quietest, most civil, & polite regiment that has ever been stationed at either of the points where it has been our lot to stop; Our fighting qualifications have yet to be tried but I think they will be proven to be as good as many others. I have often thought how fortunate that I did not go with Capt Morrow of New Philadelphia now of the 52nd Ohio and still later that I was too late for the 98th Ohio. How those two Regiments have suffered, while we have not lost a man as yet by the hand of an enemy. I am now in command of the camp, acting in the different capacities of Col. Lt. Col., major, Adjutant &c as the occasion may require.

What is the opinion in regards to the failure of Gen. Hooker to accomplish what he intended? I had a faint hope that by this time next year I would be at home if my life was spared but I have come to the conclusion we are in for the entire three years with a good chance of going again.

So much for war items; you must try and keep up your spirits Addie, as I hope you will have reason to be glad some day that our brother Thedei has got so good a place; I have always been of the opinion that he would make a good hand at almost any business he saw fit to go into; you ought not to write (especially to a soldier boy who has troubles & trials that no other business brings forth) in the strain you did some time ago; true it did not make me home sick but still I felt as any true brother would, that if I was at home I could do a good deal to enliven you. Home sickness I think is caused in the army (to a great extent) by the kind of letter the soldier's friends write to him; I know several cases when men's wives are always calling on them to come home, that they are so lonesome, &c and some even urging their husband to desert if they can['t] get home another way; my opinion of such writing is that it does more harm than good.

How many music scholars have you? Have you still got the Raven & Bacin piano? I hope Dr. Bradshear will come around this way when he goes back; I should like to see him, his brother has had quite a sore ancle [sic]. Among the boys who could not stand the marching is [Private] Arthur [L.] VanVleck - he looks quite bad [Arthur was 39 years old at this time]; I thought he would be the very one that would go it.

I always had an idea that Mr. _____ 's loyalty did not have a very stiff root. In regard to the coat I'll let that slide as I think we will have some pretty rough work to do and the government ones will answer as well as any if the Regiment is kept in the mountains.

The watches I do not think there is any sight at all to see at present so you need not send until I write you so to do. I have no recollection of the transaction with Mr. Criswell further than that he got the pin, took it up to try for a few days; I am pretty sure he never paid me for it or I would not have charged it.

I must close hoping this may reach you all well & hoping to hear from some of you at least once a week.

My best wishes to all who may inquire often after your
Brother & son,
Rufus

If the Advocate is still published I would like to see it sometimes.


Martinsburg, Va.
May 19, 1863.

Dear Folks at home,

I was very happy to receive once more a short letter from you informing me of your general good health. As you seem to think I am negligent in writing to you I will try & do better in future although I am constrained to say that I think I have written shortly after the receipt of each of yours. Still I know if you are as anxious to hear from me as I am from you the time seems very long between the letters; you must not be too severe on me as my circumstances are so very different from yours, I am the subject of a good many different heads; & consequently have a good many different orders to obey which very frequently come just at the time I seat myself to write to some of my friends & relatives.

I am well, have sometimes a good deal to do and at other times scarcely nothing. It is awful warm here especially in the tents: they get almost as hot as an oven. Col. [Benjamin F.] Smith is here at present says he thinks the Regt will be back sometime this week: I hope so as it is most awful lonesome here.

Last Saturday I in connection with a Mr. Gorbit went about six miles into the country in search of straw for the hospitals. After about 4 hours ride we found some that would do for that purpose: they don't do here like the 57th & 80th [OVI] did at camp Meigs, we just take it wherever we can find any with out asking any questions.

On last Friday there was a company of 80 men taken at a place called Charleston some distance below Winchester but they were returned (?) the next day after a skirmish in which they (the Rebels) lost 20 killed & 13 or 14 prisoners, beside loosing all they had gained. Our captain & 4 privates were killed on our side - the entire force was cavalry. A company of the 13th Pa. Cavalry was to assist but as usual with that Regiment skedaddled. That Regiment has a very bad name in this country. Lt. J[acob] Lamb has gone home on a ten days furlough; I expect him back this week. I suppose he will get the appointment of Brigade Quartermaster as soon as he returns.

The last I heard from Lt. [C.E.] Patterson he was a little better: I judge he has about given up all hope of recovering. Arthur [VanVleck] is still on the sick list - he is the only man here that belongs to Co. G. There are only about 41 men in camp, so you can imagine how time hangs & how lonesome & desolate camp looks & is.

I had a letter from Thedei last week - he appears to be very well satisfied with his new home; he must have very pleasant times viewing the sights of the city.

I think Dr. Brashear could have come around this way & have seen us on his way back to Ohio. His brother was a good deal disappointed as he felt sure he would come to visit him.

I am very sorry you have so much trouble in getting a girl to suit you all. If you would come down here you might stand a chance of getting a good "darkie" - how would you like that? We have a first rate cook, to get up the meals of this Department.

I am very glad you have at last succeeded in getting Joe [Deardorff?] into the traces far enough to take an interest in the singing. How is he getting along? Give him my best respects.

I should like very much to see the yards & flowers, they must look very pretty this year: in fact they did so last year already. I have seen very few flower gardens about this place & with one exception those that have flowers at all have mostly the commonest kinds.

I have not seen Mr. [John] Kriter yet as he stopped at New Creek with the Regiment. I am very sorry the articles you sent could not be brought through as I would have had a pleasant time over there.

I don't think Genie wants to see me half as badly as I would like to have a romp with him.

Julie & Jon appear to have as good luck as usual in their fishing arrangements; I think you would get discouraged & think you was getting your bother (?) for your pains. I must say I was a good deal surprised at the writing on the envelope of my last letter - it looked so very much like Thedei's. I was afraid something had happened & he had to come home, but upon opening I saw that Julie had improved a good deal in his penmanship & that was what made the difference.

I see you are driving quite a business in the Printing line. I hope you will have success.

I must close. My best love to you all & well wishes to all who may inquire of us

Your affectionate Son & Brother,
Rufus

Write soon.


Martinsburg, Va.
May 25th, 1863.

My dear Folks at Home,

I shall now try and send you a few lines in answer to your last very welcome and interesting letter; I will have to be pretty short as I have some other work to do that must be attended to. I am well: and would feel first rate if it was not so awful hot; you can have no idea how warm the tents are - if there is any difference I think it is a good deal warmer in the tents than it is to stand in the sun.

Last week there was quite a forced migration of the natives of Western Virginia across the Federal lines. There were about 70 women & children brought down here, & forwarded to Gen. Milroy. They shot at our troops in passing through some of the towns along the Rail-roads. Some three or four of our spies (dressed in Rebel uniform) got among the girls - had quite a time, as they represented themselves as Rebel soldiers in parole.

Last Friday I with some of the teamsters went in search of a horse that had either been stolen or had strayed from our stable. After a ride of about 20 miles over hills, mountains & ravines we were at length rewarded by the finding of this critter. The man that had her was plowing with her - we just went into the fields, stopped his team & took her out. We got back about 12 o'clock & found the Regiment back & moving the camp to a strip of Woods about a quarter of a mile from the old camp grounds. The ground we now occupy was occupied by Gen's Banks and Patterson - also by Gen "Stonewall" Jackson - the trees are very thin now however as we have been chopping a good deal for our use during the winter. The chief objection to our present place is we have to go a good distance for water. You had better believe the boys looked hard enough when they came back. They have seen a little of marching - most of the boys are well, in fact we have less sickness now than we had for many months. There is not a man but is able to be up.

I hope this will find you all well. I must close as it is time I was at my work.

Your son & Brother,
Rufus Ricksecker


Part II, Letters 11-20 [June 4, 1863-December 9, 1863]
Part III, Letters 21-30 [December 27, 1863-September 18, 1864]
A Brief Biography of Rufus Ricksecker
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